Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sexy gay military men now available for only $0.99!

Unconditional SurrenderStrong. Sexy. Sizzling. 

There’s nothing like a man in uniform, and 13 of today’s hottest gay romance authors are celebrating military heroes and the men brave enough to love them. These brand-new novellas feature all branches of the service and offer something for every reader. Almost 300,000 never-before-published words — all for a dollar for a limited time.

I’m so thrilled to be a part of this M/M military men bundle with amazing authors including Cat Grant, LA Witt, Cassandra Carr, Brit Blaise, Annabeth Albert and more! Check out these teasers:

Kerry AdrienneCruise Control
One Maserati brings Parker and Blake together, but will Blake slow down and discover the important things aren’t in the fast lane?

Annabeth AlbertResilient Heart
When a wounded soldier is forced to accept help from his former best friend, both men discover the true strength of their entwined hearts.

Keira AndrewsArctic Fire
Can an army captain who can’t forget Afghanistan make new memories with a ranger in the Arctic?

Brit BlaiseStorm Out
An Army Ranger suffering from PTSD finds coming out the biggest storm he's ever faced.

Cassandra Carr Civilian Master
Clay's home for some R&R after a Special Ops mission goes terribly wrong. Can Flynn help him find his true self?

Lia DavisHis Guarded Heart
Being Senator Beckett’s bodyguard while staying out of his bed becomes Judd’s biggest challenge as passion ignites between the men.

Sasha DevlinHometown Hero
Sparks fly when injured Marine Colin returns home ...and ends up in the arms of the man he left behind.

Rhi EtzweilerBlood & Peyote
“I almost did it, Api. I had the Glock in my mouth and my finger on the trigger.”

Lucy FelthouseDesert Heat
Their love is forbidden by rules, religion and risk. Yet they still can’t resist.

Amelia C. GormleyThe Houseboy: Initiation
Being Fowler Vale’s houseboy may open more doors than Bryce ever dreamed possible.

Cat GrantThe Only One Who Cares
Committed couple David and Josh have overcome years of struggle to arrive at their happily-ever-after. But what happens when fate has one last killer right hook in store?

EM LynleyIrresistible Forces
DADT kept them apart, but old flames reignite as Logan and Brody succumb to irresistible forces.

L.A. WittFlight Risk
Sex with a co-worker is all fun and games until your friendship crashes and burns…


You're in luck, Stephen! Today is release day for Unconditional Surrender! Go forth and grab this bundle before the price goes up next week.
Buy 13 novellas now for only $0.99:
All Romance eBooks | Amazon | Barnes and Noble
iTunes | Kobo

Sunday, October 12, 2014

It's autumn, right?

California does not know what season it is. Well, that's pretty much true all the time, but right now my state REALLY does not have itself together. We're in the middle of a serious drought and there is no rain in sight. Rain is the only way we know it's fall or winter. Here's hoping the end of the month brings cooler temps and wet weather. I have a lot of hoodies I didn't get to wear last year.

Now that that bit of scintillating information is out of the way, let me tell you what you probably came here for.... no new snippets today from Never Too Early. I know, I'm sorry. But the good news is that release day is only 24 days from now! And if you're really hankering for some more good stuff about Jake and Tor and Chance and Tucker, my good friend Keira Andrews was nice enough to host a character interview.

Go HERE for that, and while you're there, take a look around her site. She's an excellent author and one of my favorites.

As always, you can click the covers below to buy Bareback and Heat so you're all caught up on the boys' backstories before November 5. See you in a week or two with more goodies and a contest!!




Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Long and Short

Long:
After nine months of on-again, off-again writing, I finished my steampunk m/m novel a week ago today! A couple of author buddies came over for a write-in and I knew I was in the homestretch, and... It's done! Now it sits and gels for a little while before I read it start to finish and tweak/edit it a bit before sending it to my beta readers. Whee! Oh, and it topped 100K words. WTF? That makes it the longest book I've ever written, beating my menage, Rose & Thorn, by about 10K.

Short:
I wrote a smutty f/m short story yesterday. Just under 5K words once I'd trimmed, tidied, and tightened it. I think that calls for another WTF?, don't you? I sent it to my critique partner (who actually writes het erotic romance) for a beta. I'm almost scared to see what she has to say since neither het nor short story is my usual format. Cross your fingers for me.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Halloween Sale!

PiaVeleno_MyGhost_200x300 For the month of October, My Ghost  is on sale at Smashwords.com. Click HERE, and enter this code: HE39Z to download My Ghost for only 99 cents!
 
Who doesn't like a good -- and cheap! --  ghost story in October??

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Gay romance review in USA Today

I was delighted last week when USA Today raved about A Forbidden Rumspringa, the first book in my gay Amish romance series:   
There is great chemistry between David and Isaac, and once they admit to each other their true feelings, we get a lot of romance scenes. Their affection is intense and warm and made me smile. While there is a happy ever after at the end of this book, their story will continue in a second book coming out early next year. I can't wait.
Visual approximation of me upon seeing my book was reviewed in USA Today
It's exciting to be featured on a major news site, and exciting that M/M romance is getting more and more mainstream. A Forbidden Rumspringa has been received so warmly, and I'm hard at work on the sequel coming in February 2015. In the meantime, check out book #1:
Buy now: All Romance eBooks | Amazon | Barnes and Noble iTunes | Kobo | Smashwords

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Just over a month away...

Good morning, readers! If you've been playing the home game, you know that I've been EXTREMELY excited about an upcoming release. You also know that I've been posting about it incessantly, ha. Well, I was going to take a break from that for a couple of weeks, but then I got some emails asking for more of Jake and Tor and Chance and Tucker. Who am I to refuse? Here's another little snip.

***

"Come see us," Tor invited. "Jake and me already talked about it, and I think Jake and Chance did, too. July is a sucky month, but come anytime you want. Seriously."

Jake nodded. "For sure. We’d love to show you around. Nothing cool like Disneyland, but we have fishing and horses and a drive-in theater. Sometimes, anyway."

"Disneyland’s only cool the first time. All that other stuff is way better." Tucker scooped up his pennies and brought them back to the jar. "I wanna see your spread. Then I can tell you which part of your land is good for growing tobacco."

Jake and Tor both snorted. It was an indelicate sound that spoke volumes. "There’s none of the right soil," Tor said.

"And the cows don’t need the nicotine," Jake put in.

"Half of Tucker’s blood is nicotine," Chance said wryly. "He tells me it’s good for you."

"Shoot, just look at me!" Tucker spread his arms and looked down at himself. "Don’t see no stunted growth here, do ya? Not in any area." He leered at Chance a little.

"And that’s our cue!" Jake laughed and reached for Tor’s hand. "Come on. Time to get moving."

A small thread of disappointment wove its way through Chance’s head. It had been nice, the past few days. Really nice. Jake and Tor were good company. "All right," he nodded. "We’ll walk you out."

Tucker made a face. "Man. Too bad y’all have to go."

Jake nodded and dropped Tor’s hand. "We’ve had a great time," he agreed, offering his hand to Tucker. "Thanks."

Tucker took Jake’s hand and pulled him in for a quick bro-hug. "Was good to see you," he said warmly. "We’ll keep in touch, yeah?" He looked over at Tor. "But not with you. I’m sick of you."

"Yeah, I think we’re on a friendship timeout." Tor nodded and turned to Chance. "Any time you want to get off the beach, come see our crick."

"River," Jake corrected. "A crick is way more narrow."

"I don’t know the difference," Chance admitted. "But I’ll come and see it." He offered his hand to Jake. "Thanks for dinner last night."

"Hey, no problem." Jake’s hand was warm in his. "I’ll do you a great barbecue next time."

"I look forward to it." Chance followed Tucker and Tor through the living room to the front door. "Text me when you get home. Have a safe flight."

"Will do." Jake tipped his hat at them both and followed Tor out. "Thanks again!"

"Bye!" Tucker called.

Chance watched out the window until he couldn’t see the truck taillights any longer. Just when he was about to move away, Tucker slipped an arm around his waist and peered out the window too. "Miss your little friend?" he teased gently.

"They just left," Chance laughed, avoiding the question.

"Seems to me you and Jake got along pretty good."

"Yeah." Chance couldn’t really deny that. "He’s got a lot going on behind that calm front."

Tucker rested his forehead on Chance’s shoulder. "Stands to reason that there’s more to Jake than what you first see. How else would him and Tor have ended up together?"

It hadn’t occurred to Chance to look at it that way. Tor had seen the hidden side of Jake the same way Tucker had seen much more than what Chance first presented to people.

A thought that had been at the edges of Chance’s mind for days made its way into a question. "Do you wish I was more like Tor?"

The answer came back instantly. "No, baby. I don’t want you to be like anyone. I want you to be serious and bossy and beach-lovin’ and a good medic. You be all those things. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if you woke up one day bein’ more like Tor."

The words were reassuring. Chance kissed Tucker’s head and nuzzled at the silky strands of hair. "I’m ready for bed."

"Me too. But not to sleep."

***

If you're not familiar with Chance and Tucker OR Jake and Tor, it's probably advisable that you read their separate stories first. You can find them at the links below. A little backstory goes a long way!

Jake and Tor are HERE.

Chance and Tucker are HERE.

Both books have sequels and short stories, so if you need help finding them, let me know. And thank you for those emails! Chris and I are so excited to know that people are looking forward to this as much as we are. 




  


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Finding Balance

A few weeks back, someone said, "Write down a goal and then write down how you will feel when you achieve that goal." That seemed like a good idea so I did it, only I goofed. What I'd written down was really two goals in one...and I didn't achieve it. Them. Whatever. That's not to say I'm not a great deal closer to the half of the goal that is still achievable. I am. Something like 20,000 words closer, in fact. I'm not usually a big goal-setter, you see. Sure, the arbitrary, meaningless, self-imposed deadline has had its uses in my life (NaNoWriMo, anyone?), but this time I let life take precedence over such a deadline. And you know what? I'm okay with that. My mom and my bro needed help with some stuff, and I didn't get any writing done those days. That's fine. A dear friend was in town from San Diego and I didn't get a word written while she was here. That's fine, too. Because living in the moment, enjoying time with people I love, is more important than a daily word count or even an arbitrary, meaningless, self-imposed deadline. No editor or publisher is breathing down my neck for this novel. (Which is good and bad and a whole other post in itself.) I have beta readers tapping their toes impatiently, but they'll forgive the wait. The manuscript in question is winding down. It has surpassed my previous word count record by about 6,000 words (so far). It will be done when it is done with however many words it takes, and when it's done it'll go to the beta readers, and then I hope it will eventually find a home with a publisher and make it out to you.

On another subject completely (and yet not entirely unrelated), it's Bisexuality Day today. Here's an old favourite to help you celebrate. :-)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Getting closer...

November 5 is fast approaching! If you don't know why that matters, let me tell you. (I know I've told you before, but I personally need ten reminders about things before I can vaguely recall them.)

Chris Owen and I decided a while back that it would be an interesting experiment to see what happened if two of our most popular couples happened to meet each other. Jake and Tor from Bareback and Chance and Tucker from Heat might be able to make friends, despite their obvious differences and the fact that they don't live even remotely near each other, ha.

So we experimented. And our experiment grew into something neither of us expected. Namely, a really good book. A really good book that was too long to fit into just one novel, so we wrote three. And when we finished, we realized that this was a story that people needed to read.

Unexpected love stories are the best kind.

So that's why November 5 is a date you should remember. Don't worry, Chris and I will be reminding you. If you aren't familiar with Bareback or Heat, this is your chance to pick up those stories before November 5!

Leaving you on this gorgeous Sunday with a little excerpt. Have a great one, Slashers!



***
Tucker piped up again. "So then how come y’all wouldn’t hang with us last night? I mean, I know I said I’d buy you a drink, but dang. The bar serves Coke, you know." He smiled at Jake, flashing a hint of dimple.

Jake looked at Tor and then at Tucker. "Well, honestly, we had to have a talk to make sure we were on the same page about a couple of things. It's something we've learned to do, no matter what, even if we have to give up a pleasant evening with people."

"He means we had to be all responsible and shit, to keep from making a mess of our holiday."

Tucker’s eyebrows drew together. "Same page. About what?"

Since Chance also wanted to know the answer, he let Tucker do the asking, even though it was bordering on none of their business.

This time it was Tor with the shrug. "About spending time with attractive men, of course. What else?"

Chance could feel his own jaw drop. That was not the answer he’d expected. He blinked at Jake, looking for confirmation.

Jake, damn him, just gave him a slow grin. "They don't have mirrors in California?"

Chance could feel Tucker’s smirk without even looking in his direction. "I, well. We, you know. That’s cool. You know. Okay, whatever." Chance groaned inwardly. Tongue-tied wasn’t a good look on him. He cleared his throat and tried again. "It was only a drink. That’s all. Not a proposition."

"Good." Both Jake and Tor suddenly seemed serious. "We'd have to say no and excuse ourselves if it was," Jake said. "We're not looking for that at all. A nice conversation, though, is always welcome."

"We were not looking for that either," Chance said. It came out a little forcefully.

"Simmer down, Cap." Tucker slid closer to him and smiled at Jake and Tor. "What Chancellor is tryin’ to say is that he noticed you, he thought you looked pretty, and that’s as far as it’s gonna go. We don’t play that game. But we do make friends. Well, I do. Chance just yells at people." Tucker squeezed Chance’s hand to soften his teasing. "All good, right?"

"All's good here," Tor said with a nod. "Our talk had very little to do with y'all, honestly, and everything to do with us."

"That's true." Jake nudged his empty plate. "You'll have to take our word for it, I guess. But seems like all four of us are on the same page, now, so how about dessert?"

"Not for me," Chance said quietly. He was still mulling over the idea that someone might have thought he and Tucker were looking for another couple to play with. The thought hadn’t even crossed Chance’s mind.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

This is not an inspirational Amish romance, Amazon!

It seems that if you write a romance featuring Amish characters, it is automatically classified as "sweet" (i.e. no sex) and "inspirational" (i.e. Christian). During the pre-order period on Amazon, A Forbidden Rumspringa has simultaneously ranked on these bestseller lists:

Books > Gay & Lesbian > Literature & Fiction > Erotica
Books > Christian Books & Bibles > Literature & Fiction > Romance > Amish
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance >Inspirational > Amish

Er, that's quite a combination, Amazon! For the record, A Forbidden Rumsprina is not sweet or inspirational. There is explicit sex, and while religion plays a major role in Isaac and David's lives, this isn't a Christian romance. I suppose I might be reaching a whole new audience thanks to Amazon's algorithms, but I hope it won't end in backlash from unsuspecting readers.

I did add a note in the blurb that there's copious butt fucking and no authorial bible thumping (I might not have used those exact words), so we shall see. I've been fiddling with the keywords as well, but it seems no amount of "manlove" and "gay romance" overrides the use of the word "Amish," even if it's in the context of "gay Amish romance"!

Can two gay Amish men find happiness together? Find out September 3!
Buy now:
All Romance eBooks | Amazon | Barnes and Noble
iTunes | Kobo
a-forbidden-rumspringa-web-copyWhen two young Amish men find love, will they risk losing everything?
In a world where every detail of life—down to the width of a hat brim—is dictated by God and the all-powerful rules of the community, two men dare to imagine a different way. At 18, Isaac Byler knows little outside the strict Amish settlement of Zebulon, Minnesota, where there is no rumspringa for exploration beyond the boundaries of their insular world. Isaac knows he’ll have to officially join the church and find a wife before too long, but he yearns for something else—something he can’t name.

Dark tragedy has left carpenter David Lantz alone to support his mother and sisters, and he can’t put off joining the church any longer. But when he takes on Isaac as an apprentice, their attraction grows amid the sweat and sawdust. David shares his sinful secrets, and he and Isaac struggle to reconcile their shocking desires with their commitment to faith, family and community.

Now that they’ve found each other, are they willing to lose it all?


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Last week Amazon introduced pre-orders for indie authors -- just in time for my new M/M Amish romance! So without further ado:


a-forbidden-rumspringa-web-copy When two young Amish men find love, will they risk losing everything? In a world where every detail of life—down to the width of a hat brim—is dictated by God and the all-powerful rules of the community, two men dare to imagine a different way. At 18, Isaac Byler knows little outside the strict Amish settlement of Zebulon, Minnesota, where there is no rumspringa for exploration beyond the boundaries of their insular world. Isaac knows he’ll have to officially join the church and find a wife before too long, but he yearns for something else—something he can’t name. Dark tragedy has left carpenter David Lantz alone to support his mother and sisters, and he can’t put off joining the church any longer. But when he takes on Isaac as an apprentice, their attraction grows amid the sweat and sawdust. David shares his sinful secrets, and he and Isaac struggle to reconcile their shocking desires with their commitment to faith, family and community. Now that they’ve found each other, are they willing to lose it all?

Find out September 3, 2014, at Amazon, All Romance Ebooks, Barnes and Noble and other online booksellers.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

RIP Robin Williams

I'm sad today and felt the need to find some Robin Williams moments to make me laugh.

Here's a short one:



And vintage 1991 with Johnny Carson:



Just last fall with Craig Ferguson:



Finally, a classic that I think we all need today:



Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go have a little keen and then watch The Birdcage.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Ten Hot Free MPREG Novels

I'm listing my top 10 favorite free MPREG novels. For those who are going "What the BLEEP is MPREG?" It's any story that involves male pregnancy.

A couple of the stories below are fanfiction and marked as such so you'll know what you're getting into before you click on the links.

1. A Little Advice for Aspiring Fires by The Byger
Sterek Mpreg Fanfic
Regardless of his sadly lacking social circle, Stiles was going to have to get some physical contact or he was going to explode. Seriously. It’d be messy and Derek would probably become even more emotionally constipated having to clean up little bits of Stiles from his pristine walls and furniture.
You can find this story at the link below:
http://archiveofourown.org/works/692840

2. (Once in a) Blue Moon by clarkoholic, skywardsmiles
Sterek Mpreg Fanfic
Stiles and Derek are getting along, but they’re not a family, and they’re sure as hell not mates. Christ, they’re basically just two stupid guys who happened to get pregnant because of a full moon and sheer dumb luck.
You can find this story at the link below:
http://archiveofourown.org/works/772834

3. Balancing Karma by I.D. Locke
Karma has it in for Moswen. Trouble follows him around like a demented, faithful dog. Moswen never means for things to happen the way they do. It just does. And while things may seem bad at first, everything eventually works out for the best even if the road to getting there is a less than a smooth ride.
While fleeing his sister's wrath for an accident that was almost not his fault, Moswen stumbles upon the chance to crash what promises to be a fun party.
Kijika is hopeful that the birthday bash for his grandfather, the current king, won't be the deadly boring event he's sure it will be and he'd much rather be pouring over ancient texts in his quest for knowledge. Moswen's karma swings into action and Moswen and Kijika cross paths at the party setting in motion a relationship that will give both men what they most desire.
You can find this story at the link below:
http://id-locke.livejournal.com/13962.html

4. The Seahorse by Memphis86
Supernatural Mpreg Fanfic
Everything is going fine for Dr. Jensen Ackles, a successful 3rd-year resident in obstetrics and gynecology at Grace's Heart hospital in San Francisco. But when a 22-year-old art student shows up at claiming he's pregnant, Jensen is completely certain he's crazy. After a bunch of tests, a sonogram and a bizarre story about having invoked the wrath of a ram-headed Egyptian fertility god, it turns out that Jared Padalecki isn't joking: he really did get knocked up! And when Jared insists on having an OB-GYN of his own gender, Jensen's long stretch of successfully not falling for one of his patients is finally at an end.
You can find this story at the link below:
http://memphis86.livejournal.com/125317.html

5. Fate by C.R. Hewitt
Coren Darshaw is a retired pirate and a successful weapons dealer. He has everything he wants, but what he needs is an extra hand or two to help him with his business and home. He decides to go to the slave market to purchase a blacksmith and a housekeeper, and instead buys a mysterious young man out of pity. He is not prepared for the consequences.
You can find this story at the link below:
http://www.freewebs.com/ninthwave/fate.htm

6. Content by C.R. Hewitt (this is a sequel to Fate)
Coren never imagined himself to be a family man, but things can change. This is a short fic I wrote in tribute to him that gives the reader a small peek into his and Lythallendar's life together after their children are born.
You can find this story at the link below:
http://www.freewebs.com/ninthwave/content.htm

7. Heart String by Azela
Lael was on his way to meet his soul mate, the woman his Heart String chose for him. To his surprise it is not a woman his Heart String has chosen for him.
You can find this story at the link below:
http://original.adultfanfiction.net/story.php?no=600105055

8. This War of Ours by Darkladyknight
Colonel Severson was sent to Garnet to fight in a war that wasn't really theirs. To fight against people they didn't understand. To put your life on the line, only to find out that maybe the enemy isn't really your enemy.
You can find this story at the link below:
http://www.fictionpress.com/s/1797552/1/This_War_of_Ours

9. Tainted Angel by Darkladyknight
L├ísa wanted to be left alone, to go back to Garnet to face the charges for killing his mate. He didn’t expect for Moria to stand up from him, or the council to pardon his crime. Or someone to open his eyes to love and passion.
You can find this story at the link below:
http://www.fictionpress.com/s/2025992/1/Tainted_Angel

10. Tearc Dragan by Darkladyknight
Abandoned on a ship lost in space, for thirteen years Solas has been alone. Until fate sent him Devin. But when you can't understand each other, it's hard to make things work.
You can find this story at the link below:
http://www.fictionpress.com/s/2340139/1/Tearc_Dragan

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Rereleased: My Ghost

It took four long months but I finally carved out the time to get My Ghost rereleased. I got my rights back on this short ghost story during the same week I finally got the promotion I'd been angling for at the day job. That day job had to come first, of course.

This kickin' cover was created by the talented Syneca Featherstone!

My Ghost

My Ghost
A ghost of my past haunts me already, so running into another in the same graveyard where it all began is almost more than I can stand.

Almost.
 
So why the hell did I bring him home?

My Ghost is now available on Smashwords by clicking HERE.

I'm working on converting files to upload at ARe and Amazon. Smashwords will filter down to B&NApple, and a few others. Hopefully soon. For those of you who have read the first edition, there are no major changes to the story in this new release.

First chapter excerpt for your Sunday morning reading pleasure:

The grave never changed: marble with his name cut in an elegant script, and the surface wearing a glossy shine. Chase Webber had a pristine grave marker five years later. A fresh wreath hung over the front. Fresh, as in new, not, well, live. The flowers were fake, but they looked real, and more importantly, they looked like they hadn't suffered any storms. In other words, his parents had already come and gone today.

I still couldn't bear to see his parents.

"Who are you?" The voice to my right was low and authoritative, and yet gentle and respectful too. It had been five years, but I recognized it. He had to be visiting Chase.

"A…" I closed my eyes. I had called Chase a friend before his death, but there had been days since when I doubted I understood the meaning of the word. Would a friend have done the things I'd done to Chase? I had never lied, always telling him exactly how it was between us, and yet, I knew—deep down, I knew—he had loved me, and though I could not return the favor, he gave me all of himself. Despite my whoring around, despite my disappearing for days and showing up on his parents' stoop rip-roaring drunk, despite the drugs, the women, the men. Most of all, despite the flamboyant insouciance in the face of his love, he had remained loyal, hoping someday I'd grow to love him too. I had often told him I couldn't and wouldn't, but I'd always known he had never believed me.

He had accepted all of my flaws, except that one.

"I was a friend," I said. In the twilight gloom he might not recognize me. My hair, now shorn up the back, had been long enough for a ponytail when last he saw me. With my face tipped down, hiding behind the longer locks, which fell from my forehead like a veil, he couldn't see me. I hoped he wouldn't remember my voice after all this time, because trying to explain—confessing my pain and fear and loss—would be the end of me tonight. I couldn't do it. Not then, not now. While I had been content to confess my sins to Chase back then—if only to remind him my heart did not belong to him—I could not talk to this man, this mutual friend grieving beside me. Not a word, not ever again.

He dropped to his knees beside me. I peeked at him from behind my raven veil of hair. He wore faded denim and a heavy wool overcoat that brushed the ground. From beneath a chocolate colored cowboy hat dark hair curled, trying to escape. For a brief moment, my fingers itched to tangle in those curls. I flinched away from the memory; long buried, and for a damn good reason.

"I haven't thought of Chase in years," he said. His eyes remained hidden in the gloomy shade of early evening that eddied under the brim of his hat like leaves gathering in an abandoned playground. Desolate and alone, like I'd always been. Even then. "The local paper had to write that article last week about kids messing around in the graveyard after dark."

When he turned his head, he sat back on his heels, mimicking my position. His gaze fell on the bouquet of little white flowers resting on my lap. Narcissus, the lady at the flower shop had said, or commonly called Daffodil. I preferred the former for Chase. He'd called me that on more than one occasion before his death.

I almost said he wasn't messing around, but then I hadn't been here the night he died. Chase’s intention had not been vandalism or scaring other visitors like most bored teens who'd outgrown trick or treating. He wanted to mess around with me but I had found a better offer: a cute nineteen-year-old twink with blue streaks in black hair and chestnut roots showing under his drug store dye job. I couldn't remember his name, but he'd taught me how to blacken my eyes by using a cotton swab to smudge the kohl. He'd also taught me the joys of a good rim job. It had been my birthday, after all, and Chase and I had agreed we weren't in a relationship and didn't have to be monogamous. We'd agreed. Even if it hadn't been what Chase had wanted.

I hated him for dying on my birthday. I did show up that night, just much later than we'd planned. He'd known I'd usually show up fashionably late, but the graveyard had been bathed in flashing blue lights when I finally arrived. I assumed he ran, as any kid our age would've done at the sight of a cop car. I hadn't known he'd already died. I learned that the next day when a detective showed up at my door.

My parents never understood.

"Can I buy you a cup of coffee?" said the ghost from my past. I turned my head to study him more closely. The light faded, and twilight didn't tell me much about his thoughts, but I could see the recognition in his gaze. I searched for anger, resentment, pity—anything—but his expression, a blank slate, hid him from me as effectively as I had ducked him for five years. He was ruggedly handsome, and if he changed the wool for a lightweight duster and lost the silver skull and crossbones on his hatband, he could've passed for a real cowboy. Just my type. Yet a crude rejection swelled in my throat. Manly, muscular, and solid; I always had been into older, stronger men, and he had a few years on me. Chase hadn't, and I might've told him so once or twice.

Chase had been the strong safety of our football team and the captain of the wrestling team. He'd been as manly as one could be at seventeen. Manly men still reminded me too much of him, of Chase, filling out and growing up first. Physically anyway. Sexually, I had been the beast, and his death had yanked my leash tight around that runaway train.

Tonight, squinting into the twilight, I admitted the cowboy ignited my libido. Still everything I wanted physically, but unfortunately I knew him. I recognized Diego Rivera, the man who'd befriended Chase, and the man who I'd called a friend back then while secretly loathing him for being a good buddy to Chase. When I hurt Chase, Diego would be there for him. I spent too a lot of time fearing Diego would reveal my flaws and show Chase how much of an asshole I really was.

Now, facing Diego again, I wished he had been successful.

"I don't drink coffee." Testing, staring into his eyes, meeting his gaze and digging past the common grief to the underlying challenge. I no longer resented him, and by the look in his eyes as he digested my snarky reply, he didn't hold anything against me either. He didn't want coffee and I didn't want his forgiveness. What he did want was a commiserating fuck. I hoped. I had no interest in talk, but I could use the night of sweaty bodies and words moaned into unintelligible expressions of lust and need. I may have thought of him like that once or twice in the year before Chase's death.

"Oh." He pulled his gaze away.

I leaned forward to set my narcissistic flowers at the base of Chase's grave, and then I stood and looked down at Diego. It wouldn't be the same but I needed to punish myself. "I might have a couple of beers in the fridge." I offered him my hand.

He hesitated, his gaze on my fingers. Silver rings decorated every one, including my thumb, and each nail had what I called my Goth French manicure: painted black, but with the tips chipped off until the white edges showed through. You know, like a French manicure but in black. I didn't usually let my polish decay nowadays, but I'd been chewing my nails for the past week, knowing Chase would haunt me on Halloween, also known as my birthday and the anniversary of his death.

I never gave him my love, but I never wanted him dead.

When Diego took my offer, his hand swallowed mine, warm and strong around my fingers. His grip conveyed gentle strength, and briefly, I allowed myself an image of him holding me down, naked, sweaty, and hard. I smiled.

"Shenanigans," he said, still holding my hand.

I didn't go by that old nickname anymore, but falling from his lips it sent my thoughts skating back five years. I trembled and pulled my hand away. Inviting him home could already be added to my list of Shen Stupidities.

He either didn't notice or ignored my reaction. Though I tried to escape his touch, his fingers lingered, brushing my palm in a silent invitation.

Yes, for an hour or two, I'd chase away the ghost of my past.

He cocked an amused smile at me, and the beauty of it struck me in a place I no longer claimed. I've always been more of an ass and cock man, but his smile drew me in. I wanted to kiss those lips but I resisted. Not here. Not in front of Chase's grave.

"It's good to see you, Shen," he said. Regret and joy mixed in his gruff voice.

Good was yet to be determined.

~*~

Thanks for reading. Have a great August.
~Pia Veleno

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday already?

All right, SO. I know my last few posts here have mainly centered on the novel I have coming out in November, but honestly, my co-author Chris Owen and I are so excited about it. I can't tell you how many times I wished some of my favorite books/movies/comics/TV shows would cross over with each other! Well, Chris felt the same way, so we finally decided to do something about it.

Never Too Early: The Beginning is the first book in a series starring her cowboys, Jake and Tor from Bareback, and my firemen, Chance and Tucker from Heat. If you haven't read either of these, that's a good place to start. Necessary backstory! Then you'll be ready on November 5 when this book is set to be released.

I've given you some little snips before, but here's another scene just to give you an idea of the chemistry cowboys and firemen can have when they meet each other. Feel free to let us know what you think.

***

He was about to make a joke of his own about the bourbon from Knob Creek when Tucker nudged him. "Well, I’ll be damned," Tucker murmured in a low voice. "Lookit who’s here."

Chance glanced up in time to see two familiar men standing at the hostess stand. Their hats were in their hands and the one named Jake was running fingers through his hair while Tor spoke to the young girl.

"Huh," he said out loud, then purposefully turned his attention back to the drink menu. It was a weird coincidence, that was all. And judging from the reception that Tucker’s invite had gotten last night, Chance was pretty sure Jake and Tor didn’t want to be bothered.

Within two minutes, however, a gray hat entered the edges of his field of vision. "Evening."

Before Chance could look up, let alone collect himself, Tor was joining in. "Enjoy your winnings last night?" he asked happily.

Chance cleared his throat. "Tucker enjoyed my winnings."

"Pfft." Tucker rolled his eyes and looked at Tor. "Listen to this one. Like he didn’t drink just as much as me. Like he didn’t practically go down on me in the restr--"

"Tuck!" Chance interrupted sharply, giving Tucker an elbow in the side. It didn’t deter him much, however. Tucker grinned at Tor and raised his eyebrows.

Jake stood quietly, Chance noticed, although he had definitely shuffled his feet when Tucker started running his mouth.

"A healthy relationship, then," Tor said, laughing out loud. "Good enough." He narrowed his eyes a little at Tucker. "You've got the accent. Have you eaten here before?"

"Shit. I don’t got no accent. Y’alls the ones with the accent. And you bet I been here before. Anyone who likes bourbon’s been here." Tucker waved the drink menu at him. "I can recommend some."

"How about the food?" Jake put in, one eyebrow up.

For once, Chance was grateful that Tucker was carrying most of the conversation. He studied Jake and noted how close he was standing to his partner. Possessiveness again? Chance didn’t know. Tor didn’t seem to mind.

"You like steak?" Tucker asked Jake.

"Of course." Jake nodded once and then added, "And all the stuff that goes with it. But we raise our own cattle so I'm a bit fussy about my beef."

"That's the polite way to put it." Tor sounded like he'd been around Jake when he was unhappy with dinner once or twice. "Completely a bitch is the other way I'd say it."

Chance surprised himself by laughing. "That’s not very nice," he admonished. "If a guy doesn’t like the way his meat is cooked, then send it back until it’s right."

"Yeah," Tucker added, with a smile that only Chance knew was sarcastic instead of agreeable. "Send it back. Again. And again. And maybe once more, because there prolly ain’t enough of the waiter’s spit in it yet."

Chance looked over to find Jake giving him a small smile. "Well?" Chance asked him. "Am I right?"

"You're right. Of course you're right. Who wants to eat a meal that isn't just the way it should be, especially if it has a price tag on it?"

Tor rolled his eyes so hard that Chance thought it must have hurt. "People who can relax and enjoy a meal someone else cooked, that's who."

"You eat your way, I'll eat mine. So, anything on the menu that stood out the last time you were here?" Jake looked at Tucker expectantly. 

***

Check back here in a couple of weeks and there might be more... happy Sunday, slashers!

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