New Release

Perishable

Title: Perishable

Series: Sanguine Blood Seekers 4

Author: J Hali Steele

Publisher: Changeling Press LLC

Release Date: January 27

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 79 pages

Genre: Erotica, Action Adventure, BDSM, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal, Age Gap (Older Man), Dark Desire, Gay, Vampires, Voyeurism and Exhibitionism

Synopsis

Snatched from his single mother by the wealthy family of the man he’s forced to call father, Rafe Gorman soon learns the greedy bastard has no desire to raise a child, which leaves Rafe bearing the brunt of his scorn. As soon as he comes of age to receive his trust, Rafe flaunts his disdain for his father’s regard by opening New Leaf, a gay club. It’s in New Leaf Rafe meets a being who haunts him day and night. A vampire from the 17th century, Christopher Wren’s seen enough evil perpetrated by human men to last many lifetimes. Born a bastard below stairs, he’s witnessing nobility take what they fancied without a care — that made him a monster, not being turned. Now Wren makes sure those who flaunt such character pay for their misdeeds. Their day of reckoning is never without pain. Then he meets Rafe, and Wren swears no one will ever hurt his lover again. Rafe vows to give Wren nothing of himself. Instead he finds he must give the vampire everything — including his life!

Excerpt

All rights reserved. Copyright ©2023 J. Hali Steele Nodding was the best way to handle this conversation. Christopher Wren had learned enough to know when Sten Majkovic, the vampire king, had a bug up his ass you waited until he quit speaking. Pretending composure he didn’t feel, he listened. When Sten finished, Christopher spoke. “Maybe he’s antsy being in one place too long.” “Who knows what fantastical information he laps from the minds of those he invades. After killing a dealer he disliked for selling close to a school, the crazy ass sat in my office and lit a joint. Can you believe that?” Sitting at the counter in Christopher’s kitchen, Sten used his finger to draw circles in the condensation puddled beneath his beer bottle. “Liam needs to be more responsible, Wren.” They’d all taken to calling him Wren. Christopher often thought of himself that way now. “Good luck. He’ll require a babysitter.” “And I have the perfect person in mind.” Sten eyeballed him. “No. Fucking. Way.” “Joshua is the only other vampire who can keep Liam from going off the deep end, but he and Mace are tied up on the west coast, and Kam’s away on some island with Matthias. There is no one else.” “Come on, Sten. I’ve got enough on my plate. Let Drew do something aside from decorate.” He had done a nice job inside Christopher’s house. Looked like a showplace now, but still homey enough to enjoy and relax in. “Goddamn it, Drew’s always stuck up under your ass.” Sten’s gaze narrowed. “Your barkeep has made you blasphemous.” Time skidded to a halt and Christopher found himself propelled across the room along with the chair he occupied. “What the fuck was that for?” Picking himself up, Wren sent the broken chair up in flames and scattered the ashes, glaring at his king. “This isn’t about Rafe. It’s about…” Shit. He’d best not say the real issue was that Drew was becoming way too powerful. The king’s lover skirted being out of control. “Because he’s befriended your mate?” Sten stood. “What is it with you guys not wanting your lovers to associate with each other? Afraid they’ll want to do more than watch you get it on or something?” The or something had Christopher’s lips curving. He imagined smacking Drew or Mace’s ass. Could get deadly, as neither man showed predilection for sexual behavior involving spanking or restraints. Christopher got off on that idea. A handprint on his lover’s buttocks excited the hell out of him. A man struggling against ties because he wished to use his hands on a partner made Wren’s cock hard every time. His mind went off on a tangent as he pictured Rafe tied to his headboard, his cute little ass spread eagle, face down and begging for penetration, his butt cheeks pumping up and down on the mattress. “For fuck’s sake. Now I must find Drew.” Laughing, Christopher said, “You’re thinking about it.” “Liam’s yours. Just keep an eye on him, Christopher, until I can find something to occupy his rowdy ass.” The vampire king was the only one who could dematerialize without leaving a visible trail of light or frost. Hell, the bastard could creep up on any vamp. He never radiated cold unless he chose to. “Bollocks.” Sitting on a bar stool, Wren manufactured a beer. He had a growing affection for the local lager. Sten’s voice leached into Christopher’s psyche. Keep calm and carry on. “Bastard.” Christopher had been born and raised in England. The statement evoked memories of World War II, a time of great human suffering and death for European nations. Christopher had decided to try soldiering. Lieutenant colonel of a large battalion, he was idolized by his men for fair-mindedness, peacekeeping and, when all else failed, ferocity on the battlefield. The aftermath of his cruelty went unreported due to his capability to control hundreds of minds at once — a skill which had placed him on a collision course with the vampire king. That and Christopher exhibiting the adoration of too many troops with his dick. His charges tended to trail him around the country mindlessly causing disturbances with blatant and uncontrolled orgies, which Wren sometimes failed to extinguish before moving on. He truly wanted to lavish Rafe Gorman, proprietor of New Leaf, with his cock. The man had been stand-offish on each of Christopher’s visits since the incident months ago with his maker’s relative, Soris — an ancient pharaoh and vampire who, along with his followers, attempted to harm Matthias. That incident had sent Kam, who carried some of the wayward pharaoh’s familial blood, into an uncontrollable rage. During the fallout, Rafe had been incarcerated with Drew and Mace for his own safety. That’s when Rafe had become aware vampires existed, and that he had spent the evening in a nest of undead monsters. Liam, for the most part, managed to control the newly turned creatures Soris had left behind to care for his homeland but Christopher wasn’t happy having a handful migrate to the area. Philadelphia was large but the young vamps moved to western suburbia where Christopher resided in a house near others Sten favored. The king maintained an enclave in Exton, Pennsylvania, where the deadliest immortals roaming earth had set up homes for themselves. Kam had hit the nail on the head when he said Wren didn’t like vamps of Soris’ ilk hanging out at New Leaf. He’d caught one or two eyeing Rafe. That behavior was going to get someone’s heart ripped out. Christopher had helped himself to their youthful lifeforce to make sure they stayed away from what belonged to him. Getting new undead to understand about mates and boundaries was no easy task. To them, anything on two legs showing one iota of interest was fair game. Didn’t surprise Wren, really, considering Soris’ repugnant lifeforce continued to run through their veins. Then there was Liam. The biggest manwhore strolling the face of the earth. “You guys are jealous I don’t have a mate to contend with.” Talk about the devil

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Meet the Author

J. Hali Steele wishes she could grow fur, wings, or fangs, so she can stay warm, fly, or just plain bite the crap out of… Well, she can’t do those things but she wishes she could! J. Hali’s a multi-published and Amazon bestselling author of Romance in Paranormal, Fantasy, and Contemporary worlds which include ReligErotica and LGBTQ stories where humans, vampyres, shapeshifters and angels collide — they collide a lot! When J. Hali’s not writing or reading, she can be found snuggled in front of the TV with a cat in her lap and a cup of coffee. Growl and roar — it’s okay to let the beast out. — J. Hali Steele

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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New Release

New Release STEEL by Anna Hackett

Release Date: January 26

His skills and ruthlessness made him a legend.

The dark, dangerous former spy.

Now the operative turned billionaire known as Steel collides with fiery agent Hellfire when they discover they’re both on the kill list of a deadly assassin.

CIA agent Devyn “Hellfire” Hayden came from nothing and made herself into one of the CIA’s best deep-cover agents. She’s dedicated to her country. She’s always on the move. She’s a loner. Just the way she likes it. Letting people close is a weakness and she’ll never be weak again.

But when she finds herself under attack by an assassin targeting the world’s best intelligence agents, it sends her straight into the
path of the only man who tempts her. The dark, lethal Killian “Steel” Hawke.


But when she finds herself under attack by an assassin targeting the world’s best intelligence agents, it sends her straight into the path of the only man who tempts her. The dark, lethal Killian “Steel” Hawke.

 

Killian Hawke rose through the ranks of the CIA, and knows his name is whispered in fear by his enemies. But when his sister needed him, he left and started Sentinel Security. He protects all those he considers his: his sister, his friends, his employees, and his clients.

But there is one stubborn redhead he also wants to claim. 

As Devyn and Killian work together to unmask the assassin hunting them, they are forced
to confront their white-hot attraction and their violent need to protect each other. Killian is tired of dancing around what he feels for her. Now that she’s in danger, he’ll do whatever it takes to make her safe, claim her heart, and possess her soul. 

*** An action-packed standalone romance in Anna Hackett’s Sentinel Security series.

Grab Your Copy Here:
Available in KU 

Meet Anna Hackett

Anna Hackett is a USA Today bestselling romance author who’s passionate about fast-paced, emotion-filled contemporary and science-fiction romance.

She loves writing about people overcoming unbeatable odds and achieving seemingly impossible goals.

Some of her bestselling series include Galactic Gladiators, Eon Warriors, Treasure Hunter Security, and Team 52.

Anna lives in Australia with her real-life hero and their two little boys. 

For more information on Anna and her books visit: www.annahackett.com.


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New Release

New Release DEVOTED TO THE ENEMY by Nikki Rose

Release Date: January 26


Read the exciting finale to Teo and Mia’s story

Mia and Teo’s big day has finally arrived but they soon learn that enemies come in all shapes and sizes when an unexpected wedding guest crashes the party.

Teo’s car crash and Mia’s abduction are just the beginning of a plan formed to drive the two apart. With each step, the couple discovers more enemies determined to keep their union from happening, all the while holding back secrets of their own. As all of their plans crumble around them, Mia and Teo never expected their biggest challenge to be making it down the aisle.

Warning: This story contains violence, murder, death of a loved one, drug use, strong language, sexual situations, organized crime, thoughts of suicide, attempted SA, and other adult content that may be disturbing to some readers. Content intended for readers 18+

Grab Your Copy Here!

Meet Nikki Rose

For as long as she can remember, Nikki Rose has enjoyed writing stories. For years, writing was just a hobby for this South Carolina native. It was a way to let out all the stories floating around in her head. After one of those stories took on a mind of its own, outgrowing even the parameters of a single book, Rose knew she had to pursue her dream.

Married to her high school sweetheart and best friend, Rose feels she is truly living out a romance story of her very own. As a stay at home mom of two, she is blessed with the time needed to work on her writing career full-time while her kids are at school or in the wee hours while normal people sleep. She considers herself a music obsessed chocoholic and hopeless romantic who enjoys weaving romance stories with a healthy dose of mystery and suspense.

To learn more about Nikki and her books, visit here!




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New Release

The Montgomery Arrangement

The Montgomery Arrangement by Lori Fayre

Book 3 in the Unexpected Mergers series

Word Count: 50,086 Book Length: NOVEL Pages: 190

Genres:

BILLIONAIRE CONTEMPORARY EROTIC ROMANCE FRIENDS TO LOVERS OLDER WOMAN, YOUNGER MAN

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Book Description

Summer fling or something more? Paige Montgomery had never given the future much thought until the opportunity of a lifetime falls into her lap. Confronted with a life-changing path, she decides that a vacation to Miami with her best friends, the Alexanders, will clear her head. However, Bryce Alexander has other ideas. Bryce proposes an arrangement, something casual and mutually beneficial to help them both relax while they’re away from it all. There are only two conditions—no one can know and absolutely no emotions can be involved. Though he’s seven years younger, Paige thinks there could be merit in his suggestion. Paige can’t escape the reality of where her life is headed or her long-time friend, Levi, who has his sights set on her. But what do they really mean to each other? And does Bryce mean more? While Bryce tries his hardest to escape the spotlight and his new reputation, Paige has to wrestle with the idea that she could just be a distraction to him. With a years-long friendship on the line, will they take a chance on love?

Excerpt

July 9 When Paige was working on a painting, time didn’t exist. By the time a piece of art was done, she could hardly remember doing it. The feeling was there, and it was easy to look at one stroke of color and say, “Oh, yeah, I was feeling very sad when I laid that down.” But she couldn’t tell you exactly when it had happened or why. So, when Bryce Alexander assured her that the pieces she’d donated to him were a big hit, she’d had a hard time believing him. Honestly, she couldn’t remember which ones she’d picked from storage to send him. “I’m not kidding,” Bryce said through the speaker against her ear. “You outsold everyone else here.” “You know me,” she said, trying her best to play it off. She fiddled with a strand of long blonde hair that had fallen out of her updo. “I’m always happy to help. I’m just glad they went to a good cause.” “You could say that,” he said. “I’ve been invited to an afterparty—and I don’t mean to brag, but I think some of those girls are really into me.” Paige rolled her eyes. “Not exactly how I wanted my art to change lives.” Leave it to Bryce to turn a charity event into a prime opportunity to pick up women. From what he’d told her, Bryce hadn’t wanted to go to the event in the first place. Carlton Alexander, wielding his fatherly authority all the way from Greece, had ordered it. Bryce had been getting into trouble lately—and not the kind that was easy to ignore. Over the past couple of years, the Alexanders had become celebrities. Maybe it was because the behind-the-scenes story of Jade and Spencer’s dramatic engagement period had gotten out, but it had skyrocketed business and put the family under a new kind of spotlight. “Aren’t you supposed to be cutting back on the partying?” Paige asked, attempting to keep her tone neutral. It wasn’t her place to meddle in Bryce’s affairs, even if he was her friend. “Daddy dearest isn’t here to enforce that rule,” Bryce argued. “Besides, these are art people. Charity art people, to be exact. How wild could the afterparty get?” As one of those ‘art people’, Paige knew how wild they could be. Not that he’d listen to her if she warned him… It would only encourage him more. Releasing a sigh, Paige simply said, “Just promise me you’ll behave, okay? And don’t drink too much.” “Yeah, yeah, of course.” His voice became quiet as he moved the phone away from his face, and she knew that some girl in a flashy dress had probably distracted him. “You know, you could always come with me. I can drop by and pick you up.” “That sounds amazing, actually.” She leaned against the wall, wishing she could tell him yes. “Maybe some other time, though. I have my showing tonight, and I’ll have to be here at least another two hours.” “All right,” Bryce said, and she almost thought she could hear disappointment in his voice. “Don’t have too much fun without me.” “Talk to you later, Bryce.” “I’ll talk to you later, Paige,” he echoed her words softly. There was silence before he hung up the phone. Paige sighed again. A night out with Bryce was always a good time, but she had responsibilities. He’d graduated from college only a couple of months earlier, and ever since he’d been free, he’d been an entirely new person. Paige could pick out the signs, the small changes over time, but it was a stark contrast to the Bryce she’d met nearly four years ago. She didn’t mind, but he could get carried away very easily. Paige slipped her phone into the small handbag around her wrist. The night was not about Bryce. It was about her obligations. She’d tucked herself into a corner of the gallery, near an emergency exit, to take his phone call. Behind her, the sounds of the showing could still be heard—the laughter, the clinking of glasses, the music and the critical whispers as people judged the art they had paid a high price to view. It was the kind of thing she dreamed of, but something wasn’t right. Paige didn’t feel like herself. Her sleeveless evening gown was expensive, its flowing marbled skirts and cinched waist very stylish without being too eye-catching and flattered her slim figure. Unlike the other artists being featured at Gould’s Gallery, she didn’t want to stand out. They were all either dressed down for the night or wearing the strangest outfits that had to be impossibly uncomfortable. Normally, Paige would have done the same. Something had changed. Paige turned her attention to the piece hanging on the gallery’s white wall in front of her. It didn’t feel like hers. It didn’t look like hers from afar. But, when she squinted, she recognized every brushstroke. It was one of her abstract paintings—a large canvas covered with varying strokes of paint, all a myriad of colors blocked off by bold black lines. Each day she would approach the canvas with a new mood, new thoughts and ideas, and paint. As she worked, she would take in the previous day’s progress and try to fix it. In the end, it hadn’t turned out the way she’d wanted, but she had been well over her deadline, and it would have to do. “It’s beautiful work.” Levi Gould materialized beside her. “Though, I don’t think you were entirely happy making it.” “I’m not entirely happy standing in front of it,” Paige shot back. She smiled, playing it off as humor, but there was mostly truth to it. She had to search hard to find pieces of herself in the paint, and it was a skewed image, blurry like a fogged mirror. “Are you saying you’d be willing to part with it?” Paige turned to look at him. Levi was classically handsome with his dark brown skin, neatly trimmed beard and long, thin braids. Like some of the other artists, he was dressed informally, in a T-shirt and blazer, a layered scarf, and white cargo pants with combat boots. His hair was covered with a black fedora, completing his monochromatic ensemble. They had been friends since college, where they’d taken many of the same classes, but when the time came to choose a career, Paige had stuck with painting while Levi had opened his own gallery. It hadn’t taken long for Gould’s to become the exclusive art hub in New York City, one that all the up-and-coming artists had to be a part of. Levi quirked an eyebrow at her, his dark brown eyes expectant. Paige realized that she hadn’t spoken for several moments, only stared at Levi. “I’m sorry. What did you say?” she asked. “Do you want to keep your painting or not?” Levi asked with a smile. “I’m clearly not married to it,” she said with a shrug. “You can keep it.” “I’m flattered that you’d offer, but that’s not what I had in mind. You might not be happy with your stunning work, but a patron is.” He slipped an arm around her shoulders. “Mr. Talles has made a substantial offer, and I would like to graciously accept on your behalf.” “Hold on. I thought this was just a showing,” Paige said, butterflies fluttering in her stomach. “It is, darling, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to turn down an influential collector when he offers my friend five figures. Of course, I would get a ten percent commission since it’s my gallery.” He laughed. “You’re doing pretty well for yourself, aren’t you? I think this is the second work of yours that he’s bought.” Paige could only nod, still struggling to wrap her head around the five figures part. Between this sale and the success of the charity auction, Paige felt a bit of her old confidence creeping back in. “Is that a yes?” Levi asked. “Because he would like to take it home tonight.” “He can have it,” Paige said, finally shaking herself from her fog. Levi turned away to speak to an assistant, ushering him away once he was done. Paige watched all of it from the corner of her eye, dividing her concentration between the two men and the painting and wondering why anyone would offer so much for it. “For someone leaving with a considerable check tonight,” Levi whispered conspiratorially upon his return to her side, “you don’t seem overly thrilled. What is it that has you in such a glum mood?” Paige smiled at him. “I’m over the moon. I am,” she added. “I’m slow at getting used to all this. I mean, I’m used to showings and people buying my stuff, but this is your gallery. This is Gould’s. And it’s my first time being here during a showing, so forgive me if I seem a little distant.” “I’m nothing special, Paige Montgomery.” He nudged her shoulder with his. “You know me better than that.” “You’re special to me.” Paige nodded to one of the women holding a glass of champagne and narrowing her eyes at a neighboring piece. “And you’re special to the critics.” “I want to show you something,” he said, taking her hand. Paige didn’t argue, but she glanced around to see if anyone would notice them leaving together. The only person who spared them a look was the assistant placing a ‘Sold’ placard underneath her painting. The upstairs of the gallery was roped off for the night. Not even the artists were allowed up until the next morning. Levi had converted the old loft of the building into an art studio where, for a hefty fee, artists could claim a five-by-five or ten-by-ten-foot square to work on their craft. Along with the space, they were also guaranteed exposure on the walls of the gallery once a month. It was a daring business venture, but it seemed to be doing well. A spot at Gould’s studio had a waiting list a mile long. Levi lifted the black velvet rope that led to the stairwell, allowing them to duck underneath. The stairs were narrow, and there was no door at the landing. When Levi flipped on the fluorescent lights, Paige let out a gasp. She had toured the place, but that had been when it’d been staged for visitors. She knew how chaotic artists’ spaces could be, since she had to set one up wherever she was staying. The loft seemed smaller than it had before, what with all the clutter scattered around. Half-painted canvases were propped on easels and along the wall. Wheeled carts jutted into the aisle marked off with duct tape, signifying whose space belonged to whom. The wood floors were stained with paint and streaks of charcoal. The open space was broken up with the occasional industrial column, but those were splattered with paint as well. It was a lived-in space with a view that most renters would kill for. Despite the chaos around her, Paige had never felt more at home in a new place before. “We keep our kiln and sculpting equipment in the basement,” Levi told her as he led her farther in. “It’s been a while since we’ve had a sculptor rent a spot in here, though.” He took her to the tall windows in the back of the room, where the building opened up to the city. Since they were on the Lower East Side, Paige could see straight to the ocean and the Statue of Liberty. “This is so different from what I remember,” Paige finally said. “And it’s not at all how it looks in the magazines.” “Are you overwhelmed or disappointed?” Levi stepped up to the window, his tall silhouette set against the lights of the city. “Neither,” she told him. “But I can certainly see why people are fighting for a spot here. I can feel the creative energy.” “You should see it when we’re full,” Levi said. “It’s loud and messy, but it’s the best place to get work done. Though, we do argue about the music from time to time.” He motioned for her to join him, and she took slow steps to his side. There was something about him that night, something about the look in his eyes and the way that he spoke. If Paige didn’t know any better, she might think he was coming on to her. “I’d like to see it one day,” she said. “I’ve thought about putting my name on the list, but I don’t know if I’ll be here when a spot opens up. I don’t know where I’ll go next, but I’ve been in New York too long. I’m starting to feel restless.” “What if you could skip the wait?” he asked. “What if someone were to jump you to the front of the line? Do you think that would be worth sticking around for?” Paige crossed her arms, focusing on the torch in Lady Liberty’s hand. “What did you have in mind?” “One of my artists is going overseas.” He said it so casually, as though he weren’t trying to offer her a coveted spot at Gould’s that could skyrocket her career even farther. “There will be an open easel here if you want it.” Paige turned to him with wide eyes. “I don’t think that would be fair to everyone else.” “Being the owner comes with perks, love,” he told her. “And I know a good investment when I see one.” Heat rushed to Paige’s face as she got the distinct impression that he wasn’t talking about her art anymore. “It’s a tempting offer,” she started, “but, I’ve been in a creative slump lately, and I don’t know if I could make anything worth being on display.” She chewed on her thumbnail as she thought. “The one down there must have been a fluke. I don’t want to take the spot and not produce anything,” “It doesn’t matter if anyone thinks that it’s good enough,” Levi said, taking her free hand. Paige could do nothing but watch him as he pulled her closer. “It’s the curator’s discretion to show what he thinks is worth it. And you’re talking to a curator who sees beauty in all that you do, Paige.” He surprised her then by raising her hand to his lips and kissing it softly. So, she wasn’t imagining things. Over the past couple of years, what with Jade and Clint in their own separate honeymoon phases, Paige had been spending more time with Levi. And, sure, there had been flirtations, but they were always playful, silly and when they were around other people. It was never something she had taken seriously, but the look in his dark brown eyes warned her that it was time to start. “Can I have some time to think about it?” she asked, her voice coming out breathless. Levi smiled kindly at her. “Of course, you can,” he told her. “I wouldn’t expect you to have an answer for me as early as tonight. How about you get back to me within ten days?” “Ten days?” Paige balked. “Is that all you can give me?” He laughed, a low rumbling sound that came from deep in his chest. “I want this for you, Paige, but it’s the best I can do. Like you said, there are a lot of people vying for this spot, and it wouldn’t be fair to make them wait for long.” Off the top of her head, Paige could think of several reasons to say no. If she worked for Levi Gould, there would always be interviews to attend, photo ops and PR to deal with. And while all of it was good for business, it wasn’t her style. Paige liked to travel and see new things. While she would revisit places, she rarely stayed for long. “New York is beautiful, but I’m not sure if it’s the place for me.” Having to rent an apartment in the city and take a taxi to work every day… Paige was unsure about a lot, but she knew that anything resembling a nine-to-five wasn’t in her future. She smiled at Levi to reassure him. “I’ll think about it and let you know, okay?” “Works for me.” He gave her hand a small squeeze and turned back to the window. Paige took a deep breath. She had ten days to decide if she was going to take a dream job and relocate her entire life to New York. The thing was, she wasn’t sure if it was her dream—or if it was just what she thought she wanted.

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About the Author

Lori Fayre

Lori Fayre was born and raised in a small South Georgia town. An obsessive consumer of romance throughout all media, she knew that it was the only genre she could ever write. Love should always be full of passion and adventure, and Lori proves as much in her novels that span multiple genres and pairings. When she’s not writing love stories, she enjoys reading, sketching, and spending time with her husband and Yorkie. You can find Lori at her website here, follow her on Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.

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New Release

Sanctuary for the Surgeon

Sanctuary for a Surgeon by Jason Wrench

Book 3 in the Up on the Farm series

Word Count: 74,845 Book Length: SUPER NOVEL Pages: 284

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY EROTIC ROMANCE GAY GLBTQI

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Book Description

  Finding love in the sanctuary of nature and another man’s arms. Darrin Betancourt is a trauma surgeon in his early thirties living in New York City. His world gets thrown upside down after his husband dies in a car accident. Can Darrin get his act together and learn to love again before his life spirals out of control? His friends convince him to attend an all-gay retreat outside Woodstock. Begrudgingly, Darrin agrees to spend a weekend in nature, out of the city. Jordan Floyd is a twenty-four-year-old farmhand who works for Devereux Farms Upstate just outside Woodstock. Jordan gets permission from his bosses to attend Camp Namast-Gay at the Woodstock Esoteric Sanctuary. Darrin and Jordan end up in adjacent cabins. Can the two men take their friendship to a whole new level before the weekend is over? Or will disaster strike, derailing both of their lives and their burgeoning love? Reader advisory: This book contains public sex and voyeurism.

Excerpt

The last six-and-a-half months had been a living nightmare. There had been funeral arrangements and memorial services to organize and attend. Then there had been the months of pitying stares. I had become a recluse. I hadn’t wanted to deal with friends and coworkers. I had gone to work then gone home. When I ran out of excuses to avoid their offers, I had occasional meals with them. My life had shattered. Richard had recommended therapy on more than one occasion because I was clearly depressed. Of course I was depressed. The man I loved had died. Chance had been one of three people who had been directly in the vehicle’s path when it had run through the crowd. After the NYPD investigation, it was ruled an accident. The car’s tire had blown after hitting a metal object in the street, which had caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle. She had tried to regain it but couldn’t. I heard through the grapevine that she was now being treated at an inpatient psychiatric facility upstate after she had attempted suicide. The woman hadn’t been ready for the media scrutiny and the accident’s fallout in her life. Part of me was glad she’d had a mental breakdown, but that was the evil, vindictive side. Another part was sorry for her. As horrible as it was, accidents happened. I saw accidents every day. Some were preventable. Some were not. I had agreed to another Sunday brunch with Bryce and Richard. I hadn’t wanted to go, but I found myself at their door with a bottle of wine. I plastered on my best fake smile and knocked. “Just a second,” Richard’s voice rang from the other side. A few seconds later, the door opened. “Darrin, we’re so glad you could make it. Brunch is almost ready.” He ushered me inside the townhouse as he kept talking. “We’re having a quiche I whipped up from scratch. It has a smattering of vegetables with sausage and bacon. I also threw together a mixed green salad and a raspberry tart for dessert.” I handed him the bottle of wine. Richard inspected it and nodded before saying, “Good choice.” Bryce came from the backroom. “How are you doing?” he asked me. “I’m doing…” I left the phrase hanging in the air. “Well,” Bryce said without acknowledging the ambiguity of my statement, “at least you’re up and moving around.” I forced a smile and followed Bryce and Richard into the small dining room. The table was set for three. As usual, Richard had set an immaculate table that would make Emily Post jealous. Bryce motioned to a chair, and I took a seat as Richard left. “So, how are things in your world?” I asked, breaking the silence. “Richard and I are doing well. We’ve been looking into surrogacy again. I think Richard’s biological clock is ticking. He wants a baby.” “I heard that,” Richard’s voice echoed from the kitchen next to the dining room. Richard walked in with the salad and placed it in the middle of the table. “And don’t let this one fool you,” he said, sticking his thumb in Bryce’s direction. “He wants to be a doting father as much as I do. We have a lot of love to give a little one.” “Why not adopt?” I asked. “We talked about that,” Bryce acknowledged, “but ultimately we want to have a little baby. We have thought about having one through surrogacy, then adopting her or him a little brother or sister.” “Two kids?” I asked. “Don’t be so shocked,” Richard said, returning to the dining room with the quiche. “I’m doing more and more of my work from home. After the pandemic, the firm has embraced remote work, so the timing couldn’t be more perfect.” Richard set about serving up the quiche. We spent the next hour talking about a range of topics deemed ‘safe’ by the group. After an appropriate amount of time once we’d all eaten, I looked at Bryce and Richard and said, “Well, I need to get to the gym before taking a nap. I’m working the ten-to-ten shift tonight.” “Let me put together a to-go box for you,” Richard said. “I worry that you’re not getting enough home-cooked food.” Sadly, he was right. Most nights I grabbed takeout or heated something from a box in the microwave. “Thanks,” I said. “It would be much appreciated. You can only eat takeout Chinese so many days in a row.” When Richard left the dining room, Bryce turned and stared at me. For the first time that day, he put on his serious face. “I’m worried about you,” Bryce said. “I know it’s only been six months, but you’ve almost completely shut down.” “I’m still grieving. Is there an appropriate amount of time one should grieve?” “No, there’s not,” Bryce said hesitantly. “But I worry that you’re not making progress toward getting healthy. Have you reconsidered Richard’s suggestion about therapy?” “I don’t need a shrink… I need time.” I blinked back tears that had started to swell in my eyes. “I need him back.” I was amazed when the words came out of my mouth. “I know. We all miss him,” Bryce said. He looked at me for a second, and I could tell he was trying to plan what to say next. “I don’t know how I would react if Richard died, so I won’t presume to tell you how you’re supposed to behave. I won’t. But I will say I’m worried.” “Thanks…” He meant well. Part of me wanted to come back with a snarky comment, but I held my tongue. “Each day is a little better,” I lied. “Here’s your to-go box,” Richard said, breezing back into the dining room. He took one look at the serious faces in the room. “Did I miss something?” “Not at all,” I said, using the break in the conversation to my advantage. “Thank you for an amazing meal and lovely company, but I must get to the gym.” Bryce looked like he wanted to say something, but he kept his words to himself, which suited me just fine. I said goodbyes and hugged both men before going home to change and head off to the gym.

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About the Author

Jason Wrench

Jason Wrench is a professor in the Department of Communication at SUNY New Paltz and has authored/edited 15+ books and over 35 academic research articles. He is also an avid reader and regularly reviews books for publishers in a wide number of genres. This book marks his first full-length work of fiction. Find out more about Jason at his website.

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New Release

Off the Record

Title: Off the Record

Author: Kelly Rand

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 01/24/2023

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 62100

Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, Canada, journalist, film director/actor, artists, famous people, power imbalance, coming out, slow burn, age difference, over-40, politics, family issues

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Description

Freelance journalist David Cronkwright needs to finish a magazine article to avoid being evicted from his apartment. The subject is Nic Leduc, a younger, queer filmmaker on track to win an Oscar. But when David gets to Montreal, Nic refuses to be interviewed. Instead, Nic drags David all over the city—to his stylist, to a karaoke night, to a hiking trail on a mountain. Nic takes him to a party where David realizes how lonely Nic’s success has made him, that perhaps, what they both need is to learn to trust each other.

Excerpt

Off the Record Kelly Rand © 2023 All Rights Reserved David was sitting in Zaphod’s Restaurant, waiting for his Big Breakfast of three eggs, three pieces of bacon, and the best home fries he’d had in his forty-four years. That was when his cellphone rang. Ivy sat across from him, telling a story about a client who wanted a photo shoot with a leopard-print background, while wearing that same leopard print, and she’d had to perfectly align the two to fit the creative brief. Her mouth hung open midword, and David glanced at his phone. It was a Montreal number, so it had to be Nicolas Leduc. “Sorry,” he said. “I have to take this.” Then, into the phone, “Hello?” “Yeah, is this David?” The voice on the other end didn’t sound French at all, more like a midrange California accent. “Yeah. Is this Nic?” “Listen, I’m having second thoughts.” David’s heart sputtered. His eyes must have widened because Ivy leaned closer, making a circle with her hand like she needed more information. GQ had hired him to write an article about Nicolas Leduc, a twenty-six-year-old Québécois director who everyone expected to be nominated for an Academy Award. The Canadian committee still had to choose his film as the country’s foreign language entry, but Leduc had won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, so it seemed like a formality. David had a last-call notice from his landlord on his table back home, the result of a freelancing dry spell, and the GQ article was the only income standing between himself and eviction. “Why?” he said. “It’ll be fine. I’m heading out there today.” “I’m just not that into doing interviews right now, that’s all.” David stammered and found his words. “But it’s great publicity. It’s exactly what you need leading up to the awards. It’s a major magazine.” “I know.” Leduc went silent on the other end, and David imagined a clock ticking. This was the second conversation he’d ever had with Leduc outside of email. The first was when he got his hands on a press pack for Leduc’s latest film, Elle, and called the number. Instead of getting a public relations person, he got Leduc’s personal cell. Leduc had been riding north in the passenger seat of a convertible at the time. Through the howl of the wind, he’d agreed to an interview scheduled for some time next month. Now, that interview was tomorrow. “We’ll go at your pace,” David said. “Whatever you want to talk about, we’ll talk about. It’ll be great. I promise.” During the next pause, the server brought their breakfast, and David smiled and waved his hand before she walked away. “It’ll be great,” he repeated. “Okay. But I don’t want to meet at my place. I want to meet at my favorite restaurant. It’s called Les Crêpes, near Mount Royal. You can google it, right?” “Yeah, yeah, I can google it.” David searched his pocket for a pen but didn’t have one, so he repeated it. “Les Crêpes. Same time?” “One p.m. See you then.” And with that, Leduc hung up. David exhaled. “Jesus. I thought he was going to cancel.” Ivy smirked, tapping some salt onto her home fries. “He’s difficult. Terry says he is.” Terry was Ivy’s new husband, a camera operator who worked on Canadian movies and TV shows. His last job had been on a Sarah Polley film. Ivy’s first husband had been David. “He’s flighty, I guess,” she continued. “He’s demanding, and he changes his mind a lot.” “Well, he can’t change his mind about the fucking article.” David stabbed his eggs and put a forkful in his mouth. He was thankful Ivy still did breakfasts with him. Terry came sometimes, too, and sat, quiet and polite, as they talked about their families or the days when they’d worked in the same Toronto Sun newsroom. When David first made eye contact with Terry in one of Zaphod’s emerald-green booths, he’d watched him for some sign of jealousy. Terry had just smiled and asked questions like Who will be in your next article? Ivy had told him that David was gay. She’d never specified, but it was inevitable. David had told Ivy himself in the last year of their marriage as they’d sat on a bench in a park near the Danforth. I’ve never dated a guy. I’ve never kissed a guy. But I’m forty-four. I know. “Leduc will be an interesting article,” David said. “Have you seen any of his films?” “Oh, yeah. His films are great. Which ones have you seen?” “All of them. Research. I’d seen a couple already. I think, The Key to Infinity.” “Everyone’s seen that one.” Leduc had seven films so far, starting with the one he made when he was seventeen that premiered at the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes. He’d released them at a nearly annual clip ever since—cascading dominoes of stories about a young gymnast who was transgender; dueling mothers wanting to take control of a child; a mathematical prodigy who holed himself away, à la the Unabomber, and established a romantic relationship with the kindergarten teacher living next door. Each film included a colorful montage that made audiences wipe away tears. David had seen Elle in a tiny art house theater at Yonge and Eglinton, sitting in the back with his long legs stretched out, looking over fifteen heads in front of him. When the gymnast, Persephone, broke down in a hospital hallway, collapsing from emotional exhaustion, he’d folded and unfolded the napkin in his hand, tightening his jaw to prevent tears. When the lights came on, he’d wished Greg was there.

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Meet the Author

Kelly Rand is the author of Off the Record and several LGBTQ romance novellas. Originally from Norfolk County, she’s now a journalist in the Toronto area. Her previous jobs include farmworker, wedding photographer, and cashier at KFC. Kelly has been published in various anthologies and literary magazines and can be found at kellyrand.net.

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New Release

“Broken Deeds MC: Second Generation #5

OUT NOW: Broken Deeds MC: Second Generation #5 from USA Today bestselling author Esther E. Schmidt. Standalone, Crime Fighting, Biker Romance. Get it here: Books2read.com/BDMCWyatt

Genre: Standalone, Biker Romance
Author: Esther E. Schmidt
Cover Design: Esther E. Schmidt
Model: Grant Mims
Photographer: Golden Czermak, furiousfotog.com
Release Day: January 24, 2023

Wyatt – The murder cases I’m handling all point at the same pool of suspects. Following a lead causes me to detain a woman who spikes the need to lock her away for good; preferably in my bedroom.

Aveline – Nothing is what it seems anymore and through the shattered pieces of my life I’m confronted by a man who offers me a deal. Surrounded by blood, murder, and mind-blowing reality, I find his offer turns out to be the deal of a lifetime.

Trust and family can be tied by loyalty and DNA, but can easily dissolve when the truth resurfaces. Finding love in hard times can be the one link needed to survive, even more when dead bodies start to pile up.

Broken Deeds MC handles cases the government can’t close; they take charge and won’t stop until justice is served. This second generation is a series where each book is a new couple, handling a new case, and can each be read as a complete standalone with a happily ever after.

New Release

Gods of Inthya

Title: Gods of Inthya

Series: Tales of Inthya, Book 5.5

Author: Effie Calvin

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 01/17/2023

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 38600

Genre: Fantasy, anthology, Fantasy, gods, magic, romance, short stories

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Description

At the beginning of time, the gods came together to create Inthya, a world where magic is common and hatred never had the opportunity to take root. But the Inthyan gods are young and imperfect. With countless failures behind them and unspeakable horrors lurking outside the borders of creation, they must not allow this world to meet the same fate as the last—without alerting their mortal worshippers that anything is wrong. Nineteen short stories from the perspectives of the gods themselves, some humorous, some horrifying, and all united by a theme of protecting the mortals who love them unconditionally.

Excerpt

Gods of Inthya Effie Calvin © 2023 All Rights Reserved Inthi, God of Creation and First of the Ten, does not generally manifest in cities. This is somewhat paradoxical, considering most new ideas come from places where mortals gather in large numbers. But Inthi is a quiet, thoughtful sort of god and has trouble focusing when surrounded by too much noise and commotion. Even when they are called to a mortal’s private workshop, away from shouting vendors and screaming children, they cannot block out the soft but persistent hum of countless souls going about their daily business outside, each mind a bright beacon of wants and worries and dreams. But today, unfortunately, they must make an exception. Inthi is intimately familiar with their own Great Temple in Birsgen, and the enormous district surrounding it. Some call it the Flame District, but others simply call it Inthi’s District. Most large cities have one, a place where smiths and artisans and inventors come together to work and exchange ideas. As Inthi approaches their temple, they hear mortal voices raised in argument. Standing on the steps are two people—a neutroi that Inthi recognizes as their own archpriest here in Ieflaria, and a priestess of Eran dressed in silver robes. The priestess is the source of most of the noise, waving her clenched fist in the archpriest’s face. Inthi’s archpriest, however, is unimpressed. They wave a hand dismissively and say, “Your concerns are unwarranted.” The priestess’s cheeks redden. From the rage that emanates from her mind, Inthi can tell reason has failed and now she is about to start cursing. Inthi walks up behind her and rests a reassuring hand on the prophet-priestess’s shoulder. “It’s all right,” they say. “I will handle it.” Eran’s priestess looks at Inthi with wide, disbelieving eyes. She takes a step back, too dumbfounded to speak. Inthi’s own archpriest has not recognized them, but she has. With more effort, they can disguise themselves completely, but Inthi is not inclined to do so today. “I appreciate your efforts,” they add. Only rarely do Eran’s priests take an active role in events. Most adhere to the philosophy that attempting to alter the future is pointless at best and disastrous at worst. This priestess must have decided that no outcome is worse than what she’s already seen in her dreams. “Excuse me.” Inthi walks past the bemused archpriest and enters the temple. Inside is warm from the heat of dozens of forges, and every stone is steeped in magic. Countless prayers have been uttered within these walls. Generations of priests and artisans have labored here. Even if the temple was disassembled and all the stones cast into the sea, it would take centuries for the magic to dissipate from the air. After taking a few moments to admire the new bronze statues decorating the temple’s anteroom, Inthi takes a side door into a hallway. All around them, mortal minds buzz with ideas; mortal hands wrest iron and copper into new shapes. It is still early, but most of them have been awake for hours. Some have not slept at all. Inthi could have manifested directly at the source of the problem, but there is time enough to enjoy being in the temple. They pass a few priests in orange robes, but most of the mortals are dressed practically, with heavy leather gloves and large aprons. Some carry boxes, or tools, or push carts filled with scrap metal to be melted down and turned into something useful. Inthi brushes each mind as they pass, appreciating every mortal’s unique focus.

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Meet the Author

Effie is definitely a human being with all her own skin, and not a robot. She writes science fiction and fantasy novels and lives with her cat in the greater Philadelphia area.

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New Release

Painted Bare

Painted Bare by Hayden West

Book 4 in the City of Fountains series

General Release Date: 17th February 2023

Word Count: 16,531 Book Length: NOVELLA Pages: 78

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY EROTIC ROMANCE GAY GLBTQI

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Book Description

  The canvas never lies. Anthony Henson doesn’t do people. He prefers to be left alone with his paint, brushes and canvas. A world that allows his mind to be at ease, without the struggle to do what is right by societal dictates. His quiet universe is sent spinning, however, when a string of recent thefts brings a tall Irish detective into his circle. Detective Liam Rourke has a hard, firm policy on not intermingling work and pleasure. Until now, it’s not been an issue to uphold it. Enter one painter and all he wants to do is spend more time around him. The lines between professional and personal are blurred. When everything settles, what will happen to the straight-laced detective and the man whose own messy life doesn’t matter to him? Reader advisory: This book contains instances of bullying, as well as mention of homophobia, adultery, and family/domestic verbal/emotional abuse.

Excerpt

“There’s a Detective Rourke here to see you, Anthony.” Anthony Henson sighed, instantly agitated, and spun on the stool, away from the current painting he worked on. With a flick of his wrist as he got to his feet, he covered it. No one would see it until the time was right. “Thanks, Marshall.” The words were the correct ones, even if the last thing he felt like he should be doing was entertaining another prick of a badge. Pressing the heel of his palm into his upper thigh, he sighed as he tried to work out the stiffness. When he finished on that side, he worked out the stiffness in his other leg. A sure sign he’d been immobile far too long without taking a break. Supposedly this can be a good thing. I am getting up and moving around. This will serve as my break. Truth was, he didn’t give a fuck if it was a good thing or not. He didn’t care. He had painting to do. The other things were naught but irritating intrusions of his time. Marshall vanished without another word and in mere seconds, with his suit impeccable. While Anthony himself, on the other hand, looked like a day laborer. Paint staining his fingers, shirt, pants. Even his shoes. Oops. Damnit. I forgot my shoes. Where did I leave them? In the back room? Beneath my stool? There were two options. Go back and get them, assuming he could remember where he’d discarded them, or continue on like he was to this meeting. It’s not like I called the cops to come out here. He’s interrupting my day. Why do I care if I’m wearing shoes? Why should I care? He may not even be a he. I suppose women can be detectives. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he knew he should care. That would be the proper thing to do. Quite honestly, he didn’t give a fuck about social niceties. That’s what Marshall was for. Pushing his hands into his pockets, he walked through the back of the studio to the front. Marshall pointed one finger off to his left and Anthony followed. The man, and it was a man, stood before one of his favorite pieces. A scene in Italy, a seashore. “Why are you here?” Beside him, Marshall cleared his throat, softly. Anthony knew what it was, a reminder to be better behaved. Be polite. Sociable. The man didn’t start, just slowly turned toward him, expression composed. Sharp green eyes lasered out from angular features. Deep red hair with a smattering of gray at the temples. The clothing was typical detective wear—a suit. “Anthony Henson?” His voice rolled from him like a slow-moving wave, not anything to knock you over but you sure as hell knew it had been there. “That’s who you asked to see. Why else would I be standing here?” Marshall stepped between them. “I’m sorry, Detective. Yes, this is Anthony Henson. Anthony, this is Detective Liam Rourke.” There was a look in Marshall’s gaze. It took him a moment before it clicked. Marshall was reminding him not to be so short. “How can I help you?” It grated he had to ask that, but Marshall smiled at him and that made it worth it. Being able to make Marshall smile and relax was something Anthony enjoyed doing. He didn’t have a lot of friends. There were people, acquaintances who pretended to like him because of who he was and his wealth and of course his connections, or at least those they thought would help them. But he wasn’t stupid, no matter what those same people said behind his back. He knew they were trying to use him. The bottom line was, he didn’t give a fuck about them. But Marshall…he was different. The man had been his friend since they’d first met. He’d taken beatings standing up for Anthony and never got offended when Andrew’s bluntness had things falling from his mouth that should have been withheld. So, no matter how he didn’t want to do something, if Marshall asked him, he would do it. He hid a smirk and tried to give the visitor his attention. It wasn’t easy. This detective was handsome. “I’m here with a couple of questions about burglaries that have been going on at some of the local galleries.” Anthony watched and waited, bare toes curling on the cool floor. The eyes held him. That shade of green wasn’t something he’d seen before. He wanted to paint it. I want to paint him. Detective Rourke gave a small nod and pulled out a flip steno pad. “Has there been any trouble here? Any people in here that may be casing the joint under the pretense of looking at the art?” With any movement, Anthony waited. As did the detective. The man didn’t speak, just held his gaze. He figured it was a tactic to get suspects to talk, but personally, he didn’t give a fuck. This man didn’t intimidate him. Arouse him? Yes, for sure. “Well?” A hint of impatience laced the man’s tone, even though it was very faint. “Are those your only questions?” Anthony blinked, once. “Or do you have others?” The man flattened his lips and gave a slow nod. “I couldn’t tell you. You would be better served speaking to Marshall.” He looked away from the detective with the intoxicating green eyes. “Marshall, come answer the detective’s questions. I have better things to do.” Without another word, he turned and walked back toward his studio. “Wait a minute.” He paused outside the room and looked over his shoulder. The man strode toward him, brow furrowed. “We’re not finished.” Anthony narrowed his gaze. “You told me you had no more questions. I am not the best equipped to answer this, Marshall is.” He cocked his head to the side as a thought struck him. “Are you good at your job? Because you seem to be having a difficult time digesting what I told you.” Marshall cleared his throat again. Anthony shrugged. “What? It is a legitimate question.” He waved his hand in the direction of the sexy detective. I do not need to think of him as sexy. “He is having a difficult time grasping my statement.” He faced Liam. “Or did something change and you do have different questions for me?” Liam Rourke wasn’t sure what to make of the man standing before him. He didn’t shy away from eye contact and seemed absolutely shocked Liam wanted to speak to him again. But the blue eyes holding his called to a deeper part of him. One he’d thought he’d closed down, after— There was scruff on his face, making his jaw shadowed. Messy dark hair fell haphazardly around his features. He’d noticed a limp while Anthony had moved away from him. Two blinks and the man he’d come to speak with walked away, leaving him there. Dumbfounded. “I’m sorry, Detective Rourke. Anthony doesn’t mean to be rude. He just—” “No need to explain.” He had a feeling he already knew. “Why did he tell me to speak to you?” “Mr. Henson prefers to keep to the back, doing what he loves. Painting. He isn’t one who comes out to mingle with the patrons.” Marshall stepped back and smoothed a hand down his suit. “I handle all of that for him.” “Okay, let me ask you.” Liam talked to Marshall for another couple of minutes before closing up his notepad. “I’ll be by if I have any more questions. If you do see anything, please let us know. We’re trying to stop this group before someone gets seriously hurt.” “Will do, Detective.” He gave him a nod and pivoted to the door. All he wanted to do was go in the back and engage with Anthony once more. He shook his head. It had been a while since he’d had a man affect him like Anthony had, despite the brief time they were together. At the door to Arm’s Hall Gallery, he slowed, at war with himself about whether to go back and see Anthony once more. Exhaling sharply, he pushed through and stepped out into the hot summer afternoon. Liam slid on his sunglasses and tipped his head up to the glaring sun. His mind drifted back to the paint-splattered man who hadn’t been the slightest bit impressed with having a detective there, trying to help. He snorted. No, impressed was definitely not the word to use. Annoyed, irritated, bored. So many other ones he could choose. There had been something sexy about seeing him there, barefoot and a bit messy, which had kicked his senses, reminding him how long it’d been since he’d had a lover. Eyes on his car, he walked toward it, mind focusing ahead to the next stop on his list for the day. So far the four places that had been burglarized hadn’t had any injuries. In his gut, he figured it was only a matter of time before their luck ran out with regards to that. What he’d not been able to piece together yet was a connection in the art. Other than the obvious—it was art. Something told him it was deeper than how it appeared on the surface. Not even old art, at least not all. It was like the thief or thieves weren’t after Rembrandts, probably because they were afraid they couldn’t unload them. And he didn’t get the allure of some of what he’d seen. Some of the pieces that had been stolen he personally wouldn’t wipe his ass with, but he’d never claimed to be an art critic. Now this most recent studio, he didn’t mind what was up on those walls. Not images he would consider all abstract, for there was a definite eclectic taste to what adorned the walls. Landscapes. People. Animals. Buildings. Flowers. You name it, Arm’s Hall probably had it, and most of what Liam had seen made sense to his mind. “Rourke!” Snapping his gaze up when his name was hollered, he lifted his chin in greeting to another detective, Larson, who had been at a different gallery. Larson jogged across the street and put his hands on his hips. “Anything?” He shook his head and pulled his notebook back out, flipping it open. “Nothing that was worth the time it took me to put it down.” Arms crossed, Larson grunted. “Same. Although, if I wanted a painted picture of a bikini bottom, it could be mine for a measly ten grand.” Liam choked. “I’m sorry?” “Yeah, that’s what it was like at the last place I was at. I either make far too little or I went into the wrong business. I mean, I could paint some ladies’ drawers and would be happy to sell it for half their asking price. Christ, what the hell is the draw for something like that? I couldn’t ever put it up on my wall, not if I wanted my wife to refrain from slitting my throat at night.” Liam laughed, knowing full well Regina, Larson’s wife, would do exactly that, and find a way to blame him for it. Woman was scary and a freaking amazing attorney. He held up his hands and shook his head. “That’s all you, man. I’m not buying any portion of women’s clothing on a canvas. Much less for that kind of money. We have the same job. I know I don’t make that kind of money.” “Let’s get back, see if we can’t find a lead somewhere.” They fell into step and walked in companionable silence to the waiting sedan.

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About the Author

Hayden West

Hayden West lives in the Pacific Northwest, enjoys being outdoors, and hanging out with friends when not working on the next novella to be released. Find Hayden at their website and blog.

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