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It’s been another great release party here at The Romance Studio. I have to say I love how much work the folks here at TRS put into making these events awesome for authors and readers, and I always appreciate the chance to talk about myself and my books, because, yeah, I’m shallow like that. LOL
Seriously, I hope everyone has an awesome rest of December, and enjoy the Christmas party that’s coming up here in a couple of weeks. I won’t be playing along with that, but I know many other excellent authors will be. If you’re curious about what I have coming up in 2014, you can get a sneak peek on the Coming Soon page of my website.
This is Karenna Colcroft, signing off (always wanted to say that). Hope you have a wonderful rest of December, including any holidays you might celebrate, and I’ll see you here next year!
Ribboned (Red Velvet Christmas) by Megan Slayer
Number in Series: 5
Genres: Erotic Romance, Novella, BDSM
Themes: Elves, Dragons and Magical Creatures, Christmas
Ribbons aren’t just for decorating anymore.
Daria Elf never expected to be moved to the velvet ribbon department right before Christmas. She also never expected her boss to be the object of her wettest fantasies. Can she keep her cool, or will she end up on Raven’s Naughty List?
Raven Elf has his sights set on Daria. He wants her for his department, his bed and bound in his thick velvet ribbons. He’ll get his girl, but the hard part is convincing her that their connection is meant to last.
Available here: http://changelingpress.com/product.php?&upt=book&ubid=2157
And now a hot excerpt!!
She clicked the handle and eased the door open. There, in all his red-and-green, towering glory, stood Raven. His blue eyes blazed and a grimace marred his face. “You were summoned ten minutes ago. Where have you been?” He folded his muscle-corded arms. “Hmm?”
His gravelly voice drew a shiver from deep in her being. She cleared her throat. No way she’d let him scare her — not yet. “Once I picked my jaw up off the floor, I ran right down here.” And worked up her courage to talk to him. She rested her hands on her hips. “I thought maybe Santa was in the nog again and made a mistake.”
Raven stepped toward her. Unlike the rest of the elves, he didn’t wear a hat. His dark hair slid over his brow, obscuring her view of his eyes. “This request is very real and binding.” His voice dropped to a growl on the last word.
Her heart and brain warred. Working in the ribbon room was a year-round commitment. Unlike those in the other parts of the Christmas plant, the people who worked with Raven didn’t seem to have much of a social life. Then again, did she recall anyone admitting they worked with him? Looking at the strapping elf in front of her, she wondered if it was the binding part of the job that scared people.
Raven was the stuff of rumor and innuendo. He didn’t just use his ribbon for package decoration or house décor — he dabbled in BDSM and used the velvety strips to bind his lovers. Her body tingled. Would he wrap her in nothing but his ribbons? Make her scream his name? Oh, holy night, she hoped so.
“I’m willing to take on the standard hitch down here,” she said, praying her voice hadn’t wobbled.
“Perfect.” His eyes glittered and a small smile curled on his lips. “Absolutely perfect.”
* * *
Raven widened his stance and drank in the sight of the tiny elf. She had no idea what the frost she’d gotten herself into. He suppressed a bigger grin. He loved newbies, especially ones with soft brown hair and crimson lips. His cock twitched behind the buttons of his pants. Something about her screamed innocence. She didn’t know how pretty she was. His jacket suffocated him. Pine nuts. Few women affected him, but she brought the arousal from deep in his soul.
Little did the faux-fur-wearing minx know just how binding the ribbon room could be.
“This is the Ribbon Room.” He put one arm around her shoulders and guided her to one of the three chairs in the room. “I prefer to work alone, but this year the requests for red velvet ribbon are on the rise. Santa agreed to my request for help.” He sat her down on the plush black velvet chair. “You.”
How’d she like that little revelation?
“Me?” she squeaked and stared at him. “I don’t know anything about ribbons other than they belong on presents.”
“I’ll train you.” In every way he knew how. “We’ll be working tonight until the wee hours. Can you manage?” Could she take the strain of working with him?
“Yes, sir.” She smiled and gave him a mock salute. “You tell me what to do and I’ll do it as best I can.”
Yes, she would.
copyright Megan Slayer 2013
As promised, here’s a naughty excerpt for Top Bidder.
Kurt joined the staff as a waiter at the Hammer Club because he wanted a Master of his own. He’s shy, though, and just one boy among the many looking for that special someone to dominate them. In fact, he’s working the night of the Hammer’s Annual Christmas Auction when Master Marcus asks him to fill in for a sub stuck in traffic.
Master August noticed Kurt when he first started working at the Hammer, but hadn’t approached the boy, wondering if they were compatible. When he sees Kurt on the auction block, he figures it’s the perfect time to test out their chemistry without putting any pressure on either of them.
Will Kurt and August find what they’re looking for in each other? Find out in the Christmas Hammer tale.
“Can I ask a question? Why me?”
“Because I’ve been watching you since your first day. You’re earnest and hardworking, not to mention very easy on the eyes.”
Kurt laughed softly. “Oh, that’s so nice to hear. I feel so plain next to the amazing men here.”
“You? Plain?” Auggie shook his head. “Never. You are a lovely boy. Intriguing.”
Kurt’s eyes shone, the expression so pleased.
Leaning in, Auggie took another kiss, letting himself sink into Kurt’s mouth, into the heat and taste of it. Kurt stepped closer, and their bodies touched, Kurt’s abs rippling as they connected. Humming, pleased that Kurt had chosen on his own to move closer, Auggie slid his hands down along Kurt’s back, enjoying the sensation of smooth, warm skin beneath his fingertips.
“Oh.” Kurt’s gasp filled his lips, the tiny sound making his cock jerk. Someone was very sensitive. Kurt was even more of a prize than he’d imagined.
He teased his fingertips along Kurt’s waistband, wanting to cup the lovely ass, but wanting to hold off and do it when they were both naked. It was gratifying, the way Kurt’s muscles tightened, jerked under his touch.
He brought his fingers right around until they met together at the front of Kurt’s slacks. It was easy to flick open the top button and to slowly tease down the zipper. Oh, God. Tighty whities. It was like a wet dream.
He continued to move slowly, wanting to take his time. It would make this last, and it would build the anticipation: the first time his boy stood naked in front of him.
“I… I’ve been working on my abs, but I’m not bulking up.”
“You don’t need any bulk — you’re perfect as you are.”
Oh, look at that blush. Auggie was going to cream his jeans. He pushed Kurt’s slacks down over his hips, fingers trailing along the little hairs as he pushed them all the way down. Inhaling, he took the scent of Kurt in, learning the rich, musky scent. This was what his boy smelled like. He’d bet the scent got more intense as Kurt became excited.
He stroked Kurt through the white underwear, watching a damp spot appear where the tip of Kurt’s cock pushed at the material. Someone wanted him, wanted this. Licking his lips, he carefully pulled the top of Kurt’s underwear away from his cock, then slid down over the slender hips, pushing them past Kurt’s thighs.
Kurt moaned softly, hands fluttering like startled birds. He could give them something to do. “Touch me, boy.”
“Oh, yes. Please.” Kurt reached for him, fingers sliding around his ribs.
Groaning, he pushed Kurt’s underwear down so they dropped to his boy’s ankles, his eyes drawn to the lovely cock. Long and thin, hard and fine, much like Kurt, the pretty cock begged for attention. He touched the tip, grabbing a drop of pre-come.
“Oh.” Kurt jumped, belly going pink.
“Are you a virgin?”
“In a lot of things. I’ve had oral sex, hand jobs. The guys spanked me on my first night, but it was more funny than sexy.” Kurt met his eyes, cheeks red. “I’m a totally quick learner, though.”
He cupped one hot cheek. “It’s not actually a problem, sweet boy. In fact, I consider it a plus — think of all the things I get to teach you.”
“I want to learn. I read online, and it all makes my balls ache.” So honest. So eager.
“What makes them ache the most?” He was curious about what intrigued this lovely lad.
“Obeying. Saying ‘yes, sir’ and having it mean something.”
“Oh. that’s… lovely.” He brought their mouths together and kissed Kurt. Hard.
A soft, happy cry pushed into his lips, Kurt plastering himself against August. He grabbed hold of Kurt’s ass, rubbing, knowing the sensation of his jeans against Kurt’s cock would likely be a new sensation. That earned him a full-body shudder, Kurt grabbing for him.
“I’ve got you, boy.”
Jingle Claws by Megan Slayer
Paranormal, Contemporary, Holiday
Shara Azod Publishing
Christmas is the time to come together. But for a tiger shifter stuck in his tiger form, it can be a lonely time. Kash isn’t just alone, he’s stuck in the zoo. He needs to find his mate and fast—or his human form will be lost to the tiger forever. There’s one woman who can help him out…if he doesn’t scare the hell out of her first.
Charise doesn’t believe in shifters. There isn’t such a thing. When the man appears in the sick bay where the tiger once lounged, she’s not sure what to think. He claims she’s his salvation. Will she be able to accept the Christmas spirit and his wild story in order to get her happily ever after? Only time and a little visit from Jingle Claws will tell.
And now an excerpt!
“What a way to spend the holidays.” Charise Sutton scanned the medical sheets on the tigers under her care. Volunteering to care for the animals over the holiday break had seemed like a good idea—back when the other workers were still at the zoo. Instead, there she was, alone on the night before Christmas. Well, alone save for the bare-bones staff. For once, she wished she still had family around. Someone to care about her during the Christmas season and a place to go to celebrate. Nope. After breast cancer had claimed her mother and throat cancer took her father, she’d vowed to help others. Charise shut the lid on her laptop and glanced over at the monitor for the tiger enclosure. She’d administered the meds they needed. The three Bengal tigers napped happily in their faux jungle enclosure. The white tiger grabbed her attention. She loved the look of the massive animal. Then again, she’d always had a love of cats. Big, small…didn’t matter. Such intelligent creatures and so full of attitude. The tiger hadn’t moved much since that afternoon. “He should be up and at ‘em by now,” she murmured. He’d been withdrawn since the transfer from the Paducah Zoo, but the meds should’ve worked. She left her seat and strode over to the quarantine enclosure. The tiger flopped on his side and stared up at her. His chest moved, proving he was still alive.
She squatted at the outside edge of the enclosure. “I just want you to get better,” she said to him. She closed her eyes and placed her hand on the chain link. “God, help him. If I can’t bring him around by my hand, then I offer him over to you.”
Charise opened her eyes. He didn’t seem to be responding—not even to her prayer. She sighed and stood. Sleep beckoned. She’d been up all day worrying about him. If she didn’t get some rest, she’d be no good tomorrow. “Good night, handsome boy. Merry Christmas.”
She made her way back to the main lab room and plopped in front of the monitors. The office chair wasn’t an ideal place to crash, but any port in a storm. Charise removed the clip from her hair and kicked out of her shoes. Just a little nap. Long enough to recharge, then she’d check on the tiger again. She leaned back and draped her arms along the thinly padded armrests. Charise closed her eyes. Just a tiny nap.
A roar jarred her from sleep. Charise sat up and blinked. Where the hell was she? She rubbed her eyes, then glanced around the room. Oh, yeah…the lab. She turned her attention to the monitor. A man sat in the sanitary white enclosure.
“No freaking way,” she blurted.
She scrubbed a hand across her face once more. Her eyes had to be playing tricks on her from lack of sleep. She checked the wall clock. Two a.m. Well, shit. Her nap had lasted more than four hours. She looked back at the screens to the isolation areas.
The man still sat against the wall, his long legs stretched out before him. She looked closer at the black-and-white image. No…couldn’t be…well…he was naked.
“Oh, my God.” Charise jumped up from her chair and bolted from the observation room into the main isolation room. “How did you get in there?” she demanded. “Get out of there. You could be killed.”
At once she regretted what she’d said. Get out of there? What if the man was a maniac? She slipped her cell phone from her pocket and dialed 911.
@Copyright Megan Slayer 2013
Seasoned Veteran is a Holiday Novella in the Mustangs Baseball Series, yet stands alone.
At forty years old, the Mustangs batting coach, Jake Tulleson, has spent a lifetime running from commitment. When he falls in love with a woman barely older than his daughter, he uses every excuse to justify leaving her when the season is over. It isn’t long before he realizes his mistake and heads back to Dallas to claim what’s his, but it’s going to take a Christmas miracle to convince her to give him a second chance.
Siobhan Flannery is well aware of Jake’s reputation for loving ‘em and leaving, but she believes her love is enough to make him stick around, despite their fifteen year age difference. Before the stadium lights dim following the teams final playoff game, Jake ends their affair and disappears to his off-season hidey-hole. When he returns weeks later, full of remorse and begging for another chance, she just wants him to go away and leave her be. It’ll be a cold day in Dallas before she forgives him.
Siobhan pressed the accelerator hard, speeding across the parking lot to the player entrance. The Mustangs’ game had been over for nearly an hour, which meant she was close to two hours late. Screeching to a stop in front of the two men conversing beneath a weak security lamp, she slammed the gearshift on the late-model SUV into Park then pushed her door open at the same time.
“I’m so sorry!” She climbed out of the driver’s seat. “I should have realized the traffic would be insane once the game was over. You should have seen the parking guy.” She rolled her eyes. “You would have thought I was trying to break you out of prison or something.”
Bentley Randolph, the car’s owner and her temporary landlord, laughed. “No problem. I had a few things to discuss with Jake.”
Relieved she wasn’t in hot water for her tardiness, she shifted her gaze to Bentley’s companion. He stood mostly in shadow, but she easily catalogued all the important things. He was tall, lean, and he knew how to dress—dark suit, white shirt. She guessed his tie picked up the color of his suit or possibly the hue of his eyes in its geometric pattern. Her overactive writer’s imagination filled in the missing details just as she would for one of her characters.
“Oh, did I interrupt?”
Jake-the-mystery-man stepped into the light, a set of car keys jiggling in one hand. “No. I was just waiting to make sure Bent had a ride before I left. Can’t have one of our star players hitchhiking home after a game.” His deep voice vibrated through her like the bass line of her favorite song. She shivered in the warm night air. Oh, yum.
His tone indicated he wasn’t in the least put out by the wait. He turned to Bentley. “Please tell me this isn’t your fiancée.”
“No,” Bentley laughed. “This is Sean Flannery’s sister, Siobhan. She’s staying with me so she can be close enough to help her brother. She’s been using Sean’s car, but he’s driving himself around again. I let her borrow mine today on the condition she didn’t leave me sitting here without a ride home. Siobhan, this is Jake Tulleson, the Mustangs’ batting coach.”
“Nice to meet you, Mr. Tulleson.” She addressed her benefactor. “I’m really sorry, Bentley. I lost all track of time. I found some really interesting articles, though.” After her brother broke his hip falling into the dugout in pursuit of a fly ball, Bentley offered Sean the use of his pool house while he went through his physical therapy. Since the pool house only had one bedroom, he’d opened his house to her so she could remain close by to help. He and his fiancée had been incredibly generous—all the more reason her screw up tonight weighed on her conscience. The last thing she wanted was for either of them to think she was ungrateful.
“What kind of research?” Jake asked, moving around the hood of the car. The headlights briefly illuminated him, giving her more details to fill in—tanned skin, a firm, cleanly shaved jaw, a nice haircut. He moved like an athlete, though she didn’t remember hearing Sean speak of him. He paused near the front tire. His lips were full, his nose narrow. Thin lines fanned out from the corners of his eyes, giving him an air of maturity that piqued her interest. She’d about had her fill of boys masquerading as men.
“Um…I was looking up period dress for women in Texas during the Republic years, 1836-1846.”
He was close enough she could see the flecks of gray at his temples. His eyes were blue. As she suspected earlier, there were dots of the same color in his tie. The tiny lines, like parenthesis, bracketing his mouth, captivated her. She’d always been a sucker for well-placed punctuation.
“Fascinating.” His voice rumbled like distant thunder, vibrating through her all the way to her toes.
Siobhan had the oddest feeling he wasn’t referring to the research she was doing for her next series of romance novels.
“I think so, too.” She hoped he would hear in her words the same thing she’d heard in his. He was the most fascinating man she’d seen in…forever.
“Are you all done with your research?”
She shook her head. “No. I bought some books at the museum.”
“I’d love to see your books.”
The slight hesitation before he said that last word made her heart gallop. It must have run off with her good sense because she heard herself say, “I’d like to show you my books. When?”
“Now is good.” He moved around the open car door.
Siobhan looked at his outstretched hand then ducked back into the car to grab her purse and the bag from the museum. When she straightened, his hand still waited for hers. She placed her palm over his. Tiny pinpricks of electricity skittered up her arm, across her shoulder then down to her breasts. Her nipples tingled, forming tight buds.
Someone cleared his throat. Siobhan looked around to find Bentley watching them.
“Oh! Bentley. You don’t mind if I give you your car back right here, do you?”
He smiled. “Not at all. Jake will see you get home okay.”
It wasn’t a question, but a directive aimed at his batting coach.
“I’ll see no harm comes to Flannery’s little sister.” Jake pulled her away from Bentley’s SUV and toward the only other vehicle in the lot.
He opened the door for her, and she scooted into the expensive sports car. Even though it was well past sundown in mid-September, summer had yet to release its hold on North Texas. The interior was an oven. Adjusting her legs on the hot leather seat, Siobhan briefly wondered if she was being incredibly stupid to go off with a virtual stranger. When he opened the opposite door and folded himself into the driver’s seat, all doubt vanished.
He cranked the car before adjusting the climate control system. Cool air rushed from the dashboard vents, raising gooseflesh on her arms. Beneath the thin cotton sundress she’d put on that morning, her nipples stood to attention.
They sat in silence until Bentley’s SUV pulled out of the lot. Alone in the darkened car with a man she’d met less than five minutes earlier, she tried to find even a kernel of trepidation, but came up empty. Maybe it was the obvious age difference or the air of confidence surrounding him, but he made her feel safe—and horny. It had been a long time since she’d felt this kind of sexual attraction. Hell, she’d never experienced anything quite like this, as if she couldn’t wait to get naked with a man. Inexplicably, she knew Jake was the kind of man who would take his time with a woman, even if he hadn’t wasted a minute getting her into his car.
He remained silent until Bentley’s taillights were nothing more than pinpoints of light in the distance. “You know I don’t give a damn about the books in that bag.”
His deep voice stroked every taut string in her body, making her shiver with need. It had been way too long since she’d had sex, and she’d never been with a guy who oozed sex appeal the way Jake did. He was a man of few words, but every one sounded like a promise to her starved hormones.
“I never thought you did.” She dared to look at him. He was watching her. A thrill shot through her. In that super-charged instant, she was positive he saw more than what the sodium light over the player’s gate and the backlit dashboard could reveal. She felt exposed—naked.
“The only game I play is baseball.”
She took his statement for the warning it clearly was. “No games,” she agreed, though she wasn’t sure exactly what kind of games she could possibly play with this man.
“Take off your panties.”
Her breath caught in her throat at the blatant order. The car idled beneath her like the giant cat it was named after, a sensual caress that made her hyperaware of her lady parts. It didn’t help that they’d been throbbing ever since she first heard his voice purring in the darkness.
“No games, Siobhan. Take them off. Loop them over the mirror.”
She lifted her purse and museum bag off her lap. He took them, depositing them somewhere behind her seat. Raising her hips, she reached under her skirt. It took some fancy shimmying in the tight confines to work her panties off, but eventually she pulled them free then hung them over the rearview mirror.
Long, masculine fingers hooked the crotch. “You’re wet.” She was grateful for the dark interior as her skin heated at his observation. “Recline your seat.”
Wordlessly, she found the lever on the side of her seat. Lowering the backrest as far as it would go, she went down with it, watching his face all the way for any indication this little scene affected him even half as much as it affected her. Jake Tulleson was as cool as a cucumber.
No problem. She wasn’t looking for a relationship, just some sex—preferably good sex—while she was in Dallas helping her brother recover from his most recent hip injury. In a few months, she would head home with a treasure trove of memories she could use to spice up her writing. Never again would a reader complain the sex scenes in her books were dull. She had hoped to come up with a suitable research partner at some point, but not this soon, and she’d never dreamed she’d find someone as promising as Jake Tulleson.
“Hike up your skirt. I want to see you.”
Grasping the fabric near her waist, she gathered her skirt up an inch at a time until her mound was exposed to his gaze. He didn’t say anything for the longest, just looked.
“Beautiful.” He reached across her, closed his hand over the seatbelt, fastening it for her.
He put the car in gear and drove out of the parking lot. Unable to see much from her position, she watched Jake drive. The beast of an automobile purred, reacting to his commands as if it understood he was its master. He held the steering wheel and operated the gearshift with supreme confidence. Imagining him touching her in the same way, she tingled with anticipation, her body humming right along with the powerful engine propelling them through the night.
Suddenly, her inexperience compared to his sexual skill seemed like an insurmountable obstacle. He was used to full-grown cats—felines in need of taming. She was nothing more than a kitten with too much curiosity for her own good. She should tell him what this was all about before it went any further. It wasn’t right to use him for the sake of a few book sales. Up until he’d stepped out of the shadows and illuminated her world a few minutes ago, she’d had a viable plan to fill in the blanks of her sexual experience. She just hadn’t yet gotten up the nerve to watch any of the videos she’d located on the Internet.
The car careened around a sharp curve. Her panties swayed on their makeshift hanger.
I’ve got to tell him.
She tried to sit up, intent on telling Jake the truth about why she had accepted his invitation, but a big hand left the steering wheel to press her back down.
“Jake.” She smoothed her skirt down then made another attempt to sit upright. This time, he didn’t stop her.
“What? Second thoughts?”
“Yes. No.” She reached for her panties but he wrapped his hand around her wrist, stopping her.
“Leave them there.” When she released her grip, he returned her hand to her lap. “We’re almost home. Save what you have to say till we get there.”
At least he’s being reasonable. All she needed to do was explain the situation. Be up front with him. Then he’d take her back to Bentley’s house. Maybe he’d even offer to answer a few questions for her, like how a man knew what a woman liked or how he knew where to touch a woman to make her forget why she shouldn’t remove her panties and ride through the streets of Dallas with her skirt hiked to her waist.
Her face flamed. She looked out the passenger window in hopes he wouldn’t notice. They’d entered an upscale neighborhood that looked suspiciously like Bentley’s. “Where are we going?”
“I’m taking you home.”
Heat warmed her skin again, but this time humiliation fueled the fire inside her. He didn’t want her, after all. When had he recognized she wasn’t his type? Had she been too eager to remove her panties or was it when she tried to take them back?
“I don’t want to go home.”
He pulled to the curb with the skill of a racecar driver squeezing into a pit stall then slammed the gearshift into Park.
“What the hell are you talking about? I thought we had an agreement.”
“What?” She glanced at the street lined with private walled yards behind security gates. It looked familiar, but had she jumped to the wrong conclusion? “This is the way to Bentley’s.”
His shoulders relaxed. “I live a few blocks from here,” he explained. “Do you want me to take you to Bent’s? Or do you want to come home with me?”
She’d squelched good sense twice tonight. Once when she got in Jake’s car, then again when she’d blurted out that she didn’t want to go home. The voice of reason tried again. “We should talk.”
“No talking. Either you want to have sex with me or you don’t. Which is it?”
The big cat purred softly under the hood of the car. Sex. That’s all this is. Jake was years older than her and probably centuries wiser when it came to sexual matters. That’s what she needed. One night with him would give her enough material to write an entire series of books.
“Say it. Say you want me to fuck you.”
She swallowed hard. A Dreamsicle-colored cat sauntered across the road just on the edge of the Jaguar’s headlight beam. A cat out on the prowl. That’s me. She looked at him. “I want you to fuck me.”
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A copy of Special Order is my prize for this release party, so let me tell you about it.
Brad loves his partner of ten years, but he and Sandy have fallen into a rut, especially when it comes to the bedroom. Taking the advice of his Wiccan friend, Brad cooks a special love potion into cupcakes in the hopes of spicing up his and Sandy’s love life.
When Sandy turns on the charm and the sex after dinner, Brad is overjoyed that his magical cupcakes have done the trick. Or have they? Either way, it just might be a very happy Christmas this year.
You can buy it here.
Brad pulled the cupcakes out of the fridge where he’d had them cooling and started frosting them. He’d put the potion — which had been cinnamony smelling and sweet on the tongue — into three of the cupcakes on the end, carefully marked with a Sharpie marker on the pan. He frosted the other nine and put them on the fancy, three-tiered serving tray along with the pecan squares and lemon bars, then added a couple of drops to the remaining frosting, turning it the palest pink.
Okay. It was done. There was no turning back now. He put the three special cupcakes on a plate and left them out for Sandy.
He pulled out the steaks so they would warm up to room temperature and made a salad for supper, then went to his office to read, wait. Worry. Had he done the right thing? Was their sex life really so boring that he was resorting to magic? He supposed maybe that was the proof it was. Sighing, he made himself focus on his book. He wasn’t going to think about the cupcakes with their special something extra until he’d finished this chapter, damn it.
He heard the door opening around seven, Sandy’s “Honey, I’m home,” ringing out through the little house. It had started as a joke, long ago, and was now what Sandy called out every time he walked in the door. Hell, even the way they said hello was routine.
“Hey.” Brad chuckled and shook his head at the slight husk to his voice. He’d finally gotten engrossed in his book and it was hot. Hot enough that he was a little revved.
“I see the steaks just need to be grilled. You want me to do them?” Grilling was always Sandy’s job.
“Sure, love.” Brad rubbed himself through his jeans, just enough to heat up.
“Cupcakes for dessert — how lucky am I?” Sandy’s voice carried easily up the stairs to him.
“Red velvet. Your favorite.” Oh. Right. The cupcakes. He’d almost managed to forget.
“You’re too good to me. I’m going to be daring — I’m having one while I cook the steak.”
Moments later he heard the back door closing, Sandy going out to the deck to cook the steak.
It smelled good and he put his book down, shaking his head at his own stupidity. Christ. What was wrong with him? He had stability, happiness, true love. He leaned out the second-story window, snow falling on his shoulders. “Do you have your gloves and hat on?”
Sandy looked up at him, indeed wearing hat and gloves and a little winter vest. His lover smiled, the look warm and full of love. “I’m good, babe. Five minutes, okay?”
“Salad’s already made. Meet you in the dining room with the wine.” He’d left it out to breathe, hadn’t he? He’d better check — maybe he’d just thought he had. God knew he did it every Saturday — it would be easy to totally be remembering another week.
“Sounds perfect.” Sandy gave him a last grin before turning his attention back to the grill.
Brad headed down to the kitchen, where Sandy’s cupcakes sat covered with a huge red plastic bowl with reindeer on the side. Sandy always said uncovered food invited bugs. Brad went to peek, but the back door opened. “Can you bring me a plate?”
“Sure, honey. I’ll be right there.”
Sandy waited while he brought over the plate. “You make that honey Dijon dressing I like for the salad?”
“Don’t I always?” Every Saturday.
Sandy smiled as he put the steaks on the plate and came in, toeing his boots off and leaving them on the mat by the door. “You do.”
Brad grinned back and opened the Cabernet, which he seemed to have neglected to do earlier, the scent filling the room.
“Mmm. I do love our Saturday night steaks.” Sandy came over and kissed his lips, the buss sweet and gentle.
“I do, too, love. How are the guys?” Sandy’s lips tasted sweet, so one of the cupcakes must be gone. “How’re you?”
“Same old, same old. Billy got a promotion, but no extra cash, Don’s got a new boyfriend. Yadda, yadda.” Sandy rolled his eyes as they went into the dining room, Sandy carrying the steaks, Brad carrying the wine and the salad.
“I missed you today,” Sandy told him as they sat.
“I was just here like always, love, puttering about.” He had to admit, he did enjoy his lazy Saturdays.
Sandy nodded and dished up Brad’s plate for him, then his own. “There’s a new exhibit at the art museum. Van Gogh. We could go together.”
“Oh? That sounds like a good afternoon outing. See the museum then have a look at the lights?” he suggested. It would make for a lovely Sunday.
“That’s what I was thinking.” Sandy smiled at him, and maybe it was his imagination, but there seemed to be something extra in it.
Brad dug into his steak, laughing at himself. God, he was a giant dorkfish. It was just a silly potion — it wasn’t going to make a difference. And he didn’t need it to.
They made small talk as they ate, the bottle of wine went down easily, the steak was delicious and everything was easy. Normal.
At least it was until the end of the meal. As he finished eating, Brad felt something slide along his leg.
He jumped, looked down at his leg and then at his lover. “Sandy?”
“What?” Sandy looked at him innocently.
“Nothing…” He had to laugh. Had to.
Sandy smiled at him and he felt that thing along his leg again: Sandy’s foot.
“What are you up to?” He reached down, touched Sandy’s toes. Footsie? His Sandy? Really?
“You want to retire to the bedroom?” Sandy waggled his eyebrows comically and Brad laughed again.
“It’s early for Saturday and I haven’t done the dishes…” Still, Brad nodded, stood.
“They’ll still be there tomorrow, right?” There was a light in Sandy’s eyes Brad couldn’t remember seeing in a long while.
“I imagine so.” Like Brad wouldn’t slip down after to clean up.
Standing, Sandy took his hand and drew him close. He could feel the warmth of Sandy’s body. His chin was tilted, Sandy’s brown eyes looking into his own. His cheeks heated, the look so wanton, so intimate.
Sandy kissed him, lips warm, strong. The heat of the kiss surprised him, but he stepped right in, arms wrapping around Sandy’s broad shoulders.
His handsome lover — Sandy was tall, with beautiful, strong muscles. Dark brown eyes and dark brown hair. He’d made Brad swoon — and drool — when they’d first met. It hadn’t changed, apparently. His partner still made him smile and, it seemed, need.
“I want you.” Sandy pulled him in tight, the evidence of that want clear in the hardness pressed against him and suddenly there were no thoughts of when they first met or how he’d wanted to spice things up.
Story Excerpt for The Music Box:
“Bethy, please listen to me, I haven’t got much time. Go with Alexander. He is a good man and will take care of you. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to do more for you, my dear. I have always loved you, and I always will, but my time has come to an end. Please promise me you will stay with Alexander. It is the only way that I will know you will be safe and protected. Please make me this promise, child. Only then will I be free to fulfill my own destiny.”
“What do you mean, grandmother? He hasn’t asked me to go with him anywhere. For goodness sake, just because we….” She trailed off there, not wanting her grandmother to know what the two of them had done. “I mean, we just met last night, and you want me to promise you that I will stay with him forever? How do I even know he wants me forever? Couldn’t I get to know him a bit more? Forever is a very long time you know.” Then she realized what her grandmother had said at the beginning of the conversation. “Grandmother, are you telling me you’re going to…” She just couldn’t bring herself to finish. No, her grandmother wasn’t saying good-bye. This was just a really weird dream.
Just then a shadow passed over her, and suddenly Alex was standing next to her. He reached down and drew her hand up to his lips, kissing it gently before lowering it. “Beth, you need to let your grandmother fulfill her destiny. Whatever you want to know about me, I’ll tell you. There will be no secrets, love. I’ve lived a very long time, have seen a lot of history. Some things are going to make you smile, others you will find distasteful, but I promise you, I will hold nothing back from you.”
Her grandmother walked up to Alex with a coy smile on her face. “I see you have succeeded in your dream also, my dear man. Oh how I wish I could turn back the hands of time.”
Alex lightly brushed his fingers through her snow white hair. “Adeline, please don’t. It was a lifetime ago and you are right, you were very young. That era wasn’t so open to the whole paranormal thing like today’s people seem. Besides, if you and I had got together, then I wouldn’t be here now, and I would have never met Beth. So, I thank you, Adeline. I thank the fates that things turned out the way they did because Adeline, I am quickly falling in love with your granddaughter.” He reached over and pulled Beth in for a hug with one arm, while he held her grandmother in the other.
“I must go now,” a teary Adeline spoke up with a tremble in her voice. “Please, Alex, please promise me you will always be there to take care of her.”
Alex smiled down at Beth, his love shining in his eyes. “I would gladly give that promise. If she will have me, I’ll be there and take care of her and protect her for the remainder of her life.”
Beth gasped. That had sounded suspiciously like a marriage proposal. Her grandmother clearing her throat brought her out of her musings.
“Beth, what do you say? Will you take Alex as your man, forever to love and cherish, never to part or stray from him?”
Beth looked over to Alex, sure he was going to step in and stop her grandmother’s escapades. He just looked at her with all the love and adoration one person could possibly send to another. “Is she serious? Are we actually talking marriage here?” she confirmed.
“Well, she better talk marriage since you are now with child.” He chuckled as he brushed his fingertips gently across her still flat stomach. She whipped her head around and stared up at him with huge eyes.
“You are sure about this? I am pregnant?”
Grandma cut in before Alex could respond. “Yes dear, a healthy baby girl.” Then she chuckled before she added, “don’t worry, the next one will be a little boy that looks just like his daddy.”
The couple stared at each other in awe of the news they had just received. “Well, what do you say? Will you marry me and make me the happiest man-vampire alive?”
Beth glanced at her grandmother, then over to Alex. This was just a dream, right? Her imagination was sure in overdrive tonight. It had to be. She met a sexy man at her grandmother’s nursing home and…the rest must surely be a dream. There just was no way she invited a stranger into her house, got told he was a vampire, had unprotected sex, then was told he would have to get her pregnant in order for her severe cramping to go away. Then she has a dream, wait, a dream inside a dream? Was there any such thing? Beth quickly found her head hurting the more she tried to think about things. And her grandmother showing up in the middle of the dream to tell her she needed to marry Alex and that she was pregnant? Even in her dream state her head hurt.
“I don’t know…” she stammered, glancing over to her grandmother once more.
“Child, I don’t have long. I have never steered you wrong. I know all of this is new, and a complete surprise. You just have to trust me on this. I have seen your future. Go with Alex. He will love you. He will take care of you. He will cherish you.”
People were packing their presents and putting on their jackets when Chris took Kathryn’s arm and nodded his head toward the back patio near the pool.
He gave her a hug and rumpled her hair, an annoying habit left over from their childhood. “You know, I might have been wrong about Lovinggood.”
“Yeah, Kathryn, don’t you know he’s in love with you?”
“Oh, I don’t think so. He feels responsible for my attack. That’s the only reason I’m here.”
Chris clicked his tongue at her. “Big sister, for being so smart about so many things, you sure can be stupid.”
“That’s not a very nice thing to say,” Kathryn protested as she sat down in a wicker chair.
“But true anyway. I watched Hank all day. He didn’t take his eyes off you for a minute.”
Chris grinned at her. “I’m not. Why do you think his grandparents went to so much trouble for us? It’s because they know he wants you. If he asks you to marry him, what are you going to say?”
Privately, Kathryn conceded that Chris did have a point about one thing. He could read people better than she could. Could he be right this time too? Was Hank really falling in love with her? “I have no idea what I’d say. We’ve only known each other for a short time, and he doesn’t believe in my work.”
Chris flopped down in one of the chaise lounges near Kathryn’s chair. “That doesn’t prevent the two of you from getting married, and I think you should. He’s what Mama used to call a good catch.”
“Yes, he certainly is.”
“First Lady Kills President Lovinggood”
December 29, 2018
Thirty years later Hank Lovinggood embarks on a quest to prove his mother’s innocence and punish the killers who took his family from him. Together Hank and lovely physicist Kathryn Sinclair confront an implacable, twisted, merciless enemy who’ll do whatever it takes to hide the truth forever.
Lose yourself in a heart-warming adult Christmas tale about a lonely vampire, a down-on-her-luck young woman, and a dying grandmother. Oh, and we must not forget the mysterious music box! For Beth Montgomery, she needed a miracle. She needed a huge miracle. Losing her job on Christmas Eve was just the last in a string of bad events in her life.
Stopping by the nursing home to visit with her only remaining living relative, Beth was surprised to see her grandmother already had a visitor. A very handsome visitor. And he even brought her grandmother a Christmas gift. Sitting in the elderly woman’s lap, with gnarled fingers wrapped around it, is a pretty music box.
Alex St. Claire is a very lonely vampire, who made a mistake years ago when he thought he was in love with Adeline Montgomery. A mistake cost him that love, and he has spent many years quietly trying to help out the family where he can. But Adeline’s Alzheimer’s is getting worse, and it is just a matter of time before she must move on to the other side.
Adeline Montgomery knows her days are numbered. But she has one last wish that must be fulfilled. And when she notices the spark of interest in her granddaughter’s eyes and that of her first love, she knows that destiny has brought them all together. Tonight is a night secrets will be revealed, and promises will be made. Because only then can Adeline fulfill her destiny and move on.
I love Christmas decorations, and this year every time I turned around I saw beautiful wreaths made of Christmas tree ornaments. I decided to buy one, but the ones I wanted were around $200. Nope. No way. So I decided to make my own, and here it is. If I were a better photographer, you’d see how it sparkles and shines, but photography isn’t my thing. It isn’t hard to do, but set aside an entire afternoon to do it. Next year I think I’ll do a pink one.