Celebrating diversity in love

Embraced-Sun23As a publisher and member of the human family, I was very disturbed to learn of comments made by another publisher to one of its authors that images of people of color were not used on covers because they did not sell books. I know, right?

First, there is no universe in which it is okay to say something like that to someone, much less to believe it. Secondly, it is not true. If a cover is beautifully done and the story inside the book is a good one, readers will find the book. And hey, for argument’s sake, let us say such an assertion were true, how wwrong is it not to express the diversity of our human rainbow for the sake of money? Is that not so much the problem that plagues the human race already?

Baggage_200x300I opened Ai Press back in March 2010 (happy birthday, Ai!) and I am happy to say that it never occurrd to me for one second not to have a book cover represent the race and culture of the characters in the story. Isn’t the cover at least part of what attracts you to a book and gives you an inkling of what you will find when you read it? To withhold an honest representation of a book’s content by just showing an image one believes will sell the book is insulting to readers on so many levels. It is misleading and condescending at best, downright racist at worst and not worthy of a publisher.
FallonsJewelwebAi
All that said, I am thrilled that Ai Press not only boasts a diverse group of wonderfully talented and terrific authors who are also loveable people, but also offers diversity in the heroe and heroines of our stories. And we show it proudly on every beautiful cover!
Thank you for reading and for your support. Warmly, Sedonia Guillone

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Now Available in Trade Paperback: Loose Ends by Jeff Erno

Loose Ends
Author: Jeff Erno
Genre: Mystery and Detective; Gay romance
Imprint: Ai Press
Length: Novel
Price: 3.99 USD

Cover art: Louca Matheo

Buy from: Amazon Kindle|BN Nook|Kobo Books|Google Play

Trade paperback from Amazon
Homicide detective Tucker Brown hasn’t always made the right decisions, but one thing about his life he’ll never regret is his son Jaydin. While at the hospital for his four-year-old’s tonsillectomy, he encounters Jaydin’s nurse, Ivan Ramsey. Tucker is taken aback, however, when he discovers he’s been assigned to investigate the potential murder of Ivan’s mother.

Ivan Ramsey is a pediatric nurse, and he loves his job more than life. Raised in a devoutly religious family, he’s not yet out to a lot of people, but on the very night he chooses to come out to his mother, she dies tragically in a house fire. Devastated by the news, Ivan all but falls to pieces, and to make matters worse, a cocky, know-it-all police detective shows up asking nosy questions. The cop implies his mother’s death might not have been an accident and even infers a family member might be responsible.

Tucker and Ivan at first clash. Their strikingly different personalities are oil and water, but soon they begin to work together to determine the real cause of Ivan’s mother’s death. In the process, sparks begin to fly and a romance ignites. Ivan falls hard, not only for the sexy detective but also his adorable son.Tucker, equally smitten, has made some discoveries he can’t yet reveal to his lover. There are so many loose ends and unanswered questions for both of them, and when the truth finally comes out, it just might tear them apart.

Excerpt:

For the next week, Ivan functioned on auto-pilot. There was so much to do, so many things Ivan’s father needed help navigating. Although his parents had already made final arrangements, they still had to plan the funeral. Ivan had to pull himself together and be strong for his dad’s sake. He’d had his moment, his complete breakdown. His mother, of all people, would want him to remain stoic going forward. She’d expect him to face tragedy with a degree of dignity. She’d always concerned herself with appearances, and the last thing she’d want would be for her son to lose it in public.

He allowed himself to go numb and suppress his intense emotions. It was the only strategy that allowed him to greet and thank so many people who’d reached out to the family with expressions of condolence.

With his parents being so active in the church, the entire congregation seemed to be involved in the memorial. For the most part, the church ladies were very sweet, and they all had very kind words for Ivan and his family. They also had no concept of moderation, at least when it came to food. They not only prepared massive quantities of casseroles, sandwiches, salads, and desserts for the memorial, but they delivered equally as much food to Brandon’s house.

And after the closed-casket service and the interment, Ivan’s father faced a mountain of paperwork. They had death certificates to obtain, creditors to contact, insurance companies to notify. The home owner’s insurance was the worst. His father had lost everything, and they had to try to compile an inventory and determine replacement costs on every item. That process would have been painful enough in and of itself, but the death of his mother made it all the worse. Every detail—every physical item lost—was tied to a memory.

As horrific as the process was, Ivan felt a twisted sense of appreciation for all the busy work. It allowed him to remain focused upon his mom. The obvious challenges they faced during their time of transition at the very least gave Ivan pause, allowed him to think about how complex life was and how many people were touched by the life of one individual. Had she simply been buried and forgotten, had life just gone on as normal, Ivan wasn’t sure he’d have been able to cope. He welcomed the turmoil and chaos and viewed them as proof that his mother’s life had mattered.

But when a police detective showed up, and a member of the media cornered Ivan, Brandon, and their father one morning at a restaurant, asking questions about how Mrs. Ramsey had died, Ivan became concerned. And annoyed.

“What was she talking about?” Ivan sat across from his father at the local diner. Ivan turned to his brother. “That reporter, what did she mean? It was a fire. An accident.”

“Apparently, they’re not sure it was an accident.” Brandon took a sip of his water.

“Of course it was an accident.” Ivan stared directly at his father. “And why’d that detective contact me? He wants me to meet him for an interview.”

David Ramsey leaned back, straightening his posture in the chair as he scrubbed a hand across his face. “I didn’t want to tell you everything yet… I mean, until I knew for sure. But there was an autopsy conducted. Routine, really. And the fire was determined not to be the cause of death.”

“What?” Ivan leaned forward, elbows on the table. “What the hell, Dad? What are you saying?”

His father looked at him sternly, perhaps in response to Ivan’s language. He took a deep breath.

“Sorry, I didn’t tell you because…It was just too much to deal with.”

“Dad, how did she die then?” Brandon’s tone was more measured.

“Apparently she was shot.”

“Shot!” Ivan and Brandon spoke in unison.

“The police think someone killed your mother and then set the fire to try covering it up.”

“No!” Ivan shook his head. “This is crazy. Why? Why would someone do that?”

“That’s why they want to talk to all of us,” Brandon surmised. “They want to find out which one of us had a motive to kill our own mother.”

David raised one hand. “Now just a minute. Hold on, and quit…” He took a deep breath. “Try not to get emotional about this. The police are just doing their job. They know someone killed your mother, and they have to question everyone. Of course, they’re going to start with us first. Once we are eliminated as suspects—“

“Suspects?” Ivan nearly shouted. “Why would someone kill my mother? And why on earth would they ever suspect Brandon or me…or you.” He stared at his father.

“Well, of course we didn’t kill your mother. It had to have been a burglary or something. Someone broke into the house. Lord knows why. We have no idea what, if anything, they took. It’s not like we can take an inventory at this point. But whoever did it probably killed your mom to keep her from identifying them.”

“And to get away,” Brandon added.

“Right.” David looked into Ivan’s eyes as he reached across the table and placed one hand on his son’s wrist. “The police are just doing their job. Just cooperate with them, because we want more than anyone for this monster to be caught. The sooner they clear our family, the sooner they can find the killer.”

Ivan again felt as if he’d been body-slammed. The news was unfathomable. It sounded like an episode of Forensic Files or NCIS. This shit didn’t happen in real life. Not to him and his family.
After lunch, Ivan excused himself, saying he needed to head back to his apartment. When he got to his car he retrieved a business card from his pocket that Detective Viviano had left him. “This is my partner’s card. He’s leading the investigation. Detective Brown.” Ivan stared at the card, trying to recall why the name sounded so familiar. He dialed the number.

“Detective Brown.”

“Hello, this is Ivan Ramsey. Your partner left me your card and said I needed to contact you.”

“Oh yes. Hello, Ivan. Thanks for returning my call. I just need to talk to you about—“

“About who killed my mother.”

“Yes, I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“Look, I don’t appreciate your insinuations. I know you think someone in our family did it, but that’s utter bullshit.”

“No, I don’t assume anything like that.”

“And don’t you think my father has enough to deal with at a time like this? Shouldn’t you be out looking for the murderer instead of harassing us? We’re the victims here.”

“I want to catch the murderer more than anything, but in order to do that, I need your cooperation. Like I said, I’m sorry. I wish there was some other way.”

“I’ll come in right now for your interview.”

“That would be wonderful. Or I could meet you somewhere.”

“I’ll come to the police station. I’ll answer your questions, but then I want this to be over with. I want you to catch my mother’s killer and quit wasting time.”

“That’s the plan.”

“Good!” Ivan ended the call.

Posted in Available Books, Jeff Erno, Mystery/Romantic Suspense, Novel length, Trade Paperback | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Now Available: Cricket and Biscuits by A.J. Llewellyn

Cricket and Biscuits
Author: A.J. Llewellyn
Genre: Gay Romance, Time Travel. Paranormal
Length: Novella
Price: 2.99 USD

Cover art: Louca Matheo

Buy from Amazon Kindle|BN Nook|Kobo|Google Play

A love story that crosses the boundaries of time by acclaimed M/M romance author, A.J. Llewellyn!

Dance choreographer Michael Makris has the chance to go back in time to find his recently deceased husband, John. Encountering his lost love is magical and romantic, but Michael soon bounces back to the last place he wants to be—the present.

Clementime, the gifted witch who sent him back to the moment he first met his husband, tells Michael that John wants him to move forward, without him. Clementime also cryptically reports that John said, “Life isn’t all cricket and biscuits.”

But can Michael give up the love of his life, or will he find a way to go back and fight for it?

Excerpt:

…“Michael, are you sure you want to do this?”

“Yes,” I said. “I’m very sure.” Six weeks I’d waited, and the stress and tension had almost killed me. I’d only discussed my plan with one person, my best friend, Howie. He was the one who’d told me about the witch in the first place.

My hands were still shaking, so I slid them beneath my thighs, sitting on them atop Clementime’s red velvet sofa. That thing was not as comfy as it looked. I tried not to stare at her bric-a-brac, or wonder about cooties on the sofa. Her place looked so normal outside. Like every other small beach cottage on Superba Avenue in Venice. Inside, it resembled the kind of jumble sale I’d seen on desperate people’s front lawns. The unmistakable stench of eau-de-cat-piss invaded the cramped space, but I saw no kitties in sight. In a gloomy corner over her left shoulder, I spotted a tree-shaped plant stand and felt a shiver of alarm. All the plants were dead.

Don’t look at them. Don’t think about it. You can’t back out now.

“I know you’re the one who can help me,” I said, as her lovely, almond-shaped green eyes seemed to bore into my soul. Howie said she had a massive ego, and I’d been stroking it ever since I first made contact with her.

Howie had a friend who’d been to Clementime and had experienced her promises of time travel. She had wanted to connect with her mom who’d died and was very happy with the results, according to Howie.

Clementime said nothing for a moment. I still couldn’t get over the whimsical aspect to her name and wondered if she’d changed it from “Clementine” to “Clementime,” but she always got mad when I asked too many questions. I held my breath, worried that she was going to send me away. After all, she’d been difficult to get hold of, and even harder to pin down to an appointment. She’d asked me to think about it, pointing out certain dangers in going back in time.

“You might not cope with what you find out,” she’d said on the phone. “Once you go into the past, I can’t bring you back to the present, unless you and I happen to connect and we repeat the process.”

“Is that likely?” I asked. “That I run into you in another place and time?”

“Oh, yes.” She’d sort of chuckled. “You and I have danced together before, Michael.”

I had no idea what that meant, exactly. I knew I wasn’t much of a dancer in this life. I suspected she wasn’t referring to actual dancing, but didn’t care. I wanted to be with the man I loved. Going on without him was no longer an option.

My soul was in torment. “I don’t care where I am in time, as long as I’m with him.” I fidgeted on the sofa, recalling our earlier chat. Having accepted me as a client, Clementime spent an awful lot of time trying to dissuade me from taking the plunge. I kept thinking about the movie Kate and Leopold. I got goose bumps every time I thought about the moment Leopold told Kate’s brother, “I am the man who loves your sister.”

John loved me like that. He really did. If he had survived me and could have found a way to go back in time so we could begin again, he would. I was sure of that. But since he was gone and I was here, and I could do it, I went for it.

“Oh,” Clementime had said when I told her what I wanted. “Going back in time is easy peasy for me, when the other person is alive. It’s a little trickier when they’re dead.”

“But you took a woman back in time to see her dead mother.”

“Yes, but that was different!”

“Why was it different?” I remembered how indignant I’d felt. Was she revving herself up to demand more money?

“Because when they’re alive, I can send you right back to where things went haywire. When they’re dead, it might be harder for you than you think.”

“You mean it might mess up my body or something?”

“No. I can’t guarantee exactly how far back you can go to find your lost love again. What is his name?”

“John Makris.” Saying it was like running a sharp knife over my heart. John had died before I got the chance to really be with him. We’d finally taken the big step and moved in together, and then the idiot played tennis one day, got smacked in the leg with a tennis ball, and didn’t do anything about the massive blood clot that formed on his right calf. I’d begged him to go to the doctor and get it taken care of.

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Now Available: Candyman by Nicole Austin

Candyman
Author: Nicole Austin
Genre: Romance/Paranormal/Vampires/Second chances
Length: Novella
eISBN: 9781937796990
Price: 2.99 USD

Cover art by: Nicole Austin

Buy from: Amazon Kindle|BN Nook|Kobo|Google Play

Elisa Wilde’s recurrent dreams transcend time and place. Dreams so real they seem to be actual memories of a bygone era. Driven to unravel the mystery and reclaim her life, she’s drawn into an amazing adventure.
In a tragic twist of fate, Michael Claret lost his truelove. He has waited decades for her return, but getting her back is only a small part of the battle. Edie has changed, evolved into a different woman. Not only will Michael have to once again win her heart, he must also gain her acceptance of his true nature.
Fate is a cruel mistress who will not be cheated or denied. To make the most of their second chance, Michael and Lisa must alter the path chosen for them, and rewrite their love story or be lost to each other forever.

*This previously published title has been revised and re-edited*

Excerpt:

Copyright © Nicole Austin, 2018

Lisa wanted to laugh as she listened to a group of women seated at a large table ordering fancy drinks with sexy names. Foreplay, All Night Long and Kinky Orgasm were a few of her favorites.

Shan found two empty stools at the bar for them. After several minutes, they were approached by a harried-looking bartender, flamboyant mannerisms and a gay pride T-shirt advertising his sexual preferences.

“What’ll it be, ladies?”

“A Slow Comfortable Screw with a twist,” her sister stated.

His attention turned toward Lisa. “What would you like, hon?”

Her mind wandered to the earlier visions of frantic sex with Michael, and her devilish muse became inspired. What the hell, he’d asked what she wanted, and he was blatantly gay so there was no danger of his thinking he could provide what she desired. She might as well tell him in explicit detail.

“I want a hard, deep, raw fuck against the wall, with multiple screaming orgasms, followed by the inability to walk straight for days.” She flashed him a wicked grin.

The bartender breathed heavily and Shan moaned. “Dayum, sis. Umm…I changed my mind. I’ll have what she’s having.”

“You and me both, sugar. I’ll let you know when I find someone capable of filling that order. In the meantime, you’ll have to choose something contained on the shelves.”

Lisa relented, ordered a glass of merlot, and turned to take in the room. The brief verbal play lessened some of the tension and allowed her to relax, if only slightly.

The band sounded hot, and quite a few members of the audience were dancing. Everyone appeared to be having fun. She received flirtatious glances from several men, but she didn’t offer any encouragement. Whether a simple case of nerves created the gut reaction or an actual case of intuition, she had the sense of sitting on the precipice of a life-altering event. Something big would happen tonight and she felt almost certain it would be tied in to the memories.

Shan and she were both asked to dance by several men and her sister took several up on their invitations. Lisa felt too strung out to dance, and politely declined all advances. Her thoughts shifted to performing.

She planned to sing tunes from now grown-up teeny-bop pop artist Christina Aguilera. Her album, Back to Basics, featured old-school style jazz, blues and soulful songs with a modern flair, along with a few sexually charged tracks that were perfect for the occasion.

Lisa would start with Save Me from Myself, a sultry, soul-inspired song that fit the forties feel she hoped to achieve and yet was still contemporary. The band had insisted she have an encore song prepared and told her in no uncertain terms that if the audience didn’t demand another number, the musicians would.

To make them happy, she decided on Candyman. The dirty and playful song would liven up the mood and get everyone interested in dancing again, hopefully saving her from singing anything else. While she enjoyed singing, she was self-conscious about doing so on stage under the bright spotlights.

At a signal from the bandleader, she headed backstage. She’d have ten minutes to prepare before being called out on stage. She paced the confines of a small dressing room going over the lyrics in her mind until the bar manager knocked and peeked in the door.

“You ready, Lisa?”

Taking note of the state she’d worked herself into, Sam moved to her side. “Whoa, honey. It’ll be all right.” Clasping her shaky hands in his own, he rubbed some warmth into her cold flesh and talked her through some calming breaths.

“I heard you sing earlier. You’re going to wow them, Lisa. Hell, if it makes you feel any better, there’s no way I’d let you on my stage if you sucked.”

As he’d intended, she laughed. “Jeez. Thanks, Sam. I’m not sure if that’s a compliment or not, but I’ll take it.”

“You’re gonna knock ’em dead, honey.” He brushed a friendly kiss over her cheek. After walking with her to the edge of the curtain, he nodded to the band. They finished the current song and the bandleader drew the patrons’ attention.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Top Hat and Old Town Tavern are proud to announce that author and vocalist extraordinaire Elisa Wilde has humbly agreed to honor us all with a song tonight. So please, put your hands together and give a big welcome to this phenomenal lady.”

Oh crap, no he didn’t. How the heck would she live up to the effusive introduction? Her tummy flip-flopped as Sam walked her out onto the now darkened stage, held her waist, and set her atop the piano. A sense of déjà vu hit her as he handed her a cordless microphone then squeezed her hand.

“Have fun!”

In a flash, she was thrust back into the memory of Edie singing on a nearly identical stage. Grateful for the vision, she followed the other woman’s example and lay on her side.

Then something truly magical occurred. Upon opening herself to the magic, Lisa felt Edie’s spirit take over and she melded with the other woman. After a series of sensual moans and a sexy hiss, she sang the first verse. The pianist accompanied her for the second. A spotlight came on, illuminating her silhouette. With the third verse, the vibrating strum of a guitar joined in. The brass section chimed in with the fourth and the lights rose slow and steady along with the music.

As she gazed out over the audience, their rapt attention boosting her confidence, her eyes landed on a man who stood apart from the crowd.

Oh God. It was him. He was real. The man who called to her in ways no other ever had. She’d wanted him for what seemed like forever, loved him her entire life, but nervous jitters assaulted her from actually being near him.

Her pulse elevated, blood roared in her head, and her body zoomed from zero to hot-and-ready in the space between one heartbeat and the next. And she had no doubt this glorious man would be exceedingly capable of filling the order she’d jokingly placed earlier at the bar.

Tall and lean.

Dark and handsome.

Captivating blue eyes.

Mine!

Posted in Available Books, Nicole Austin, Vampire | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Now Available: Santa-San (A Japanese Christmas in Hawaii) by A.J. Llewellyn

Santa-San (A Japanese Christmas in Hawaii)
Author: A.J. Llewellyn
Genre: Gay Romance, M/M Romance, Holiday
Length: Novella
Price: 1.99 USD

Cover art: Louca Matheo

Buy from: Amazon Kindle|BN Nook|Kobo Books|Google Play

From Eppie Award Finalist A.J. Llewellyn comes a toe-curling M/M romance for the holidays!

Koh Timura returns home to Honolulu for the holidays. It’s the first time he’s celebrated Christmas since his mother’s death years earlier. But unemployment and dealing with his stubborn dad and his extremely young stepmother doesn’t make Koh feel especially merry and bright. His Japanese-born father is a traditionalist who likes to celebrate with the old country ways of doing things—fried chicken on the table and Santa-San bringing gifts to all.

But Koh soon learns that everybody deals with pain and loss in different ways. As he adjusts to being back in the islands, he encounters Adam Takagawa, the guy he loved all through high school. Will their passion flare again? Can some things broken really be fixed? Is sad and lonely Koh due a Christmas miracle after all?

Excerpt:

On Christmas Day, he awoke to Santa Claus banging at his front door. Or, as every Japanese child called him, Santa-san.

“Adam?” he tried to peer beyond the beard as he roused himself from sleep to open the door.

“Of course not. Don’t you recognize Santa-san when you see him?”

“Am I allowed to interfere with your person?” Koh asked.

“What? Do you hate Christmas or something? I am Santa-san, and I have gifts for the children. Ho! Ho! Ho!” Adam dropped his voice. “There’s a special one for you if you’re a very good boy.”

“How special?”

“I’ve booked us a room at the Royal Hawaiian. Two nights.” He gyrated his hips. “Santa-san wants to get his horizontal hula on with you, Koh.”

“That sounds like a swell plan. And I bought new underpants, too!”

“I planned on you being naked. Do you want to come with me to deliver some presents?”

“Sure. Wait. You mean, naked?”

“Of course not. Santa-san is an elegant man. He wants you naked for when you are alone together. I think that would be a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday. Don’t you?”

“Well sure. And where are we going?”

“Santa-san’s helpers aren’t supposed to ask questions. They’re supposed to obey.”

“Wait!” a voice shouted from behind Koh.

He turned to see his father brandishing the gaudiest, brightest, reddest aloha shirt he’d ever seen. His heart skipped a beat when he saw the red ‘apapane bird all over it and recognized the fabric as one of his mother’s hand-stretched cottons.

It had been her favorite bird. She’d created the image of the ‘apapane for puzzles, fabrics, and greeting cards. With her death, those plans evaporated. But the bird was here, like the one at the airport, urging him, begging him to help her finish her dreams.

“You must wear this. You promised,” his father said.

Koh nodded. He would wear it. With honor.

…“Ho, ho, ho!” Adam said.

“Kurisumasu Omedeto.” Koh’s father wished Santa-san a Merry Christmas in Japanese.

“Kurisumasu Omedeto,” Santa-san responded. He added, “Gozaimasu,” which indicated respect. If Koh hadn’t loved Adam madly before this, he did now.

“I love you,” Koh said in Santa-san’s ear, cupping his butt cheek the moment his father’s back was turned.

Santa-san looked taken aback, but followed Koh into his bedroom.

“Look what you did to me!” He pointed to the tent in his Santa pants. “And I have two children’s hospital wards and the youth crisis center to take care of.”

“Let me help you.” Koh locked his door.

“Oh, no. I think you’re about to do something rude to Santa-san.”

“Of course I am.” Koh sank to his knees and felt very naughty unbuckling the big, black plastic belt around Santa-san’s waist. He unbuttoned the bright red pants.

Santa-san was commando!

“Bad, bad, Santa.” Koh looked up at him.

“Only a little bit.” Santa-san pulled up his pants. “You can have me later.”

Koh held him to his promise during a long, but wonderful day. Koh loved every moment spent eating fried chicken, ambrosia salad, sweet potato hash, braised broccoli and green beans, not to mention the creamiest strawberry shortcake to ever pass his lips.

But nothing beat the moment he was alone with Adam in his room and the speed with which they undressed each other…

Posted in AJ Llewellyn, Available Books, Holiday themed | Leave a comment

Now Available: Ghostflower (Banpaia, Book 2) by A.J. Llewellyn and D. J. Manly

Ghostflower
Authors: A.J. Llewellyn, D.J. Manly
Series: Banpaia, Book 2
Genre: M/M Romance; Vampire; Dark Fantasy
Length: Novella
Price: 2.99 USD

Cover art: Louca Matheo

Buy from Amazon Kindle|BN Nook|Kobo|Google Play

Feng and Russell have made a life together in LA’s Chinatown, except that Feng has no memory of the centuries-old vampire, the imperious, mysterious Banpaia, who abducted then returned them and dozens of other men to their everyday lives.

Feng had fallen in love with Banpaia, who also fell in love with Feng, only to allow the man he’d chosen to be his life mate to return to earth and try to live a human existence. As Feng’s happiness and very life force ebb away each day, Russell is growing stronger. He remembers the great vampire and uses his memories to great manga. Time may be growing short for an increasingly despondent Feng unless he can remember his one true love and go to him willingly, before the next Halloween…

Chapter One

The dream always started the same way. He saw himself as a little boy, standing on the lapping shorefront of a beach as waves crashed around his ankles. Even in dream, he could feel the deep chill of the foamy water as a little girl beside him blew bubbles into the air. Holding his toy sword aloft, Feng Li ran through the water, chasing the bubbles and hacking them in two, breaking the shimmering shells of rainbows the perfect spheres had formed. The first night he’d dreamed it, he awoke in tears, wondering who the little girl was. His feelings for her, his desire to connect had been the closest he’d come to feeling anything in months.

Now he knew she was his cousin. He longed to touch and talk to her. He needed to know why they had been separated…only now the dream kept going. The bubbles he burst left tears. Tears of blood. They fell on his cheeks. He heard voices whispering.

Remember.

He waits for you.

Who waited for him? He loved Russell, his best friend turned lover, but since the strange incident of Halloween almost a year ago, he’d felt so disconnected and isolated from everyone else. He, Russell, and several friends of theirs had all vanished into another realm. When he returned, he could see and taste, think and feel, but he was invisible to others. Especially, his abusive parents. It had scared him at first and even now he didn’t fully understand because he’d slowly regained his ability to communicate, to be seen and heard. It didn’t feel so good, though.

It didn’t feel right.

“Aren’t you happy? Russell always asked him. “Isn’t it just great to be alive?”

Not really. At the age of twenty-three, Feng hovered between misery and apathy, but never let it show. He caught glimpses of another time and place. A man…

When Feng thought of him, his heart filled with joy, inexplicable wholeness that kept him buoyant for days. He turned in his sleep, aware of Russell’s even breathing beside him. Good. He was asleep.

Feng returned to the dream, seeing drops of blood falling from the bubbles his cousin had blown and he had destroyed. The blood fell on his cheeks and down to his feet.

Feet. He suddenly became aware of dancing feet. A row of women in beautiful, long, pale green dresses with over-sized sleeves began dancing and singing in front of him. Their moves were so graceful but so often extended it looked as if they might be marionettes on the verge of falling. The music was whimsical, their steps entrancing when he caught glimpses of them under the sweep of their gowns.

His gaze flew up into the face of a beautiful young woman. He knew her. And she knew him. With each swirl of her long sleeves, she aged before his eyes.

Mrs. Wei!

Who was Mrs. Wei? He searched his memory. It was just there. Just out of reach. He knew she was dead. He knew he missed her. He begged her not to leave him. For the second time in three nights, his heart, his feelings of love were coming back to him. He knew he missed Mrs. Wei dreadfully.

And then he remembered, he’d found her dead body. In life, she’d been a famous ta ge dancer as a young woman. Then she’d aged. Her movements as he watched were graceful and gorgeous. She was no longer in pain. She charmed and touched him. But how did he know her?

The woman and all those around her formed a pattern like petals, their skirts billowing with slashes of crimson as they danced in small, tight circles. They sang like angels.

Angels!

Remember!

Mrs. Wei stepped forward. “You must return to him. You must remember. You must go back. His sacrifice is too great. You must return when the ghost flower blossoms.”

“No!” he yelled as one by one, the women popped and disappeared, small rainbows on his soul. He heard their voices still singing in perfect harmony. Tears ran down his cheeks. Don’t leave me. Tell me what to remember! He longed to shout this out, but the words stuck like dry rice in his throat.

He awoke suddenly, realizing this song was on the radio. Disappointment shook his bones. She had been real. She had loved him. He was certain of that. And what the heck was a ghost flower?

Warm hands moved over his belly and chest. Russell. He’d been so closed to the man for weeks now. He tried not to stiffen as Russell kissed the back of Feng’s neck, nuzzling him. He tried to relax. He loved Russell, really he did, but it had morphed into a different kind of love.

Halloween was only days away. He wondered what had happened to Ki, the man he’d had a crush on until he met…met…whom had he met? He drew a blank.

Russell was hard and obviously excited because he was humping Feng’s ass cheeks now, his glistening cock head beating an insistent tattoo against Feng’s crack. Feng didn’t want to sigh and bit down on the urge, in spite of his feelings of restlessness. He was surprised how wet Russell was, his cock leaking before they’d even started.

Giving the guy head was less intrusive than taking him up the ass. In the past, Feng had loved getting fucked. The sounds and smells of early morning sex inflamed his soul, giving heat to his dormant fantasies.

That’s what it was! How could he have forgotten? His mind had dried up since his return. It was a desert of the soul. No dreams, no idyll. He could give Russell what he wanted in exchange for information. Feng turned around swiftly, one eye on the time. Six-forty in the morning. The red lanterns of LA’s Chinatown which swung high outside their windows were still alight, giving Feng a sense of comfort. There was something about them he knew he should remember.

He just didn’t know what.

Sex would be over in fifteen minutes. Russell always took very cold showers with salt-soap and birch branches for exactly three minutes each morning. Then he walked over the cobblestone path to the old Chinatown Square to the comic book store he’d taken over almost as soon as they’d returned from their strange sojourn a year ago.

In decades past, it had been a ginseng store and the smell still permeated the old quarter. Sometimes, Russell pretended their journey to the other side never happened. Sometimes, he remembered a lot more than he cared to admit. Feng knew this because Russell, who’d longed to be a manga artist had caved in to the god of money and worked a ‘necessary’ job instead of following his passion.

Once he came back, he pursued his art, literally. He’d started producing graphic novels that were frankly, very weird. In them, Russell seemed to pine for a place, some…sanctuary. Hey, maybe they weren’t so different after all. Russell’s comics were about Russell, a boy, who lived in a fantasy world.

He once told Feng that his inspiration had been Feng himself. But Feng couldn’t remember being in a fantasy world. Ever. And he remembered nothing of his life before he died.

Died? What made him think that? The idea didn’t panic him…it just seemed…unreal. And of course, it was. Except that lately Russel’s comic books reflected more and more glimmers of what had happened to them in their adventures on what Feng had begun to think of as the other side.

He moved around so his mouth captured Russell’s cock in one, long, fluid motion. Gazing up to watch his lover through his half closed eyes, Feng saw the look of surprise on Russell’s face. Feng had been so disinterested for weeks and now, he knew, Russell was ecstatic.

“Oh, baby,” he said, threading his hands through Feng’s hair.

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Now Available: Banpaia (M/M, Vampire) by A.J. Llewellyn and D.J. Manly

Banpaia
Authors: A.J. Llewellyn, D.J. Manly
Series: Banpaia, Book 1
Genre: M/M romance; paranormal, vampire, dark fantasy
Length: Novella
Price: 2.99 USD

Cover art: Louca Matheo

Buy from: Amazon Kindle|BN Nook|Kobo|Google Play

A sensuous m/m vampire tale by two of the hottest names in the LGBT Romance genre!

Chinatown, Los Angeles. Young men are disappearing from their beds, sometimes vanishing as they cross the street with friends. The few witnesses who actually report a strange, mystical creature soon suffer memory lapses and die.

Yet the young men all return, one by one. They seem the same, but they are different. Strange things are happening all over Chinatown, as if an odd mist enshrouds it. None of the men who disappeared can say what happened to them.

Late at night, however, this legion of men, in love and lust with the one they call Banpaia, reach out for one another in the frenzy of their need. For Feng Li, a suicidal young man who feels he was saved by the legendary, centuries-old Japanese vampire, yearns for only him. For him, there can be only one to claim his body and his heart.

Publisher’s note: This title has been previously released at eXtasy Books and Mojocastle Press.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Feng took his time finishing his second cup of coffee at the Korean café on Sixth Street before checking into work for the night shift at the dreary Cedar House hotel. It was late October and LA’s weather was still hot. Too damned hot with Halloween only a week away. Not only did the locals say it presaged an earthquake, but it also felt wrong. Very wrong, when the mysterious fog enveloped the whole downtown neighborhood each night.

It was almost five p.m., the sun starting to set. He’d been here two hours. Anything to avoiding being home.

The café was warm, but a slight breeze blew in as the front door opened and three guys walked in. The waitress came from the kitchen with a fresh tray of pastries for the counter display. Feng detected the smell of fresh go mo bang, the peanut butter-flavored bread he adored. No time. And…big inward sigh…he shouldn’t spend the money.

Feng caught a glimpse of a certain gleaming dark head in the doorway, but the guy wasn’t looking at him. Ki was pointing at the sticky buns, laughing with his friends.

Damn. He had to show up right now. Feng hated having to leave. He felt safe here. His evening desk clerk position at the Cedar was the worst job he’d ever had, but he needed it. His dad was still out of work and his mom was drinking heavily. He made sure his head was bent to his ever-present notebook as the three men walked from the front door into the café. He heard movement as they settled beside him at the next table.
Feng stayed very quiet, pen in hand, doodling.

“So, anyway…they say he just disappeared,” the first voice said.
Feng tried to place it. He knew the three guys beside him on sight, but they never invited him to join them, even the nights they all sang karaoke in the upstairs Shelter Room in Little Tokyo. Only one of them ever acknowledged him and that was only after they sang. Sometimes they sang back to back, wowing the crowds. Ki was Japanese and Feng was certain that was the problem. Old country rivalries between the Japanese and Chinese had taken root here in California. The Koreans had it worse. The Japanese street gangs picked on the Koreans. But not this crowd. In this café, they all blended and got along…on the surface.

Ki’s family lived way down in San Pedro, but Ki had recently moved up here to Little Tokyo. He wanted to be an actor and singer.

Feng closed his eyes, squeezing his pen a little harder. Each little detail he gleaned about Ki was hard-earned and won, like little nuggets of gold after a long day panning for the stuff. He had such a fierce crush on Ki. He liked everything about him; the man’s smooth, milky-colored skin, his long, dark hair, his absolutely spectacular voice.

“What do you mean disappeared?” another voice asked.

“They were crossing the street. They stepped off a curb. Joby says he heard a car stop but didn’t look because they were crossing legally. By the time he got to the other side, Vince was gone.”

There was a moment of hushed silence.

“Nah…I don’t believe it.” This came from Ki. Feng recognized his cadence. He’d had a crush on the guy for six months now, so he was used to the ache, but today, it hurt.

Today it hurt worse than ever because Feng’s mom had disappeared the night before and both he and his dad had been secretly relieved.

Maybe the mysterious vampire would take her, too…only most people didn’t believe in the vampire. Feng did. He heard the whispers, felt the tremor of fear. He’d prayed once or twice for the vampire to claim him. He liked hot, young guys. Maybe Feng wasn’t hot enough. He cradled his cup between both hands. One more sip and he had to be on his way.

“Joby says Vince’s family is frantic,” the first voice said again.

“Vince disappeared in broad daylight!”

Sixteen men had vanished so far. Most disappeared from their bedrooms, one from a crowded elevator and now…this Vince guy.

“Nah, I don’t believe it,” Ki said again. “Somebody’s trying to spook everyone because it’s almost Halloween.”

Feng had heard this plausible story before, but the vanishings started a few weeks ago. The first one was right here in Little Tokyo, or J-Town, as most people called it. The vampire had crossed the invisible demarcation zones between J-Town, Koreatown and Chinatown. Feng lived in Chinatown on Hill Street, above the seafood dim sum café that could never get better than a C rating from the Health Department and was frequently shut down for code violations.

He’d slept many nights with his window open hoping for abduction. Hoping he took the mystery vampire’s fancy. Nah, Ki was right. Vampires weren’t real. His mother’s explanation of kinky sex abductions or maybe even secret organ harvesting made more sense, except…where were the bodies?

“Look, he’s listening,” One of the voices said.

Are they talking about me?

This shocked Feng. He longed to turn and look at them, maybe say, boo!, but didn’t hurry his movements. Even as he felt the weight of the stares on his back and shoulders, he took his time.

“Nah,” the second guy at the table said. Feng wished it had been Ki who’d said it.

He left a buck under his coffee cup, shoving his journal into his backpack. He heard the conversation at the next table resume as soon as he started to walk away. He fully breathed again once he was out of the café. Feng could smell human urine now, but then they were almost at Skid Row here. Vagrants didn’t care where they peed. He stood outside, trying to imagine how it would feel if you crossed the road with your best friend thinking everything was okay, only to get to the other side and find he’d vanished into thin air. Freaky, man.

Feng checked the time on his cell phone as he crossed the street. Three minutes to five. The Cedar House stood in a semi-decrepit pocket on the edge of J-Town, right at the crossroads of the downtown Toy District. He liked the many Korean cafes lining Sixth Street, just two blocks from the rundown hotel on Fourth. For a shabby looking, four-story building slapped up against Skid Row, it surprised him how many Chinese tourists came there each month.
Some had sure been sold a bill of goods by their tour promoter. Others were students whose friends back home had fond memories of the Cedar and its cantankerous manager, Mrs. Wei. He bit his lip. He shouldn’t call her cantankerous. She was a sweet old thing but lately she was in so much pain from her sciatica she sometimes took it out on Feng.

The truth was the elderly Chinese woman was kinder to him than even his own mother. He blushed with shame thinking about the call he and his father had received from the Commerce casino in the early hours of the morning. Having been banned for life from gambling there, his mom had shown up drunk and caused a scene. She was now at home, sleeping it off. He wondered who had it worse, him or his dad. As he rounded the last corner and opened the door to The Cedar House, he decided his dad had it much, much worse. His mom when she was drunk was bad. Mom hung-over was a friggin’ nightmare.

Mrs. Wei greeted him with a wide smile and an old-worldly tilt of her head. She might have been the proprietress of a high-class joint, the way she greeted him and their guests. Guests! Man, some of them were total losers.

He was right on time. He never liked to give up more time to the Cedar than he had to. She buzzed him behind the oak and glass door into the office enclosure. He checked the books. Six new guests. He recognized three of the names. They got a lot of repeat business here. It wasn’t that their services were so fantastic. It was that the hotel’s close proximity to many homeless shelters made this a second home to many abuse victims.

New laws passed by California’s governor no longer gave long term housing to men and women residing in shelters. Every thirty days, these long-term homeless had to leave their shelters and find someplace else to stay for a week. During that time, they had to reapply for their emergency housing and with Mrs. Wei’s help on the computer, they left again, safe from the streets or abusive spouses to wait out another month in secrecy.

It broke his heart to see Angie Montoya’s name on the register. She and her eleven-year old son, Antonio, had fled her abusive husband. It had taken some resilience on her part considering he’d beaten and tortured her, knocking out all her teeth. Now with the state’s help, she was taking computer courses and would soon be eligible for permanent housing which she would subsidize with her new income, once she landed a job.

People like Angie and the unsuspecting travelers who’d been duped into booking at the Cedar were the ones who got under Feng’s skin. He worried about them. They were like a second skin he couldn’t shed.

“Here, Feng, I have a little gift for you,” Mrs. Wei said.

She handed him a red envelope. It was an especially pretty one with a golden dragon and the red lanterns so popular in Chinatown.

He turned it over in his hands. “A lisee? For me?”
She smiled. “I know it’s your birthday in a couple of days. I’m giving this to you now.”

“Oh, but—“

She knew. The new Dragon Ball manga would be coming out at midnight and he’d coveted it. Wow…he’d missed the last few issues. He could maybe even buy back copies.

Mrs. Wei shook a finger at him. “This is for you. Hide it from your mother. And under no circumstances are you to pay any bills with it. Understood?”

He stared at the envelope, feeling its thickness. Tears stung his eyes. Even as he felt the need to protest, he felt the wind blowing away from those sails. He traced the fire-breathing dragon with his fingertips. She’d found him the perfect envelope.

“I want you to believe in hope,” she said. “Hope is all we have in this world, Feng.”

I’m going to be twenty-two, he realized. Twenty-two, but I feel like forty-two.
“Thank you, Mrs. Wei.” He felt humbled by her generosity and her compassion. He didn’t open the lisee. He didn’t care how much was in it. Her thoughtfulness really counted with him. She was right, though. As much as he loved the envelope, which was a tradition in the Chinese culture, if his mom went through his stuff, which she regularly did, and she saw the lisee, she would know somebody had given him money.

She would demand it, claiming bills needed to be paid, when he was the one who paid all the bills. His beautiful gift would be swallowed up by a poker machine as soon as his mom got her hands on it.

He kept the envelope on him all evening. He kept touching it in his jacket pocket. Mrs. Wei must have known how much it meant, because he caught her smiling at him a couple of times.

At six p.m. Mrs. Wei was supposed to leave but still she stayed, fussing over guests, worrying about little details. It was what made her a great manager, but she needed to take a break. Feng wished her cherished and adored daughter would spend more time with her. Instead, he frequently heard Mrs. Wei saying, “No, problem, I understand,” when her daughter called to cancel their evening plans.

“What are you going to do with your evening?” he asked.

She smiled at him.

“Are you going to trip the light fantastic and go dancing with some fancy man?”

She laughed. “Trip is right. I’m so tired, I’d fall over fast.”

Mrs. Wei had been a celebrated ta ge dancer in her day. Now, she hobbled. It was amazing how much she achieved on an average day, even when she was in pain. He’d once found footage of her, strangely enough, on YouTube, in an old competition. She’d been as surprised as he, to see how beautiful she had been when she was young. Her feet had mesmerized him. He’d never seen actual ta ge dancing before and the ancient Chinese art of step-dancing had been lyrical, beautiful to watch.

“Get going,” he said now, keeping his voice gentle.

“You trying to get rid of me?” she feigned a scowl. The truth was, he knew, she liked the show of attention that Feng gave her.

“Before I leave,” she said, holding up a crooked finger, “there is some food I couldn’t quite finish, so please eat it so the food doesn’t spoil.”

He swallowed over a lump in his throat. He knew he was skinny and he was certain she could see into his soul and know how long it had been since his mom had cooked an actual meal. He kept his gaze lowered, afraid he would cry when she showed him the covered bowl of homemade miso soup with healthy chunks of char sui pork, basil and a whole egg. On a plate beside it were two oranges she would have bought when she picked up fresh offerings to be left on the business altar in honor of the gods.
And to his joy, there was a small, fresh, unsliced loaf of peanut butter-flavored bread from a Korean bakery.

Mrs. Wei never overdid her food offerings so as not to embarrass her young employee. He knew that. She left enough that would get him through the night, but not enough to offend Feng’s family honor.

“Thank you,” he said. None of the food would last very long. He’d really enjoy the meal tonight.

She picked up her things. It was their understanding, and his promise to Mrs. Wei’s daughter that his mom would always leave before dark and with him watching her as she got into her car wedged between garbage bins at the back of the building. Hers was the only vehicle allowed back there.

He helped her outside, aware of the strange, heavy mist already rolling over the neighborhood.

“Don’t put your brights on,” he reminded her. “It will make it harder to see. Please call me when you get home.”

He hugged her thin body and he felt her comforting pats on the back.
She gazed at him as she started the engine. She paused, waiting for him to go back inside. He waved from the back door, knowing she hated to leave the front desk unattended, even for these brief moments.

Feng locked and double-bolted the back door, the chill from the mist making him shiver.

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Now Available: Next Time I Fall by Jeff Erno

Next Time I Fall
Author: Jeff Erno
Genre: M/M Romance; Gay Romance
Length: Novel
Price: 3.99 USD

Buy from Amazon Kindle|BN Nook|Kobo Books|Google Play

Cover art: Louca Matheo

Eric Daniels has a habit of falling for unattainable men. For the past two years he’s pined for a man younger than him who has no interest in a relationship and just wants to use him. When Eric suddenly finds himself alone and again jilted, he swears it will never happen again. Then he meets Steve. Steve Warren has recently started his job as associate pastor of the local Baptist church. While canvassing the neighborhood to promote the church’s vacation Bible school program, he encounters a man who sticks in his memory. Though he doesn’t catch his name, he recalls the man’s black Labrador retriever, Drake.

Steve has a dog of his own, a boxer named Felix. And when they bump into each other again, not only do the dogs hit it off, but so do the humans. A friendship begins. Steve suddenly finds himself facing the harshest reality he’s ever endured. He’s been aware of his attraction to men for a long time, but his religion teaches homosexuality is an abomination. How can he reconcile his feelings for Eric with his faith? If he comes out as gay, what will it do to his career, his family, and his church? But he can’t go on forever using his religion as a shield to hide behind. Living a lie is bearing false witness, so he must find a way to be true to his faith while following his heart. Is there any way to move forward without hurting a lot of people he loves?

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Eric heard the rapid tapping of Drake’s nails on the tile before he’d even managed to push the door all the way open. Happy-faced panting and a lightning-fast tail wag confirmed that Drake was thrilled to see his master had returned.

“Did you miss me, Drake?” Eric’s tone, slightly lilted, betrayed the heaviness in his chest. He took a couple steps and placed the grocery bag he was carrying on the counter, then reached down to pet his four-legged friend. “Well, he’s gone,” Eric whispered as he lowered himself to a squatting position, all the while stroking Drake’s forehead right between his ears. He reached up with his other hand and cupped the Labrador’s face. One thing about Drake that Eric loved was that he always, even when sad, seemed to be smiling. Eric sighed then kissed his pooch on the head and rose to his feet.

He snatched the grocery bag from the counter and walked to the kitchen, Drake shadowing him.

“Yes, I got you a treat…and yes, I know you want to go outside.”

Drake’s tail wagged even more furiously as he began his prance of anticipation. Certain words, like “treat” and “outside” triggered this response, and seeing the dog’s glee somewhat assuaged the dull ache Eric felt inside him. Did Drake even realize that Max was gone for good, that he wouldn’t be coming back? To Drake, every time he was left alone, he probably feared he’d never see his owner again. At least, that’s how he acted whenever Eric returned. The dog got so excited, you’d have thought Eric had been gone a couple of months rather than just a few minutes or hours.

Eric now understood how Drake felt. He had no idea if Max would be gone a few days, a few years, or forever. Eric might never see the younger man again for all he knew. Then again, what right did Eric have to hold him back? It wasn’t like they were a couple or anything, not officially. Max had been his roommate of sorts for the past two and a half years. Eric took the kid in when he was more-or-less homeless, rented him a room. Well, that’s what they told people, but Eric never made an issue of the money. Max had seemed to always forget to pay. He’d certainly forgotten more often than he’d remembered, and it didn’t really matter to Eric. He never really needed the money. To be honest, he needed Max more than he needed the cash.

But that’s just how Max was. He wasn’t like Eric who’d been at the same job for the past nine years. Max worked here and there, never at one place for very long. He was an artist, and very gifted, but he hadn’t quite figured out how to apply himself in a way that would net him a reliable source of income. He did some projects on commission. He sold a piece every now and then, or he got hired to paint a mural or the side of a building for a business. For a while he’d worked painting logos on company trucks and vans, but he was just too much of a free spirit to answer to a boss. He liked to work when he wanted to work.

The couple of times Max got “real” jobs were worst of all. He took an hourly wage job at a convenience store and was fired after his first two weeks. He didn’t seem too concerned about reporting to work at his scheduled time, and the manager seemed even less concerned about letting him go. Pretty much the same thing happened when he tried fast food. That didn’t last even as long as the gas station job.

When Max announced he’d met someone online and was leaving for California in a month, Eric wasn’t at first sure he was serious. Ever the dreamer, Max talked about a lot of things he wanted to do. He changed his mind constantly, never focused on one thing for too long, so probably his big plans to start a new life would fizzle in a few days. Eric decided not to bring it up, pretend Max had never mentioned it, and a week before his planned departure, it seemed as if he had. But when Eric stepped into the basement to do a load of laundry that Friday morning, he noticed Max’s easel was gone. All the art supplies that he usually left strewn across the rec room had been gathered and packed in Max’s satchel.

Eric hightailed up the stairs to the main floor then continued on to the second floor where the bedrooms were located. He stopped in front of Max’s door to catch his breath before knocking.

“Hey man, what’s up?” Max lay stretched out on full-sized bed, legs crossed at the ankles. He removed a set of headphones as Eric pushed the door open.

“Hey.” Eric smiled. He glanced around the room, and his eyes fell on two suitcases in the corner. “Uh…so I guess you’re still planning to, um…to head out to Cali?”

Max returned his smile, his own broader, conveying his genuine enthusiasm. “Yeah. Monday’s the big day.”

“I didn’t really think you’d go through with it. I mean, Well…I was…uh…”

“Thought I’d flake out again, huh?” Max laughed as he shook his head to flick hair off his face. He reached up and raked his fingers through the straight, blond strands in a gesture that had always gotten to Eric. His mannerisms, masculine in a surfer-dude sort of way, were also slightly effeminate, just soft enough to be sexy. Everything about the way he carried himself affected Eric, and he couldn’t exactly explain why.

“No. Of course I didn’t think you’d flake out. I just…well, I was hoping you might change your mind. I’m gonna miss you.”

Max’s broad smile faded to a sincere, pleasant expression where the corners of his mouth just slightly curled. He patted the mattress with his palm. “If you want, I’ll let you give me head one last time…for old time’s sake.”

The rapid tapping of Drake’s nails on the kitchen tile pulled Eric from his reverie. He shook his head and reached into the box of dog biscuits for a treat. “Alright, alright. Here you go.” He held out a dog biscuit to his Lab who quickly devoured it. Eric stepped into the utility room and removed Drake’s leash from the hook where it was hanging. Drake rushed to the front door, his rear end jiggling back and forth as his tail whipped about lickety split.

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Now Available: Loose Ends by Jeff Erno

Loose Ends
Author: Jeff Erno
Genre: Mystery and Detective; Gay romance
Imprint: Ai Press
Length: Novel
Price: 3.99 USD

Cover art: Louca Matheo

Buy from: Amazon Kindle|BN Nook|Kobo Books|Google Play

Trade paperback from Amazon
Homicide detective Tucker Brown hasn’t always made the right decisions, but one thing about his life he’ll never regret is his son Jaydin. While at the hospital for his four-year-old’s tonsillectomy, he encounters Jaydin’s nurse, Ivan Ramsey. Tucker is taken aback, however, when he discovers he’s been assigned to investigate the potential murder of Ivan’s mother.

Ivan Ramsey is a pediatric nurse, and he loves his job more than life. Raised in a devoutly religious family, he’s not yet out to a lot of people, but on the very night he chooses to come out to his mother, she dies tragically in a house fire. Devastated by the news, Ivan all but falls to pieces, and to make matters worse, a cocky, know-it-all police detective shows up asking nosy questions. The cop implies his mother’s death might not have been an accident and even infers a family member might be responsible.

Tucker and Ivan at first clash. Their strikingly different personalities are oil and water, but soon they begin to work together to determine the real cause of Ivan’s mother’s death. In the process, sparks begin to fly and a romance ignites. Ivan falls hard, not only for the sexy detective but also his adorable son.Tucker, equally smitten, has made some discoveries he can’t yet reveal to his lover. There are so many loose ends and unanswered questions for both of them, and when the truth finally comes out, it just might tear them apart.

Excerpt:

For the next week, Ivan functioned on auto-pilot. There was so much to do, so many things Ivan’s father needed help navigating. Although his parents had already made final arrangements, they still had to plan the funeral. Ivan had to pull himself together and be strong for his dad’s sake. He’d had his moment, his complete breakdown. His mother, of all people, would want him to remain stoic going forward. She’d expect him to face tragedy with a degree of dignity. She’d always concerned herself with appearances, and the last thing she’d want would be for her son to lose it in public.

He allowed himself to go numb and suppress his intense emotions. It was the only strategy that allowed him to greet and thank so many people who’d reached out to the family with expressions of condolence.

With his parents being so active in the church, the entire congregation seemed to be involved in the memorial. For the most part, the church ladies were very sweet, and they all had very kind words for Ivan and his family. They also had no concept of moderation, at least when it came to food. They not only prepared massive quantities of casseroles, sandwiches, salads, and desserts for the memorial, but they delivered equally as much food to Brandon’s house.

And after the closed-casket service and the interment, Ivan’s father faced a mountain of paperwork. They had death certificates to obtain, creditors to contact, insurance companies to notify. The home owner’s insurance was the worst. His father had lost everything, and they had to try to compile an inventory and determine replacement costs on every item. That process would have been painful enough in and of itself, but the death of his mother made it all the worse. Every detail—every physical item lost—was tied to a memory.

As horrific as the process was, Ivan felt a twisted sense of appreciation for all the busy work. It allowed him to remain focused upon his mom. The obvious challenges they faced during their time of transition at the very least gave Ivan pause, allowed him to think about how complex life was and how many people were touched by the life of one individual. Had she simply been buried and forgotten, had life just gone on as normal, Ivan wasn’t sure he’d have been able to cope. He welcomed the turmoil and chaos and viewed them as proof that his mother’s life had mattered.

But when a police detective showed up, and a member of the media cornered Ivan, Brandon, and their father one morning at a restaurant, asking questions about how Mrs. Ramsey had died, Ivan became concerned. And annoyed.

“What was she talking about?” Ivan sat across from his father at the local diner. Ivan turned to his brother. “That reporter, what did she mean? It was a fire. An accident.”

“Apparently, they’re not sure it was an accident.” Brandon took a sip of his water.

“Of course it was an accident.” Ivan stared directly at his father. “And why’d that detective contact me? He wants me to meet him for an interview.”

David Ramsey leaned back, straightening his posture in the chair as he scrubbed a hand across his face. “I didn’t want to tell you everything yet… I mean, until I knew for sure. But there was an autopsy conducted. Routine, really. And the fire was determined not to be the cause of death.”

“What?” Ivan leaned forward, elbows on the table. “What the hell, Dad? What are you saying?”

His father looked at him sternly, perhaps in response to Ivan’s language. He took a deep breath.

“Sorry, I didn’t tell you because…It was just too much to deal with.”

“Dad, how did she die then?” Brandon’s tone was more measured.

“Apparently she was shot.”

“Shot!” Ivan and Brandon spoke in unison.

“The police think someone killed your mother and then set the fire to try covering it up.”

“No!” Ivan shook his head. “This is crazy. Why? Why would someone do that?”

“That’s why they want to talk to all of us,” Brandon surmised. “They want to find out which one of us had a motive to kill our own mother.”

David raised one hand. “Now just a minute. Hold on, and quit…” He took a deep breath. “Try not to get emotional about this. The police are just doing their job. They know someone killed your mother, and they have to question everyone. Of course, they’re going to start with us first. Once we are eliminated as suspects—“

“Suspects?” Ivan nearly shouted. “Why would someone kill my mother? And why on earth would they ever suspect Brandon or me…or you.” He stared at his father.

“Well, of course we didn’t kill your mother. It had to have been a burglary or something. Someone broke into the house. Lord knows why. We have no idea what, if anything, they took. It’s not like we can take an inventory at this point. But whoever did it probably killed your mom to keep her from identifying them.”

“And to get away,” Brandon added.

“Right.” David looked into Ivan’s eyes as he reached across the table and placed one hand on his son’s wrist. “The police are just doing their job. Just cooperate with them, because we want more than anyone for this monster to be caught. The sooner they clear our family, the sooner they can find the killer.”

Ivan again felt as if he’d been body-slammed. The news was unfathomable. It sounded like an episode of Forensic Files or NCIS. This shit didn’t happen in real life. Not to him and his family.
After lunch, Ivan excused himself, saying he needed to head back to his apartment. When he got to his car he retrieved a business card from his pocket that Detective Viviano had left him. “This is my partner’s card. He’s leading the investigation. Detective Brown.” Ivan stared at the card, trying to recall why the name sounded so familiar. He dialed the number.

“Detective Brown.”

“Hello, this is Ivan Ramsey. Your partner left me your card and said I needed to contact you.”

“Oh yes. Hello, Ivan. Thanks for returning my call. I just need to talk to you about—“

“About who killed my mother.”

“Yes, I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“Look, I don’t appreciate your insinuations. I know you think someone in our family did it, but that’s utter bullshit.”

“No, I don’t assume anything like that.”

“And don’t you think my father has enough to deal with at a time like this? Shouldn’t you be out looking for the murderer instead of harassing us? We’re the victims here.”

“I want to catch the murderer more than anything, but in order to do that, I need your cooperation. Like I said, I’m sorry. I wish there was some other way.”

“I’ll come in right now for your interview.”

“That would be wonderful. Or I could meet you somewhere.”

“I’ll come to the police station. I’ll answer your questions, but then I want this to be over with. I want you to catch my mother’s killer and quit wasting time.”

“That’s the plan.”

“Good!” Ivan ended the call.

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Now Available: Peridot Dreams (A Wizard in Waikiki, Book 2) by A.J. Llewellyn

Peridot Dreams
Author: A.J. Llewellyn
Series: A Wizard in Waikiki Book Two
Previous Book: A Wizard in Waikiki
Genre: Gay Romance
Imprint: Ai Press
Length: Novella
eISBN: 978-1-937796-66-2
Price: 2.99 USD

Buy from Amazon Kindle|BN Nook|Kobo|Google Play

Cover art: Les Byerley

Tall, dark, magical and ready for a lifetime commitment…or is he? When Kono is transported back to ancient Hawaii, his lover from that time has been waiting for him. Konu must clear the confusion in his heart. Jason in the present or Loho?

Ancient Tahitian wizard Konu has settled into daily life in Waikiki, Hawaii. Entrusted with a sacred mission to bring healing and hope to the islands, he begins to grieve his past more and more. Ripped away five hundred years ago from his lover, Loho, he has found a new relationship with Jason, who runs a local homeless shelter. But things are not easy. Jason is stressed, busy and not easy to connect with.

Things take a strange turn when Konu finds himself in old Waikiki as it was five hundred years ago. There is Loho waiting for him. Konu wants nothing more than to be in his lover’s arms, but he loves Jason, too. Then a young girl vanishes, having followed Konu into the mystical realm. Her disappearance causes a great spiritual catastrophe only Konu can avert, but how does he get back inside those beautiful, brilliant, peridot dreams?

Publisher’s note: Peridot Dreams was previously published. It has been edited for re-release with Ai Press.

Excerpt:

It made Konu feel sad sometimes that the one thing he wanted in this life, apart from Jason, was his horse and he had nowhere to keep him.

“Mingo and I have already filed a case with the state. Oh, God, Konu. You drive me crazy.”
“Is that good or bad?”

“Both. I fucking want you all the time.”

“That’s good.” Konu reached out for a plum from the koa wood bowl on the table. “I want you all the time, too.”

“Don’t start. When you look at me…” Jason shook his head. “I’ve got stress this morning, babe.”

“If I sucked your cock you’d feel better.”

“No!” Jason shrieked. “If you do that I’ll never leave this house.”

Konu stared at him. “I would find that delightful.”

Jason ran a hand through his hair. “Not now, babe. God…”

Konu watched the way Jason fielded the phone calls and text messages.

He waited until Jason stopped talking. “Mingo McCloud thinks I have a very good case for…what does he call it?”

“Immigration asylum.”

“Right.”

Jason said nothing. He poured more coffee.

“When I have this, when I have this… formality, will you marry me?”

“We’ll discuss it.” Jason was busy tapping text messages into his phone. It hurt Konu that Jason wouldn’t say yes. He didn’t know what else to say. He went for the truth.

“Is the I.D. the only reason you won’t say yes?”

Jason smiled again. “One of them. Listen, I’m crazy about you, but this five hundred years old schtick is a little freaky. Then there’s what you did to Lionel.”

“I didn’t do anything to Lionel.”

“You told him he was going to die.”

“And I was right. If he hadn’t been to a doctor he would never have known how deadly the tumor is. I could have fixed it, but he didn’t want me to.”

Suddenly, Konu was enjoying his coffee a whole lot less. Why was Jason so angry with him?

“You have this gift and it’s wonderful…” Jason let out a ragged sigh. “You just have to learn how to be more…circumspect in the modern world.”

“What is circumspect? Does that have anything to do with your cut penis?”

Jason laughed. “No, you Neanderthal, it doesn’t. It means you should be a little more cautious… be a little less honest with people.”

“Why?”

Jason leaned on the table with both elbows. “Talking to you is like talking to a kid.”

“Listen, things are confusing for me, too,” Konu said. “This new world is weird. Flushing toilets…buses, cars, hair dyes, perfumes. Pants that have zippers. Now these I totally dislike.”

“You dislike zippers? Why?”

“Because I fumble with them and I want so badly to be able to suck your cock.”

“Dear God,” Jason said, putting his face in his hands. “And you’ve got to stop saying stuff like that in front of people.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s too much. This is private information.”

This confused Konu who had been taught honesty in all things. “Okay,” he said, trying to find a compromise. ”I can work on that, but it doesn’t mean I don’t want to suck your cock.”
Jason gave him a solemn look. “Glad to hear it.”

“See, there are things I dislike about the modern world but do I blame you?” Konu lifted his hands, as if in surrender. “No, I don’t. So you shouldn’t blame me for coming from a different time and times.”

“Fair enough.” Jason drained his coffee. “I have to drive over to Ewa Beach before sunrise. I have Child Protective Services meeting me there for a surprise dawn raid on the new families.”

“Okay.” Konu was desperate. He didn’t want to part for the day without some hope of marriage with Jason. “Mingo McCloud’s getting married,” he said.

“Yes, sweetheart, I know. But he and Francois have been together a long time and besides, they have Francois’ son living with them. That’s a different situation.”

“How long should we be together before we get married?”

“I don’t know.” Jason sounded exasperated. “I have to jump into the shower and get ready. If you promise to be good and not get naughty, we can shower together.”

“If I must.” Konu’s face must have reflected the misery he felt. Jason moved out of his seat and came to him. Konu pulled the man onto his lap and kissed him. Jason squirmed at first, but with Konu’s hand tugging gently on Jason’s cock, it was evidently hard for Jason to keep up his stern expression. He began to gasp.

Konu’s cock hardened against his lover’s wonderful ass cheeks and he would have loved to fuck him, but he decided sucking Jason’s cock would relieve some of his stress and send him out the door with a smile on his face.

He picked Jason up and propped him on the kitchen table, Jason’s knees hugging Konu’s head. His legs and ass opened up to Konu who began with a long slow lick across Jason’s ass cheeks, along his ass crack and to his balls, which for some reason Jason always shaved. Konu wasn’t sure it was a bad thing since it made the ball sac look so huge. He tugged with gentle lips on first one ball, then the other. He moved back to Jason’s ass which smelled and tasted of Konu. They had, after all, been making love all night.

Jason started to make a racket.

“Oh, my God,” he said over and over, leaning back, feeding his balls and ass to Konu, who knew Jason’s body so well now that he knew the right moment to pull back and find another sensitive spot to pleasure. He licked along Jason’s inner thighs, his lover jerking underneath him. Jason suddenly grabbed Konu’s head and shoved his cock into his mouth. Konu could hardly breathe the way Jason was humping him, but he didn’t care. Jason was close to coming. He worked on breathing each time he came back up as he sucked Jason’s huge, rigid shaft and plunged back down again.

He decided to make his lover wait. Jason went berserk, hollering when Konu picked him up and carried him down the hallway into the bathroom.

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