Wednesday, October 3, 2012

True Love's Kiss - Part 8

Previous Chapter - Part 7

As promised - an extra long installment. It is twice as long as my previously longest installment and 3-4 times as long as the average installment so enjoy!

Part 8

We passed the stable boy on our way to the saddled horses and Ris told him to prepare horses for the guards to follow us as soon as they arrived. Then, with barely a moment to breathe deeply, we were racing out the side gate near the stables and into the dark night. It seemed that the darkness was a physical weight on my shoulders. The clear night sky showed the barest sliver of a crescent moon and the stars seemed too far away to brighten our path.

Nevertheless, Ris led us into the woods with unwavering confidence. Occasionally our horses would veer close enough to each other that I could hear him muttering what seemed like nonsense words under his breath. I realized he must be using his magic to guide us and speed us on our way. If I had been paying attention I would have noticed that the twisted branches of the trees all around us were passing at a rate I would have previously thought impossible.

Time seemed to stretch and turn as we raced through the forest sped on by magic like none I had ever experienced. Some unknown time later I felt us slowing down.

Ris allowed us to come even to each other as our horses reached a natural speed.

“There’s a clearing up ahead, bounded on one side by the cliffs. Hopefully we’ll catch up with Silenkian right as he reaches that clearing. I am going to loop around so we can cut him off. Just keep riding straight ahead as fast as you can.”

I nodded, too focused on what was to come to form any proper words. I watched with no small amount of trepidation and wonder as Ris began speaking under his breath again. He shot off into the darkness with a magic fueled speed.

I didn’t allow my horse to slow down as I did my best to ride towards the clearning without getting brained by a low hanging branch or scratched overly much by the sharp arms of the trees reaching out to snag me.

Ahead as the trees started to thin a bit, distant crashing noises grew closer.  I clumsily moved both reins into one hand as I did my best to free one of my hammers from my belt. There was a moment when I thought my balance would fail me and I would end up in a heap on the ground trampled by my horse. However, through sheer will, I managed to maintain my seat.

I scarcely had a moment to acknowledge the fear that was blooming in my chest before I burst into the clearing. It was larger than I had anticapated – about five hundred paces across. Silenkian was about halfway to the other side when I caught sight of him. Without the surrounding trees it was slightly easier to see but he was still more of a dark smudge than a man in my vision.

I urged my horse to a faster, almost frenzied pace as Silenkian glanced over his shoulder and saw me pursuing him. I was gaining on him and just before we both reached the far side of the clearing, I gripped the reins tightly in my left hand, settled my weight low and swung the hammer in my right hand at Silenkian’s head.

He ducked at the very last moment so my blow landed awkwardly on his shoulder instead of his head. It was not hard enough to seriously wound him. However, at the speeds we were riding, it affected his balance enough to knock him off his horse.

As I swung my horse around, I saw Silenkian stumble to his knees and knew I had to get off my horse in order to contain him before he regained his wits. In a move I had no conception I was capable of, I swung myself off my horse while it was still moving and tucked into a roll as I hit the ground. I came up on my feet, hammer still in my right hand, and managed to get the fingers of my left hand around my other hammer.

It wasn’t enough. Silenkian stood up, drew his sword and swung at me all in one graceful motion. If he hadn’t been trying to kill me I would have taken a moment to admire his skill. I lifted my left hand, hammer still gripped precariously and managed to deflect the blow. It shook me to my joints and the hammer spun out of my hand, tumbling uselessly away towards the center of the clearing.

That shock helped to wake me up and remember my training. I was still new but I was not completely incompetent. We traded a few more blows but his overwhelming skill was showing through and I knew I wouldn’t last much longer. I sent a brief thought towards the heavens that Ris would show up soon.

I managed to parry another of Silenkian’s swift strikes with my right hand but as I used my hammer to force his sword up and to the side, he came at me with a dagger in his other hand. I bent my torso away from him as quickly as possible but did not manage to avoid it completely. Fire erupted across my abdomen as I felt his dagger score down my left side through my shirt.

Stumbling backwards, I fell to the ground. I closed my eyes and instictively protected my head by curling into a ball with my arms curled around my ears. However, before I had a chance to take another breath, I heard a deep grunt and felt something warm and wet hit the bare skin of my forearms.

I glanced up and saw that Ris had finally made it to the clearing and he had thrown one of his many knives at Silenkian, hitting him in the shoulder. The force of the blow twisted Silenkian around and caused his blood to splatter over my curled form.

As I got up off the ground to the stacatto beats of sword hitting sword faster than I had ever witnessed rang out through the clearing. For a moment I was lost in the beauty that was a true fight between masters of the art. Only a moment later, Ris faltered as Silenkian got a blow through his defenses and I snapped out of my reverie.

One of my fallen hammers caught my eye just beyond where Ris and Silenkian were still battling. I jumped up and ran for it. Once I had it firmly in my grip, I watched and waited for an opening. Ris caught my eye briefly and nodded almost imperceptibly with his eyes more than his head. The next time Silenkian swung wide for an attack on Ris I was ready. Ris ducked quickly and I slammed my hammer down on Silenkian’s arm. His sword skittered from his grip and fell just out of reach.

At this point, Silenkian’s back was to the cliff. Ris lifted his sword in readiness.  I grabbed my other hammer off the ground and readied myself as well. Silenkian had no escape.

“Surrender yourself and I will make sure that your death is quick.” Ris growled with a menace I had never heard from him before.

Something fierce and more than a little insane flashed through Silenkian’s eyes as he started to laugh. It was a dark and sinister sound that could only have come from a depraved soul. There was no joy or lightness in that noise.

Then, at the top of his voice, Silenkian yelled, “I freely leap into the arms of my goddess!” Before Ris or I could even make a step towards him, he turned and threw himself off the cliff.

Ris and I raced to the edge of the cliff and looked down disbelievingly. At the bottom of the cliff Silenkian lay, broken and visibly dead even at this distance. For a subjective eternity we just stared, unseeing, at the suddenly dead form of our enemy.

As if we had both received some signal, we turned to each other. Ris was covered in blood from various small wounds and one larger cut across the top of his left bicep. His eyes were bright with held back panic as he reached for me. At first I thought he was going to hug me but he quickly felt up and down my arms and torso, looking for injury. As his hands clutched at my left side I winced in pain and grabbed his wrists.

“Ris. I’m fine.” The tiny unconscious smile that always spread across Ris’ face when I used his nickname made a brief appearance before weariness set in again. “How badly are you hurt?” I asked him.

“Nothing major. I should be fine.”

I realized I was still gripping his wrists and in that moment I needed to feel more of him. I drew him close and wrapped my arms around his neck. His arms clung to my back tight as a vice. In any other situation I would have complained about not being able to breath. But just then, feeling him and knowing he was alive was more important than breathing.

Our hearts beat a rapid march against each others’ chest and a wave of utter relief washed over me as I realized we had made it through alive and the assassin was dead. After a few more moments of holding each other tight, we separated as if, again, we had each received the same cue to do so.

Only a moment later, we both whipped around as a group of palace guards noisily entered the clearing. The drew their horses to a halt, dismounted and approached us on foot.

“Are you well, your Majesty?”

“Fine. Silenkian, however, is a bit worse for wear,” Ris replied wryly. Confusion flashed over their faces briefly before Ris explained further. “He’s at the bottom of the cliff. We need to go and fetch his body.”

Ris waved an arm for us to follow him and he lead the way towards a path down the cliffs which was hidden in the undergrowth. I dreaded trying to make my way the narrow rocky path in the dark.

However, as I made the first steps of my journey down the cliff, I noticed the flickering glow of firelight shining over my shoulder. Apparently the guards had brought torches. I breathed a sigh of thanks for their forethought.

Even with the torch light to guide our steps, the path was treacherous. Smalls stoned skittered out from beneath our feet and the steep incline made keeping our balance precarious. We managed to escape with only bruised knees and scraped shins but there were a few close calls.

By the time we reached the base of the cliffs my shirt was soaked through and blood caked my hands. Despite all the training I had been doing with Cresp, I was finding it difficult to keep my breathing even. After we all tumbled into the open space at the end of the so called trail, we stood around leaning our hands against our knees and catching our breath for a few moments before we turned to the task at hand.

Only a few yards away lay the broken body of Silenkian. His head had hit against the rocks several times on the way down and if I had not known it was him I would not have recognized him. His clothes were tattered and covered in blood as well. Through the shredded remains of his shirt I noticed that there were markings on his chest.

I followed Ris as he walked towards the body. As he was barking instructions to the guards about how we were going to get him back up the hazardous trail, I leaned over to get a closer look at the markings. They appeared to be tattoos of some sort.

I took a deep breath and steeled myself as I reached a hand out to peel away the remains of Silenkian’s shirt. It was more difficult that I thought it would be to get his shirt to come off his chest because, in the time it had taken us to climb down the cliffs, some of the blood had dried, locking shreds of fabric in the cuts on his chest.

Eventually, I cleared away enough shirt and blood to get a good look at Silenkian’s tattoo. It appeared to be done with dark blue ink and spanned his chest from shoulder to shoulder, collar bone to floating ribs. Intricate whorls created a pattern that did not, at first glance, seem to depict anything but, nonetheless felt sinister to look at. And, in the center, above his heart, was emptiness. Everything lead there, pointed there, but nothing passed the unseen barrier and actually covered his heart. All in all, just looking at it sent shivers down my spine – and not in a good way.

What must have been hours later, I stared at Ris’ bare chest as he used heated water from a bucket to wash the dirt , grime and blood off himself. I was amost done with my own bucket and just being clean again returned a measure of energy to me. The dim candle light and quiet of the middle of the night made it feel like we were in our own little bubble, apart from the rest of the world.

As he dropped the soiled rag into his bucket, Ris glanced up. My heart felt like it stopped in my chest when his eyes met mine. My mind sent excuses through my head one after the other – he’s the king, we barely know each other, true love is crap – but one after the other the tightening in my chest sent them on their way.

Heat blazed between us as we stalked towards each other. It seemed like the temperature in the room rose a good ten degrees by the time we met. One of his hands threaded through my damp hair as the other slid across my back and pulled me against him. At his first touch my hands were aleady reaching out for him and by the time our chests had met my arms were around him as well.

The last thing to meet was our lips. He paused for a brief moment and then dove in captured my mouth. The feel of his lips on mine, his arms around me and mine around him tore through my like a flash fire. We were instantly ravenous, grinding hips, clutching skin and battling tongues. My whole body sang with touching him. It felt like I was about to burst out of my skin.

Distantly, I head doors being thrown open and speedy steps clanking down the hallway. But it didn’t really register until the inner doors to this room were thrown open and none other than Mils burst in.

“Oh my goodness, Be! I am so glad you are all right….” She seemed to trail off on that last word as she noticed what she had walked in on. I am not sure which of us blushed darker. “Oops! I’m sorry. I can, ummm…come back later,” she sputtered and began to turn back towards the door.

Ris managed gain his composure more quickly than I could manage – perhaps royals are trained for that sort of thing. He was able to say, “No. Wait,” before I was able to even open my mouth.

He hadn’t completely let go of me when Mils burst in so he was able to lean over just a bit and whisper in my ear, “Let her take care of you, treat your wound. It’ll make her feel better and we can talk tomorrow.” His eyes twinkled a bit when he said that and I knew he had more than just talking in mind.

I nodded at him and smiled a bit shyly - which seemed a bit too little too late – before I replied, “Okay. I don’t know where this is going but I do see it going somewhere. We’ll talk tomorrow.” I emphasized the talk. No matter how into his kisses I was, when Mils burst in it reminded me that this was not just about stealing kisses in the dark. This was a matter of life and death for Ris.

He nodded back at me, acknowledging that serious note I had just added. Then he smiled and kissed me gently on the cheek. “Good night Be. Good night Mils. I shall see you both in the morning.” He paused. “The late morning.”

I could still here his slight chuckle as Mils and I made our way down the corridor to the outer door that would take us back into the main part of the palace and then on to our beds.

Thoughts of a calm nights sleep in comfortable blankets surrounded by plush pillows were shattered when I opened the door to our chambers.

Within, it seemed that most of our belongings had been dumped on the bed and someone was throwing them haphazardly into saddle packs. As he turned around, I was shocked to recognize him. It was Jarkl, a local messenger from Sasharin, among other things I thought bitterly.

“Jarkl, what are you doing here?”

“Milarna is needed. Plague has hit Sasharin. Many have died, including Old Harna.” Old Harna was the healer, Mils was training under at home.

Mils and I stood stunned for a moment before she leapt into action. She pulled the bell to summon a servant and when she arrived Mils sent her to get her healing supplies from the Palace Healer’s rooms. She barely took a breath between firing questions about the plague and the deaths and everything else in town at Jarkl.

In a moment when she got distracted with picking up stockings that had fallen on the floor, I managed to get one question in, “I understand that we need to leave, but must it be this very moment? We have not yet had a chance to sleep.”

A pained look crossed Jarkl’s face before he spoke. “The illness takes five days to kill most of those who are infected. The journey here is two days and back is two days. The day I left, your father fell ill, as well as the town magistrate.

I nodded, numbly agreeing. I hadn’t thought much about our parents since we had arrived. I just seemed like they would always be there, waiting for our return. I moved to help finish the packing. As we were about to leave, I stopped for a moment at the desk and penned a note for Ris, apologizing and telling him where we were going and why. I folded it closed, sealed and penned Ris’ name on the outside.

As I placed it on the desk a wave of despair rolled over me. I had to get Mils back to save our Father but I hated leaving Ris behind. A small piece of my heart whispered the hope that Ris would find my note and immediately follow, after he had rested some.

Jarkl must have seen some of what I was feeling on my face because he came over and wrapped me in a hug. Before he let go, he whispered briefly in my ear, “It will be alright.”

I tried to nod my head in answer but I think all I did was clench my jaw and allow water to gather in my eyes. However, I did not have to time to dwell on myself. We gathered our things and hurried out of the room just as one of the other servants passed by.

I stopped him for a moment and said, “We have to leave immediately. Make sure Ris gets the letter on the desk.”

“Yessir” he said with a bewildered look on his face but Jarkl and Mils were already far ahead of me so I had no time to contemplate it as I raced to catch up with them.

Two days of hard rain, sleeping in the saddle and utter exhaustion later we rode into our hometown to the bittersweet welcome of temple bells sounding the death toll. Five more had died in the night, including our Father.


And just cause I am nice, here is a wee preview from Book 2.

Book 2 – Kalristian

My pain had turned to anger in the last three days as each day I hoped I was wrong. I hoped he would ride back into my life and say he was just kidding. He didn’t really want to leave.

Three days ago I had woken feeling like I could walk on clouds. My heart was so full of joy and hope. As my valet lay out my clothes and poured my tea he commented in passing, as if it didn’t much matter that a man had come and fetched Master Bierni and Mistress Milorna home.

After interrogating him, I got the whole story. A man from their village had come storming into the palace demanding to be taken to them while Be was still with him and Mils was on her way to us. Once they returned to their rooms, they had agreed to return home.

Worst of all was the kiss. One servant had seen this man hug Be and then kiss him gently on the side of his face.

Pain had flared across my chest as my valet relayed me this. For three days, I had wallowed in the pain, until, at some invisible, intangible signal the pain had morphed and changed, been forged into a new thing: anger. I threw cups and pitchers and dishes and any thing that would break against my bedroom wall. Each shatter represented the hope I had that maybe I had found my one, someone I could love my whole life. Each pile of shards, the fear I had of being put back to sleep. Even dying would be better than that.

I leaned against the wall and sank to the floor after I threw the last saucer from the tea service by my bed. I do not know how long I had sat there when I made the decision. I was going to go after him to demand an explanation.

However, before I could even begin to get my things in order, a tentative sounding knock echoed from my door.

“Come in,” I barked, trying to sound as regal and commanding as possible. I did my best to wipe my tumultuous emotions off my face before whoever was at the door saw me.

A trembling servant crept around the partially opened door. He looked scared out of him mind.

I consciously tried to unbend a bit. It wasn’t his fault Be had been a bastard. His reaction when I said, “Just tell me.” Indicated that I did not entirely succeed.

“I’m sorry Your high – I mean Your Majesty. Its just I didn’t know it was you. I looked and looked and no one in the servants’ house knew either. It weren’t til the head cook mentioned it to Silurianus that we knew...”

“Spit it out. What didn’t you know?”

“That you’re Ris, Your Majesty.”

I startled at hearing Be’s name for me from this random servant’s mouth. “Where did you hear that name?”

“It was on the letter, sir.” As he said this, he held out a dirty wrinkled packet of paper. On the flat side in a strong but hurried script were three letters that let hope seep back into my soul. Ris.

I tore it open and began reading.

Dear Ris,
We've just found out that a plague has hit Sasharin and our father is taken ill. Mils is needed as well because our healer was taken by the plague four days ago. I am sorry but we must go with all speed. I do not wish to break my promise to you but I fear I must. Please keep me in your heart as I will keep you in mine. I will miss you.
Until we meet again,

Swift determination spread through as I began issuing orders to prepare to travel. If Be needed to be in his home, then I would be there with him. No amount of arguing from my advisers and other members of the court swayed my mind.

The three miserable days on the road were all made worth it when I saw Be again for the first time.

We had just settled into the inn and I was preparing to inquire as to his whereabouts when the door to the common area burst open. Outlined in the dim sunlight of the late afternoon stood Be. His face was ashen and his eye sunken with exhaustion. His skin was covered in thin patina of dirt that was broken only by old tear tracks on his cheeks. His clothes looked like he hadn’t changed or washed them since he left the palace. But worst of all was sorrow in his eyes.

As soon as he caught sight of my he lurched forward towards me and seemed to crumple a bit. Before he could get very far using his broken gait, I had crossed the room and gathered him in my arms. As soon as he was wrapped in my embrace wracking sobs took over his body.

I could barely understand what he was saying but since he kept repeating it I was able to piece it together. “I knew you would come. It took longer than I thought it would but I knew you would come.” Over and over as I rubbed his back.

Eventually, Be stopped crying and seemed to fall asleep against me. As gently as I could I lifted him up and carried him upstairs to my room. I laid him down to sleep in my bed and kissed his forehead before I returned to the main common room to figure out what the hell was going on.

Stayed Tuned for Chapter 9!

End of Summer Bummer - Winner Announced!!!

Since you all shared such wonderfully horrible stories I decided to pick the winner via random number generator.

Thanks to everyone who entered. It was fun and made me feel much better about my current job. :D

AND THE WINNER IS: Yvette - You can click there to read her story.

Be sure to check back later tonight for the promised installment of True Love's Kiss!

And, as always, here's some pretty:

End of Summer Bummer Giveaway BUMP


It's pretty quiet around here lately. You still have time to get an entry in for a FREE eBOOK OF YOUR CHOICE (<$10).

Just post a comment here (on this blog) or here (goodreads thead) telling me about your worst summer job experience. There are some pretty bad ones posted so if you want a break and to laugh a little go a read them.

Also, as a bit of incentive to check back here tonight, I WILL be posting the next installment of True Love's Kiss and it is an extra long installment since it has been awhile. It will be the end of this part. There will be a bit of hiatus as I work on Perfect and then we will return with the second part which switches POVs and main location.

And now some pretty to get you through the day - super SFW though cause I am at work.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I started my new job and as a celebration I am now having a giveaway! Since the new job coincided with the end of summer, I am really feeling that back to school dragging sensation that kicks in about week after the shiny of a new place wears off. No more long days at the beach watching hot guys in speedos skipping around all wet and making out at the drop of a hat anymore. Or was that just in my imagination? ;)

Either way I figure others must be feeling a similar loss so I am having a bit of a cheer you up giveaway. It is simple. Answer my question below in the comments and you get entered to win an eBook of your choice from any online eBook retailer that allows book "gifting" (up to $10).

QUESTION: What is the crappiest summer job that you have ever had? Please give me more than just "Organizer for Clown Orgy Hustler Company." I don't want your job title. Give me a funny anecdote or tell me about your horrible boss. WHAT made this the worst job EVER?

I have not decided if I will do a random drawing from everyone who comments or pick the job I think is the worst and have that person win. I will let you know.

This contest closes at 7pm CST on Wednesday, October 3, 2012. 

Ok not in speedos but still nice and wet. :D

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

ARGHHHHledy blah Computers are stupid

So by now I am sure you are expecting the installment of True Love's Kiss I have promised. Alas, for my orientation, I am having to do all these online training modules and instead of just letting me click through them at a reasonable pace, they keep freezing, starting over without saving and generally being stupid. Since they are due tomorrow and Friday, depending, I must spend my time finishing these idiotic @(%$#*^$ modules. I PROMISE as soon as they are done you will get your next chapter. Probably Saturday. In the interim, I give you pretty. Mainly because I needed a break and what better way to take a break than to google pictures of pretty men. :D I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Books This Week (or semi-recently)

So, in my continuing effort to bombard you with fun, here are few good books I read recently. Don't worry, I am still working on the next part of True Love's Kiss - it was a crazy weekend so not much got written but between tonight and tomorrow night I hope to finish it. :)

Title: Spy vs. Spook #1 - Houseboat on the Nile
Author: Tinnean
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Length: 350 pages
Rating: 4 Quills
Tags: spies, enemies to lovers, in the closet, second love, contemporary


Mark Vincent is WBIS—Washington Bureau of Intelligence and Security. Quinton Mann is staunchly CIA. Mark thinks the CIA is full of dilettantes who leave him and the rest of the WBIS to clean up their messes. Quinn thinks most WBIS agents are sociopathic loose cannons. So they don’t exactly get along.

Of course, just because they don’t like each other doesn’t mean they can’t play mind games on each other. Or sleep together. But when an explosion at Mark’s apartment sends Quinn to the morgue to ID a body, he has to reevaluate his position on denial.


This is the story of two intelligence officers, one with the Washington Bureau of Intelligence and Security (made up??) and the Central Intelligence Agency. They are rivals and for years have battled against each but have only recently met. Much to both of their surprise they cannot get each other off their minds. And, as the title suggests, they take of residence in a houseboat of denial, oops I meant a houseboat on the Nile.

I have a love/hate relationship with this book. Originally, I started reading it when it was the unpublished story, Mann of My Dreams and had to stop because editing and pacing were all amuck. I picked up the newly edited and professionally published version as a part of a challenge and while some of the issues are still there I found myself racing through this book. Somehow, and I can't really figure out how, these two wormed their way into my heart and I couldn't help but want them to finally realize they could make each other happy. 

My main cringe when reading this was the fact that the author told a whole scene or series of scenes from one character's point of view and then hopped back in time and told the same thing all over again from another character's point of view, and sometime did again from a third character's point of view. I appreciated the insight into the various character's minds. However, it drew the story out and it sometimes became tedious. When I finished I really wanted to give this 3 quills because of that. But every time I tried to record it as 3 quills, 4 quills came out instead. So, I guess this is one of those books that I can't really tell you why I liked it but I did. 4 Quills.

You can pick up your own copy of Houseboat on the Nile here at Dreamspinner Press for $6.99.

Title: Show Me Yours
Author: Kaje Harper
Publisher: M/M Romance Group - Love Is Always Write event
Length: 47,693 words
Rating: 4 Quills
Tags: family drama, in the closet, friends to lovers, light, contemporary


Josh and Trey have been friends since they were kids, but Josh moved away when they were both seventeen. Their bond has been thinned by distance, by the weight of secrets withheld and a trust betrayed. For years now they've only exchanged short emails and occasional calls, over too many miles to cross. Trey's been willing to live with that, even encouraged it. Because letting Josh get close again might make keeping Trey's secrets impossible.

When Josh shows up on Trey's doorstep with a request for help, it could well be an unmitigated disaster. But Trey finds he can't say no. This is Josh asking Trey to lend a hand. Josh, the guy who still pushes every other man Trey ever looked at to second place. So Trey's going to take the chance and say yes. He's going to grab a few days with the straight guy he never stopped loving, take what crumbs he can get, and damn the consequences. Although those consequences may not turn out to be the ones Trey's expecting.


This is the story of Josh and Trey. They were best friends in high school but have drifted apart since then - mostly due to the fact that Trey has been pushing Josh away so that he never discovers Trey's secret. Trey has been in love with Josh since they were 15 years old. When Josh comes back into town begging help with his Aunt's store for the week while she is on vacation, Trey balks but eventually realizes he can't refuse anything Josh asks. Over the course of the week they realize what was a friendship could be so much more. 

I am a sucker for friends to lovers stories and Kaje is one of my favs so I was bound to like this story. I really like the tension in the beginning and how they slowly learned to trust each other again. I also appreciated how Kaje did not have them hop right into bed with each other. So often author assume that just because two MCs have been friends for a long time they are ready to skip over all the physical intimacy steps straight to sleeping together. This story was made much richer by letting Trey and Josh work through what it meant to be together and figure what they wanted from each while getting closer to each other physically rather than having to back track.

My one complaint is that sometimes it was difficult to tell whose head we were in. Their voices were a little similar and I often found myself skimming backwards trying to figure out who was narrating at any given moment. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed this fun story, especially the way Kaje was able to balance the joy of falling in love with the harsh realities of child sexual abuse and homophobia. 4 Quills.

You can pick up a copy of Show Me Yours here on it's Goodreads page for free.

Title: Belonging #2 - Counterpunch
Author: Aleksandr Voinov
Storm Moon Press
Length: 55,000 words
Rating: 4 Quills
Tags: bsdm, athlete, sex industry, slavery, dystopian, alternate world


Fight like a man, or die like a slave.

Brooklyn Marshall used to be a policeman in London, with a wife and a promising future ahead of him. Then he accidentally killed a rioter whose father was a Member of Parliament and had him convicted of murder. To ease the burden on the overcrowded prison system, Brooklyn was sold into slavery rather than incarcerated. Now, he's the "Mean Machine", a boxer on the slave prizefighting circuit, pummelling other slaves for the entertainment of freemen and being rented out for the sexual service of his wealthier fans.

When Nathaniel Bishop purchases Brooklyn's services for a night, it seems like any other assignation. But the pair form an unexpected bond that grows into something more. Brooklyn hesitates to call it "love"—such things do not exist between freemen and slaves—but when Nathaniel reveals that he wants to help get Brooklyn's conviction overturned, he dares to hope. Then, an accident in the ring sends Brooklyn on the run, jeopardizing everything he has worked so hard to achieve and sending him into the most important fight of all—the fight for freedom.


Brooklyn is a cop who accidentally killed the daughter of someone very powerful during a riot. In this dystopian reality this got him convicted of murder. His sentence was life in prison but due to overcrowding this was commuted to slavery status. He lives his days as a slave boxing for the entertainment of rich freemen. And everyday he rebels against his cage, hating all freemen who have never had to live under the boot of slavery. Until one day, he is hired to service Nathaniel. Nathaniel does not want was Brooklyn expects and slowly worms his way into Brooklyn's heart. Together they work to get his conviction overturned and help Brooklyn train for the boxing World Championships. At the last minute, things go terribly wrong and seems like all is lost. However, Brooklyn and Nathaniel are able to pull through and win Brooklyn his freedom and his title. But even more importantly - they get to love each other forever as free men.

Let me be honest, I thought I would hate this book. I read it because I am doing the Goodreads M/M Romance Group's Members Choice Award Challenge. This story won for the Slave/Dub-Con/Kidnapped category. Those are generally hard limits for me and I will not pick books that include those themes (unless I dagnabit get them picked for a challenge because I am freakin' obsessed with completing my challenges). For once I am so glad I was forced to read a book I thought I would hate. 

Aleksandr brings Brooklyn and Nathaniel to such vivid life. I loved how Nathaniel did his best to treat to Brooklyn like a person and not a slave despite some of the secrets he was keeping. I am also a sucker for unlikely love stories (possibly why I like HotN above). Love snuck up on these two so slowly they didn't realize what was happening. It gave them a space of joy in a chaotic and unpleasant world. There were times I wish there had been more world building. However, I am guessing that is because I did not read the first two stories in this universe (written by Rachel Haimowitz and only tangentially related to these characters). If I had read those I am sure the structure of society and how the slave culture came to be would have been better explained. Nevertheless, I was very pleasantly surprised by this story. 4 Quills.

You can pick up a copy of Counterpunch here at Storm Moon Press for $5.99.

Also read recently:
The Society 1 - In Darkness Bound by Christine Price - 4 quills
BOatK 2 - Who We Are by T.J. Klune - 4 quills
Accidental Love by Shae Connor - 3.5 quills
A Note in the Margins 2 - Twelve Days by Isabelle Rowan - 4 quills
Instincts 2 - Enduring Instincts by S.J. Frost - 3 quills
Balls to the Wall 2 - Fire Balls by Tara Lain - 2.5 quills
Cut & Run 6 - Stars & Stripes by Abigail Roux - 5 quills

Friday, August 24, 2012

Updates and Pretty

Since I have been gone for so long I am going inundate y'all for a wee while here to get you used to checking in with me again. :D All this will culminate with a GIVEAWAY!!!

Update the First: Last week was near death experience week on Paranormal Paradigms. On Tuesday, Xara X. Xanakas did a great post and Thursday I wrote a Flash Fic called "Remember" about a near death experience. You can find my post here and I will putting a link to it my "Currently Available" tab.

Update the Second: On Monday I start my new job!! YAY! In honor of that, I am planning a giveaway - not for Monday but for in two weeks. That is when I will get my first paycheck so I can buy things to giveaway to you greedy fiends. :D I am not sure what this GIVEAWAY will look like but it will require reader participation in some way. Stay tuned for more information.

Update the Third: I have not forgotten about you, Amilyn. Unfortunately the continuation of Perfect got stuck in my summer of writer's block. I have two, maybe three, more chapters in the first "book" of True Love's Kiss. Once those are in the bag, my full attention is returning to Perfect before I start on "book 2" of True Love's Kiss.
NOTE: I would have just called them Part 1 and Part 2 except that is what I have been calling the chapters (*sigh*). Book 1 and Book 2 are the same story and not sequels. We just switch POV and the central story line shifts.

Update the Fourth: Some of you may (or may not) know that I am a complete Ty and Zane fangirl (of the Cut & Run series). The sixth book just came out a bit ago so I am still in Ty and Zane euphoria. I've read it twice already. All this to say that today's pretty is from the mind of Abi Roux (Abi's Tumblr and Ask Abi). These are the men that star in the Cut & Run movie in her and many of her minions' heads (or are just hot guys with guns). :D Enjoy.

Fan art by Carlo Adrian

Hope you enjoyed my Ty and Zane inspired pretty. ;)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

True Love's Kiss - Part 7

Previous Chapter - Part 6

Part 7

I knew something was wrong as soon as we arrived in Silenkian’s room. The air smelled of copper and death. There was a pool of blood spreading out on the floor from the other side of the room. I watched in shock as one of Ris’ men rushed to what must have been the ill disposed of body of Silenkian’s valet.

“He’s gone,” came from the barely hidden corner only moments later.

It was then that I took a moment to look around. The room looked like it had been ransacked and one tapestry on the near wall was hanging up by only one corner. Behind where the tapestry should have been hanging, a hidden passageway was revealed.

I must’ve been in more shock from finding a dead body than I realized because what seemed like barely a second later, I felt Ris shaking me gently and saying my name.

“Be, come on. Snap out of it.”

I shook my head to clear away whatever trance had briefly taken me over.

“Yeah…yeah. Ris, I’m all right.” The barest smile tugged at his lips as I used my nickname for him.

He nodded at me and ordered his men to grab torches and follow us. Then Ris took my hand in his and led the way down the hidden stairwell.

The chill seemed to swallow us as we marched slowly down the stairs. The passageway must not have been used very often because even with the dim flickering illumination of the torches, Silenkian’s foot prints in the dust made an easy trail to follow.

At the bottom of the stairs three tunnels branched off at right angles to each other – each a shockingly even corrider that had to have been carved from the rock with magic. The trail of foot prints lad into the eastern tunnel.

“The only thing in that direction is the stables. We’ll go back up and head there through the castle,” Ris began as he pointed to me. “You follow this tunnel and make sure he doesn’t double back.” The guards snapped a salute and began their march, boots sounding eerily on the cold stone as they disappeared into the distance.

Ten minutes later, after a mad sprint through the castle, Ris and I found ourselves in the stables. It was immediately apparent that Silenkian had escaped on his horse only moments before. The stable boy was groaning back into consciousness and the other horses were still agitated from the disturbance.

I followed one step behind Ris as he made his way to the room that stored weapons and tack. He yelled at the stable boy to sadle our horses as we strode by, going directly to the weapons wall.

I watched, briefly impressed, as Ris armed himself with a heavy long sword and plethora of small knives secreted about his person. Then he reached for the pair of medium sized spiked hammers.

As he gripped them, he turned a questioning look in my direction and asked, “Are you ready to fight with these for real?”

I was pretty sure the answer to that question was no but there was not a chance in all the Hells that I was letting him fight alone so I nodded and spoke with false confidence, “Yes.”

He let me get away with my lie and merely watched as I slid the hammers, handle first, into my belt. It wasn’t an ideal way to carry them but it would have to do for now.

Ris looked me over, nodded, apparently satisfied, and then turned to go back towards the stalls.

All of the sudden he jerked to a stop, turned, and took two quick steps to where I was standing. Before I could even register what was happening, he had his hand threaded through my hair and body pressed against mine.

In one more breath, his lips were pressed hard against mine. My heart did a joyful flip flop as it sped up and I managed to get my hands on his hips as his tongue forced its way into my mouth. Another breath and he had slammed me back against the wall. His heat spread through me like a wild fire as he took possession of my mouth.

I gave it all back in full measure.

Finally, and entirely too soon, Ris pulled back. He kept his hands in my hair and gently pressed our foreheads together – the tenderness contrasting with the violent passion of moments before. His eyes were closed as he struggled to get control of his breathing.

His fingers tightened in my hair as he spoke, “Be, please don’t get killed.” The strain in his voice was apparent.

I shook my head to break his hold on me, lifted my fingers to his chin and forced him to look at me. “I won’t if you won’t”

Ris’ eyes blazed as he nodded fiercely, stole one final kiss and strode gracefully back towards the horses.

To be continued.

Stay tuned for part 8!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

New LiAW Story And Updates (and Pretty of course)

"She's Not DEAD!" I know that is what you must think since it has been so long since last I posted. I assure you I was just slogging through trying to write my second LiAW story, moving into my new apartment, and mainly being a lump on a log.

Today I have for you some updates, some fun tidbits, an excerpt and some pretty.

Update the First - You can now find my first LiAW story, Life in Chaos, free for download both on goodreads and on smashwords.

Update the Second - For awhile I have been meaning to clean up the formatting and correct some editing errors in my very first story ever and I finally managed it. You can find the updated version of Christmas Tradition free for download on goodreads and on smashwords. The story has not changed AT ALL - just cleaned up a bit.

And now on to my tidbits!
When I suffer from writer's block (as seemed to be my constant state while writing my most recent story) I tend to research ridiculous stuff that may or may not be useful in the story. This time around I got a little OCD about names. Here are the characters in my new story. Discern what you like from it!

Title (of the story): Like So Much Hot Air
This is the prompt.

Running Man: Jason O'Bannon - Jason is healer and O'Bannon means son of Sorrows

Balloon Man: Rhys Whelan - Rhys is enthusiasm and Whelan means wolf (connotations of loyalty and protective instincts)

Evil Ex: Shea Doherty - Shea is fairy palace (aka deceivingly beautiful and tricksy) and Doherty means harmful.

Big Bad: Old Man Charlie Doherty (Head of the Doherty Family Syndicate) - Charlie means free man or strong and again Doherty means harmful.

Helpful FBI Agent: Geoffrey Kortig - Geoffrey means peace and Kortig means brave adviser.

Friend: Air - nickname, explained in story.

And now for an excerpt:

I glanced up at my rescuer and got my first good look at him. His dark blond hair was close cropped and ice blue eyes stared at me out of a rigidly angular face.

“What’s your name?”


“You got a last name that goes with that?”

“Not until I know you a little better.” While his face didn’t move a whit, his eyes seemed smile at this and in that moment they turned from dull ice cubes to rich glacial pools. I scolded my heart doing a double beat and broke away from his stare.

Rhys turned away from me then, and began rummaging in the corner that had produced the gun again. This time when he turned around he had a red box marked with a white cross on it in his hand.

“Come on. Let’s get a look at your leg.”

Five agonizing minutes later my calf had been cleaned and bandaged and the ragged bloody part of my pant leg had been cut off. I had to clench my fists and take slow deep breaths to keep from passing out because goddamn that hurt.

Rhys’ voice broke me out of my pain filled reverie. “You ever been up in a balloon before?”

I shook my head, not trusting my voice.

He crossed the small space and leaned over to help me stand up. “Well, come on. It’s magnificent."

And now for some pretty!!

This is Rhys at the beginning of his stint in the army (about ten years prior to the story):

This is Jason:

Have a great day!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Updates and Pretty

Update the First - I am finally moved in (and at least partially unpacked) to my new apartment! Woo Hoo. AND internet got connected this morning so I am back in touch with the world. =)

Update the Second - My LiAW story, Life in Chaos, was posted over at goodreads today!! Click here to read the whole thing (its free folks!).

Update the Third - I seriously CANNOT help myself. Some of the authors ended up backing out of the stories they had chosen to write, so the prompts opened up again. Sooo, I picked another prompt to write a story on. Image and prompt are below.

Prompt (from Sarah Black): 
Albuquerque during Balloon Week was insane- like Madi Gras on laughing gas, I heard someone say. Easy to hide in the crowd. But how to get away? Once I left the festival grounds, my leg would slow me down.

He was alone, trying to get his balloon off the ground. You needed at least two people to get one of these monsters in the air. Bad day, between pissed off and heartbroken written all over his face. He stared down at my leg, and I grabbed the edge of the basket for support. "Need some help?"

He laughed, then looked behind me at the trail of bloody footprints I'd left. "Whoever you're running from, you just led them here, bud."

I stared at the footprints, then up at him. He dropped the fuel gauge, reached out and lifted me into the basket like I was a sack of groceries. "Stay down before you fall down. I need six more minutes to get this balloon out of here. Have you got six minutes?"

I shook my head. "I don't know."

Update the Fourth - I have cover art for True Love's Kiss as well as a (self-imposed) release date for the completed story. It forces me to do at least one chapter per week over the summer and to double up if I miss a week. AND even if you have been reading along, you will still want to download the final draft because I am adding a good bit to the plot for publishing of it at smashwords. ;)

Update the Fifth (and final) - Be expecting an expansion of my ficbit Perfect in the next couple of weeks. Amilyn won the free custom ficbit during the Hop Against Homophobia and that is what she requested!

That's all for now, folks so I will leave you with some pretty with which to start your weekend. =)

Monday, May 28, 2012

True Love's Kiss - Part 6

Previous Chapter - Part 5

Part 6

Ris glanced my way, regret clear in his eyes, before he turned back to the guard. I was getting really tired of watching him disappear behind his official mask.

“Lead the way, Palian,” Ris said to the guard with a wave of his hand. Not a second later, they were both quickly striding towards the garden’s entrance. I slumped back down on the bench and tried to control the cold feeling swirling in my gut. We had only really started to get to know each other tonight. How could I feel so disappointed at missing his kiss or that he left me behind without so much as a second glance? I was so wrapped in trying to ignore my bruised heart that I almost missed the clank of boots on the concrete path coming back towards me.

The runner was almost upon me before I looked up. I was startled to see Ris approaching me, confusion written plainly across his face.

“What are you doing, just sitting there, Be?”

“What else would I be doing? It’s not like I can interrogate a prisoner.” I said that with a little more vehemence than was strictly necessary. And I didn’t really want to see the man who shot me, did I? I had done a pretty good job of keeping my fear at bay for the past couple of weeks but it all rushed back with the thought of seeing my shooter. The terror I had not been allowing myself to feel since that night made its debut appearance, wrapping itself around my spine in an icy chain and it held me frozen in place as surely as any physical shackles.

Something of my thoughts must have shown on my face because Ris’ gaze softened and he pulled me up off the bench and into his arms. Heavens above, all other throughts flew from my head. His strong arms held me so close I imagined I could feel his heart beating against my chest, despite the layers of clothes between us. As I wrapped my arms around him and buried my head against his shoulder, I was overwhelmed with a sense of belonging and rightness that I had never felt from anyone before.

“I won’t let him hurt you, ever again. I promise.” He whispered, lips brushing against my ear in the process. We stood there for a few more moments as I tried valiantly not to start shaking or crying. Finally, I nodded slightly against his shoulder, took a deep breath and stepped out of his arms.

When I was far enough away he gently took hold of my chin and lifted it so I was forced to look into his piercing green eyes. His stare bored into my soul and I wondered what he was looking for. After a few brief seconds he seemed to find whatever it was and broke eye contact.

He threaded his fingers through mine reassuringly before he started walking back the way he came. I steeled myself for him to let go as we reached the waiting guard. When Ris’ hand remained steadfastly in mine, my heart did a little dance despite my stern warnings that it didn’t mean anything.

He didn’t let go until we reached the dungeons and had no choice but to walk single file down the winding stairs.

Nullnomen was waiting for us in the duty office that served the dungeon guards. Everyone turned to look at us as Ris stormed into the room, me in his wake.

“Clear the room,” he said in a deceptively calm voice. I was still standing close enough that, when I turned to leave with everyone else, he was able grab my wrist and whisper, “Not you, Be.”

In less than a minute the only people left in the room were me, Ris and Nullnomen.


“I discovered the identity of the shooter after overhearing two servants gossiping about a guard one of them had seen sneaking through the halls on the night in question. One speculated he was sleeping with the cook’s assistant but the other thought it odd he would be carrying such a large sack with him on a secret assignation. From there I deduced that he could be our shooter, trying to hide his crossbow. Upon arriving to search his room, he ran. He has since admitted to being the shooter but will not reveal who hired him or why.”

Nullnomen said all this as succintly as possible. However, his oily voice sent shivers down my spine as I listened to him describe what had happened. Almost unconsciously, I edged closer to Ris.

Ris didn’t notice. He nodded at Nullnomen and said, “Thank you. I will speak with him now.” He turned towards me, then, still keeping some distance. “Do you want to watch?”

I almost said no. I was going to say no. I definitely did not want to be in the same room as the man who had shot an arrow through my chest. But before the words could leave me lips I heard myself saying, “Yes.”

Ris nodded before turning towards the door. He led the way out and down the hall to the cell where my shooter was being held, and stopped for a moment before opening the door. In the moment it took him to cross the threshold of the cell, my Ris disappeared completely and was replaced by the cold strong façade of King Kalristian.

I hurried in after him and quickly found a corner to lurk in while I watched Ris.

“What is your name?” His voice was as cold as his countenance.

“Vailanar, sir.” The prisoner repsonded with obvious fear. I stared openly at him, wondering if he recognized me. Vailanar had obviously seen better days. His tunic was dirty and torn, as were his pants. His face was covered in dirt, bruises and blood. But it was his eyes that screamed his distress the most. They looked haunted and empty – like a man who knew that all he had left in life was pain.

“Who hired you?”

Vailanar shrunk back in his chair at this question. Ris let the question hang in the air for what seemed like ages. The tension created by the silence seemed to stretch and grow until the room was taut with it.

Eventually, Vailanar answered. “I can’t tell you, majesty. He’ll kill me.” He was on the verge of tears. I was glad that Ris had asked me come and see this. I couldn’t be afraid of this man anymore.

Ris and Vailanar went back and forth, Ris asking questions with ever growing anger and Vailanar cowering and crying.

Eventually Ris broke. His stormed up to Vailanar, grabbed the front of his tunic and dragged him until he could slam the shooter against the stone wall of the cell. In a quiet voice, thrumming with anger and power, Ris spoke, staring directly into Vailanar’s eyes, “If you do not tell me who hired you then I you will not need to worry about him killing you. I will beat the answers out of you. And if that doesn’t work, I will call Nullnomen in and allow him to practice his skills on you. You will die. But it will not be anytime soon.”

My alarm grew with every syllable of this speech. By the end I could not contain myself anymore. I walked over to Ris and pulled at his shoulder. It did not budge. “Your Majesty.” I said earnestly. He ignored me. I pulled harder, eventually hissing, “Ris” fiercely under my breath. It broke through and he turned towards me.

His eyes blazed anger and I was pretty sure it wasn't entirely for Vailanar. He grabbed by shoulder none too gently and pushed me towards the door.

When we were in the hallway with the door closed firmly behind I rounded on him. “You cannot possibly plan to torture him, Ris. I thought you were better than that!” I yelled at him.

His face was stormy as he replied, “Heavens damn you Be, of course I wasn’t going to torture him. He’s been broken already. Nullnomen did a number on him before we got here. Sometimes threatening more pain to someone who has already reached their limit can get results. If you had not interrupted, I could have gotten him to confess without calling my bluff!”

I stepped back, shocked. I didn’t like the idea that he had already been tortured but I was glad that Ris had no intention of torturing him further. I wasn’t really sure how to respond to Ris’ outburst though. He was running one hand through his hair and squeezing the bridge of his nose with the other. All of the sudden I noticed how exhausted he looked. His eyes were red and tired looking. The bags under them were dark and deep.

I stepped towards him, pulled his hands away from his face and looked him in the eyes before speaking again. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have doubted you.” I sighed. “What are we going to do now?”

He lifted his hands from where I was still holding them and ran them through my hair. He looked calculatingly at my face and, under my confusion, I felt a warmth running through me, emanating from his hands.

“Do you trust me?” he asked.

“Yes.” I replied without over-thinking it.

“Okay. I have a plan.” He stepped back from me. Then he waved a hand and whispered something under his breath. I felt a rush of tingles spread over my head. When I looked up at him, he answered the question I had asked with my eyes.

“I just did some illusion magic. You now look like I have beaten you rather severely about the head. We will return to the room together and it will look like I have punished you for interrupting me. It will add credence to my threats to harm him. Hopefully it will be enough.”

“And if it isn’t?”

He sighed a bone tired sigh and answered, “Then we will have to figure something out.” I sincerely hoped he wouldn’t resort to actually beating Vailanar if this didn’t work. I guess we would have to wait and cross that bridge when we got to it.

Ris stopped briefly before he opened the door again. “Remember to move like you are hurt.” I nodded and we entered the cell once more.

Vailanar blanched when he saw me. I shuffled back to the corner I had been in before. But instead of standing alertly and watching, I slumped against the wall and acted like the stones were all that kept me from toppling to the floor.

Ris didn’t even look in my direction. The moment he walked through the door, his eyes were locked on Vailanar.

It didn’t take him long after that to get a name from him.


I was truly shocked at that. That was the ex-High Regent’s son. I vaguely remembered him as the man who had glowered at me during my first meeting with Ris and Nullnomen. I could tell Ris was shaken as well. In the few weeks since he had awoken, he had become very close with Silurianus. If Vailanar was not lying, then Ris was most likely going to have execute the son of a man who was quickly becoming a dear friend for treason.

Ris was unable to get any further information from Vailanar on why Silenkian had hired him. It seems Silenkian had kept his motives to himself.

A few more minutes found us back in the duty office with Nullnomen. Ris’ command of “Find Silenkian and bring him here” still echoed on the walls when he sank into the chair. His head slumped down against the desk and I watched as the in control façade he worn slipped away and he allowed me to see everything he was feeling in the set of his back and the curve of his shoulder. My heart squeezed in my chest at his pain and I felt uncharacteristically light that he was actually letting me see it.

I walked up behind him and wrapped my arms around his torso. I dropped a gentle kiss on the back of his neck and whispered, “It’ll be okay. We’ll figure it out.”

To be continued…