Release Blitz + Giveaway: When Love Calls Your Name by LBJ Harris

Author LBJ Harris and IndiGo Marketing share new release info for When Love Calls Your Name! Learn more and enter in the NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: When Love Calls Your Name

Author: LBJ Harris

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 11/30/2021

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Female, Male/Male

Length: 91100

Genre: 1970s Historical, LGBTQIA+, 1970s, promiscuity, in the closet, college, bisexual, sexual discovery

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Description

When Desmond goes off to college, he allows himself to be more open about his attraction to men rather than the secreted-away experiences he’s had in the past.

As Desmond grapples with the pressures and expectations society forces upon him, while trying to understand what his heart is telling him to do, he is initiated into a high-class gay underworld and attracts the attention of an influential—and potentially dangerous—closeted businessman.

Set in the fictional coastal town of Oakvale, New Jersey in the mid-1970s—a decade of alternative eroticism, experimentation, and promiscuity—When Love Calls Your Name follows Desmond as he discovers who he is and who he is expected to be.

Excerpt

When Love Calls Your Name
LBJ Harris © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Fantasies. What teen doesn’t have them? We’re taught that boys’ fantasies revolve around lust, while girls dream of love and romance. As a young man, I certainly fit that mold. And while my boyhood fantasies came true—to an extent—they evolved somewhere along the way, from lust to love. Moreover, they ended up clouding my judgment so completely and ruling my heart so firmly that they changed my life forever.

That evening, thoughts raced through my head as I stepped onto the field at the Oakvale High School stadium. The band played “Pomp and Circumstance” from the stands, and I wondered to myself, How many times have I sat up there, playing this same damn song for past graduates? How many times have I watched others walk the full length of this football field and wished it was me? Now it was my turn!

I scanned the stands for my family, but the crowd of faces was a blur. Carla—my senior-year sweetheart—was by my side, and she had never looked prettier. Now, it had taken a little manipulation on my part to get her there next to me, but it had been worth it. Or so I thought.

The day couldn’t have been more perfect. Ask, visualize, claim it, and it will be so.

At the height of the day, it had climbed to eighty degrees: warm enough for us to catch a swim at the Ocean Club. Around four in the afternoon, a light breeze cooled the air down to seventy degrees. The glowing full moon peeked over the eastern horizon, the sun not yet having set, far to the west, with a cool pink and blue salutation. High above, the heavens were a dome of sparkling diamonds. The stage was set. My high school graduation had arrived.

My name is Desmond Cameron Dawson. I am a Pisces, born on March 19; the middle of three children. My older brother is Calvin Vincent Jr., aged 25, whom we called Vinny. He attended law school at George Washington University in DC. My younger sister is Nina Nicole, who was to be a freshman at Oakvale High that upcoming fall.

I had what was known as bougie parents (upwardly mobile Black people), who achieved their success ten years ago. They decided to move us away from Newark, New Jersey, to this white, ocean-side town called Oakvale. It was just off the Garden State Parkway, halfway to Atlantic City.

Calvin Vincent Sr. and Mildred Nicole (Cal and Millie to each other; Mom—or, endearingly, Momma—and Dad to us) owned a small but prosperous advertising firm, with the original branch in Newark and a newer one here. Business was good—so good that my folks had achieved upper-middle-class status. They were good United Methodists too, raising their children in a predominantly African American church. We kids were acolytes; we sang in the choirs, did youth ministries. If you’re a United Methodist too, you know the drill.

So, what the hell were we doing in good old Whites-ville, USA? To hear our parents tell it, they’d moved us down here to ensure we’d get a good education.

And speaking of education, isn’t it funny, the things that run through your mind at milestones in your life? For instance, standing with my fellow seniors, waiting to march across that field, I thought to a time when—only five years old—I had been so sick I was unable to start school with the other kids my age.

I’d spent a year visiting over a dozen specialists, undergoing every test conceivable, trying out all sorts of medications—all to no avail. My illness had been so bad, making me weak to the point where I couldn’t get out of bed even to go pee, that doctors had finally given up hope, telling my parents the devastating news they would likely lose their youngest son at some point that year.

Momma wouldn’t accept it—not at all! She prayed long and hard—feverishly hard—and God answered her prayers. Miraculously, some weeks later, I had a full recovery. From then on, she would always tell me I was her prizewinning fighter.

I skipped from this memory to a present one—to what I considered my second major accomplishment of my life (after surviving my illness). Imagine this, if you can: I was about to become the first African American in my predominantly white high school to graduate at the top of my class. First out of three hundred and ninety-six students! Yep—I beat all those white folks to the top of the list! And despite being in law school, my brother Vinny hadn’t come close to matching me in the brains department: he graduated high school forty-fifth out of three hundred and fifty.

My parents were proud of me, to say the least. Their crazy-acting, late-blooming middle kid managed to get his shit together and come out on top. Top of my class, awards in French, history, and politics, captain of the debating team, top track athlete, and in the marching band, to boot. Momma cried tears of joy when the guidance counselor called to give her the news; Dad couldn’t stop calling our relatives to boast about his boy.

You want to know how hard it was to become valedictorian? Well, I knew for a fact the girl who finished second to the top hated me with a passion. Miss Dirty-Blonde-Bombshell-With-Glasses had worked her ass off for every top grade she earned. But as for me? By the time grade nine rolled around, I’d figured out the game. From that point onward, I found all this school shit straight up easy. Yeah. I’m one of those kids.

To an outside observer, everything in my life looked pretty good, right?

The truth was, I couldn’t wait to be done with it. I was ready to leave this small, meddlesome, dysfunctional community that would have chewed me up and spit me out without even blinking an eye, had I let it.

It was all good, though—I was on the verge of being done and had a foolproof plan to get out of here: I’d aced all my courses in school, gotten involved in the “right” extracurriculars, and scored 1600 on my SATs. And halfway through my senior year, I found out I had been accepted to some pretty prestigious universities, most of them with full scholarships: Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Temple, and Dartmouth.

Not wanting to be too far from Momma but needing to put a bit of distance between me and Oakvale, I chose Temple University in Philadelphia—an hour and a half down I-95. Temple had a great communications and journalism program there—rated one of the top ten programs in the country. I’d decided I was going to be a television correspondent, and come September, I would be taking my first step toward television stardom!

But back to graduation day. That ended up being a condensed reminder of the things I wanted to forget about high school, beginning—and not ending—with the memory of Samuel Garrison, an unexpected fantasy twist.

I guess I need to explain some things before I go on.

Samuel Garrison. My best and oldest friend in all of Oakvale. He and I had both been having…problems with our girlfriends that whole year. We’d ended up talking and consoling each other for much of that time. And before you ask the all-important question of who was getting poontang and who wasn’t: well, I was the less fortunate.

Samuel and I spent a lot of time barhopping during that year as well. Two years prior, they had lowered the legal drinking age to eighteen. We had died and gone to heaven, my posse and I—they turned eighteen at different points during our senior year, while I had reached the drinking age the year before. And believe me, they didn’t miss a beat trying to catch up to me. We quickly established some favorite watering holes we took girls to, but we also reserved a spot for gents only.

Every Friday night, we would sneak out to this strip club called The Cabaret. We couldn’t get enough of the place. Well, at least, Samuel couldn’t.

Back to the posse—there were four of us who went through Oakvale High School together: Matt, Samuel, Michael, and me. We all played trumpet in the band together. We ran indoor and outdoor track. Two of us were on the yearbook committee. Matt and I acted in school plays together. We may as well have lived together, we spent so much time in each other’s company.

I was the oldest of our group and the only brother. Did that make me feel uncomfortable at times? Yes! I was the butt of Samuel’s too-frequent racist jokes, and as I look back now, he was a real redneck. Yet there was more to him than that.

When I moved to Oakvale, I was just an average seven-year-old kid. I didn’t know anything about racism or prejudice. All I knew was that I wanted a friend—someone I could simply play with. Samuel was that person.

The day we moved in, I sat on the curb outside my new home, “staying out of the way of the movers.” Across the street sat a little boy, watching me. We stared at each other wordlessly for quite a long time. Finally, he yelled across the street, saying, “My name’s Samuel; what’s yours?”

I called back, “Desmond.”

Then he surprised me by saying, “You wanna be friends?”

And not wanting to seem overly keen on the idea, I said, “Mmm…okay.”

He stood up, looked both ways, and ran across the street. He held out his hand and I mine. We shook. And then he hugged me. It felt really strange, like a spark arcing between us; from that moment on through high school, we were essentially inseparable.

Despite being close, Samuel and I didn’t attend the same school until high school. His parents didn’t care much for public schools, so he attended St. Catherine’s Catholic School until the end of eighth grade. The Catholics didn’t have a high school, so he had no choice but to transfer to Oakvale High for ninth grade. I introduced him to Matt and Michael, and just like that, he was one of the boys. I knew from then on, high school life would take me and him to another level. And it did.

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

LBJ Harris was born on October 1, 1958 in Neptune, New Jersey. He is one of seven children born to civil rights leaders. His mother chose his first name because it was unique, as she knew her baby would grow to be.

When he was seven years old, his parents moved the family to an all-white community, to ensure he and his siblings received a good education, and to guarantee their safety against opponents of their parent’s civil rights work.

Harris knew from an early age that he loved performing on stage. Throughout his early years and young adulthood, he performed in church choirs, his high school band, and in the high school drama club. Upon graduating from high school, his love of the arts led him to West Chester State College in Pennsylvania.
In 1979, Harris earned his Bachelor of Arts in Speech, Communications and Theater. While at college, he worked for the Three Little Bakers Dinner Theatre as a performer, lead dancer, and stage designer. His set designs and acting roles earned him major acclaim in local newspapers.

In 1981, he moved back to New Jersey where he formed a two-man performing duo, a joint company KapSig and eventually his own company, ‘Le Noir Cabaret Repertory Theater Company’.

Harris would move to writing, directing and producing originally written musicals for his local community as founder of Le Noir Cabaret. Those works included: ‘Moments in Love’, ‘An African American Musical Review’, ’SIBONISO’, ’Anna Mae’, and ‘Ashbury Cove’.

Harris and his theatre troupe toured his musical SIBONISO in 1994 at the newly renovated Paramount Theater, Asbury Park, NJ, and at the Carver Community Center in San Antonio, Texas.

In 1989 Harris chose to become a single father, adopting the first of his four children. He elected to place his arts career on hold after the arrival of twins in 1998. Over the next 15 years he focused on raising his four children and one grandnephew.

In August of 1999, while completing a second Master’s Degree in Education, Harris saw the birth of one more child: his novel, “When Love Calls Your Name”. He finished the manuscript in April of that next year, though ultimately shelved it, along with a number of other unpublished works.

After his youngest two children graduated from high school in June of 2014, Harris chose to return to the stage. That October, he appeared in the ensemble cast of African American men entitled, “Messages from Men: Machismo, Magen, Mirth & Maturity” at the Cape May Playhouse. He wrote and performed an original piece, “Letter to My Children”, in dedication to his children.

With a renewed yearning to pick up his career where he left off, Harris anticipates publishing his first fiction novel, “When Love Calls Your Name” in the fall of 2021.

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Guest Review: Wicked Lovely (The Black Blade Chronicles #1) by J.K. Hogan

Darkness grows in the realm of Taleth. To the west, a power-hungry despot schemes to conquer kingdoms and territories alike by chasing an ancient elven prophecy that could give him the power to rule all. In the east, after a prince’s murder goes years unanswered, a princess learns there was much more to her brother’s death—and to her life—than she realized.

The House of Kjenelach is shaken to its foundation when Princess Sigrid is stolen away. Her faithful guardian, Sir Senne Clayward, reluctantly accepts help from his nemesis, a notorious halfling mercenary of questionable morals—but indispensable tracking skills—called Kasimir vas Hjardar.

Kasimir makes his living hunting monsters, both creatures and men. While he exists outside the law, he lives by his own unassailable code of honor. At the top of that list: never harm a child. When he turns down a contract to kidnap Sigrid and later finds out she was taken by someone else, he offers his help to the prickly knight tasked with protecting her.

Together, they embark upon a journey across the continent to save Sigrid and foil King Prosper’s plans to conquer Taleth. The way is fraught with dangers and pitfalls, from supernatural beasts to Senne’s deathly fear of magic, but they must not fail, for Sigrid may very well be the savior of the realm: the long prophesied Aisnellach Fuil. Somehow, the two men must set their differences aside and work together to rescue Sigrid, and possibly find love along the way.


Reviewer: Free Dreamer


Prophecies, magic, action and adventure with just a dash of romance? Count me in!

The prologue starts the book off with a bang. I was hooked right away. The plot is fairly action-packed and while there were no shocking turns, "Wicked Lovely" still proved to be an enjoyable page turner.

The setting is a bit generic. There's so many Fantasy books set in a world that's heavily inspired by the Western Europe during the Middle Ages. Some of the creatures we encounter seem to be vaguely influenced by Irish mythology. Kasimir is a halfling, which in itself isn't exactly innovative. But unlike all the other halflings I've encountered so far, he's not half human and half something else.

I'm usually not a huge fan of the enemies to lovers trope and this book certainly had a bit of that. It wasn't overdone, though, and since we got both Kasimir's and Senne's pov, I could relate to their actions and the animosity in the beginning. I didn't particularly care for the sex scenes, however. Since they were on the move a lot, hygiene wasn't exactly great. Not many baths for these two. And I'm sorry, but I just think rimming after a few days of hard riding and no bath to be found is just kind of gross.

Sigrid also gets her own pov, but not as often as the guys. From what there is, she seems a bit stereotypical. The wild princess who doesn't want to be a princess and doesn't behave like one at all. But she's only 15 and teenagers tend to rebel anyway.

The world building was good, but not great. I would have liked a bit more depth, but there are a lot of elements I really enjoyed.

Overall "Wicked Lovely" was a good read. Not amazing, but definitely enough to keep me interested in the series. I'm looking forward to part 2!

I was given a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.



Audiobook Release Blitz: Tristan by S. Legend


Author S. Legend and Gay Book Promotions celebrate the audio release of arranged marriage fantasy romance, Tristan! Learn more about the Curtis Michael narrated book today!
 

AUDIOBOOK OUT NOW

Book Title: Tristan

Author: S. Legend

Publisher: S Legend Fiction

Narrator: Curtis Michael

Release Date: November 24, 2021

Genre:  Arranged Marriage M/M Romance, fantasy

Tropes: Enemies to lovers, age gap

Themes: Self-discovery, forgiveness

Heat Rating: 4 flames     

Length: 9 hours    

It is not a standalone story. Tristan is book one of the Tristan Trilogy. The story ends on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads

Buy Links

Audiobook Out Now

Audible US  |  Audible UK

Also available in Kindle Unlimited, Hardback and Paperback

Amazon US   |  Amazon UK  

An alliance forged through marriage.  The cost?  One Man’s dream.

Blurb 

An alliance forged through marriage.  The cost?  One Man’s dream.

Tristan dreams of the day he’ll succeed his father as the next Warlord of Markaytia.  Elves—creatures famous for their darker passions and tantalizing culture—approach the Markaytian king with an offer he can’t refuse: an alliance with the Elves for the one Tristan Kanes. 

Tristan is forced to give up his dream. 

He’s not thrilled, but Tristan is a man of duty above all else.  What choice does he have?  He cannot refuse the king or Markaytia. He begrudgingly comes to terms with the arranged marriage. Is he a tad sour about it?  Yes, but he’ll get over it.  

Probably.

Maybe it won’t be so bad.  Elves have cool weapons, maybe he’ll get one? 

Corrik bans him from cool weapons.

Corrik’s seen Tristan’s gruesome death on the point of a sword in a prophetic vision.  He bans Tristan from picking up a sword ever again.  Tristan wants to accept the marriage with grace to make his people proud, but he resents Corrik for his remorseless attitude over his life’s work.

Facing the Ice Prince and himself.

Tristan’s conflict follows him on the journey to the mysterious Elven land of Mortouge.  He hates Corrik for taking him from the life he loved, boy does he, but his new Elven husband is an enigma and he’s captivated.  He sets Tristan’s blood on fire and freezes it at the same time.  Corrik unravels Tristan’s true nature and despite his best efforts, Tristan falls for his ice prince. 

But Corrik won’t bend.

Corrik wants to be obeyed.  He’s demanding and possessive.  He’s overbearingly protective. 

Can these two find a suitable compromise?  Or will Tristan’s resentment and Corrik’s arrogance ruin forever their chance at love?

Tristan by Mock (S. Legend) is a gay romance fantasy featuring enemies-to-lovers vibes, an age gap, arranged marriage, first times, and a happy ending (um, eventually). This is the first action-adventure romance in the Tristan Trilogy.  Mock may have written it down, but truly it’s told by your lovable host, Tristan Kanes.  He’s funny, sarcastic and while it may not seem it at times, he’s the real person in charge of this story.

Excerpt

Hi. I’m Tristan Kanes. At least I was once upon a time. Tomorrow, who knows who I’m going to be? But I digress. I’m getting ahead of myself as usual. I’ll back up a bit. I thought it would be a good idea to attempt to run away from my destiny, but destiny tends to follow a person.

I’ve reached the upper ridges of Markaytia’s North Wood and I’ve been gone for several hours. Lucca will come after me soon. I creep to the edge of the plateau and look out to her, to Markaytia. Tomorrow, I’m to marry an Elven Prince. I know it sounds luxurious, every boy’s dream and all, but it isn’t that simple.

I must give up my entire life for this man.

It’s not long before I hear footsteps I recognize behind me. I’m certain of whom it is. I don’t even turn to look, until the tree branch pokes into my back.

He wants to fight me today, does he? I jump up with lightning speed, conditioned from the day I could stand on two feet and because I always take reconnaissance of my surroundings, I know there is a stick for me to use against him, two feet away. I snatch it up and take a defensive stance against my assassin. I strike, slice, slash, pierce, and segment his pathetic battle strategy—well, pathetic against mine. My cousin is a formidable swordsman—I outsmart him at every turn with my dexterous footwork and accom‐ plished foresight.

We’ve fought in many battles since the time we were fifteen and trained together from almost the moment we sprang from the womb—it’s in our blood. Peace is a warrior’s mission, yet in succeeding, he renders himself useless. It makes him no less driven to battle. Peace is a fleeting season, even for Markaytia, and I sense that this season of peace has had its turn and war is on the horizon. Either way, everywhere is dangerous now and the people need protection. War will continue to happen whether I want it to or not and when it does, I want to be the one leading the troops.

Now to convince my husband-to-be of that.

About the Author 

Some of you know her as Mock, others as S. Legend, or Miss S.  She welcomes all names but will often go by Mock, a name given to her by her readers.

Mock is an ambitious creative, weaving the most precious aspects of her soul into stories.  She is an architect, building fascinating worlds, designed from inquiry, rooted in worldly wonderings.  It’s an intuitive process where she is the scribe, the translator, the conduit. 

It helped that storytelling was the language spoken at home.  One simply didn’t say, “We have an ant infestation. ” In Mock’s family it was, “I was on my way to the living room, when a peculiar ant crossed my path.  I looked to my right, a suspicious line of them marched toward the pantry.  In that moment I knew; my kitchen was under siege.”  The natural flow of conversation always took this form.  

And so. 

When Mock wrote her first novel, she didn’t plan it chapter by chapter, there was no outline, no “plotting” to speak of.  But she didn’t “pants” it either, she didn’t make it up as she went along.  She knew how the story felt, where it curved in places and hollowed in others; she knew the destination it rushed toward.  Instead of orchestrating, she let the world inspire her, and held space for the words to come, trusting the characters knew what they were doing.  All she had to do was tell a story, as she always had done; like breathing.  

This is her peace, her healing and solace: Gifts better shared.

Mock’s works are the comfort you seek when you need to come home.  Her unique writing style will take you, wayfaring reader, to unexpected destinations. 

She always says, “I’m not in the business of making up stories, I couldn’t if I tried.  I’m lucky enough to get picked to share someone else’s story when I ask a question to the universe.  Someone answers; I write it down.” 

Social Media Links

Blog/Website  |   Facebook  |   Twitter  |  Instagram  

Newsletter Sign-up: Can either sign up at the website or email

Pinterest  |   BookBub

About the Narrator

Curtis Michael is a worldly creative and proud member of the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities. Having traveled and taught drama overseas for upwards of the past decade, he has somewhat recently taken up voice acting and narration. You’ll hear some of the flavourings of his experience in the Tristan audiobook, as the characters are wildly inspired from not only the world of Tristan, but also Curtis’ different cultural encounters. With two dogs, two cats and a Corrik of his own, Curtis currently resides in Southeast Asia. He can be found on the many beaches or secluded in his vocal booth poring over juicy stories at every chance he gets.

Website  |  Instagram

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Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Tangents & Tachyons by J. Scott Coatsworth


Author J. Scott Coatsworth and Other Worlds Ink share new cover for sci-fi collection, Tangents & Tachyons! And they're also hosting a giveaway! Check it out!

Tangents & Tachyons - J. Scott Coatsworth

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi collection out: Tangents & Tachyons. And there's a giveaway!

Tangents & Tachyons is Scott's second anthology - six sci fi and sci-fantasy shorts that run the gamut from time travel to hopepunk and retro spec fic:

Eventide: Tanner Black awakes to find himself in his own study, staring out the window at the end of the Universe. But who brought him there, and why?

Chinatown: Deryn lives in an old San Francisco department store with his girlfriend Gracie, and scrapes by with his talent as a dreamcaster for the Chinese overlords. But what if a dream could change the world?

Across the Transom: What if someone or something took over your body on an urgent mission to save your world?

Pareidolia: Simon's not like other college kids. His mind can rearrange random patterns to reveal the images lurking inside. But where did his strange gift come from? And what if there are others like him out there too?

Lamplighter: Fen has a crush on his friend Lewin, who's in a competing guild. But when the world goes dark, only a little illumination can save it. And only Fen, Lewin and their friend Alissa can light the spark. A Liminal Sky short.

Prolepsis: Sean is the closeted twenty-five-year-old editor of an 80's sci-fi 'zine called Prolepsis. When an unabashedly queer story arrives from a mysterious writer, it blows open Sean's closet door, and offers him the chance to change the world - and the future.

Plus two flash fiction stories – The System and The Frog Prince, never before published.

This is the first time all of these stories have all been collected in one place.

Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Scribd | Thalia | Vivlio


Giveaway

Scott is giving away a full set of his previously self-published eBooks to one lucky winner:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47214/?


Excerpt

From Pareidolia

(Never Before Published)

Simon slammed the lid on his sugar-free, two-pump, pulse-heated vanilla latte, before he might accidentally get a good look at the pattern on the coffee’s surface.

Ethan, the barista, usually covered it for him, but he’d forgotten this time. Simon, distracted by the coffee shop’s textured wall, had almost missed it.

He’d jerked his gaze away when the whorls and lines in the plaster had shifted into a mountain landscape. He looked around as casually as he could manage, hoping no one had noticed the wall moving.

Simon put his prescription glasses back on. They blurred his vision just enough to block his curse from shifting any other patterns. If anyone ever found out what he could do, they'd stick him in a cage like a lab rat.

Fooling the optometrist had been easy enough—he’d just pretended that the clear letters were fuzzy and vice versa. Unfortunately, they made the handsome barista fuzzy too.

Simon sighed under his breath. An imperfect solution to an unwanted gift. He waved. "Have a good one."

"You too." Ethan winked at him.

Simon hurried out of the Student Union, keeping his eyes pointed forward, avoiding the patterns that flocked to him like birds to seed—clouds in the sky, the grains of wood on a table… even the swirls on Tracey Martin’s designer bag in class. He emerged into the fresh morning air, ducking as a drone zipped past overhead carrying a pizza to someone's dorm.

He’d learned to control his curse in elementary school. Mostly. The glasses helped, and if he blurred his vision when the patterns started to become actual things, they stopped. Usually. Still, he’d gone to detention more than once for, "whatever you just did to your desk."

There was a name for seeing things in random patterns—pareidolia. But most people didn't seem to do it so literally.

"Ally, what’s the time?"

His PA responded in his ear in her usual chipper Italian accent. -It’s eleven-fifty-seven, Simon. You have a class in three minutes.-

"Crap." He ran down the steps, knocking the wallet out of a woman’s hands. He grabbed it and tossed it to her. "Sorry!"

Then he bolted down the sidewalk, dodging a group of students flicking data over their wrists, and leapt like a track star over a short hedge to shave off fifteen seconds.

One of the Sac State professors shouted after him, "Slow down!"

"Sorry! Late for a lecture!" He hated being late—it drew attention to himself, and he liked to blend in. Plus, it's a damned good course.

Professor Dandrich’s course—Finding Meaning in Interstellar Noise—was one of his favorites. If he could just find a job like that where he could use his strange ability…

Simon slipped into the hall and slammed into his seat in the front row of the lecture hall at a minute past noon, splashing his latte all over his arm. "Dammit."

Everyone turned to look at him, and heat rushed to his face. So much for blending in.


Author Bio

J. Scott Coatsworth Avatar

Scott lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were.

He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

Author Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/jscoatsworth/

Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/jscoatsworth

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jscottcoatsworth/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

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Blog Tour + Giveaway: Death in Bloomsbury (The Simon Sampson Mysteries #1) by David C. Dawson


Author David C. Dawson and Other Worlds Ink drop by on the Death in Bloomsbury (The Simon Sampson Mysteries #1) blog tour! Check out more information on the new historical mystery series and enter in the Amazon gift card giveaway!

A Death in Bloomsbury - David C. Dawson

David C. Dawson has a new gay historical crime thriller out: A Death in Bloomsbury. And there's a giveaway!

Everyone has secrets… but some are fatal.

1932, London. Late one December night Simon Sampson stumbles across the body of a woman in an alleyway. Her death is linked to a plot by right-wing extremists to assassinate the King on Christmas Day. Simon resolves to do his patriotic duty and unmask the traitors.

But Simon Sampson lives a double life. Not only is he a highly respected BBC radio announcer, but he’s also a man who loves men, and as such must live a secret life. His investigation risks revealing his other life and with that imprisonment under Britain’s draconian homophobic laws of the time. He faces a stark choice: his loyalty to the King or his freedom.

This is the first in a new series from award-winning author David C. Dawson. A richly atmospheric novel set in the shadowy world of 1930s London, where secrets are commonplace, and no one is quite who they seem.

About the Series

The Simon Sampson Mysteries start in London 1932 and continue through the 1930s across Europe. Set against the rise of fascism in the continent, the series features a man who does his patriotic duty to fight the enemy, even though as a gay man he's an outlaw.

Amazon | Goodreads


Giveaway

David is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47212/?


Excerpt

Simon arrived at Piccadilly Circus at ten minutes to eight that evening and waited to cross the road to the statue of Eros on its traffic island. This part of London always gave Simon a thrill of excitement. It buzzed with activity, like a giant beehive. There were swarms of people hurrying from work, or strolling towards a restaurant, theatre or bar. The metaphor was apt, because within fifty yards of where Simon stood there were so many queens.

Across the road was The Trocadero. Its Long Bar was always guaranteed to provide a gay evening for gentlemen in search of pleasure. A little farther on was the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square. Its Upper Gallery was popular with painted boys and men dressed in smart suits who spent an evening either exchanging acid-tongued witticisms or seeking a friend for the night.

Even at that time of the evening the traffic on Piccadilly Circus was almost stationary. Simon stepped off the pavement and wove his way between taxis and omnibuses queuing to drive up Shaftesbury Avenue or down the Haymarket. Cameron was waiting for him, and Simon was pleased to see he was once again soberly dressed in his immaculate black coat. This time with a grey scarf and black leather gloves. Young men of a similar age to Cameron were also standing on the steps of Eros, and they wore far more flamboyant clothing. Simon preferred to be inconspicuous when out with a gentleman friend. There was less chance that they might draw the attention of the police, or busys as his friends in the Fitzroy Tavern would call them.

“I do hope you’ve not been waiting long.” Simon took Cameron’s outstretched hand and squeezed it firmly. “It’s getting awfully cold. I think it might snow this Christmas.”

Cameron reached out his other hand and rested it on Simon’s hip. Simon pushed it away. “Best not here, old chap,” he whispered. “Awfully public you know.”

He released Cameron’s hand and pointed across the road. “We need to head towards Leicester Square. The Lily Pond is two roads up. And we can walk past the Trocadero on the way and see who’s out gadding tonight.”

“I’m glad I’m wi’ ye,” Cameron replied. “I’m still finding ma bearin’s in London. I’ve nae come down to this part of town since I moved to York House.”

“Oh, you should.” Simon led the way through the still stationary traffic to Coventry Street. “It’s frightfully exciting. And you can always be sure of meeting someone interesting.” He pointed to the corner of Glasshouse Street. “That’s the Regent Palace Hotel. Awfully good bar. Perfect place to meet gentlemen from overseas, and they can hire a room for you by the hour if that interests you.” He grabbed Cameron’s arm and pulled him to safety as a motor car attempted to circumvent the traffic jam and drove up onto the pavement.

“Try not to get yourself killed, my dear.”


Author Bio

David C. Dawson

David C. Dawson is an award-winning author, journalist and documentary maker. He writes gay romance and contemporary thrillers featuring gay heroes in love.

His latest book The Foreign Affair was published in 2020. It's the third in the Delingpole Mysteries series.

The first in the series: The Necessary Deaths, won an FAPA award in the best suspense/thriller category.

David’s also written two gay romances: For the Love of Luke and Heroes in Love.

He lives near Oxford, with his boyfriend and two cats. In his spare time, he tours Europe and sings with the London Gay Men's Chorus.

Author Website: https://www.davidcdawson.co.uk

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/david.c.dawson.5

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/pg/davidcdawsonAUTHOR/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/david_c_dawson

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/davidcdawsonwriter/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7244384.David_C_Dawson

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/david-c-dawson/

Author Amazon: https://geni.us/DCDawsonAmazonAuthor

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Blog Tour + Giveaway: Hex Work (Babylon Boys #1) by TA Moore


Author T.A. Moore returns with the final stop of a new blog tour for new urban fantasy release, Hex Work (Babylon Boys #1) ! The author not only visits us but shares an excerpt from an exclusive short story prequel! And host an Amazon gift card giveaway! Good luck!
 

Title: Hex Work by TA Moore
Publisher: Rogue Firebird Press
Release: 23 November
Amazon Link:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09H66B6GX/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i3


Blurb:


My name is Jonah Carrow, and it’s been 300 days since I laid a hex.

OK, Jonah Carrow isn’t actually an alcoholic. But there’s no support group of lapsed hex-slingers in Jerusalem, so he’s got to make do. He goes for the bad coffee and the reminder that he just has to take normal one day at a time.

Unfortunately, his past isn’t willing to go down without a fight.

A chance encounter with a desperate Deborah Seddon, and a warning that ‘they’re watching’, pulls Jonah back into the world he’d tried to leave behind. Now he has to navigate ghosts, curses, and the hottest bad idea warlock he’s ever met…all without a single hex to his name.

But nobody ever said normal was easy. Not to Jonah anyhow.

Tour:


Hi! Can you believe it’s November already? I feel entirely adrift in the calendar these days. It’s 1934th of Morch! One thing I have managed to keep on track for, more or less, is the whole publication schedule for Hex Work...more or less!

Hex Work is NOT the book I was meant to be writing, but it’s the one that wanted to come out of my head. So I hope people like it in order to make the absolute shambles it made of my writing schedule worth it. I like it, so I guess that’s a good start!

Thanks for having me and I hope you enjoy the exclusive short story prequel to the Hex Work novella!

Read the rest of the story at TAMooreWrites.com

Stories of Babylon - Chapter Five

“Red string, red string, birth and death string,” Jonah said. He pulled a length of the string off, snapped it between his teeth, and flicked it out like a whip. “Red string chase you, away away away.”

The end of the thread tapped John’s cheek. The crust of chalk powder shattered and fell away as the string flared with bright, blue-sharp fire that flashed back down to sting Jonah’s fingers. For a second John sat--dead and bloody--on the seat. He looked at Jonah with desperate eyes and opened his mouth to say something--to ask something maybe--but he’d left it too late.

He faded away and was gone. Lot whined briefly in disappointment at losing his scratches, but then scrambled up into the front seat to stick his head out of the cracked window. His tail thumped against Jonah’s arm, hard as a whip.

Jonah shifted to the side and sucked his singed fingers as he drove. No-one lived on Zoba Road. There was a slaughter house halfway down the road, all high fences and muddy lots. Animals didn’t leave ghosts, not usually, but something big, slow, and sour with blood prowled the barns and squeezed between the livestock vans. It stank of glue and death, and it wasn’t friendly.

A few people had tried to build near here, the ugly practicality of industrial slaughter warded off by high fences and thick hedges. They always left, daunted by grassy, awful dreams and a stink that no amount of febreze could get off their clothes.

The thing in the slaughterhouse followed the Plymouth along the road, a darker shape against the darkness. Most of the dead were cold, but it steamed with bloody, animal heat that made Jonah sweat and itch.

He ignored it. Carrows dealt with the human dead, that was enough to have on their plate It stopped at the property line, just behind the fence, and watched Jonah roll into the dark. About half a mile on, nearly at the end of the road, Jonah saw a flicker of light in a field. He pulled in to the side of the road, the Plymouth tilted up as the tires mounted the verge, and checked the time.

Nearly midnight.

Not a good time to fight a ghost, but it wasn’t a good time to fight a Carrow either. Jonah grinned briefly to himself as he turned the engine off. He supposed that made the odds even.

Wife stuck her head between the seats and breathed on him, hot and dog-food meaty.

“You wait till you’re needed,” Jonah said.

He leaned over--gave Lot a quick scratch under the chin on the way by--and popped the glove box open. It was stuffed with the detritus of however long it had been since he last cleared it out. A jar of wormwood and nails, nails that had spilled out of the jar and he’d not cleaned up yet, and monopoly money that had been soaked in a tincture of black cohosh. He pushed them out of the way and grabbed the knife that had, as always, worked its way to the bottom.

It had been his Grandfather’s once. The old man had kept the flick knife tucked in his boot and sharpened it--patient and mindless--every Friday night while he drank whiskey and brooded. Jonah slid it into his pocket and didn’t bother to lock the car behind him as he headed to the gate.

A heavy chain was looped through the metal bars. It was new. The metal was smooth under Jonah’s touch, not rusted or stiff. He’d used enough magic tonight that he could feel it in his bones, eager to age the metal brittle or slip the pins of the padlock. That was the trick you had to watch for with magic, the urge to use more and more of it.

Gran had always said that the end of that road was at a gingerbread cottage deep in the woods, spackling up holes with buttercream.

Jonah climbed over the gate instead. The ground was dry and uneven, lined with stubble from the harvest. He didn’t bother to be quiet as he headed toward the old, patched up Airstream he could see in the moonlight.

Read the rest of the story on tamoorewrites!

Author Bio:

TA MOORE


TA Moore is a Northern Irish writer of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and contemporary romance novels. A childhood in a rural, seaside town fostered in her a suspicious nature, a love of mystery, and a streak of black humour a mile wide. As her grandmother always said, ‘she’d laugh at a bad thing that one’, mind you, that was the pot calling the kettle black. TA Moore studied History, Irish mythology, English at University, mostly because she has always loved a good story. She has worked as a journalist, a finance manager, and in the arts sectors before she finally gave in to a lifelong desire to write.

Coffee, Doc Marten boots, and good friends are the essential things in life. Spiders, mayo, and heels are to be avoided.

Website: www.tamoorewrites.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAMoorewrites/
Twitter: @tamoorewrites

| Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads |

Giveaway:

T.A. Moore is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour! Good luck!

Release Blitz + Giveaway: Crossed Lines (Summerskill and Lyon #4) by Steve Burford


The Crossed Lines (Summerskill and Lyon #4) release blitz is presented by author Steve Buford and IndiGo Marketing! Learn more about the latest and enter in the NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: Crossed Lines

Series: Summerskill and Lyon, Book Four

Author: Steve Burford

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 11/23/2021

Heat Level: 1 - No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 69600

Genre: Contemporary Crime, LGBTQIA+, Contemporary, crime, family-drama, gay, policeman, murder, gay and lesbian switchboard, MP

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Description

“Victor really was a very good man.”

Why then did someone brutally murder Victor Whyte, an elderly man chiefly known for his dedication to helping the gay community?

Inspector Claire Summerskill and Sergeant Dave Lyon investigate and are drawn into the world of the Hereford and Worcester Lesbian and Gay Switchboard, a telephone helpline for LGBQT+ people. Operatives and callers help piece together a picture of the murdered man, and gradually a surprising picture of Victor emerges with the possibility of a murderer in the very last place Summerskill and Lyon would have thought of.

Even as they deal with this latest case, the two officers are forced to deal with turning points in their personal lives. Can Claire balance the demands of her position as an inspector with those of her husband and children? Is Dave ready to settle into a relationship with earnest young police officer Joe Jones or will he opt instead for the excitement of an almost certainly shorter fling with charismatic MP Sean Cullen? And what exactly is Sean’s real motivation?

Crossing Lines is the fourth in the series of Summerskill and Lyon police procedural novels.

Excerpt

Crossed Lines
Steve Burford © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Dave Lyon examined the muscular, naked man smiling up at him from the sheepskin rug. “I’m a Power Bottom,” read the caption beneath him, “And I Always Have Safer Sex.” Dave sighed.

“Wishing you were curled up with him?” his immediate boss, DI Claire Summerskill, asked as she entered the cramped office. “Or is there only room on your rug for one other now?”

“You know you get very camp when you take the piss. Ma’am.”

Claire shrugged. “That was quite a longing look there. Love’s young dream isn’t fading already, is it?”

“Love’s young dream is, at this moment, on hold while Love’s young dreamers investigate a murder.” Dave indicated the poster they had been considering. “And actually, I was wondering why gay men have to be in such a rush to label themselves. ‘Top’. ‘Bottom’. ‘Passive’. ‘Submissive’. It’s more confusing than quantum physics.” He gave one last look at the happy stud on the rug, particularly at his magnificently rounded arse. “Still, this was in a good cause, I suppose.”

“Eyes back in your head and on me, Sergeant. Let’s have a look at what we’ve got here. Could you give us a moment, please, Maggie?”

The SOCO officer in whites put down her camera and stepped away from what she was photographing, revealing the figure of a man slumped in a chair in front of a desk. His face was distorted and blackened. Around his neck was a length of telephone cord wrapped several times and pulled tightly into the flesh.

“I’ve only seen one other person killed like this,” Claire said quietly.

“Bill Kilby.”

“Yeah. But he was a big man, prime of his life.” She grimaced. “Bit of a shit, too, as you’ll recall. But this. An old man. On his own.” She scanned the cramped room. “Surely there wasn’t anything of value here?”

“I wouldn’t have thought so,” Dave said. “We’ll find out soon enough, I suppose.”

Claire took a moment to imprint the unpleasant scene on her memory. She hated it, bitterly resented filling her mind with such vile imagery. But it was her job, and the only way to exorcise the picture was to find the bastard responsible for it, and if that meant sitting on any squeamishness she had till it was done, then that was what she would do. “All right, Maggie,” she said finally, gesturing for the SOCO officer to return to her work. She turned to Dave. “Let’s go and talk to these witnesses Chris has got for us and see if we can’t begin piecing together what’s gone down here.”

Summerskill and Lyon stepped out of the office and into a large, incongruously ornate hall. On three sides was a series of doors, all presumably leading to small offices or rooms similar to the one they had come out of. Above them, there was a mezzanine, with more doors all around that. White columns, presumably wooden but carved like something out of a Greek temple, reared up around the space, topped with gilded wreaths of what Claire assumed were meant to be laurel leaves. “What is this place?”

“How long have you lived in this city?” Dave reached for his notebook.

Claire scowled but couldn’t deny the implied criticism. The building they were in stood on the very edge of the city’s high street, its worn brick and wood exterior a sharp contrast to the clean-cut brightness of the metal and glass shop fronts surrounding it. Over the years she had lived in Worcester, Claire must have passed it several hundred times, either while on duty or when out shopping, but beyond its name, which was carved in stone over the impressive main double-door entrance, she realised she didn’t know anything about it at all.

“The Halo Centre,” Dave read from his pad. “Grade Two listed building. Built 1887 by the Congressional Church as a Sunday school. Repurposed as Vagabonds Nightclub, 1974. Repurposed again in 1990 as a centre for various arts and charity groups.” He flipped his notebook shut and slipped it back into his jacket pocket. “Including the Worcester and Hereford Gay and Lesbian Switchboard.”

“And what’s that when it’s at home? Some kind of hook-up operation?”

“It’s a telephone helpline. The sort of place you can turn to in the face of all too prevalent homophobia. And microaggression.” He gave his boss a look that he would have described as “jaundiced” and she would have dismissed as “sarky”. “The Centre is noted as having an unusual plan with offices in rows around a central two-storey hall with a gallery on columns in polygonal plan.’”

“You had time to look up and memorise all that, and you still got here before me?”

“Other way round, ma’am. I got here first and then had time to learn it. While I waited.”

Claire scowled at him again and strode out across the hall towards the small group of people gathered at the far end. “I might be slow in traffic, but you’d be amazed how fast I can bust mardy sergeants. Chris!” she called out.

Sergeant Chris McNeil looked up from the seated person he was dealing with. “Inspector. Sergeant.”

“What have we got?”

“Will you excuse me for a minute, please?” Sergeant McNeil stepped away from the man he’d been talking to and moved to one side so he could speak to Claire and Dave in a low voice. “You’ve seen the victim? Name is Victor Whyte. Midseventies. Was working for the Worcester and Hereford Lesbian and Gay Switchboard. That’s their office where you saw him. The Switchboard is for—”

“I know what the Switchboard is for,” Claire said. Dave coughed. She ignored him. “And these people are witnesses?” She indicated the man McNeil had been talking to and the woman across the hall who was also seated and being attended by a pair of paramedics.

“Kind of. Both that bit too late to stop the killer, and neither able to detain him. He was long gone before we got here, ma’am.”

Claire looked across to the seated woman. “Is she okay?”

“Slight bump on the head and a small amount of bleeding from a cut on her cheek. Nothing major. Bit shook up though.”

“Not surprising. And what were these two doing here at this time of night? Do they both work for the Switchboard?”

“The man does. He’s another Switchboard volunteer. The current chairman in fact. The woman is a cleaner for the Halo Centre. Works in all the offices.”

“Right. Pad out again, Sergeant,” she said to Dave. “Let’s go and talk to these people.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Steve Burford lives close to Worcester but rarely risks walking its streets. He has loaded conveyor belts in a factory, disassembled aeroplane seats, picked fruit on farms, and taught drama to teenagers but now spends his time writing in a variety of genres under a variety of names. He finds poverty an effective muse, and since his last book has once again been in trouble with the police. (He would like to thank the inventor of the speed camera.)

Giveaway

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Twelve Days of Murder by Jason Wrench

 

Happy Thanksgiving to our American unicorns! And to those who don't celebrate, happy Thursday to you! 

 Welcome author Jason Wrench and Pride Publishing as they promote Christmas romantic suspense, Twelve Days of Murder! Read more and enter in the First Romance gift card giveaway!

Twelve Days of Murder By Jason Wrench

Word Count: 65,722
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 257

 
Genres:

CHRISTMAS
CRIME
CRIME AND MYSTERY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
MEN IN UNIFORM
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

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Book Description

The holidays are hard enough for widowed NYC detective Frank Schultt without the gifts of a Christmas serial killer and a handsome FBI criminalist.

On the first day of Christmas, a serial killer gave to me, twelve holiday murders…

A killer is on the loose in New York City during the Christmas holidays and it’s up to NYC Detective Frank Schultt and his partner to figure out who the killer is and put a stop to it.

Five years before, during the Christmas season, the widowed detective had found his husband shot dead in a liquor store robbery. He’s finally on the mend and trying to get his life and career back on track, but this case might prove too much for his recovery.

A mysterious FBI criminalist named Aaron Massey is assigned to help him solve the crimes, but the witty and attractive profiler raises feelings in Frank that he doesn’t know how to handle.

Can Aaron help Frank break through his emotional walls fast enough to stop the killings, solve the case and fall in love before Christmas?

Reader advisory: This book contains vivid descriptions of crime scenes and body parts, plus a hostage scene with a shooting, references to drug addiction, trafficking and implied sexual abuse of children.

Excerpt

Mornings were never something Frank looked forward to. His usual routine consisted of waking up at around six a.m. and heading over to Club H, a couple of blocks from his walkup apartment in Hell’s Kitchen. Club H had all the trappings of a top-notch gay bar—pumping rhythms commonly heard at circuit parties, guys cruising each other left and right, hot, fit men as far as the eye could see. But Frank wasn’t interested in any of those. Frank came to Club H for its intended purpose—to work out. This particular morning would have to be cut short, as Frank was meeting his best friend Logan for breakfast before heading over to the precinct.

Frank arrived at the gym and stored his stuff in an available locker, noting the locker number in his head. 101… That shouldn’t be too hard to remember. He grabbed his iPhone, found the first free treadmill and started jogging. Frank found the early morning ritual a great way to clear his head. He increased the speed and incline, losing himself in his workout. He looked around at some of the younger guys in the gym. Many were over in the free-weight section, lifting weights with partners in an erotic exchange of muscle and steel. Frank had long ago realized that being ripped was less important than being healthy.

When Frank had been in the academy, one of his classmates—a tall, brutish guy named Theo—had stood out because of his bulging muscles and neck thicker than a Christmas ham. Unfortunately, the guy had ended up having a heart attack during his second week, due to having no cardiovascular ability at all. Sure, he may have made the Incredible Hulk a little jealous, but, as a cop, Frank had become aware that brawn didn’t get anyone very far if it wasn’t equally matched with stamina.

Frank looked around the room and nodded politely to some guys he’d known over the years. Jerry was over in the corner with his new boyfriend, Seth. Frank had met Jerry about three years ago in a back room at The Eagle, an NYC bar that catered to people looking for edgier sexual experiences. After Adam had been murdered in the liquor-store burglary almost five years earlier, Frank had tried to find solace in a range of sexual fetishes. As each one failed to make him feel whole, he’d moved on to something even edgier. He’d also started doing some light drugs and graduated to crystal meth, fearing each day he’d be randomly drug tested. He was good at keeping up appearances at work and never did drugs that required a needle.

His wake-up call had happened while sitting in a trailer getting ready for a porn shoot he’d impulsively agreed to do. He’d caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and just hadn’t liked what was looking back. His body, while still in shape, had just looked worn down. His eyes were sunken into his head and his cheekbones were visible. He’d looked like a slightly healthier version of an Egyptian mummy. In that one glimpse, he’d seen more than his physical appearance. He’d seen his future. The one porn shoot could easily get him censured or thrown out of the NYPD altogether. Frank had grabbed his duffle bag and headed home. He’d told no one he was leaving. He’d just left.

He’d gone right from the porn set to his Chief’s office and admitted he had a problem with drugs. Since Frank had come in voluntarily, the NYPD had allowed him to enter rehab and he’d never been disciplined. Still, he’d been required to receive random drug tests regularly for a year to ensure he wasn’t relapsing. That had been a year and a half ago, and Frank had thrown himself into getting straightened out physically.

After finishing his six-mile run, he grabbed his towel and iPhone and hit the showers. Although showers in most gyms took on a certain homoerotic quality, Club H’s were notorious for hookups. Frank had learned long ago to just go in, shower and pay no attention to anyone around him. He toweled off and got dressed, throwing his dirty gym clothes into his duffle bag. As he was leaving, he heard two guys having sex in the steam room. He thought about warning them that Club H was a public space and that sex was technically illegal there but decided it wasn’t worth his time.

As Frank exited Club H, the cold morning air hit his warm face like a thousand little icicles. Frank pulled out his cell phone and dialed Logan’s number. “You up and at ‘em yet?”

“As a matter of fact, I’m already at the Midtown Diner.”

“Great. I just got out of the gym, so I should be there in ten minutes. Order me the usual.”

“Sure thing.”

Frank hung up his cell phone, putting his AirPods in his ears. “Siri, check messages.” A female electronic voice informed him that he had zero new messages. Frank had Siri play his favorite podcast as he continued trekking down East Forty-Third Street, crossing Broadway and heading toward Central Park. Frank liked it when he was by himself, alone in his head, taking in the early morning rush that was Midtown at eight a.m. Midtown had more foot traffic by that time than most cities did in an entire day.

Ahead, Frank recognized the yellow-and-purple awning, the entryway to the Midtown Diner. Frank and Logan often met there for breakfast, as it was near both Frank’s precinct and Logan’s law office. Logan and Frank had been friends at the Leysin American School in Switzerland. It was a boarding high school. Frank’s parents owned Schultt Pharmaceuticals and had sent Frank there since both of them had been too busy with their own lives to worry about their son. When he’d graduated from high school, Frank had come back to the States and gone to Yale, where he’d majored in business, the heir apparent to the Schultt empire. Instead, Frank had come out right after graduation and his family had disowned him. The blowup had happened when Frank had told his father he was gay. Those had been the last words Frank had ever spoken to his folks. He’d dropped off the map for a while, moved to New York, got a master’s degree in Criminal Justice from New York University, joined the academy and the rest was history.

Frank took off his coat and hung it on a peg inside the door as he entered the diner. He looked around and found Logan sitting at a table reading The New York Times.

“How’s my favorite useless attorney?”

“I’m not useless. Real-estate law is an important branch of law in this town, mister.”

“Oh yes, helping all those fat cats who own this city get richer and richer while the lower and middle classes end up committing crimes just to make it by.”

“Dear God, what a sob story. Just because you think everything is a matter of who’s getting screwed and who’s screwing, don’t bring my job into it.” Logan looked at Frank and smiled, likely knowing full well that this would hardly be the last time this little conversation would occur. “So, any hot guys at the gym today?”

“Remember Jerry?”

“The leather dude?”

“That’s the one. Well, he was there with his newest ‘thing’.” Frank always told Logan everything that was going on in his life, even the seedier parts. Unlike most people, Logan never outwardly judged. Frank could tell when Logan wasn’t happy with him, and Frank never wanted to hurt or disappoint him. So, when he did, he knew he’d screwed up royally.

The waitress arrived at the table and put a plate with two pieces of bacon, two eggs and two sausage links in front of Frank. She came back a minute later and freshened Logan’s cup of coffee.

“So, Frank, how are you doing? I know you don’t want to talk about it, but dammit, I’m your best friend and have the right to be concerned.”

“Logan, I’m fine. Don’t worry.”

“Well, we’re creeping up on the fifth anniv—”

“I know, so drop it.” Ever since Adam’s murder, Frank had kept that part of his past bottled inside, refusing to release it. Once or twice a year, Logan would check in and see if Frank was ready to open up, but he never was.

“Oh, I was watching It’s a Wonderful Life last night with Ben. He says ‘hi’, by the way.”

“How’s that new show of his going?”

“Well, the soap is officially canceled. Apparently, America wasn’t ready for a daytime science-fiction soap opera.”

“Even hearing you talk about it sounds like a bad idea.”

“I know… Tell me about it. But Ben was so proud of being on another soap. Anyway, he has been cast in the off-Broadway revival of Arthur Bicknell’s Moose Murders.”

“Now, I’m not exactly a Broadway aficionado, but what the hell is that?”

“Yeah, that was my response. Apparently, it was some play from the 1990s that was a huge flop. I googled it. The story sucks and should never have been revived, but I’ve got to be supportive, nonetheless.”

Frank laughed and choked on his coffee. “So, why’d you bring up It’s a Wonderful Life?”

“Oh, Ben and I always watch it a couple of times each Christmas season and again on Christmas…” He realized what he’d just said to Frank. “Oh God, I’m so sorry. I totally forgot for a moment…”

“It’s okay. I hate that film. It’s so fucking sappy. Every time a bell rings an angel has its wings ripped off and is bludgeoned to death.”

“Well, hello, Scrooge McScrooge. Talk about jaded.”

Frank was about to make a comeback when his pants pocket vibrated. He pulled out his phone. “I’ve got to get this,” he told Logan. “Detective Schultt… Oh, hey, Jasika… There’s a what? At FAO Schwarz? Okay, I’ll be there in about ten minutes, depending on how many tourists get in my way.”

“What was that about?” questioned Logan.

“They’ve found a body part over at FAO Schwarz, hung like a Christmas ornament. You call me jaded. I may hate this fucking holiday, but at least I’m not hiding body parts in a toy store.” Frank took out his wallet and threw down enough cash to cover his meal and coffee. “I’ll talk to you later.” With that, Frank turned and headed toward the door, grabbing his coat as he walked back outside into the December cold.

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About the Author

Jason Wrench

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

Giveaway

Enter for the chance to win a $50.00 First for Romance Gift Card!  

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Notice: This competition ends on 30th November 2021 at 12am EST. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.