Good Morning Monday ~ Paperback Sale and Code Red Excerpt!
It feels like forever since I’ve done a Good Morning Monday post… probably because it has been forever LOL As you might now, I ran out of spoons for doing anything in late 2020 and it seems I still have very limited productivity and motivation. My brain fog seems to be lifted but I’m still turning in circles most days.
BUT today I have some things to share! First up we have…
My paperbacks are on sale at Target in the US!
They are currently running a BUY 2 GET 1 FOR FREE deal and the paperback of Switched is just $6.29!! Now is definitely the time to grab it!
Eeeek! I’ve never seen my books in a retailer (in person) so this is so exciting for me!
Here’s the link:
If you scroll down on that page you’ll see ‘Similar Items’ and you’ll find all my books there!
CODE RED IS JUST 10 DAYS AWAY…
I thought I’d share a very short little excerpt from Code Red with you guys!
This is from chapter one. The whole book is from Roscoe’s POV. I adore these two guys, and I really hope you enjoy it…
“Roscoe Hall,” I answered my phone, out of time and patience. It didn’t dawn on me that it was Ryan’s number until after I’d said my name. It was my twentieth call this morning already.
“Just confirming ETA for 9:00 am.”
I checked my watch. It was 7:30 now and I’d already been up for far too long. It was a big day, and I could take a moment to breathe once we were all together.
“Yeah, Ryan. Will be there, thanks.”
There was a brief pause. “Is Maddox with you?”
“On my way to get him now.”
“See you there.”
I pocketed my phone and did one last check. Phone, wallet, passport, tickets, keys. I grabbed my carry-on, locked my front door, and wheeled my suitcase down to the waiting car. I hadn’t even greeted the driver when my phone rang again, and it beeped again on my way to collect Maddox.
I was organized and efficient, aggressively so.
It’s what made me good at my job. Being the personal manager for one of the world’s biggest boy bands was every minute of my life.
These boys didn’t accept second best for anything, and neither did I.
And I should clarify that while they were classified as a boy band, they were men. They might have started out as boys—they were just kids in high school when they formed their first band. But they were twenty-three now. They’d done the small local gigs, needing their parents’ permission to play in bars and clubs around LA when they were underage.
The story of how the band called Atrous made it to the big time was well-known.
The five boys came from nothing. A garage band that crossed pop with rock and rap, playing small gigs wherever they could, when a well-known radio DJ saw them and uploaded footage to his social media. Platinum Entertainment, one of America’s biggest entertainment management companies, signed them, and they’d been on the top of the world music stage for the last four years.
To the outside world, these guys were the ultimate success story.
They had no idea what went on when the lights went out.
Saying I was the personal manager of the whole band wasn’t true either. Personal assistant, handler, manager. It was all the same. But it wasn’t just me. I was one of three. Ryan Morten, Amber Seratt, and I were the personal managers of Atrous, as a whole. While the three managers looked after the five band members, I was, however, the unstated personal manager of one of them in particular.
Lead vocalist and rapper, main dancer, bad boy, Maddox Kershaw.
Ryan and Amber took care of Jeremy, Wes, Luke, and Blake. But Maddox was mine.
Well, not mine. But mine.
God, how I wished he were mine . . .
Over the last four years, Maddox and I’d just gelled. He didn’t trust easily, and for some reason he’d put his trust in me. And the truth was, he needed his own personal manager more than the other four guys.
Maddox was the face of Atrous. Unwilling, but the face, nonetheless.
He carried the weight of their reputation, their brand. He was the one they hounded, the one they chased, the one they followed, the one that made headlines every other day.
He wore black, he had a full sleeve of tattoos, perfect skin, and he had attitude to spare. His motto was to burn down the institutions, to stand tall for those who had to kneel, and to speak for those who had been silenced.
He resonated with the youth around the world.
He was also incredibly good-looking.
When I say good-looking, I mean hot. Sexy, enigmatic, ethereal, even.
His heritage had been talked about a million times. So much of his life was public. His grandparents on his mother’s side were Japanese, and his grandparents on his father’s side were Dutch. He was a second-generation American, a very talented musician, and he was incredibly smart.
He sang like an angel and danced like the devil.
And he answered the door looking like a mix of both. His hair was wet from the shower, he smelled warm and clean, he wore black cargo pants, a black T-shirt, and combat boots. It was his standard attire. Seeing him like that made my heart feel far too big for my chest. “Forget your key?” he asked. He even almost smiled.
It had been so long since I’d seen him smile . . .
Yes, I had a key to his house. But that was for emergencies only. I followed him inside. “You ready? The others are meeting us there.”
He grumbled something that sounded like assent. His house was still dark, open and vast, mind-bogglingly expensive, and it felt empty. It was in Beverly Hills, worth a reported twelve million with incredible views of the canyon and the city, but Maddox had the blinds drawn.
He plucked a black hoodie off the back of his sofa and pulled it on. I ignored how his T-shirt lifted a little, exposing a sliver of pale skin above his waistband. I’d seen him shirtless a thousand times. Hell, I’d even seen him in his underwear. It was nothing new, but it still managed to warm my blood.
I grabbed his two suitcases, wheeling them toward the door. He picked up his black backpack. “Got my passport?”
“Yep,” I replied. “We’re all good. Your mom’s got her key and security numbers?”
“Yeah,” he said with a shrug.
His mother was going to come look after his place while we were gone. We’d be gone for almost seven weeks. Seven long, grueling weeks.
“Come on, I have an iced coffee waiting for you in the car.”
He pulled up his hood, but I swear there was the beginning of a smile before the shadow stole it.
My phone buzzed again, and I pulled it out of my pocket and groaned at the screen. Another message that could wait until we were in the car. I pulled the door shut behind us, made sure it was locked, and wheeled the luggage to the waiting car. I opened the car door for him, I closed the door for him, I loaded the bags into the trunk—it was my job to do these things for him—and finally I got into the back of the car with Maddox.
My phone buzzed again, and I thumbed out a quick reply. We’d been driving for about ten minutes when I realized Maddox hadn’t said a word. He’d sipped his coffee but not much else. I looked at him then, really looked at him, and underneath the killer good looks was a tired man.
“You sleep okay?” I asked.
He scoffed as his answer, then glanced pointedly at my phone. “Did you? Has your phone stopped yet?”
I didn’t need to reply because we both knew the answer.
He nodded because he knew he was right and proving his point, I replied to some more emails and messages on the drive downtown. Yes, we all lived in LA, and yes, we were staying at a hotel in LA because when the tour began, the band and the whole crew would stay together. Mostly for logistical and security reasons, but also for bonding. We were one unit from day one, regardless of location.
As the car pulled into the hotel’s underground parking lot, Maddox’s eyes trained on the people rushing about. “The guys are already here?” he asked.
“Yep. Arrived five minutes ago.”
His shoulders relaxed a little, and for that I was glad. He and his bandmates were like brothers; they’d been through everything together. He was closer to Jeremy than the others, but the bond between the five of them was clear. I was relieved that he’d be with them again. I was pretty sure he’d spent the last few days by himself, holed up in his house. I’d spoken to him on the phone, even came to see him a few times, but getting ready for a tour was a busy time for me.
Before we came to a complete stop, he was quiet and chewed on his bottom lip. I wanted to ask him if he was okay, but there wasn’t time. I doubted he’d even answer that question, or answer it honestly, anyway.
“You excited?” I asked instead. “Sellout stadium tour, twenty-three concerts. You ready for that?”
He met my gaze and didn’t look away. His smile was as brief as it was beautiful. “Yeah. Of course.”
I didn’t believe him, and it was devastating how he could look right at me with those dark, dark eyes and speak so sincerely while he lied.
I spent almost every day with him. I knew him. I knew the real Maddox Kershaw, not the Maddox he showed the world. I knew the private one, the quiet one, the intellectual one . . .
The miserable one.
The Maddox I’d been secretly in love with for years . . . the Maddox I could never have.
“Maddox,” I said, but his door opened from the outside, and people were getting luggage from our car and giving directions, and there was no time.
The commotion had begun. These seven weeks were going to be brutal.
He lowered his head, pulled up his hood to hide his face, and got out of the car.
Can’t wait for you all to meet these two. Code Red is a bit angsty, it deals with some mental health issues as Maddox struggles with isolation and loneliness. It’s a romance so of course there is a big whopping HEA.
Good Morning Monday ~ Lacuna Pre-Order Link and Excerpt!
I have all the things on Lacuna today, and I’m so excited to share this with you. This book means a lot to me… I’ve wanted to write it for years and never felt I was good enough, or that I couldn’t quite do it justice. You might remember when I went to a 2-day fantasy writing course with CS Pacat a few years ago… that was to try and wrangle this story into something half readable. LOL Well, this year I decided to tackle it. Yes, 2020… because I wasn’t stressed enough apparently LOL
Anyway, I’m incredibly proud of this book. I can’t wait for you all to meet Crow and Tancho and go on this adventure with them.
So let me get on with the details…
UNIVERSAL PRE-ORDER AMAZON LINK
The paperback should be available at the same time as the ebook, however, it will depend on how well Amazon plays with Ingram Spark with distribution. Here is the gorgeous paperback cover, made by Bukovero. This book is 366 pages (92,000 words) and I’ll be adding it to my signed paperback list as soon as I get my author copies!
The winter sun was at high noon, shining a spotlight on the two men sword-fighting in the open courtyard of the Northlands’ castle. Mirroring the rocky outcrops in the snowy landscape, black flags marked with a single white raven shimmered in the cool winds. Dark grey stone bricks gleamed as the sunlight turned icy frost into fleeting jewels, and the clang of metal on metal, grunts of effort, and bouts of laughter echoed skyward.
The broadsword grazed Crow’s cheek, the burn of sliced skin and a warm trickle of blood down his cheek made him smile. Soko paused for the briefest moment, horrified that he had struck his king. Crow used the moment of distraction and swung for his neck. Soko parried, and with another bark of laughter, the fight went on.
Plumes of steam escaped with every exhale, sweat cooled on heated skin. Crow’s dark hair was damp and clung to his pale face; his dark eyes sparkled with delight as they always did when he sparred with Soko. Friends since childhood, Crow trusted no one as he trusted Soko. Surrounded by consuls and guards and staff who abided by his every whim, he could count on Soko for his honesty and reason. He told him truths when no one else dared, and he never held back when they fenced or sparred, such as they were doing now.
Crow was bound by responsibility and duty, as kings often were. Even as a small boy, Crow had studied the ancient ways, the lore of his ancestors of the Northlands. Studied, trained, studied, trained when he’d have rather done anything else, and yet it was Soko who had willingly stood beside him. Brothers, even if there was not one drop of shared blood between them.
Soko’s hair was ashen blond and shaggy, his eyes blue and sharp. He had a smile of mischief and wit, a keen mind for learning and a keener eye for women, whereas Crow was dark and brooding, and his eye was drawn to the forms of men. Soko was free to act upon his impulses and there had never been a shortage of satisfied women in the Northlands’ castle, yet Crow had never been free.
Who wears the mark bears the crown . . .
Bound by responsibility and duty. And the birthmark on his wrist. Even the mere thought of it . . .
He hissed at the pain and dropped his sword, pulling at the leather wrist guard, fumbling to get the straps undone.
“What is it?” Soko asked, immediately concerned. “It itches still?”
“No,” Crow breathed. He finally pulled the guard from his arm and covered the birthmark with his cold fingers. “It burns.”
“Burns? What the—”
Just then, the heavy wooden doors to the courtyard swung inward. Soko spun into a ready stance with his sword raised to protect Crow, without fault, without question. The young messenger raised his hands in alarm, breathing hard, his eyes trained on the blade.
“What is it?” Soko demanded.
“Excuse me, my lord,” the messenger said, bowing his head to Crow. “A lone rider comes. At pace.”
A lone rider coming to the city was not uncommon. Villagers traded food and wares all the time. “What of it?” Crow asked, still clutching his wrist. “Why the urgency?”
The messenger swallowed hard. “The rider and horse bear the yellow flag of the Elders’ Consul.”
Soko lowered his sword and turned to Crow, his eyes wide and face ashen, for it could only mean one thing.
And the birthmark on Crow’s wrist continued to burn.
* * *
Dressed now in warmer clothes, Crow and Soko stood at one of the grand hall windows watching as the yellow-clad rider made his way through the gates of the castle. Crow had his guards meet the man, one taking his horse, one escorting the rider inside, out of view, knowing it would take several minutes for the rider to be brought to see him.
Crow held his wrist, trying to ignore the burn.
“It’s never caused you pain before,” Soko noted. “And I don’t think a visit from the Elders’ Consul is a coincidence.”
Crow winced again and Soko took his hand, inspecting the birthmark. It looked as it always had; dark against his pale skin, oddly beautiful and abstract, the clear form of a raven in full flight, its wings outstretched. The mark which showed Crow’s predestined fate appeared no different; though it had begun to itch at the last full moons, now it burned like fire ants crawling beneath his skin.
Crow tugged his hand away and pulled down his coat sleeve. “I’m fine, and make no mention of it in front of company.”
After a brief pause, Soko sighed. “It’s time, isn’t it? That’s what this means? The festival draws near.”
Crow gave a nod before the sound of approaching footsteps put an end to this conversation. The two heavy doors opened and a guard appeared and bowed his head. “My lord, messenger of the Elders’ Consul.”
He stepped aside and the visitor strode forward. He wore the Consul’s yellow tunic under a heavy coat of the same colour, with the four-pointed compass rose emblazoned upon his chest. He appeared slightly dishevelled and tired, though he bowed his head. He produced a scroll from inside his coat pocket and offered it to Crow. “My lord.”
Crow took the paper from him but did not open it. “Your name?”
“Roulant,” he replied quickly.
“You’ve ridden far.”
It was perhaps a seven- or eight-day ride to the Elders’ Consul temple, and the ride itself was not an easy one. Northlands was mountainous, rocky roads, and deep snow; hard and brutal land, almost as hard and brutal as the men and women who called it home. Given this rider had done it in six days meant there was urgency. “You rode alone?”
“Yes, my lord. Four riders sent to the four quarters.”
The Great Kingdoms had long ago been divided into four quarters. North, of mountains and snow. West, of oceans and rivers. South, of jungles and forests, and East of desert sands and dunes. At its centre, was the Aequi Kentron; a huge moated temple of sorts, where the Elders’ Consul presided, upholding the law of the four lands and keeping score.
Formed a thousand years ago after the Great War, nine high priests protected the ancient ways and traditions, ensuring laws remained unbroken and territory borders intact. They overlooked the trade between kingdoms and ensured fairness at every turn, and the last thousand years had been peaceful and prosperous.
Steeped in history and tradition, and by definition the equal centre, Aequi Kentron was the heart of all four kingdoms.
Each of the four rulers was chosen at birth by the birthmark on their wrist. They would each rule their lands independently and in their own right, with their own laws and governance, yet there were some laws they could not ignore.
The law that stated when each ruler was beckoned, they would come.
The law was written when the Consul was established, that when the Brother Sun and the two Sister Moons aligned at the equinox, they would partake in the Festival of the Eclipse. They would abide with honour and with the dignity of the rank they held.
Crow was proud of his title, proud of his people, and he would lay his life down for his kingdom. And he should have been proud to be the chosen one in the time of the eclipse. Once every thousand years and it happened in his lifetime, his rule. Yet destiny was a weight like no other, and unease filled his belly for reasons he couldn’t put name to. The fact his birthmark now caused him pain was one he couldn’t ignore, and now with the news from Aequi Kentron, it could only mean one thing.
His time was now.
Realisation skittered down Crow’s spine like a cold spider. So, it was time. Every arrow of his life was pointed to this. He gave a reluctant nod and turned to the guard. “See this man to hot food and warm quarters, and see that his horse is tended to.”
Roulant’s gaze shot up to Crow’s. “My lord, I am thankful.”
“As am I.” Crow gave him a smile. “Eat and rest as you need.”
Roulant gave another nod of gratitude, and he was escorted out by the guard. Soko waited patiently as Crow held the scroll. There was a wax seal atop the Consul’s writing in old calligraphy ink.
King of Northlands
Crow slid his finger beneath the seal and unrolled the thick paper. At the centre top was the Consul’s four-pointed compass rose stamped in blue ink. The writing was impeccably neat, the strokes delivered with such importance not even the ink dared to bleed.
Your Royal Highness, King Crow of Northlands,
The Eclipse befalls on the Equinox in your twenty-fifth year.
Your attendance is formally requested at the Aequi Kentron one week before the Equinox, for the festival of the Golden Age.
We eagerly await your arrival.
Crow read it again, then handed it to Soko who read it, frowning. “What does this mean?”
Crow stared out the window at the snow-covered valley below, at how the blackened rocky crags tore raggedly through the serene whiteness looking like open claw marks in flesh.
“I ride for Aequi Kentron in two days,” Crow replied.
Soko’s eyes hardened. “You will not ride alone.”
Crow almost smiled at that. “I didn’t think I would.”
“And the eclipse?”
“A golden sun for a golden age,” he replied with a sigh, turning back to stare out the window. “My birthright is finally upon me.”
Soko’s voice was quiet, as though he dreaded to hear what he already knew. “What will you do?”
Crow took a long moment to answer. Was it fear or dread? Acceptance or resignation? “My choice in this was long ago removed,” he murmured, finally meeting Soko’s eyes. “I will attend their festival, and when all the fanfare and nonsense is done, I will return as if nothing has occurred.”
“It’s supposed to be a celebration,” Soko replied. “Yet it hangs over you like a dark cloud.”
Crow sighed. He would have quite happily been left alone for all his days, but this felt different. This felt ominous and he couldn’t explain why. “True metal does not fear the furnace,” he murmured.
It was a favoured Northlands saying, cited by the miners who dug ore from frozen mountains and by the blacksmiths who turned it into steel.
Yet Crow feared . . . something. He feared this festival and ceremony; he feared the change he felt would rise with the golden sun. He feared the unknown.
And he feared the greasy dread in his belly and the burn on his wrist that told him his life was about to change forever.
I truly hope you love Lacuna as much as I do.
In other news, my Christmas story is complete and I’m now working on something very short and special but it’s a surprise and I can’t tell you yet… but soon, I promise.
Take care in this crazy world, folks.
Good Morning Monday! Pieces of Me Excerpt
I promised an excerpt from Pieces of Me, so here it is!
“Did you say accounts?” Justin asked, nodding toward where I’d stacked the papers on top of my laptop.
I wasn’t gonna tell him about my money worries, but I didn’t want to hide this from him. Maybe just not the extent of it. It was a fine line. “Yeah. I just have a few things to get done tonight. I’ll need to be working in the shop with the boys this week and not in the office, so if I can keep on top of the paperwork . . .”
“Is that because I’m not there?” he asked. “Do you have to do my job?”
Shit. I withheld the sigh that threatened to escape and put my fork down. “Not exactly. I mean, yes, a little bit. But it’s nothing we can’t handle until you’re ready to come back.”
His brow furrowed and I gave him time to think about what I’d said. He ate some more of his pasta but then pushed what was left around his plate with his fork. “Do Davo and Sparra have to do my work too?”
I didn’t want him to feel bad, but I also wouldn’t lie to him. “The three of us are filling in the gaps. When I was at the hospital every day, Davo and Sparra did everything. They really covered my arse. So now we’re home, I’m trying to do as much as I can to help them out. We have an important contract coming up, one we do every year, and it’s good money. I can’t drop the ball on it.”
“I don’t like letting you down,” he whispered.
I reached over and squeezed his arm. “You’re not. At all. In any way. You’re my priority, first and foremost, Jussy. But my business is important too. Davo and Sparra depend on me for a job and I don’t want to let them down. I just need to get the balance right, that’s all. So if I have to do some work on the computer while we sit on the couch after dinner, then so be it.”
He tried to smile but couldn’t quite manage it. “My accident . . .”
When he said nothing else, I did. “Your accident was not your fault. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. And we’ll get through this, I have no doubt. I just want to try and do the right thing by everyone, that’s all.”
“I want to help. I can do . . .” He frowned again, like he couldn’t find the right word. He shrugged. “I don’t know what I can do.”
“You can get better, and you can rest and recover,” I said. “And you can make an awesome spaghetti.”
That earned me a small smile, but it didn’t last long. “I hate that everything is so hard. I want to do things but I’m tired, and my leg and my arm are stupid, and my head hurts most of the time. And the worst part is that I can’t think properly. Like sometimes it’s clear, and sometimes it’s foggy, sometimes it’s like I’m underwater. I hate that I can’t remember everything, and I hate that I feel so lost.”
He gave a small nod. “I dunno who I am. I mean, I know I’m Justin, and I know where I come from, and all that shit. But I dunno who I was. The last five years were so important and I’ve lost that. I dunno who that Justin is.”
I pulled my chair around so I faced him, and I took his hand. “Baby, I wish I could fix that. I wish I knew how to get everything back. I hate that you feel that way, but I completely understand why you do. I’m sure I’d feel the same if it were me in that van that day.”
“I just feel . . . lost. And sad.” He shrugged. “I guess today’s just a bad day, but I . . .” His chin wobbled and his eyes became glassy. “I dunno.”
“Oh, baby,” I whispered. “You’re allowed to have bad days.” To be honest, I was surprised he hadn’t had more bad days before now. “Do you want a hug?”
He nodded quickly, and I stood up and helped him to his feet. I pulled him against me and he snuggled in, fitting the side of his head against my neck. I rubbed his back and held him tight, and for the longest moment, we never moved.
“Thank you,” he mumbled.
“What are you thanking me for?”
“For everything. For knowing what I need when I don’t.”
He made no attempt to move and I certainly wasn’t going to. “I need your hugs too.”
“I mean it. When I’m all fuzzy and . . . not together . . . I can’t think of the word. Anyway, when I’m like that, you hug me and it fixes me.”
“Well, you’re welcome. You can have a hug any time.”
He was quiet again for a bit and he leaned heavily against me as though he were falling asleep. “Thank you for staying.”
“Staying where?” In this hug?
“With me. For not leaving me. You could have, but you didn’t.”
I pulled back then so he could see the seriousness in my eyes. “Justin, baby. I love you. I’ve loved you for years. You are loved. And I know that’s probably weird for you, but I need you to know this: I’m not leaving you. Not then, not now, not ever.”
His face softened and he almost smiled. “It’s not weird. Well, maybe a little bit but not really. We’ve been on like, one date.”
I laughed. “Does tonight not count? You cooked me dinner. It could be our second date.”
“Nope. I forgot the candles.”
I chuckled and pulled him back in for a hug. His left arm went around me and held me just as tight as I held him. He was warm and smelled like home. “Candles make it a date,” I said quietly. “Got it.”
He was quiet again and heavy against me. “I like hearing you say it,” he mumbled. “That you love me. I know you do. You look after me, and you care.”
He liked knowing he was loved, and I couldn’t blame him. It was an amazing feeling, comforting like a soft bed and warm blankets on a cold night. I knew he loved me too. I knew he did. It was just trapped, hidden under the surface. He’d already remembered slivers of me from our life before the accident. He said my wing tattoos felt safe, like home. And he trusted me, and for a guy who was surrounded by strangers, that was a helluva statement.
His heart knew me, even if his head didn’t.
And I clung to that with everything I had.
I hope you all enjoy the second installment of the Missing Pieces Series. I can’t wait for you all to read it.
In other WIP news, I’ve started my next book but it’s going incredibly slow. I usually aim to write 10K words per week, but last week managed barely 2K words. Ugh. It’s frustrating and I’m considering shelving this book for now and starting something else. I’ll give it another day or two. Hopefully this week will be better.
Next week I’ll have the pre-order link for Pieces of Me. Yes, I’m doing a pre-order! LOL (you guys know I’m not a fan, right?) but Amazon is a mess right now so I’ll be doing a pre-order so fingers crossed they don’t hold up my release date…
Good Morning Monday ~ Pieces of You Excerpt
It’s almost release day for Pieces of You! Just four more days!! So I thought I’d share a little excerpt 🙂
It’s hard choosing a part of a book that stands on its own without giving too much away, so I hope you enjoy this. It has an angsty beginning, but honestly, this story is about healing and the power of love.
This is Dallas’ point of view.
Almost two weeks after his accident, his sister, Rebecca, arrived to see him. She’d caught the early train up from Sydney on the Saturday, and I met her at the entrance of the hospital, to save her trying to find her way through the wards. She looked bone-tired, like all single mums who worked two jobs, but she was relieved to see me. I greeted her with a kiss to the cheek.
“How is he?”
“He’s okay. He’s working with the different doctors every day, like the physio and the neuro specialists.”
“He still can’t remember?”
“No. He may never regain those years, but we’re hopeful.”
She stopped walking. “He doesn’t remember you at all?”
I shook my head.
“Christ, Dallas. That’s gotta be hard.”
Hard, awful, excruciating, heartbreaking . . . “I’m just grateful he’s alive.”
She frowned. “Sorry I couldn’t get away sooner.”
“What do you mean, you couldn’t juggle two jobs and two kids to hike a couple hundred kilometres at the drop of a hat?”
Her face softened, and she gave me a sad smile. “But still . . .”
“Like I said to you when it happened, he wasn’t in any shape to see you anyway,” I explained. “But he’s getting better every day. He can see out of both eyes now.”
I brightened for her. “Come on. I told him I was going to find you. He was excited about you visiting, so we better not keep him waiting.”
I took her bag for her, and together we walked to Justin’s room. “Ugh, I hate hospitals,” she mumbled as we got closer.
Yep, even after all these days, all the hours, I never got used to the smell. It was cloying and awful. The neuro ward was quieter than most, and darker. Most patients here had noise and light sensitivities, Justin included.
I stopped her at the door. “He doesn’t do too good with loud noises or bright lights. His headaches are bad, and he has aphasia, which is trouble remembering some words. But if he asks questions, be honest. He knows he has amnesia but it’s confusing, so if he mentions anything that doesn’t quite gel, we need to gently steer him back on course.”
“Okay,” she whispered, then took an unsteady breath.
I nodded to his room. “He’s waiting.”
I’d explained his injuries to Rebecca before, but nothing quite prepared you for seeing your loved one in a hospital bed all bandaged and bruised.
The bed was slightly inclined so he was kind of sitting up. He had his injured leg out from under the blankets again, his lines of staples on full display. The matching scar on his head was bandaged, and I was thankful Rebecca didn’t have to see that. But the right side of his face was now a horror show of black, purple, green, and yellow. His right eye was open. Though it was bloodshot, he thankfully still had vision.
He’d had tests on his vision and hearing, focusing on the right side, where the most damage was, and the docs were pleasantly surprised to find all circuitry was still intact. Though when the doc had shone a penlight in his right eye, Justin had puked on him as thanks. He said it felt like the light pierced his brain and the pain was unbearable. He’d shaken and moaned, curling in on himself, and it was a short, sharp reminder of his injuries.
But yeah, while I knew it was bad, I was so used to seeing him lying in bed all banged up that I’d forgotten the shock it was for others. Rebecca put her hand to her mouth and got all teary. “Holy shit,” she cried.
Justin looked at her, then looked again. His smile was wide. “Becca?”
She went to him and hugged him carefully, and she fussed over him and he stared up at her like he couldn’t believe what he was seeing . . .
And it occurred to me, like a jolt to the heart, what the difference was.
He remembered her.
He was, for the first time since he woke up, seeing someone he remembered, seeing someone he knew.
And it wasn’t me.
FOUR DAYS TO GO!
Also, thank you for the kind messages in the last couple of weeks. A few people have messaged and that means a lot. A super quick update: my current WIP (book three in the Missing Pieces Series) is at 28K. I’m going to miss my deadline but it is what it is.
I’ll be back on the 22nd with the buylink for Pieces of You!
Good Morning Monday ~ Throwing Hearts excerpt!
It’s release week for Throwing Hearts!! I’m super excited for the world to meet Leo and Merrick this coming Sunday. They’re adorably cute and fun, a little bit sexy, and super sweet. Kinda just what the world needs right now 😉
The paperback should go live on release day as well, and I’ve sent the file to Glen Lloyd for narration of the audiobook!! So things are moving right along. And the paperback cover is sooo cute! Huge thanks to SJ York for helping make it so perfect! Look at this prettiness…
And as promised, an excerpt… In this scene, Leo is telling his flatmate (and bestie, Kell) all about the cute pottery teacher, Merrick, and what he could find out about him on social media…
“Don’t make me wait, Leo,” she said. “I need all the details.”
“Well, he’s not married, and from what I can tell, he is single. There’s no Grindr profile, which is a relief. No photos of him with another guy, no holiday snaps, and his Instagram is all about his pottery studio. He’s been tagged in a few photos and seems to have a really cool group of friends. There’s even a few family photos, and no crazy cult mentions, either.”
“So basically you’re saying that he is single and perfect.”
“Pretty much, yep.”
Kell laughed. “So, show me the pics.” She nodded toward my phone.
I went straight to Instagram and found his profile. “Oh, he’s so cute!” She said. “Gotta love a guy who can put a rainbow flag in his profile.”
“I know, right?”
She scrolled some more. “Did he make these?” They were two large, round ceramic bowls with some kind of crazy glaze. They were refined, minimalist but earthy, and they looked incredibly expensive.
“I think so. Pretty sure he only tags and watermarks his own stuff.”
“Holy shit, he’s clever.”
“Uh . . . Holy shit he’s gorgeous.”
Kell laughed. “That too.”
She scrolled down some more until she came to a photo of six friends at a table in a restaurant somewhere. There were empty plates and wine bottles on the table. They were all laughing, and Merrick had captioned it with “love these people.” There were a few hashtags of friends and best friends, and they looked close and extremely happy.
Kell continued to scroll down through his posts until they found what looked like the grand opening of the studio. That was four years ago, and there was one photograph of Merrick inside his studio sitting at that long table, and he was laughing at something. It was a candid shot and strikingly beautiful. “Oh wow,” Kell said.
And then she did the most horrifying thing anyone could ever do.
She accidentally double-tapped.
She looked at me, aghast. “Oops.”
Holy flying shit balls. “What did you do?”
“I didn’t mean to!” She squeaked and handed me back my phone like it was on fire. “Oh, Leo. I’m so sorry. So, so sorry.”
I could literally feel the blood run from my face. She’d just double-tapped. On his photo. She had just liked his photo from four years ago, on my profile! He was going to get a notification that basically proved I’d been stalking him. “Oh, this is bad. This is so bad.”
“Maybe he doesn’t check his notifications.” She looked stricken. She pulled a couch cushion onto her lap and clung to it. “Maybe he doesn’t use his Instagram much. Check when he posted his last photo; then see how often he posts at all. He might not ever know. He might not even know it’s you.”
“My profile picture is my face, with my name, and that I’m part of the Bridge-the-Gap program is in my bio.”
“Oh God, Leo. I’m so sorry.” Her face lit up then with an obvious idea. “Ooh, we can change your profile picture and your bio. Here, give me your phone. He’ll never have to know.”
“Or I could just move to Peru and become a llama farmer,” I replied, not really joking. How was I going to face him on Friday? “Or maybe I can donate my body for organ harvesting a little sooner than expected.”
“Ooh, dibs on your liver.”
“Bitch, I need that.”
Kell laughed. “Well, llama farming could be fun.”
“I’ll have to tell Clyde we’re going to swimming instead of ceramics. If he ends up drowning Shirley, then I’ll go to prison as an accessory which, to be quite frank, is preferable to facing Merrick on Friday morning.”
Kell made a pained face. “I’ll bake you cakes with nail files in them. I promise. If you go to jail, that is.”
I patted her on the knee. “Thanks.”
“It’s probably the least I could do.”
They’re all so much fun!!!
Next week I will have the buy links for you, when it goes live on the 15th.
What is available for preorder is the audio of Tallowwood!! It goes live on the 25th but you can pre-order it HERE
Okay, that’s it for this week… I hope everyone stays safe and I’ll see you all next Monday!
Good Morning Monday ~ Merry Christmas, and an Excerpt from The Dichotomy of Angels
Well, it’s almost Christmas, and that means it’s almost release day for The Dichotomy of Angels! So in the theme of giving, I thought I’d share an exclusive excerpt.
But first I wanted to wish everyone a very Happy Holidays. I know this time of year can be hard for a lot of people, and I can honestly say it’s not my favourite so I do understand. Let me say that I hope you have a great few days, filled with peace, some of your favourite food, and good books. Shut the world out if you need, and take care of yourself.
Secondly, Tallowwood comes out of KU today. It will begin appearing at the usual third party sites within the next few days – Smashwords, Apple, B&N, Kobo etc.
Okay, so now onto TDOA. I’m so excited for the world to meet these characters. I hope you love them as much as I do!
Please note it’s a little spoiler-ish (for the jobs Chasan and Nathaniel are given on their human assignment) so if you’d rather not know, please stop reading now.
The transfer to a human form was never easy. It felt confined and constricting, like an ill-fitting suit, and Nathaniel always hated the residual squeeze the morphing left in its wake. He shook himself out, rolling his shoulders and fisting his hands a few times until the discomforting buzz subsided.
The room Nathaniel found himself in was typical living quarters for twenty-first century humans. There was a sofa, a dining table, a kitchen, a fluffy white rug, all spacious and grand, and any human would have appreciated the apparent wealth and luxuriousness of it all. But not Nathaniel.
Human niceties weren’t something he much cared for.
He did, however, notice the skyline out the window. He’d seen it in reports and videos enough to recognize it, and it was apparent the apartment was high up and well-positioned because of the view.
“New York,” he grumbled.
Chasan walked to the window, inspecting the nearby buildings and the park across the road, then turned and smiled. “This city never gets old.”
Nathaniel suppressed the urge to roll his eyes. Chasan found beauty in everything. He had for thousands of years, and it had always been a burr in Nathaniel’s boot. Chasan would simply smile and nothing was ever an issue. He took everything in his stride, and everything was cheery and promising. His blessed cup forever runneth over.
Nathaniel was more of a chalice-half-empty kind of angel.
Chasan and he had worked together several times over the eons, not particularly well, Nathaniel could admit. They were too different. Like night and day: Chasan was sunshine and roses; Nathaniel was darkness and thorns. If you thought angels couldn’t have such vast and varied personalities, you’d be mistaken. They most certainly did. And with differing personalities came personality clashes.
And that’s what this was. Between Nathaniel and Chasan. Just a clash of personalities. The tension, the push and pull, that instant irritation Nathaniel felt from being anywhere remotely near Chasan could all be explained by a difference of personalities.
At least that’s what Nathaniel had convinced himself of since their last disastrous encounter. An encounter that might or might not have led Saint Peter to down most of the sacramental wine—actually, half of the heavens had taken a hit that day—so why Saint Peter had insisted they work together again now was as bold as it was stupid.
“Nathaniel?” Archangel Michael said, as though not for the first time.
Nathaniel blinked and focused. “Yes. Apologies.”
“How does the human modification feel?” Michael asked. “There can be a period of adjustment. It’s been a while for you, has it not? Since you’ve taken human form?”
Nathaniel rolled his shoulders again, noting the absence of his wings and the tightness of his skin, and shook off the unease. “It’ll pass, I’m sure.” Michael’s gaze darted to Chasan, then back to Nathaniel, and a smile played at the archangel’s lips. Nathaniel had always liked Michael—well, he hadn’t disliked him, so that was always a start—but Nathaniel knew this mission was going to be a rough one. Saint Peter had been behaving oddly and wouldn’t divulge any information, and that never boded well. And given he’d been partnered with Chasan . . . “Michael, what is the emergency mission we have been sent here for?”
Michael smiled at them both, then gestured toward the sofa. “Please take a seat.”
Chasan sat, because of course Chasan sat. Chasan did everything he was told. Nathaniel did not. This mission wasn’t going to be good. Not good at all. “I’d rather stand.”
Michael gave Chasan a patient smile and ignored Nathaniel’s petulance. With a small flick of his wrist, in a flourish of sparkles, two files appeared in his hand. “Your missions,” he began, handing Chasan his file first. He held out Nathaniel’s file, but Nathaniel refused to take it. Michael pursed his lips and sighed, his annoyance clear. “This mission isn’t optional, Nathaniel. So quit the dramatics. We’re not here to pander to you.”
“Oh dear,” Chasan murmured, and when Nathaniel shot him a look, he saw that Chasan was reading his file.
“Oh dear, what?” Nathaniel demanded. He held his hand out to Michael for his file now, but this time it was Michael who ignored him. Instead, Michael opened the file and read out loud. Probably because if Nathaniel wanted to act like a child, Michael would treat him like one.
“Nathaniel Angelo.” Michael paused. “That’s your human name, by the way.”
“Angelo?” Nathaniel scoffed. “It means angel. Was the Creative Department off work that day?”
“Don’t complain,” Chasan said. “My surname’s Bellomo. That’s Italian for beautiful man.”
Nathaniel rolled his eyes out loud that time. “Because of course it is.”
Michael ignored both of them. “Nathaniel, age thirty-one. Youngest of three children to Christian and Mary Angelo of Bethlehem, New York.”
Nathaniel blinked. “Christian and Mary of Bethlehem? Why did they stop short of calling my father Joseph? Is this someone’s idea of a joke?”
Michael just kept on reading. “The Angelos are a wealthy family, which explains this apartment.” He gestured to the room they were in. “So your parents weren’t overly impressed when you decided that being an early childhood development teacher was your true calling—”
“Wait, wait. What?” Nathaniel asked.
Michael looked up from the file, his expression serious. “A teacher. Preschool teacher to be more specific.”
The Dichotomy of Angels will be out December 27th. There are no pre-order links, and it will be exclusive to Amazon for the first 90 days.
I have a full house at the moment so my time for anything writing-related is almost nil. My current WIP is moving slowly (real-life interruptions – end of school, Christmas, visitors, etc) but it’s at 10K. I don’t have a title yet but it’s fun and cute, which I think is what the world can use right now.
That’s it for today. I’ll see everyone on release day with buy-links!! Until then…
Good Morning Monday ~ Tallowwood Excerpt!
Release day for Tallowwood is getting closer!! And I promised an excerpt so, without dragging it out, here it is…
Detective August Shaw sat in his old, cramped office, tucked away from the rest of the bustling Police Headquarters in Parramatta, Sydney. He preferred it that way. He didn’t even mind the shoebox-sized office if it meant people left him alone.
His colleagues would smile at him and some even tried to make small talk about weekend football or local festivals, but August would simply pretend to smile behind his coffee cup and make his excuses to go back to hiding in his office.
He felt at peace there; productive and useful. As the lead, and only, officer dedicated to his particular division of Sydney’s cold cases, he would immerse himself in the past, trying to make a quiet and unassuming difference to a cold and cruel world. Every day he locked himself away in his tiny office, and every day he fought to bring justice to victims long forgotten and closure for those who were left behind.
August felt older than his forty-one years. It wasn’t the fact his greying beard belied his brown hair or his recent acquisition of reading glasses. It wasn’t how his body ached when he stayed too still or if he pushed himself too hard at the gym, and it wasn’t the small lines at the corners of his eyes that made him feel old. It was the weariness in his bones. Weariness and the sullen weight of responsibility for the unsolved cases that surrounded him in his office. They bore a kind of weight that sometimes made August unsure if it was trying to pull him under the surface. Or if it was keeping him afloat.
They weren’t just file numbers to him. They weren’t faceless names. They weren’t just archive boxes full of folders or statistics.
They were family.
Each one was a human being, a son or daughter, a person whose life was cut short. Each cold case in his care was someone who identified as LGBTQIA+.
August’s days were mostly filled with paperwork. That probably would have driven most cops crazy, but August didn’t mind the hours of cross-referencing numbers, evidence, and report data. He made phone calls, did internet searches, and sent evidence away for analysis. The beauty of modern technologies that had been so lacking thirty, twenty, ten, or even five years ago, now opened new possibilities of identifying killers. He could utilise pathology, DNA, ballistics, toxicology that didn’t exist at the time of these deaths. Sometimes he struck gold, sometimes he struck out, but he never stopped trying.
He’d make phone calls and speak to the family and friends of victims every so often. Some took tracking down. They were either long gone, moved on, or deceased. Not everyone was contactable; not everyone wanted to be found. It wasn’t like the movies or the TV shows. There was no glamour, no accolades. Maybe that’s what August found the most gratifying. He didn’t do this for the esteem or the reputation other homicide detectives found in recent, high-newsworthy, front-page fame.
August did this for the victims.
He did it for those who no longer had a voice. For those whose spotlight had been extinguished and whose deaths were filed under Unresolved or Inconclusive.
He also very deliberately buried himself in work. Days, nights, and weekends were spent poring over details, which didn’t leave much time for any kind of social life.
Which was very much the point.
Some days, the only time he spoke to anyone was when he ordered coffee or lunch, if he got forensic or ballistic reports, or if his boss called him into his office. He didn’t dislike his boss exactly. August didn’t exactly dislike anyone. He didn’t like them much either, but August avoided human interaction if he could manage it. Except for anyone in the periphery of a case, of course. But it was usually him who had to make those calls, which was why, when his desk phone rang, it scared the shit out of him. It also took him fifteen seconds to find the handset under open files and papers.
He snatched up the phone. “Detective Shaw.”
“Hello, Detective Shaw, this is Senior Constable Jacob Porter from the North Coast Area Command. How are you today?”
August frowned. “I’m fine. Is there anything I can help you with?”
“Yes, actually, I think there might be. I have a case I could use your help with.”
August’s frown deepened. “My help? With what, exactly? I work cold cases.”
“I know who you are, Detective,” he replied. “And while this particular case is new—we found human remains two days ago—this body’s been there a while.”
“I’m not the only cop in the state who specialises in cold cases.”
“No. But you are the best.”
August almost smiled. “If it’s a homicide, call homicide.”
“I have enough cases of my own to get through, Senior Constable.”
“That’s just it,” Porter answered. “I think this is one of your cases.”
“One of mine . . .” August’s frown became a scowl. “How so?”
“The victim was gay,” Porter answered.
“That hardly makes it mine.”
“It was made to look like a suicide,” he added.
“And you don’t think it is?”
“No. That’s not all, Detective. The medical examiner suggested I call you. Said it would be familiar. The body was found with a note in his pocket, a quote from a poem. And a silver cross.”
August’s stomach dropped and he could feel the colour drain from his face. “Oh.”
“So yeah, I was wondering if you could help with some finer points. I could email—”
August looked at the file he’d been reading and reread the name. Mustafa Holzieg. Mustafa, like the others, in all the files that surrounded him, deserved better. August nodded, more to himself than anyone else. “I can be there first thing tomorrow morning.”
My next book begins!! Well, I’ve been researching a little and I want to start actually writing this week but I’m away until Monday arvo, then my Mother in Law gets here for a week. Which is fine, but people think “working from home” actually means “you don’t have to do anything” and countless interruptions aren’t a problem, right? Ugh. Drives me crazy! LOL
But busy times… I’m away until Monday, my MIL gets here and stays until Friday. Then I fly to Sydney on Saturday (6am flight, what was I thinking?) with two 17 year old girls and we get home Sunday night, just in time for my daughter’s Year 11 exams to begin. Busy’s fun, right?
Oh, and the audio of Upside Down should be out in the next 2-3 weeks!! I’m so excited for this!
That’s all for this week! Thanks for reading and I’ll be back next week!
Good Morning Monday ~ The Hate You Drink Excerpt!
It’s release week for The Hate You Drink!! I’m super excited for the world to meet Erik and Monroe! I’ve had some ARC reviews come in and it’s been overwhelmingly positive, which is wonderful and a huge relief. LOL
It’s hard to know how books will be received, especially those that deal with real life issues like addiction. It’s an angsty read, which is a 180 change in direction after Upside Down. But those who have been following me for a while will know, I don’t actually get much choice about the stories my characters want written. LOL
Given release day is almost here, I thought I’d share an excerpt…
I didn’t need to see the photographs of the wrecked car or the glass and metal strewn across the gutter. I didn’t need the reminder of how close it had been this time. I closed the newspaper, folded it in half, and slid it across the counter and let out an exhausted sigh. I didn’t want to meet Jeffrey’s disappointed gaze. I knew that look. I’d seen it more times than I could count. Jeffrey Kwon, a distinguished Korean-Australian man with short greying hair and a kind face, had been a close friend of Monroe’s parents as well as their trusted lawyer for thirty years, and Jeffrey assumed the same role for Monroe when his parents died. He was no-nonsense and astute, but he had a heart of gold and everyone knew Monroe would be lost without him. Well, everyone but Monroe.
“Where is he?”
“Still asleep,” I replied. I walked over to the nearest couch and all but fell into it, my head in my hands.
“You haven’t been to bed yet?”
I was too tired to even scoff. “Nope. It was after three by the time we left the police station. And then I had to get him into bed.” I didn’t tell him that I’d sat on the end of Monroe’s bed when he’d passed out, trying to calm my anxiety. How many nights had I got a phone call from him, drunk, needing help or a lift, to pick him up from a bar or the police station? A quick glance at my phone told me it was just after eight. The morning sun was up and glaring angrily over the Pacific like it could feel my mood. I scrubbed my hand over my face, feeling the minutes of sleep I’d missed. “How he didn’t hurt himself or someone else, I’ll never know.”
“It’s only a matter of time before he does.” Jeffrey’s tone was as sharp as his suit, whereas I felt like Monroe’s crumpled wreck that had been winched onto the tow truck last night.
I nodded, because he was right. We all knew he was right. Everyone, that was, but Monroe.
“I’ll have the insurance forms sent over this afternoon,” Jeffrey said. He rarely let his emotions show, but I could tell he was angry and disappointed. He was probably a dozen different emotions right now. What he wasn’t was surprised. This was far from the first time.
“Thanks, Jeffrey. He does appreciate it.”
He gave a nod and walked toward the grand foyer, but he stopped before he got to the door. “Does he? Does he appreciate all you do for him?”
I didn’t answer. Even if I knew what to say, I couldn’t get the words out. But Jeffrey didn’t wait for a reply. The soft click of the front door was loud in the silence.
My heart was a weighted lump in my chest. My ribs felt too tight like I couldn’t breathe properly. Like I hadn’t been able to breathe properly in years. The space of Monroe’s house was vast—tiled floors, high ceilings, glass walls overlooking the ocean, no expense spared—yet the vast emptiness was overwhelming. A mansion worth several million dollars, on every elite real-estate list in Australia, was a hollow void of loneliness and grief, much like the man who owned it. Who was, at that very moment, passed out drunk in his bed.
The heaviness of the last twelve hours settled over me, and I slumped down on the couch, pulled a cushion under my head, and closed my eyes.
* * *
“Hey, sleeping beauty, wake up.”
I startled and shot up. Disoriented at first, until I remembered I was on Monroe’s couch. He was standing at the end of the sofa with his arms full of brown paper bags, and then I could smell something.
“I was starving,” he said. “And Uber Eats is a gift from the gods. Shuffle up.”
I slid up the couch a little and he parked himself next to me, shoved the bags and a pizza box onto the coffee table, then pulled it toward us. “I didn’t know what you felt like, so I got that wood-fired pizza you like and some curry and—”
“What time is it?” I asked. Usually the view out the window was a good indication of the time, but it had come over cloudy. Summer storms usually rolled in around four.
“Shit. I didn’t mean to sleep that long. I was supposed to go into the office today.”
Monroe shrugged like he did to most responsibility. “Here, get this into ya.” He opened the pizza box and turned it to face me.
I took a bite and moaned. It was so good. “How long you been up?”
“An hour or so.”
His black hair was damp and he smelled of salt water. “I didn’t hear you swim.” Which was surprising considering the living room opened up into the pool area.
“Stealth mode,” he said with a grin, his blue eyes sparkling. “Nah. You were dead to the world.”
I didn’t bother explaining that I didn’t get to sleep till after eight. I studied his face; there was a small scratch on his forehead and marks on his hands, probably from the glass or air bag. “How you feeling?”
And that was his problem. He always woke up feeling fine. Maybe if he’d ever suffered just one hangover in his life, he might think twice about drinking so much.
“Your picture’s in the paper,” I said. “And photos of the car.”
He grimaced for half a second before he took another forkful of curry. “You see Jeffrey?”
I nodded. “He was here before eight this morning. He brought the paper with him.”
Monroe stirred his curry, frowning. “Was he mad?”
“Yep. Said he’ll have the insurance papers sent around for the car.” I took a bite of pizza and swallowed it. “Wanna tell me what happened last night?”
He sighed. “Not really. I had one too many. You know how it is.”
“Okay, a few.”
“And you drove.”
“I was fine.”
“Your blood alcohol level was high range.”
He frowned again, this time stabbing a piece of curried beef. “I was fine. I didn’t feel drunk at all.”
I knew there was no point in arguing with him, so I tried a different approach. “You could have hurt yourself, Monroe,” I said gently. “Or someone else. You’re lucky it was a pole you hit and not a pedestrian or a car full of kids.”
“Yeah, it was stupid, I know. I won’t do it again.”
“Well, no, you can’t. Because now you don’t have a car or a licence.”
He pointed his fork at me. “That is true. Well, there’s the old Discovery in the garage,” he said. “Haven’t driven that in a while.”
“Old? It’s two years old,” I said. “And you’re not driving it anywhere. You get caught driving unlicensed now and the judge will likely throw the book at you to prove a point. Not to mention that unlicensed means uninsured.”
“Where’s your sense of adventure?” he asked, giving me that sly grin that usually got him out of all kinds of trouble.
“My sense of adventure is keeping you out of jail.”
He chuckled and nudged me with his shoulder. “Always looking out for me,” he said. “Thanks, by the way, for coming to get me last night.”
“I should have left you there,” I said, nudging him back. “In a cell with two guys named Warthog and Donk.”
He laughed. “Sounds like a dream I had once. It didn’t end badly, let’s just say that much.”
I snorted, unable to stay mad at him. And that was my problem. I could never stay mad at him.
He put his curry down and took a slice of pizza, biting into it. “Mmm, this is good too. Hey, we should go out tonight. There’s a summer blues night on at the Wharf.”
I shook my head, but he was, like always, relentless and charming and so fucking cute, and I could never say no to him. Which was another one of my problems.
“Come on, it’ll be fun. It’s summer. We’ll have a swim, laze about for the afternoon, have a nap, then we can go out later. Who knows, you might even find some random to take home.”
I forced a smile, like I always did. “Unlikely.”
“Dunno why,” he said, oblivious. “You don’t look half bad,” he said with a smirk and a nudge. “If a young Robert Redford is your thing and you have more money than God. And fuck knows guys throw themselves at you.”
“More money than God?”
“Shut up, you know you do.” He pushed the pizza box away. “You know what your problem is, Erik?”
Actually, I did. But I played along. “Nope, tell me what my problem is.”
“You’re too picky.”
I snorted. “Is that right?”
“Yep. So tonight, when a guy looks twice at you, take him into the bathrooms.”
“Not really my style, but thanks.”
He laughed and stood up, then walked toward the pool. The glass doors were all pushed back, transforming the inside living area into a huge outdoor living area. He peeled off his shirt and stopped to face me. He looked even better in the sunlight. “Are you gonna lecture me about swimming after eating?”
“Wouldn’t dream of it.”
“Then get your arse into the pool with me. It’s too nice a day and life is too damn short.” He tossed his shirt and dived into the pool.
And there were both our problems laid bare. His was that he shirked off all responsibility, drank far too much, and lived like every day was his last, which in his case, with his drinking problem and reckless nature, it very well could be.
My problem was that I couldn’t stay mad at him and I couldn’t say no to him.
Oh, that, and I was absolutely head over heels in love with him. Had been since we were eighteen years old. I was so in love with him, I’d let him treat me like a doormat if it just meant he’d keep me around. It was a sickness.
He had his addiction, and he was mine.
His addiction to alcohol was killing him.
And watching him slowly spiral out of control, being so close to him but so far away, was killing me.
Addiction, in all its forms, fucking sucked.
The paperback will be available the same day, or a day after, depending on how distribution pans out from Ingram. The gorgeous cover by Cover Me Darling is soooooo pretty!!
My current WIP is at a very slow 11,000 words. There is a lot of research that makes it slow, and my self-doubt makes it even slower. Buuuuut, onward I will press. I’m still confident this will be a trilogy of novellas but that’s something only time will tell. I can tell you the main character’s names are August and Jacob. August is a grumpy detective, Jacob is a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but very competent and intelligent, senior constable. It’s set in Australia, and I’m actually enjoying writing it, despite my hesitation and reluctance to write a mystery/crime story.
Some days I wish my brain would just cut me a break. LOL
Okay folks, that’s it for this week. I’ll be back with buy-links for The Hate You Drink on release day! <3
Good Morning Monday! An Upside Down Excerpt!
It’s almost release day for Upside Down!! So to celebrate, and to help get you excited, here’s an excerpt! This is Jordan’s POV – he’s a rambler, and he’s funny 🙂
I can’t wait for you all to meet them, and release day just might coincide with my birthday this week !
I didn’t even notice that the room had cleared out. Merry had pulled up a chair at my side, but Hennessy sat with his knees between mine, holding my hand while I cried.
I fucking cried.
Through my stupid, traitorous tears, I caught the end of a silent conversation between Merry and him, my Headphones Guy.
And then Merry rubbed my back before she walked out, and Hennessy squeezed my hand. “She’s just gone to get you a drink of water,” he said gently.
“I don’t know why I’m crying,” I said, wiping my face with my free hand.
“Because it can be overwhelming,” he said. His voice was calm and soft. “Because it can be life-affirming and scary as hell, all at the same time.”
I nodded. “I don’t want another label, you know? Because I have enough. I have more than enough. Too many, probably, you know for a geeky book-nerd gay man with so many levels of social awkwardness Freud would need an elevator, but the labels fit. And I hate that they fit. Everything that was said here tonight was like it was said for me, like I was saying those things. I didn’t want this to happen,” I said, shaking my head, fighting more tears. “I wanted to come here and, well, that’s not exactly true. I didn’t want to come here at all; it was Merry’s idea. She suggested that I look into what being asexual meant. After my 683rd failed attempt at a relationship, she thought maybe I should see if I ticked any boxes on the ‘How To See If You Could Be Asexual’ questionnaire on Teen Vogue, and after I realised that I could almost tick all the boxes, I decided I didn’t want or need another label. So then I had to come here tonight to shut her up. I was going to prove her wrong and then I could go on living my best life being not asexual but just a gay man who didn’t actually want to have sex. A socially awkward, geeky book-nerd gay man,” I amended through more tears, “who doesn’t actually want to have sex. I’m sorry for crying. I wasn’t expecting the emotional dump, but I wasn’t expecting to feel so… lost and found. Like I once was lost but now I’m found, kind of like the song, which is cheesy as fuck and I didn’t mean it to sound like that. I just didn’t realise how hard I’d been trying to fit in with the real world, trying to be normal, when my normal was here all along. Because I really am asexual and it hit me like a metric fuckton of bricks that there’s actually nothing wrong with me.”
And then there were more tears.
“Because that’s my truth, even if I thought there was something wrong with me, and fuck knows I’ve been told there was, many times,” I said, wiping my face. “But there’s not. I’m asexual, and that’s my motherfucking truth whether I like it or not.”
Hennessy smiled at me. With his perfect lips and perfect teeth, his pretty blue eyes, and three-day scruff. He looked so different without his headphones, like seeing someone who normally wears glasses without them. “There’s nothing wrong with you,” he said, still smiling, still holding my hand.
“I’m sorry, were you not here for the geeky book-nerd gay man with so many levels of social awkwardness Freud would need an elevator conversation?”
He laughed at that. “I believe I was, yeah.”
“Sorry about that. I tend to babble a lot when I’m nervous. And swear. Well, I say fuck a lot even when I’m not nervous. I don’t have Tourette’s or anything, I just like the word fuck. The noun and adverb, even the adjective, not the verb obviously because I’m asexual. Apparently. So there is definitely no actioning of the word.”
Hennessy chuckled. “No actioning of the word, got it.” He still had a hold of my hand, and I liked it. As in, really liked it. My Headphones Guy was holding my hand, and he was smiling at me, in what I think was not in a bad way. I mean, his smile was kind and his eyes were smiling too, if that was even possible. I mean, no it wasn’t possible—eyes could not physically smile, I got that—but damn, they sure looked happy.
“How are you feeling now?” he asked.
“A little weirded out,” I answered. “Not gonna lie. I didn’t want to admit the asexual thing to myself for a long time, and I’m thinking it will take some getting used to. Like breaking in a pair of Doc Martens, ya know? Like they’re uncomfortable and tight and basically kill your feet until they’re the most comfortable shoes you’ll ever wear. They become like a second skin, and I’m pretty sure this whole asexual thing will be like that.”
He made a thoughtful face. “I like that analogy.”
“And it’s even weirder, because you’re my Headphones Guy and I had no idea you’d be here, but here you are and now you’re holding my hand and I cried in front of you, which is not how I wanted our first meeting to go. Believe me. I had visions of it involving me not being so… well, so me. And doing all the talking, because I tend to talk a lot when I’m nervous, which I think I’ve said already—”
“I’m your Headphones Guy?”
Oh fucking fuckity motherfucker. “I said that out loud, didn’t I? To your perfect face, and what kind of perfect name is Hennessy, by the way? Because—”
A loud peal of laughter broke through the door when a couple, a guy and girl, stumbled into the backroom, their arms around each other, obviously intoxicated and handsy and half kissing, half laughing, until they realised the room wasn’t empty.
I shot to my feet and pulled my hand away from Hennessy’s.
“Oh, sorry guys,” the girl said.
“Didn’t mean to interrupt,” the guy said. He took his hand off her arse to wave it. “Keep doing what you’re doing. We don’t mind. We thought this room was empty.”
“We weren’t doing anything,” I said quickly.
“Excuse me,” Merry said, sliding in around the drunk couple. She held three bottles of water. “Sorry, it took forever to get served. They’re really busy.”
I’d never been happier to see her. “Oh, thank God.” I grabbed her arm and turned her back toward the door. “We need to leave. I called him my Headphones Guy to his perfect fucking face.”
Merry shot Hennessy a look and held out a bottle of water for him. He took it, still smiling, though somewhat confused. Then Merry looked up at me as I dragged her to the door. “To his face?”
“What was I supposed to do? You left me unsupervised!” I stopped at the couple who were still standing in the doorway, and only just then I realised what the guy had meant when he said they thought the room was empty… “Oh praise baby motherfucking Jesus, I hope you have antibacterial wipes.”
Now Merry was hauling me out through the crowded pub. I yelled back at the couple, hoping they’d hear, “At least wipe it down afterwards, we have meetings in there!”
We burst through the crowd onto the street and Merry looked up at me and sighed. “What else did you say?”
“What didn’t I say?” I answered. “I was a mess, crying all over him because of the whole asexual thing, thank you very much. Then I was nervous and we both know how well that ends. And I think I might have told him that he was my Headphones Guy, that he had a perfect face and a perfect name, because who the fuck calls their kid Hennessy, and now he thinks I’m a raving lunatic because you. Left. Me. Un. Supervised.”
Merry cracked her bottle of water, took a long drink, sighed, then hooked her arm around my elbow. “He really is very good looking,” she said as we began the walk back to my flat. “I can see why you’ve been crushing on him forever.”
I took a swig of my water. “Fucking hell, I wish this was wine. Where is Jesus when you need him?”
There are no pre-order links, the book will go live on the 21st.
Much love and peace <3
Good Morning Monday ~ And Excerpt, and It’s Almost December?
“Um what?” is right. December. Pretty sure it was March yesterday but whatever. Good news this week was that I did manage to finish my first draft of Kennard’s Story! Bad news is I had a techfail and managed to lose a bunch of words and research when my iMac gave my laptop the silent treatment and failed to sync. Actually, it’s more a case of my laptop not listening to iMac. It’s kind of a long story. The short version is the words are gone forever and I’m diving back in today to redo it.
In other news, it’s only six more days until A Soldier’s Wish is released!! I’m super excited for you all to meet Richard and Gary. They’re adorable guys and totally deserve their HEA. And I thought I’d share a little excerpt from Chapter One…
This is Gary’s POV…
I began to study the other folks in the diner. The hippie-hating farmers were still there, sour-faced, scowling in their cups of joe. And there was a young family; I smiled as the kids enjoyed their pancakes. But then there was a guy, by himself, in a booth staring out the window. He was wearing slacks and a sweater. His blond hair was the good ol’ short back and sides. He was so tidy and clean-cut, he couldn’t be anything but military. The duffle bag at his feet confirmed my suspicion.
Normally I wouldn’t look twice at his type, and Lord knew, his type never looked twice at me. But there was a look of such profound sadness on his face, I couldn’t look away.
“Gary?” Lyman called my name.
I turned, not having heard any of what he’d said before. The three of them were watching me. “Hey, I’m just gonna go say hi.” I took my cup of coffee and slid out of the booth.
“We’re leaving in five,” Kathryn called after me.
I gave her a nod to let her know I’d heard her and made my way over to the sad army guy. He was still staring out the window, looking like he was fighting tears. “Hey,” I said so as not to scare him. I nodded to the seat opposite him. “Can I join you?”
He startled anyway and shifted in his seat. “Oh, sure,” he replied.
I slid in and put my coffee between us. “I was just sitting over there with my friends,” I explained. “I couldn’t help notice.”
His eyes, so blue, shot to mine. “Notice what?”
Wow, okay. So that was an overreaction. And over what? What did he think I noticed? He swallowed hard and looked back out the window, a deep blush staining his cheeks.
I put my hand up. “I couldn’t help but notice you were here alone.”
He glanced at me again, then kept his eyes on his hands that were now clasped on the table. “Sorry, I… I…” He sighed. “It’s been a helluva day.”
“It’s early morning.”
The guy almost smiled, then shook his head. “Feels longer.”
It was pretty clear he wasn’t having a good day, so I gave him a smile. “My name’s Gary Fairchild.”
He looked at me then, like really met my eyes. His cheeks pinked up a little. “Nice to meet you, Gary. My name’s Richard Ronsman.”
Release day will be December 2nd! I can’t wait for you guys to meet these two <3
This coming week, I have delusions of grandeur of finishing Kennard’s Story redo, then starting my next book. I’m SUPER excited to start this one. These two boys have been waiting a while for their story to be written, and it should be fun!
Okay that’s it this week. I hope every one is well, and all my American friends survived Thanksgiving <3 I’ll be posting on Sunday with buylinks for A Soldier’s Wish.
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