Friday, August 16, 2019

A Gift for Fans of the Diversion Series

What is a series author to do with information that needs to be delivered between books 7 and 8, but that doesn't belong in 8? Why, write a novella! Or better yet, two novellas!

The first takes place after Suspicion (Diversion 7) ends, and introduces Bo's family (finally!) Relation (Diversion 7.1) is now available to all you Bo and Lucky fans, and best of all, it's absolutely free.



Expecting to die while trapped in a Mexican drug tunnel can make a man rethink his life choices.
Bo and Lucky have a home, steady, if dangerous, work, and each other. Maybe even the beginnings of the reconciliation with the Lucklighter clan they promised themselves. The Schollenburgers, though—Bo hasn’t yet opened up that can of worms, near-death experiences or no.
Yet another Thanksgiving approaches with no plans to celebrate with family. Lucky’s willing to wait as long as Bo needs to get up his gumption.

He’s not nearly so patient with the bikers stalking him.

Get your copy today. 

Friday, August 9, 2019

The Me of Today

I had an interesting conversation with a friend recently. We were discussing books we liked, and I mentioned a book I once picked up and didn't finish because it simply wasn't to my tastes. A year later, I tried again, and thought, "What didn't I like about this book? It's fabulous!" The answer?

The book didn't change, I did.

We are all influenced by the world around us, our experiences, and whether we like it or not, the opinions of others, however subtly at times. When I look back over my life, my thoughts, opinions, and worldview changed over time. I learned, I looked at things a different way.

A phrase crept into the conversation with my friend: "the me of today." Instead of saying we didn't like a certain book or genre, we realized how we evolve in our tastes, likes, and dislikes. The me of today is vastly different from the me of ten years ago, twenty years ago, etc. So instead of saying we didn't like something, we said, "the me of today didn't really care for that."

Which brings me to why you won't see low ratings on books on my Goodreads list. The book I didn't like today might be the book I adore three years from now. Wouldn't I feel bad if I'd given the story a low rating or review? Also, I use that site to talk about the books I think those with similar reading tastes might like.

The great part? We're all entitled to our opinions. Isn't free-thought amazing? But my opinions change as I become older, wiser, and my understanding of the world shifts. 

So, the book on my e-reader that I didn't finish five years ago? Maybe it's time for the current me to look again.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Fan Art

A dear reader loved the Diversion series, and created fan art to post to Twitter. Oh, my God! Fan art! And such squee-worthy fan art too!

I love it so much that I contacted them and worked out a deal to use the image for swag and promotion. It's a scene straight from the first book, Diversion 1, and is a fitting representation of Bo and Lucky's relationship.

The art is by super talented artist Ayu Yamane.

Isn't it amazing? And sssooooooo Lucky and Bo!




If you're attending GRL this year, be sure to stop by, see me, and get your Bo and Lucky swag!


Click here to see the artist's other awesome works!

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Passage of Time -- Or Books Don't Always Age Well

I'm currently reviewing the audio file for Settling the Score, one of my earlier books, one I'm quite proud of, and a 2012 Lambda Awards finalist. The narrator is awesome, with a great sense of comic timing, but in listening to this book, I have found a few things cringe-worthy. The book contains elements that mark it as a seven-year-old book.

While the mention of a telephone answering machine isn't really too outdated, especially since lead characters Joey's family lives simply, and don't necessarily keep up with technology, it still stood out for me.

Another statement that shows the story's age is Joey's sister's plucked eyebrows, which are no longer the fashion. Love interest Troy's Jaguar also has a CD player, which would work if it's a classic car. Troy uses an iPod, but seeing as he's technologically challenged, that could still work too.

Who knows? Maybe I'm the only one who'll notice because I know it's there.

Narrator Joseph Morgan brings the characters to awesome life. I'm currently reviewing the completed file, we plan for an early August Audible release.



Outed and dumped on national television by his rising star boyfriend, Joey Nichols must face the bigotry of the locals in his small Southern town alone. His dreams of a happy ever after lie crushed at his feet.
Novelist Troy Steele has an axe to grind against Hollywood heartbreaker types. Transforming Joey into a gorgeous, unobtainable hunk would be payback worthy of Troy’s poison pen. It’s a brilliant way to get back at Joey’s image-obsessed ex-boyfriend and the movie producer who’s mutilating Troy’s novels.
What begins as simple revenge may tangle them together in something far more complicated. Living well may be the best revenge, but Troy and Joey could rewrite that to loving well.

Monday, July 22, 2019

What I've Been Reading: All Souls Near and Nigh (Soulbound #2) by Hailey Turner

Not too long ago I discovered a book on Audible called A Ferry of Bones and Gold by Hailey Turner, and entered a world so different, yet so close to our own.

Vampires, weres, gods, and demons all live among humans, with their own hierarchies, their own agendas, and their own brand of law enforcement, the Supernatural Operations Agency. 

Special Agent Patrick Collins as been through the wringer: a traumatic childhood, raised without love and support, and with a damaged soul. He practiced magic in the mage corp, a supernatural division of the military, until an accident saps his abilities.

He's recovering, getting his feet under him, and trying to find his way in a world suddenly changed for him. Patrick is a complex character, hard to get to know, but worth the effort. An assignment to New York City introduces him to some interesting characters, some who make his life better, others who make it worse.

I gave a review on A Ferry of Bones and Gold a few weeks ago, and couldn't wait to read the second one. All Souls Near and Nigh picks up where the first book left off. In fact, at the end of book 2, only two months have passed since the beginning of the first story.

What impressed me most in this book was love interest Jono, who's really stepping into his role as an alpha godpack werewolf. He's not a part of the NYC godpack, and is in the city at the graces of the pack. He's promised not to create a pack with anyone under their protection, however, he starts finding those not under the pack's protection who need him.

My favorite of the newcomers is a dragon fledgling names Wade, a sulky teenager with an endless capacity for junk food. Sage is back from the last book, and she too shines. While the relationship between Patrick and Jono definitely grows in this installment, Jono shows tremendous personal growth.

I'd hoped he'd challenge the incompetent alpha of the current regime, but that didn't happen yet.

There is some cruelty here, and some disturbing scenes, but this is a book of paranormal creatures who are one step away from full out war.

There is so much going on here, keeping the reader turning the page, or in my case, listening to an audiobook. By the way, excellent narrator.

The story is riveting, well told, so engrossing I couldn't put it down. I really wish the next one was coming out soon, because I'm hooked on this series.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Accidental Pumpkins

This year Bear and I created a container garden on our front porch. Although we have plenty of room for a regular garden, we also share this land with deer, rabbits, goats, and other critters who'd just love fresh produce.

We've been working on mulch pits since last fall, tossing things like vegetable peels, apple cores, etc., into the mix. When spring came, we used the mulch for our container garden. We planted squash, cucumbers, green peppers, tomatoes, and okra.

All came up beautifully, but there was something off with the okra. The blossoms appeared to look more like squash blossoms, and when they fell, a round ball-looking thing form.

It grew. And grew. And grew. Even more confusing, the okra had vine-like characteristics, and then started blooming the more familiar purple and yellow Okra blossoms.

It seems last year's Halloween pumpkin made a comeback, and a volunteer pumpkin vine had infiltrated our okra.

Now our one lone pumpkin is developing and nice orange color, it's way early for Halloween, and I have no idea what to do with an ornamental pumpkin this time of year. If it was a pie pumpkin, it would soon find itself in a pie crust, but for now, I just keep watering the plant and watching it grow.

As a side note, I finally got some okra too.


Monday, July 15, 2019

Getting Ready for GRL!

Even though it's a few months off, I'm trying to get ready for GRL. I've been many times, in fact, I've only missed the one in San Diego, so I'm a veteran of these things. However, I can't think of one single costume for the party, the theme being "My Superpower."

Dang. I just did. Okay. This might work.

Anyway, now I'm stuck for swag. In the past I've prepared tons of swag, and normally brought back too much of it. Usually I offer about ten different items. This year, I'm scaling back, but hopefully what I've chosen will be meaningful. And yes, I didn't have a clue what to do until I started writing this post. Y'all are amazing, you know that?

I'm having to travel light this year, as I'm flying and it seems most airlines don't want you to bring clothes, let alone a suitcase full of books.

Due to those restrictions, I'm afraid I'll be relying on presales, and bringing only the books I need. You can pre-order books here. 

Bear is coming with me this time, and so is one of the cubs! I can't wait for them to experience the whole GRL tribe. My husband looks forward to this event as much as I do, and has many friends among the attendees.

So if you're heading for Albuquerque in October, I'll see you there!

If you want to stop by at GRL and say hello, my author lounges are Thursday from 4:00 PM to 4:45 PM, and Friday, from 10:00 AM to 10:45 AM.

Also, I'll be reading on Friday, from 3:30 PM to 4:20 PM. I'm not sure yet which book I'll be reading from.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Cheating in Novels and Real Life

One thing I've learned from social media posts is that readers hate cheating. They want the happy, and cheating is a big no-no.

There are also many different definitions of "cheating" too. Some readers are so adamant about the issue that if one of the main characters is intimate with someone other than the intended love interest, even before they actually get together, it's cheating. Others think it's perfectly fine for one or both parties to have sex with other people.

Cheating happens. It's brutal and it hurts and it's hard to recover from. However, sometimes cheating isn't the end, but merely a bump in the road on the way to a stronger couple.

I recently read a book about a long term couple, in which one made a horrible mistake, confessed, and destroyed the trust between them. I won't mention the book's title, because this situation is not described in the blurb and I don't want to give spoilers. However, the author vividly describes the situation from both points of view, and it broke my heart.

There are two sides to every story, and this one leaves you breathless and hopeful, showing the lengths it took for these two men to start talking again and trying to work through the issues in their marriage.

Cheating doesn't have to be the end, but sometimes there is no going back.

I know several people who have been there and chose to ride out the storm, hoping there'd be a light at the end of the journey, myself included. One of the people I talked to held on for two years while their partner had an affair, and ultimately the cheating partner left for their paramour.

There have been some cases, though, where the couple did reconcile--one couple I know getting back together after being divorced for  three years. They've been married over twenty-five years since then, so guess that's testament to the fact that cheating doesn't always mean the end.

Still, in romance, it's all about the happy, so tell me: How do you feel about cheating in books? End of the line, or obstacle to overcome?

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Back 2 Good, or the Wonderful Adventure

The Telling first published in book format in 2009, ten years ago. Today I thought of that story that launched my career as a writer, and did a little reflecting.

At the time, I was very open about the reasons for that book, but those who've discovered my writing more recently may not be aware of the book's inspiration. 

The Telling is a very personal work, what some call a "therapy book." I didn't merely write the story, I pretty much cut myself open and bled all over the pages. The pages are full of symbolism, though it might not be obvious. 

2007-2009 marked the darkest time of my life. Reality had kicked me in the teeth, leaving me reeling and wondering what I had done to deserve the hardship I found myself in. "Low" didn't even begin to cover my state of mind. Getting through a single day seemed like such a big accomplishment. I hurt. I didn't know a person could be in so much emotional pain and still exist. 

A dear friend tried to help, but what could she do long-distance? We talked books a lot, and our love of fiction is how we met and bonded. She challenged me to write a book, pouring out my bottle of pain. 

The result is The Telling, the story of a young veteran returning home with damaged hearing and internal scars from seeing so much, so young. He also struggled with coming out. His intention was to go back to his small town, get back on his feet, and leave to find a place where he could live his authentic life. 

How does this relate to me, you ask? I poured my doubts, fears, and insecurities into the characters. Every single person but one represents some facet of my life, from the ideals I was raised with and could no longer support, to my insecurities as a mother. 

Something strange happened along the way: the characters started developing strengths. I realized their strengths were also facets of myself that I didn't even know I had. 

The main character, Michael, is in therapy, and takes music with him to his sessions to express his feelings. One song mentioned was Back 2 Good by Matchbox Twenty. My fondest desire at the time was to get "Back 2 Good" myself. Also, at the time, I couldn't see that happening. 

It took years, ten to be exact, from then until now, and during my reflection today I was surprised to realize how far removed I am from that time. It wasn't easy, in fact it was painful as hell, but step by step, day by day, I learned to live again. 

The book was, of course, too personal to sell, so I published some of it on websites, but also self-published, giving the book away for free. However, when I published it to Amazon, for some reason they never allowed me to mark it perma-free, so I put the price as low as possible (.99), and donated the proceeds to PFLAG. 

Besides the self-recovery, something else wonderful happened. People began writing to me, telling me their stories, or how much my book meant to them, or even how reading my book opened someone's mind and heart to LGBTQIA+ issues. 

Some of those stories were heart-breaking, some inspirational, all touched my heart. I made friends through those e-mails that are friends to this day. 

What a difference 10 years makes. I've got a darned good day job (though I'd love to write full-time), I'm about to publish my 21st novel, my work has won awards, I've gone to New York as a Lambda finalist, and have the greatest friends on the planet. I also did something I swore I'd never do: entered into a relationship. 

With a wonderful person. 

Much has happened on my way from there to here, and I'm so glad I hung on and kept going. My life is so, so worth it.  

Friday, June 14, 2019

Redemption (Diversion 5) Now Available at Audible

Not long ago, it seems, I wanted to add audio to the Diversion series format. At least nine books. My first step was to find a narrator with the right voice and attitude to bring Lucky, Bo, Walter, and the remaining cast of this series alive.

It took eight months to find the right voice, right attitude, willing to tackle a series, is amazing to work with, and could complete each book in a few months' time.

And, dang, what a right voice he is.

Darcy Stark gave an amazing performance with books 1-4, but I have to tell you, he totally nailed book five.

Don't take my word for it; listen to the sample at Audible.

Redemption (Diversion 5)



Living is the easy part.

Agent Lucky Lucklighter and his partner escaped Mexico alive, only to plunge into bureaucratic fallout from their mission. Hell, maybe Lucky should have stayed south of the border. Especially when the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau places Bo into rehab, and Lucky’s facing both therapy and an inquiry into a fatal shooting.

Watching over his shoulder for a vengeful drug lord or a cartel don calling in favors leaves his scarcely able to imagine a future for them as agents, or as lovers.

Bo Schollenberger once had a vision for their life together, but he’s bowed by the weight of his undercover work. Lucky’s hanging on by his deeply chewed fingernails, clinging to hope by making Bo’s dream of a home into reality. The last thing he needs is a phone call from a dangerous man who knows too much, summoning him back to Mexico for “An early Christmas present”.

Not when the SNB brass asks tough questions like “How well do you really know your partner?"

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Where the Frogs Bark

I'm not sure all the areas in the US they populate, but there is a little-known critter in the Southern US frog world called the barking frog. That's right, folks. A barking frog. While I'd never seen or heard one until recently, now they seem to be everywhere.

Especially sitting in the bedroom window sill in the middle of the night.

Barking.

All. Night. Long.

They are a form of tree frog, way too small to make so much noise, but there you go. Yes, they sound like a dog barking, or more precisely, a puppy. We call them puppy frogs. I even knew a woman once who went outside looking for the puppy.

The ones outside my house sound more like puppies, but this are the best video I could find:




Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Good Old Boys (and Girls!) in Pickup Trucs

I'm an independent woman, I do things for myself, and I'm proud to be that way, especially having been raised in a "young ladies don't do that" kind of world. It took me way too long to start replying, "This one does!" As independent as I am, however, there is a basic task that I've never performed:

I've never changed a tire on my car.

Don't get me wrong, I'm willing and I've tried, but one thing kept stopping me.

For all that the South has it's bad points, there is one shiny pinnacle of rightness: the good old boy or girl in a pickup truck.

Within moments of parking on the roadside, throwing open the trunk and digging out the necessary (if unfamiliar) equipment, help has always arrived. We're talking people who live to assist others, and who greatly restore my faith in humanity.

Today my 22-year-old daughter called, stranded with a flat tire. I made her sister a bet: that by the time we got there, the tire would be changed. I wasn't wrong. Thankfully, it was broad daylight and she found a safe place to park in a church parking lot, that more than likely was monitored by cameras.

It was a woman who saw my daughter, a mere wisp of a thing who could jump up and down on the tire tool and still not be able to loosen the lug nuts. This woman called her husband and said, "Go help this girl." He did.

There's a lot of bad in the world, but there's a lot of good too. Like people who go out of their way to help strangers.

May they forever be.


Sunday, May 26, 2019

Eden Winters and the Bath Bomb of Doom!

I'm a simple woman at heart, and like simple things. Whenever my family members tell me I'm hard to buy presents for, I merely remind them of these four things that make my world so much better:

1) Decaf dark roast coffee
2) Audible codes
3) Dark chocolate (bonus if it has peppers or ginger)
4) Bath bombs

I grew up with the occasional bubble bath, graduated to bath oil, dabbled in making my own for a while, then ordered exotic soaps online. Finally, a few years ago, I discovered bath bombs. Oh, happy day!

About that time I married and moved into my husband's house, complete with ginormous garden tub. (No, I didn't marry him for the tub, that's just a rumor.)

Anyway, nothing relaxes me more at the end of the day than a nice, long soak while listening to an audio book. Last week a new shipment of bath bombs arrived (I buy them in the 42-pack), and this time there were some new ones I hadn't seen before.

Like the green one, labeled "Balance." Now, I've had a few bad bath bomb experiences, like the glitter bomb from Hell, and the one loaded with lavender. Actual lavender. Nothing floating in the bathwater, please. But the moment I saw this innocent-looking green sphere, I should have been on my guard.

Now this wasn't just any old green. It was dark green, almost black. Okay, well, they wouldn't have put in in a bath bomb to contact skin if it wasn't safe, right?

Right?

I unwrapped it, tossed it into the tub, started my audio book and prepared to soak. Dark plumes of what looked like smoke snaked through the water, the embodiment of evil (okay, I'm a writer and might be prone to exaggeration).

It had to be safe, right? I mean, if it was as dangerous as it appeared buyers would be screaming to the company, wouldn't they?

I relaxed, listening to my book. Then lifted my arm. Oh, damn. What was that? And on my leg! And, and...

On the sides of the tub. Basically everywhere. Hell, how'd it get on the floor? I soaked for thirty minutes, scrubbed the tub for forty, and hope the stain fades from my skin by the time I return to work on Tuesday.

I look like Abe Sapien from Hell Boy!

At least it smelled nice.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

When Stories Attack! Or, Why There's Gonna Be a Diversion 7.1 and 7.2

If you've been following the Diversion series, then you know how book 7 ended. For everyone else I won't give spoilers. A funny thing happened on the way to Diversion 8, however: Story lines needed to happen to get from where 7 ended and 8 begins, but that additional information doesn't belong in book 8. I know, I tried to put it there.

The solution I came up with is two novellas, each between 15,000 and 20,000 words. The first introduces Bo's family and reveals a little more about him. The second? Well, Lucky and Bo finally, FINALLY get to spend Christmas together.

Maybe.

The first is tentatively called Relation, and the second, Tradition, as two very different people from very different backgrounds try to establish what their shared holiday traditions will be.

These two pieces also set the stage for some of the happenings in Decision (Diversion 8), which begins in March. Book 7 ended in September.

Both novellas are with my beta now and I hope to announce their publication dates soon.

The plan is still for 9 Diversion novels, but there might be an ending epilogue, Diversion 9.1, to firmly tie up the series. These guys have been a part of my life for so long I hate to say goodbye, but for now, it's full speed ahead on Bo and Lucky's adventures.

Also, Diversion 1-4 is now out in audio at Audible, as is a box set of the first three books: Diversion, Collusion, and Corruption.

The box set is also available in e-book format at Amazon.com and other online bookstores.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Diversion Box Set Vol. 1, Now Available at Audible

I devour audio books, going through several each week, so I love a good audio book sale. That's just what you'll get with the Diversion Box Set Vol. 1, Diversion, Collusion, and Corruption all in a package deal for one credit or $20.96.



Diversion:
There are good guys, bad guys, and then there’s Lucky. 
Former drug trafficker Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter flaunts his past like a badge of honor. He speaks his mind, doesn’t play nice, and flirts with disaster while working off his sentence with the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau. If he can keep out of trouble a while longer he’ll be a free man - after he trains his replacement.

Two men. Close quarters. Friction results in heat. But Lucky scoffs at partnerships, no matter how thrilling the roller-coaster. Bo has two months to break down Lucky’s defenses...and seconds are ticking by. 

Collusion

Dead men can’t love. 

Former drug trafficker Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter “died” in the line of duty while working off a ten-year sentence in service to the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau, only to be reborn as Simon “Lucky” Harrison. The newbie he trained, former Marine Bo Schollenberger, is now his partner on (and maybe off) the job. It’s hard to tell when Lucky doesn’t understand relationships or have a clue what any sane human is doing in his bed. Bo’s nice to have around, sure, but there’s none of that picking-out-china-together crap for Lucky.

When a prescription drug shortage jeopardizes the patients at Rosario Children’s Cancer Center, it not only pits Bo and Lucky against predatory opportunists, but also each other. How can they tell who the villains are? The bad guys don’t wear black hats, but they might wear white coats. 

Corruption

Renegade biker. Drug runner. Recovering addict. Wanted by the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau. But he isn’t a crook, he’s the law. 

SNB Agent Bo Schollenberger’s solved his cases using his brains and not a gun, and with his partner, not alone. Now he’s handed a tough new case involving designer drugs that turn users violent. One false move could end his life as he immerses himself into a motorcycle gang to locate the source. His fate depends on how well he can impersonate someone else. Someone named Cyrus Cooper. 
Cyrus is everything Bo Schollenberger isn’t, including the badass enforcer for a smuggling ring. He establishes pecking order with his fists and doesn’t take shit from anybody, not even the undercover agent who comes to help his case.

When survival depends on a web of tangled lies, lines blur, worlds collide, and a high stakes game turns friend to foe. Lucky knows the difference between Bo the agent and Cyrus the outlaw, but does Bo?

Get your copy today at Audible. 

Saturday, May 11, 2019

What I'm Reading: Bone to Pick by T.A. Moore

Although I don't personally know T.A. Moore (I think we might have met briefly at a convention once), she has crafted a book that could have been taken from my perfect book wish list: Bone to Pick

Well written? Check
Well researched? Check
Gritty story? Check
Lots of action? Check
Complex characters? Check
Moments of comedy mixed in to ease the "twisting the knife*" factor? Check
Great secondary characters? Check
Character with average looks and not an Adonis? Check (non-GQ models need love too).
Realism? Check
Case wrapped up in a way that didn't require whiskey therapy? Check
Great, understandable tension between two main characters? Check, check, check

Bourneville the dog was pure bonus.

While I like romance, it's not a necessity to a story for my enjoyment. Not every relationship starts with hearts and flowers. That the two men care about each other is enough for me. I'm hoping that aspect continues into the next book, and grows there.

In that way this book reminds me of the Adrien English series by Josh Lanyon. Fantastic story, lots of believable action, and two protagonists who have their own issues to deal with before they can grow close. (Hmmm... Did I read the last book in the series? I can't remember how that all worked out *runs to check* Nope. Gotta get on that.)

Anyway, I digress. Sorry. Those who know me know to expect that. Oh! Squirrel! Bone to Pick is packed with action and I may have alienated my family while listening to this audio book.

Family outing: me in headphones.
Anyone trying to speak to me at home: me in headphones.
In my car: story playing through speakers.
Any moment I could get, no matter how brief:: me in headphones.

Sadly, I don't have time to read, so rely on audio books to get my fiction fix. Does anyone know when the second installment is due to hit Audible? Despite my recent bad behavior by devoting every waking moment to listening to this book, my loving family still gave me Audible credits for Mother's Day.

Highly recommended. I'd never read anything by Moore two months ago, now I'm a huge fan.

If your reading wish list resembles mine, read this book.  Loved it, loved it, loved it.

*Twisting the knife factor: When the angst begins and escalates on every page, twisting the knife tighter and tighter without a single moment of relief.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Other Authors' Books

I'm an author, but I'm also a reader. If I find a book I like, I don't mind shouting from the rooftops, "Read this book!"

Here's some of the ones I've read lately that I really enjoyed. A lot.

T.A. Moore's Wanted, Bad Boyfriend, and Dog Days. MM Romance for sure, but completely different sub-genres. And the author does them well

Hailey Turner's A Ferry of Bones and Gold. Amazing world building, and one heck of an urban fantasy.

IRL In Real Life by Lucy Lennox and Molly Maddox.

Anything by Rhys Ford. Let's face it, I'd read her grocery list. And probably give it five stars. It would be worth five stars.

Roan Parrish's Rend and Riven. Not your normal rocker story.

L.A. Witt and Cari Z's Bad Behavior series. Couldn't put them down (which kinda got in the way when I was trying to wash dishes or fold clothes, ya know?)

Z.A. Maxfield's ePistols at Dawn. ZAM can sure tell a great story, so let's add in St. Nacho's too. Her depiction of a young hearing-impaired man who won't let anything slow him down was fantastic.

I meant to stop here, but I have to add one more: Kim Fielding's Brute.

Thank you, authors, for keeping me entertained during my hellish daily commute and, in some cases, challenging me to learn new things.


Saturday, May 4, 2019

Sub Titles

I was setting up a Novels page here on the blog and got a bit tired of the normal, "This book is available from Rocky Ridge Books." Subtitles came to mind for each one:



 Corruption is available from Rocky Ridge Books. Bo. As a biker. In assless chaps. Need I say more?

Manipulation from Rocky Ridge Books because Lucky doesn't have enough problems already, ammirite?

Redemption is available from Rocky Ridge Books. See Lucky's soft side. Okay, soft-er. Lucky doesn't do soft. 

Check out Reunion from Rocky Ridge Books.  You can't go home again ('cause the family is still there, and well...)

Suspicion is available from Rocky Ridge Books.  Lucky's teaming up with who?!?!?!?

Diversion Box Set Vol 1. This compilation is available at Amazon.com. No lie: while writing this series I was channeling Lucky so hard I got a raise at my day job. 

Settling the Score is available from Rocky Ridge Books, 'cause getting even stories are such a guilty pleasure. 

The Telling is available from Rocky Ridge Books. The book that started it all. And scored a nice chunk of change for my local PFLAG chapter. 

Find The Angel of 13th Street at Rocky Ridge Books.  He's not rich, doesn't own a hot car or ritzy apartment, but he's out there fighting the good fight. 

Find Fallen Angel at Rocky Ridge Books. Because sometime the strongest of souls need a little help. 

 A Bear Walks Into a Bar is offered by Rocky Ridge Books. Not your mama's shifter story. Woof!

 Find Two Bears and a Baby at Rocky Ridge Books.  Ain't it great seeing a big, gruff, alpha type wrapped around a sweet little baby's finger? 

Ballantine Bears Box Set: Now available at Rocky Ridge Books, 'cause two books are better than one.

Find The Wish at Dreamspinner Press.  You know that one family member that just has to meddle? I mean, really likes to meddle? 

Duet is offered by Dreamspinner Press. Hot highlander in a kilt (mic drop).

Naked Tails: Get your possum shifters at Dreamspinner Press. Because doesn't everyone need possum shifters in their life? 

A Matter of When: Find hot rockers at Dreamspinner Press, because "Hot opera tenor" just doesn't have the same ring to it. 




Monday, April 29, 2019

Diversion Box Set, Volume 1, Now at Amazon

If you've been thinking about starting the Diversion series, but have been procrastinating, now might be a good time to follow through.

Diversion Box Set, Vol 1 is now available at Amazon! That's right, the first three installments, Diversion, Collusion, and Corruption, are compiled into one for the bargain price of $8.99.

Diversion

There are good guys, bad guys, and then there’s Lucky.

Former drug trafficker Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter flaunts his past like a badge of honor. He speaks his mind, doesn’t play nice, and flirts with disaster while working off his sentence with the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau. If he can keep out of trouble a while longer he’ll be a free man–after he trains his replacement.

Textbook-quoting, by the book Bo Schollenberger is everything Lucky isn’t. Lucky slurps coffee, Bo lives caffeine free. Lucky worships bacon, Bo eats tofu. Lucky trusts no one, Bo calls suspects by first name. Yet when the chips are down on their shared case of breaking up a drug diversion ring, they may have more in common than they believe.

Two men. Close quarters. Friction results in heat. But Lucky scoffs at partnerships, no matter how thrilling the roller-coaster. Bo has two months to break down Lucky’s defenses… and seconds are ticking by.
 

Collusion

Dead men can’t love.

Former drug trafficker Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter “died” in the line of duty while working off a ten-year sentence in service to the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau, only to be reborn as Simon “Lucky” Harrison. The newbie he trained, former Marine Bo Schollenberger, is now his partner on (and maybe off) the job. It’s hard to tell when Lucky doesn’t understand relationships or have a clue what any sane human is doing in his bed. Bo’s nice to have around, sure, but there’s none of that picking-out-china-together crap for Lucky.

While fighting PTSD, memories of a horrid childhood, and a prescription drug addiction, Bo is paying for his mistakes. Using his pharmacy license for the good guys provides the sort of education he never got in school. Undercover with his hard-headed partner, Bo learns that not everything is as it seems in the world of pharmaceuticals.

When a prescription drug shortage jeopardizes the patients at Rosario Children’s Cancer Center, it not only pits Bo and Lucky against predatory opportunists, but also each other. How can they tell who the villains are? The bad guys don’t wear black hats, but they might wear white coats.
 

Corruption

Renegade biker. Drug runner. Recovering addict. Wanted by the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau. But he isn’t a crook, he’s the law. 

SNB Agent Bo Schollenberger’s solved his cases using his brains and not a gun, and with his partner, not alone. Now he’s handed a tough new case involving designer drugs that turn users violent. One false move could end his life as he immerses himself into a motorcycle gang to locate the source. His fate depends on how well he can impersonate someone else. Someone named Cyrus Cooper. 

Cyrus is everything Bo Schollenberger isn’t, including the badass enforcer for a smuggling ring. He establishes pecking order with his fists and doesn’t take shit from anybody, not even the undercover agent who comes to help his case. 

Simon “Lucky” Harrison’s always been the best, whichever side of the law he was on. Former trafficker turned SNB agent, he damned well ought to be undercover in this motorcycle gang, instead of hanging around the office going crazy with new policies, new people, and “inter-departmental cooperation” that sticks him in a classroom. Yet he’s passed over for the SNB’s biggest case in decades in favor of the rookie who shares his bed. A man Lucky thought he knew.

When survival depends on a web of tangled lies, lines blur, worlds collide, and a high stakes game turns friend to foe. Lucky knows the difference between Bo the agent and Cyrus the outlaw, but does Bo?


Get your copy at Amazon

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Lovely New Cover for Almost Mine!

Almost Mine was due for a little spiffing up, and has a nice, new cover more evocative of the story.

What do you think?



A perfect life. A perfect home. A perfect husband. Gone in an instant. 

Ian’s world turned upside down the day Travis walked out without so much as a word, or even a backward glance, leaving a lonely Ian to wonder why. Their son implores him, “Please go see Dad.”

Two years of hurt leaves Ian ready to confront the man who’d broken his heart, but what if everything he’d believed about their failed romance turned out to be wrong? What if the biggest problem in Ian’s marriage was…Ian?

Almost Mine is available at Amazon and other etailers. 


This is a story of an established couple, fatherhood, second chances, and living with mental illness. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Highway Man the Novel

A few years ago I wrote a short story released by Torquire Press, after having seen Magnetic Fields' video Papa Was a Rodeo on a friend's website, where she said she wished someone would write a story for the song.

Challenge accepted. It's not really a story of the song, merely inspired by the song. I had to do a lot of trimming to stay under the required 8,000 word limit the publisher had for "sips". After rights reverted to me, I was able to add in the stuff I'd wanted to the first time, and the word count swelled to 15,000.

I was quite proud of that story, a departure from the norm for me, and it set the stage for writing anti-heroes. From my disillusioned rocker Killian Desmond came Lucky Lucklighter and the Diversion series.

While the story certainly wasn't a best-seller, those who loved it loved it well, wanted more, and especially wanted to hear Mike's voice. For all of you, I've revisited this work.

Highway Man is now a novel of over 60,000 words, has been polished, and is ready for my betas to read.

With any luck I'll soon be releasing this story, dedicated to the fans who wanted more.

Mike really grew on me.

The story also contains several songs written by yours truly.

I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Manipulation, Now Available in Audiobook

The talented Darcy Stark has once again brought Lucky, Bo, and the others to wonderful life with his performance of Manipulation (Diversion 4). He really nails Lucky's personality, and I love how Bo sounds a certain way, but his voice is distinctly different when he channels alter-ego Cyrus Cooper.



Lucky Lucklighter has a new life. His old life wants him back.

He traded trafficking for taking down criminals with the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau, and a drug-lord lover for a man on the right side of the law. Bo Schollenberger found the way past the thorny defenses of Lucky’s heart, and made Mr. I-Get-Along-Fine-Alone think about his and his closets, stevia in the sugar bowl, and a picket fence—with a good lock on the gate.

Now Bo is missing, and a voice long silenced asks, “Did you miss me?” Lucky must deal with a devil from his past to get Bo back.

And if Bo isn’t willing to come? A drug ring needs its back broken before flooding the US with a designer high, seductive and undetectable. But there’s a fine line between good and evil, and a truckload of temptation urging Lucky to cross.
 



You can find the audiobook version exclusively on Audible here

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Manipulation Coming in Audiobook

I've approved the audiobook file for Manipulation (Diversion Four). Darcy Stark is doing an excellent job of working his way through the series. I need to get to working on book eight, Decision, before he catches up to me!

Now the book in quality control for ACX, which usually takes about two weeks, so look for Manipulation at Audible within the next week or so.


Friday, April 12, 2019

The Cormorant

I've finally finished the menage sci-fi, and since no better title occurred to me while writing, I named it The Cormorant, for their ship.

The characters from The Sentinel were supposed to have cameos, but they wound up hanging around. So Connell and Stone fans, be prepared to see the guys again.

Now blurb time. I always struggle with those. How much of the story is enough, how much too much? What drives readers to want to read, especially menage, which is not everyone's cup of tea? However, that's how the book turned out.

Louis Quinton Van Orskey, or Van, has been in my head for years, and like Lucky in the Diversion books, he wouldn't shut up. And we saw what happened then.

Tayn wasn't so clear in the beginning and, don't tell the other characters, but he grew to become my favorite. How can you not love a guy who exists in a ship's circuits?

As for Jorvik, he started with a print I saw years ago on DeviantArt, called Tibetan Prince, with a somewhat haughty expression on his handsome face, decked out in jewels and finery. Circumstances show he's far more than meets the eye.

I'll keep you posted on when to expect this work to appear, but now I'm diving back into writing two books at one time: Decision (Diversion 8), and Highway Man the novel.

 



Friday, March 8, 2019

What I'm Working On...

Although I've been a bit quiet lately, I'm actually hard at work, both at the day job and with my writing. My currently unnamed sci-fi is in the loving hands of my beta. I really do need to think of a title soon. I don't like giving projected publishing dates and not be able to meet them, so let's just say I'll keep you posted. The search for cover art begins.

I'm working an lengthening Highway Man into a novel, for so many people have asked to know more. This one is for them. I've been advised that, career-wise, this isn't a good move as the story has already been told as a novella. However, I'm doing this for the readers, myself, and because the characters in my head are holding me hostage until I do. Also, Mike's story needs telling too. The new novel will also tell what happens after the current novella.

I've got a few short stories in the works that I chip away at every now and then, but the big project I'm devoting time to is researching for Decision (Diversion Book 8). I'm in the home stretch now of the series, and hope each book gets better and better and gives the fans their Bo and Lucky fix. I hope to finish the series in book nine, though a novella might tie up a plot point.

As usual, I'm also consuming audiobooks at an alarming rate, due to my three-hour daily work commute, and I'll post reviews of my favorites.

I hope all are doing well and, for those of you living in areas that practice Daylight Saving Time, don't forget to reset your clocks on Sunday!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Free MM Romance Books, Anyone?

I love a book deal, and what's better than a deal on the genre we love?

Check out some old favorites and some new-to-you authors now!


Find these fine romances here!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Corruption (Diversion 3) in Audiobook

Adapting the Diversion series for Audible is well underway, and I'm so loving narrator Darcy Stark's take on Lucky and Bo. Look for Manipulation (Diversion 4) to release in early April.


Get your copy of Corruption today at Audible.

Renegade biker. Drug runner. Recovering addict. Wanted by the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau. But he isn’t a crook, he’s the law. 

SNB Agent Bo Schollenberger’s solved his cases using his brains and not a gun, and with his partner, not alone. Now he’s handed a tough new case involving designer drugs that turn users violent. One false move could end his life as he immerses himself into a motorcycle gang to locate the source. His fate depends on how well he can impersonate someone else. Someone named Cyrus Cooper. 

Cyrus is everything Bo Schollenberger isn’t, including the badass enforcer for a smuggling ring. He establishes pecking order with his fists and doesn’t take shit from anybody, not even the undercover agent who comes to help his case. 

Simon “Lucky” Harrison’s always been the best, whichever side of the law he was on. Former trafficker turned SNB agent, he damned well ought to be undercover in this motorcycle gang, instead of hanging around the office going crazy with new policies, new people, and “inter-departmental cooperation” that sticks him in a classroom. Yet he’s passed over for the SNB’s biggest case in decades in favor of the rookie who shares his bed. A man Lucky thought he knew.

When survival depends on a web of tangled lies, lines blur, worlds collide, and a high stakes game turns friend to foe. Lucky knows the difference between Bo the agent and Cyrus the outlaw, but does Bo?

Saturday, February 23, 2019

What I've Been Reading: Into Deep Waters by Kaje Harper

I am an author. I hope readers will read and like my books. But I'm also very much a reader, and nothing makes me happier than to recommend books I love to other readers so they can love them too.

Words cannot express what I'm feeling right now, having just completed Kaje Harper's Into Deep Waters. This is a love story for the ages. If you know anyone who says they don't quite "get" marriage equality, this should be required reading. Actually, it should be required reading for being human and teaching empathy.

Daniel and Jacob aren't your usual gorgeous gay romance stars. They are average guys. In fact, although this is the most romantic book I've read in years, it's not "romance" as we're used to in guy meets guy, guy falls in love, has HEA or HFN. This is the story of two young Navy enlisted men who meet when they must hide what they mean to each other or risk court martial or the weight of the law. Two men whose commitment to each other knows no bounds.

A gifted author can make you feel for the characters, but a truly gifted author can make you believe these characters are real, and even now living in New Jersey, still in love, still taking tender care of each other. Kaje Harper is that author.

In ways, our protagonists are real, as reflected in real-life stories we read when we were still fighting for marriage equality. Stories of men and women who'd built entire lives together, but weren't granted the same rights as their neighbors.

To say this story touched my heart is a huge understatement. I am a voracious reader, consuming several books a week, and while I love so many of them, if I could pick one book I'd hope everyone would read, it's Into Deep Waters. Ye gods! The feels!

And you want to know the real kicker? This book is free. Absolutely, 100% free in e-book form. It's even a Rainbow Award Winner for best gay historical. I enjoyed this tale in audiobook format, and the narrator did an excellent job of capturing these characters.

Get your copy, and get ready to fall in love.

I simply cannot recommend this book highly enough.



For Jacob and Daniel, two young gay men aboard a Navy ship in WWII, the risks were high. Not just the risks of injury and death from Japanese planes and submarines, but the risk of discovery, of discharge, imprisonment or worse. Only a special kind of love was worth taking that chance. But from the moment Daniel met Jacob's eyes across a battle-scarred deck, he knew he had to try.
Being together required figuring out what it meant to be gay and in love with another man, in an era when they could be jailed or committed for admitting the desires of their hearts. On a ship at war, their relationship was measured in stolen moments and rare days of precious leave, with no guarantees there would be a tomorrow. And if they survived the war, they would need even more luck to keep their love alive through all the years to come.
This story was written for a photo and story request letter as part of the Goodreads M/M Romance Love is Always Write event.

Get your copy here at Amazon:
Kobo
Barnes & Noble

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Corruption (Diversion 3) Now Available at Audible!

The third installment of the Diversion series is now available at Audible here: Book 4, Manipulation, is well underway.


Renegade biker. Drug runner. Recovering addict. Wanted by the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau. But he isn’t a crook, he’s the law. 

SNB Agent Bo Schollenberger’s solved his cases using his brains and not a gun, and with his partner, not alone. Now he’s handed a tough new case involving designer drugs that turn users violent. One false move could end his life as he immerses himself into a motorcycle gang to locate the source. His fate depends on how well he can impersonate someone else. Someone named Cyrus Cooper. 

Cyrus is everything Bo Schollenberger isn’t, including the badass enforcer for a smuggling ring. He establishes pecking order with his fists and doesn’t take shit from anybody, not even the undercover agent who comes to help his case. 

Simon “Lucky” Harrison’s always been the best, whichever side of the law he was on. Former trafficker turned SNB agent, he damned well ought to be undercover in this motorcycle gang, instead of hanging around the office going crazy with new policies, new people, and “inter-departmental cooperation” that sticks him in a classroom. Yet he’s passed over for the SNB’s biggest case in decades in favor of the rookie who shares his bed. A man Lucky thought he knew.

When survival depends on a web of tangled lies, lines blur, worlds collide, and a high stakes game turns friend to foe. Lucky knows the difference between Bo the agent and Cyrus the outlaw, but does Bo?

Saturday, February 16, 2019

GayRomLit 2019

I'm thrilled to once more be a part of the wonderful event known as GayRomLit. There are so many people I want to see. However, I'm already sad over some folks who've said they're not going this year, and doubly sad because the wonderful Ethan Day will be absent. I cannot imagine a GRL without him.

It will be a bittersweet time of reunion and mourning. So many times I'll expect to see him, only to be reminded he won't be there.

I wonder if there'll be some sort of tribute during the convention. I certainly hope so. He was so much a part of GayRomLit and the Gay Romance community.

He will be sorely missed.

Monday, February 11, 2019

A Valentine's Deal!

Happy Valentine's Day, y'all! This year Bear and I celebrate our third Valentine's Day together. Ah, young love (even if we're not so young).

In honor of the day, Valentine's Day story Fanning the Flames is on sale for .99 cents from now until the end of February. While this work is the second installment of The Match Before Christmas series, it can be read as a standalone.



The man of Barry’s dreams has gone from a sugarplum fantasy to sweet reality, thanks to the LGBT dating site GetaDate.com. Introducing a new boyfriend to the family and settling into coupledom isn’t the easiest thing in the world for a man with little dating experience, but the romantic demands of Valentine’s Day are beyond Barry’s imagination. His piteous cry for help brings all kinds of suggestions from family and friends.
Fully believing he’s found the perfect ways to charm his sweetheart, Barry isn’t prepared to hear “Achoo ” at every turn. Adam’s allergic to what? And will sneezes and welts wreck Barry’s painstaking plans for Fanning the Flames?
Links to the story can be found on the page at Rocky Ridge Books.

Discount available at Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. 

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Easter Egg in Corruption

I've been listening to the audio book version of Corruption, which should publish by month's end, and I came across a line Bo says that I'd forgotten about, that made me smile.

"Pop my cork, big boy."

There's a story behind that line involving fellow authors D.H. Starr and Ally Blue. Doug, Ally, and I used to spend an annual weekend together in Asheville, NC, visiting Biltmore House, checking out the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, exploring in quaint shops, discovering amazing restaurants, and talking shop. Each year we kept a list of double entendres we accidentally said, and at the end we'd choose one that we all had to include in our latest work in progress.

Well, Ally and I arrived at the hotel first, and Doug's plane was late, so we decided to buy wine and snacks before he got there. We returned to our room with our purchases to discover:

We had no corkscrew. 

Luckily, the front desk provided one, but it was plastic and neither me nor Ally could get the cork out of the bottle. There was a gym on our floor, so we took the wine there hoping to find someone with more muscles than we possessed to help us.

A young man was standing in the middle of the gym, eyes trained on the corner TV, and when Ally spoke he jumped. The words, "Would you pop my cork?" were uttered. He did. I'm laughing even now.

Soooo.... no matter what was said all weekend, nothing topped that phrase. We each included it in a book.

If you read or listen to Corruption, you have Doug and Ally to thank for that line.

We haven't been able to get together for a while, and I really miss those two.

Monday, February 4, 2019

When Lucky Met Victor, From Victor's POV



If you've read Diversion, you witnessed the pivotal moment when Lucky met Victor. Ever wonder what Victor was thinking that night? 

Read on!

***

Another Saturday, another expected appearance at the club. At one time, getting the best table, having everyone rush to fulfill his every whim, had been thrilling. Now, the bowing and scraping grated on Victor’s nerves. Everyone wanted something from him: money, his clout, to bask in the glow of his accomplishments.

Sex.

As far back as the family remembered there had been no poor Mangiardis, but if his dipshit of a nephew didn’t stop spending…

Victor sighed and adjusted his appearance in the mirror, running a hand through his dark waves. A few more gray stands now showed, which only made his hangers-on fawn all the more, telling him how distinguished he looked.  He’d dressed simply tonight, jeans, a button-down shirt and his favorite loafers.

He’d taken his family’s modest fortune and made it grow. And if some of the family didn’t like his means, well, they never complained while enjoying the fruits of his labor.

Tonight, though, he would love to stay in, relax, listen to some music. Or maybe he could call…

No, Nestor had made his feelings known, and no amount of wanting would change his mind.
Victor barked a humorless laugh. Who’d believe the great Victor Mangiardi wanting something he couldn’t have?

What else could he do but live up to expectations and go out drinking and dancing? He took one last look in the mirror and headed downstairs. His butler looked up from the foyer. “Are you going out, sir?”

“Yes. Have Lyle bring the car around.”

“Yes, sir.”

Victor didn’t wait long until his 1963 Mercedes roaster purred like a large cat at the front entrance.
He drove himself to the club, knowing his entourage would catch up. He didn’t want them following too closely, they might scare off his admirer. Or rather, his car’s admirer.

A smile spread across Victor’s lips. There he was, the scruffy kid standing outside the chain link fence surrounding the club, with his torn jeans, faded hoodie, and undoubtedly worn tennis shoes. Occasionally Victor caught a glimpse of hay-colored hair. What color eyes did the boy have?

Night after night he watched Victor’s car, his attention not following Victor to the club, but staying on the car. Should Victor be hurt that the kid wanted the car more than him?
Would he do more than want?

Ten minutes until his bodyguards arrived. Now to see if he’d take the bait.

Victor bypassed the main area of the club, climbing the stairs to the VIP rooms. There, he watched through the cameras he’d had specially installed.

Two months. For two months he’d had his eye on this kid. Now to see if he at least provided a night of entertainment. Victor waved off a barely-clad waiter, who pooched his lips and sauntered off.
Victor had partaken of his gorgeous body, with its surgically enhanced six pack, face, and ass, highlighted hair and buffed nails, and most of all, his high-maintenance lifestyle. Such men surrounded Victor, circling like sharks. He didn’t want surgically enhanced, he didn’t want high maintenance, he wanted someone alive as he was, living for the game.

He watched the young man climb the fence at the back of the club and casually stroll to the front. To anyone watching he’d appear to have parked in the back.

About eight more minutes until Victor’s bodyguards usually arrived, though he’d warned them off tonight, telling them to be ready all the same.

Ah, the kid bypassed the security system and started the car in under two minutes. Nice skills there. He drove around the building, avoiding the bouncer stationed in front, and stopped the car twice while the visible security cameras swept over the parking lot. Too bad he’d not noticed the new cameras.
He headed north and Victor gave up the camera feed for a tracker. No need to have him tailed. Victor would be waiting for him when he got to his destination.

Now to make a phone call. “Ricky, pick me up,” he said, making his way out of the club, excitement rising. He’d not had such a challenge in ages. No telling what the night might bring.

Victor climbed into an unobtrusive F-150 truck.

“I don’t know why you let him take the car,” his second in command growled.

“Because I wanted to see what he’d do.” Victor buckled in and folded his arms over his chest. He owed no explanation to anyone. “Hit the Interstate. Head north.”

Ricky listened to some gawdawful something, which grated on Victor’s nerves. He turned the radio off. If only he were in his roadster, where even now the strains of Pachelbel’s Canon must be playing. Would his thief like the selection Victor chose for him, or change to something more in keeping with Ricky’s tastes?

Victor hoped for the former. It would be nice to find a touch of refinement in the country bumpkin who’d caught his attention. Occasionally he checked his iPad for the tracker, a smile playing on his lips.

His little thief was about to be so disappointed.

“How do you know where he’s going?” Ricky asked.

“He’s meeting a buyer.” Victor gave the address.

“How do you know this?”

Victor gave Ricky a wicked  grin known to make enemies grovel. “I’m the buyer.”

“Boss?” Ricky did a double take. “You what?”

“I contracted him to steal my own car.” Victor sent a group text with the address and “Now.”

Ricky squealed tires turning into the parking lot of an abandoned building, cutting off the Mercedes’ escape. Here the game grew tricky. Would the thief destroy the car to get away, or did he, like Victor, appreciate fine craftsmanship?”

Victor never said a word as he climbed down from the truck. Two of his men wrestled the thief from the car. A string of curses split the air. The guy was small, only five five or five six, but he landed a few punches and got a few kicks in.

“Ahhh!” Eduardo screamed, gripping the side of his face. Had the kid bitten him? Oh, what spirit. Victor approved. He’d give Eduardo a bonus later to smooth over hurt feelings.

Eduardo recovered enough to slam his adversary to the ground.

“Stop!” Victor would rather destroy a priceless sculpture than hurt a work of art such as a dedicated thief.

Eduardo stepped back, allowing Victor to get closer. Ricky stood close by, weapon drawn. Oh, the theatrics! Like they’d need firepower to bring down one skinny punk.  

Pulled onto his knees, head held back by a tight grip on his hair, left the guy no choice but to stare up at Victor. The kid couldn’t yet be twenty, and while not classically handsome, he possessed a rawness, a wild quality of someone who’d never be tamed.

Victor knew how he must appear, especially to anyone given to watching late night gangster B movies. Victor had been told more than once that he’d make the perfect Mafia don.

With dirty-blond hair, the kind of tan that came from living outdoors, and a rim of black under his nails, this had to be the farmer’s son turned mechanic Victor’d found out about through private sources. A few small-time car thefts, no drugs, and no violent crimes.

He’d do.

Victor crouched down for a better look, and to up the intimidation factor. Two of his men held the guy’s arms behind his back, yet still he struggled and fought. Not one to admit defeat, then.  Even better. “If you had damaged my property, I wouldn’t have asked them to stop,” Victor said, in his best charming voice.

No answer. Not that Victor expected pleading, based on what he’d learned in the past two months.
“I’ve watched you, how carefully you planned your little adventure. You’re smart and resourceful. Few of my acquaintance would have bidden their time, waiting for the right moment to strike.” Impressive.

The man dropped his gaze to the ground.

Oh, no. This wouldn’t do. Victor brought their gazes back together, forcing the man’s head up with a finger beneath his chin. “Always remember this: you did not steal my car. I allowed you to take it. Never again will you get a second chance from me.”

The hissed warning earned a shiver. “How did you find me? No one followed.”

Victor stood and nodded to Eduardo, who stalked to the car, bent down on one knee, and returned with a small device in his hand. “Why follow when you led us right to you?”

His quarry  didn’t need to know Victor had orchestrated this whole meeting by pretending to be a buyer. He’d suffered enough of a bruising to his ego already. Lucky. The young man had called himself Lucky.

He’d not been very lucky tonight.

Lucky groaned when he saw the tracker.

Still, as job interviews went, this had been one of the most successful.  “Don’t be disappointed, for I’m quite awed by your skill. Though you fancy yourself a pro, you’re no more than a novice. I can teach you. In time, you’ll be untouchable. Come to work for me.”

Silence, giving time for the condemned to weigh his options. “And if I say 
no?”
Victor chuckled, with less humor. He must keep up appearances for his men.  “Then, my young friend, no one will ever find your body.”

Victor reclaimed his elegant car with a smile his men wouldn’t understand. He’d opened the door to the last long notes of Pachelbel’s Canon.

***

Haven't read the series? Find Diversion here: