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INTERVIEW: Thom Collins, author of Gods of Vengeance

 Thom Collins stops by as he celebrates the release of his new book, Gods of Vengeance.

Tell us about Gods of Vengeance

This is a contemporary romantic thriller. Following the murder of his best friend Owen, Riley joins forces with his brother Mark, a Naval Captain, to seek revenge on the men who killed him. It’s set in a small rural community with problems of its own. Mark hates the place and has avoided it for years until personal tragedy brings him home. It’s a quick, exciting read. I saw it in my head as one-off BBC drama, a hard-hitting story for a cold night.

So, what else have you written?

I’ve written under a couple of different pen names since my early 20s. My first publishing credits were for gay porn mags in the 1990s. It seems strange now, but that was a big market back then and pretty good money. $200 for a 2,000 word story. No one offers those kinds of fees anymore. My first romance novel was Closer by Morning, another contemporary thriller, published last summer by Pride Publishing. It was a great start to a new era in my career. My next release after Gods of Vengeance, is a novella called Silent Voices, due out in May.

What are you working on at the minute?

I’m currently writing the Anthem Trilogy. The first novel Anthem of the Sea, is scheduled for a June release from Pride Publishing. I’ve just finished writing the second book in the series and am about to start the third. The Anthem Trilogy is about a couple, Daniel and Elijah, who meet under difficult circumstances. We follow the development of their relationship across three books, each set about a year apart. Readers can look forward to danger, intrigue, revenge, romance and lots of hot sex. All my favourite things.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I think I was around 12 or 13 when I attempted my first book. It was a Jackie Collins inspired saga, using people from school as the basis for my characters. I can’t remember much about it but it was very bitchy and OTT. I wrote in a hardback note book with a wrap around jacket I designed myself.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m quite a geek, so when I’m not writing I love watching TV and movies. I love horror films, especially from the 70s and 80s. I love binge watching TV series on Netflix. I’m currently hooked on Teen Wolf, mainly because of a massive crush I’ve developed on Tyler Heochlin. I also like collecting vinyl records, both new and old. The more outlandish the sleeve art, the better. I also love to cook and try new recipes. I’m a nightmare when it comes to eating out and usually moan “I cook better stuff than this at home.” I don’t know how my husband puts up with me but thank God he does.

Thanks for visiting us today and happy release day!

Blurb

United in passion. Driven by vengeance.

Owen Hazard, a young farmer is dead. Murdered while he tried to prevent a robbery on his land. His older brother, Captain Mark Hazard, returns home for the funeral. Owen’s best friend, Riley runs the local pub. He has information about the night Owen was killed – he knows who was responsible. The police are doing nothing. Vengeance is their only option.

United in their passion for each other and a thirst for revenge, Riley and Mark must take the law into their own hands if there’s to be any justice for Owen.

General Release: 21st March 2017

BUY LINKS

Pride Publishing

Amazon UK

Amazon USA

About the author

Thom Collins is the author of the novel Closer by Morning, with Pride Publishing. His love of page turning thrillers began at an early age when his mother caught him reading the latest Jackie Collins book and promptly confiscated it, sparking a life-long love of raunchy novels.

His novella Silent Voices will be published by Pride in May, followed by the novel Anthem of the Sea, the first book in the Anthem Trilogy. He has recently finished writing the second book in a series and is making plans for the third.

Thom has lived in the North East of England his whole life. He grew up in Northumberland and now lives in County Durham with his husband and two cats. He loves all kinds of genre fiction, especially bonk-busters, thrillers, romance and horror. He is also a cookery book addict with far too many titles cluttering his shelves. When not writing he can be found in the kitchen trying out new recipes. He’s a keen traveler but with a fear of flying that gets worse with age. Since taking his first cruise in 2013 he realized that sailing is the way to go.

Social Media Links:

Blog: www. thomcollinsauthor.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter:   @thomwolf     and  @realthomcollins

Email: thomcollinsauthor@aol.com

 

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GUEST POST: Patience by Helena Stone

Meeting the Challenge – aka The Trouble our Friends get us into

Did you ever do anything that, in retrospect, was utterly foolish and possibly irresponsible? And if so, why did you do it? Was it a spur of the moment thing or did somebody else push your buttons?

Challenges and bets, can be both tempting and dangerous. Of course it is exciting to do something that’s outside the norm or even not entirely allowed, but on the other hand, there’s always the risk of being found out and having to face consequences if things don’t go according to plan. I know because I speak from experience.

I think I was only ten when my best friend challenged me to scale the roof of the local primary school in the hope that we’d find lost tennis balls there. The school had several levels and the lowest roof was fairly easy to reach, as was the second. The third and highest roof however, was two floors higher.

My best friend was both more adventurous and more athletic than me. She had to help me get up onto the lower roofs because on my own I wouldn’t have made it. Both of us were very disappointed when we didn’t find a single ball on those levels. “But”, my ever optimistic friend said, “we’ll just climb to the next roof. There’s bound to be lots of balls there.”

In theory this was a great idea. In practice however, there was no way I was climbing any higher. This school was one of those buildings made mostly of glass, which meant there was very little to hang on to while climbing. Never one to be denied, my friend scaled the glass wall and reached the top ceiling only to discover two things; there were no tennis balls to be found there either, and a police car was on its way to our location.

In retrospect everything would have been fine if she’d just stayed where she was. But youthful enthusiasm (or mindless optimism) took over and my friend tried to get back down to me as fast as she possibly could. About half way down she lost her grip and fell….

I don’t think I’ll ever forget those few seconds. I watched her in shocked horror as she came down and fell through the glass roof into what I knew to be the auditorium of the school. With tears streaming down my cheeks and sick with worry I shouted her name through the hole in the glass, not expecting an answer. When she responded I almost collapsed in relief.

By this time the police car had pulled up at the school. One of the policemen had to climb on the roof to lower me down to the ground, because I couldn’t make myself move after the shock I’d been through. I can’t remember how they got into the school, but the officers found my friend and put the two of us in the back of their car before driving us home. Needless to say both our parents were horrified when their daughters were delivered home by the police. Their anger and punishments didn’t bother me though. I was shocked when my friend, days later, told me that if only I’d jumped into the school after her, the police would never have found us. To this day I’m glad I wasn’t quite foolish enough to do something like that. Just because she was lucky enough to land in a large box filled with knitting projects didn’t mean I would have done so too.

The whole experience did teach me one very important life lesson; be careful before you agree to a bet or accept a challenge.

Let’s hope that Xander has more luck when he accepts the challenge set by his friend Eric in Patience.

Buy Link

Buy Patience from Pride Publishing

Blurb for Patience:

Patience is a virtue. But what if you wait too long?

While Xander Ekman’s dream of becoming a successful artist has come true, his love life has gone from bad to worse. Sick of the endless string of one-night stands, he accepts the challenge when his best friend, Erik, bets him that he can’t be celibate for a month. Now all he needs is a reminder to keep his distance in the heat of the moment.

Troy Moriarty doesn’t have time for love. He’s too busy trying to keep his recently opened tattoo parlor afloat. Besides, ever since the man who was supposed to be his business partner abandoned him to run the shop on his own, he has a hard time trusting others.

When Xander turns to Troy for a tattoo that will remind him to be patient, the attraction is instant. But faced with Xander’s month of celibacy, Troy’s trust issues, and a nemesis lurking in the background, their relationship may be doomed before it has a chance to begin.

Author Bio

Helena Stone can’t remember a life before words and reading. After growing up in a household where no holiday or festivity was complete without at least one new book, it’s hardly surprising she now owns more books than shelf space while her Kindle is about to explode.

The urge to write came as a surprise. The realisation that people might enjoy her words was a shock to say the least. Now that the writing bug has well and truly taken hold, Helena can no longer imagine not sharing the characters in her head and heart with the rest of the world.

Having left the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam for the peace and quiet of the Irish Country side she divides her time between reading, writing, long and often wet walks with the dog, her part-time job in a library, a grown-up daughter and her ever loving and patient husband.

 

 

 

 

 

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COVER REVEAL: Runaway by Nic Starr

Releasing a new cover is always a thrill. There’s something special about sharing the visual representation of a book – all the blood, sweat and tears, that have turned into a tangible thing!

Runaway is part of the Dreamspinner Press World of Love collection. Hopefully, the cover gives enough of a hint as to the location of the story. 🙂

The beautiful cover is by L.C. Chase.

Happy reading,

Nic xx

Blurb

Dr Nathan Powell is ready to settle down near his family, and hopefully find the man of his dreams. He returns to the small coastal town where he grew up, but while life is simpler than it was in the city, there are also complications—like patients’ reactions to an openly gay doctor. And like running into Nate’s first love, Damien, an out-and-proud local business owner who is unwilling to be any man’s dirty secret. The reunion reignites old desire even while it stirs up Nate’s guilt over the way things ended with Damien.

When Nate’s nephew runs away, Damien accompanies Nate on his mission to find the young man. The drive to Sydney, and the search of the city, gives Nate time to reconnect with Damien—and to wonder if he made the right decision years ago—when he determined a future for them was impossible. Is a fresh start realistic for two men in their forties? But before he can ponder the second chance they’ve been given, Nate must locate his nephew.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Release Date: 12th April 2017

Length: 86 pages

Pre-Order Link

Dreamspinner Press – available for Pre-Order

 

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RELEASE BLITZ & GIVEAWAY: Trapped by Ruby Moone

 

Buy Links: JMS Books | Amazon US | Amazon UK


Publisher: JMS Books


Length: 62,000 words


Blurb


Sam Holloway is a desperate man. Trapped in Dante’s, the high-class London brothel catering to men who love men, his only hope is to find a rich protector. Then he meets the young aristocrat with sad eyes.


Tristan Barrington, sixth earl of Chiltern, waited until the death of his father before acting on his unnatural desires. Dante’s has a reputation for quality and absolute discretion. He never expected to find in its sordid depths a glorious man who could master not only his body but his heart, as well.


In Tristan, Sam sees an opportunity to flee a life he hates, and he sets his sights on seducing the earl. Tristan vows to help him escape, but in the process not only uncovers the vile corruption at the heart of Dante’s but also suspects that Sam’s declaration of love was nothing but a lie.


Then Sam is gravely injured, and Tristan faces a tough decision — leave Sam to his fate, or help him once again?

 

Companion book to The Wrong Kind of Angel but can be read as a standalone. HEA.

 
Excerpt
 

Tristan stood in the hallway of his home, back pressed against the door. He closed his eyes. Sam’s words kept racing around his mind. How unutterably foolish he had been. How unspeakably stupid. Shame and humiliation washed over him again, making him nauseous. At the same time, he was wracked by a sense of loss so deep that made his chest feel as though it were about to crack wide open. He pressed a hand there and tried to breathe and made his way to the study to pour a brandy. He stood by the fire a moment or two, then crumpled into a chair still clutching his glass. He wondered if he might cry, but he felt too numb, too bruised, too hollow.


He had no idea how long he had been there when the door opened and Alfie walked in.


“What the hell are you doing hiding in here?” he asked in his own inimitable fashion. Tristan couldn’t speak. “Trouble in paradise?”


Tristan just sat. Alfie came closer and peered down at him. “Tris?” This time there was no drawl in his tone, no teasing light. “Tris, what is it? What has happened?”


Alfie reached down and took the glass carefully from him. He looked up at Alfie’s face. The face of his childhood friend. He had to blink several times.


“Bit of a shock. That’s all.” He ran his hand around the back of his neck and tried desperately to think.


“I take it this is about Holloway?” Alfie sat opposite him and was staring at him. When he cared to make the effort, Alfie had the most penetrating stare of anyone he knew.


“Don’t stare.”


“Then tell me what is wrong with you. You look like someone stole your last sixpence.”


Tristan smiled. “Not quite that bad. I just discovered that … Samuel is not quite the man I thought he was.” He had to swallow a couple of times before he could continue. “It would appear that I may have been taken for a fool.”


It hurt to say those words, and it almost undid him. He rubbed his chest again as the crushing pain worsened. He felt so humiliated, so foolish.


“I’m sorry to hear it. I had just popped over to see if the both of you would like a little escapade, but perhaps this is not the right time. Is it all over?”


“Escapade? What on earth are you talking about?”


“A few … like-minded people are taking a jaunt to the country for a few days. I thought perhaps you and Holloway might like to join in. I thought he seemed sincere. It looks like I was wrong.” He sounded faintly surprised that he might be.


It would have been just what Samuel needed. A little company, a little fun. Tristan pinched the bridge of his nose.


Before he could respond, a commotion in the hallway interrupted them. Samuel burst into the room, followed by an agitated footman Alfie quickly dismissed.


Tristan stood as Sam strode over and gripped his arms. “Tristan, please let me explain, please listen to me.”


“Unhand me.”


“Tristan …”


“I said, unhand me.” Tristan threw off Samuel’s hands forcibly.


Samuel stumbled back, clearly shocked. He closed his eyes for a moment and then opened them. “Tristan I am so sorry you overheard that. Gareth is … well, he overstates things and exaggerates.”


“I didn’t hear any contradictions.”


“Can we speak alone?” Samuel cast an awkward glance at Alfie who watched the whole drama with unconcealed interest.


“Alfie, be a dear?” Tristan said.


Alfie smiled. It wasn’t a pleasant smile. “Of course, my love. I shall be within calling distance if the brute cuts up rough.” He sauntered from the room.


Samuel balled his hands into fists and glared at his retreating back. He then began pacing. His hand kept going to his mouth, where he rubbed and pulled at his bottom lip. “I need to explain something. I need to … oh God, what a mess.”


“Indeed. I shall be interested to see how you explain what Gareth said.” Only years of ruthlessly masking his feelings and his nature allowed Tristan to remain reasonably impassive.


Samuel looked tortured, but his next words floored Tristan.


“It was all true.”


“True?” The words came out as an incredulous whisper. He had expected emotional denials, explanations, excuses, appeals, but this?

 
Author Bio



My name is Ruby Moone and I love books. All kinds of books. My weakness is for romance, and that can be any kind, but I am particularly fond of historical and paranormal. I decided to write gay romance after reading some fantastic books and falling in love with the genre, so am really thrilled to have my work published here. The day job takes up a lot of my time, but every other spare moment finds me writing or reading. I live in the north west of England with my husband who thinks that I live in two worlds. The real world and in the world in my head…he probably has a point!


Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/RubyMoone/
Twitter – @RubyMooneWriter
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/rubymoone/
Blog – rubymoone.com

GIVEAWAY
Click here to enter the Rafflecopter.

 

Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions

 

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GUEST POST: An Interesting Find by Lucy Felthouse

Mixing the Familiar and the Unfamiliar by Lucy Felthouse

An Interesting Find is the first M/M/M (male/male/male) story I’ve written. Up until then, I’d written threesomes and M/M, but not threesomes which are all men. No particular reason for it, just that I’d not gotten around to it yet. But when the anthology call came up from Pride Publishing, it piqued my interest. I’m a sucker for a military story, but I wanted to do something a bit different to what I’d done before, which is why I decided that, rather than having two men in my story, I’d have three. I knew it’d be a challenge—writing sex scenes in ménage stories can be a real challenge when it comes to making sure you know whose body part is whose, and if there’s no ‘she’ in there to help differentiate, it’s extra tough. But I was determined to give it a go, so I let my brain wander down a path of how to get three hot guys together at once, and with a military slant.

Having all three of them be in the military seemed a little too obvious to me, so I decided to have an established couple somehow end up in a situation with a soldier. A situation that would somehow turn sexy. And that’s where I started to throw some familiar in with the unfamiliar. So I sent two of the men—an established couple—off on a summer holiday in the English countryside. From memory (it’s been a while since I wrote the story!) it’s not specified exactly where they are, but in my mind they’re in the Peak District, staying in a property which is close to a military training area. The property and the training area are real—I was out showing a friend the nearby pond (which also features in the story – more on that in a moment) one day and suddenly saw a bunch of uniformed soldiers appear from the area and start heading out towards the road! My friend and I immediately stopped admiring the scenery and had a good look at the marching men as they headed along the track above us and on their way.

The above event was a good few years ago now, but it obviously got stuck in my mind for me to end up using it in a story years later. The pond my friend and I were checking out has myths and legends associated with it, which is why we were there—my buddy, like me, is interested in stuff like that. But, because it’s in quite a big hollow in the ground and is fairly sheltered (especially compared to the surrounding area, which is largely exposed moorland), when it came to my story, I thought it’d be a good place for my soldier character to end up. He’s unwell and has wandered away from where he should be on exercise, and when he collapses, he’s hidden from the road, which is why he’s lucky that the other two characters find him.

So that’s how and why my story blends the familiar and the unfamiliar. And it’s part of the reason I enjoy my job so much! I can take real places and have exciting and sexy things happen there!

I hope you’ll check out the book and let me know what you think to my first foray into M/M/M!

Happy Reading,

Lucy x

*****

Blurb:

Nathan and Lee are on a relaxing summer holiday in the UK. They plan to do lots of walking and exploring in the beautiful English countryside. Naturally, typical British weather derails their plans on their first day, leaving them cooped up indoors with little to do but read.

When the weather clears, the men eagerly put on their hiking boots and head out for a walk. However, when they reach their destination—a pond a little distance from their holiday cottage—they make a shocking discovery. An odd-looking bundle of rags turns out to be an unconscious man. With no one else around, and no mobile phone signal to call for help, they manage to get the stranger back to their cottage to get him warm and dry, and figure out what to do next.

When their unexpected house guest regains consciousness, however, things just get more complicated. The stranger—a British soldier called Jonny—doesn’t want the authorities to be notified of his presence. As the three men try to come to some agreement, the sexual tension in the air becomes apparent, and suddenly the last thing on any of their minds is leaving the cottage…

Buy links:

Pride Publishing: https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/an-interesting-find

Amazon (universal link): http://mybook.to/aninterestingfind

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2mstDwW

Google Books: http://bit.ly/2mdFPAS

iBooks: http://apple.co/2maAqt0

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2lRWHuJ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34096543-an-interesting-find

*****

Author Bio:

Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of, and an Amazon bestseller), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award, and an Amazon bestseller) and The Persecution of the Wolves. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 150 publications to her name. She owns Erotica For All, and is one eighth of The Brit Babes. Find out more about her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk, or on Twitter or Facebook. Sign up for automatic updates on Amazon or BookBub. You can also subscribe to her monthly newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

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Release Blitz & Giveaway: Ghost (Sanctuary #9) by RJ Scott

Buy Links:  Amazon US  Amazon UK
Cover: BitterGrace Art

Length: 45,000 words

Sanctuary Series

Guarding Morgan (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Only Easy Day (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Face Value (Book #3) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Still Waters (Book #4) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Full Circle (Book #5) Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Journal of Sanctuary One (Book #6) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Worlds Collide (Book #7) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Accidental Hero (Book #8) Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb


Can you ever hold on to a ghost?


Elliot is tracking an elusive killer, codenamed Ghost, with ties to organized crime. Every time the Sanctuary team gets close, Ghost slips their grasp.


Cole has nowhere left to turn. With his father dying and his sister in danger, he turns for help to the very people trying to track him down. Sanctuary’s assistance is what he needs to punch another hole in Varga’s organization.


When Elliot and Cole meet, it isn’t just passion that consumes them. When lust becomes something more, Elliot realizes that sometimes you can’t hold on to a ghost, and that sacrifice is often the only way to make things right.

 
Chapter One
 

“This is not going to end well,” his sister warned him, an edge to her voice.
“I just need five minutes.” Cole was aiming for composed and in control, despite the fact his adrenaline was spiking dangerously high. Where was his center? Where was his ability to see events unfold before him with calm consideration?
Gone as soon as your two worlds began to collide with the horrible realization that today would finally be the day you might not make it out alive.
“Cole—”
“Do your job, sis.”
“Fuck you, big brother.”
Cole didn’t answer that one. As the controller of the op, she wouldn’t take her eyes off the meeting she was tasked with watching—six of Varga’s key men in a restaurant on Halsted, giving him the heads-up when they disbanded and headed toward the run-down warehouse district for the meeting. He was there to deal with a man who didn’t deserve to live on this earth, and he was already fighting the sickness roiling in his stomach.
Unfortunately, things had taken a turn for the worse, and Cole wished he could say he’d expected the shit to hit the fan, but he hadn’t. He’d honestly thought tonight would go smoothly given he’d evaded Sanctuary again.
He’d been the mouse avoiding the trap for so long that he’d not seen the pattern emerging. Slowly but surely, Sanctuary was getting closer, the proverbial thorn in his side. It was as though they were second-guessing him, tracking him enough to see patterns.
Patterns killed people in his line of work.
He checked his gun, considered holstering it. No one was supposed to die tonight; it was just a deal—money for human lives—something he’d been working on for months. His job was to fix this, but Sanctuary kept getting in his way.
And if they caught up with him again, with their do-good meddling and their freaking unanswered questions, he was way too smart to get caught.
Normally.
“Bad guys are only five minutes out,” his sister warned again. He didn’t answer, and she wouldn’t expect him to. “And you’ve got company with Sanctuary tracking your way.”
“Fuck.”
“You need me there?”
Cole weighed his options. She needed to be with their father, who couldn’t be left, so it was just Cole and his gun and his sorely tested wits.
He’d need his gun if he needed to get away from that Sanctuary fucker Elliot. The man was like a dog with a bone, and Cole couldn’t afford to be compromised tonight. Every meeting, every mission, Elliot got closer, yet Cole couldn’t move from his spot or everything would go to shit and he’d lose his chance of getting the best human return for his cash.
Sanctuary was the elite, but he knew he was better, or he’d have died a long time ago. Bravado and confidence had gotten him this far in life, mostly unharmed and thankfully alive. But if Elliot arrived when the shit was hitting the fan, he’d be collateral damage, and Cole wasn’t ready to work on those terms.
He moved even deeper into the shadows, his back against the brick wall, an exit to the street on his right, the parking lot on his left. Above his head was the fire escape pull-down ladder for that apartment block; at his feet, the ground was damp with the rain that had only eased up a few minutes ago, and distant streetlights sparkled in puddle remnants just outside the cloak of darkness. Everything was quiet; but moments away, following fuck-knows-what lead to get there, was Sanctuary.
Or, more correctly, Elliot, with his dogged determination and his uncanny ability to see beyond a scene and know exactly where Cole had gone.
Last time, Elliot had only missed him by a single minute, and Cole wasn’t ashamed to admit that the near misses sent a frisson of excitement up his spine. Too often he’d been the steady one, staring down a scope, a surgical removal to keep others safe, distanced from the kill and the action. The cat and mouse with Elliot was a game that he was enjoying far too much.
Add to which, Elliot was gorgeous and sexy, and all kinds of a hard-ass, and Cole was happy to surveil the guy every moment he could. Elliot was a good guy who didn’t smile much, but he’d broken up with his boyfriend two months before; he shopped organically and lived close to the place Sanctuary called Head Office in Chicago. All things being even, Elliot would score high on Cole’s list of ideal attributes in a lover. There was nothing better than roughing up an organic-loving tight-ass and reducing him to a puddle of goo in the middle of snow-white sheets.
Not that he’d spent a long time fantasizing about Elliot naked and in his bed.
He listened for the tiny noises that would give Elliot’s arrival away, not as close as breathing, but his movement could block sounds from the street beyond, if only infinitesimally.
The cold air promised more snow; Cole knew the only thing that could give him away would be the puff of his breath, so he burrowed down into the scarf twisted around his neck.
A soft scuff of leather on the sidewalk had Cole stiffening, and he briefly tightened his grip on the lethal SIG in his hand. He relaxed only a millisecond later when a woman’s laughter and a man’s voice had him focusing past the light and to the street beyond. He was right on Englewood’s district line, and the whole meeting was playing out in a place where he felt way too exposed. He knew his mark had set this meet here for a reason. Mario was a shifty fucker who played the game of criminal very well. Little did the man know that nothing was going to keep him safe if he fucked Cole over. Not tonight. Not ever.
The woman laughed again, but this time the sound seemed a little off, as if she hadn’t really meant to laugh. There was no real joy in the noise.
Too late he realized what that meant.
Too late when the whisper of a movement to his left turned into the barrel of a weapon smacking his temple.
The wall kept him standing, but the sweep of a foot behind his knee had him landing heavily on one side, in stagnant water. Cole didn’t lay there waiting for the next part of this dance; he was rolling even as he fell, one leg darting out as he rose, catching his assailant in the thigh and causing him to stumble back. Coming to a crouch, Cole admired the way the other man’s stumble turned into nothing more than a sidestep and a twisting motion that missed Cole by inches.
Cole took the initiative, stepping right into the man’s space, up close to Elliot’s face, and in seconds he’d pushed him hard against the wall.
“Leave it,” Cole growled, when what he wanted to do was sit Elliot down and explain exactly why he needed Elliot to leave right the fuck now.
“Fuck you,” Elliot snapped, even as he fell limp in Cole’s hold, then yanked free to shove a knee right into Cole’s groin.
He missed by inches; the force of the shove went to Cole’s inner thigh, hard enough to give him a dead leg long enough to give Elliot the upper hand.
But Cole wasn’t done. He countered with a punch to Elliot’s face, feeling the wetness of fist on skin at the point where Elliot’s head snapped back with a spray of blood. A normal man would be on the ground after that—hell, a normal man wouldn’t have gotten out of Cole’s press against the wall.
Elliot wasn’t a normal man. He was trained, focused, and fucking vicious at it.
“They’re really close now; you need to end this with Sanctuary.”
His sister’s voice in his ear was enough to make Cole follow through with another punch that caught cheekbone and hair and then slid past to slam the wall. He cursed the contact and his stupidity at giving Elliot the upper hand. This time it was Cole himself up against the wall, and he could see dark eyes, focused and hard, and feel the fingers tightening on his throat. He attempted to go limp, but all Elliot did was push harder, which left only one thing. Elliot was close, and with a concerted effort, Cole snapped his head forward, the top smacking Elliot between the eyes.
Elliot crumpled at first, momentarily stunned, and then he stumbled to stand.
But Cole was prepared, retrieving his weapon and pointing it directly at Elliot. “Run,” he snapped.
Elliot said nothing, stepping toward him. Fuck, did the man not care that Cole had a gun on him?
“You have company one minute out.” The voice in his ear sounded a little frantic.
Fuck, this whole thing was going wrong. Cole had his mark and various cronies bearing down on him, and Sanctuary in the shape of Elliot right in the freaking middle.
But if Cole left, then what about the kids? Teenagers the same age as his brother, straight from the boat, working in slavery for the Varga organization. They had a deal, and tonight Cole had the money and the upper hand.
Or at least he had until Elliot tracked him down.
“You have to leave,” he snapped and gestured with the gun.
Surprise made Elliot frown, and only when he saw that did Cole realize he’d fucked up—they were standing under the street light. They needed to get back into the shadows. Cole shoved him back against the wall, wincing at the sound of Elliot’s skull making contact with the bricks before he wordlessly slid to the ground in the darkness.
And then it was too late to think of anything.
At the same time his sister’s frantic voice warned him that a car was turning onto the street, Cole heard a voice from the darkness.
So, his mark had sent an advance guard, and all Cole could think was that if it was his time to die, he didn’t want to take anyone with him.
“Drop the gun, asshole,” a voice said from somewhere beyond the light. He caught sight of the semi-automatic weapon as the person stepped forward; he didn’t stand a chance against that kind of firepower. The barrel of another gun poked at the base of his skull.
Cole dropped his pistol to the ground, feeling abruptly bereft. “It’s done,” he said to whoever the hell was behind him.
Cole lifted his hands and laced them behind his head, looking right into the darkness, not able to see Elliot’s form but hoping to hell he stayed the fuck down. Very deliberately he turned to face the man with the gun at his head.
“Talk to me,” his sister snapped at him, her voice dead and cold, gone past emotional and well into focused.
“You realize I have a meeting with Mario, right? That this was organized? He won’t take it well when he finds out you’re here with a gun on me.”
A nasal voice joined in. “I’m quite happy with the situation,” Mario said.
And right there and then, Cole knew time was up. He needed to confront this; he had a legitimate cover there, and he needed to maintain it. Slowly he unclasped his hands and let them hang loosely at his sides. “What the fuck, man?” he asked.
“Do you have access to the money?”
Cole wasn’t letting the evil fucker get control of the conversation. “How many?” he asked firmly.
Mario looked at him; a group of others, all armed, were crowding around him. Mario was nothing if not the nervous type, twitchy like a ferret, all sharp angles, and meth-head eyes. He’d made it so far in the Varga organization only due to the fact he was Varga’s nephew or cousin, or some such shit.
He was also suspicious as hell of anything and everything, which was why it had taken this long for Cole to get anywhere near him. Tonight wasn’t the night that Cole got to deal with erasing Mario from existence; he had kids to get out alive. That was his priority.
“You can have seven of them,” Mario said, his lips stretching in an obscene grin.
“The deal was for all ten.”
Mario shrugged as if he wasn’t playing with people’s lives. “I have a market for the other three,” he said nonchalantly.
Cole knew exactly what that meant: the younger girls parceled up and sold on. “All ten, or no deal,” he stated, keeping emotion out of his voice.
“Then the price goes up. No skin off my nose who gets them.”
“How much?”
“Well now… just how badly do you want them all?”
One of Mario’s men snickered, and the sound echoed in the otherwise quiet alley.
Cole could play it two ways: show his hand and admit he was desperate to get all ten of the illegals Mario had, or try to call his bluff.
“Fuck you,” Cole said, and drew himself tall. He wished he had his weapon, but he’d just have to hope to hell that confronting was the answer. “The deal’s off.”
He bent to pick up his weapon, slowly placing it back into the holster and straightening his jacket. Varga senior would be pissed with his lieutenant blowing a deal like that. Getting illegals to the city was one thing, offloading them with profit above and beyond what the illegals had probably paid to get there was an entirely different ball game. He could visualize the thought processes going on…Mario was the youngest of three lieutenants that reported to Varga, the one still out to prove himself, and he wouldn’t want to lose the deal.
“An extra ten,” Mario said, throwing it out as if it meant nothing to him.
“Five.” Cole couldn’t give in too easily.
“Hell, I can get double that on the ’net for the seven-year-old,” Mario said.
Cole had to stop the panic pushing at his chest and nausea that threatened to have him vomiting on the sidewalk. The idea of a child as young as seven being under this bastard’s control made him sick to his stomach. He pretended to consider the deal, knowing full well he’d pay every fucking cent. “Seven-five and we’re done, cash in the bank.” He even injected a small note of respect into his voice, which had Mario preening in front of his posse. He’d save face, and Cole would keep his persona of didn’t-give-a-shit human trafficker intact.
“I’ll take that,” Mario said.
One of the posse stepped forward, and intel was buzzing in his ear about twelve souls being inside the warehouse. Not ten, twelve. Two of them were moving around, the other ten not moving much. Twelve heat signatures, so all ten kids were alive—but the extra two? Mario was fucking with him, had likely placed two men inside. Cole would take a step inside the warehouse, and be a dead man.
How had he blown his cover? This wasn’t the first deal he’d brokered with Mario, setting up his cover as a trader in human flesh, looking for ways to save lives and get deep into Varga’s organization at the same time. But something wasn’t right…
Very carefully and deliberately he pulled out his cell, and with a few button presses, transferred the fifty, plus the extra seven-five, into the account he’d been given details of. Next to Mario one of the guys checked his own cell and nodded.
“It’s cleared.”
Mario tossed the key card for the warehouse to Cole, who caught it deftly. “All yours,” Mario said, and then he turned and left, taking everyone with him.
“Heads-up,” his sister said. “The extra two have left the building at the rear. Hovering outside the closed door.”
What the fuck?
Cole crossed to the steel door and waved the card at the lock, half surprised when the door actually clicked and swung open. He pushed his way in to be faced with piles of packing cases and pallets. Pulling the door shut behind him, he cautiously made his way around the piles and checked out the corners of the warehouse. He’d lost contact with outside assistance since he’d walked in there, just one hell of a lot of static and not much in the way of a voice.
He rounded what he imagined was the last corner to find ten—he counted—kids and teenagers, none older than fourteen: six girls and four boys huddled together, bound with chains to a metal framework. Most of them stared at him with dead eyes; only the youngest was whimpering and crying. What had they been through to get here? Torn from their families, placed into shipping containers, and then passed around to their new owners on payment of money?
Immediately he went to a crouch and held out a hand in a gesture of innocence. “It’s okay,” he said in English. “I’m here to help.”
He repeated it in as many languages as he’d learned those words in, hoping to hell he’d hit the jackpot somewhere along the way. He approached the closest child, a boy of thirteen or so who stared at him blankly. Apologizing in soft tones, Cole reached over and checked the chain. He found a simple lock that he could have them out of quickly. He pulled out his kit, dealt first with one lock, then another, his hands shaky at first, waiting to die in a hail of bullets. At least he could get the kids away.
The radio crackled and hissed in his ear; he could only make out a few words. Fire! Get out.
Resolutely he continued with the chains until all ten were free; he realized they’d all gathered close to him, some holding hands, but all looking to him as smoke edged under the boxes and into their corner. Cole was considerably taller than the children, and he could see past the nearest blockage to a hint of fire beyond, cutting them off from the exit.
So, that was how he was being taken out of the equation; that was how Mario deleted him from the Chicago sex trade. Mario was removing a rival, along with ten innocent kids.
Think.
“Sis? Can you hear me?” He spoke loudly above the sound of the littlest girl crying. In a smooth move, he scooped her up, holding her tight. If there was no way out of here and they were all going to die, what would he do? He had bullets; he could shoot some of the kids? Fuck, the horror was sick inside him. Think. Think. He wasn’t going to let anyone burn to death.
Stop, he told himself. There’s nothing to be won by planning for the worst.
He looked up at the vents and tiny windows about twenty feet from the floor. He could pile boxes, pass the kids up, smash the window.
The heat was getting noticeable; the huddle of kids pressed tighter. They didn’t have much time. An explosion of glass had them all ducking as panes shattered around them. Had the fire reached the windows?
Then he heard shouting.
“Up here!” a voice demanded, and peering up, Cole could see Elliot scrambling through the space and lowering himself in, dropping and rolling awkwardly. “Get the boxes.”
For a second, Cole was immobile, and then adrenaline flooded into him. Between him and Elliot, they made a pile of boxes and crates. A step up, lifting and dragging, and one by one the kids were out of the window, wriggling through the space. Elliot went next, going out, then reaching back in as fire began to lick at the boxes.
Cole’s breathing became labored. And then he spotted the smallest kid, curled into a ball, her face hidden by her hands and her long dark hair. She was so tiny and scared, way down on the ground, not climbing up as the others had done. Cole thought she’d been first out, but in the chaos, he’d missed her.
“Kid!” Elliot shouted from the window.
But if anything, she curled tighter, her hands over her ears, rocking slowly. “I’m going back down,” Cole said.
“You have thirty seconds before this whole place lights up.”
Cole didn’t hesitate—he wasn’t about to leave a child behind. He jumped lithely to the floor and into a crouch, cursing at the pain shooting up from his knee, as he crawled low under the choking smoke to where the girl huddled.
He grabbed her, but she wailed and fought against his hold. Cole ignored the scratching of fingers and the sheer panic, and climbed the crates up to the window, his chest tight; breathing hard. There he unfurled her fingers, shoving the girl through the space to Elliot, who yanked her through.
“Is that ten?” Cole gasped as the box he stood on wavered; he gripped hard at the windowsill.
“Get out.”
“Is that all ten kids?”
“Yes, grab hold!” Elliot held out a hand.
Cole tried to grip as the pile toppled, their fingers touched, and then the world fell away, stopped in a millisecond by Elliot leaning in and grabbing at Cole. Elliot pulled, and Cole scrambled, and the hungry fire bit at him, burned him even as he fell out of the building and the force of hitting the trash cans below was enough to steal his breath.
“Jesus,” Elliot snapped, smacking at Cole’s jacket to extinguish the flames as Cole shrugged it off in a panic.
As he rolled, he pulled his weapon from its holster and pointed it right between Elliot’s eyes, waiting for him to make a move. All Elliot did was raise his hands and stare at Cole with an expression that Cole couldn’t read.
Cole asked, “Where are Mario’s two goons?”
“Out cold. You’re not the man we profiled. Who the fuck are you really?”
Cole didn’t answer.
“You should know I called 911,” Elliot said, his expression unreadable.
Was Elliot giving him a chance to leave? A warning? He seemed more interested in hugging the kids to him protectively than in taking Cole down.
Cole looked away from the kids to Elliot and holstered his gun. “Do this for them,” he said. To get involved with the cops at that moment would destroy everything. “The Andreas Home on Windsor Street. It’s a special place for kids taken from their parents like this. Will you take them?”
Elliot nodded. “Yes,” he said, all seriousness. Then he inclined his head toward the sound of sirens.


Cole grabbed what was left of his jacket, and with one last look at Elliot and the kids, he was gone.

 

Author Bio


RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.


The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.


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EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Scarred by Mia Kerick

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Title: Scarred
Author: Mia Kerick
Release Date: March 1st 2017
Genre: Adult, Gay Romance, LGBT

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From bestselling author Mia Kerick comes a New Adult Gay Romance that will keep you up reading all night!

Matthew North waited ten years to heal from the devastating wounds inflicted by the man who abducted and abused him as a child. Living reclusively on a tropical island—with no company but his four cats—he merely avoids the lingering pain.

Wearing twisted ropes of mutilated skin on his back, Matt struggles with a profound hindrance—the scars that deaden his soul. However, on the night he meets lively Vedie Wilson, a local restaurant busboy who expresses his gender by wearing lipgloss and eyeliner along with his three-day beard, things change.

Gradually, Vedie and Mateo unite in friendship. Through a series of awkward encounters, the pair learns each other’s secrets. Vedie learns that an angelic face can front for a scarred soul. Matthew learns that the line between one’s masculine and feminine sides is blurred. Can they embrace the painful stories behind each other’s scars if they’re to find everlasting love? Or will surrendered love come to be yet another blemish on their souls?

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Cool Dudes Publishing

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EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT

Vedie

Mateo stands in the dark shadows close to the building and somehow looks hot, not creepy.

“Mateo… why you here?” I don’t sound too friendly, but then, me and him ain’t friends.

“Guess I’m in the mood for dessert.”

The dude’s studying me like he ain’t never seen a boy dressed in girl’s clothes. When he’s done gawkin’, he tilts his head and asks in a cool voice, “You in drag tonight?”

“Nah. I ain’t in drag.”  I look him in the eye and add, “This is just how I feel right now,” and I wonder if me bein’ dressed up like a lady might be a deal breaker.

He’s checking me out, but his eyes are spooked, just like they were when I brought him his first drink at the Tiki Hut. And I seen eyes like his before—right off the bat they make me think of Miz Diaz, my downstairs neighbor from back when I was a kid in the hood. She had the exact same look in her eyes the day of the drive-by near Ryan Playground… on the day her little Rosita got shot in the back of the neck.

It’s nighttime, so I can’t tell if them eyes are dark or light, but they’re as hollow as an empty cardboard box dumped on the city sidewalk. And it’s like there should be blood smeared on his chin or sprayed across his forehead, ‘cause the look on his face hollers, “I got jumped!” But there ain’t no blood on no sidewalk and there ain’t no Miz Diaz screaming in the alley and there ain’t no drive-by shootin’—I can’t see nothing around us ‘cept for the pretty tropical, nighttime sky and palm trees blowing real gentle in the breeze—the shit I came down here to no-man’s-land for.

I’m lying. It ain’t.

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About the Author

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Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—one in law school, another in dance school, a third in school at Mia’s alma mater, Boston College, and her lone son still in high school. (Mia is a major fan of the learning process!) She writes LGBTQ romance when not editing National Honor Society essays, offering opinions on college and law school applications, helping to create dance bios, and reviewing English papers. Her husband of twenty-three years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about this, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships. She has a great affinity for the tortured hero. There is, at minimum, one of these in each book. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with tales of said tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to CoolDudes Publishing, Dreamspinner Press, Harmony Ink Press, and Evernight Publishing for providing her with alternate places to stash her stories.

A social liberal, Mia cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

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