Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Summer Heat by Jay Northcote

Title: Summer Heat
Author: Jay Northcote
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: June 9, 2017
Cover Design: Black Jazz Design
A summer fling is an ideal cure for a broken heart. But when it's with your best friend, things get complicated.

When Adam is dumped by his boyfriend, a week away at a beach resort seems like a great opportunity to get over his ex. Sun, sea, and no-strings sex will be just the boost he needs to move on with his life.

Adam's best friend, Finn, agrees to accompany him at short notice. Finn's had a crush on Adam for years, but is determined to put his feelings aside and be the perfect wingman in Adam's time of crisis.

A spontaneous threesome with another guy forces Adam and Finn to confront their attraction to each other. Having a holiday fling together wasn't part of the plan, and as their trip heats up, they soon realise that one night of fun won't be enough for either of them.

The passion might be scorching, but their hearts and friendship are on the line. If their romance is going to survive the flight home, they have to be honest about what they want.

If you are looking for a summer read that is fun, sexy, and full of heart than look no further because Summer Heat is that and so much more.  Adam has been dumped by his boyfriend Drew and is knocked a little sideways by it.  Finn has carried a torch for his friend Adam for a very long time but only wanting to see his friend happy he is determined to stay in the friend-zone and be there for Adam.  When a romantic vacation meant for Adam and Drew becomes a friends-being-there getaway, Finn and Adam may get that extra jolt that can shake life up.

Jay Northcote has created a story that is full of romance, fun, heat, and just the right amount of drama to keep you on the edge of your seat.  Summer Heat is one of those stories that you may know from the beginning where the plot will end up but the journey getting from the first page to the last is where the story lies.  As in life, sometimes we get more satisfaction and growth from the rainbow than the pot of gold that might be waiting to be found.

Summer Heat may not have the twists and turns that are in the pages of a mystery or the drama driven plot of an angsty read but it does have plenty of heart with just the right amount of heat to make this a perfect summer read.  Who am I kidding? Jay Northcote's Summer Heat may be made for summer reading but it's a perfect read for any time of year.  If you have never read Norhtcote before, Summer is a perfect place to begin.


Author Bio:
Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.


June 9 - Mikku-chanMM Book AddictsReading In Sarah's CornerThe Smutbrarians
June 12 - The Way She ReadsOh My ShelvesDirty Books Obsession
June 14 - Millsy Loves BooksJoyfully JayScattered Thoughts & Rogue WordsMM Good Book Reviews
June 16 - Nicole's Book Musings, Mainly StoriesV's Reads
June 19 - Lustful LiteratureMy Fiction NookKiki's Kinky PicksWicked Faerie's Tales & Reviews
June 21 - Dog-Eared DaydreamsBooksLaidBareBoysArchaeolibrarian - I Dig Good BooksMaking It HappenA Celebration of Books
June 23 - SarandipityBFD Book BlogDiverse ReaderWicked Reads
June 26 - Southern Babes Book BlogThe Geekery Book Review
June 28 - Padme's Library
June 30 - Bayou Book JunkieBook Lovers 4Ever

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Release Blitz: The Beard Made Me Do It by Lani Lynn Vale

Title: The Beard Made Me Do It
Author: Lani Lynn Vale
Series: Dixie Warden Rejects MC #5
Genre: Motorcycle Romance
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Cover Photographer: Furious Fotog
Cover Model:  Jacob Wilson
He’s only a friend.

Those words had haunted him from the moment Jessie James had heard them muttered from the one girl, above all others, that he thought had his back.

Sixteen years later, he still feels those words like a brand on his soul.

Lucky for him he has a son to take care of, a full-time job that demands every single second of the day, and not a single moment to spare for the likes of a woman that won’t stand up for him when he needs her the most.

He’s only a friend.

The words had slipped out of Ellen’s mouth, and before she could recall them or better yet, explain, Jesse is gone from her life for good, taking her heart with him.

She tries to find her way out of the pit of despair, but not one single person, no matter how much she tries, can fill the void that he left in his wake.

Time heals all wounds. Or at least that is how the saying goes.

It’s a crock of crap, though.

Sixteen years pass when Jessie and Ellen see each other again without the influence of the town and bad memories surrounding them, and it’s as if not a single day has passed.

Ellen knows the instant that her eyes see her old love that she’s still just as much in love with him today as she was all those years ago.

The problem is that Jesse wants nothing to do with her. Or at least that’s what he keeps telling himself.

What Others Are Saying:
“The want, the need, the passion, the drama and ohhhh THE HAWT ALPHA MC MALE, and look he is on the cover of this book!!! lol Goodness this book gave me the feels and I would love for this book to go on and” - iScream Books

“The Dixie Warden Rejects MC or as I call it the Bearded MC series just keeps getting better and better and leaves us yearning for more in the end.”  - Smashly Bookalicous Reviewing Chicks

“If you like second chance romances packed with emotion, drama, and action you will definitely want to read this one.” - Cat’s Guilty Pleasures

Author Bio:
I’m a married mother of three. My kids are all under 5, so I can assure you that they are a handful. I’ve been with my paramedic husband now for ten years, and we’ve produced three offspring that are nothing like us. I live in the greatest state in the world, Texas.

BLOG  /  KOBO  /  iTUNES  /  B&N

The Beard Made Me Do It #5


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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Working With It by Cass Alexander

Title: Working With It
Author: Cass Alexander
Series: Persimmon #3
Genre: New Adult, Romantic Comedy
Release Date: June 22, 2017
Morgan Pottinger is counting the days until graduation. Her plans are to leave small town Kentucky and never look back. As she starts her senior year at Persimmon College, she finds herself the object of Nate Stevenson’s affections. Despite her spaz-like tendencies, Nate makes it clear he wants her. Morgan cannot resist the sexy, intelligent guy that keeps her on her toes and ties her up in knots.

There’s just one problem. Morgan needs to break up with her hometown boyfriend before pursuing anything with Nate. A series of catastrophes back home continuously interfere with her attempts to end the relationship. At this rate, she’ll be married to the loser by March and Nate will be just another casualty in the disaster that is her life. Lucky for Morgan, Nate’s much smarter than she is.

I look at my watch. It’s almost midnight. I check my phone for the hundredth time, wondering why Morgan hasn’t texted me.

I assume she’s trying to finish up her essay, but I had hoped she’d at least acknowledge my two texts.

We didn’t have much contact this week, with her being in Planters Grove. It brought about a dimness to my days, not seeing her. I didn’t like it.

She did reach out and let me know that Alex was going to lose his arm. I feel bad for the guy. Not bad enough to let go of Morgan, but I’m not made of stone.

I get the feeling she’s trying to avoid me. I assume, with the removal of his appendage, she was unable to have a frank talk with him about their relationship. And I get it. I won’t push her on it. But I need to figure out how to help her through this process.

I take another sip of beer, only half listening to the conversation taking place in my room. We just finished up some games of Euchre. Now that my mind’s not focusing on cards, it’s obsessing about the little brown-eyed vixen living across the street.

I thought about knocking on her window, but realized she might need space to process. I’ll give her until tomorrow before I seek her out, assuming she still doesn’t return my text.

I pull out my phone to text her once more, to say goodnight, when I hear the familiar lilt of her voice coming from the hallway. It causes the neurons along my brain-gut axis to start going nuts. Will there ever be a time when she doesn’t give me such a primitive reaction?

Morgan appears in the doorway and flashes a big, goofy grin. You don’t have to be a genius to see that she’s been drinking. It’s cute.

“Hey, y’all!” she says to the group. Her usual subtle Southern drawl is especially twangy tonight. I think drinking brings out the Kentuckian in her.

“Hey, Morgan,” Penny responds. Nugget, one of our pledges, waves.

“Everybody out,” I command as I get out of my chair and put my beer on the coffee table.

“What? Why?” Nugget protests.

I glare at him. I’m not angry, I simply want to communicate through intimidation that his little ass needs to vacate my room immediately.

He looks over at Morgan, then back at me and shakes his head. Then he makes a huge mistake.

“Bros before hoes, Stevenson.”

I step towards him, ready to grab him by the shirt and toss him out the damn window. No one will refer to Morgan as a ho in my presence, even as a joke. I hesitate when I hear her snicker.

“Ah, Nugget,” she says, “God wasted a perfectly good asshole when he put teeth in your mouth.”

A fierce swell of laughter overtakes the room, from everyone but Nugget. I can’t help it. That might be the most superior affront I’ve ever heard. In fact, it may have just saved his little ass from a long drop to the ground.

Author Bio:
Cass Alexander is the pen name of a Southern born and bred public school teacher. Her brother, who insists she address him as, The Prince of Darkness, gave her the nom de plume after warning her that her book’s content may scar her sons for life.

She’s a connoisseur of fine humor, hilarious insults, and all things chocolate, preferably dark (like her humor). Oh, and wine. Let’s not forget the wine. Cass also enjoys running. It’s become crucial to her survival, due to her consumption of wine and chocolate.

Cass’s mission in life is to spread the love and the laughter, goodness knows it’s needed. It’s why she wrote The Persimmon Series.

She and her family now reside in the Midwest, where hardly anyone other than Cass says the words, y’all and holler.


Working With It #3

Working On It #1

Working For It #2

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Grind by Sybil Bartel

Title: Grind
Author: Sybil Bartel
Series: Thrust #3
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 27, 2017

I’m silent. I’m trained. I’m lethal.

My hand skimming down your thigh, my gaze a weapon—I know more ways to kill you than please you.

But you’re not paying for my aim. You’re paying for my control. Bringing you a breath away from ecstasy, watching you beg as I hold back your release, I’ll show you exactly what you’ve been missing. Your hunger is my currency and five thousand is my price. I only have one rule—no repeats, because I’m not for keeps. I’m for sale.

One slow grind and I’ll give you exactly what you paid for.

His gaze zeroed in on mine, his body conditioned for war, he didn’t walk toward me, he stalked. Every measured step was a warning I foolishly ignored as he came right at me.

The dog’s growling got louder and the gun in my hand shook. “What are you doing?”

His face impenetrable, he snapped his fingers at the dog then reached for the 9mm. Flipping the weapon in my hand, he pointed the gun at his chest. “Put your finger on the trigger,” he commanded.

“No.” My voice shook.

He moved my finger into position then wrapped his hand over mine to steady it. “You take the safety off and you pull the trigger.” He moved the aim of the barrel to just right of center on his chest. “Aim for the heart.” He lifted my hand holding the heavy gun and pressed it to his forehead, dead center. “Or between the eyes.”

Fear licked up my spine and settled in my heart. I pushed words out through my suddenly dry mouth. “What are you doing?”

“You want to kill a man, don’t hesitate.” Lightning fast, he ripped the gun from my hand, spun it, and in less than a second, it was aimed at my temple. “Otherwise, you lose.” Before I could blink, he reached behind him and set the gun on the kitchen island.

My heart in my throat, I fought for a steady breath. For the first time since he’d walked into his house, I was truly afraid of what he was capable of. “You’re insane.”

“And dominating and controlling and ruthless.” He gripped a handful of my hair, walked me back two steps, then grabbed the back of my left thigh. “You want to fuck?”

Author Bio:
I grew up in Northern California with my head in a book and my feet in the sand. I dreamt of becoming a painter but the heady scent of libraries with their shelves full of books drew me into the world of storytelling. I love the New Adult genre, but any story about a love so desperately wrong and impossibly beautiful makes me swoon.

I now live in Southern Florida and while I don’t get to read as much as I like, I still bury my toes in the sand. If I’m not writing or fighting to contain the banana plantation in my backyard, you can find me spending time with my handsomely tattooed husband, my brilliantly practical son and a mischievous miniature boxer…

But Seriously?

Here are ten things you probably really want to know about me.

I grew up a faculty brat. I can swear like a sailor. I love men in uniform. I hate being told what to do. I can do your taxes (but don’t ask). The Bird Market in Hong Kong freaks me out. My favorite word is desperate…or dirty, or both—I can’t decide. I have a thing for muscle cars. But never reply on me for driving directions, ever. And I have a new book boyfriend every week—don’t tell my husband.


Grind #3

Thrust #1

Rough #2

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Monday's Montage Mantlepiece: Horns & Halos Collection

Demons and Angels have been among us for thousands of years, in many cultures and in many forms. What happens when you set the Mischief Corner authors loose on the vague prompt "Write a story about angels or demons?" The poor unsuspecting world is about to find out.

Archie's Accidental Kidnapping(Hounds of Hell #1) by Toni Griffin
Hellhounds are tasked with a very important job. Tracking down and killing Nephilim, half human, half angels. They are the absolute worse society has to offer and as such need to be eliminated. As Adze and his pack of hounds hunt the latest lowlife he meets Archie, his heart mate, something he never thought would happen to him. Now all Adze has to do is explain to his very human mate about the world he's just been dragged into, kicking and screaming. Sounds easy right? Not so much.

Internment(Spirit Threads #1) by Freddy MacKay
Alone on his mountain, the kitsune Tadashi only wishes to be left in peace so he can mourn his lost lover and take care of his temple. Unfortunately, several townsmen who have no idea of Tadashi’s true nature have different plans for the "Jap on the mountain" and his land. When they push the kitsune too far, he reacts with horrific violence, leaving tragedy in his wake. Broken and terrified of himself, Tadashi represses his natural drives and shuts himself off from the world.

The intrusion of a lost little girl and her persistent veterinarian uncle, Berg, into Tadashi’s life, turn his carefully ordered world upside-down. The reluctant hero needs to decide whether he is truly happier alone or whether he can once again embrace a truth he used to know, that life is for the living.

Hell For The Company(Brimstone #1) by Angel Martinez
Shax, the Demon Prince of Thieves, has reconciled himself to exile. He has a grand time careening around the galaxy as a high-end, intergalactic purloiner of pretties. Everything's going just fine, thank you very much. All right, fine, the anti-gravity cows are a bit problematic and some of his buyers are bad for his health, but he manages until he comes across an injured angel in a psychedelic alien jungle.

He only rescues the wing boy for his golden feathers, but what Shax doesn’t know about angels could fill an intergalactic encyclopedia.

Archie's Accidental Kidnapping by Toni Griffin
Chapter One
“What’s the deal with the bloody weather today? It’s hot as Hell.” Cacus bitched and moaned as he wiped the sweat from his brow.

Adze shook his head. “No, it’s not, Cacus. You’ve been to Hell, remember?”

“Don’t remind me, Adze. I don’t plan on going back. Ever!”

“None of us do, mate,” Pyro muttered from where he sat.

It was one of those rare days in February when Melbourne’s temperature skyrocketed to over forty degrees. Adze couldn’t wait for the sun to sink below the horizon and the place to cool the fuck down again. You never really knew what the weather was going to give you from one day to the next here. People talked about Melbourne as the city that had four seasons in one day, and they were right. The weather was all kinds of fucked up.

Nicor, Oriax and Daevas had even taken a break from the research they were doing to head downstairs for a swim, hoping it would cool them off.

Adze couldn’t believe how much the big strong hellhounds around him sounded like whiny little babies. As he’d reminded Cacus, they had been to Hell. All six of them had been born and trained down there and had dealt with much harsher temperatures than this in the past. He wondered silently if they were becoming too acclimated to Earth and if that was a good or bad sign.

When the need for a new team to be sent to Earth had arisen, Adze had received notification from Lucifer’s second that he was to choose five other hounds and make haste to Australia. The previous pack that had guarded the continent hadn’t survived its encounter with their last target.

Adze hadn’t liked the sound of that, but he would’ve done anything to get out of Hell. He hated it there, as well as most of the people that either lived or were confined there. He’d gone immediately to gather his friends and they’d all readily agreed to go. They’d been training as a group for a hundred years so Adze hadn’t expected any of them to turn him down. They had all wanted to get out of Hell as much as he had.

Hellhounds had been charged thousands of years ago with keeping the balance on the surface. They accomplished this by cleaning up the damage the angels did every time they visited Earth and couldn’t keep it in their damn pants.

You would think after the first couple of dozen times a child created by an angel and a human went insane and on a killing spree, the angels would have got it in their heads that maybe Earth wasn’t the best place for them to go and fuck their hearts out, but no, that would have been too easy. Instead, they continued to come, continued to find willing women, bed them, and then leave them whether they were pregnant with their offspring or not, heading back to heaven and their angelic duties.

He wasn’t exactly sure what it was that caused the offspring to go off the deep end, but Adze thought it might have something to do with the fact that angels just weren’t meant to procreate with humans. Their DNA didn’t seem to mesh well and ended up creating all manner of evil beings. Homicidal maniacs, terrorists, rapists, serial killers, bombers, arsonists, you name it.

Nine times out of ten, the person responsible for the atrocities would have angelic blood flowing in their veins. The cases of the responsible party being completely human were getting rarer every day.

There were hellhound packs located all over the globe charged with hunting down the nephilim—half angel, half human—and killing them. If the party was found to be completely human, then Adze and his pack didn’t touch them. That was the job of the local law enforcement.

As the angels refused to keep track of every woman they slept with, things were a hell of a lot harder on the hounds than they could have been. There was no easy way to find an offspring from one of these hook-ups. Only when a hound got close enough to the being could they sense the angelic blood in their veins.

Once the hounds got within a couple of kilometers of a nephilim they were able to track it easily. Angels glowed with a white aura that Adze had found in the past to be almost blinding when looking directly at them. Their children’s auras, however, blackened with every evil act they committed, making them stand out amongst all the humans.

Adze was thankful that whatever it was that caused the corruption in their bodies didn’t occur until adulthood. Only in extremely rare cases did this take place sooner. When the corruption manifested in adolescence, school massacres often resulted and Adze hated those the most. The needless loss of life seemed so much worse when kids were involved.

The nephilim they were tracking at the moment, Michael Bates, was wanted for the kidnapping, torture and murder of seven young men. His victims all had light brown hair, but of varying lengths, their eyes had all been differing shades of green and they all stood less than six foot tall, their ages ranging from twenty-two to twenty-eight.

Two of the seven victims had been in Melbourne on either business or pleasure, whereas the other five had lived in suburbs scattered around the city. They didn’t drive the same vehicle or attend the same groups, their professions ranged from a florist to a dentist to a student currently studying at law school.

He hadn’t kept the men for the same period either. Some he kidnapped and tortured for weeks before killing the victim and leaving the body in a public place to be found. Others he kidnapped and their bodies were discovered the following day.

None of it made any sense to Adze and he could feel his frustration growing exponentially along with his discomfort from the heat.

One thing they had going for them was the fact that this one was in their own back yard. Melbourne was their home base, the place they always came back to, and the city they knew better than anywhere else in the country.

Internment by Freddy MacKay
Part One - Monsters on the Mountain
Chapter One
Spring was alive and well on the mountain. Green buds covered the treetops, bushes bounced with the breeze, tulips and daffodils poked through the ground, and the smallest of forest creatures skittered about looking for their treasures from the previous summer and fall. Tadashi smiled as a familiar young squirrel scampered around his feet, chirping and squeaking at him furiously.

"I didn't take your nuts," chastised Tadashi, switching his broom to one hand. "You've forgotten where you've put them. Or they've decided to become wonderful new additions to the forest in the form of trees."

The squirrel stopped its angry barrage of noises and looked up.

"I'm telling the truth, Kou," said Tadashi. "I haven't hidden your nuts."

Kou chirped once.

"Look over there, by the arches." Tadashi pointed at the gate. "Why do you think a Black Oak is sprouting? I didn't plant it there."

The squirrel's nose twitched. He stared at the seedling then took off in the opposite direction for his oak by the temple.

"Aren't you even going to say you're sorry?" called Tadashi, shaking his head.

Kou climbed up his tree and went straight into his nest.

Tadashi chuckled and went back to his sweeping. "Little pest."

He didn't mind the forgetful little squirrel. The temple would seem big and empty without him. Company, in the form of the squirrel, was a welcome reprieve from his duties. Tadashi would have to remember to procure some of Kou's favorite treats. He had some hidden away. The spring was always a rough time of year for the small forest mammals like Kou, the poor squirrel could use a break.

Though he wasn't so small anymore. Kou had just turned a year at the end of April. It felt like just a moment ago that Tadashi had been up nursing Kou back to health after his mother abandoned the litter early. Kou had been the only one to survive. He'd been a fighter and would continue to thrive, though Kou had to be hungry. The winter had been an unusual one, the cold extreme even for the mountain, and food was hard to come by at the moment.

Definitely not an easy time for the animals, their stomachs empty, and they were looking for a mate. Tadashi stopped sweeping the grounds and searched for the squirrel. No wonder Kou was so upset. He must be preparing to lure a female. Were there any around? Tadashi scanned the trees and the forest floor beyond the gates. He couldn't see them, but he could smell them. Quite a few in fact. All of them were scurrying about looking for food.

Kou knew what he was doing, wanting his nuts. Sneaky devil. But then, Tadashi raised him. He only had himself to blame for the squirrel's cheeky behavior and slight, oh, awareness.

A squirrel raised by a kitsune. He must be getting lonely. Him, a messenger of the god Inari, taking in such a small pest. What is the world coming to?

Tadashi picked up his broom and headed back toward the small building next to the temple. At the same time, Kou popped back out of his nest, pinecone securely between his teeth. The little pest did have food. Kou ran by, dragging the pinecone with him.

"Be careful once you pass the gates," warned Tadashi. "It's not as easy to protect you once you leave the shrine."

Kou stopped and tilted his head, observing Tadashi.

"Here at the shrine, my powers protect you," said Tadashi. "Step off the sacred grounds, only my luck travels with you."

It wasn't the good kind though. Hadn't been for years, not since the Japanese engaged the Americans in the World War seven years ago. But Kou didn't need to know that. His happy aura was one of Tadashi's only lights. He didn't want to damper it.

"Go, have fun."

Kou chirped and ran off, scampering away with a sense of purpose.

Tadashi faced the temple and bowed, asking a favor from his god, Inari. "I know you and I haven't been on the best of terms, but please, protect Kou."

Tadashi straightened then resumed his course to the small hut by the temple, ignoring the larger house behind the shrine. He ducked into the doorway and took several long steps to the dresser by his bed. Tadashi rummaged around the top of it. He had kept a stash of Kou's favorite nuts for an occasion like this one… somewhere. A small, brightly colored cloth bag finally peeked out from under a pair of socks.


He had used a little of his magic on the bag so it preserved and kept the nuts fresh. Tadashi grabbed the sack and stepped back. He gently placed it on the floor so he could grab it once he had shifted. Tadashi quickly pulled off his clothes, letting them drop to the floor.

Funny thing about real clothes, they wouldn't just disappear like the ones that formed when he used his magic. Getting tangled in real clothes was cumbersome and annoying. So was having to strip naked to shift.

Hell For The Company by Angel Martinez
Chapter One
Bullets pinged off the rock beside Shax’s head.

Projectiles? Really?

He ducked lower and tapped frantically at his link, hoping it hadn’t taken damage. “Verin! You there, bud?”

A low growl came back through the link. “This better be—fuck! Is that gunfire?”

“Maybe,” Shax conceded as he flattened himself in the dust.

“What in Lucifer’s name did you do now, bonehead?”

“Um, there were pretties…”

Verin’s cussing became too heated and high decibel for him to continue the conversation for a moment. Finally, he stopped the tirade. “Get back here, then! Fast as that damn horse you borrowed can manage!”

“About the horse…”


“Got shot out from under me. I could, ah, use some backup out here, Ver.”

More grumbling came through but this time accompanied by the sounds of engine startup. “You at least get your damn pretties?”

Shax grinned despite the dire situation. “Oh, yeah. Show you when we’re off this dirtball.”

Engine noise drowned the next round of grumbling. Thank hells. Verin was coming for him. Not that a little thing like a gunshot was going to kill a prince of hell but damn it, being shot hurt. Maybe some demons got off on the whole pain thing, but he’d rather skip it, thanks.

“There’s nowhere to go, scum!” the local protector of law and order bellowed. “Give up now and we’ll most likely hang you all nice and humane instead of skinning you alive!”

Oh yes, now there’s incentive for you. The shooting had stopped for a moment, so he dared to poke his head up above his rock cover. “How about a third choice?”

“You’re out of choices, boy!”

Shax rolled his eyes at the incredibly witty rejoinder. “How about I go away and you never, ever have to see me again?”

He offered his most charming smile, then dove for the ground, swearing a black streak when bullets zinged around him. Ow. Shit. He pushed his hat back, probing gently at his scalp near his right horn. His fingers came away bloody. “I am never going into any bar that has a piano player, ever again. Cheap, shoddy, hick town. Stupid humans.”

The roar of the Brimstone’s engines briefly muffled the gunfire. Shax thought his partner would come in shooting but Verin often had more precipitous solutions. He simply set the ship down on the posse.

“Ew. Squish.”

The few townsfolk who were not under the ship galloped off, suddenly keen to be elsewhere. The loading ramp lowered with the bitchy whine of old hydraulics. Verin stood at the top, huge arms crossed over his chest, tapping one clawed foot on the deck plates.

Shax staggered out of his hiding spot, trying hard for an annoyed expression rather than one of profound relief. He pointed to the hull as he stumbled up the ramp. “I am not cleaning that mess off.”

“Idiot.” Verin snorted. “The mess’ll freeze the second we leave atmosphere and burn off the next time we do reentry. So damn planet-bound still.”

“Shut up. Am not.” Halfway up the ramp, Shax stopped. “Why’s the ship crooked?”

“It’s not. Get in here. You don’t look so good, genius.”

Shax was about to admit he didn’t feel so great, either, when the loading ramp inconsiderately leaped up and hit him in the face. The last things he heard were Verin grumble-cussing and soft mooing.


* * * *

The headache wasn’t as bad as the ones after a bad tongue-lashing from the boss. Humans thought that was just an expression. Ha. The Prince of Darkness had some of the most ingenious punishments. Still, Shax wasn’t in any hurry to get up.

Verin had dumped him in his cabin, probably to get him out of the way and secured during liftoff.

“Would’ve been nice if you could’ve taken off the boots, Ver.” Shax swiped at his blankets, trying to get some of the dust and sand off. Filth was not his modis operandus. Wasn’t usually Verin’s either, but sometimes Verin just couldn’t be bothered with small details.

He stripped and put the dust-plagued clothes in the dry-cycler. He’d deal with rips and scuffs later. The shower was sonic, better for water conservation, but it did have the luxury of a warm air jet massage, one of the reasons he had taken the captain’s cabin. Verin had the pilot’s quarters, equally well equipped.

Designed for a crew of six, the Brimstone was more ship than they needed but Verin did well with the flying part and he did well with the mechanics so they had no use for a pilot or crew. Since they had no need for a ship physician either, it was just the two of them, which suited them both fine.

Shax fingered the bloody line that parted his red-gold hair beside his horn. Pissed him off that those idiots had temporarily marred perfection. His horn hurt, for hell’s sake. Otherwise, he still looked good. Oh fine, his black eyes were a little bloodshot and a nasty bruise colored his jaw. He needed rest and pampering, but Verin sure as shit wasn’t going to do any of that and he’d left the minions behind on Earth.

He pulled on comfortable old work pants and a sweater, shrugged on his jacket and shambled off to the kitchen. While he wasn’t really in a mood to deal with computer snark, he needed his damn coffee.

Lights came up as he entered. The bench slid out from under the counter to welcome him. “Ivana, coffee.”

“How about you ask nicely, handsome?” the lisping CG voice purred. The damn computer had been programmed with a drag queen personality and neither he nor Verin could figure out how to change the settings.

“Ms. Ivana Cockatoo, might I have some coffee, please?”

“That’s better. Now why are you out of bed, sugar? You look like five light-years of bad road trip.”

Author Bios:
Toni Griffin
Toni Griffin lives in Darwin, the smallest of Australia’s capital cities. Born and raised in the state she’s a Territorian through and through. Growing up Toni hated English with a passion (as her editors can probably attest to) and found her strength lies with numbers.

Now, though, she loves escaping to the worlds she creates and hopes to continue to do so for many years to come. She’s a single mother of one and works full time. When she’s not writing you can just about guarantee that she will be reading one of the many MM authors she loves.

Freddy MacKay
Freddy grew up in the Midwest, playing sports and running around outside. And honestly, that much has not changed since Freddy was small and throwing worms at other kids, expect worm throwing has been replaced with a healthy geocaching addiction. Freddy enjoys traveling and holds the view a person should continually to learn about new things and people whenever possible.

Freddy's contemporary LGBTQ book, Incubation: Finding Peace 2, won 3rd Place - Best Gay Erotic Fiction in the 2012 Rainbow Awards. In 2013, Freddy's story, Internment, tied for 3rd Place - Best Gay Fantasy in the Rainbow Awards. Freddy's steampunk/SF story, Feel Me, was a finalist and honorable mention in the 2014 Rainbow Awards for SF.

Angel Martinez
Angel Martinez currently lives part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware and full time inside her head. She has one husband, one son, two cats, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.

Angel's alter ego writes the all-ages science fiction - Sandra Stixrude.

Toni Griffin

Freddy MacKay

Angel Martinez