Monday, April 14, 2014

Dragons of Winter excerpt by P A Brown



In The Dragons of Winter, by P A Brown, dragons aren’t supposed to fight dragons.

Eighteen year old Alecca is set to join Ciburon, the new leader of the Realm of Xua and become the most powerful rulers of Telen, their world. But amid the ceremonies that will bind the the two dragonshifters forever, Kytam, a rival from a smaller realm seeks to take Alecca for his own, thus gaining control of the world. There is no history of war on their world, but war comes anyway. Kytam must be stopped if there is ever to be peace again among dragons and frails.

The Dragons of Winter
Crimson Frost Books (November 24, 2013)

Excerpt:

It had stormed during the night. Snow piled against the walls of the stable and main house. Paths had already been cleared and the vast courtyard was empty. The only light was from first moon on the snow and the glow from the cook’s window. She would be baking the morning bread.

But none of that concerned Alecca anymore.

He and Ciburon left the house when Válka, the first moon rose. He was naked, as the gods demanded. Ciburon held his hand and ignored his shivering. Once in the center of the courtyard Ciburon turned to face Alecca. He laid his open palm against Alecca’s chest and held his gaze. His eyes were bottomless pits and Alecca fell into them.

“You must bring it from here.” He traced a circle over Alecca’s heart.

“But how will I know?”

“You've had dreams, right?”

Startled, Alecca looked down at the hand splayed above his heart. How did he know that? “I never told anyone—”

“You don’t need to. We all experience the dreams before our first shifting. They help us find our form. You have to remember them now.”

Alecca closed his eyes, focusing his inner eye on memories of those dreams that had come with increasing regularity over the last year. Now he understood them. He thought of wings stretched wide, of twisting muscles and tendons that gave them the strength to lift and carry him for hours. A sinuous neck and tail, glorious claws burnished deepest ebony. Jaws and teeth that could rend the thickest drakken skin and would never feel the deepest cold. 

The touch on his chest changed and he opened his eyes. Where Ciburon’s hand had spread over his heart, curved black talons now rested. Alecca raised his head and looked into flashing golden eyes in a massive, wedge-shaped head of obsidian that morphed before him. Wings unfolded as dark shadows, blurred, then grew solid in the growing light.

Alecca reached inside himself. He saw his soul change. Pain shot through him, radiating out from his chest. It was worse than the pain of Ciburon entering him. Sharper. Cleaner. He doubled over, falling to his knees on the packed snow.

Get up.

At first he ignored the voice in his head. Then it came again. Ciburon?

You must stand and face the pain, Alecca!

He struggled upright, staggering while wave after wave of agony rolled through him. In horror he stared down at his hands and saw them shift. Soft skin became elongated claws of bronze; he stretched them out, marveling at the taut web of wing. Pain ripped through him.

Rise! Rise! Now Alecca, rise up.

Alecca threw his head back to scream, but instead he found himself bugling and his face and mouth felt... wrong. He snaked around, looking right then left. Delicate crimson wings stretched wide; he flexed shoulder muscles and watched, in awe, as his new wings moved. He did it again. Faster this time. He could feel energy flow through him. The wind from his wings created vortexes of snow that swirled around him. New snow fell, obscuring both first and second moon. He was no longer cold.

Rise!

The ground beneath his clawed feet fell away and he rose into the heart of the storm. The snow should have blinded him, but his vision was unimpaired. He knew where the ground lay, where all the stone structures of Kalec’s estate were. He knew where Ciburon crouched on the ground below him watching his first flight.

Then he forgot his lover in his new-found freedom. He surged upward and the ground fell away. He swung west, toward the mountains he had flown over in his dreams. The night brightened, the sky cleared of dense snow clouds, and both first and second moon rode high in the sky, casting double shadows on the drifts below.

He was alone, reveling in his new-found freedom. It was all open to him. The world that had taken him weeks or even months to cross on foot was now his. He could see the great waters and black cliffs of Drakh and the strange creatures that rumor said lived in the bottomless seas below them. The permanently green forests of the southern Ehras, where the sun burned so bright the forests steamed during the day. 

All his to see and explore.




Monday, April 7, 2014

The Popsicle Tree excerpt by DorienGrey


Once upon a time, my boyfriend (now my partner and soon to be my husband) bought me a copy of The Popsicle Tree by Dorien Grey, based solely on the fact that I love popsicles!



Thus, I became a fan of the Dick Hardesty mysteries and a friend of Dorien Grey 



The Popsicle Tree

  • GLB Publishers (January 1, 2005)
  • ISBN-10: 1879194554
  • ISBN-13: 1978-1879194557


Excerpt:



Didn’t somebody once say ‘the only thing consistent in life is change’? So how come so many people are totally unprepared for it? They go through life as if they were driving down a freeway using only their rear-view mirror to steer by. They think they’re going along fine, and suddenly: Wham! Something they didn’t see coming plows into them head-on and changes their lives completely, sending them spinning off in directions they’d never imagined going.


The best way to handle change is simply to deal with it, and try looking at it the way a kid sees new experiences: as a challenge often filled with wonder. Everything’s possible to a child, and ‘growing up’ shouldn’t change that. Just keep your mind and your heart open, and who knows? A Popsicle Tree? Why not?

#

“You think they’ll like them?” Jonathan asked as we left the apartment with a shopping bag full of presents.

“Of course they will. We have excellent taste.”

“In men, anyway,” he replied, grinning. “At least I do. I’m not so sure about you.”

“Would this be Bid for Reassurance number 1,209?”

We were on our way to our friends Tim and Phil’s apartment, where we were invited for an impromptu ‘Welcome Back’ gathering the day after our return from two weeks in New York. It was pretty short notice, and Jonathan had to scurry to get the presents wrapped, but we were anxious to see everyone again—‘everyone’ in this case being Tim and Phil, Bob and Mario, and Jared and Jake, who formed our inner circle of friends.

They’d said five o’clock, since it was a Sunday and everyone had to work the next day—including me, unfortunately—and to my surprise we arrived exactly on time.

Tim, Phil, Jake, and Jared were already there, and you’d think we hadn’t seen each other in two years rather than two weeks. Jonathan discreetly put the shopping bag on the floor next to the door before our exchange of bear hugs with everyone. Phil excused himself and went into the kitchen, returning with a Coke for Jonathan and a Manhattan for me. It was good to be home. ....


Monday, March 31, 2014

Butterfly Girl and Truth or Dare, two short stories by Anne Brooke

Here’s a new short story double-shot from Anne Brooke:

Butterfly Girl and Truth or Dare
By Anne Brooke
Copyright 2014 by Anne Brooke
Cover Copyright 2014 by Untreed Reads Publishing
Cover Design by Dara England
The author is hereby established as the sole holder of the copyright. Either the publisher (Untreed Reads) or author may enforce copyrights to the fullest extent.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the publisher or author, except in the case of a reviewer, who may quote brief passages embodied in critical articles or in a review. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
This is a work of fiction. The characters, dialogue and events in this book are wholly fictional, and any resemblance to companies and actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental.



Butterfly Girl
It started in innocence and ended somewhere else. Abi Huntingdon was unhappy, though it took her a while to understand this. She appeared to have a full life, working part-time for the local museum, having a relatively trouble-free marriage, seeing her small group of friends on a regular basis for coffee or occasionally lunch, and doing voluntary work for her local women’s group.
The trouble with all this was that Abi was bored. Not terribly bored, but just enough that if someone had asked her for one word to describe her life, the word which would have leapt at once to her mind was: dissatisfaction. A gnawing feeling that wouldn’t go away, no matter how often she told herself not to be ridiculous.
Even her husband Bill, never the most perceptive of men, had noticed. His answer to the problem was simple. He bought Abi her own computer. She knew this made perfect sense to him as he spent many happy hours playing games on his own computer in his office space at home, and no doubt doing many other things she didn’t wish to know about on it. Abi had always supposed a computer was something men liked and women didn’t.
It didn’t take her long to find out how untrue this was. After Bill had taken time out from his sign-writing business to show her how to access the social networking sites and make new online friends, Abi took to it fairly well. She enjoyed “meeting” people from all over the world and chatting, about everything and nothing. After a couple of months, she was an old hand at the game; she knew when to accept friendship and when not to; when to quietly lose a contact and when to search them out and make sure they were alright. She felt confident and happy, although with all the online networking she seemed to have less time for her husband. Still, that was his fault and he only had himself to blame for her new-found hobby. Sometimes, she couldn’t wait for him to leave in the mornings, so she could chat on the computer without worrying about him. Naturally, on occasions, her eagerness for him to be gone led to rows.
It was one of those mornings when the atmosphere between Abi and Bill had been chilly that she “met” Tina. She logged in as usual, feeling the familiar relaxation of her shoulders when the front door clicked shut, and saw a new friendship request email from her favourite networking site.
It wasn’t the sort of friendship request Abi normally accepted, as Tina gave no information about herself, nor her reasons for contacting Abi, and all her email said was, hi, would you like to meet me? However, the argument with Bill had drained her and she felt the need for something different, for taking a chance on finding friendship where she least expected it. Most of all, Abi accepted Tina’s offer of friendship because she loved the girl’s avatar; it showed a woman’s back in a summer cornfield surrounded by butterflies. It looked magical and peaceful and she typed hello, it would be nice to meet you almost before she’d read the little she could see of Tina’s profile.
Tina replied quickly, something along the lines of how much she liked Abi’s photo and thought her life sounded great. That made Abi smile. A week or so went by, with at least daily contact with Tina, who didn’t give much of herself away, but otherwise seemed pleasant. Abi looked forward to chatting with her new and mysterious online friend; it relaxed her in a way nothing else seemed to.
One afternoon, after a hell of a day at the museum, Abi came home, threw off her coat, poured herself a chilled white wine and listened to her husband’s voicemail apology that he would be working late, again. She didn’t mind; the last thing she wanted was any conversation with him. So she logged on and found Tina online.
Hi there, just back from work, DREADFUL day, don’t ask! she typed. How are you?
A few moments passed and then came Tina’s reply: Poor you, so sorry to hear that. I’m fine, babe, but tell me what happened. I want to know…
Abi proceeded to tell her, in succinct sentences, exactly how the caretaker had managed to all but ruin a display, the lighting had broken in the bathroom, and the till had refused to play nice. After every item, Tina cut in with a line of sad faces.
And suddenly in the middle of this straightforward conversation, Tina typed: You sound so rough. Would you like some gentle kisses?
Abi’s skin turned cold and she blinked. Her fingers froze over the keyboard and the air around her went still. She hadn’t seen that coming. She hadn’t seen any of it. What should she do? By rights, she should block Tina at once and turn off her computer. She was a married woman, and she didn’t need this kind of approach.
Still, when her fingers went to type the words her mind told her she should say, they didn’t happen. Instead, she typed: Yes, please. That would be nice.
In the silence while she waited for Tina’s response, Abi felt her whole world turning. She shouldn’t be doing this. She should be preparing dinner, waiting for Mike’s phone call telling her when he was leaving work. A thousand and one important domestic acts awaited her, and yet she was here. Would Tina reply? Was it all a joke and she’d misunderstood? Perhaps she should stop being so dirty, turn off the computer, cool down and get on with her life.
Lovely. Where would you like my kisses, Abi? I really like you and I want you to be happy.
Abi let out a breath. She squirmed on the chair and tried to calm down. Where did she want to be kissed? She should respond before Tina thought she’d gone. She didn’t want to go.
Thank you. I love to be kissed on my shoulders and breasts.
Anywhere else?
Yes. I enjoy being kissed between my legs too.
No time elapsed at all before Tina’s reply. In your cunt?
Yes.
That’s nice. I love the thought of kissing your cunt, and your breasts and shoulders too. Can I touch you there, Abi, with my fingers as well as my lips and tongue? Please say yes.
Alright, yes. But, please, Abi wrote, her fingers missing keys in the growing excitement and terror, my husband will be calling me soon. I mustn’t miss his call. And anyway, I shouldn’t be doing this. I’m sorry. I’ve never been unfaithful to him before, please forgive me.
Oh honey, you’re not being unfaithful to him now, and I really admire you for that btw. We’re just talking, enjoying each other’s company online. Playing a little game together, if you like. It’s perfectly harmless. When will your husband be back?
This time, Abi got up. She walked around the spare room, studied the books and ran her hands through her hair. Glancing at the computer, she saw Tina had typed: You okay, honey? Are you still there?
Almost experimentally, Abi slipped her hand under her shirt and smoothed it over her nipple. It hardened almost at once. She sat down at the keyboard again.
Yes, I’m here, she typed. I-I just felt uncertain for a moment, that’s all. Had to get up and walk around. I’m very new at this, I-I feel apprehensive.
She hadn’t typed a stammer before, but it felt right. Tina’s answer reassured her:
That’s okay, hon. I love how honest you are. You’re so very special. I missed you though. But no need to feel worried. I’ll always look after you—want to make you happy. When will your husband return?
He said on the message he’d call in about half an hour.
That’s lovely, that’s plenty of time. Abi, what are you wearing? I want to visualise how beautiful you look.
Abi smiled. I’m wearing a light blue shirt and a black cotton skirt. How about you?
I’m wearing my nightshirt—it’s just gone midnight here. It’s pale pink with butterflies on it. I love butterflies. What underwear have you got on?
A white bra and light blue French knickers. Oh, and tights and shoes—can’t go to work without them!
You’re so funny. I love what you’re wearing. I think you’re beautiful. Why don’t you take your top off, Abi? Then I can kiss your shoulders.
Abi looked up. Over the computer screen, she could see the evening light over the neighbour’s chimney and, beyond that, the local wood. From the garden the other side of her, she could hear the sound of children playing and a dog barking. Alright, but I need to draw the blinds first.
OK, that’s a good idea. I want you to feel safe with me. Always.
Abi got up, drew down the blind at the window on her left, wondering what her neighbouring family would think if they knew her intentions. She could never even imagine sharing this with them.
When the eyes of the world were firmly shut out, she turned the light on and took off her shirt. Slowly, savouring the slow catch and release of every button, wondering how Tina would respond to her body if she were here in truth. She supposed she didn’t need to take off any clothes, however, not really. She could lie in her responses online. Other people lied. Perhaps Tina herself did? Nobody could prove Tina existed in the way she said she did, and nobody could even prove Tina was a girl. But the persona of Tina, the one who’d drawn Abi into friendship and, now, something else, existed. That Tina was true. And, because of it and no matter what, Abi wouldn’t lie to her; she didn’t wish to.
Once she removed the shirt, Abi folded it up and placed it over the spare chair, the one in front of her exercise bike. Then she sat down at the computer again.
Hi, Tina, she typed. I’m safe now. I’ve taken off my shirt. Please, could you kiss my shoulders? I really want to feel your lips on my skin.
A pause, then: You feel so soft. I’m kissing your left shoulder gently, just how you wanted me to. Soothing the difficulties of your day so far away that you can’t even remember them. I’m nibbling you with my lips right now and stroking my tongue over the tops of your arm. I love the way you taste. Are you enjoying it, Abi? Tell me what you’re feeling and doing, please…
I’m stretching my shoulder, lifting it up to your mouth, feeling it relax under your kisses. They’re so lovely, Tina. Nobody’s ever kissed me like that before. You make me feel so good, I can’t even tell you how good. I love the way you’re making my shoulder wet, marking me with your tongue. You’re so gentle that I…I…
…what, Abi? What are you doing now, honey?
Abi could hardly believe she was typing this, but she couldn’t seem to stop: I-I’m spreading my legs under my skirt. Gasping.
That’s good. I love to feel your reactions. I’m kissing you across the throat now, working my way over your skin to your other shoulder, licking and nibbling you as gently as I can. I love to hear you gasp. You’re so beautiful…. There, see how wet your shoulders are now. Oh, Abi, I’d love to kiss your breasts too, take them into my mouth and feel the weight of them on my tongue. Please, please take your bra off for me. Please, it would give me such pleasure to see your breasts.
Abi stared at the screen. Her breathing was unsteady and her skin felt hot. Slowly, so she could almost not believe it was happening at all, she reached behind herself and undid her bra. It fell to the floor and she kicked it away.
You can see them now, she typed. My breasts are naked and I want you so much to kiss them.
I’m doing that, hon, I’m running my tongue over your nipples, feeling how hard they are. Do you like my tongue? Do you like the way I’m making your skin so wet? Tell me everything you’re feeling, Abi, every sensation. I want to know you, through and through.
Oh, Tina, I love how warm your tongue feels. I love the way you lick me. My nipples are so hard now. I-I’m going to take my skirt and tights and knickers off. For you. Can I do that? Will you let me? I just want to be naked with you. I know you’re so far away, but I really want that. Please?
Abi, hon, you’re so special. I love the way you are. You’d make me so happy if you took all your clothes off. I want you to feel relaxed and totally safe with me. I’d love to know you’re naked. I’d love for you to be that open and vulnerable. How I wish I could see you, but I’m with you anyway, Abi, in ways that are so very special. You can trust me. Do you trust me?
Yes.
Then, please, take off the rest of your clothes. For me.
Abi obeyed. Her fingers felt so sticky with heat that she could scarcely pull her skirt and tights off, and the dampness between her legs stained her knickers. Then, finally, she was there. She sat down again, feeling the slight roughness of the chair on her thighs and bottom.
I’ve done it. I’m naked, she typed. She wondered for a moment what it would be like to have a video link with Tina, but no, she didn’t have that kind of equipment and, anyway, she didn’t like the idea. This encounter was happening in the internet’s strange darkness; visibility would only take the mystery, the allure of it, away.
That’s wonderful, thank you, wrote Tina. Now, for a while, I just want to type while you do what I tell you to, imagining it’s me doing these things to you. I don’t want you to type anything back. Can you do that, Abi?
Yes, Tina, I’ll do that for you.
Thank you. You’re so beautiful. I want you to stretch upwards and imagine my mouth kissing your breasts, circling them. At the same time, my fingers are stroking your shoulders, over and over again. I work my way slowly round your breasts, sucking and licking them, loving you deeply in a way I know you love. Watching you smile, and hearing your soft gasps as I pleasure you. Then, oh so slowly, I work my way down your stomach, kissing a trail of delights from your breasts to your pubic hair. How soft you are, Abi, how soft and warm. Stretch your legs wide for me, Abi, and watch me as I kneel between your legs, gazing at you in adoration. Oh, hon, I can’t get enough of you, not now and not ever. My fingers caress your inner thighs, feeling how your skin quivers at my touch. My tongue and lips follow the path my hands make to your delicious centre. The heart of you, Abi, and how I long to be there. It takes me a while because I love exploring you so much, but soon my tongue is licking your cunt. How wet you are, how deliciously wanton, seducing me with your beauty. Put your fingers into your cunt, Abi, and feel how wet my attentions are making you. Touch yourself, my love, and know that behind your touch lie my tongue and lips and fingers, stroking and caressing you as the pleasure, the pure physical pleasure only I can give you, builds and builds until you can’t hold back. Keep your legs wide apart, Abi, my wonderful, beautiful girl, as wide as you can so I can bury myself as much as I can deep within you and so you can know that I am right here between your thighs, in your secret and wonderful place. Oh, Abi, Abi, come for me, beautiful woman, come for me, and when you are finished, tell me what you feel as I lap and lap at your glorious cunt.
The depths and richness of Abi’s orgasm startled her. Her legs spread wide over the computer chair and her fingers caressed her clitoris while her own juices smeared her skin, just as Tina had told her to do, as she arched her back and cried out, gasping and shaking, riding the overpowering release of her body until the fit was over. It was the best sex she’d ever had, or at least for a long time. She couldn’t really remember it being as intense as that, ever.
It took a while, but at last her trembling stopped and she straightened her legs, wiping her wet fingers across her stomach to dry them. She swallowed, hard, and reached for the keyboard. She couldn’t see how she could form any coherent words, but she had to try. Tina—astonishing, overwhelming Tina—would be waiting.
Oh Tina, that was glorious, so wonderful. When I came, I cried out and I could see you there, between my legs, your hair bent over my cunt, I could feel your tongue inside me, I swear it. I love what you’ve done to me, I love you—oh god, is it all right to say that? It’s what I feel, I promise. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I do. I love you, I love you, I love you—god it feels so good to type that. I feel so soft and open, so vulnerable. You could reach inside me and know everything about me. You already have. How can I ever thank you?
My darling Abi, it’s me who should thank you—just knowing how good I make you feel has made me so happy. I love licking and kissing and fondling you. You’re beautiful and so open and ready for what I’m doing to you, it’s very special. You’re very special. I want to be with you over and over again like this. I want to love you in our special way again when we can next meet here, and I want you to love me too. It will mean so much. Will you, Abi, will you promise to do that with me? Please say you will.
Sitting there, deliciously and gloriously naked as she was, and as open as she’d ever been, Abi knew what her answer would be. Yes, my love, of course. I can barely wait for our next meeting. I want to be able to share everything with you. Thank you for letting me have the chance to do so. I love you, now and always. Thank you, thank you, thank you. But my husband…
Yes, Tina wrote back quickly as Abi left her sentence unfinished. He’ll ring you soon, and you have to be the wife for him that he expects. I know that, hon, and I understand it. I think you’re beautiful whatever you do and whatever choices you make. I’ll always be here for you, always. Good night, my love, good night.
She signed off. Abi dressed herself slowly, shivering at the way her body had responded to the loving words of another woman. She had never known that about herself, not until meeting Tina and not until today. How she longed to learn more and soon. She could hardly wait for tomorrow and all the other tomorrows stretching out beyond it. How could she have ever thought life was boring? With Tina, it would never be boring again. She promised herself she would hold onto all the moments she could share with her special friend and remember them when things were bleak or difficult in her marriage or in her “real” life. It was a way of being honest, it was a way of most truly being herself.
As the phone began to ring, and Abi smoothed down her hair ready to speak to her husband, she smiled to herself; she was prepared for Bill’s call now. She was decent for him, no longer dirty and sexy and wild, as she had been for Tina. She would give her husband what he wanted, she would give all her other friends what they wanted too, knowing the rest of her life was her own. Oh yes, Abi could do that, easily. It was worth it, for Tina, her own and very special butterfly girl.


Truth or Dare
Once seated at the only empty table, Suzie gets the drinks. A bottle of house white and two glasses. That suits Kate fine. She’s had a rough week. She deserves a break. Something else too, if she’s lucky.
Because this time she’s not going back home without trying.
As Suzie settles into her usual window seat, Kate admires her friend’s shoulder-length blonde hair, her rich green eyes and her full mouth. Suzie has always been the beautiful one, but Kate’s never minded that. Her own slight form and short dark hair could never compete in their teenage years, but Suzie’s never made an issue of it. She’s always stuck by Kate. It’s meant a lot.
Now here the two of them are: Kate six years’ married to Robert, a steady accountant with a good job in London; Suzie with her new fiancé, Neil, and all the upcoming wedding plans to organise. It’ll be a good year, she thinks. But still Kate wants something to change.
‘Cheers,’ Suzie pours the wine, and Kate savours the hint of spices and lemon in her mouth.
‘Cheers.’
The conversation moves on. Suzie talks not just about Neil and the wedding, but about her work colleagues, her new car. In turn Kate talks about Robert, his job, her brothers, her church.
During a pause, Kate sees her chance.
‘All right then, let’s play Truth and Dare,’ she says. It’s a game they used to play often when they were younger. Already Kate knows what she will confess, but she wants to hear Suzie speak first.
Her friend laughs. ‘It’s years since we’ve done that. What’s made you think of it now?’
‘Memories, I suppose,’ Kate shrugs. ‘Old times’ sake.’
Suzie stops laughing. Frowns instead. She takes another mouthful of wine from her glass and the clear liquid glistens on her lips. Kate has to stop herself from brushing it away with her fingers. It’s too soon for that, if it happens at all. Now she wants to listen.
‘Well,’ Suzie says. ‘You know most things about me anyway, but…but there is something I haven’t told you. I didn’t know what you’d say, and it’s nothing much. At least nothing happened, but…’
‘That’s all right,’ Kate lays her hand on Suzie’s for a moment, feeling the warmth of her friend’s skin rising into her own. ‘Tell me: truth or dare.’
Suzie begins to speak. At first her words are hesitant but soon, when Kate makes no sound of disapproval or surprise, she grows in confidence. So Kate hears about a party a couple of months ago, where Suzie had gone but Neil had cried off at the last minute. Pressure of work. She hadn’t known many people there but she’d had three or four drinks, chatted to various groups and everything had been fine. Then she’d gone to the kitchen to refresh her vodka and tonic, and had fallen into conversation with a young bloke whose name she never got to know. After a while, the inevitable had happened. He’d made a pass but, instead of walking away, Suzie had gone with it. They’d kissed and made out with each other. She’d liked the feel of his tongue, the herbal scent of his aftershave. She hadn’t thought of the guilt. Half an hour or so later, he’d suggested they use one of the bedrooms and she’d been more than tempted but, in the end, she’d pulled away. When she was leaving, he’d asked for her number but she’d shaken her head. She hadn’t given it to him.
When she finishes speaking, Suzie gives a snort of laughter that doesn’t quite ring true. ‘There. You see. I’m just a slapper who can’t keep her hands to herself when my fiancé isn’t around. And you know the worst of it, Kate?’
Kate shakes her head.
‘The worst of it is I wish we had used a bedroom. I wish I’d given him my number. I just wanted to know what it would be like—to be a different kind of woman for a while. I love Neil, but…’
‘…but sometimes you wonder?’
Speechless, Suzie nods. Refills both their glasses.
Kate takes her time in answering.
‘I think,’ she says slowly, not looking at her friend. ‘I think it’s perfectly natural to wonder what another kind of life would be like. It’s part of being human, isn’t it? And, really, I don’t care what you do. I’ll always be your friend, I’ll always be utterly and totally on your side. You know that.’
‘Thank you,’ Suzie gives a half-smile and wipes one hand over her eyes. ‘I do know it. And you don’t know what that means to me. Honestly, you’re the best. I don’t know where I’d be without you. But anyway, your turn for Truth or Dare. Tell me something you’ve never told me before. I could do with a meaty piece of gossip to mull over this weekend.’
Kate sits back. She finishes her glass and gazes at her friend. ‘Deal. Do you think you can take it?’
‘Sure I can. Go ahead.’
‘All right.’ Kate pauses. She glances round the pub, with its beams, Italian prints and rowdiness. Breathes in the smell of crisps and wine. Then she leans forward and speaks softly enough for only Suzie to hear. ‘The biggest regret I have is this: in all the time I’ve known you, I’ve never seen your breasts. Or touched them. I’d like to do both.’
A long pause follows these words. Kate continues to hold Suzie’s eyes with her own. It’s as if the whole pub around them has disappeared and they are the only two people there. Perhaps they’re the only two people in the town, or even the whole world.
Then the noise and laughter of the other pub-goers rushes in once more.
Suzie takes her glass, places it to one side. She gets up and stretches out her hand to Kate.
‘Please,’ she says, ‘come home with me.’
In Suzie’s small flat, Kate notes the signs of her absent fiancé: a man’s shirt draped over the back of the pale blue sofa, a pair of distinctly male shoes, a briefcase.
‘Okay,’ her friend says. ‘What would you like me to do?’
When Kate looks at her, Suzie is standing, ramrod-straight, like a schoolgirl waiting to be told off. She can’t help but smile. ‘You don’t have to do this, you know. It’s lovely of you to bring me here after what I said, but it’s my fantasy. Not yours. You don’t have to do anything.’
Suzie shakes her head, frowning. ‘No, please. I want to. I want you to…see me. Is that wrong? Are we being…unfaithful?’
‘I don’t know,’ Kate whispers. ‘Why don’t you sit down?’
Her friend does so. Once she’s settled, Kate kneels between her legs, gazes up at her. ‘Please, will you unbutton your shirt for me?’
Without a word, Suzie begins to undo her top button, looking down, concentrating only on the completion of her task. Kate catches her breath as the milky skin of Suzie’s throat is revealed. Of course she’s seen her friend’s body before—during summer holidays when they were teenagers, on shopping expeditions together. But never like this. She longs to touch her, but doesn’t quite have the courage.
Slowly all the buttons are undone. Suzie is wearing a lacy white bra and, through this, Kate can see her nipples. They seem to push against the whiteness. A flush has spread over her friend’s skin and she is breathing deeply. Kate leans forward. Suzie’s breath smells of wine, and her lips beckon her, but there is something she must do first. Something she has only ever dreamt of.
She gently pushes Suzie’s shirt away from her shoulders, down over her back and past her arms. Then she unhooks her friend’s bra and pulls that away. Suzie gasps and Kate sees her eyes are closed. She gazes at Suzie’s breasts, drinking in the whiteness of them, the creaminess of her flesh contrasted to the stiff pink nipples.
‘Thank you,’ Kate breathes. ‘Thank you.’
This is all she can think of to say. With Suzie’s eyes still shut, Kate begins to kiss and lick her breasts, running her tongue over each nipple and sucking at their glorious firmness. She assumes Neil does this too, and wonders how different the sensations might be for Suzie.
Her friend moans and pushes her breast deeper into Kate’s mouth. Suzie’s fingers run through Kate’s hair. Warm and soothing.
After a while, she realises Suzie is saying something but at first she can’t make out the words. Then she hears them.
‘I’m wet,’ her friend is saying. ‘Kate, I’m so wet.’
‘It’s all right, it’s all right, I know.’ Because Kate is wet too, almost dripping beneath her jeans and knickers. She can’t believe how turned on she feels, and she can’t believe how what she’s doing is making Suzie turned on also. She’s never had this kind of power in the bedroom before. With her husband she’s always been the passive one. But here, tonight, everything is changing. She feels free.
As if she’s done this a hundred times before—whereas in fact this is the first time she’s ever been unfaithful—she unzips Suzie’s trousers and pulls them down. Her knickers are small, lacy and white. Matching the bra.
Kate smiles. ‘They’re beautiful.’
‘I-I always dress up when we go out,’ Suzie murmurs. ‘I like to.’
‘Do you?’ Kate can’t believe the gift which is being offered to her. The understanding that perhaps Suzie has dreamed of her like this too is almost beyond her comprehension. ‘Thank you.’
Lifting Suzie’s buttocks, she slips the knickers off. Her friend’s pubic hair is soft and inviting. Kate buries her face in its rich depths. Breathes in musky perfume and licks the wetness with her tongue, pushing it deep into Suzie’s warm folds. Funny how this seems so natural even though she has never done it before. As if she and Suzie are two halves of a perfect whole and were always meant to be together like this.
Still, even though she knows her own body by feel and her husband’s touch, it takes Kate a little while to understand someone else’s. She uses her mouth and fingers to tease Suzie’s clitoris, remembering that too much pressure will only chase the pleasure away. It astonishes Kate how much she loves this and how powerful it makes her.
Just before Suzie comes, she whispers, ‘I love you, Kate. I love Neil but I love you too.’
As Suzie’s body rides the waves of her orgasm, Kate keeps pushing her fingers into her friend’s vagina and across her clitoris where only a moment ago her mouth has been. Over and over again. Her own body longs for satisfaction but she is patient enough to wait. For now, she basks in the understanding of how her lips and tongue, her teeth and fingers can make Suzie lose control so completely. Finally, when her friend’s shuddering and low cries have come to an end, Kate releases her and lays her down, naked and open, upon the sofa.
With the salt-sea taste of Suzie’s cunt filling her mouth, Kate at last kisses her on the lips, tongue linking with tongue, and feels her friend’s astonished groan of delight.
‘Are we lovers now?’ Suzie asks with a smile, when the kiss is over.

‘Yes,’ says Kate, revelling in how everything has changed and so delightfully. ‘We are.’
Author: Anne Brooke
Title: Butterfly Girl & Truth or Dare
Publisher: Untreed Reads
# of Pages: 12; Price: $0.99
To purchase, click http://goo.gl/MGcSXh 

Also by Anne Brooke and Untreed Reads Publishing
Thorn in the Flesh
The Girl in the Painting and Other Stories

Untreed Reads Publishing

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Foster Family excerpt by Jaime Samms




In The Foster Home, Jaime Samms tells the tale of Kerry Grey.  Growing up in foster care has left Kery with little self-esteem or hope for his future. A college dropout, Kerry scrapes by on a part-time job at a garden nursery. His friendship with his boss and working with the plants are the only high points in Kerry’s life. He’s been dating the man who bullied him at school, but when his boyfriend abandons him at a party, Kerry wanders down the beach to drown his sorrows in a bottle of scotch.

Malcolm Holmes and Charlie Stone have been together for fifteen years. Despite Charlie's willingness to accept Malcolm's unspoken domination in bed,something is missing from their relationship. Early one morning, they rescue a passed out Kerry from being washed away by the tide and Charlie immediately senses a kindred spirit in the lost younger man. When Kerry’s roommate kicks him out, Malcolm and Charlie invite him into their home. As Charlie and Kerry bond over Charlie’s garden, Malcolm sees Kerry may be just who they have been looking for to complete their lives. All they have to do is show Kerry, and each other, that Kerry's submissive tendencies will fit their dynamic.

But someone is sabotaging Kerry at every turn. As he struggles to discover the culprit, he fears for the safety of his new friends. If Malcolm and Charlie cannot help, their lifelong search for their perfect third may not end with the happily ever after they imagined.


The Foster Home
Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 978-1-62798-553-6 ebook
978-1-62798-552-9 paperback

Excerpt:

Charlie stared at me.

“What?”

He bent his neck and kissed me, long and heartfelt. Not possessive like Malcolm had, but it left me dizzy just the same.

“Great. Another hard-on,” I muttered. Which of course made them laugh. “Funny for you, maybe.”

Malcolm grinned. “No maybe about it. Come on.” He took my hand and dragged me back inside. “It’s been a day. Finish the laundry and it’s time we all got to bed.”

I glanced up hopefully, but he shook his head. “I have a room for you.”

“Guest room,” I sighed.

He kissed my knuckles. “We don’t call it that. The guest room is where our guests sleep when they visit. Your room is… not.”

My room was small but nicely appointed. It had a soft bed on a sturdy metal frame, a dresser and bookshelf sagging with photo albums, and a locked cabinet. When I fiddled with the lock, Malcolm slapped my fingers away. “Not yet, boy.” But he was smiling that self-satisfied smile at me, and if that didn’t tip me off as to what was in that cabinet, being called “boy” in that tone did.

I pushed my glasses up my nose. “When?”

Malcolm cupped my face and turned it up so I had no choice but to look him in the eye. “If and when you realize it isn’t all about sex, maybe we’ll talk. If you ever understand it isn’t something you just throw yourself into because we offered, maybe.” He caressed his thumbs over my face and I sighed and closed my eyes. “When you figure out how precious you are and don’t go throwing yourself at strangers.”

“You won’t be strangers anymore by then,” I muttered, knowing the things he was requiring of me to get them into bed were things I might never accomplish.

“Charlie, our new boy might be a genius.”

I opened my eyes. There was something so soft and open about his expression. I couldn’t look away from him, but I didn’t understand him. Not at all.



Monday, March 17, 2014

Pretty Boy Dead excerpt by Jon Michaelsen


In Jon Michaelsen's 2014 Lambda Literary Award Finalist for Gay Mystery, there's a murdered male stripper. a missing go-go dancer, a city councilman on the hook. Can Atlanta homicide detective Sergeant Kendall Parker solve the heinous crime and remain safely behind the closet door?

When the body of a young man is found in a popular midtown park, police and local media are quick to pin the brutal killing on a homeless gay kid with AIDS. But homicide detective Sgt. Kendall Parker isn't so convinced, even when the suspect is accused of assaulting another police detective with a deadly weapon.

City leaders want the murder solved yesterday and jump at the chance to pin the crime on the drug-craving teen. It's an election year, so remaining in office is their top priority, even at the sacrifice of the young man. Sgt. Parker is not persuaded and is determined to prove Hopper's innocence, despite the protest of his colleagues, and threatening the deep secret Parker has carefully hidden from his comrades for years.

In this excerpt, Homicide Detectives Kendall Parker and Vincent Perelli, and rookie Timothy Brooks check out a murder victim’s place of employment, the Metroplex, a posh, all-male nude dance club and ask to speak to the manager.

Pretty Boy Dead
Wilde City Press (November 6, 2013)
  •       ISBN-10: 1925031608
  •       ISBN-13: 978-1925031607

Excerpt:

The manager of the establishment was a tall, dirty-blond, muscular tank who introduced himself as Callahan. The man shuffled them through the lounge area of the main floor. Smoke, sweat, and cool air filled the room. Large leather sofas and chairs accentuated mammoth artwork that cluttered the dark walls. Fresh, brightly-colored flowers calmed the darkness. Callahan led them past anterooms located on either side of a massive circular bar. They followed their host through a crowd of mostly male bodies: buff, shirtless waiters, drag queens, and transvestites. A concealed door on the right brought them to a small office tucked behind the coat check area.

Parker strained to hear Callahan’s words, so he watched the man’s arms as he directed them to take a seat in the sumptuous chairs in front of a rectangular desk. The bass pulsating through the walls thumped like an ancient warrior’s beat. Brooks chose to stand in a spot near the exit.

“To what do I owe this honor, gents?” Callahan extracted a cigar from a rosewood box on the desk without offering them one.

Parker looked around the office, noting a mobile rack of clothing holding various costumes and uniforms. “We’re investigating the suspicious death of one of your employees, Jason North,” he said, turning back to the man after studying some of photographs on the walls. If the news of the stripper’s demise came as a shock, Callahan didn’t show it. He sat stock-still and listened as Perelli whipped out a few black and whites of the crime scene and placed the photos of the victim atop the desk.

“ID’d him this afternoon,” Parker said, not explaining that confirmation was preliminary until dental records provided proof. “Can you tell us when you saw him last?”

Callahan stared at the glossies before leveling his eyes at Parker. “I guess it was about a week ago.” The man’s indifferent tone irritated Parker. “I remember because Jason should have been on stage last Thursday night, but he didn’t show up.”

“Did that concern you?” Parker didn’t recognize Callahan’s voice as the one left on North’s answering machine.

Callahan’s smirk spoke volumes. He puffed on the cigar and held the smoke in his lungs, appearing to savor its taste before releasing a bluish cloud off to the side. “Why would it? He didn’t bother to let me know that he wouldn’t be in, so why should I be concerned?” Callahan turned to Parker. “Dancers come and go around here, detective. You must know that. It’s not uncommon for them to skip out, happens all the time.”

“Sergeant,” Perelli corrected, scooting forward in his chair as if ready to pounce. Callahan ignored the jab. “How was North’s attitude lately? Any indication he felt his life might be in danger?”

“Not that I noticed. Jason wouldn’t say if he were in any trouble. Wasn’t the type and didn’t need to be. The boy could take care of himself.”

“Apparently not,” Parker said, reaching out to take a cigar from the box on the desk. Callahan cut his eyes toward him, his lips curling in a slight grin before offering Parker a lighter. Parker sat back in his chair and puffed the smoke. “Who would want him dead?”

“Jason?” The manager burst out laughing. “You’re kidding, right?” Parker noted a slight change in Callahan’s demeanor since viewing the photos. The man’s shoulders twitched. “Everybody liked the guy. He was fucking hot, man. Mighty popular with the customers.” His attempt to suppress his emotions didn’t escape Parker. “He’ll be missed.”

“Somebody wouldn’t agree,” Perelli stated. The men stood as if on cue.

Parker put the cigar in the ashtray on the desk. “You don’t mind if we have a look around, do you? Nose around a bit, talk to the staff, that sort of thing.”

The manager’s face drained of color, but he managed to remain cordial. “I have no objections, of course.” Parker shook the man’s hand. “Drinks are on the house, gentleman. If I can be of any further help, please don’t hesitate to ask.”

“Count on it,” Parker said. He held the man’s palm a second longer than needed. “We’ll have more questions later. An officer will drop by tomorrow for a list of your employees.”

“Is that really necessary?” Callahan bristled. “I’m sure you can appreciate the privacy these men value.”

“Yeah, it’s necessary.” The men exited the office and again threaded their way through the crowd. Brooks shouted out something, but the beat carried his words away as he disappeared in the maze. Perelli peeled off and made a beeline for the bar. Parker moved about, betting Callahan knew more than the man had offered. He also figured Callahan had lied about the last time he spoke to North, which could explain the cool reaction at seeing the grisly photos. Hadn’t Callahan dismissed North’s death too quick? Odd, considering he’d just boasted of the dancer’s popularity among the club’s clientele moments earlier. What are you hiding, Callahan?

As he migrated his way through the mezzanine, Parker made a mental note to run a check on Callahan for priors. Men of varying ages shuffled through the club like cattle, pushing and shoving in a sea of sweaty, scantily clad bodies, most engaged in conversations in tight clusters throughout the room. Shirtless bartenders with bulging muscles served up cocktails and popped beer caps for guys five-deep in line around the bar. Dancers in G-strings connected to snatches of cloth danced on the elevated tabletops scattered around.

A room spilled out onto a large balcony with its own bar, framed by twin staircases on either side overlooking a dance floor the size of a basketball court. Smoke poured from the ceiling, obscuring Parker’s view, as did colored lights that spun from multiple rising and falling chrome lattices suspended overhead. Music pulsated from speakers mounted throughout the space as more men jammed onto the dance floor, thrusting to Rihanna’s latest mega-hit, bare chest to bare chest. The smell of musk and sweat permeated the room.

Parker descended the stairs and shoved past frenzied dancers along the wall toward a bar nestled in the corner, its steel counter illuminated by neon sculptures of the male torso. He ordered scotch on the rocks. At first glance, the bartender with the close-cropped peroxide blond hair seemed to recognize him. The man stood rigid, arching his shoulders back and drying his hands on a bar cloth. He looked Parker up and down as he poured the scotch.

Parker turned and watched as a thrust of dry ice fog engulfed the dancers. He spotted amber vials of liquid shoved up to their noses, heads thrown back with their eyes closed. The men danced close together, bodies pressing tightly and moving in rhythm. A young, pierced, and tattooed couple clung to each other kissing, oblivious to the world around them.

“The name’s Jake.” Parker heard over his shoulder. He took a plastic cup filled with scotch and ice from the bartender, who stared at him with ice blue eyes. “It’s on me.”

“Thanks,” Parker said with a smile. “Did you know Jason North? He was a dancer here.”

The bartender hesitated before speaking, his eyes darting around the room before leaning in closer. “Who didn’t know Jason?” he replied with a harsh tone. “The guy was a fucking jerk. Probably deserved it.”

Not the sentiment Parker expected to hear. “You two didn’t get along?”

The man scowled. “Jason was a prick, a snot-nosed rich kid who shouldn’t have been dancing here in the first place. He didn’t need the money, man, not like the rest of us. Most of these guys, the dancers here, couldn’t take his attitude.”

Parker sipped his cocktail as Jake filled requests yelled at him by a shirtless, muscled waiter who plopped a drink tray on the counter. When Muscles took off, Parker said, “I came away with the impression Jason was one of the most popular attractions.”

Jake rolled his eyes. “The customers couldn’t get enough of the guy. That’s why the other dancer’s couldn’t stand him. Most resented his talent, if that’s what you’d call it. He crowded their space, man. If a pedestal some dude was dancing on had a larger crowd, Jason butted in. He landed the prime shifts, the best dancing spots and worked on his own terms. None of the other guys received the same treatment, that’s for sure.”

“You sound angry.” Parker lit a cigarette and blew the smoke out the side of his mouth. “Holding a grudge?”

“Yeah, something like that.” Jake glanced around the room. “Look man, Anthony takes care of his boys, all right? He doesn’t give shit about the rest of us.”

“You’re saying the owner and Jason were sticking it to each other?”

Jake glanced up to a figure peering down from the upper balcony. “I’ve said enough. Fuck, I’ll probably get fired for talking to you.” He rushed off to attend to other customers.

Parker looked up in time to see a tall, sharply dressed figure withdraw from the railing into the shadows of the crowd. From photos he’d seen in the paper, he recognized the club owner, Anthony Galloti, profligate nephew to one of the most lethal crime families in Chicago. He also knew that Special Investigations had tried and failed to link Galloti to racketeering indictments including prostitution, money laundering, police corruption, loan sharking, and credit card fraud, to name a few. 

A meaty hand landed on Parker’s shoulder.

“I’ve talked to a few of the bartenders,” Perelli shouted, leaning near his partner’s ear. He stuck a thumb over his shoulder as Parker turned. “None….good…say…”

Unable to understand, he motioned for them to move up the stairs and out into the main room. “What were you saying?” he asked, ignoring the ringing echo in his ears.

“No luck so far. I’ve talked to several employees, but nothing.” Perelli tipped his cup on end, licking the remnants of alcohol from the corners of his mouth. “I’m getting another. Want one?”

“Take it easy on the alcohol, Perelli.”

Perelli waved him off and shot across the carpeted floor, returning moments later with a fresh drink. “Cops carry clout in these places,” he said. “No waiting in line either.” The threat to his masculinity had abated with a few drinks. So, it seemed, had his cold shoulder to Parker. “Hell, this place ain’t so bad,” he sneered. “Despite all the fucking fags.”

Parker ignored his partner’s comment, distracted by the movement of a patron across the room. The young man was edging toward the emergency exit and kept an eye peeled in their direction.

“What’s up, partner?”

“I’m not sure yet,” said Parker. “You see the guy over there in the red tank?” Perelli followed Parker’s stare and nodded. “Since we’ve been standing here, he’s slipped through the crowd, not a word to anyone, but kept watching us. Looks like he’s headed for that exit.”

“I’d say he’s about to bolt.” Perelli tossed his cup into a nearby trash bin and leaned in close to Parker’s ear. “I’ll head out front and swing around,” he said. “He makes a run for it, I’ll be there.”

Parker studied the character over his partner’s shoulder. “Keep it cool, Perelli,” he said. “If the dude makes a break for it, detain him and that’s all. It’s probably nothing, but I want to be sure. And watch your back.”

Perelli disappeared through the squash of bodies. Parker sipped his cocktail, peering over the rim of the plastic cup as he watched the man’s eyes springboard around the room. Parker spotted Callahan and two goons moving in fast as the man rushed to make a break for it. A hand slapped onto Parker’s arm about the time he started to advance.

“Slade. What the hell are you doing here?”

The reporter smirked. Parker turned back in time to see the red shirt had moved closer to the emergency exit. A cluster of chatty men blocked his view as Slade tugged his arm again.

You’re working the park homicide, aren’t you? Why else would you be here?” Slade tried to follow Parker’s line of sight across the room. “I know the victim worked here as a dancer, a mighty popular one, I might add.”

“What’s your point?” Parker turned away and craned his neck over the crowd in front of him. He spotted the tousled blond hair of the young man within inches of freedom. “Some other time,” he said.

All eyes were on Parker as he shoved and elbowed his way through the crowd, stepping on a few toes along the way. He heard some choice words and threats in his wake. Patrons dashed out of the way and protected their drinks.

The guy threw open the emergency door and set off the alarm. Someone nearby screamed and people scattered in the opposite direction. Callahan and his men retreated as Parker reached the exit, slammed through the door and leaped into the alleyway beside the club.

Pitch black. Retrieving his gun with his right hand, he clasped the butt of the weapon with his left and waited wide-eyed for his pupils to adjust. Where was Perelli? Brooks? The smell of sewage and stale beer hung in the night air. Behind him, the heavy door shut.

An eerie silence invaded the area. 


For another excerpt from Pretty Boy Dead, see the blog entry for November 4, 2013

http://www.jonmichaelsen.net/