Category Archives: Hot Books

Submissive Candy by Zane Menzy

Good morning, MM book lovers! Today I’ve got Submissive Candy by Zane Menzy — check it out!


Everything blew up in Levi Candy’s face when he set out to seduce his best friend Josh Stephenson. Instead of having his dubious way with the sexy straight boy, and making him the unwitting star of the next Candy Boy blog entry, Josh’s father thwarted Levi’s plan and taught him a humiliating lesson.

In exchange for Josh’s father’s silence, Levi is forced to write a story about the night his body was disciplined by the dominant man in ways he will never be able to forget or undo. If he doesn’t want people finding out about his scandalous online alter ego then Levi best damn well do it. But there’s just one problem… no one tells Levi Candy what to do and gets away with it.

Two stubborn men, both dominant by nature, are on a collision course with cruel carnality where there can only be one winner and hearts will never beat the same again.

Buy your copy now or read for free with Kindle Unlimited!

2 Submissive 1


Dwight tugged nervously on his earlobe as he watched the boy head towards the smokers area out the back of the tavern. He’d never been cruised so blatantly before that he was unsure of what to do. Certainly never in his local tavern. His head knew that if he were to follow the boy then he would put himself in danger of doing something stupid and reckless but his hardening cock begged him to stand up and chase after the young man regardless of the consequences. In the end—like always—his cock was what he listened to.

“I’m just nipping out for a fag,” Dwight said, standing up. If he wasn’t so nervous about Shifty asking to join him he would have laughed at how honest his statement was. He needn’t have worried. His older pal was far too engrossed in the rugby to give a toss about joining him for a cigarette.

With a sure stride, Dwight headed to the outdoor smoking area, hunting the blond lad down like a dog chasing a frisbee. As soon as he stepped outside, Dwight was taken aback by how dark the courtyard was. It looked to be deserted and no sign of the blond boy. He scanned the empty chairs that were placed around dimly lit braziers but could not see him anywhere.

Maybe he didn’t go this way.

Just as he turned on his heels, about to head back inside, he heard a low cough come from the far corner of the courtyard. He spun back around and that was when he saw him stood against a vine-covered brick wall. A smile formed on Dwight’s lips and he made his way over to the flirty boy.

“Howzit,” Dwight said, his voice pitched low with gravel.

“Hey.” The boy stood there completely relaxed, oozing a sexual confidence rarely found in young guys.

Dwight jammed his hands in his pockets and rocked back and forth on his feet, not entirely sure how to progress things. He liked to be the alpha who had the power but he was outside of his comfort zone and unsure how to make the next move.

“So, uh, hows ya night been?” Dwight asked, his voice warbling slightly.


On closer inspection this lad was younger than he originally thought, more likely in his late teens than early twenties. “How old are you?” Dwight asked in a stern tone.

“Old enough,” came the reply, steadfast and sure.

“Old enough for what?”

“Whatever it is you had in mind.”

“Is that so.”

The boy didn’t respond; instead, he bit down on his bottom lip, extending his hand out and placing it on Dwight’s crotch, grabbing him firmly.

Dwight coughed out a quiet gasp. The boy had his balls in his hands, seizing control of the interaction. This was not how Dwight wanted things to go.

The boy kept hold, gripping Dwight tightly in his hand, staring into his dark eyes which were torn between pleasure and fright. His cock twitched and grew firm between the boy’s furled fingers.

The boy breathed heavily, releasing his grip on Dwight’s dick and asked, “How old are you?”

“How old do you think I am?”

He looked Dwight up and down, scanning his face. “I reckon you’re about Twenty-eight or twenty-nine?”

Dwight’s ego began to swell just like his cock, scaring off his jitters and injecting him with enough confidence to wrestle back control of the moment. “Close enough.”

“Was I right?”

“You’ll have to count the rings around my cock to find out, won’t ya?”

The boy sniggered. “Is that before or after you count mine.”

“I won’t be counting yours, sunshine.”

“And why not?”

“Cos I ain’t a cock-slobbering homo.”

“You might change your mind when you see it.” He grabbed Dwight’s wrist roughly and pressed Dwight’s hand to the hard ridge behind his zipper. “What do you think?”

Dwight kept his hand pressed against the boy’s rock-hard dick, adding a small amount of friction, wishing like hell those jeans weren’t in the way. He could tell the boy wasn’t huge but he would be a good mouthful. Not that he had any intention of wrapping his lips around it.

Dwight Stephenson sucked no man’s cock.

“Unzip me. I know you want it,” the boy said, all breathy-like. “My dick.”

“I might like to have a play with it,” Dwight admitted. “But not out here.”

“Fair enough.” The boy looked around the courtyard, his eyes seeking secret spots. “But where then?”

“The women’s toilets.”

“The women’s toilets,” the boy echoed. “I don’t think that’s a good idea…”

“There’s only one bitch here tonight—aside from you of course—so we shouldn’t get interrupted.”

“Oi. I’m not a bitch, bro.”

“You are whatever I want you to be.” Dwight stared back with unflinching dominance.

The boy’s face began to crinkle with doubt. He appeared to be in a war with his inner pride and self-respect, trying to decide if he should just walk away. He finally gave a begrudging nod of the head, agreeing to the submissive role he was being assigned.

Dwight suppressed a smile and instructed, “Now, I want you to go back inside, lock yourself in one of the ladies cubicles, strip naked, and bend over the toilet and wait for me to come fuck you.”

Hesitation stifled the air.

“Would it be alright if we just jacked off together? I’m not much of a bottom,” the boy said.

“If you want to hook up with me then you gonna be a bottom, son.”

The boy scratched at his neck. “Oh, man. I am keen but…”

“But what?”

“But I don’t have a condom or any lube with me.”

“Just as well for you I have a rubber in my wallet.”

“And lube?”

“Your mouth will be our lube.” Dwight gave the boy a salacious wink.

This didn’t help remove the stress etched on the boy’s face. He looked like he may just walk away.

Dwight was too damn close to miss out now, so he resorted to desperate measures. He looked behind him to make sure no one was coming then reached down and pushed his jeans off his hips, freeing his cock. “You think you can handle that?” He wasn’t fully-erect but he was hard enough for the boy to appreciate his imminent size.

The boy’s eyes glowed with horny intrigue. “Whoa, that’s a beautiful cock you got there.”

“I know.”

The boy reached over and gripped it, squeezing his warm digits around Dwight’s shaft, exploring his length. “Fuck that’s nice.”

“Okay. That’s enough.” He pushed the boy’s hand away and put his dick back in his pants.

“Is it nice enough for you to do what I want?”

“What do I get out of it?”

“The honour of being fucked by me.” Dwight was serious. “And if you’re lucky I might let you give me your phone number.”

“You’re a cocky one. Anybody ever tell you that?”

“Maybe… but it’s hard to tell what they’re saying ‘cos they’re usually choking on my dick.”

The boy laughed.

“So, are we doing this or what?” Dwight stared at him blankly.

“Yeah, why the hell not.”

“That’s the spirit, blondie.”

“My name ain’t blondie. It’s—”

Dwight put a finger to the boy’s lips, hushing him. “I don’t need your name, son. Just your arse. Now go to the toilets and wait for me.”

“How long will you be?”

“As long as I fucking want.”

“You’re a bit of an arsehole, bro.” The boy chuckled. “But it’s kinda hot.”

Of course it is.

Dwight suddenly stepped back, his eyes raking over the boy’s chest, lower, then back to his lips that would soon be sucking dick. “Hurry the fuck up and get in there. And when I say I expect you naked, I do mean naked. None of this leaving your t-shirt and socks on bullshit.”

“Yes, Sir.” The boy grinned, giving a mock salute before disappearing inside.

Dwight pressed down on his cock which throbbed impatiently as he watched the boy walk away. The blond lad may not have been Levi-Candy-gorgeous but he would do.

When he was done with taking his sweet time puffing his way through a cigarette, Dwight made his way inside where he slipped discreetly into the ladies toilets and had his way with the piece of teen meat, wrecking the boy’s arsehole with a ruthless fuck.

Yep. I’m the man.

Buy your copy now or read for free with Kindle Unlimited!

About Zane Menzy:

Zane lives along the wild west coast of New Zealand in an old seaside cottage with his gaming-obsessed flatmate. He is a fan of ghost stories, road trips, dark-haired men, and nights out that usually lead to his head hanging in a bucket the next morning.

He enjoys creating characters who have flaws, crazy thoughts, and a tendency to make bad decisions. His stories are emotionally-charged and don’t shy away from some of love and life’s darker themes.


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Body Language by Tim Bartholomew

Greetings book lovers!

Today I’ve got Body Language by Tim Bartholomew — this is a book we published through Deep Desires Press (my company) and I love this story so much! I really think you’ll love it too!

The sequel, Getting to Grips, comes out early next year, so this is the perfect time to read Body Language.

Keep reading for the blurb, cover, excerpt, and more!


How long can a man escape his past with his virtue intact?

Naïve yet irresistible Andrew Billingham is a private French tutor working in London’s bohemian Pimlico area. When out jogging one day, he collides with the heart-stoppingly gorgeous Bryony. Falling head over heels on top of her, it is love at first sight.

However, Andrew’s life of adventurous love-making is overturned when Bryony’s employers send her abroad for six months. To add to Andrew’s woes, his winsome good looks and trusting nature make him an easy target for sexually unscrupulous foes just waiting for the opportunity to seduce and ambush him.

Ensnared by two predatory and vengeful women—one twenty-five years his senior—Andrew is plunged into a nightmare of unseemly passion, intrigue, and sexual enslavement. Can he come through this ordeal unscathed without losing the love of his life and the erotic bliss he enjoys with her?

Body Language is a 58,000 word erotic comedy, the first in the Slave to Beauty trilogy. If you like your books erotically-charged and fast-paced, then you’ll love Tim Bartholomew’s tender treatment of love and his devastating indictment of lust.

Buy your ebook copy at Amazon now!

Click here for other stores or for paperback!



Scene: lovemaking in Fortnum and Mason’s third floor Gentlemen’s lavatory:

“Sorry I can’t run to a bedroom at The Ritz, my darling,” I pant, “but this is the nearest available love-nest on a chilly Sunday afternoon in spring.”

She seizes my jacket collar, pulls my face down, and kisses me again. “I’m not worried, Andrew.” She begins to unfasten the belt of her raincoat. “Go in and see if the coast’s clear.”

I push open the door and peer inside. High, frosted windows, an Art Deco tiled floor, urinals, and two cubicles; nobody in residence. “Come in quick,” I giggle. Bryony’s hands are flitting over her coat buttons. I lock the cubicle door behind us, my whole body tingling with anticipation. “This is very naughty,” I whisper, fumbling with my own belt.

“Take everything off,” she commands, wide-eyed. “I dare you!”

“Don’t be daft!” My heart is pounding. “What if somebody comes in?”

“We’ll just have to be perfectly still until they go again.” She untucks me and thrusts both hands inside my shirt. “Besides, a typical Fortnum’s customer will be too up his arse to notice! Strip or I’ll whistle for that leather dog!” She pushes my jacket off and tosses it into the corner while I slip kisses under her jaw. Her hand is suddenly back inside my boxers. I gasp as she squeezes me, fingers moving expertly and with exquisite sensitivity amongst my bits and pieces.

Breathless, hardly daring to move, I take her face in both hands. “Kiss me, Andrew,” she sighs, her brown eyes sparkling. “All over. And if you’re good, if you’re very good, I’ll take you­––”

“Oh, Bryony—”

“For a Fortnum’s cream tea.” I suppress a delicious bubble of laughter, breathe her in. My lips explore her cheeks, linger over her mouth and finally seek out that favorite spot of hers behind her left ear. She quivers a little, the scent of her short hair intoxicating me. Her lips find mine once more and, as we kiss, I undo her jeans and reach between her thighs, pressing my hand against the front of her knickers and tilting her hips against me. She is warm with anticipation.

Ignoring the rest of my shirt buttons, I rip the garment over my head while she undoes my trousers. My shoes kicked off, blue chinos dropped to the floor, she crouches at my feet, holding down the front of my boxers and deftly taking the end of my dick between her lips. Her head rocking gently backwards and forwards, she pulls down my underwear and — this is a surreal touch, but she is a girl with standards — helps me off with my socks, one by one. Opening her glorious mouth again, my lover leans back on her haunches and looks me up down, appraising my naked body.

“Mmm, not bad, Andrew. Not bad at all.”

“Why thank you, beautiful. I do my best to give satisfaction.” Oscar Wilde is deeply embedded in my psyche; I feel he would have approved of our passion in so public a place.

Supporting herself on the stiffest thing she can find to hand, she pulls off her own blouse. Extending her arms, she braces herself between the cubicle walls, her long legs bare, hips at a seductive angle, her enticing burgundy lingerie perfectly toning with her pale skin. Such sensuous, perfumed beauty leaves me spellbound, even in a gents’ lavatory at Fortnum’s. At my approach, her body heaves and undulates with excitement. Gently, I let my fingertips glide outwards across her creamy cleavage and under her arms, reaching behind her to release the bra. Free of all constraints, her perfect breasts fall into my hands, warm and heavy. I cup them together, making her sigh by rubbing my thumbs gently across the nipples. “Well, hello again, you two,” I grin. “It’s been too long.”

“It’s been five hours, Andrew.”

“I wasn’t talking to you.”

“Sorry. Should’ve known better than to interrupt such a happy reunion.”

“Quite.” I pass my tongue slowly across first one nipple then the other. “Excuse me while I assume the position.” There is just enough room for me to kneel in front of Bryony. I push my nose once more into her cleavage, submerging myself for a delicious moment in her softness, rolling my face from side to side, kissing and licking between her breasts. The magically smooth warmth of her skin sends tingles of longing down to my toes.

She leans back now against the door and groans faintly as I travel downwards across her abdomen, my tongue tracing a damp line towards her navel. It’s my turn to hook thumbs into knickers, and I pull them firmly down so that she can step out. We are both naked. As each leg lifts, I stroke under her thigh with both hands, molding and massaging as if to memorize this exquisite form, this moment, forever. Unable to resist any longer, I slide my hands slowly around her hips until my little fingers meet under her buttocks. Closing my eyes, I push forward between her legs, tease her with the tip of my tongue. I feel her arcing her back, pressing her pelvic bone into me.

“Stand up,” she whispers. “Let me look at you.” A sudden hint of sadness flickers momentarily behind her eyes. I pause for a second, a dull dread invading me.

“What is it, Bryony?”

“Later, my love,” she smiles, a little too chirpily. “It’ll keep.” She kisses me, her teeth lingering on my lower lip. “Now, what have we here?” With a sudden movement, she cups my balls in one hand and pushes me gently backwards towards the lavatory seat.

“Sit down, gorgeous. It’s time.”


….. two pages later


“No, please!” I can hardly speak. “Thank you! You’re an absolute angel and––”

I never finish whatever platitude I am about to utter because at this point the gents’ door opens and someone comes bustling in, leather-soled shoes clattering on the tiled floor. Our door is rattled (as am I) before the visitor enters the adjacent cubicle. Coitus interruptus, we hear him slam over the bolt and unzip. A pause, and then the sounds of copious peeing. One shiny brown brogue visible under the partition; we shuffle our feet towards the wall.

“Thank God he’s not settling in for the long haul,” I mouth into Bryony’s slightly pointed, pixie-like ear. She is beginning to giggle, her body jiggling up and down with tiny movements.

“Keep still, you bad girl, or he’ll hear you!”

To my alarm, such concentration on our new neighbor is causing wilt. Although I am pushing myself into her as hard as I can, I take the precaution of pulling out some sheets of paper. My lover is now sniggering uncontrollably and, to cover any audible snorts, I cough twice and hum a snatch of “Oh, What a Wonderful World” which only makes matters worse. I am sweating with embarrassment. Our neighbor has finished peeing and is evidently involved with tucking the oldest member away again. “In your own time, old boy,” I mutter, glaring at the wall. “Off you fuck.”

“Be patient, my handsome,” whispers Bryony. “He’ll bugger off in a minute.” Her tongue slithers eagerly into my ear and begins to trace the internal contours. With a spare hand, she reaches down to fondle my balls again, making the curly black hairs in my loins tingle. A wet finger passes tantalizingly back and forth across my bottom and I feel myself starting to expand and tighten inside her again. “There’s a good boy.” She is smiling with satisfaction. “We didn’t want a disappointing mess, did we?”

We kiss again, half-listening to the man’s final preparations for departure. As his toilet flushes, we slip to the floor and there, crouched upon me, Bryony starts slowly, inexorably to move up and down again, digging her nails into my shoulders. Then, as the door adjacent to us bangs open, she comes in for a third orgasm, this time more vociferously. She is convulsed with laughter and I clap my hand over her mouth. “Bryony! Ssshhhh!”

There’s a sharp rap on the door. Our door. “Who’s in there?” demands an elderly, aristocratic voice. “What the devil’s going on?”

I have no suitable answer ready, but Bryony is undaunted: “Your turn next, old fruit,” she announces in a deep, camp voice. “Pop a pair of crisp fifties by the basin and then hop along outside and wait patiently like a good boy. I’ll be with you directly, just as soon as I’ve satisfied this most demanding of young customers.” She emphasizes her expertise by suddenly poking a finger into my bottom. I emit a yelp.

“Do you mind?” shouts our unseen guest. “You blasted perverts! I’ve a good mind to report you.” We hear him washing his hands and pulling out an extravagant sheaf of paper towels. (There was a time when Fortnum’s supplied neatly folded white flannels.) “Bloody pooftahs. Unbelievable! Should be horse-whipped, the both of you.” He utters a final growl of disapproval before banging the main door behind him. We both burst into snorts of laughter.

“Are we done here, mademoiselle?” I enquire eventually. “Or are you in the market for another couple?”

“Andrew, my handsomest of sex slaves, your work here is done. Except I need to use that loo. And then we might think about dressing again.”

Buy your ebook copy at Amazon now!

Click here for other stores or for paperback!

About the Author:

Tim Bartholomew ( is both a writer and actor, appearing most famously in TV commercials as Santa Claus for Marks & Spencer (2016) and the benign old Grandpa for Asda in their 2017 Christmas campaign.

Writing under the name Timothy Edward, his first comedy novel with “rude” bits, Lessons in Humiliation, received the following accolade from his old Dad: “Well, you’ve either had an unusual sex life or a very vivid imagination.” In point of fact, the reviewer was right on both counts.

Tim has also recorded the book for Amazon/Audible. At 10 hours 38 minutes, it makes ideal listening for long car journeys or flights. He is looking forward to recording Body Language too.

As they say in theatre programme credits, Tim has appeared on stage and screen for nearly twenty-five years, being cast normally as a benign old buffer, Captain Hook, a drag queen or a mad professor. According to one casting director, “it’s all about your rolling eyeballs, darling.” These days, however, Tim is aware that it’s all about his wrinkles: that lived-in face that earns him money for having fun in exotic locations.

In a varied career, Tim has also been an academic publisher, illustrator, music teacher, a payroll clerk and, in recent decades, a voice coach and Head of Drama at a mad school in Southern England. He draws material for his books from both his professional life, his own improbable experiences and, of course, family holidays.

Under his real name of Tim Baker, the author lives with his wife in Kent, the Garden of England. He is father to three boys and wicked stepfather to another boy and two girls, none of whom is inclined to read his erotic novels. He is an avid amateur photographer of birds—especially those of Trinidad and Tobago where his wife was born and upon whose glorious, secluded beaches Body Language opens and closes.

Twitter: @TimBartholomew5
Facebook: @TimBaker444
Instagram: @timbakerbartholomew


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From the Ashes by CM Valencourt

Greetings book lovers! Today I’ve got From The Ashes by CM Valencourt! Read on for the blurb, cover, excerpt, and more!


Hunter and Derek are at a fork in the road…

At their friend Justin’s funeral, once-best-friends Derek and Hunter meet again almost four years after their monumental falling out. Hunter kissed Derek, and Derek freaked out and chose a college on the other side of the country.

If they had a choice, both of them would walk away and never see the other again. Except Justin has given them a mission: an epic road trip to scatter his ashes all over the Midwest, complete with cryptic notes, new friends, and a whole lot of sexual tension. Can Derek and Hunter finish Justin’s road trip without ripping each other’s heads—or clothes—off?

This is a stand-alone 65,000-word novel with an HEA ending.

Buy your copy of From The Ashes at Amazon!

From the Ashes Cover


“Why are you suddenly okay with having a gay friend now?”


“I mean, you obviously didn’t feel comfortable being best friends with someone who was gay. So what changed?”

Derek’s heart hurt. Of course that’s what Hunter thought, that he ran away because the thought of two guys kissing made him angry or grossed him out. Derek himself had thought that was the case for a while, had even tried to convince himself of it for years. It wasn’t the truth, but Hunter had no way to know that.

No wonder he had hated him.

“I never had a problem with you being gay, Hunter. Fuck, I’m sorry it seemed like that. I’m such an idiot.”

Hunter squinted at him. “You didn’t care that I was gay?”

“I don’t think so. Not in the way you think.”

“So I could have brought a boy to prom, had him in all of our prom pictures, told you about how I sucked his dick in the bathroom, and you would have been…?”

Derek could barely breathe. He imagined wearing a black tux to prom while Hunter wore some crazy colored suit, Derek’s tie and pocket square matching his suit so everyone would know they were together. He imagined his mom and dad taking pictures of the two of them on their front staircase, his father giving Hunter a talk about keeping Derek safe. And he imagined Hunter’s hands around his waist, not caring that the whole thing was a little lame, kissing lightly under cheap party lighting.

But that wasn’t the scenario Hunter was proposing. “I would have been…I don’t know.” Hunter raised one eyebrow, and Derek was stumbling. “I just- it was so confusing. I didn’t tell you everything.”

“So tell me now.” Hunter pulled his feet away.

Derek knew he was digging himself further and further in. If he didn’t just explain to Hunter, he was going to lose him again.

“I was upset about the kiss because…” But he couldn’t say it. There was no way it was coming out after all this time.

“You can tell me anything, Dere.”

There it was, the tipping point, everything falling over the edge. “Because I think I might have liked it.”

Derek could tell that, out of everything, that wasn’t what Hunter was expecting him to say. His eyes widened. “Wait, what?”

Derek couldn’t say it again. He shrugged, a weak smile on his face.

“Okay. That’s…new information. So do you think you’re-”

“I don’t know.” Derek tried to control his breathing like he always told Hunter to do, gripped onto the bed sheets to keep himself from running out of the room.

“Have you experimented, then? You’re at an arts school; I have to imagine there’s some guy who’d be down.”

“No.” Derek blushed. “Only the once.”

Hunter’s voice was strong, but Derek noticed his fingers slightly shaking.

“Then what we have here is a hypothesis: Derek Knight might like kissing boys.”

One boy, specifically, Derek thought. His palms were sweating.

“So a hypothesis needs to be falsifiable. How do you feel about kissing girls?”


Hunter chuckled. “That’s what you said about the beer.”

Derek elbowed him lightly in the ribs.

“But a hypothesis also has to be repeatable,” Hunter continued. It took Derek a few moments to catch up.

“You’d really kiss me again? After all that?”

Hunter smiled. “After everything, I promised myself I wouldn’t kiss any straight boys. But I think you’re currently falling under the LGBTQ umbrella under Questioning.”

His head was buzzing. If Hunter was actually willing to kiss him again, he knew he had to try.

“Okay,” Derek said, barely a whisper.

Hunter seemed to remember the camera, still on in his hand. He turned it off and got up to put it on his bed. When he came back, he was closer, facing Derek. “But only if you want to,” Hunter told him.

In that moment, Derek wanted to be the one to lean in, wanted to crash into Hunter like the lake into the sand. But it was too hard, the chasm between them too dangerous for him to cross.

He couldn’t make himself say it, so instead he nodded. He closed his eyes, waiting for it to come.

Hunter’s lips met his, and instantly it was like they were back in that day in Hunter’s parents’ basement, the continuation of something. Hunter moved slowly at first, letting Derek get a taste of what was happening.

Buy your copy of From The Ashes at Amazon!

About the Author:

C.M. Valencourt is a new m/m romance author. They started devouring queer fiction when they still had to smuggle it into their parents’ Catholic household, and dreamed of writing books about queer people finding love ever since. They like figure skating, ghost hunting shows, and Carly Rae Jepsen. You can find out more about their books and learn about upcoming releases at

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Yakuza by Lilia Blanc

Greetings book lovers!

Today I want to share with you Yakuza by Lilia Blanc! This book was published by my company, Deep Desires Press. I loooove this book, but because of its sad ending, it’s been getting some rough love.

Take a look below, and keep in mind the sad ending (which is redeemed in the forthcoming sequel), and then click on through to get your copy!


The people of Tawano are used to the yakuza. They know to avoid them, to get off the streets when fights are brewing. At least, most of them do.

When college student Hiroshi makes a fatal mistake, and finds himself held at knifepoint, there’s only one person who can help him: Kazuo, the yakuza who controls Tawano, and the one who started the fight in the first place.

They’re completely different, and as their paths keep crossing, neither of them can understand the other—but it’s clear they’ll have to, or the dangers that follow Kazuo could claim more than just the lives of a few city-folk.

Click here to get your copy!




My right-hand man shook his head. Masao looked over at me from where he stood leaning against the wall of my elaborate office, arms crossed and eyes narrowed. He was disappointed, and most likely in himself. Masao always prided himself in getting the things I asked for without delay or hassle. But, I suppose there were some things that even the ex-assassin couldn’t do. I frowned as I looked away from his piercing hazel stare to the dark wood of my desk.

“Bastards,” I hissed to myself. I leaned back in the large leather chair and eyed the room we were in while I listened. A bookshelf to my right held odds and ends from my father, an old collection I dare not part with. To my left a printer was set up on a separate desk. My computer was to the left on my desk and a black jar holding a handful of pens sat next to it.

“They hide well,” Masao commented. He shoved off the wall and stepped further into the room. He still wore the full black clothing he’d gone out in the night before. I could see the handles of many knives clinging to the vest he wore. Masao sat down, the leather chair he’d chosen creaking as he sank in it and crossed one leg over the other. He tilted his head and gave a heavy sigh. The sway of the single earring in his right ear marked him as my right hand. “Too well and it reminds me of a certain someone we used to know a long time ago,” he added with an irritated groan.

I was afraid of that. I hadn’t wanted to hear it, yet it was being spoken in my private office in Kiyto. “No, that can’t be. I shot him. Watched the ocean wash that bastard away.”

“Ghosts don’t always disappear, Kazuo. Sometimes they have accomplices.”

“Then find this ‘accomplice’!” I snapped at him and he stiffened in the chair briefly. I sighed, regretting losing my temper with him. Masao was the best of my men, I knew he was doing everything in his power to accomplish the order I’d given him.

“I’m doing what I can to do that for you. We’ll find him. Soon.” The sharp edge to his voice added to the determination painted on his face.

“I hope you’re right about that. If I begin to lose too much money, Tawano is going to fall into a depression. Much like the one I fought so hard to bring it out of,” I answered him in a softer tone, hoping to make up for yelling at him.

“We know that. It’s why we’re doing everything we can to figure it out. Trust us, Kazuo. If not your men, then trust me in the least.”

“I do trust you.”

Masao sighed and leaned forward. “Sometimes I wonder if you really do.”

I frowned at him. “Of everyone here who I know would put their life in danger for me, I trust you the most. I know you’ll find this person, whoever they are. And when you do, we’ll deal with them as we’ve dealt with others before.”

Masao nodded and stood up. He gave me a deep bow before he turned to leave the private office. “I’ll give you their head on a silver platter if you wish.”

“I know.”

The door closed, leaving me to brew over my thoughts in silence. Masao would undoubtedly find them; the source of the leak. The one who was channeling a fair amount of money out of Tawano and into an unknown account. I’d been watching the money filter its way toward a number I didn’t recognize for a week now and we weren’t any closer to finding the culprit than we had been at the beginning of the investigation. Not even the police who worked for me could find the source. It was driving me mad.

• • •

Despite having told Masao that I trusted him, it was difficult to sit and just wait. I had to do something, anything. So I left Kiyto and took the hour drive into Tawano city. The downtown area was rather nice to cruise around once I got there. Bustling with people, clean streets, and holding the lowest crime rate; I was proud of my city. And I was determined to keep things the way they were in Tawano. I drove with no particular destination in mind. As I took turn after turn, watching the shops and the people who went about their daily lives, my mind wandered. It had been a handful of years since the streets had seen any dark horrors. In the clutches of a man who was bound and determined to run it to the ground, Tawano had once been the center of all kinds of crime. The death toll was one of the highest in the world and, in addition to that, the city had also been labeled the worst to even dare visit.

It took everything I had to overthrow the asshole who had nearly destroyed it all. Including me. If not for certain events, I was certain I’d have had a hand in the destruction too. If only … Izuya.I clenched the wheel a little too tightly, my knuckles turning white as I waited for the light ahead of me to switch to green. How long had it been? Six … seven years? I couldn’t recall. It wasn’t as if that part of my life was the most vibrant either. The only light that had been in my life at the time was Izuya.

When he found me in the dark alley, rain was pouring down on me. Three men dead because of the hit ordered on them and their blood soaking my clothes. Izuya had come out of nowhere. Instead of being afraid of me, he held his umbrella out over me, covering my body from the rain. Damn his light. His pretty smile. The overly large sweatshirt he wore that his slender fingers barely peeked out of.


A horn blared behind me and I started in the seat. The light was green and for how long I didn’t know because I had been daydreaming. I gunned it, tearing through the intersection while I frowned and glared in my rearview mirror. As if it were the man’s fault I hadn’t been paying attention. After a moment, I sighed and relaxed, slowing down as I cruised the streets. I couldn’t let myself get lost in old times. It wasn’t good for me, or any of the men that worked for me either.

They needed someone strong and unwavering. If I showed any of the opposite, I would be killed. Even Masao wouldn’t be able to stop it. We had far too many enemies. Tawano was a port city, perfect for trade. The ideal hot spot for any yakuza to take control of. And one that I had no intention of giving up. Some might have called me yakuza as well, but I wasn’t the kind of businessman who would destroy his place of operations. I was smarter than that.

And as my thoughts wandered yet again, I passed by another busy section of town. The university was blooming with ripe students. The wealth of the area was easy to see, as was the entirety of my city. Yet here, as I slowly rolled past the park, coffee shop, and library, my heart clenched so hard that I came to a hard stop without realizing it.

“Izuya…” I whispered his name, yet even as I did so I knew it couldn’t be right. It wasn’t right because I knew better. There was no possible way it was him. Yet, the young brunette looked exactly like him. Even his smile. I trembled as I watched the college student talk with his friend as they passed the university, either on their way home or to whatever part time job they held. It took everything I had not to get out of the car and call to him.

I wrenched my gaze away and glared at the street ahead of me. I forced myself to hit the gas and keep moving. Where had that young man come from? I scolded myself for even considering the things that ran through my head. Izuya wasn’t with me anymore and there was nothing I could do about it. I shouldn’t shove off my old affections onto someone else, let alone a complete stranger who had no idea to begin with.

I drove through the streets a little faster that time. It was already well into the late afternoon hours. Instead of heading to the office, I went out of the city and took the long hour drive back to Kiyto. There, at the very least, I could relax somewhat. Without the temptations of the city, or the brunette. I ground my teeth as I drove a little too fast through the streets to get to the highway. I hoped to hell that Masao would have something for me soon. Something else to focus on since I’d thoroughly managed to screw myself over.

Kiyto was a beautiful place — an ancient temple that was built in the wayo style — that I had inherited some years ago. Of course my father would be more than disappointed in how I was utilizing the grounds now. It hadn’t been a place for worship in many decades, even during his time. After overcoming the tyrant who held Tawano in his clutches those years ago, I found Kiyto to be the only sanctuary for myself and those that followed me. It was massive, housing the entirety of my men if they so chose. Currently it only held a small portion of the group, seeing as many had families to go to at the end of their workday.

I pulled into the gravel yard after passing the massive pitch-black gates at the front of the estate. Almost all of the vehicles in the yard were black SUVs large enough to hold a small army of men and powerful enough to rush through the city should it be needed. The only one that was different belonged to Masao. The sharp silver color was a stark contrast to the rest of the fleet of vehicles. And it wasn’t meant for a large group of men to go rolling around in either. Four was its max seating, and with it being only a two door, even that was pushing it.

The supra was his pride and joy. And I was happy to see it sitting in the yard. It told me that he was in Kiyto and probably long before I’d decided to return. I parked my car and got out. Gravel crunched under my shoes as I crossed the massive yard to follow the old bridge that crossed over into the sacred grounds. The rock gardens were immaculately kept, designs woven through the sands in intricate displays that immediately calmed my chaotic mind.

The small creek that flowed beneath the bridge gurgled softly as I passed, the wood creaking under foot. The rails were red and the sides that held it up were black, reflecting the temple that lay ahead of me. The old design recalled a time long past when Japan was still fighting over territories. Red pillars rose up high to hold the curving roof. Black walls gave off a sense of formidable elegance. I followed the path up to the steps of the place I called home.

I passed through the double doors, which were carved with dragons on either side, their jaws coming down as if to engulf the handles. Once inside, I was greeted by a good many voices as the men passed through the halls, busy with their own agendas. I replied as I saw them, not bothering to stop for too long. Masao was there and I had to see if he’d come up with anything for me. We had been dealing with the problem we’d spoken about that morning for weeks now. Masao was good, but I couldn’t help losing hope over the matter.

“I was just about to call you,” Masao said as he exited a room down the hall and caught sight of me.

“I decided to finish early.” I kept walking and he fell into step next to me. “Do you have anything?”

“I do. It’s small, but it might lead to something bigger. You’re not going to like it though.”

I frowned. “I think at this point, anything you tell me is something I’m not going to like.”

“It’s Gin.”


“He’s the one siphoning the money to that strange account. I don’t know why I didn’t catch it before.”

“Because we weren’t looking on the inside,” I replied, rage starting to seethe as I thought it through. Of course it was Gin, how could I have missed that. As of late he’d been offering a lot of opposition to our decisions. He was the only one to argue with me during meetings on where the group was headed next, what direction we were going to take. I’d ignored him, his reasonings weren’t sound enough to be of any worth. I was seeing my mistake now.

“I got him to agree to a meeting tonight. I didn’t say for what or why. He’d have bolted otherwise.”

“Good. He still might run, but at least we have a start. We’ll interrogate him and get to the bottom of this. He’s been a pain in the ass lately. I wonder who’s bought him out.”

Masao snorted. “Probably some half-wit who thinks they can waltz into Tawano and intimidate us with stealing money. And not even that much.”

“No, just an annoyance really.”

“An annoyance that’s got our attention,” he sighed. “I don’t know. I guess it feels odd. In any case, we’ll deal with Gin and get our hands on the asshole who’s pulling the strings.”

I nodded. “Tonight you said? What time?”

“Around eight. I figured he’d feel better if we met in the city. More witnesses for him.”

I shook my head as I gave Masao a small smirk. “Unfortunately, all of those witnesses are mine and no one will say a damn word should he end up with a bullet through his skull.”

“Well. They might say something, but it’s not a big deal. The cops here know about everything. They won’t listen to a story about the yakuza leader who disposed of a leak.”

“Get ready. We’ll see how it goes tonight. No doubt someone is going to end up with a hole in their body. And it’s not going to be me.”

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Bloodspell by Lily Luchesi

Greetings, book lovers! I’m excited to share an excerpt with you from Bloodspell, written by USA Today bestselling author Lily Luchesi! Read on for the blurb, cover, and excerpt — and be sure to get your copy today!



Bound by an ancient prophecy, freed by love.

Mages have lived by a prophecy that states that once there are two mage houses left, one must kill the other to maintain a magical balance. But the prophecy is disrupted when a new mage is revealed and begins killing everyone in his path.

Simon Moonspell and Tobias Bloodworth, the last two mages of the ancient houses, must put their animosity aside in order to stop this new mage and fulfill the prophecy. However, when their hatred slowly turns to love, can they remain impartial or will they be forced to battle to the death?




Tobias scoffed, but he was smirking. “Well, there is a first time for everything, isn’t there?”


“Yes, I am, and I own it.” He stood up and stretched his legs. His coat was discarded, and he wore only a pair of black trousers and a white shirt. Simon noticed his nails were polished matte black. It was a nice touch … as was that gorgeous body.

“Once we find the prophecy and see if there is a way to circumvent it, we need to figure out where Thornhill is hiding and eradicate the bastard from existence,” he said with more vehemence than Simon had ever heard from him. “We have spent hundreds of years fulfilling this prophecy, upholding the names of our houses and the standards at which mages have always been held and he — he — ” Tobias trailed off in a huff. “Damn it,” he muttered. “Control, control.”

Simon stood up and walked behind Tobias. He placed a hand on his bony shoulder and said, “Hey, it’s okay. We’re going to kill him; we’ll make him pay for his crimes. I promise.”

Tobias’ skin was warm beneath his shirt and Simon wanted to melt right into him, to hold him from behind and —

Stop it, he scolded himself.  For once my brain makes more sense than my body!

Tobias stood straighter and turned, dislodging Simon’s hand from his shoulder and breaking the moment. “Forgive me. I am not often like this.”

“There’s nothing to forgive. This is a lot of pressure, mate,” Simon said. “We never really discussed it but … if there is no way to change the prophecy…”

“Then one of us must kill the other. Yes, I am familiar with it,” Tobias snapped.

“You don’t want to kill me?” Simon asked, confused. He always assumed that Tobias would relish the chance to kill him and make it hurt after how he’d treated him when they were children.

“No, despite my sour disposition, I am not a particular fan of murder,” he said. “And you? Were you relishing the idea of finally getting rid of the pesky little brat you used to knock over on the playground?”

Simon felt sick. Had he really hurt Tobias so much that those beautiful black eyes were filling with moisture? “No… I — I’m sorry,” he said, head hanging. “I was a stupid kid. I never wanted to hurt you, not really. And I don’t want to kill you.”

“Then let’s do what mages do best, shall we? Create a solution to a magical problem.”

Tobias acted as though he hadn’t just been on the verge of some sort of breakdown as he gave Simon a translator and they began looking for the prophecy again.

It wasn’t until late that night as Simon was starting to fall asleep that he heard Tobias exclaim, “I’ve got it!”

Simon nearly fell out of his chair from the shock. He had never heard the reserved man shout so loudly. “W-what?”

“The prophecy, you imbecile! I found it! And it’s already translated for us.”

“Well? What’s it say?” Simon asked, going to stand at his side. He could feel the heat from his skin, smell an earthy shampoo that was just so … Tobias. It was enough to send his libido into overdrive as if he was a teenager again.

“Here.” Tobias angled the book so that Simon could see.

* * *

“Here we stand with mages uncountable, in the age where magic is new. They will create and make the future, spells all shall use. But one by one the houses must fall; as magic expands, they must recede. Until one day only one house name shall remain of the mighty mages, lasting for eternity in history. On the day that two remain, one must make the deciding blow and concede their name. Only one name can remain. The balance of magic must be maintained, and so it has been said, so shall it be.”


About the Author:

Lily Luchesi is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of the Paranormal Detectives Series, published by Vamptasy Publishing. She also has short stories included in multiple bestselling anthologies, and a successful dark erotica retelling of Dracula. She is also the editor, curator and contributing author of Vamptasy Publishing’s Damsels of Distress anthology, which celebrates strong female characters in horror and paranormal fiction. She was born in Chicago, Illinois, and now resides in Los Angeles, California. Ever since she was a toddler her mother noticed her tendency for being interested in all things “dark”. At two she became infatuated with vampires and ghosts, and that infatuation turned into a lifestyle. She is also an out member of the LGBT+ community. When she’s not writing, she’s going to rock concerts, getting tattooed, watching the CW, or reading manga. And drinking copious amounts of coffee.
(street team) (have
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Donovan’s by CC Strix

Wyatt is at the top of his game. His restaurant, Donovan’s, is booked out six months in advance and his goals of having the top steakhouse in Las Vegas no longer seem like a dream. Despite his professional success, it’s not enough, because no matter how hard he works, he’s still alone at the end of the day. Wyatt can’t let anyone close. A lesson that’s been drilled into him time and again. There’s too much at stake. One mistake could cost him everything. So, he keeps his head down and stays out of trouble, until a customer drops dead in his dining room and he realizes his past may not be as far behind as he hopes.

Rhonan needs a change. Small towns and small town minds have worn on him. When his granddad calls and says he needs help, they both know it’s the excuse Rhonan needs to make the move from Illinois to Las Vegas. The change of pace and fresh start is just what he needs to find himself. When a guy drops dead at the restaurant Rhonan’s eating at and he overhears something he shouldn’t, his journalist instincts kick in before he can stop himself. Soon, he finds it’s only the beginning of the whirlwind that trails behind the mysterious chef. It may not be quite what Rhonan had in mind when he decided to turn his life upside down, but there’s something about the handsome chef that keeps Rhonan coming back for more.

Buy your copy now or read for free on Kindle Unlimited!



Rhonan paid for his drink and tipped the gorgeous blue eyed, black haired, muscles on top of muscles, bartender then turned his head slightly towards the center of the club. The way the club was set up, there were two levels for the bar, but the upper level was quieter, if only marginally, due to the huge open center than revealed the dance floor below. He let his gaze run over the crowd below and his heart kicked in his chest when his gaze landed on those same hazel eyes he’d been trying to chase from his head since Rhonan walked away from them hours before. He had tried to brush off his interest in the chef as a simple curiosity. After all, someone was murdered in his restaurant and a threat was found. Add in the fact Rhonan was having visions about the same man, how could he not be curious? After that brief run in with Wyatt in the parking garage, Rhonan knew his interest ran deeper. It had taken all of Rhonan’s self-control not to get closer to Wyatt as they stood there smoking. His deep timbered voice had soothed Rhonan’s nerves and he had actually considered slipping Wyatt his number before he remembered himself and walked away. He knew it wasn’t something he should pursue at this point. Wyatt would be busy enough at the restaurant and Rhonan had to figure out what the hell he was going to do with his life. There was no sense in starting anything up until he knew if he would even be sticking around. Then again, they could have simply had one night. Apparently they still could.

Rhonan shook his head, trying to rid himself from these thoughts and found Wyatt on the dance floor once more, still staring up in Rhonan’s direction. His heart skipped a beat like it had back in the parking garage when he caught Wyatt staring at him. The chef was definitely going to be bad for Rhonan’s heart at this rate. What was he doing here? Had they closed the restaurant down? Rhonan stopped caring once Wyatt flashed a predatory smile his way. Through a bold move of trying to maintain disinterest, Rhonan turned away from the sexy chef and focused on the bartender instead. He laughed and flirted with the man while he discretely pulled out his phone to check for new information on the restaurant or the investigation, but found nothing other than the standard, ‘police are investigating, business as usual after today’. Rhonan had just slipped his phone back into his pocket when the bartender gasped quietly and took a step back, his eyes pinned on whoever was closing in on Rhonan’s personal space.

“Two of whatever he’s having.”

The rough voice with the slight accent to it, one Rhonan still couldn’t place, sent a shiver racing right down his spine. He leaned his head back without turning around, “You might be sorely disappointed in that, Mr. Palmer. It’s only soda for me tonight, I’m afraid.”

Wyatt leaned down so his lips were close to Rhonan’s ear. “I’m not looking to get drunk. There are plenty of other ways to get a buzz without liquor.”

The bartender quickly returned with two more lime sodas, flashing his megawatt smile as he tried to flirt with both men. Wyatt slapped down a twenty, barely giving the bartender a second glance as he told him to keep the change. His attention never straying from Rhonan, “I was thinking about you. Or rather trying not to think about you. I came here looking for a distraction,” Wyatt leaned in near Rhonan’s ear, again, and dropped his voice, “and imagine my surprise when I found the source of my frustration instead.” He shook his head, “I don’t think it’s a coincidence I ran into you. I think I was drawn here to find you. Maybe I need to try a different way to get you out of my system.”

Wyatt’s body pressed closer to Rhonan’s and Rhonan found himself shifting and pressing his ass back against Wyatt’s groin. Rhonan tipped his head again, bringing his lips dangerously close to Wyatt’s. “That’s funny, I was thinking about you too. Figured you’d be at the restaurant though and I didn’t want to keep stalking you in the garage.”

Wyatt let out a low chuckle, his hot breath fanning Rhonan’s face, “So you admit to stalking me, then? I do believe that’s a crime, Mr. Blackwell.”

Buy your copy now or read for free on Kindle Unlimited!

About the Author:

As a young child, CC would often immerse herself in books, loving the ability to lose herself in the magical worlds. As she grew older, she was no longer content reading about magical worlds and instead started to create her own.

She likes to explore worlds where magic is real and supernatural creatures walk among us. Vampires, angels, demons, were creatures and those with other supernatural abilities have their own challenges but one thing CC tries to remember is they all deserve a little love.

CC holds the firm belief that love has little to do with what’s in a person’s pants and celebrates love in all forms. While she primarily writes M/M,  sometimes the voices decide it’s not always so cut and dry. She gave up pretending she had control of the characters in her head long ago, it makes them all much happier that way.

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The Art of Falling in Love by Eli Summers

Greetings, book lovers!

Today I’m thrilled to share The Art of Falling in Love by Eli Summers! I read this book and I loved it — Holden and Aaron have some nice, easy chemistry — and the conflict comes from those around them, often in the form of micro-aggressions. The ending is wild as secrets get revealed. It’s fun! You should read it!

The Art of Falling in Love comes out next week — Tuesday, August 28th, 2018 — and you should preorder it now!


Love is never easy to find or to keep especially with the hormone and cliche induced drama typical within the walls of a small town high school. For seniors Holden Rogers and Aaron Stevens, it’s not just high school drama that stands in the way of love and happiness.

Holden struggles in the shadow of his older brother’s success by a father who berates and demeans and a mother who stands back and does nothing while neither one can see the man their son has become or the dreams of the successful man he wants to be. Aaron is expected to take over the auto shop his family has run for generations whether he wants it or not.

When word gets out the two have been seen together, racial and homophobic microaggressions that have been brewing in shadow breach the surface of this small town atmosphere. When big money talks, morality walks, and strong family ties that will break or bind, will this made for each other couple overcome the mounting obstacles or crumble beneath their weight as hard choices and sacrifices must be made?

Amazon | Smashwords | Eli’s Site | Goodreads



It all started at the local burger joint down the street from our high school at lunch. I was with my friends, a large group of us chatting about our plans after high school. The time we could kiss our high school lives goodbye and move on to what lay ahead, be it college, real jobs, or adulting in the real world was getting closer. I could feel it in the warmer, more humid air signalling we’d soon hit the beach for the summer and spend our time in the sand and water, outwardly not caring how much was going to change once the fall hit. I could pretend we would all remain friends, keep in touch even if several of us were going to universities and colleges across the country. Was it ignorance? Wishful thinking?Whatever it was, I didn’t see the point. I knew it wasn’t possible. The distance would eat away at us, and early lectures and coursework would eventually erode the friendships we had carefully cultivated throughout our four years at Elmwood High School. For now, it was easier for them to focus on the excitement of being seniors and the mystery of what lay ahead, but I couldn’t do it. Something much more within my reach, yet, not quite real was far more appealing than faking ignorance of what I knew was coming.

While everyone discussed where they’d be going, what they’d be majoring in, and where they’d be living, I had already checked out of the conversation. My mind focused on the waiter behind the counter. I had been spending the majority of my time here, much more than usual, staring at him from a table where my friends were more than oblivious of the fact I hadn’t heard a single word they were saying. Or so I thought.

“Holden, are you even listening? Your head hasn’t been in the game for the last few weeks. What the hell is going on up there? You’re going to have a rough time if that’s how you’ll be acting in University.” A quick jab to my arm from Tiffany made me lose focus on the waiter as I turned to my group of friends. “Have you figured out where you’ll be going after this? I’m sure your parents have a plan for you, just like your older brother.”

I shuttered, the thought of my older brother was unpleasant. I hadn’t thought about him in several months; I had tried to pretend I was the only child in the family now. I must have had a dramatic look on my face because my best friend, Tiffany, rolled her eyes and slapped me on the arm again.

“Oh, come on, he wasn’t that bad. Sure, he had an ego the size of this town, but he did have a good side.” She returned to the fries on her tray, drenching them in almost half a bottle of ketchup before shoving far too many in her mouth at a time. I couldn’t control the slight cringe of disgust at her fry habit despite years of witnessing the disaster.

Tiffany and I had known each other since kindergarten. I used to have a crush on her sometime in elementary school. It faded out and turned into the friendship we now had. I can’t quite remember where it ended, but I think it had something to do with the fact her dad loved me a little too much. I swear if I had decided to date her, he would have planned our wedding the next day. I wasn’t ready for that step just yet. It probably made her much less desirable. It also might have been the fact I liked the thrill of the chase. I liked having to earn someone’s approval, and I wouldn’t need to with Tiffany or her father.

I returned my attention to the waiter behind the counter, my mind trying to come up with any scenario about how I could get him to talk to me beyond ordering food. I had been daydreaming about him for a few weeks, wondering what it would be like to have a friend that appreciated me more than my current flock of associates. My breath hitched as he looked over at me, so I quickly turned away, accidentally spilling Tiffany’s drink on her.

“Shit. Tiff, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to, oh god.” I grabbed napkins from the table, trying desperately to soak up all the Diet Cola I could. Tiffany was in shock; she just stared at the cola that was starting to seep into her clothes and onto her skin. “Tiff, you need to get up, we need to clean this fast.”

Tiffany slowly turned towards me, her eyes, small slits, her cheeks a bright shade of red, and her lips thinned and trembled in anger. Then she shoved me out of the booth onto the floor. She got up and stared down at me, Diet Cola dripping from her skirt to the floor. “What the hell, Holden!? Did you see a ghost or are you just trying to get on my bad side? You might as well be an only child; you’re nothing like your brother.” She stalked away, slamming her hand into the bar on the windowed door, shoving it open, and storming outside. I quickly looked at the rest of our friends and muttered a quick apology before smiling and running after her. She stood at her car with the trunk open. I hoped she wasn’t getting her tire iron out to hit me.

“Tiff, I’m sorry. I’m clumsy; I was distracted.” I was pleading. I hated when she was mad at me. Then again, I hated when anyone was mad at me. My social anxiety would flare up at the first sign of conflict. She was the kind of person that felt an intense flare of anger when something happened and let it out in unpredictable ways, even if she cooled down a little later.

She just turned to me, yanking out a bag from her trunk, and slamming it shut before stopping to glare at me, “Sometimes you can be a complete idiot, you know? What were you even looking at before you decided to ruin my day?”

I started to stutter as the panic set in. What was I going to tell her? She wouldn’t understand. Hell, even I didn’t understand my fascination with him. I hadn’t figured out if she would be cool with me trying to be friends with someone new right before graduating. Would she think I was trying to replace her?

“That’s a good look on you, Tiffany. Maybe you should call it something new, like Wet Dog.” Snickering, Clarissa probably felt like she had just made the sickest burn of them all. I don’t remember why we were even friends with her. She was outcasted from the popular kids a few months ago when her dad lost his business, and they became middle-class working folk. “I have to give props to the artist though. You’re such a visionary, Holden.”

I rolled my eyes, but before I could say anything, Tiffany got into Clarissa’s face. “Listen here, bitch. I don’t know who the hell you think you are. We invited you into our group because we felt bad for you. You’re not some rich class girl anymore. You’re just like the rest of us, so back up and remember your place.” She shoved Clarissa aside before entering the business again, a small bag in her hand.

I just shrugged before moving around her, heading into the building as well. I waited at the door, hoping Tiffany would be in a better mood after a fresh change of clothes. She wasn’t someone you wanted to anger and still had grudges from kindergarten. She would bury you six feet under before she forgave you, and even then, it wasn’t a guarantee.

“Hey, are you alright? Your uh … friend gave you quite the treatment there.” He moved beside me, and I could smell the grease from the burgers wafting off his clothes. I couldn’t tell if I was okay or disgusted by it. I turned to face him, almost crashing into him. I hadn’t realized he was so close to me.

“Oh shit. Sorry, I didn’t realize you were that close. She’ll be fine. She just has a thing about my clumsiness. We all thought it would be a phase, but since it’s been a few years, turns out I’m just meant to be the clumsy friend for the rest of my life.” A small smile crossed my face before I looked down at the floor. I could feel the sweat beading on my hands.

“I’ve seen you come in here quite a few times since the start of the school year. I only learned your name because your friends say it every so often. I’m Aaron Stevens; my dad owns Stevens Cars & Trucks over on Fifth Street.” He stuck out his hand, and I hesitated a second before shaking it. A feeling of electricity flew through my body, and I couldn’t look at him at all.

“Hey Aaron, I’m Holden. Your dad is the mechanic in town?” Aaron nodded, a small smile on his face. “He’s currently working on a truck I brought in a couple of weeks back, and it’s a fixer-upper for sure.”

Aaron let out a boisterous laugh. “My dad swears at that truck more than I’ve ever heard him yell at anything. He says it’s totally messed up, and if you weren’t eighteen, he would tell you to find a new car to buy. You’re sure giving him a lot of work.”

I let out a small, nervous laugh. “Yea, it’s been sitting in my garage for several years. My father kept saying he’d teach me how to fix it, but then he got busy helping my brother with a truck he bought and ‘forgot’ he was supposed to help me. I’m working to pay it off and hoping for it to be ready before college starts. Not like I’ll need it, I’ll probably end up going to the community college here anyways.”

A woman called over to us, something about service. That’s when I realized we were still at the burger joint. I turned to see Aaron walking away, waving at me as he made his way back behind the counter. I was about to say something when Tiffany burst out of the bathrooms in her new outfit.

“We need to get back to school. I have a strong feeling Amanda Rothford is going to make some snarky comment about the change. I hate that girl. This is your fault; I hope you realize that.”

I just smiled, “We’ll just make some comment about being fresh, something she knows very little about, and maybe for shock value, we’ll add something about fish.”

Tiffany smacked my shoulder again, a little harder than the last time. “That’s disgusting, Holden. As much as I hate her, you know we only have to be nice for a few more months. Her family is moving to France or something for her school. Must be nice to just jet off across the ocean to some stupid art school.” As much as she claimed to hate how rich the Rothfords were, she couldn’t hide the tinge of jealousy in her voice. Getting into her car, she slammed the door and tossed her bag onto the back seat. I stood outside of the car, watching as Tiffany started her car. “Are you getting in or what?”

I waved her off, “I’ll let you cool down and just walk to school. I’ll see you in sixth period, alright?”

Rolling her eyes, she peeled out of the parking spot and threw up her middle finger. I hoped she’d get over this soon because I couldn’t afford to not have her as a friend right now. I threw my backpack over my shoulder, grabbed the headphones from one of the pockets, put them in my ear, and turned on some music for my walk. As the music drifted into my ears, I started walking to the school, feeling like it was going to be a much longer day than I would have liked.

“Hey, Holden. Wait up.” I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned around, fear and panic in my eyes. I felt surprise and relief when I realized it was Aaron.

“Holy shit, sorry. I was listening to music. Aren’t you supposed to be at work?” His apron was gone, as was the hairnet he had been wearing only a few moments ago. “Didn’t you have someone to help?”

Aaron smiled, starting his walk with me, “I’m a little ahead of the credits I need, so I only have classes after lunch. I work in the mornings for some extra cash because my dad says my helping him out in the evenings is ‘good experience not work.’ Can I walk to school with you or would you rather drown out the shrieks of your friends before you have to deal with your classes? I can leave if you’d rather be alone.” He looked so shy as he stuttered the last few words.

I put away my headphones, paying attention to him as we walked, “No, I’m all yours. I mean, you have my attention. Like, yes … you can walk with me. I don’t need to be alone.” I felt like such an idiot right now, why was I acting like this? This was too socially awkward even for me.

Aaron didn’t seem to mind, he just started talking about college after high school, “I won’t be going anywhere. I’ll probably end up not even going to college. My dad is committed to me taking over the shop from him when he retires. He took it over from his dad who took it over from his dad who took it over from his. It’s been in the family since the thirties or something. I don’t have the heart to tell him I don’t really want to take it over but I will. If I didn’t, he would probably blow a gasket and maybe even kill me.” He looked at my horrified face, “Not actually kill me! But he would be mad, this business is a mainstay of our family, and if I don’t take it over, it’ll go to his brother’s kid, and he cannot stand that child. He says he’s too immature to manage the shop, and that he should never have passed the eighth grade.”

I couldn’t help but let out a chuckle, “Well that’s good.” I stopped, “I don’t mean it’s good you have to take over the business, it’s just good because I’ll probably end up being stuck in this town anyways, so maybe we can be friends for a while. I mean, I’m not saying you have to be my friend, but if you want to be friends, we can. Or like, maybe you’d rather just not be friends. I don’t know.” I couldn’t stop myself. I could feel my face burning up, not from the sun but the damn boy standing next to me.

Aaron just smiled as we walked up the school steps, “I’d sure like to think we can be friends. I’ll see you around and then maybe you’ll finally talk to me outside of ordering food.” He turned on his heels before heading in a different direction than me. I wanted to yell something at him, but that might make me look desperate or something. I just sighed before heading to my next class, with thoughts of Aaron running through my head. Would I even be able to concentrate today?

Something told me I was going to have a really hard time.

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About the Author:

AuthorPhoto-smEli Summers was born and raised in Saskatoon, Canada, a small city in the middle of the Saskatchewan prairies. It is said you can watch your dog run away for two days straight. The city and the surrounding area make the perfect backdrop for most of Eli’s novels. Although he plans on moving to somewhere with a little more mountain, like Kelowna or Banff, he’s content to sit in his apartment, drinking coffee and dreaming about what his characters will get up to next. Sometimes he even drives out to the middle of nowhere to lie on the top of his car and watch the stars.

Eli has a knack for turning the copious amounts of caffeine (that no normal human should consume) into #ownvoices novels about boys that love other boys. Sometimes this includes a happy ever after, sometimes it involves tears, and sometimes the characters take the story in a direction even Eli didn’t realize would happen. He adds a generous heaping cup of fluff, love, and angst in everything he touches, most of the time on purpose but sometimes his characters make him do it. He wrote his debut novel, The Winter Experience in 2014 and followed up with the sequel The Summer Experience in 2015. He took a hiatus of about three years because his imaginary friends wouldn’t talk to him but now he has a new novel, The Art of Falling In Love coming out on August 28, 2018. He is also working on a much different kind of novel that involves the Devil, five chosen warriors and a whole lot of evil. The first episode is expected to come out on January 5, 2019.

When he’s not toiling away with word counts and a thesaurus, you can probably find Eli playing video games (Saints Row 2 and Witcher 3 among his favourites), daydreaming about the mountains or cuddling with his House Panther, Salem. He dreams of one day opening a publishing press that serves the LGBT+ community with a place to get their books out to the world.

Amazon | Smashwords | Eli’s Site | Goodreads

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