You’ve possibly heard of all the awesomeness that is the MLR Mixtape collection. Mine, It’s Raining Men, is out and available now! Each book can be purchased separately, but if you want to nab them all at once, each week’s collection can be purchased at a 25% discount. There are some great compilations to this mixtape collection. I hope you’ll check them out.
Via the website:
Way back when, when you needed to tell that special someone how you felt instead of writing a note you put together a compilation cassette tape of MUSIC. Songs that reminded you of that special someone, songs that told them how you felt so you didn’t have to say it to their face (just in case they didn’t feel the same).
|ISBN#||MLR-1-02013-0087 (ebook) $4.99|
|Release Date||June 2013|
|Cover Artist||Deana C. Jamroz|
|Length: (*)||32,000 words|
Dallas, along with a few friends, is attending a singing contest to cheer on a friend who is a drag performer. Except he falls in utter lust with the hostess of the club, Peter, AKA Pepper Prince. Finagling a date, they spend hours talking into the night and Dallas gets a second date. Even though they’re hitting it off, Peter is skeptical of Dallas’ honesty and acceptance of Pepper’s inclusion in his private and professional life.
Can romance win the heart of a man who’s been hurt in the past for simply being the person he is? History says no, but Dallas isn’t like anyone Peter knows, and is determined to prove it.
Dallas obediently followed Liam, Brady, Carson, and Javy into Paper Dolls, slapping over the door charge as one by one they slid from nighttime reality to surreal charade. Each received a small blue ticket when they entered, like a carnival ticket, and were told to hold onto it. Dallas slipped his into a pocket.
The nightclub was huge inside, with a wide open floor, a broad stage, center walk, and racks of lighting overhead. Dark fabric drenched the walls, like heavy velvet curtains. Tables and chairs spaced out the floor, with more room at the bars. There were small candle displays in the middle of each table. In anticipation of the coming competition, a small cup held half pencils beside it. It was all prepared for the evening. In the dimmer lights of the pre-show moments, there was an air of class to the club. There wasn’t anything seedy about Paper Dolls. Dallas was proud of Liam’s boyfriend for having made it this far in the singing competition—the final round. They all had high hopes for Chantilly, or when he was off stage, Chance.
The five chose a table close to the stage. At the rate the tables were being claimed and filled, it was clear Liam hadn’t been joking when he’d said they needed to get there early. It looked like most of North Carolina was there for tonight’s talent battle.
“Is this competition really that big?” Dallas asked loudly enough to be heard over the playing music and chatter.
“It’s fuckin’ huge,” Liam said, leaning close. “The winner of this gets to go to Las Vegas and compete with the big girls.”
“Wow.” That tidbit got Dallas to sit a little straighter in his seat. He was cut off from asking more by a waiter nearing their table.
“Evening, fellas. Anything from the bar?” A hot, young thing stood by their table, canting a hip to write on a pad perched on his tray. He offered a sexy smile to go with the rest of his drippin’-in-sex flirt. Considering all he wore were hot pants and short boots, he had a lot of flirt going on.
“Are you old enough to serve?” Brady asked, sweeping him over with a single, brazen visual examination.
“Twenty-one, and I’ve been carrying trays since I was fourteen,” he retorted. “I make better tips doing this than tossing tamales.”
Dallas snickered, leaning on his elbows to cross his arms on the table. He gave Brady the chill-out stare. “Ignore him. A pitcher to go around. I’ll cover the first one.”
Carson raised his hand. “Oh, we need a round of shooters. Sex With Me! Love those. To toast Chantilly!”
Their waiter perked up. “Oh! Are you hunks Chantilly’s cheering section? She warned us you would be here.” He gave them all a return smile, full of sass. “I’ll have to keep my eye on all of you! It’ll be my pleasure,” he purred with a wink. To Dallas, it looked like it was aimed directly at Brady.
When he was gone, Liam said, “He’s young, Brady. He’s not your type.” Brady snorted, trying to make it look like he wasn’t following that sashaying walk as their waiter covered tables.
“Does Chantilly have a chance?” Dallas asked Liam.
“You’ve heard him sing. He’s got a Celine Dion voice.”
“It takes guts to do drag or impersonate,” Carson added. Javy slung an arm around Carson’s shoulders in agreement, tugging him close. Carson molded into Javy’s side without argument. “I couldn’t do it.”
“They’re not all impersonators,” Liam pointed out. “Chance won’t tell, but he said there’s a couple who do the regular nights who are transitioning. But yeah, I guess you do have to want to entertain on some level.”
Just then, their waiter returned, sliding the pitcher, shot glasses filled with Carson’s go-to, and a mug for each onto the table.
“What’s your name?” Brady barked a little sharply.
With the tray pinned to his hip, he met Brady’s bold gaze straight on. “Miguel. What are you, a cop?”
“Yes,” he crooned with a devilish growl.
“Prove it,” Miguel challenged.
Brady lifted enough to withdraw his wallet and aired his badge. Miguel leaned close, giving it scant attention to dismiss it with a shrug. “The toy department has better looking ones.” He sniffed with an uninterested air and whirled, blowing off Brady.
Dallas watched all of this as he poured, filling the mugs. He tried hard to not snicker.
“Brave little shit,” Brady muttered. “I bet he loses all that bravado once he leaves here.”
“Maybe, but I’m doubting it,” Dallas said. He took a sip of his beer.
Carson palmed his shot glass. “To Chantilly!”
A cheer went up from the five and they downed their shots. Javy shook himself on the after burn, making Carson giggle. “My big baby,” he crooned, wrapping a hand around Javy’s jaw.
It looked like Javy said something as he nuzzled into Carson’s throat, but it was too loud all around them to have a clue as to what. They patiently waited for the beginning of the show. Dallas was glad they’d come early and snagged a table. It was getting to be standing room only.
The lights flickered and a roar erupted to fill the club. Everyone had their chosen favorite for the competition. Friends and lovers, gay or straight, men and women, they filled the tables now, ready to cheer.
Dallas had seen Chantilly on stage, and had heard Chance when he was just floating around his and Liam’s apartment. He hardly did a thing without a song falling from his lips. It was like music was his center. Liam was Dallas’ best friend from high school, which meant Chance had a built-in support base. Between all of them, they were tight. He grinned as Javy whispered into Carson’s ear, earning a burning blush.
Those two… They had collided in an explosion of brilliant color when they’d finally admitted they were crazy about one another.
Liam was with Chance. Brady was, for the most part, avoiding relationships because he was a cop, and Dallas… He hadn’t found anyone recently. So on nights they could, they all got together, and tonight was an important one. To cheer on Chantilly, and hopefully help Chance reach the next stage. Dallas didn’t know if Chance wanted to go to Las Vegas, but if he wanted to win tonight, Dallas would scream his loudest to see it happen.
The houselights dimmed and the spotlights aligned on stage.
“Good evening, ladies and gents and those in-between,” crooned a silken voice that made the hair on Dallas’ arms spike hard. “Welcome to the Paper Dolls’ Third Annual Sing-Off!” Cheers, whistles and applause echoed from wall to wall.
It was killing Dallas that he couldn’t find the owner of that voice! Somewhere behind those curtains stood the person with the microphone, weaving a spell around all of them. The octave was pure sin, smooth as the liquor they’d just drank, and twice as rich.
The stage curtain twitched. A silk covered calf appeared, hooking the curtain’s edge with a strappy heel. Stones circling a slim ankle caught the light and sparkled like diamonds.
“Holy shit. That can’t be a guy,” Dallas croaked.
Liam gave him a grin, but waved a hand to shush him.
The spiked heel on that foot glided up and then down the heavy black curtain, encouraging whistles and hollers that rivaled a strip joint.
“Who wants a little spicccce tonight?” that hypnotic voice purred.
Dallas, a gay man since the age of seven, was enraptured by that foot and the voice of the person that it had to belong to. A person, that to the unknowing eye, anyone would think was a woman. He gulped, reaching for his beer to make it less dry the second time.
“Tonight… Tonight, my lovelies, you will get to experience talent!” The curtain trembled and the foot firmed on the stage. “You will get to watch real entertainers! Weeks of battling it out on this stage have come down to…thisss.”
A cheer buoyed by applause made Dallas’ ears ring. He swore his heart was racing for absolutely no reason he could name.
“And your vote…” That voice faded to a silken hum as a hand that matched the lone foot appeared on the curtain, winding upward to caress it. Long fingers, red-tipped nails, and a graceful sleekness played wildly over every one of Dallas’ fantasies.
Holy fuck, this one knows how to make an entrance. Dallas leaned forward, unable to blink.
With feline grace, she rolled around the curtain and finally, finally, Dallas got to see who held the entire audience in the palm of her hand. He licked his lips. Fucking Christ, he moaned silently. If that is a woman, I am going to be so fucked.
Black hair caressed her cheek, all the way to her shoulder with an elegant wave. What Dallas knew from his sisters, that look probably took forever to create. Simplicity was not simple. He couldn’t guess if all that hair was a wig or not, it looked so natural. The longer he stared in amazement, the more he wanted to know who she was. Makeup couldn’t hide the jut of the jaw or cheekbones no woman should have been born with. Deep eyes lined in black surveyed her domain. Ruby lips lifted with a hint of seduction, and even more promises. Slim in frame, her shoulders weren’t broad, which added to the illusion. And this one knew how to play tricks on a man’s eyes.
From those lush lips to the slim ankle, and all the parts in between, he looked like a natural born she.
Dallas sucked hard on the liquid in his mug, not caring what it was, only that it was wet and cool.
“Your vote will be sending one of our lovely Dolls to Las Vegas!” she said into the mic before her, sweeping a hand in front of her to include the entire spellbound crowd.
The roar that announcement ripped out of everyone shook the walls.
“Tonight, my lovelies, I have the honor of being your hostess.”
And almost as though this dynamo in an evening gown could read his thoughts of Who are you? Dallas finally had a name.
“I am Pepper Prince.” She tipped her head in acknowledgement of her applause, the microphone lovingly cradled between two palms. “And tonight, all of you get the joy and treat of choosing this year’s Doll!”
Music began to play and before his eyes, this man in a woman’s dress, this man who had the theatrical grace of a Broadway actor, who could play his part with sublime reality, began to belt out Cher like Pepper was the diva herself.
“Fuck me,” he growled.
Liam slid him a knowing grin. “Pepper was the first year’s winner. It’s because of her that they’ve contracted with the agent in Las Vegas to get more talent known.”
“Please, please…swear to me…that he is not transitioning. He’s stunning.”
Liam shook his head, but anything he said was unheard. Dallas was enthralled by the chameleon on stage.
It was subtle, but it was there. The lack of definition in the hips, the tone, bare forearms, and the occasional glimpse of hard thigh as he moved about the stage. The tilt of jaw that Dallas wanted to lick. He craved to see his chest, discover if he was as lithe as his dress seemed to hint at, if he was waxed. It was all fake, from the makeup to the heels to the push-up bra, which raised Pepper in his esteem for the simple fact that he was flawless.
He saw the man beneath the costume. It really meant no more to him than if he’d been in a uniform. This was the way he worked. And saying he knew how to do the job?
Pepper was born to perform. Hardly a soul spoke while she sang, a true rarity considering they were in a night club. When she was done, she blew kisses, bowing to the crowd in thanks of their thunderous applause. “Now,” she said, standing straight and pushing her hair off a shoulder. “Let’s get this party started!”
The stage went black and Dallas watched transfixed until she melted into the shadows.