Midsummer Madness Flash Fiction Blog Hop!

1-grunge-colorful-tree-vector-illustration_mkxyqrldIs it Summer yet? Welcome to the Midsummer Madness Flash Fiction Blog Hop, where you can read some original fiction from some fantastic authors!

Here’s mine, a little flash fiction introducing the characters from NICOLAS, my story coming out this December from Dreamspinner Press.

*  *  *  *

“What do we have here?”

Jamie startled, eyes flashing open, blinking at the moonlight flooding the room. “What?”
A figure loomed over the bed and he swallowed a cry. Heart thumping, he untangled his limbs from Nico’s and sat up. “What do you want?”

Piter’s gaze raked over his naked chest and Jamie glanced down to make sure the blanket covered the rest of him, face heating at the man’s low laugh. “I can think of lots of things to do with you, pet,” the man purred.

Nico stirred, stifled a cough against the pillows, but didn’t waken. Jamie slipped from the sheets, careful not to disturb him further. His cough had gotten worse and he needed his rest. Piter watched with glittering eyes as he crossed the room and sank into a nearby chair, pulling the afghan onto his lap.

“Tell me what you want,” Jamie demanded, trying to hide his fear.

Piter sauntered up to him, dropped to his knees, hands settling on Jamie’s thighs. “Give me what I’ve asked for, darling, and I’ll leave Nico be,” he promised.

Jamie pressed his lips together on a sharp retort. Anger flashed in the beautiful green eyes and Piter’s expression turned cold. Jamie moaned when sharp nails bit into his skin. “Will you give in to me? Be mine?”

“No.”

Piter leaned close, blowing into his face, cold fetid air, and Jamie was plunged at once into dark memories of pain and loneliness. Father loomed over him, belt clutched in his hand, face ugly with fury.

“Little queer. You ever pull something like this again, I’ll beat the life out of you.”

Jamie huddled on the bed, knowing better than to answer. The summer dress he’d bought yesterday with such joy lay in tatters on the floor. He drew a quivering breath, not letting the tears fall, though the welts from his beating stung on his shoulders and back.

“Put some decent clothes on and come down. Mother’s waiting to go to dinner. Don’t make me come back up and get you.”

Jamie covered his face, heard his father’s frustrated breath and heavy footsteps down the stairs. Despair flirted with his heart. What was he going to do?

“Hush, baby, I’m here,” a voice whispered in his head. Arms went around him and Jamie looked up into a face of exquisite beauty, fine golden hair falling in wisps around green eyes and a full, sensual mouth. He stared at those lips as they came closer, touched his, soft, sweet, heady.

The man pulled back from him and Jamie ran a tongue over his lips, bewildered, not sure why he wasn’t afraid when the man trailed fingers up his nyloned thigh.

“Naughty,” the creature said, caressing the skin where the stocking ended inches from Jamie’s panties. He was hard instantly, the man’s low chuckle vibrating along his nerves. The man kissed him again, making him whimper.

“Such a naughty boy,” the creature whispered against his lips. “I bet you like to play dirty. Shall I be dirty with you, pet?”

Jamie blinked in surprise, lips parting as the man changed before his eyes, becoming a thing of nightmares, fangs and horns and gleaming eyes. The Krampus. A black tongue, impossibly lone, curled over lush lips, then snaked out and licked at Jamie’s mouth, along his jaw. Jamie imagined it sliding down his neck, his chest. Sharp teeth on his nipples. Lower still, scraping along his dick, worming inside him…

“No!”

He shoved the creature away, waking in his room at the cabin. The Krampus knelt between his knees. Jamie closed his eyes, willing him away. “You were never with me as a child. You’re not here now. Only a nightmare.”

The monster laughed. “No, this is a good dream.” Jamie shivered as the warm, wet tongue licked up his leg.

“Go away,” he said faintly, that wicked tongue drawing closer to his hard cock. He bit his lip, praying to wake up before he was lost. His teeth sank into soft flesh, the pain snapping him awake. The familiar bed and Nico’s warm body surrounded him.

“Only a dream,” he assured his thundering heart, and closed his eyes, gathered Nico in his arms, and willed his painful erection away.

winterNICOLAS

Betrayed by a lover, Jamie has rented an isolated cabin on Lake Huron, wanting nothing more than to be left alone. Instead, he is pulled from his ordinary, solitary existence and tumbles headlong into the legend of Saint Nicolas.

As a young man, Nicolas accidently kills a man intent on murdering three children, only to have the man’s evil spirit rise up against him. Fleeing through the centuries from the Krampus, the evil troll-like creature that dogs his steps, Nico finds refuge with the young artist, who takes him into his house and bed. But Jamie has questions. Who is Nicolas and why does the Krampus want to destroy him?

As the Krampus begins to torment and torture anyone Nico comes in contact with, to punish him, Jamie’s own life is put in danger. Can Jamie help Nico defeat his nemesis, or is he simply another pawn in the Krampus’s game?

Prize Time! Comment for the chance to win a $5 ARe Books Gift Card and an e-copy of any book on my backlist. Happy hopping!

Continue the HOP!

 

 

 

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Amazon Countdown Sale! The Shed, only 1.99!

The Shed7Today only! THE SHED  is 1.99 at AMAZON

As a Certified Mental Health Therapist, Scott Reid has his share of interesting experiences, though nothing compares with the time he spends with the psychic, Alex Elson. Plagued by terrifying images and dreams, Alex turns to Doctor Reid in the hopes of learning to control his visions. Instead, Scott is pulled into Alex’s world, where dreams and reality mix and nightmares are real.

Two young men, brothers, have been abducted from the lake outside of Oakton without a trace of who took them. That is, until Alex receives a silver pocket watch in the mail belonging to the elder brother, a taunt from the kidnapper for Alex to come find them. Alex’s visions turn at once into nightmares. Images flash in his mind of an abandoned well and a terrified, lonely boy slowly dying at the bottom. The shed looms close by, holding a horrifying secret, a dark place Alex’s frightened mind refuses to go.

With the help of Scott Reid, Alex endeavors to control his visions and find he brutalized victims before death claims them. But the watch is ticking away and time’s running out

Excerpt:

The pencil snapped in Alex’s hand, startling him from the painful memory. He impatiently scrubbed the tears from his eyes, refusing to indulge in self-pity. He was no longer that helpless child, subject to his mother’s brutal discipline. Scott Reid had helped him realize that his mother had needed psychiatric help, that her rages were the product of a confused mind. She loved him the only way she knew how, trying to save him from becoming the evil man his father had been when he’d abandoned her, pregnant and alone.

Alex had been able to forgive her. Now if he could only forget! He looked at the dark vortex he’d drawn on the paper, spiraling into a tiny empty spot.

“Christopher?” he whispered. He started on the outside ring and followed the spiral with his eyes toward the center, his lonely soul reaching out to the tormented boy. Darkness closed around his vision, focused downward on that small point on the page.

Alex gasped as cold air struck his body and trembled in the faint moonlight inside the well. Christopher lay curled on his side, asleep. Oh God. He knelt and searched the young man’s face, pale, gaunt with suffering. Alex reached for him with an unsteady hand, praying to make a connection. He felt a solid shoulder, but then pain like a shard of ice shot up his arm and he screamed as it plunged into his heart.

He struggled away from the vision, coming back to the studio to find the lights on overhead. He must have fallen out of the chair and lay with his head in Jane’s lap. She gave him a tentative smile. “Honey?”

“I’m okay.” He sat up and pulled her into his arms. “I’m sorry I woke you.”

“Hey, I don’t care about that. Was it the boy?”

Alex nodded and pushed his face into Jane’s shoulder. She nudged him back, made him look in her eyes. She gave him a small kiss, brushed the tears off his cheeks. “Can you tell me?”

“He breaks my heart! So alone and frightened and determined.” Awe filled him. “I touched his shoulder, Jane. Felt it under my fingers. I wonder…”

Jane stood up when he did and he tapped the picture of the spiral he’d drawn. “I think I hypnotized myself with this. I wonder if Scott Reid could help me go further. If I could just talk to Christopher, maybe he could tell me where he is. At least I could let him know we’re looking, that someone cares.”

Jane frowned, thoughtful. “You touched him? Is that even possible?”

Alex nibbled a lip, mind racing with possibilities. “I don’t know. I might have just wanted it so much I imagined it. But I’m pretty sure I can talk to him if I tried really hard. I need to call Scott—”

“Honey! It’s two o’clock. Let’s wait and call in the morning.”

Alex sighed. It was so hard to wait when he knew Christopher was hurting. “I suppose that’s the best thing to do,” he said with reluctance and absently turned off the lamp on the desk.

He studied the dark spiral he’d drawn until Jane tugged on his arm. “Come on, Alex. You should try to get some sleep. It might be a hard day tomorrow.”

 

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My turn at TRR Sizzling Summer Reads Party!

ssr2015Welcome to TRR Sizzling Summer Reads Party!

We have more than 350 participating authors and publishers and more than 350 prizes up for grabs during the whole month of June. Grand prize is a $100 Gift Certificate!

It’s my turn today! Go to

The Romance Reviews

and answer a question about Tris and Aiden for a chance to win a $5 ARe Books Gift Card.

Good Luck!

WithoutAiden_ByDianneHartsock-200x300

 

Without Aiden

Is a gift of love enough to open Aiden’s heart and let Tris back in?

Excerpt:

It had been three fucking months. Aiden had to talk to him, give him a hint of that gorgeous smile he lived for. Shit. What if Aiden wasn’t alone?

Tris locked his bike at the empty stand and tucked wisps of light hair behind his ears with a shaky hand. Aiden’s red Fiat sat in its space outside his apartment door. At least he was home this morning. He could easily be spending his birthday with someone else.

Paling at the thought, Tris slung his pack on his shoulder and walked to the door. He had nothing to lose at this point. He didn’t expect much, but maybe they could talk. Clear the air. Tris missed him. God, he’d suffered hell. Months of empty days and long, achy nights without his lover.

He rapped on the door and his heart sank when he heard voices and a soft laugh inside. Jealousy bit through him, but he shoved it away. Didn’t matter. He’d brought Aiden a gift and he’d be damned if he was leaving without delivering it.

He lifted his hand, then dropped it to his side and laughed without humor. He’d worn his best jacket too. As if Aiden would be impressed with anything he did. He set the backpack at his feet and carefully removed the small tissue-wrapped box.

He hefted it in his hand, heavier than it looked, and gently stroked a thumb over it. Damn. All of his love and yearning had gone into this gift he’d promised Aiden on one of their hikes in the forest outside town.

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My Turn at Lightning Quick Reads!

marcel2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LQR is a multi-author, themed, short story blog. What it means is, as a reader, you can expect each participating author to post one short story per month, which is somehow related to the theme of the month. The theme for June is: At Camp

A Guest at Camp

My pulse raced, the thunder in my ears timed to the wild beating of my heart. Tonight I was going to do it. No hesitating. Now!

The ascent out of my dark safe home took too long, leaving me trembling, drenched in sweat by the time I stood in the world above.

So bright! Wonderful and terrifying in its brilliance. Colors I’d never dreamed existed flashed in my tearing eyes. I shivered, anticipation heady as warm blood flooding through me. The membrane of my newly grown wings quivered in the stirring night air. They were proof of my adulthood, though for a second I wished I was home safe with the horde…

Continue HERE

Artwork by One Good Eye Photography

 

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Hop Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia #HAHABT

HAHABT 2015IDAHO_LogoWelcome to the HAHABT!

Created to spread awareness of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia, and to stand together as a writer community against discrimination!

 

There are a lot of challenges facing our community these days, and one of the more tragic ones, to me, is the homelessness of our youth.

Between 40 to 50 percent of our youth at any given time identify as LGBT, and unfortunately that is the reason a lot of them are facing homelessness. Their families don’t accept it and they don’t feel they have a home in their community.

But there are so many ways we can help, by the donation of our time and talents, being involved in our local communities, and by spreading awareness through Hops like this one.

PRIZE TIME! Towards that end, I’d like to donate $25 in your name to the charity of your choice, and also, since we all love books, a $10 ARe Books Gift Card for you to keep. Simply comment with your name and contact information for the chance to be my winner, chosen by Random.org

Thanks so much for joining us! Please continue the hop HERE!

projectfiercePROJECT FIERCE CHICAGO -buy HERE

Nobody deserves to be without a home. In collaboration with several authors, Less Than Three Press offers up an anthology of stories about young people who find that home and family are not always where you expect to find them.

All proceeds from this charity anthology will be donated to Project Fierce Chicago.

Project Fierce Chicago’s mission is to reduce LGBTQ youth homelessness in Chicago by providing affirming, no-cost transitional housing and comprehensive support services to homeless LGBTQ young adults. PFC also aims to encourage community-building and civic engagement through cooperative living and youth leadership development.

Sammy: My story in the Project Fierce Anthology

At fifteen, Sam inadvertently comes out to his parents, but instead of the support he hopes for, they send him to live with his uncle. Unfortunately, the man is even less tolerant of his uniqueness. Rather than change to please his family, feeling unwanted and misunderstood, he runs away to find a better life.

But the crowded city isn’t kind to a young man with no home and no prospects of work. When this story opens, Sam has been on the streets for several years when one of his ‘regulars’ begins to take more than a business interest in him. For the first time Sammy dreams of more than a bleak lonely future, but does he dare hope that someone like him could find their happily ever after?

Excerpt:

“Sammy, your Suit’s here again.”

Sam frowned at the chip in a fingernail. He could nibble off the rough edge, but that would smear his lip gloss, Pink Persuasion, his favorite. He glanced up through his thick lashes. Sure enough, John leaned against a lamppost pretending he hadn’t been staring. This could be fun.

Climbing from his perch on the picnic bench, he winked at Tad and the others and shook out the white skirt of his sundress. The sun was lowering behind them and John could probably see right through the filmy material, maybe catch a tantalizing glimpse of his turquoise bikini underwear. He stretched leisurely, arching his back, the sheer tank top exposing his nipples more than it covered them. He darted a look at the man again. Oh yes, definitely staring. John pushed off from the pole and took a step toward him, and his heart gave a funny lurch. He was certainly attractive, wavy brown hair falling to his chin, large brown eyes.

“Got a minute, Sammy?”

A smile lifted the corners of Sam’s full mouth. John was gentler than some of the others he could name. “Yeah, honey, I got time.” He raised his brows, looking towards the nearby public restrooms, but John shook his head, gaze flicking to the Morrison Bridge over head, the steady stream of cars crossing the river adding to the traffic noise on Naito Parkway behind them. Excellent. Sam knew justmthe spot.

Lacing fingers with John, Sam gave a playful tug and saw a slight blush rise in his face as they strolled along the bike path under the bridge. Cute. The Rhododendron grew thicker there and Sam pushed between two of them.

Hidden from view, he planted his back to the cement retaining wall, pulling John up against him. Brown eyes bore into his, the gleam of excitement unmistakable. But business first. Confusion touched the man’s face when Sam didn’t move, then his eyes widened.

“Oh shit! Sorry.” John dug in his pocket and handed over a few folded bills. Sam sighed. Only a head job. He’d been hoping for enough to get a room that night he didn’t have to share. John had been using him for the last couple of months and he’d even been to John’s apartment a few times. After letting Tad know where he was going, of course. But it looked like this time John just wanted to get off. Must be in a hurry. Crap.

Slipping the money into a pocket of his skirt, he made a show of rimming his lips with his tongue and hid his smirk when John’s eyes darkened with hunger. Men were so easy. Bat his mascaraed lashes, flash a flirty smile, and they were putty. Sam leaned forward and nibbled John’s lean jaw. “Ready, baby?”

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It’s #snippetsunday!

snippetsunday2Welcome to Snippet Sunday! It’s the weekly event when authors post 8 to 10 lines of things they are writing, editing, querying, or for which they’re obsessively checking sales figures! You can find the other snippets HERE.

This week I’m continuing with my fantasy novel. Kavi feels better but the company is growing restless.

*  *  *  *

Without thought he lurched forward and seized Kavi’s mocking lips in a hard kiss. “We’re not done here,” he muttered. There was unfinished business between them.

A flame smoldered in Kavi’s dark eyes. “I concur,” he murmured, running his tongue slowly over his bottom lip as if savoring Nathan’s taste.

Heart pounding, Nathan rose to his feet as the camp stirred, and went to see if the Magus needed anything. They packed in short order, deciding to eat from their provisions as they traveled. It was a three day journey to Nagal and the Magus seemed restless to be off. Bryon took the prisoner in front of him on his horse, Landlan quiet and docile, not fooling anyone.

 

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NO H8 Campaign!

no h8

Me and my lovely daughter!

MISSION STATEMENT: The NOH8 Campaign is a charitable organization whose mission is to promote marriage, gender and human equality through education, advocacy, social media, and visual protest.

On November 4, 2008 Proposition 8 passed in California, amending the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The defeat provoked a groundswell of initiative within the GLBT community at a grassroots level, with many new political and protest organizations being formed in response.

The NOH8 Campaign is a photographic silent protestcreated by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska(http://www.bouska.net) and partner Jeff Parshley in direct response to the passage of Proposition 8. Photos feature subjects with duct tape over their mouths, symbolizing their voices being silenced by Prop 8 and similar legislation around the world, with “NOH8” painted on one cheek in protest.

Five years since its inception, the NOH8 Campaign has grown to nearly 33,000 faces and continues to grow at an exponential rate. The campaign began with portraits of everyday Californians from all walks of life and soon rose to include politicians, military personnel, newlyweds, law enforcement, artists, celebrities, and many more.

While inspired by the passage of Prop 8, the scope of the NOH8 Campaign has grown to stand against discrimination and bullying of all kinds. The message of ‘No Hate’ can be interpreted and applied broadly, and speaks to each person in their own way.

NO H8 Campaign

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Slaying Isidore’s Dragons- deleted scene!!

SlayingIsidoresDragons-BookTour-SmallBanner

 

Follow Slaying Isidore’s Dragons’ Book Tour!

In the original version of the book, Isidore had a sister. Cody Kennedy talks about her removal from the book in his post today. This omitted scene is when Isidore learns about Marie (he didn’t know he had a sister).

“Thank you for your willingness to hear us out, Madam Ambassador de Quirke,” Detective Bowman said formally.

“Listening costs nothing. Agreeing is another matter,” she said with a strained smile.

Declan saw dark circles under her usually bright eyes and her skin was paler than usual. You know what they’re going to ask you, don’t you, Mum? Of course you do.

“Let’s hear it,” Sorcha said as lightly as her exhaustion would allow.

Detective Bowman cleared his throat and began. “As you know, Bobby has isolated a person of interest in our cases. I say cases because this person appears in multiple photographs involving Declan, Isidore, Mason, Ethan and Caleb and Caleb has been able to identify this person as the man in the tree house. Isidore also asked us to look into Comtesse François’s other children. We did and we found her to have five other children, four boys and one girl. We located three of the sons at a chateau in northern France. According to U.S. immigration records, the fourth son entered the U.S. approximately six months ago. We have no location on him. The daughter, who is mentally challenged, has lived in a very upscale home for girls in London for the past twenty years. Interestingly, she left that home approximately six months ago and no one knows where she is.” Detective Bowman gestured to Jack. “Mr. Sutton, why don’t you continue?”

“Isidore, you asked us to check into the financial affairs of your father under the auspice that it would lead us to certain elements of his behavior. We are in the process of doing so but our investigation is far from complete. Your father has a number of personal and business dealings throughout the world and it is understood that his affairs are complex. During investigations such as these, we often learn things by what is missing from the records. One of the things we found missing was evidence of support for the daughter’s care.”

“My father is her father? I have a sister?”

“Yes.”

Everyone sat in silence as Isidore sat dumbfounded. Declan watched Isidore intently, uncertain how he would react. “Are you okay, mo chroí?”

Isidore nodded slowly. “Please continue, Attaché Sutton.”

Jack leaned forward. “We then turned to Comtesse François’s records and found that she did not fund the daughter’s care either. We then went to the home itself and were surprised to learn that the young lady, whose name is Marie, was cared for and supported by your mother.”

“My mother?” Isidore asked, aghast.

“According to the headmistress of the home, Comtesse François wanted nothing to do with the girl from the time she was diagnosed as mentally deficient. Your mother took Marie as her own and raised her for the first five years of her life until such time as your father insisted she be removed from your home because your mother was expecting your birth.”

Isidore’s eyes went wide and he covered his gaping mouth with a hand.

*  * * *

It is my privilege and great delight to be one of the stops on the tour for Cody Kennedy’s wonderful book, Slaying Isidore’s Dragons. My print copy is on its way! Looking forward to when I can sit down and savor every beautiful phrase and vivid imagery this author does so well. Cody Kennedy not only tells a wonderful story, he pulls us right in, engages all our senses until our heart is bursting with pain and joy, eyes brimming with tears of anguish and happiness. And then the quivering breath at the end, the story finished, leaving our soul filled with hope. Cody’s books are always haunting, with characters who take us on a journey of pain and love, hope and healing. Can’t wait to start on this one!

About Slaying Isidore’s Dragons

 

SlayingIsidoresDragons-Book-Tour-400x6005 Best friends
4 Vicious brothers
3 STD tests
2 Guys in love
1 Car bombing
&
Nowhere to run

Follow the burgeoning love of two teens during the worst year of their lives. Irish-born Declan David de Quirke II is the son of two ambassadors, one Irish and one American. He is ‘out’ to his parents but to no one else. French-born Jean Isidore de Sauveterre is also the son of two ambassadors, one Catalan and one Parisian. His four half brothers have been told to cure him of his homosexuality. Both teens have lost a parent in a London car bombing.

 

5 Weeks of hell
4 Attempts on their lives

3 Law enforcement agencies
2 Dead high school seniors
1 Jealous friend
&
A love that won’t be denied

 

SlayingIsidoresDragons-Book-Tour-ReleaseDate-ImageDeclan and Isidore meet at the beginning of their senior year at a private academy in the United States. Declan is immediately smitten with Isidore and becomes his knight in shining armor. Isidore wants to keep what is left of his sanity and needs Declan’s love to do it. One is beaten, one is drugged, one is nearly raped, one has been raped. They are harassed by professors and police, and have fights at school, but none of it compares to running for their lives. When the headmaster’s popular son attempts suicide and someone tries to assassinate Declan’s mother, they are thrown headlong into chaos, betrayal, conspiracy, allegations of sexual coercion, even murder. And one of them carries a secret that may get them killed.

 

5 New family members

4 BFF’s
3 Countries
2 Extraordinary Psychologists
1 Courageous Mother

&
A new beginning for two young men in love

Read Chapter One of Slaying Isidore’s Dragons

 

Slaying-Isidores-Dragons-Book-Tour-Reese-Dante-small_banner468x60v2Cover and Artwork by Reese Dante

 

Now available in print and ebook at Dreamspinner/Harmony Ink Press
Amazon   Barnes & Noble   OmniLit/ARe

Ingram Books for Libraries and Schools

About Cody Kennedy

 

Raised on the mean streets and back lots of Hollywood by a Yoda-look-alike grandfather, Cody doesn’t conform, doesn’t fit in, is epic awkward, and lives to perfect a deep-seated oppositional defiance disorder. In a constant state of fascination with the trivial, Cody contemplates such weighty questions as If time and space are curved, then where do all the straight people come from? When not writing, Cody can be found taming waves on western shores, pondering the nutritional value of sunsets, appreciating the much maligned dandelion, unhooking guide ropes from stanchions, and marveling at all things ordinary.

 

Stop by Cody’s Blog with questions or comments, or simply share what’s on your mind.

Find Cody on Facebook, Twitter @CodyKAuthor, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+,

Ello, Goodreads

faeries2Read Cody’s free serial story, Fairy

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Time for Lightning Quick Reads!

marcel21Hey! It’s my turn again with the Lightning Quick Reads.  LQR is a multi-author, themed, short story blog. What it means is, as a reader, you can expect each participating author to post one short story per month, which is somehow related to the theme of the month. The theme for April is New Growth. Here’s mine!

NEW BEGINNING

“Stop fussing.”

“It itches.”

With an exasperated breath, Maxim stepped closer and straightened Camron’s collar. Camron gripped his chin, forcing the man to meet his gaze. The beautiful half of Maxim’s face flushed at his stare.

“It’s you the prince should be honoring,” Camron said with heat.

Maxim’s laugh was painful. “I’d frighten the children.”

Continue HERE!

Artwork by One Good Eye Photography

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It’s #snippetsunday!

snippetsunday2Welcome to Snippet Sunday! It’s the weekly event when authors post 8 to 10 lines of things they are writing, editing, querying, or for which they’re obsessively checking sales figures! You can find the other snippets HERE.

This week I’m continuing with my fantasy WIP. Kavi is beginning to feel better after his imprisonment.

*  *  *  *

“Good morning.” Kavi sounded tired.

Nathan searched his face. Exhaustion and pain were evident yet his eyes were clear. “You look better today. How are you feeling?” he asked gently.

“I’m well. The Magus took the horror from me…” Kavi’s voice trailed off as the water boiled over its pot. They watched it a moment, then Kavi laughed, easing the tension between them. “Making tea, Nattie?” he asked, arching a brow. “Remember the time you let the water boil over until it put the fire out?”

“That happened one time, and it was your fault for distracting me.”

Nathan bit his lip but Kavi only laughed merrily. “You’re the one who kissed me, remember.”

“Well, you are a nice diversion,” Nathan pointed out and used a stick to remove the hot pot from the stones.

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