Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Gentleman's Holiday Ch Three #blogstory

Welcome back to Gentleman's Holiday. Enjoy!

Chapter Three – Caught

"The horror of my truth will make you weep
If I bare all, will you take me deep?
Show me your eyes when I give you a command
Buried within, you surrender to my demands."

Zane dropped the pen on the notebook. Ever since he'd met Alonzo last week, the lyrics swimming in his head had a decidedly sexual undertone. He'd since buried himself in his studio, releasing all the erotic prose that poured from him like an eternal fountain. Not that he hadn't written a few explicit songs already, but usually they were interspersed among rock ballads and pop songs. What he wrote now had a feral sexuality that left him both wrung out and highly aroused.

He grabbed his coffee cup and check the 9 mil at the small of his back before leaving the studio, noticing for the first time the room was much cooler than the main room of the cabin. He had wood stoves in the front and the bedroom. Even though the house had propane heat, he held off turning the thermostat above the mid-sixties, leaving the other rooms cooler. With this being his first year in the mountains, he was still trying to find an acceptable balance between the different heat sources.

In the kitchen, he poured himself another cup of coffee, adding plain half and half. He'd experimented with flavored creamers and found he could taste the chemicals used. He'd overheard a couple customers at the pancake house talk about flavored syrups and thought he'd try those next. In the meantime, he enjoyed the heavy cream in his brew.

Afterwards, he moved to the back enclosed patio that overlooked the mountainside. The view was breathtaking and the room stayed decently warm when the sun shone. Low clouds shrouded the peaks and a couple of inches of snow covered the ground with the forecast predicting another six inches over the next couple of days.

Movement at the edge of the fir trees caught Zane's attention. Alonzo rode into the clearing. Every breath from the horse sent a soft plume into the frigid air. Following behind were another five riders. It looked as if the hunters were going home a couple weeks early. The reasons why were strapped over the backs of the pack horses that brought up the rear.

Zane's cellphone rang, and he answered without checking caller ID, too busy watching how Alonzo rode his horse toward the small cabin at the edge of the clearing. Idly, Zane wondered how strong cowboy legs were? "Hello."

"Zane! I'm so glad I caught you!" Ella's chipper voice cut through his thoughts, jolting him.

He swore under his breath. He'd been dodging his manager since she'd changed gears. Instead of trying get him to attend mixers in Los Angeles, she started hinting that a band, who had bought several of his explicit songs, wanted to meet him.

"I hope you listened to my voicemails. They have already checked into…"

No, he hadn't opened her messages. Now he feared what he missed. Zane cleared his throat, his gaze snared by Alfonzo dismounting. Damn. Damn. Damn.

"They are expecting you for dinner. For the time they are in town, they have hired a local chef. They want to know if you have any allergies or foods you don't like."

"Wait. What?" He dragged his gaze from Alonzo helping his hunting party move the game to the back of a pickup. "I'm sorry, I'm preoccupied. Start from the beginning."

Ella chuckled, sounding very much like a wicked witch. "You've been dodging my calls and ignoring my messages, haven't you?"

Zane wasn't one to lie, even if the truth made him look foolish. "Well…"

"Crimson Comet decided that if you didn't want to leave your mountain, they would come to you. They claimed they needed a vacation and are staying in a resort town not far from you." Zane barely kept from groaning as he closed his eyes and pressed his forehead to the cold glass window. They were in McCall. In contrast, Ella sighed loudly. "Look, you don't have to spend the whole week with them. Just a couple hours here and there. They really like your songs and simply want to meet you. They even requested I show them your new work before anyone else."

Zane tuned her chatter out for a few moments, pissed she'd worked around his nos. But he was partly to blame by avoiding her. When she first brought up Crimson Comet's request, a part of him had wanted to meet the band. Despite what he lead Ella to believe, he did follow those who bought his songs, and Crimson Comet was one that intrigued him. But he still didn't trust the quiet his life had settled into the last couple of months. He waited for the other shoe to drop and the longer it took, the more tense and watchful he'd become. He didn't want to put innocent people in danger. Now the decision had been taken out of his hands. Sure, he could still refuse, but if he was being honest with himself, he could use the distraction.

"I'm sorry, Zane. I took your lack of response as a yes. I won't do that again."

The hunters had loaded their horses into the trailers. They said their goodbyes to Alonzo before climbing into their vehicles, and slowly drove down the winding road that would take them to the valley and highway 55.

"How long are they in town?" Zane asked.

Alonzo watched the hunters leave. Once they were out of sight, he untied his horse and led it toward the small barn. When Alonzo glanced at Zane's cabin, he straightened and raised a gloved hand in greeting. Chagrinned at being caught watching, Zane gave a self-deprecating smile that he was sure Alonzo couldn't see, and waved back.

"A week, as far as I know."

Zane had the sudden urge to follow Alonzo to the barn. He'd never taken a tumble in hay before. He shook his head trying to dislodge the sudden image of Alonzo riding him, showing him how strong a cowboy's legs could be. He didn't know if Alonzo was straight, gay, or bi and finding out would be complicated, possibly disastrous. Besides, Alonzo technically worked from Zane, sort of, and Zane could never—would never make sexual advance when there wasn't a balance of power. It would be unfair to Alonzo. And, Zane reminded himself, he'd made a rule not to have sex with anybody who lived in the area. Again, too many complications.

"Let Crimson Comet know that I'd love to meet them for dinner. What's their address?"

Thank you for stopping by and reading!!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Heads Up!

Just a quick announcement this morning. 

I will be running a sale on Sunder this coming weekend, November 24th thru November 27th

I will also be running a contest on the blog, giving away 5 paperback copies of Sunder. 

So make sure you drop by from Black Friday thru Cyber Monday.

Thank you for stopping by and reading!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

What's on the Reading Radar? #WishList #TBR

What am I doing? It's been a strange week. My husband had time to take off and having him in my space while I'm trying to work is distracting. He's loud. He'd disagree. :) As a result, I stopped working early to spend time with (annoy) him and didn't get as much done as I wanted. With next week being a holiday week, it seems that the lack of authorly stuff will have a repeat performance.  

Title: Uncommonly Tidy Poltergeists
Author(s): Angel Martinez
Length: 4 hours
Publisher:  Mischief Corner Books, LLC

Genre: Romance / Gay / Humorous / Paranormal / 


Blurb: A poltergeist haunts Taro, dogging his international travels. It washes glasses, puts dishes away, and even dusts. At least he hopes it's a cleaning-obsessed poltergeist and not his own anxieties burbling over into neat freak fits he doesn't remember. When his property manager suggests he call paranormal expert, Jack Montrose, Taro's skeptical but desperate enough to try even a ghost hunter.

Jack's arrival crushes Taro's hopes of a dashing Van Helsing-style hero. Instead of an invincible hunter, he gets Ichabod Crane. As the paranormal puzzles multiply and Jack begins to suggest the entity might not be a ghostly one, Taro adds a budding friendship with Jack to his pile of anxieties. It's a race to see whether Taro's poltergeist or his relationship with the obviously-not-ace Jack will reach maximum strangeness first.

Title: Rescued by an Alien
Series: (Stolen by an Alien Book 2)
Author(s): Amanda Milo
Length: 328 pages

Genre: Romance / Sci-Fi

Notes: I've read a lot of meh M/F sci-fi romance. But I really liked the first book in this series, STOLEN BY AN ALIEN. I didn't even read the blurb when I one-clicked this one. 


When my human mate was auctioned, she was sold to a savage lot of aliens.
I rescued her body from her tormentors.
But her mind…
She is hurt.
She’s afraid I will abandon her; but I’ve been waiting all my life for my mate.
I am not going to walk away. I’m going to help her heal.
And I will help her fight for us.

****Content warning: For readers 18 years and older Contains explicit sexual situations, dark themes, sensitive subjects, and violence.

Title: A Bolt of Blue
Series: (Angel's Book 1)
Author(s): Nicky Spencer
Length: 399 pages

Genre: Romance / Contemporary / Gay / Poly / 


Blurb: Ian Golinski has been in love with his best friend since he was fourteen years old. When he finally decides to confess his feelings, he finds that his perpetually single friend isn't so single anymore. What’s a boy to do when he has to share the love of his life with someone else? Especially someone so damn hot?

Dusty Smith has finally found The One. The only problem is The One clearly has feelings for someone else, even if he doesn’t realize it. Dusty has to convince his lover that they’re meant to be. But how does he do that when the other man turns out to be perfect for them both?

Mitch Becker likes things nice and simple. But as his relationship with his boyfriend heats up, he starts developing feelings for his best friend. Suddenly his life is one big complication. How can he choose between two soul mates?

Find out what happens when three men ask the question: What if we don’t have to choose?

A Bolt of Blue is an m/m/m contemporary romance with a happy ending and no cliff-hanger. It is approximately 90,000 words and is a stand-alone. Estimated release date: Fall 2017.

Title: At Sixes and Sevens
Series: (Fur, Fangs, and Felines Book 4)
Author(s): MA Church
Length: 267 pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Genre: Romance / Gay / Paranormal / 


Blurb: Fur, Fangs, and Felines: Book Four 

Werecats mating with humans was bad enough…. But an Alpha werewolf?

Aidric’s life takes an unexpected turn when he meets Alpha Carter Lovelock of the Dark Lake Pack—who is apparently his mate. Now Aidric must decide whether to accept the mate the goddess chose, or deny her gift because cats and dogs just don’t mix.

Carter is in a pickle. He always assumed his mate would be a female werewolf. How else is Carter supposed to carry on his line and retain Alphaship? When Aidric comes into his life, Carter’s ex, Sabrina, isn’t giving up easily. Her brother, Delaney, is a thorn in Carter’s side, and some of the other werewolves go out of their way to make Aidric feel unwelcome, including one of his deltas, Evan.

Unfortunately, what little headway they make is destroyed during a full moon hunt when enemy werewolves attack Aidric and threaten the pack house where the Dark Lake pups are kept—an ambush that could have devastating consequences on their future.

Werewolves are notoriously insular, and before Carter and Aidric can build the life they want with each other, they’ll face a fight for acceptance.

Title: Bring Me the Dead
Author(s): Beck Black
Length: 234 pages
Publisher: Loose Id LLC (October 31, 2017)

Genre: Romance / Gay / Sci-Fi / Multicultural-Interracial / 


Blurb: A million years, ago a galactic empire fell. That ancient empire is a source of many things. Wonder, knowledge, academic careers, and treasure. Treasure is what Beau Johnson seeks, tracking down artifacts for high-paying clients. Once a top student at the specialist institute for the study of the ancient empire, Beau rejected respectable archaeology and academia in favor of adventure.

Unlike his one-time rival Park Ki-tae, a brilliant student who became an enforcement agent tasked with keeping Imperial artifacts out of private collections. Beau thinks Ki-tae needs to loosen up, have more fun, and stop making it his life's work to send Beau to jail. Ki-tae thinks Beau is a rogue and a criminal, and that it was a big mistake to sleep with him that one time...

When a client sends Beau after a legendary artifact that allows communication with the dead, Ki-tae pursues, sure that this time he'll nail Beau. But circumstances force them to work together and deal with the feelings for each other they've both long denied. They have very different plans for the artifact they're seeking--if it's not a myth. Will they ever agree on their plans, or on anything else at all?

Title: Rising From the Ashes
Series: The Chronicles of Caymin
Author(s): Caren J. Werlinger
Length: 308 pages

Genre: Romance / Fantasy / Lesbian / 


Blurb: Rising From the Ashes: The Chronicles of Caymin

Ancient Ireland – an era of clan wars, petty kings and invasions by raiders from the north.

As Christianity tightens its hold, magic and the old ways fight to keep their place in the hearts of the people.

Born into this world is Ash, orphaned and maimed, left to die. She is rescued by a clan of badgers and raised to be one of them. As she grows, so does her magic, until at last she comes to the attention of other humans. Some of them want to protect her; some want to use her.

When she bonds with an orphaned dragon cub, the two of them become pawns in a bid for power. Forced to flee, dragon and dragonmage embark on a quest to seek the answers as to why they were bonded and what their future holds.

Book One in The Dragonmage Saga

Title: Who We Are
Author(s): Nicola Haken
Length: 271 pages

Genre: Romance / Contemporary / Gay / 


Blurb: Since putting his life on hold ten years ago, Oliver Clayton doesn’t know who he is anymore. To his clients at the hair salon, he’s the sassy and confident stylist. To the crowds who come to watch his drag act at the club, he’s the fierce and fabulous Miss Tique. He’s popular. Talented. Out, proud, and self-assured.

He’s also a good actor.

Sebastian Day is content with life’s easy, if not a little monotonous, routine. After several failed relationships, he likes the simplicity of being alone in his truck at his job as a heavy goods driver, spending the weekends with his teenage son, and putting the world to rights with his cat, Marv. He’s not lonely. He isn’t hiding.

At least…he doesn’t think he is until he meets the mesmerising stranger with the red hair and purple lips.

Can Oliver and Sebastian help each other embrace who they are? Or will a cruel twist of fate end their journey before it’s even begun?

Title: The Blacksmith Prince
Author(s): Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus
Length: 214 pages

Genre: Romance / Historical / Fairy Tale / Fantasy / Gay / 


Blurb: 17th century Perigord is a county of sun-drenched villages and dark forests, languid rivers and moonlit lakes. It is a corner of France teeming with spirits, dryads and nymphs, and like everywhere else, witches are burned at the stake.

Born with the second sight, young fisherman Jehan wants nothing but to keep his head down, work hard, and stay out of trouble. Which works well enough until a suspicious string of bad luck befalls the village smith and his wife. Their adoptive son Giraud is everybody’s dashing darling, who behind his sooty smile and swashbuckling manners has buried a painful connection to the supernatural himself. Fearing that some evil is afoot, Giraud turns to the only other man in town who knows about the hidden world around them - Jehan.

Before long, they are embroiled in a quest involving brigands, witches and noble fey, while their friendship and attraction gradually shifts into something deeper. If they manage to survive ancient feuds and everyday prejudice, they might even have a chance to forge a Happily Ever After all of their own...

From Rainbow-Award-winning authors Beryll & Osiris Brackhaus, ‘The Blacksmith Prince’ is an old-fashioned, swoon-worthy historical fantasy romance about tender love in a time when history and fairy-tales were one and the same.

Title: Rogue Wolf
Series: Haven City Series, 1
Author(s): Zoe Perdita
Length: 230 pages

Genre: Romance / Paranormal / Gay / Mystery / 


Blurb: Conner, a rogue wolf and murder detective, isn't looking for a lover when he moves to Haven City. He wants to solve crimes and keep to himself - unable to trust anyone since his pack betrayed him six years before. 

But Seth Alwen, his new partner, is different. He excites the wolf's animal instincts - waking up the passion Conner buried long ago. Seth's not only beautiful and alluring; he's also haunted by the death of his former partner. And despite his better judgment, Conner aches to relieve the man of his guilt.

As the two men solve a series of murders, their sizzling attraction overflows into the bedroom. Is the overwhelming passion just a fling or is it forever?

Contains a partners to lovers romance with a sexy alpha wolf, a sizzling hot seer, plenty of graphic gay sex and a HFN ending.

Title: Knights
Series: (Aurum Book 1)
Author(s): Ava Ryant
Length: 172 pages

Genre: Romance / Epic Fantasy / Menage / MFM /  

Notes: This is tagged by the author as a reverse harem genre. In my experience this means MFM-Sharing Menage. 

Blurb: Ashlyn is desperate to leave the confines of the Citadel she has practically been imprisoned in since childhood. For her own safety. Finally able to fulfill her calling as the Erede of the realm she is determined to follow her own path. Unfortunately she is saddled with five arrogant but rather handsome Knights of the Order, who are equally determined to see her returned to the safety of the Citadel. At least she will have something nice to look at on her travels, if only she could ignore haughty attitudes. 

No one more than she know’s how dangerous the job of Erede can be, after all the previous Erede was assassinated. Yet the more she tries to keep them at bay the more she realizes she needs them. Finding great joy and heartbreaking sorrow is just the beginning of her journey and she needs the Knights to face what’s coming.

Thank you for stopping by and reading!!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

#PactDays : Conti'Quan #ValespianPact

Welcome to Thursday's Pact Days! Today, we have the Conti'Quan.

The Conti'Quan, Cleito, was introduced in Alpha Trine. He is a friend of Zeus and still has a part to play in the series. :)

A couple of side notes: For a list of species that have been posted so far, see the The People of Valespia pageI'm placing these in alphabetical order so I won't unintentionally place importance on any specie. I will leave off information on the species that will spoil future books. My standard sheet has the same categories for all species. So there will be blank categories just because that species didn't need them.


Species: Conti'Quan
Planet: Talos Kol
Other races on the planet:
Planetary Terrain: Forest, Jungle, Seas, Lakes, Rivers
Capitol: Seti
Patron Ryo Pardeep:

Description: The height goes from 2 inches to 6 feet (around 2 meters). Roughly humanoid, Telepathic/Empathic. Flexible roots for locomotion, allowing them to leave the soil. The main stalk of the body is thick. No eyes, sees with vibrations. Can easily pick up the most minute movement. Several vines from the central stem/stalk act as arms and are used to manipulate tools.

Their graceful gestures along with telepathic speech is their native language called, Dancing.

Has an elaborate written language. Their scholars travel all their lives to record events, ideas, and stories for a retelling at a later date. They send all their writings back home where it is stored in the Great Library.

In the beginning, they only developed their technology to travel the stars.

They have few natural predators except for some fungus, bacterial parasites, and a set number of insects. They have developed entomology cures to use before the chemicals. (Chemicals are a last result.)

They are specialist when it comes to eco systems and often help other species with such problems. (The Dar Massaga reached out to them after their civil war to help repair both planets.)

Ethereal, delicate, and they struggle to understand the motives of other species.

Common Occupation: information gatherers, chemistry, eco system specialist, entomology, horticultural
Government Systems: They have none
Current Leader: n/a
Council of Neighn of Member: Eunomia

Allies: Gaziniti, Dar Massaga, Chtichlian, Mar'Sani, Fal'Amoric, Daimoni, Keygan, Asani, Battion,

Star System: Solymus System

Other planets occupied by species:

Military Leader: n/a

Cultural names and terms specific to species:

Thank you for stopping by and reading!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Exclusive Excerpt: Breaking Free by A.T. Brennan #giveaway

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It is my pleasure to have A.T. Brennan on the blog today for the release blitz of Breaking Free! We have an awesome exclusive excerpt. Scroll down and check it out!

Title: Breaking Free
Author: A.T. Brennan
Series: Den Boys #3
Release Date: November 14th 2017
Genre: Contemporary MM Romance


“I would never forgive myself if something happened to another man I cared about because I’d been careless and given in to temptation.” ~ Zander

The last thing I was looking for was a relationship, then I laid eyes on a dancer at a nightclub and my entire world was flipped upside down. Kai is everything I’ve ever wanted, but shouldn’t have. I’m haunted by a past I can’t seem to break free from, and I’m not sure I can be the man Kai deserves. He makes me want to try, but I worry that I’m broken beyond repair.

“There was already a big enough stigma attached to being a go-go dancer, but add being a webcam model to the mix and people tended to assume things about me.” ~ Kai

School, dance, cam, repeat. My life was on a constant loop as I struggled to keep my head above water. After seeing Zander in the crowd while I was dancing, I knew I had to meet the handsome stranger who took my breath away. I don’t know if I’m the right man to help set him free from his pain, but I’m going to do everything I can to try and help him see that the past doesn’t have to define his future.

*This is Book 3 of The Den Boys series, but can be read as a standalone. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and trigger warnings are listed in the book before the table of contents.

*This 74,000 word book is intended for an 18+ audience. It is a story of male/male romance and love. There are graphic depictions of man parts doing naughty and sexy things, so please be sure this is the kind of book for you before reading.

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Find The Den Boys series on Goodreads

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~*~Exclusive Excerpt~*~


The first thing I noticed when I woke up, was the slender and warm body in my arms.

Staying still while I slept wasn’t normal for me. It wasn’t unusual for me to start the night out by holding someone, basically Kaden until last night with Kai, and roll over onto my side of the bed at some point.

That hadn’t happened. We were still in the exact same place we’d been when we’d fallen asleep, and I had to admit that I loved it.

There was something comforting about waking up with someone. There was a feeling of companionship, and trust. There was no way in hell I could ever fall asleep with someone I didn’t trust because being asleep was the ultimate form of vulnerability for me. I could protect myself when I was awake, but asleep I was completely at someone else’s mercy.

The fact that I’d fallen asleep with Kai without a second thought was a bit alarming, but it was that I’d wanted to that was confusing the hell out of me.

As he’d been telling me his story about his mother and her illness, it had been on the tip of my tongue to blurt out my own demons. I’d wanted to share with him, to tell him something personal and have him know me, and know that I trusted him as much as he seemed to trust me.

Instead, I’d asked him to stay over.

I’d needed him, and not in a sexual way. I’d wanted to feel his body next to mine, to hold him close and listen to his breathing. I’d wanted him to feel safe as I pulled my own comfort from him. And that was fucking with my head.


Book One

Title: All In
Author: A.T. Brennan
Series: Den Boys #1
Release Date: July 11th 2017
Genre: MM Erotic Contemporary Romance


“I learned a long time ago that nothing is free, not even help.” ~ Blaze

Almost getting killed in a gay bashing should have been one of the worst moments of my life, but with everything I've been through, it was just another day, except for the gorgeous man who stepped in to save me. There is something about Galen that draws me in and makes me want know him, and the more time I spend with him, the more I feel free to be myself. Galen doesn't seem to know what he wants, but I'm a man who stays true to himself, and Galen seems to be someone worth taking a chance on.

"Then you happened and all you have to do is touch me and I lose myself." ~ Galen

I never thought I'd stumble on an attempted murder, but that's exactly what happened one night while I was trying to get home. After chasing away the assailants and helping the enigmatic young victim home I tried to put the incident out of my mind, but I couldn't get him out of my head. I might not have ever thought about being with a man before, but the more time I spend with Blaze, the more I learn about who I really am. Blaze has scars that run deep, but as he opens up to me I find myself questioning everything I thought I wanted, and wondering if I'm a good enough man to give him what he needs.

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Available on Kindle Unlimited


Book Two
Title: Healing Him
Series: The Den Boys #2
Release Date: August 29th 2017
Genre: MMM Erotic Contemporary Romance


“I hated that I was like this, but after years of trying to work through it I was beginning to feel like I’d never be normal.” ~ Cody

Hiding the fact that I was in love with my best friend Isaac used to be the most complicated part of my day, until a chance meeting with a handsome stranger named Jonah sent my life into a tailspin. Scars from my past have stopped me from giving in to my desires for so long, but I’m done being afraid. I want both men. I just don’t know if I’ll be able to trust that anyone can love me.

“I knew it was a bit messed up, but there was no jealousy or envy when I thought of my men together.” ~ Isaac

I’ve loved Cody for as long as I’ve known him, but have always held back because of his past. Then I met Jonah and I knew there was no way I could choose between them. I want it all—the man I’ve loved for so long, and the one I’m quickly falling for. It’s not going to be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

“I wanted to believe it was all true, but I couldn’t push aside the fear that I was just a distraction until the two of them got together.” ~ Jonah

After having my heart broken I never thought I’d find love again. I wasn’t looking for anything real, and then I met not one, but two men I can’t resist. Isaac and Cody are everything I ever wanted but didn’t know I could have. I want to believe the three of us can work, but a part of me can’t get past the fear that I’ll be the odd man out, again.

*This is Book 2 of The Den Boys series, but can be read as a standalone - no cliffhangers.

*This book is intended for an 18+ audience and is a story of male/male/male romance and love. There are graphic depictions of man parts doing naughty and sexy things, so please be sure this is the kind of book for you before reading.

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK Available on Kindle Unlimited

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Celebrate the release of Breaking Free and win a $5 Amazon Gift Card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the Author

AT Brennan pic

A.T. Brennan, who also writes under the name Mandie Mills, is a romance and erotica author. A native of Ottawa, Can ada, she enjoys picking up and moving from city to city every few years. A former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, current entrepreneur and freelance writer, she enjoys spending her days working on her many projects and her nights writing and not getting enough sleep. Currently she lives on Canada's East Coast with her family, both two- and four-legged. She enjoys collecting books and exploring the different sides of romance and romantic expression in her works.

Links: Website | Facebook | Facebook Group | Twitter | Amazon

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Thank you for stopping by and reading!!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Gentleman's Holiday Ch Two #blogstory

A couple of weeks ago, I signed on to have a guest on Tuesday, so I have moved Gentleman's Holiday to today. Next week, the blog story will be back on Tuesdays. 

Like I said last week, I'm writing this story by the seat-of-my-pants and already I've made a change. I started the first chapter in first person POV. The story will continue here on out in 3rd person because I want to have a second POV. (I'll go back and fix the first chapter when I get time.) Enjoy!

Chapter Two – Normal is not supposed to be this hard.

Zane paced the cabin in utter boredom, feeling unsettled and embarrassed. For the last several months, five days a week he went to the pancake house for breakfast, finding that he enjoyed the atmosphere. He took his notebook with him and wrote down possible lyrics or music. A couple days ago, the waitress at the restaurant he frequented called him by name. Immediate and overwhelming panic had risen. He'd spooked, leaving without ordering and before he knew it he'd left the eatery and was driving home before he realized what he'd done. He couldn't run every time some called out to him. He truly wanted to be familiar with people in town, but the reality of it grated against the instincts that had kept him alive thus far. He felt like an idiot. If he wanted to remain invisible he would have moved to a large city. Routines got assassins killed, plain and simple. He had to keep reminding himself that normal people did have routines and he wanted to be normal.

Although he acknowledged these truths, he stayed on his mountainside, wallowing in humiliation, refusing to leave his cabin. This self-consciousness was new. This gawkiness had seemed to come out of nowhere. He didn't know how to handle the unfamiliar emotion. He knew fear, resolve, determination, lust, hate. He had survived some harrowing situations and come out surprisingly unscathed, at least physically. Surely he could get past his own awkwardness.

He loaded the dishwasher with last night's dishes before heading to the studio. But once he stood in the doorway, he didn't want to enter. For the first time in months he had no interest in writing down the words swirling through his mind. Which was a first since he moved in. So far, he'd written dozens of songs and sent them off to his manager, Ella Shuler, who in turn was able to sell most of them. He was surprised, he thought it would take more time, not that he was complaining. Although, when Ella suggested he come to the west coast to attend a couple of mixers he'd flat out refused. He had no desire to rub elbows with… with… he didn't know who in order to sell more songs. He wrote because he'd shown an aptitude for it when he was a kid and because he enjoyed it. He didn't need the money. He already had plenty, enough to last a life time or two, more if he invested well. He didn't need to meet people to further his career which his agent struggled to understand.

Frustrated, he turned his back on the room. He prowled the house like a dissatisfied cat looking for something to pounce on. Every room was immaculate, everything just so. One of the many habits he found increasingly hard to get rid of.

The cabin sat on just under two thousand acres. Some fifteen years ago, Zane had purchased Paddy Flat Summit Ranch with the first money he'd made on his own. At that time, calling it a ranch was being generous since there was nothing built on the property. No, it didn't come with a cowboy or twelve, more's the pity. Zane had designed then contracted this cabin to be built… which four thousand square feet of home made using 'cabin' a loose term. He'd meant this to be a safehouse, if and when he needed one, and hired a property manager to oversee the ranch, renting out the house during tourist season. Later, the property manager talked to Zane about hiring an outfitter to guide hunters during hunting seasons. Zane had agreed and two smaller cabins were built, one close by and a hunting cabin further up the mountainside. In addition, as a couple of barns to house the horses of guests were included. He had the roads grated and upgraded to allow for drainage instead of dealing with repairing the washouts during the rainy season. Right now, there were people on his property higher up and he never saw a soul, not even the outfitter who stayed on the property year around.

Usually Zane was comfortable with silence. But months living on the mountainside, of never moving out of sight of the cabin, had worn him down. The discomfort of staying in one place for such a long period of time caused him to feel as if his skin was on too tight, almost like he was wearing an ill-fitting suit. He'd started going into town on the weekdays. He hadn't realized how the activity filled his time or how much he enjoyed being around others until he'd grounded himself. At the moment, he would take a chat with a surly hunter over his own company.

He checked the weather. At around five thousand feet above sea level the temperature wasn't going to reach much higher than the mid-thirties. He needed to stock up the pantry and freezer because there would come a time that he would be snowed in and unable to make it into town. Grabbing a pad of paper, he went through the pantry and started making a grocery list. To be on the safe side, he estimated he'd need to at least have three month's supply of canned and dry goods. He moved to the walk-in freezer, an extravagance that hid a couple of secret rooms. He was a retired assassin, not in idiot. He didn't give up the tools of his trade just because he wanted to have a normal life. He would defend himself. The other room hidden by the freezer was the panic room. He hadn't managed to put in escape tunnels when the house was originally built. Since living there, he wondered if he should go ahead and have them dug. Always have a backup plan within a backup plan.

Zane grabbed a nine mil out of his stash and a holster that fit on the back of his belt under his heavy sweater before he left the walk-in. In the kitchen he checked the perimeter program before grabbing his grocery list and turning on the house alarm. In the three-car garage, there was only one vehicle, a blue Dodge Power Wagon. The other two stalls held equipment he would need to get through the winter. A snowmobile, a four-wheeler, and a snowplow along with other items he thought would be useful if stranded. So far, there was only about an inch of snow on the ground, nothing that would keep him from reaching the valley. He drove down the winding mountain road. He thought briefly about paving it, but he didn't want to encourage people. If he made the road decently passible, people's curiosity would get the better of them and they would drive up just to see where the blacktop stopped. A couple of teenagers had already ignored the private property signs as it was.

Zane snorted at the memory. Two thousand acres was a lot of land to keep track of. He had the police out after two boys wrecked their dirt bikes near his cabin. They were lucky he was close by. If they had been stranded in one of the more remote areas, they might not have made it out without more injuries, if they made it off the slopes at all. He didn't press charges for trespassing, but the officer did escort the kids home, letting their parents know what they had been up to.

In a resort town of just under four thousand permanent residents, it was inevitable people would come to know him. He didn't want to start out on the wrong foot with the locals. The community was close knit, and they looked out for each other. That was one of the reasons he'd chosen to live there, but at the same time that familiarity he craved terrified him.

When Zane finally pulled onto Highway 55, he headed north to McCall, and before long he pulled into the parking lot of the pancake house. He didn't think about what he was doing but took the steps up to the wrap around porch. The restaurant looked like a luxury cabin, and like most of the other buildings in town had so much stained wood you couldn't throw a rock without hitting it.

The hostess met him at the door, smiling broadly. "Good to see you again, Zane." His skin tightened, the flight instinct kicked in until Zane ruthlessly stomped it down. "You left of here so quickly last time. I hope everything is all right."

Zane stared into her concerned eyes. What kind of emergency did she think he had? It didn't matter. "Yes, everything is fine."

She looked as if she didn't believe him and he realized he was frowning. His face felt stiff as he made himself smile, which she returned before leading him to what he had considered his table by the front window. He could watch both the entrance and see the parking lot from this location. He almost asked for another table, indecision eating at his resolve to stay. The hostess was oblivious to his internal struggle, flipping over the coffee cup. He'd been there enough times the wait staff knew he always asked for coffee and water. An itch formed between his shoulder blades.

He made sure to smile at the waitress when she stopped to fill his cup. But then he frowned when he started to give her his usual order. "What would you suggest?" He hoped he wouldn't regret the question.

Her eyes brightened. "Oh! My favorite is the Mexi-Cani Omelet."

"I'll have one of those and a couple of buck wheat pancakes on the side."

"Gotcha," she chirped happily.

After she left, he took a quick look around the restaurant. It was midmorning and there were only a few tables occupied. One by an older man, Mr. Whitaker, the grandfather to one of the teen boys who'd he caught trespassing. Zane tipped his head in greeting. A woman in her mid-twenties sat against the back wall, a laptop open in front of her. He suspected she was there most days, all day. It didn't matter when he came in, she was at the same location with her head buried in the computer. There were several other familiar faces that he made himself acknowledge with head tips when they met his gaze. Even though he's told himself he wouldn't, Zane had done cursory background check on some… okay most of the people he saw regularly. He used to eat and breath caution. That didn't seem to be a habit that would go away anytime soon.

He sipped his coffee, black and bitter, frowning again. He's spent so many years trying not to have preferences that would single him out. He used to wonder what a latte tasted like. He'd only started drinking coffee since he settled. He drank it black because it was efficient. Would he like any of the flavored creamers in his morning joe? That was something to consider since his next stop was the grocery store.

Damn it. Normal wasn't supposed to be this hard.

Someone stopped next to his chair. "You are looking into that coffee cup like it's withholding secrets from you." The voice was deep and when Zane looked over his gaze was met with a huge rodeo buckle… and the bugle that sat right below wrapped in tight wrangles. He gazed up the lean body to meet warm brown eyes. "Are you Zane Cortese?"

He frowned, unease skittering over his skin. Zane reached for his spoon but gripped the butter knife. "Yes. You are?"

The cowboy grinned and held out his hand. "I am Alonzo Cardosa. Do you mind if I sit down? I don't want to take up too much of your time."

"Oh! Nice to finally meat you." Zane recognized the name. He was the outfitter. When Zane had originally purchased the land under a different name, one of the things he had approved was a contract with a guide who'd escort hunters during the different hunting seasons. When he bought the property under his new alias part of the agreement was to take on the five-year contract with Alonzo. Zane hadn't seen him since moving into the cabin. He bit back a smile. He had a cowboy. Well, not technically since Alonzo wasn't in his bed but… He dragged his gaze away from Alonzo's dark rugged face and cleared his throat, waving at the chair across the table. "Have a seat. Eat with me. The season is almost over. What are your plans for the rest of the year?"

Alonzo stared down at Zane with a blank expression. Was he slipping so bad that Alonzo could read his thoughts? Fuck! When was the last time he got laid? Oh God, he couldn't remember.

The outfitter removed his heavy shearling coat, hanging it over the back of the chair before sitting across from Zane. "That is what I wanted to talk to you about. I'll be closing up the hunting cabin right before Thanksgiving. In the past, I have rented either the main house or the lower cabin for a couple of months. The property manager only asked that I let him know which one so he could send me a short-term lease."

Zane waved to the waitress and motioned to Alonzo. He swallowed thickly, catching a pleasant, masculine scent coming from Alonzo. When he'd chosen to live in Valley County, he hadn't taken into consideration the lack of sexual partners. He'd learned to live without needing sex, for the most part. Not that he was asexual. Having sex meant making himself vulnerable to another person, and that he couldn't abide by. He liked sex, enjoyed the feel of someone else's skin next to his when he allowed himself to indulge. And now that he was thinking about sex, he really wanted to have some but had no intentions with sleeping with a local. He wasn't interested in a relationship outside the bedroom. He would have to take a trip to Boise or perhaps the Twin Cities to scratch that itch. The thought cooled his blood.

When he turned back, Alonzo was regarding him in a curious manner. "What?"

"You are not… as I imagined." Alonzo's eye lashes were thick and the same jet-black color as his hair. Looking at Alonzo wasn't helping him to keep his thoughts in check. Those full lips looked soft.

"As in?" Zane rasped after the waitress poured Alonzo a cup of coffee and took Alonzo's order.

"You dropped a lot of money on that property. People who can do that aren't…" Zane didn't need him to finish. He knew what Alonzo meant. He didn't fit the mold of someone who had a couple of million dollars to throw around. Alonzo frowned down into his coffee, pursing his lips together. "My madre would smack me for being rude and for making assumptions. I apologize."

When did he become fascinated with lips? Zane gulped the scalding coffee and swore, grabbing the complimentary glass of ice water. What was wrong with him? "I'm not offended, but your apology is accepted."

Zane was given a reprieve from conversation when a couple of people stopped by to say hello to Alonzo, inviting him to dinner. Zane watched the interaction, smiling on queue and shaking hands when Alonzo introduced him.

The waitress brought out both of the meals at the same time. Zane wolfed down his buckwheat pancakes, foregoing the maple syrup. He gave a sheepish grin when he glanced up and caught Alonzo staring at him. "So you want to lease the lower cabin?"

"If it's still open, yeah. Should have said something when you bought the ranch but wasn't thinking ahead at the time." Alonzo carefully cut into his steak and eggs, smearing everything with catsup before taking a bite.

Zane's pants were suddenly uncomfortable. "It's yours. I'll stop by the property manager's office and get a copy of the old lease before I go grocery shopping. Do you want me to pick you up…" Alonzo glanced up from his plate and gave Zane a slow smile. "Something… uhm… pick you up something from the store… for the hunters… in the cabin." Was that smile an invitation? Or was he laughing at Zane's sudden awkwardness? Perhaps a trip to Twin Cities was called for, especially if he couldn't keep from reading things into Alonzo's expressions.

Thank you for stopping by and reading!!