Blog Tour

Cranky Pants by Kayt Miller

Title: Cranky Pants
Series: Pick-Up Lines #1
Author: Kayt Miller
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 23, 2021

“Kayt Miller is a genius at creating characters and stories that the reader falls into!” ~ 5 Star Amazon Review

Maggy Fitzgerald is happy. She works at her best friend’s flower shop with the full knowledge that this is probably as good as its going to get. That is until that same friend talks her into going out to a biker bar so they can “live on the wild side” for a night. 

Nate Black is cranky. He has a right to be. At least that’s what he thinks. Spending an evening now and then, drinking a beer with the guys EasyRiders, is one of the only things that he enjoys, sort of.

Then, he meets her. 

A sexy, curvy woman who makes him smile. Laugh. 

A dangerous woman. 

Good thing he’s an a**hole because getting rid of her the next morning is easy. 

The hard part? 

Forgetting her.

I grew up in the midwest with a loving family including three brothers, one sister, and my parents who always fostered my creative side. I earned my bachelor’s degree at Iowa State University, then I was off to the Savannah College of Art and Design for graduate school. After that, I returned to Iowa for work which led me, once again, to ISU for my master’s degree in education.
I love to read and one day I was searching for a book. A book about a certain type of woman and a specific kind of man and I couldn’t find it so, I wrote it. I called it Game Changer and it couldn’t have been a more appropriate title. It changed my life in many ways. While my real job is teaching young people, my fun job is conjuring up characters and situations to write about. 
My goal, as a writer, is to write stories that relate to all of us, to make readers laugh and maybe cry sometimes. I hope my readers can escape into a fantasy, one that’s actually possible. Sure, some of the stories could be dubbed “Insta-love” stories but that’s okay. I fell in love with my husband pretty damn fast and with my daughter the second I saw her. So, it’s a thing, I swear.


Blog Tour

Daisy’s Darkness by D.M. Earl

Title: Daisy’s Darkness
Series: Wheels & Hogs #6
Author: D.M. Earl
Genre: MC Romance
Release Date: February 26, 2021

How did my life become such a battle just to breathe? When did I start to hate everything that is me? Along the way where did I lose my family, the Horde, and their support I have always relied on? Why did I push them away? What’s going on with me? Who am I anymore? Why do I even care when it seems no one else does?

My life is a constant struggle. Getting up everyday is becoming harder and harder. I feed the demons of my loneliness by myself because I refuse to reach out for help. Why won’t I reach out? As the emptiness of my very existence threatens my sanity, I search for ways to make myself just feel. The problem is each time I find a new way to feel it’s not only causing me pain but also bodily harm.

Will I be able to focus on the light amongst all the pain and darkness my mind sees? Will the people fighting to bring me back win or will the emptiness of my soul finally pull me down to nothingness? I don’t have a clue.

Spunky n Sassy – “Awesome writing. Spectacular storyline.”
Goodreads Review – “This is a different kind of book but don’t miss it. You should bring tissues along for the ride.”
Amazon Review – “Wow! This book will pull at your heart.”

USA Today Bestselling author D. M. Earl spins stories about real life situations with characters that are authentic, genuine and sincere. Each story allows the characters to come to life with each turn of the page while they try to find their HEA through much drama and angst.

DM resides in Northwest Indiana with her husband and 8 fur babies. When not writing she loves to read, ride her Harley and garden. Also DM likes to spend time with her family and friends.


Cover Reveal

Midnight Masquerade by Anya Summers

Midnight Masquerade
Anya Summers
(Dungeon Singles Night, #1)
Publication date: March 23rd 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Sophia is in trouble. Again.

Maybe it’s the masks. Maybe she needs to feel something other than regret.
Whatever the reason, she is either daring… or foolish… when she trades places with another submissive, and ends up spending the night in her mysterious boss’s bed.

He doesn’t recognize her, but now she’s had him, she knows one taste of his dark love will never be enough.

Gabriel Ryan has one firm rule: don’t sleep with employees.

Even though he’s infuriated beyond measure to discover Sophia in his bed after a night of mind-blowing pleasure, she is now in his blood. He craves her. Needs her. Yearns for her surrender.

But she is forbidden. He will break her with his dark desires.

When Sophia’s dangerous past waltzes into his club, Gabriel must protect her. He must claim her. And break every single one of his rules to keep her safe.

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Author Bio:

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Anya grew up listening to Cardinals baseball and reading anything she could get her hands on. She remembers her mother saying if only she would read the right type of books instead binging her way through the romance aisles at the bookstore, she’d have been a doctor. While Anya never did get that doctorate, she graduated cum laude from the University of Missouri-St. Louis with an M.A. in History.
Anya is a bestselling and award-winning author published in multiple fiction genres. She also writes urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance under the name Maggie Mae Gallagher. A total geek at her core, when she is not writing, she adores attending the latest comic con or spending time with her family. She currently lives in the Midwest with her two furry felines.

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The Last Affair by A.C. Arthur

The Last Affair: A Hot Billionaire Workplace Romance
A.C. Arthur
(The Fabulous Golds, #3)
Published by: Harlequin Dare
Publication date: March 1st 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Attending a sex retreat at a luxurious Finger Lakes ski resort isn’t exactly Desta Henner’s vision of an ideal weekend. But if she plays her cards right, she’ll uncover sweet multiorgasmic rewards. Because after three months of unbelievably hot verbal foreplay and straight-up sexy fantasies about “Dear Lover 1686,” Desta’s ready to meet her naughty mystery man in person.

Only, “Dear Lover 1686” isn’t the anonymous stranger Desta expects. He’s Maurice Gold—the hot and delicious glitterati millionaire. To the world, he’s a charming playboy. To Desta, he’s a coworker and friend…whose family owns the renowned fashion house she works for. Now, for the first time ever, sparks are flying!

They have only one weekend to explore the explosive chemistry they’ve just discovered. Come Monday, they must return to their lives—and working relationship—in New York’s high-profile, high-stakes fashion world. But what happens at a sex retreat doesn’t always stay there. And Desta and Maurice’s risky little tryst is about to put their reputations—and their hearts—on the table for one last walk of chance.

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MAURICE WAS RIGHT. There was no going back now. Her pussy throbbed at his words, and she closed her eyes with the second punch of lust to hit her since he’d arrived. But what was the right way forward? Was it spending this weekend with him, possibly exploring all the things they’d written about doing? Or was it walking away and, come Monday morning, trying to work together amid the intimate knowledge they now had of each other? Reclaiming her life had suddenly become more complicated.

“How would this weekend even work?” Because her body was sending signals that didn’t coincide with her brain’s advice to get the hell out of here.

Maurice shrugged. “We can either go back in there and mingle like everyone else. Or we can get dinner and then head to our rooms. Tomorrow’s agenda begins at nine with Morning Sex Mania and Make-Up and Mimosas at eleven.”

She leaned back on the couch, resisting the urge to sigh. Being frustrated about how things had turned out wasn’t going to change a damn thing. This was the hand she’d been dealt, and now she needed to figure out how she was going to manage the situation. “I mean, what happens on Monday morning when we walk into the office together?”

“You get to work way too early in the morning for me, so there’s zero chance we’ll be walking in together.”

Narrowing her eyes at him did nothing to kill the goofy grin he was wearing. “Don’t play, you know exactly what I’m talking about.”

“I know you’re taking this too seriously.”

“You’re not taking it seriously enough.” When it came to any type of interaction with men, she always took things seriously. She had no other choice. She’d been caught off guard before, and she wasn’t about to be in the position of having no control again.

Maurice shook his head quizzically. “Why should I? So what, we chatted on some message board for three months. That’s our private business, and we don’t have to answer to anyone for what we do in private. If we want to take those conversations to another level, same goes. It’s our decision.”

“I work for your father,” she said as if he didn’t already know. “And you’re just three steps shy of being called a manwhore across all media outlets. If anybody caught wind of the fact that we spent a weekend having freaky sex at a ski resort, we’d both be in for a whole lot of scrutinizing and questions. Is that what you want?”

Author Bio:

For all the latest news on A.C. Arthur books, giveaways, appearances and discussions Like A.C. Arthur’s Book Lounge on Facebook @ or follow her on Twitter @AcArthur

A.C. Arthur was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland where she currently resides with her husband and three children. An active imagination and a love for reading encouraged her to begin writing in high school and she hasn’t stopped since.

Working in the legal field she’s seen lots of horrific things and longs for the safe haven reading a romance novel brings. Her debut novel Object of His Desire was written when a picture of an Italian villa sparked the idea of an African-American/Italian hero. Determined to bring a new edge to romance, she continues to develop intriguing plots, sensual love scenes, racy characters and fresh dialogue–thus keeping the readers on their toes!

A.C. also writes small town contemporary romance as Lacey Baker. Visit her Amazon Author Page for details about her upcoming Hallmark Channel novelization, A Gingerbread Romance.

In the young adult arena, A.C. also writes under the name Artist Arthur. Visit her Amazon Author Page for details about available YA books.

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It’s a Zin to Tell a Lie by Pamela Gibson

It’s a Zin to Tell a Lie
Pamela Gibson
(Love in Wine Country)
Publication date: February 3rd 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Emma Bradford, world class pianist, is tired of living out of suitcases and wants to change her career. When she returns to Napa to consider her options and play for a friend’s wedding, she discovers a nasty surprise. The man who called off their engagement two years ago will also be there and there’s no way to avoid him.

Antonio Reynoso is a dissolute playboy living on a Caribbean island. At least that’s what he’s let his family believe. He’s purposely stayed away so he won’t be tempted to break a promise and try to win back the only woman he’s ever loved.

But when he and Emma are unexpectedly thrown together during a violent storm, Antonio’s resolve begins to weaken and he wonders if leaving her had been a mistake. His wine country family says yes, and with a little well-intentioned meddling, he and Emma might just get a second chance.

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It took every ounce of courage she possessed to walk over to where Antonio was sitting, the bottle of wine in her hand, aware of her pantlegs tightening with every step, the sway of her ponytail as it brushed her shoulders.

She swallowed several times before she reached him, noting again how broad his shoulders were and how tanned his face and arms. He looked up at her with those emerald eyes, and her stomach tickled like it had soft cotton balls floating inside.

The old line—one they’d often used when teasing each other—came out of her mouth without even thinking.

“How are you Tony, and remember, it’s a zin to tell a lie.”

“No lies today. You’re brave to come out here and sit with me. And that’s the truth.”

She tried to smile, but it didn’t quite happen. “Everyone’s been treating me like I’m made of freshly blown glass. I tell them you and I are the past and we’ve both moved on. They don’t believe me.”

He seemed to be mulling over his response before he spoke. “They’re Reynosos. Emotional. Devoted. Protective of those they love. They’ve adopted you as one of their own. I’m the outcast now.”

She nodded, focusing on a few blades of grass at her feet. “Does it bother you?”

“I try not to think about it, so maybe it does. I miss this.” His arm swept out. “Family gatherings, and hearing about the progress made on Lindsay’s restored house, and Paige’s latest cabernet crop, and Aiden’s new venture as a small-town newspaper editor. I get my family news from Nana. She doesn’t judge.”

“She judges. She just doesn’t let on. Likes to tell people she’s omniscient.”

“And lovable. Don’t forget that.”

Her mouth did turn up at the corners then, she couldn’t help it. Nana was a safe subject, and one that invariably led to smiles.

“People are starting to notice us, Tony. Your mother is frowning and grabbing your Dad’s arm. They’re talking about us now. She keeps slanting glances our way.”

“Dad won’t turn to look, though. He’s stoic. He won’t let her come over here, either, and boy, does she want to.”

She held the glass up and Tony took it from her hand, a tiny zing of heat where their fingers touched. Damn. The chemistry was still there.

“Tell me how you are, Tony. Remember, this is just a friend asking.”

He handed the glass back to her and she refilled it, taking a sip. They often did this, sharing one glass of wine at dinner so the designated driver would be sober when they left.

“I’m good, but I could be better.”

“Too many wild island nights getting you down, huh?” She hadn’t meant to be sarcastic, but it slipped out. He’d hurt her so badly two years ago, she didn’t think she’d ever recover. But her music saved her. “Sorry.”

“I deserved it. How about you? Your career has taken off. Every time I talk to Nana, she tells me about another tour you’re on.”

“I love music. But the travel gets old. And I’m getting old without fulfilling my dreams.”

He turned to her and touched her face, gazing deeply into her eyes. “I thought a glittering concert tour was your dream.”

“And here I distinctly remember telling you it wasn’t. But some men never listen, do they?”

She brushed his hand off her face and stood. “I’ll leave you the bottle. Nice talking to you, Tony. Maybe your family will believe me when I tell them I’m okay with you being here.”

“Are you?”

She shrugged. “I’m not sure.”

Filling her lungs with the cleansing air of a civil confrontation, she walked back toward the crowd, her eyes fixed on the golden leaves of an aspen tree. Awkward, but the conversation had to take place, and it needed to be done in full view of staring eyes.

She wanted to send a message. I’m okay. I’m good. I’m truly over him. And while a part of me can never forgive him, I can stand to be civil in a social situation.

But that would have been a lie.

She would never be over him. Every string of her soul tightened and vibrated at his touch.

And that was the truth.

Author Bio:

Author of eight books on California history and fifteen romance novels, Pamela Gibson is a former City Manager who lives in the Nevada desert. Having spent the last three years messing about in boats, a hobby that included a five-thousand-mile trip in a 32-foot Nordic Tug, she now spends most of her time indoors happily reading, writing, cooking and keeping up with the antics of Ralph, the Rescue Cat. If you want to learn more about her activities go to and sign up for her quarterly newsletter and occasional blog. Or follow her in these places:

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Book Blitz

The Man Before You by Shalana Battles

The Man Before You
Shalana Battles
Publication date: February 9th 2021
Genres: Adult, Romance

Time may not actually heal all wounds, but love just might.

Eloise’s husband was dead and she wished she were too. She quit going to work, refused to answer her phone or her front door, and shut out the people who cared about her. She felt imprisoned by her tainted memories, but couldn’t escape her own home or recliner, because she had to focus on breathing.

Six days after she buried her husband, Jack pounded on Eloise’s door. Jack, a man she hadn’t seen or spoken to in over a decade. Jack, the only man including her husband, who Eloise felt truly knew her.

Jack’s life hadn’t been without its fair share of loss. Breaking contact after Eloise’s marriage had seemed the best thing for them, but regret tortured Jack when Eloise swung open her door and he saw the shell of the woman he once loved.

Eloise pushed Jack away ten years ago and never expected him to come back into her life. She hated herself for wanting Jack to stay, but she couldn’t help but remember the love they once shared and the life that they could’ve had—or the life they could have now.

The longer Jack stayed, the more he realized Eloise blamed herself for not being there when her husband died. Jack wanted a second chance, but Eloise didn’t think she deserved one. Eloise wanted to find herself, but wasn’t sure she could while dealing with grief, Jack’s deployments, PTSD, and a universe that seemed determined to keep them apart.

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Eloise switched on the television. She didn’t remember the last time she ate or showered and had no desire to start functioning again. She pulled the blanket up around her neck as the doorbell rang. Rossi jumped up and started barking. Eloise placed her hand on top of Rossi’s head. Whoever it was could leave their “I’m sorry” and their stupid-ass lasagna tray on the porch and leave. Eloise turned up the volume and ignored the knocking that followed the doorbell. Rossi stayed standing, but quiet.

“Eloise! Open the door, please. I know you’re home.” The voice was followed by more pounding and Eloise clicked the remote volume up three more notches.

Maybe one of the neighbors will call the police and complain, she thought.

“Eloise, it’s Jack.” The noise stopped and she felt as though the wind had been permanently knocked out of her. She froze, waiting to see if the silence would stay. It didn’t.

“Eloise, open the damn door.” The male voice roared through the entryway and Eloise’s breath hitched. It couldn’t be him. She hadn’t heard that voice in ten years and yet the sound of it made her feel like she’d never gone without it.

Eloise stood and wrapped the blanket around herself tighter, hoping it would magically become a shield. She debated not opening the door, but if Jack was anything like he used to be, he wouldn’t go away. Eloise would probably leave a month from now and find he’d been living on her porch. Rossi rose with Eloise and matched her stride. Eloise took a quick glance in the mirror hanging in her entryway, knowing full well she could pass for a person who’d been sleeping behind a dumpster, and then swung the door open.

Jack. A man Eloise hadn’t seen or spoken to in ten years. He straightened from his leaning position over her window. He stood too tall, too straight. His feet spread apart too evenly. Rossi moved to place her body between Eloise and Jack, shifting her gaze from Eloise to Jack.

“Eloise.” One word, then Jack snapped his mouth shut. Eloise closed her eyes and waited for him to look her over. She knew he would. “I wish there was something to say, but I know nothing will make this any easier.” Jack’s voice was this cross between being out of breath and a whisper, and Eloise wondered where the screaming madman he was a second ago went.

“Why are you even here?” Eloise noted Jack locking his fingers in front of his waist. He looked different and exactly the same.

Author Bio:

Shalana Battles is a YA/Adult writer who tells stories about love…sometimes with witches and ghosts. Her debut novel, SOUL JUMPER is coming out October, 6, 2020. Be the first to hear about upcoming projects and book updates by signing up for her newsletter below!

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Excerpt Reveal

The Devil’s Vengeance by Bella J

The Devil’s Vengeance by International Bestselling Author Bella J is LIVE on Kindle Unlimited!


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Be sure to start the Vows & Vengeance Duet with book 1, THE DEVIL’S VOW, as that is where the journey begins:


I knew I’d never have the luxury of choosing my own wife. An arranged marriage was a sacrifice men in my position had to make for their families. It wasn’t something I looked forward to, but it had to be done.

I just never imagined my father would choose her to be my bride. Daniela Moretti, the daughter of my enemy…and I intended to treat her as such.

But since the day she set foot in my house as my wife, my loathing of her turned into something deadlier than hate. Her strength intrigued me. Her fight seduced me. And I started seeing more in her than just dirty, filthy Moretti blood.

Now…she’s gone. Kidnapped. Vanished without a trace.

But the devil always finds what’s his, and when I do, my thirst for vengeance will be sated by blood.


My father and Emilio were in deep conversation when Darion stepped in next to me, staring out the same window. “She sure has a great love for flowers, doesn’t she?”

“Do not pretend like you know her.”

“I know her about as well as you do, brother.”
“No, you don’t. All you had was this weird friendship—if you can call it that.”

“So, are you saying because I didn’t sleep with Daniela, I don’t know her?”

I scoffed and turned to face him. “Since you put it that way, I guess the better way to say it is,” I took a step closer, “you’re alive today because you didn’t sleep with her.”

“Oh, my God,” he muttered, placing his hands in his pants pocket. “You’re still intimidated by me.”

I recoiled. “What?”

“Even though I left—”

“You fucking disappeared.”

“Whatever. The bottom line is, I left. I left because I knew you didn’t want me around. You didn’t approve of my friendship with Daniela.”

“Because I know whatever you’re feeling for my wife doesn’t stop at just friendship.”

Darion pulled his lips in a straight line, his eyes drowning in guilt. He didn’t even attempt to deny it. My little brother just stood there saying nothing, not even a single motherfucking word to dispute my allegation of him lusting after my wife. The fact that he remained silent was like rubbing sandpaper over an open sore, aggravating the ire that already threatened to burn me alive from the inside out.



Bella J is an International Bestselling Author, who loves writing dark and gritty romance with alpha-holes who have absolutely no redeeming qualities…until they do. Maybe. 

Some of her bestselling novels/series include:

The Rise of Saint

The Fall of Sin

American Street Kings Series

Royal Mafia Series

She lives in Cape Town, South Africa with her husband, two kids, and a chihuahua who gets treated like royalty. 

Bella J’s writing motto: The darker the road to love, the sweeter the HEA.


Release Blitz

Bad Bridesmaid by Elise Faber

Bad Bridesmaid by Elise Faber is available now!

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It began with a cock.
Of the rooster variety.
It ended with a groomsman toppling into the wedding cake.

Heidi hadn’t meant to be a bad bridesmaid. She loved her best friend and the man Kate was marrying.

Who she didn’t love?

The groom’s brother.

The cocky—no pun intended—jerk had made Heidi aware of exactly what he thought of her. That being, she wasn’t worth anything more than a quick romp and a disappearing act before the sun rose.

Fine. Whatever. She’d done her own version of the Disappearing Act on more than one occasion. It didn’t matter that she had thought they had shared something . . . well, something more.

Clearly, she’d been wrong, and now he was dead to her.

Of course, that was before she had to walk down the aisle with him.

Because that’s when all hell broke loose.

About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author, Elise Faber, loves chocolate, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and hockey (the order depending on the day and how well her team—the Sharks!—are playing). She and her husband also play as much hockey as they can squeeze into their schedules, so much so that their typical date night is spent on the ice. Elise changes her hair color more often than some people change their socks, loves sparkly things, and is the mom to two exuberant boys.

She lives in Northern California. Connect with her in her Facebook group, the Fabinators or email her at
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Release Blitz

Altered Tides

Title: Altered Tides

Series: The Galactic Captains, Book Five

Author: Harry F. Rey

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 03/01/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 72600

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBTQIA+, Action/adventure, aliens, dark, M/M romance, #ownvoices, pirates, reunited, royalty, sci-fi/futuristic, space, folklore, gods, intercultural, interspecies, merman, war of worlds, religious extremism

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A malfunctioning STAR drive strands Captain Ales in a new galaxy. Trapped on a dry, dusty red moon where the rains fall only once every forty years, the restless population barely survives on a teardrop ration of water. Now, the rains are years overdue, and the ruling clerics view Ales as a savior—or a devil. Just as Ales and the She-King’s brother discover a secret the clerics have been hiding for far too long, this world is invaded and torn apart from a most unlikely source. The blue moon is a world covered in water—water that flows over to the red moon as rain every forty years, thereby drying up the domain of King Sarlord. He’s finally had enough and gathers an army to sail into the sky on the waterspout, land on the red moon, and defeat the god who steals his ocean. His son, Prince Malar, will do anything to avoid staying behind, but even he gets much more than he bargained for when the world as he knows it is swept away on altered tides.


Altered Tides Harry F. Rey © 2021 All Rights Reserved The girl lifted her eyes over the dry, dusty horizon bathed in a sandy haze. She blinked through the pain, through the dryness, as she always did. On the shore of an ancient seabed, the girl kicked clumps of dust heaped on the ground like forgotten eggs that had never hatched. They fell apart with barely a touch. There was no water to hold the dust together. No rain fell to fill the sea nor waves to break against the shoreline. She’d last had water two nights ago. Her father gave her and her four sisters their one allotted teardrop of stale, salty liquid. Two for the baby; although even her mother, Sanhelda, said it was a waste. The baby would not live till the rains came—if they ever did. Out here by the cliffs along the empty shore, she could at least get away from the cries of thirst that haunted the village throughout the baking days and stuffy nights. Their settlement was not a wealthy one. They lived far from the city with its water vats. Although her father’s brother had returned from the city a few nights before with the news even those had run dry. Rations had fallen to one teardrop per day. Hoarders went without. Soldiers patrolled the dusty streets, but they couldn’t prevent the nightly gatherings outside the palace of the She-King. The people were thirsty, and they were starting to blame the drought on her. The girl knew this was nonsense. The king did not control the rains. According to the clerics, the goddess Aquina sent the rain from the blue moon in the sky. Although her mother, always a practical woman, said the rains came when their world was perfectly aligned with the blue moon. The king didn’t control the movement of stars and moons, the girl knew that much, nor was the gender of the King stopping the clouds from forming and the rains from filling up the cenotes, the water pits and boreholes, despite what most people now thought. The girl bent over and scooped a clump of dust from the ground. Gazing into the hazy sky, she rubbed the dust into her cracked lips, soothing the broken skin. The girl wondered what she would do if she were king. She’d never wondered that before she knew a woman had taken the throne. The rains came once in forty years. The entire system of life on these dusty plains depended on this climactic event. When it did rain, the water filled the vats and boreholes, every drop saved and stored and rationed because everyone knew the water had to last another forty years. Whatever was wasted evaporated in the stifling heat. Whatever was used disappeared into the dusty ground the clerics expressly forbade any person to dig into. Disobeying the clerics meant going a week or more without a teardrop to drink. The clerics spoke with the gods and calculated each family’s allowance of bottles. Families planned the children they could have and the crops they could grow with the aqua supply front of mind. Donating a little bit extra to the clerics was never a bad idea, though. If the gods pronounced, speaking through a cleric of course, that a person was destined to die before the blue moon rose again in the night sky, the water rations of the condemned individual would be cut to nothing. There was no water to waste on the dying. It had happened to the girl’s uncle a few years back. He’d had an argument with their local cleric over something obscure that old men passed their time by squabbling over—the price of beets, perhaps. But the cleric won the argument by foretelling her uncle’s sudden death within the month. The family fretted; his wife and children terrified their provider would have a sudden accident. They drastically cut their own rations to keep him alive and at home, even as their crops rotted in the field. Eventually, after much scrambling and scraping and late night discussions on how much the wider family could afford to spend, they managed to sell off a valuable young calf at market in the city in exchange for a bottle of fermented beet wine. The cleric dutifully accepted the sacrifice to the gods, and after returning one night from the sacred temple, his lips stained red and speech slurred from the beet wine, had pronounced to an anxious family that he had interceded with the gods on their behalf, and her uncle would not fall foul to an accident after all. His rations were restored, although their crops went to ruin and the calf they had been counting on to provide milk for three new babies had been sold off for tender meat, but at least her uncle would live. Could live, indeed, now he had water to drink. Such were the petty tyrannies of life under the clerics. But life was not all terrible. In the thirty-ninth year, a great celebration was held in advance of the coming rains in the fortieth year. A diligent population suffering from a generation of thirst had their rations increased. The clerics and their influential friends would feast and crack open vintage bottles of beet wine as soon the rains would come and replenish their cisterns and water bores. That had been two parched years ago. The old king refused to believe anything was wrong and ordered the populace to continue swigging and feasting because the rains could not be far off, the clerics had assured him. That king was dead, and his daughter now sat on the clay throne. The girl couldn’t believe people could be so shortsighted as to blame someone who was only trying to do her best. The She-King diligently slashed the rations of the clerics and soldiers down to the same as the general populace: one teardrop per day. She’d banned all travel and commerce to prevent thirst, and called on all pregnancies to be prevented while the world remained dry. Otherwise, there was little else that could be said or done except to gather each night and stare into the clear black sky and pray for it to darken with clouds. Standing on the bone-dry shore, the girl could only hope. In the distance, something caught her eye. A fiery flash in the sky blazed a trail of false clouds across the blue moon rising from the horizon. She blinked away the haze in her vision, not understanding what she saw, and took a step closer to the edge of the empty sea. Whatever it was sliced through the dusty atmosphere and left a trail of smoke in its wake. Was this rain? She did not know what rain was meant to look like, but from the stories her parents and grandparents had told her, this didn’t seem like rain. The dusty rocks underfoot dislodged and crumbled down the cliff edge, and she held back a bare foot in caution. Yet something drew her forward. She needed to know what this fiery thing shining like a metal star was. Had their god Calini returned? Perhaps he had come from the blue moon after forging a peace with the goddesses Aquina and Terrina, and ending this long drought. The gods were fighting, so the clerics had quickly explained as to the reason why the rains refused to fall, and they must all be diligent in their prayers and listen to the men lest the evil goddesses seep into their minds and turn them wicked. The girl glanced back at the open plain, but there was no one else around. Not in the heat of the day, at least. Biting her broken lip and tasting dust, she decided to climb down the short distance and make her way toward the streak in the sky, tumbling ever closer to the ground. By the time she got close to the bottom, the bright shiny streak had nearly disappeared from view. As her foot landed onto the cracked ground, a shudder rumbled through the rock. Or even through the very world. The girl peered forward, tracing the rock line of the other side of the sea shore, looking for lumps or sites of impact. Then she saw it, a plume of dark black smoke snaking into the hazy sky. It looked to be just beyond the cliff edge. Glancing back once more, the girl wondered what to do. What would the She-King do? Would she rush back to the village and alert the sleeping elders? They would just bring more people from the city to come and investigate, priests and soldiers, people who would need to drink. She could ignore it and turn back now. Pretend like nothing had happened. But her curiosity would never forgive her. And that was a coward’s way out. The She-King would never ignore a mystery such as this. Suddenly her throat did not seem so dry. Her vision cleared with a flush of cleansing tears, and a spurt of energy rushed through her muscles like she’d just swigged a whole bottle dry. Without trepidation, without fear, the girl put one foot forward on the scarred and empty seabed and walked toward the mystery beyond.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Harry F. Rey is an author and lover of gay themed stories with a powerful punch with influences ranging from Alan Hollinghurst to Isaac Asimov to George R.R. Martin. He loves all things sci-fi and supernatural, and always with a gay twist. Harry is originally from the UK but lives in Jerusalem, Israel with his husband.

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