Monday, November 30, 2009

Lynx Woods excerpt by P A Brown

In P A Brown's Lynx Woods, Charlie Reid is a world-class wildlife artist who captures the heart of his subjects, revealing them to the world. But he is also desperate to keep his deeply hidden sexual desires secret from everyone, including himself. He never counts on meeting a man like Tyler McKay, however, an environmental engineer who transforms wastelands into viable bio communities that are not only beautiful but functional. Tyler is also the only man who might be able to penetrate Charlie's solid wall of denial and make him admit to yearnings to which he has never surrendered. Can the men build a bond strong enough to withstand everything the world throws at them? But how far, and to what lengths, will Tyler push Charlie to make him admit who he truly is? When two stubborn alpha males put their desires and needs to the test, will they discover that "surrender" isn't necessarily a bad thing and that, in the game of love, there are sometimes no losers, but only winners?

Lynx Woods
Amber Allure (December, 2009)
ISBN-13: 978-1-60272-595-9 (Electronic)
ISBN-13: 978-1-60272-825-7 (Paperback)



The whole area looked like it had been ravaged by a dirty bomb. I stood on the running board of my ancient Land Rover and squinted toward the distant line of the river, visible through a screen of beech and Manitoba maple trees. This entire section of what should have been prime Ontario forest was a wasteland. What little grew, looked pathetic even by weed standards.

Make that two bombs. Small nuclear ones.

The ground was mostly hard pack. A few sunken pits and depressions had collected oily puddles of water, and I'd already jarred my teeth on a few driving into the site. I was surrounded by piles of garbage bags, a broken bed frame, and a haphazard pile of tires. This was far worse than I'd expected.

I knew there was a lot more I hadn't seen yet.

Nearer the river, a few trees struggled to take hold, their thin, bent trunks competing with thick clusters of pig's weed and purple loosestrife. The only decent-looking thing on the entire site was a massive weeping willow tree that stood near the curved banks of the river on the right-hand corner of the fifty-acre lot. How it had managed to survive this long was a total mystery. I was surprised Thurlow's grandfather hadn't whacked it down when he put his first paper mill on the property back in the late 1800s. Of course, it had been a tiny sapling back then. Maybe he'd overlooked it in his zeal to rape the bigger stuff.

I knew I shouldn't have been so cynical. Industry built Canada. Back then, no one had had any real concept of the impact humans made on the planet. Even today, some people seemed to miss the point of global warming. I could hardly fault Bartholomew Thurlow's grandfather for his lack of foresight. Indeed, he had known enough to make his family wealthy for generations to come. Now, that wealth was going to fix what it had screwed up so long ago.

Bringing back this piece of land to its pre-industrial state was going to be a major job…a major job that was now sitting squarely on my not-so-broad shoulders.

From inside my Land Rover came the sound of an impatient throat clearing. "Are you done yet, Tyler? I thought we were going to lunch?"

I glanced at Michael. The angle afforded me a view of my lover's tight, jean-clad crotch and delectable bottom. Normally an arresting site -- even a stirring one -- today it did nothing for me. In fact, it was fast reaching the point where Michael, himself, did nothing for me. I tried to remember what had moved me to bring the boy along this morning. The desire for company on the ninety-minute trip? Whatever had triggered the gesture, I was now regretting my impetuousness.


What had I been thinking?

"I heard you the first time, Michael." I hopped off the running board. Acrid dust puffed up under my Merrell Explorers. "I'll be back in five."

I shut the door over Michael's startled complaints and stomped across a blasted peak of clay and brutalized soil to something I had spotted just before Michael's initial whine.

A tiny dribble of water confirmed my suspicion. A spring. Weak, and probably from a polluted ground source, but running water all the same. A few waist-high milkweed plants and vetch grew around it. I felt buoyed by the sight of a monarch butterfly sniffing out the milkweed as a potential nursery. A shadow crossed my path, and I looked up to see a Red-tailed Hawk soar over the river, hunting for game.

Feeling remarkably upbeat, I doubled back to the Land Rover and popped open the door. Michael started in even before I got my butt planted on the duct-taped seat covers.

I zoned him out while tapping my fingers on the wheel for several seconds, then cranked on the engine. It growled, and the Land Rover shook and shuddered before it roared to life. Then I spotted the shack. It was tucked out of the way, maybe a hundred yards from the gorgeous willow, hemmed in by a heavy cloak of sumac and a few sickly looking white cedars.

I didn't remember seeing the structure listed as an asset. And from where it sat, it most definitely was on the property. I'd have to go back and double-check the papers since I did not want to be responsible for tearing down old Aunt Becky's birthplace by mistake. That would be a public relations gaffe I could do without. And if it wasn't listed, I'd have to contact Thurlow to find out what it was.

"Are we going, or what?" Michael was in full I-can-be-such-a-bitch mode. "First I miss my luncheon at Azure, and now it's like you can't tear yourself away from this Godforsaken place. I don't understand what's going on."

"Michael," I said with as much as patience as I could muster, which at this point in time, wasn't much. "Shut up."

"Tyler!" Michael flounced his pretty butt on the worn seat under him. "Well, I never -- "

"Man, if I thought that was true, I'd buy you a diamond ring and marry you."

I dropped off a fuming Michael at Domo's on Yorkville in the heart of Toronto, wincing at the thought of the damage he'd inflict on my credit card. I was really going to have to do something about Michael soon. His mercurial temper and gift for spending money -- especially my money -- were rapidly outweighing his talents in bed.

I drove out to Mississauga and pulled into Thurlow Industries around four. I parked in a spot marked for visitors and approached the towering blue, steel-and-glass structure. A 767, coming in for a landing at Pearson International Airport across the 401, roared overhead, runner lights blinking.

Ears numb, I entered the cool lobby and hooked a right toward the elevators.

The sound of running water worked through my overwrought senses. I paused to study the fountain cascading down the living wall that stretched across the entire north rampart. It soared three stories to where the first of a set of hidden pipes fed a perpetual stream. The plants I had personally selected and attached to the wall were growing nicely, several looking like they had tripled in size.

The air was filled with the fresh scent of clean water and the rich oxygen given off by the wall of plants after filtering the crap that the building had produced. This had been my first major success as an ecological engineer, and one I was proud of to this day. Companies still sent representatives from all over the world to study what I had accomplished in the hope of reproducing it. I'd won some fat contracts as a result of those visits.

When Thurlow had first approached me with his "little" problem nearly three years before, I hadn't been sure what the industrialist wanted. He'd told me he had a sick building and was losing hundreds of man-hours each year as employees called in sick. He needed someone to fix the problem immediately. He'd heard about my company, Emerald Biolife, and suspected I could help.

I hadn't had to spend more than half a day in the stale, trapped air of the hermetically sealed box to know what the problem was. It had taken nearly two months of research, working with a top-notch botanist at Toronto's U of T, to come up with a solution. Which had been a real pain in the butt to implement, including a very steep learning curve and even some new technologies picked up on the run. But we had unveiled the project eighteen months before. The living wall, in particular, had been an instant hit.

Bioengineering the interior of a structure is always an ever-evolving process. So the system within Thurlow's building worked even better now than it had when it had gone online. And I envisioned it would grow increasingly more efficient with time.

Thurlow had paid me well for that job, and had helped me launch a new phase of my career. Now, he wanted another miracle.

I announced my arrival to Jeannie, Thurlow's long-suffering secretary, then I strolled over to the nearest window and looked out. I couldn't see much. An industrial fog obscured the distant shoreline of Lake Ontario, and several other buildings on the same scale as Thurlow's hid whatever the smog didn't.

Finally, Jeannie told me I could go in.

I passed through the double oak doors into Thurlow's inner sanctum. His office was the size of some middling banana republic country; his desk was as big as the third-floor bedroom I shared with the volatile Michael. In sharp contrast, Thurlow, himself, was a small, rotund man of indeterminate years who occupied a chair two sizes too large for him.

He indicated one of two padded leather chairs facing his desk. "Sit, Tyler. What brings you out here? I thought you had planned to survey the site today."

"Did." I dropped into the chair across from him. "Something came up -- "

Only then did I notice the other man in the room.

He stood with his back to the desk, looking out at the view through the polarized glass. His hands were held behind his back, and I noted their size and obvious roughness. This guy was no desk jockey, not with calluses like that. I couldn't see his face, only the pitch black hair that had been drawn into a ponytail and hung past his shoulder blades. He had broad shoulders and a tight ass not quite covered by a black leather bomber jacket.

"Ah, yes," Thurlow said. "I'm actually glad you did come up, Tyler. I'd like you meet someone. He's going to be working on the site, too, but in a different capacity."

The figure by the window turned, and I found myself holding my breath. Would this stranger measure up to what I had already seen of his impressive back?

I wouldn't have described the man as drop-dead gorgeous. His face was too unusual for that. It was obvious he had First Nation's blood running through his veins. His high cheekbones looked sculptured in his tight, dark face, and his eyes were two black orbs staring into mine as Thurlow introduced us.

"Tyler, I'd like you to meet Charlie Reid. Charlie, this is Tyler McKay, our ecological engineer."
Charlie Reid. That sounded familiar.

Thurlow continued, "I've commissioned Charlie to create a piece of art commemorating this project and all it will mean for the world."
Thurlow had a pretty high opinion of himself and his place in the scheme of things. I guess when you have the kind of money he had, you could afford to.

I realized why I had heard Reid's name. The man was a rising talent in the art world. His paintings of animals in their natural habitat were giving Robert Bateman a run for his money. I said to him, "I've seen your pieces. I remember one, in particular. Some kind of bird on the deck of a boat in the Arctic?"

"An Arctic Skua on the deck of an oil rig in the North Atlantic, but you're close." Charlie smiled and some of the tension in his dark face dissolved. "That was my first sale."

"It was good. What were you doing in the North Atlantic?"

"Working. I was one of the onboard rig technicians."

"And you spent your spare time painting? Strange hobby for a roughneck."

"I ran out of chewing tobacco, and my guns fell overboard." He shrugged his broad shoulders, and his eyes hardened into ice chips. "You stereotype everybody that way?"

I felt heat flood my face. I fingered my goatee and tried to figure out a way to word my apology. "Sorry, bad choice of words. I am puzzled, though. Have you seen the site, yet…where I'm going to be working?"

"Yes, I was up there yesterday. Why?"

"What exactly do you intend to paint?"

If Charlie was taken aback by my words, he didn't show it. Instead, he rolled his big shoulders in a shrug and said, "I intend to paint what once was and what will be again."

Oh great, a mystic.

I tried to place his accent, which wasn't strong, but was definitely present. American South…but where, exactly?

Charlie added, "Unless, of course, you don't think you can do what you claim you can, and you are unable to restore Lynx Woods."

"Lynx Woods?" That was a new one. "Is that what your people used to call it?"

"My people? Nah, my great-grandfather was a North Carolina Cherokee. Don't think he ever got north of Richmond."

Feeling like I'd been had, I raised one eyebrow at the taller man. "I assure you, I can and will do what I've said. This isn't the first time I've reconstructed a damaged wetland site."

Thurlow choose that moment to interject. "Good, good. Now, I'm sure you both have lots to do." He stood -- all five-foot, four-inches of him -- and ushered us toward the door. "Unless there was something else, Tyler? Charlie?"

"As a matter of fact, there was, Mr. Thurlow," I said. "There's a building on the property that wasn't listed in my original specs."

"A building?"

"Not much more than a shack, but I need to have formal dispensation to take it down, if that's your intention. Or we'll have to put a keep-away order on it so it's left alone during the work."

"Could it be used for anything? Storage? Tools? While you're working there, that is?"

"I didn't examine it too closely, but from my first impression, I would say no. Do I have your leave to raze it?"

"Yes, by all means. If that's what you think best."

Thurlow seemed very distracted now. Busy man. All those billions to occupy the mind. I persisted, though. I didn't want to have to come back later to take care of this. "I'll need that in writing."

I couldn't help but notice Charlie smirking at the exchange. Did he think I was a sniveling coward trying to cover his ass? Let him. His opinions meant squat to me. The man knew how to fill out a pair of jeans, though. I couldn't help it, my gaze kept dropping down below Charlie's waist.

"Fine," Thurlow said, completely oblivious. "I'll fax that to you by end of business day today."

"Very good, sir."

I followed Charlie to the door. He held it open and swept his arm in a half circle to indicate I should go through first. He sauntered after me.

We waited for the elevator in silence. When it arrived, I couldn't resist asking, "How'd you hook up with Thurlow, anyway?"

"Mutual acquaintance. Another client."

"And you think you'll actually find something to paint out there?"

"I'll find something. Just don't know what it is right now. That's why I need to spend time at the site."

"Creative juices?"

His face closed. Had I touched a nerve of some kind?

"You might say that. At this point, all I know is that I will be creating a panel of four paintings in acrylic. Probably featuring some concurring theme." He shrugged, his broad shoulders rolling loosely under his dark leather jacket. I could see the muscles of his chest flex and wished I could see more. "Maybe that willow."

"You noticed that, too? Quite an impressive tree."

"And strong. It's survived a lot of abuse."

"How so?"

"On that site? How could it not?" Suddenly Charlie seemed bored with the topic. "I'll be heading out first thing in the morning. To catch the early light and see what it inspires. What exactly is involved at your end? Will you be spending a lot of time out there?" He smiled dryly. "I don't believe I've ever met an ecological engineer before."

"That's me. One of a kind." I stroked my goatee while I thought of what to say. "My job is to understand what the land can sustain and try to take it to that place. It involves a lot of complex issues related to hydrology, geology, and the like. First thing I have to do is a detailed study of the entire site."

"All fifty acres? How detailed?" Charlie seemed interested, despite his pretense at boredom.

"My crew and I will be taking core samples from at least a dozen key locations within the site. We'll determine basalt structure and identify the watershed…basically try to figure out how water is going to move within those fifty acres."

"Move. What do you mean? Water moves the same everywhere. It's water. It doesn't suddenly start flowing uphill just because the ground underneath it is different."

"But water on porous, sandy ground moves much differently than water on solid clay or granite. Subtle variations in the way the land, itself, is structured can make a big difference in where the water goes and how fast it gets there. You have to plant accordingly, to get the most out of the terrain. Nature will do it automatically, if given the chance. My role is to give it that chance once more."

Charlie suddenly laughed. It changed his harsh face completely, leaving me mesmerized. "Okay, you got me. I think I'll stick to painting. Those kinds of subtleties I can understand."

I grinned. "It's less complicated than it sounds."

"Oh, I doubt that. I doubt that very much."

The elevator door opened, releasing us into the cool, air-fresh lobby.

Charlie waited until I followed him out, then extended his hand. "Nice to meet you, Tyler. Maybe I'll see you out there sometime."

"Pleasure, Charlie. What did you call it? Lynx Woods?" I felt his larger hand swallow up mine, his rough skin caressing mine. His flesh felt warm and dry. "I like it. Encourage Mr. Thurlow to keep the name."

"It'll be listed in the catalog with the panel once it's completed. Does that make it official enough?"

"That ought to do it."

I reluctantly dropped his hand. Charlie saluted me and sauntered out into the bright sun. Slipping on a pair of Ray Bans, he walked across the patch of lawn that had been given over to benches and a picnic table for employees. He was a vision in black, his narrow hips swinging from side to side.

I remained mesmerized.

Now the question was: which way did sexy Charlie swing?
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Superstar excerpt by Rick R Reed

Superstar is the story of a groupie and the rock star he loves. It’s the tale of a man on the edge, both literally and figuratively...and it’s a timeless story of love found and love lost, all set to a driving rock beat.

Amber Quill Press (2009)
ISBN: 978-1-60272-605-5


“You said you loved me. You told me you’d come back.”

I lean forward and an updraft of wind catches at my hair and flirts with stealing my breath away. I am looking down at a straight drop of almost two hundred feet. Behind me, cars rush by, oblivious to my intentions, concerned only with making their way south to downtown Seattle, or north to neighborhoods like Fremont or Wallingford.

I push my chest forward, so I am hanging over the edge of the George Washington Bridge, better known here in Seattle as the Aurora Bridge.

AKA Route 99. AKA the “suicide bridge.”

One look down and I’m dizzy, the vertigo possessing me like a demon, filling me with a giddiness that makes my heart thud and nearly steals my breath. It’s quite a view from up here: I can see the distant mountain ranges of the Olympics, the pine-covered hills and neighborhoods dotting Seattle, and the sparkling blue of Lake Union. Unlike the common “rain city” conception of Seattle, this July day is a stunning one, clear, sunny, low humidity and a temperature in the mid 70s.

It’s a lovely day to commit suicide.

I glance down again at the plunge before me. I have read that it will take only 2.2 seconds for me to cover the 180 feet or so I would drop if I were to attempt to take flight. Flight? Gravity is a demanding bitch…hungry.

I close my eyes for just a moment, because the vertigo of standing here at the edge of one of the tallest bridges in the country is pulling me forward, making me want to make the leap before I’m even ready. But I have things to think about before I take that quick, exhilarating exit and before everything goes dark.

I have read extensively about this bridge upon which my black Converse shoes are now firmly grounded. Since it was built, more than 230 people have committed suicide by jumping. Hey, a shoe salesman made the leap first back in 1932, before they even had a chance to get the thing completed. Is life that bad for shoe salesmen?

I have learned that I will reach a speed of about 55 miles per hour before I abruptly come to a halt. The force at impact is 28,000 foot-pounds, equal to being blasted by twenty-five 30-30 Winchester rifles.

I guess I won’t be leaving a pretty corpse.

But then you never really did appreciate how pretty I was, did you? If you had, maybe I wouldn’t be standing here right now.

“You said you loved me. You told me you’d come back.”

Ah, but I bet you say that to all the boys. I wonder how many of them fell for it as I did? I wonder how many of them fall—big time—for you, just as I am about to do in a few minutes here?

* * *

The first time I met you, you were playing in a little dive bar in Ballard. This was before you got famous, before the Rolling Stone cover, the Grammy, and the two platinum records. I had planned an evening out in Seattle’s equivalent of Boy’s Town: the area known as Capitol Hill. Park once, and you had a ton of bars you could walk to, and later, stagger from. And if you didn’t get lucky at the bars and got desperate enough, there were always a couple of bathhouses you could sneak into. I had ducked furtively into Club Z or Basic Plumbing myself a time or two, not that I would admit that to any of the group of friends I had planned to go out carousing with that October night so close to Halloween.

But Fate, that irascible, mischievous little bitch, had other things in mind for me that night. One by one, my friends called and canceled. One was dating a new guy and he wanted to stay in and cook for him. This from a man who thought Paula Deen was a gourmet chef. Another was still hung over from starting the weekend early…on Tuesday. And the third, Greg, had come down with an outbreak of herpes. I tried to be sympathetic. But that one bathhouse I mentioned earlier? Basic Plumbing? The front desk knew Greg by name there. They greeted him much the same as the patrons of Cheers once greeted Norm.

So I found myself alone and without wheels. I relied on the kindness of friends for auto transportation and that night, after everything fell through, I just did not feel like taking a bus from Ballard, the neighborhood where my apartment was, all the way downtown, then transferring to get up on the “hill.”

Ballard had been a Scandinavian fishing village before—like some undulating blob—the city of Seattle absorbed it. There were still fishing boats moored at its shores and here and there, the occasional trace of Nordic culture, but Ballard had become more of a trendy place to live…and to eat, drink, and be merry. Merry. I said “merry,” not “Mary.” One still needs to go to Capitol Hill to eat, drink, and be Mary.

I digress. I do that. A lot. See? I’m doing it now.

Anyway, my thought that October night was to head over to Olive’s, a little dive bar and restaurant on Ballard Avenue, where Kurt Cobain was once rumored to have played. No, there most likely would not be any potential love connections there (although that’s not saying it couldn’t happen; just because a bar is labeled “gay” doesn’t mean you’ll always get lucky…and the inverse can often be true; hey I can attest!), but there would be Rainier beer, a dark, crowded room that might contain some grungy, nerdy, cute straight boys who may or may not be amenable to expanding their sexual horizons, and—I hoped—some good music to just float away on.

I threw on black jeans, a black T-shirt that read “Scum of the Earth,” my Cons, and a leather band for my wrist. I glanced at myself in the mirror, making sure the tribal armband tattoo stood out beneath the form-fitting arm of my T-shirt and decided I looked good enough to be going out solo. I ran my fingers through my dark hair, enjoying the way it stood on end, a calculated mess. I looked good.
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Monday, November 16, 2009

Baby Doll excerpt by Mykola Dementiuk

In Baby Doll, Mykola Dementiuk has again brought us an unusual story of a youth growing up in New York City. Skipping school as a daily routine, the main character of Baby Doll finds himself spending time at the East River Park, looking for girls. Instead he finds a pair of pink underwear which take him on an adventure that shapes his future.

Baby Doll gives us a literary look at the complicated psychodynamics of love and sex between a boy and a man in America in the early ‘80s (the beginning era of AIDS, sex-offender witch-hunts, and gay/transvestite visibility). Like a good movie, Baby Doll is definitely worth giving a second (or third) read. Mykola’s mastery at storytelling and excellent writing will keep you engaged the first time through, but subsequent readings will help you understand the complex forces that unfold between the characters. You may question his opinions on femininity and relationships, but you won’t be able to ignore Mykola’s love for words as well as his understanding of a boy’s feelings and behavior.

Sexual counselor Sally Miller (who edited Baby Doll) provides some insight into the story in the afterword.

Baby Doll
Publisher: Synergy Press (2006)
ISBN: 0-9758581-2-2


At first he couldn’t believe they were an actual pair of panties, but they were the color – pink, what else? – and the size – almost palm size – of a real pair. Except for the soiled hardness at the crotch they were satiny and enticing, but too new-looking to be lying discarded on the grass. Another swatch of nearby pink caught his eye, and he was almost afraid to believe it, like some kind of miracle or gift from the Universe: a bra, a pink bra to match the pink panty!

Where was the girl that went with them? Also lying somewhere about? He looked at the two articles of clothing, his penis stiff, and snatched up the panty. He shuddered at the feel of satin – the first time he had ever touched panty-satin – almost blinded by the sensation spinning up his arm and through his body. Like a thief suppressing his greedy enjoyment and victory for later, he quickly shoved the panty in his pocket. But the bra he lingered over, stealthily walking around it, examining it from each angle, gingerly nudging it with his foot as if scared something might jump at him from under the crushed satiny cups. . . . What? A mouse? A spider? A tit?. . . He snatched up the bra.

He clutched the underclothes in his fists, one in each pocket, pulsing his fingers in and out of the material, and walked quickly to the nearby restroom. It wasn’t so much that the bra and panties reminded him of a woman, a girl, a female, but of things feminine, that is, of stereotypes of the feminine: of softness and gentleness, of lolling about on satin sheets, caressing oneself in powders and creams, in bubble-baths and perfumes, of being taken care of and loved, and all because of one’s natural birthright of having been born female. . . .

Where did these skewed images of the feminine come from? A mother who nightly cleaned Wall Street offices? A drunken father who catered to 3rd Avenue addict/prostitutes, then came home to beat his wife? Teachers and nuns in a grade school who periodically ejected him as unfit for class participation? Too many television shows with beautiful actresses playing roles they could never be in real life?

Or perhaps each of us is born with an innate hatred of the other gender, a hatred that in some, borders on jealousy and regret that one has been cheated in being born different, being born male, or being born female, and striving to correct that ‘error’ of the commonplace with exaggerations of one’s unique difference. Dykes bullying like males, queens softening into females, and each in a ‘new’ gender role as grotesquely facile as the one they’ve rejected. . . .

The boy couldn’t wait to try on his new garments. The restroom was cold, its brown wall and floor tiles doing little to instill a sense of warmth or comfort. The name – comfort station – was a misnomer, as there was no comfort here. It was strictly utilitarian: you entered to pee, to shit, to wash your hands, and you left. Even the toilet stalls were doorless – why have privacy for a natural bodily function everyone had to do? – the toilet bowls open and exposed, and though he had never been interrupted while taking a shit, it was always a hurried roosting lest someone did enter.

Even his chronic masturbations at the upright urinals, sometimes six or seven times a day (not counting his evening ones at home) were also hurried for fear of interruption, but he was always left alone. On rainy days he stayed in the restroom for hours at a time until the boring sameness of the urinals and stall and his own repetitive jerk-off images drove him back out into the desolate park.

There was nothing, or anyone, to be afraid would interrupt him, but public places are just that, public. Just as he had often unobtrusively watched lovers on benches, so he, too, often felt himself being watched and observed, and would turn to catch someone, usually a man, eyeing him from across the baseball fields or on a pathway leading from the river promenade.

Thus it was a nervous and hurried disrobing. He wanted the garments on him since he had first spotted them, disbelieving his good fortune at their unexpected appearance in the dirt. But the enigma of the girl who had worn them intrigued him: did she run off naked in the night, pursued by someone equally naked, like satyrs and nymphs gadding about in forests and woods, free and uncaring of who saw or condemned or even joined in?

Perhaps he should have explored further, perhaps she had discarded a garter belt nearby, or dark nylons, a skirt, a blouse . . . but he shook his head, his breathing deepening, forcing him to slow down, relax, take it easy . . . put them on one at a time . . . the bra first. . . . He held it to his face, the bra surging into his mouth, his nose and eyes into each curved cup, imaging he smelled flesh, stiff nipples,soft tits, hungry lust and passion aching to be touched, clasped, caressed, licked, sucked, fucked. . . .

How did he naturally seem to know the complicated logic of putting on a bra? It seemed like the most natural thing in the world, at least for a girl. . . . He had once seen his mother do it, and wanting to do the same, he tugged a spare bra around his chest. She pulled it away, chiding him that when a boy puts on a girl’s clothes his mother will die. . . . Mother was another elusive word he played with, a word filled with so many meaningful definitions and conjectures, so many threatening ones, so many forgiving ones, so many worthless and meaningless ones too. . . .

He held the panties to his face, his eyes and mouth an expression of fear and lust, his penis more stiff than he had ever been able to rouse himself. With the first touch of the satiny material on his legs the panties seemed to rise up his flesh on their own, shimmering up his thighs and into the crook of his ass. Only his erection proved a hindrance, the panty straining to cover, to clutch, to smother the unfamiliar protrusion. . . . Then he heard the footstep and saw the man. His face went white and his eyes widened in fear. One arm automatically crossed his chest as the other tried to shield his crotch.

With one more step the man was on him, tugging the boy’s cock out of the panty, groping the flat brassiere cups, and the boy’s ejaculation was immediate: sudden, shuddering, devastating. For the first time in his life he had been sexually touched by another. The satisfaction of that touching was unlike anything he had ever experienced in touching himself. Strange hands on his penis and body, especially dressed as he was, and his destiny opened up to immediate fulfillment, his eruption like a last and final release of his solitary boyhood – an oozing, lubricating liquid that spilled not only out of his penis and scrotum but from every pore and sensate fiber of his body and soul. There was no buckling or shooting, only a desperate clutching of the man, holding his shoulders and wrapping his legs around the man’s as he was lifted off the ground and pounded against the bathroom stall wall. There was no penetration, yet the boy felt himself fucked as hard and deep as any girl.; (
Synergy Press
Flemington NJ 08822
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Monday, November 9, 2009

Pyromancer excerpt by Amanda Young

One desperate night, a rent boy hot enough to scorch the motel sheets, and Christian is doomed to burn for love. Christian Ryder is rich and lonely. When the people around him keep dying, Christian forgoes personal attachments. The thought of his Pyromancy hurting anyone else, isn't something he's willing to risk. Tanner O'Bannon is broke and desperate. The recent loss of his father has thrown Tanner into a tailspin of debt he can't afford to pay. Working as a rent boy allows him to pay the mortgage and his college tuition, but it's eroding his soul in the process. Through the machinations of Male Companions - the escort agency for which Tanner works - the men are thrown together. Through a series of startling revelations and danger, Tanner and Christian both face changes. Smoldering embers of desire fan the flames of love, but will it be enough to make Christian overcome his fear of love, or to save Tanner from the fire? Only one thing is certain; both men will burn.

Publisher: CreateSpace (September 26, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1449527795
ISBN-13: 978-1449527792


Christian Ryder sat in the dark, slowly stroking his fist up and down the length of his swollen cock. His gaze was locked on the flickering television screen, where two men were in the final throes of orgasm. The brunet top -- his body heavily laden with muscle -- gripped his thick prick around the base and took aim, spraying cum all over the younger blond man’s upturned face. It was a hot scene, one that never failed to get him off.

Until tonight.

As the ending movie credits began to roll across the screen, Christian exhaled a disgusted huff and released his semihard shaft. He reached for the remote control lying next to him on the bed and hit stop on the DVD player. Turning off the TV, he plunged his bedroom into darkness. His frustration mounted as the hollow sound of his pulse pounded in his ears.

It’d been over six months since he’d gotten laid. The last time he’d taken a chance and risked being with someone else, it hadn’t gone so well -- a fucking disaster, really. The end result testing his rigid self-control almost past the limits of his endurance.

The guy he’d picked up and brought home had taken offense at being asked to leave right after they’d screwed, and had thrown a temper tantrum. Not something he’d expected from a six-feet-tall body builder who’d claimed he was only interested in a good time. By the time Christian forcibly removed the man from the property, his body temperature had been dangerously high and his head was spinning.

After that close call, he’d decided it was too dangerous to indulge in one night stands, which left him with little options other than his own left hand. Especially since he already had a self-imposed rule against developing anything long-term or risking the emotional attachment that came with it.

Mixing emotions and sex fucked with even the most normal person’s head. For the people around him, it could mean much more than a broken heart -- it could be deadly.

Security lights from outside filtered through the miniblinds covering his bedroom window in sporadic spurts of light, briefly illuminating his damp and sweaty body lying atop tangled, white cotton sheets. He kicked at them, unraveling himself.

Irritated, Christian sat up. He leaned back against the cool brass headboard and flipped on the bedside lamp. His gaze flittered down to the big, red numbers on his alarm clock. Almost midnight.

Restless and exasperated, he picked yesterday’s newspaper up off the side table and spread it out over his lap. Since jerking off wasn’t going to work for him, maybe he could bore himself to death by reading the paper. It was worth a shot. Losing sleep made control over his curse temperamental.

Page by page, Christian skimmed over the paper until he reached the personal ads. Those babies were like the funny pages to him. Why someone would put an ad in the newspaper, hoping for a good outcome, was beyond his comprehension. Only the ugly and desperate sunk to that level.

He read over a few ads, laughing, until a small square down on the bottom, right-hand corner caught his eye. It was an advert for an escort agency. One that claimed to cater to men of his persuasion: gay men looking for nothing more than a hot body to warm their lonely beds. The agency, Male Companions, promised anonymity and, more importantly, clean bills of health for all their available staff. He never fucked anyone without a rubber, so it was a bit of a moot point, but the words comforted him somehow.

Before Christian realized his intent, the cordless phone was in his hand, his fingers tapping out the number. A feminized male voice answered, saying, “Thank you for calling Male Companions. Nigel speaking. How may I help you?”

Christian opened his mouth to speak and froze. What the hell was he doing? He didn’t want to pay for sex; doing so went against every moral he had. He clicked the off button, hanging up.

He exhaled, relieved he’d come to his senses before doing something he knew he would later regret. His gaze wandered over his bedroom, hovering on the fifty-two--inch plasma TV, the only other thing in there besides his bed and nightstand. Not a single picture or piece of artwork marred the clean lines of the bare, white walls. Whereas the stark sterility of his room usually appeared simple and clean, it now felt barren and depressing, not unlike his personal life.

His hands shook as he picked up the phone and redialed the number.

* * * * *

Tanner O’Bannon sat slumped over his kitchen table, trying to balance his checkbook. Money was tight, his balance down to just above two bucks, but at least he wasn’t in the negative anymore. He couldn’t afford the outrageous overdraft fees the bank charged. The last two charges had forced him to eat ramen noodles for a month. If he never saw another pasta dish in his life, it would be too soon.

Tanner’s eyes blurred as he ran through the figures once last time before flipping the checkbook closed. He folded his arms and laid his head on the cool surface of the mahogany table. He was exhausted, but needed to stay awake for just a little longer. On call for work until three a.m., he couldn’t afford to fall asleep or miss a single phone call. He needed the money too badly to risk losing his job, even if it was one he was ashamed of. Necessity overruled pride.

With heavy-lidded eyes, Tanner jerked his head up and shook it, trying to force himself to stay alert. He rose to his feet, walked over to the sink, and splashed icy water on his cheeks. As he mopped his face with a clean dishtowel, the phone rang. Only one person would be calling this late. Work.

He didn’t know whether to be happy or sad. On the one hand, it meant money; on the other, degradation. His father would be rolling over in his grave if he knew what his only son was doing to pay the debts he’d left behind.

Tanner crossed the room and picked up the phone. He listened for a moment then set it back in the cradle before jogging up the stairs. Upstairs, he hopped into the shower and quickly scrubbed himself from head to toe with citrus-scented body wash. He stepped out and yanked a dry towel off the rack, briskly rubbing it over his hair and skin while he fumbled through a drawer under the sink for lube and a butt plug.

He squeezed a dollop of lube into his hand and ran it over the plug, liberally coating its short length. He reached behind to swipe the remaining moisture through the crease of his ass. The toy in his right hand, he leaned over the toilet and braced his left hand on the back of the commode. He spread his legs shoulder width apart and took a deep breath, trying to relax his muscles as he pressed the blunt rubber tip against his asshole. Due at the motel in thirty minutes, there was no time for finesse. He exhaled and shoved it home, wincing at the sharp burn of his anal ring stretching around the plug.

The things you have to do to make a buck, Tanner thought, as he grabbed the washcloth he’d used in the shower and wiped off the excess lube around the wide base of the plug. He dropped it in the sink and headed into his bedroom to dress.

It was time to go to work.

* * * * *

Waiting inside the modest motel room he’d rented for the night, Christian glanced at his watch for the umpteenth time. Perched on the end of the bed, his sock-clad toes tapped an unsteady rhythm on the cheaply carpeted floor, his body practically vibrating from anxious anticipation.

He was nervously trying to figure out what would happen once the escort showed up. Payment for the guy’s services had already been rendered over the phone -- apparently even hookers took American Express these days -- so at least he didn’t have to worry about having that conversation. Things would be awkward enough as it was.

More pertinent was how things would play out. Was he supposed to strip and get right down to business as soon as the guy got there, or make small talk first? Would he inadvertently break some kind of silent rule if he asked the man anything personal? Could they even exchange more than first names? How would they decide who did what to whom?

He wasn’t stupid enough to think the escort would turn down anything he asked for, but would it be possible for him to tell if the guy really wanted to do it or not? Was it just a job for him, a way to make a buck, or would he really enjoy it? The thought of fucking someone who just laid there and went through the motions repulsed him.

So many unanswered questions floated around in his head he was beginning to get a headache. Sweat beaded his brow, and his knees cantered up and down. Maybe it wasn’t too late to cancel. He could call. Whether they refunded him his money was of little concern. They could keep it; he had more than he’d ever be able to spend anyway.

He didn’t think he could go through with this after all. It seemed too cold, too impersonal. A little voice in the back of his mind screamed, “That’s the point, jackass. You need cold and impersonal. Do you want to be responsible for someone else’s death?”

That thought chilled him. Christian forcibly shut down his memories before they transported him back to a time he didn’t want to visit. He pushed away his reservations and tried to consider why he’d called Male Companions in the first place.

He was lonely. Though he didn’t like to admit it, even to himself, it was the truth. The acquaintances he’d made over the years, at work, on the rare occasions he deigned to go in and check up on things, and at the firehouse where he volunteered, only went so far. During the day, he was fine. It was at night, after a long day at work or returning from an emergency fire call, that the loneliness crept in and haunted him.

He realized that this wasn’t even about sex, not solely. Sure, he wanted to get off, but what he really needed most was simple human contact, companionship. Sadly, that was the one thing he could never allow himself to possess. Attachments meant caring about someone, making himself vulnerable. In essence, losing control of himself. That was something he could never allow.

Christian took several deep, calming breaths. He could do this. He had to. There weren’t any other options left for him. It was anonymous sex or nothing. Though he doubted it, all he could do was hope it would be enough to sustain him.

* * * * *

Tanner arrived at the motel with five minutes to spare. Town had been dead, not a car in sight on his way over. A good thing since old Bessie -- his ten-year-old Mazda -- had sputtered and died twice during the trip across town. It was only a matter of time before the old clunker finally gave out for good.

Part of him wished he’d hung onto his dad’s car instead of selling it when his father was killed six months prior, but at the time he’d needed the money even more desperately than he did now. The debts his father had left behind were astronomical. Even after he’d sold off everything of value besides the house itself, he still hadn’t brought in enough to cover half of what was owed. Hence, the reason for his shady new career.

For the last four months, he’d been working nights for Male Companions as an escort. Selling his body to the highest bidder wasn’t the most respectable line of work, but he hadn’t known what else to do. It wasn’t like he could make enough to cover his college tuition and pay the mortgage, along with making payments on all of the other debts his father had left on his shoulders. He supposed he could have sold drugs; he knew enough small-time dealers. He could have easily bought a little pot and divided it up for resale. Unfortunately, his conscience wouldn’t allow him to do that. Drugs killed people, and no matter how often his buddies tried to convince him marijuana never hurt anyone, he just couldn’t quite believe them. A drug was a drug, plain and simple. Having sex for money, degrading as it was, didn’t hurt anyone besides himself. Besides, it wasn’t like he hadn’t had his share of casual sex along the way, just like everyone else. The only difference was now that he got paid for doing it.

Or so he tried to convince himself as he hustled through the motel lobby toward the service desk.

Though he’d been told which motel to go to and given a name, he hadn’t been given a room number. Which meant he had to go to the desk and ask, something he dreaded every time he was forced to do it. He always imagined the clerk knew exactly who he was and why he was there. It was humiliating.

He rang the bell and waited, tapping his fingers on the hard surface of the beige counter. A bored looking blonde, somewhere around his own age of twenty, sauntered out the back room, long, blood red fingernails plastered over her widely yawning mouth. Her eyes lit up when she saw him. “Oh, hello.” She smiled. “Can I help you?”

Tanner groaned inwardly. He was used to being hit on by women, but that didn’t make him any more comfortable with it. “I’m supposed to meet a friend here.” Damn, what was the name he been told to ask for? Chris…or Christian? “His name is, um, Christian, Christian Smith.” God, he hoped that was right. The last name was easy. It was always Smith. People had no imagination.

The smile on the girl’s face dimmed a bit as she turned to the computer and began to type. Silently, he watched her, wondering how she could type at all with those god-awful nails in her way.

She nodded down at the computer screen and then glanced over at him. “I’ll have to call up and ask permission before I can give you any information.” She turned away from him and picked up the phone. From over her shoulder, she said, “It’ll be just a moment.”

“Sure,” he mumbled, his eyes scanning everywhere and nowhere. He just wanted to get to the room, do what he was being paid for, and go home. Afterward, he would be one day closer to financial solvency. One trick closer to owning the home he’d grown up in, free and clear.

He listened as she quietly spoke with someone, her side of the conversation consisting of mainly “yes, sir” and “uh-huh.” Finally, she hung up and faced him.

“Mr. Smith says to send you up. He’s in room 204.”

“Thank you,” he uttered, already striding away from the desk. There was an elevator, but he bypassed it, choosing the stairs instead. He jogged up them quickly, without breaking a sweat, and shoved through the entrance door onto the second-floor hallway.

The walls were adorned in hunter green wallpaper with a burgundy trim. The floor was carpeted in the same deep shade of green. The minute details were absorbed as he hustled to the end of the hall, glancing at room numbers along the way. Room 204 was on the right, near the end.

He stopped outside it and took a breath, giving himself a mental pep talk. You can do this. Just keep your eyes on the prize and get through it, same as always. It was no different than picking someone up at a club. No different at all.

He raised his clenched fist and knocked, his gaze dropping to his feet. Beginnings were strange. Some men wanted him to come in and bend over, take it up the ass like a good little whore and leave, while others wanted to make polite chitchat first. Out of the two, he wasn’t sure which he liked best. Probably the fuck-and-run guys -- at least those assignments were faster.

He was still wondering what tonight’s call would be like when the door swung inward. Tanner looked up, and higher still, craning his neck back to gaze into the eyes of his client for the night. The standard greeting he recited to each of his johns died in his throat.

Saliva pooled in Tanner’s mouth. Fuck. The man was easily six and a half feet of yummy muscle and lean, bottled sex, dwarfing his own five feet eight stature.

Tanner’s brain turned to mush as all the blood in his body drained south and squeezed into his cock, making his balls draw tight inside his Levi’s. His gaze cruised from the man’s tousled, short black hair to his socked feet and back up, absorbing all the details in between. Brooding eyes, square jaw, broad shoulders, and trim hips -- every inch sex incarnate and designed to entice a man like Tanner to his knees in supplication.

The man was exactly the sort of guy who got Tanner’s motor running in overdrive. The kind of hunk he would’ve tried to pick up in any one of the bars he used to frequent, back when he actually had a life. A man he would’ve happily fucked for free, under other circumstances.

Except this was business.

A sheet of ice fell over Tanner, cooling his ardor, easily putting him back in his place. He wasn’t here on a social call. He was here to fuck for money.

Tanner schooled his features into a smile he’d carefully rehearsed in front of the mirror at home. It was supposed to look seductive, but something about the tight feel of his skin stretching out over his cheekbones told him it fell flat tonight. Oh well, he thought ruefully, another night, another dollar.

He met the big man’s gaze and held it. “I’m Tanner. The agency sent me.”

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Monday, November 2, 2009

All Lost Things excerpt by Josh Aterovis

In All Lost Things,the third book of Josh Aterovis' award winning mystery series, Killian Kendall's life is changing faster than he can keep up. He's graduating from high school, breaking up with his boyfriend, and starting a new job with a private investigator. He's barely settled at his new desk when his ex-boyfriend calls with a desperate plea for help. He wants Killian to prove his new boyfriend is innocent in the shockingly violent murder of his abusive father. Killian reluctantly agrees to take the case, little knowing how complicated — and dangerous — things will become before it's over.

On the home front, Killian's surrogate parents decide to buy a historic mansion and turn it into a bed and breakfast. The house comes with a rich history...and maybe a ghost or two. Killian doesn't want to believe in such things, but he's quickly becoming convinced that something terrible happened to the home's original owners. The century-old mystery both terrifies and tantalizes Killian. In the end, he may be the only one who can uncover the truth.

All Lost Things
PD Publishing, Inc. (October 1, 2009)
ISBN: 978-1-933720-70-8


I ran upstairs and opened my door to find Asher sitting on the edge of my bed, looking quite uncomfortable. Kane was sitting with his back to him, playing a game on the computer. I got the impression that they hadn’t said much to each other.

When I went in, Kane glanced up, then turned off the game. “I’ll let you guys talk,” he said on his way out.

I looked over at Asher questioningly. It was weird seeing him in my bedroom again. “So, uh, why are you here?”

“I’m sorry. I just didn’t know what else to do. They arrested Caleb.”

I shook my head in confusion. “Huh?”

“The police arrested Caleb. His picture has been all over the news. Someone on the boardwalk recognized him and called the cops.”


“Killian, they think he killed his dad. It’s horrible!”

“Look, no offense, but what does this have to do with me? Why are you here?”

Asher looked hurt, and, for a second, I felt bad. Then I remembered that he was the one who’d decided to go to another college without informing me, and my moment of sympathy passed.

“I told you, I didn’t know where else to go. I need help.”

“What am I supposed to do?”

“You work for a private investigator. You have to prove that Caleb is innocent.”

“First off, I’m a secretary. It’s not like I’m running around with a magnifying glass looking for clues. Second, and more importantly, how do you know Caleb is innocent? He did run away, after all.”

“I know Caleb. He’d never hurt anyone, let alone kill them.”

“Not even his abusive father?”


“So why did he run away?”

“Because he hated the group home? Because he was afraid? I don’t know. I haven’t talked to him since everything went wrong. Just...please, Killian, you have to help. You’ve solved murders before.”

“You know, a few weeks ago, you were mad at me for even wanting to become a private investigator, now you’re asking me to take on a potentially dangerous job. Don’t you find that the slightest bit hypocritical?”

“Call me names, make fun of me; I don’t care. You’re probably right. All I know is I need your help.”

I sighed and rubbed my face. “Legally, I can’t take a case. I’m not licensed.”

“What about your boss?” Asher’s voice had a hopeful tone. He knew he was wearing me down.

“I can’t imagine he’d agree to anything like this. How would you pay him? This is his occupation; it’s what he does for a living.”

“Caleb should be getting insurance money from his dad’s death and the house burning down. He can pay him.”

“You haven’t even talked to Caleb about this yet. How do you know he wants to hire anybody?”

“You think he wants to go to jail for murder?”

I had to concede that point. “Fine. I’ll talk to Novak, but I’m not promising anything.”

“Thank you! Thank you so much!”

“Don’t thank me yet. Novak could very well say no. In fact, he almost certainly will. Just in case, though, tell me everything you know.”

“He was arrested last night on the boardwalk. It was all over the news this morning, along with new information from the police.”

“What kind of information?”

“Now they’re saying he chopped his father up with an ax and set the house on fire to cover it up.”

A surge of dizziness swept over me like a tidal wave, and I fell heavily onto my desk chair. “W-what did you say?” Flashes of my dream came back to me, and I felt bile rise in the back of my throat.

...a blood-covered ax dripping in my hands...

“The news said the body was dismembered before the fire was set. That’s all I know.”

...the split second of fear in his eyes before the ax struck for the first time...

“Killian, are you alright?”

...the feeling of pure hatred coursing through my veins...


I felt someone shaking my arm and that snapped me back to the present. Asher was leaning over me, a concerned expression on his face.

“Are you okay? For a minute there, you looked as if you were going to faint or something.”

“I...I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. I’m fine.” I stood up. “I didn’t sleep well last night, that’s all.” I could tell Asher didn’t know whether or not to believe me, but thankfully he dropped it.

“So you’ll look into this? You’ll help me prove Caleb is innocent?”

I looked him in the eye. “Tell me one thing: why does this mean so much to you?”

His eyes shifted away. “He’s a friend.”

“Is that all he is?”

“Would it matter?”

I sighed. “I guess not. Not anymore.”

Asher risked a quick look in my direction. “I never cheated on you, I swear.”

“It doesn’t really matter one way or the other at this point.”

“Killian, I —”

“You know what? I’m really tired. I think I need a nap. I’ll talk to Novak on Monday and let you know what he says. Okay?”

Asher bit his lip and nodded. “Yeah. Okay. Thank you.”

I sat down on the bed and watched as Asher let himself out. What was I thinking? I’d agreed to get involved in the murder investigation of my ex’s new boyfriend. Well, technically, I’d only agreed to talk to my boss about it. I was pretty sure he’d say no, but still... I had to be crazy.

Then there were my dreams. Was it just a coincidence that I’d dreamed about an ax murder and Caleb was accused of killing his father with an ax? I didn’t really believe in coincidences, but the alternative — that I’d somehow foreseen the murder in my dreams — disturbed me even more.

I couldn’t forget my weird dream about Seth, either. He’d warned me something was about to happen that would affect me, and it would be connected to Asher. A chill ran down my spine as I recalled I’d had the dream of Seth the night Caleb’s father was killed.

What did it all mean? Did it mean anything? It was just a dream, right?

As hard as I tried to convince myself otherwise, I knew there were too many coincidences. My head was starting to pound, and I didn’t want to think about dreams anymore. I slipped into the bathroom and took several pain relievers, then went back to bed. It was only noon, but I figured I’d earned a nice long nap.
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