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Black

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Book Title: Black (MM Kitty Play Romance)

Author: Quin Perin

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Quin Perin

Genre/s: Gay Erotic Romance

Heat Rating: 4-5 flames

Length: 93 000 words/ 350 pages

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Blurb

“Meow!”

There it was.

The sound that made my knees buckle.

He purred, neck stretched, eyes half-lidded.

With those cat ears, in his hair.

And the tail, that he flicked.

A ray of sun in the drizzling rain. I’d been a traveler, floating adrift, while he’d stayed in one place. How was I supposed to know he’d become my anchor? My light. My everything. But would I ever become his?

 

A standalone romance, “Black” features detailed adult m/m content, a hurt/comfort relationship as well as “kitty play.”

 

 

Excerpt

A shove and he fell into a seated position. His hands were all over me. Squeezing at my thighs, shoving my shirt up. Stepping back, away from him, I grabbed the bottom of my shirt and pulled it over my head. I draped it over the coffee table and worked on my pants next. Kitties didn’t wear clothes after all. If I was going to be a kitty, I was going to be a good one.

Naked, body free in the cool air of my apartment, I lifted my arms above my head and stretched out. Flaunting. I wanted him to touch my cock. Heated, it swayed with each of my movements, begging for attention. That was for later though. Now we played.

Dropping to my knees, I turned my face towards him and angled my head to the side. Hands hit the floor, and I crawled towards him. Strutted as best as I could. It was like the evening before when I’d tried to seduce him. Except I’d already succeeded in my goal this time. Now it was all icing on top.

I crawled up to him, hands going to his knees. “Dima,” he murmured, reaching for my hair. He laced his fingers through, but I jerked my head away from him.

With a hiss, I narrowed my eyes and bit down on his fingers. It made him laugh, but he didn’t touch me again. If he wanted me to get into character, we were going to have to do it properly. I wanted to be something different, and he was going to have to deal with that.

Tony spread his thighs to accept me between them. I scratched and then dipped my head. With the skill of my tongue and teeth, working in tandem, I popped open the button of his jeans. The zipper was much easier, and then he helped me. While he worked on getting his pants out of the way, I showed off my body. Elbows rested on the floor behind me, back arched sharply as I waited. The skin stretched tight over my ribs, stomach a little dip. I was tiny, and I knew it, but Tony definitely seemed to like it.

“God, you’re beautiful,” he murmured.

I purred at the compliment, and when the couch stopped its faint squeaking from his movements, I was at my place between his thighs again. He’d not moved from his spot, making it easier on me. Without much ado, I dove face first into his lower stomach, brushing my nose into his tuft of pubic hair. He smelled faintly of soap and musk, sweat. A distinctly manly smell that drove me crazy. His cock flexed, the heat of it against my cheek. Too heavy to stand on its own when he was seated like that, it pointed towards his hip.

I nipped at his stomach and turned my head so my cheek rested against him. Keeping my eyes closed, I flicked my tongue against the side of his cock. He groaned and shifted, legs spreading wider.

Poor Tony.

He thought he was going to get what he wanted. One thing he would learn was kitties didn’t much care to do what other people wanted.

This time when I scratched at his thighs, I was attacking bare skin. He jerked against me, hissing between his teeth.

“Fuck,” he grumbled.

He might have caught the smirk that danced over my lips, but if he did, it was only a brief moment as I bypassed his cock and went straight to his balls. My tongue lapped across the tender flesh, tasting salt and heat. I swore I felt his heart beating as my nose brushed the base of his cock and my tongue worked him over. Curious, I mouthed at his sack before letting out a tiny “meow.” He arched so hard and quickly, I thought he was gonna jump off the couch.

If he liked that, Tony was in for a long night.

 

About the Authors

This is Quin&Perin. We are a team of Sultry Gay Romance writers who focus on detailed, toe-curling, and realistic smut scenes with a fair share of dirty talking (Oh, boy). We cannot wait to share our boys with you. Thank you for stopping by!

That said, it is time for the next level of smut: stories featuring fire, lust & desire.

 

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Broken Promises

Title: Broken Promises
Series: Sater’s Creek Series #1
Author: Megs Pritchard
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: March 25, 2019

 

Andrew Buchanan had been keeping a secret, one he kept from his family until he was on his deathbed. Now the responsibility of telling his other family that he’d gone was left to Nick. So Nick traveled to America, unsure of what to expect but hopeful for the future. Enter his half-brother Chase, who was so angry and filled with hatred he wanted nothing to do with Nick and left him in no doubt of his feelings on the matter. 

 

The only ray of sunshine was Chase’s closet friend, Brad. Nick was instantly drawn to him, but given how things were with Chase he was firmly on the ‘don’t touch’ list. Brad was hooked the moment he saw Nick but had to put those feelings aside to try and help him win over his new family.
Spending time with Nick, only made Brad want him more, a feeling he was sure Nick returned. However, he couldn’t give in to the temptation because he knew it would ruin his friendship with Chase.
Their attraction, however, couldn’t be denied and one day the inevitable happened, Nick and Brad crossed a line they both swore they wouldn’t. Could their relationship survive, or would distance and loyalties pull them apart?

 

The wind buffeted the car, rocking it gently and causing the trees lining the driveway to sway. Nick sat, feeling the car rock, and sighed. He leaned his elbow on the window and rested his chin in his hand, seeing but not. His mind was elsewhere.

 

He sat, staring at the house. A beautiful, sprawling, ranch-style home, painted a pale yellow with white trim. He’d parked further down the driveway than necessary so he could check the place out. A winding path led from the driveway to the front door, with flowerbeds along it. Trees lined the land around the house and the attached two-car garage. It looked warm and inviting, yet Nick struggled to leave the safety of the car.

 

It had taken him thirty minutes to get here from his hotel. A drive fraught with nerves, but he’d made it. He’d liked the area too. Sater’s Creek was a nice place to live, and under different circumstances, he would love to come again, but that all depended on what happened next.

 

He’d been sitting there for ten minutes, trying to find the courage to open the car door and get out. Ten minutes trying to pluck up the courage to approach the house and knock on the door. To introduce himself to the occupants within. He couldn’t find the words, they eluded him, but he needed to if he were to do what he’d said he would.

 

He’d made a promise, given his word, but now that he was here, he wasn’t sure if he could follow through. Broken promises, words whispered, then scattered in the breeze. They had led him here to this place. A place he hadn’t known existed mere weeks ago. A place none of them had known about.

 

It should be him and his brother facing this together, but his sister-in-law was due to give birth to their first child any day now, and Danny couldn’t leave, not that Nick would have wanted him to. Danny needed to be with his wife.

 

And so he sat, staring at a house that held a future he knew nothing about. A future with people he didn’t know. People he should have known for almost all his life but was now about to meet for the first time. Nick tried to see it from their point of view but sadly failed.

 

Everything was different now, his plans altered. He’d suffered recently. The last six months had been difficult to overcome, difficult to comprehend what he’d experienced and how he had dealt with it. The devastating loss and the utter loneliness that followed. Even though his brother had been with him, the pain shared, he was still alone.

 

And now he was here, following the words whispered in the quietness of that room.

 

He dropped his head into his hands, closing his eyes. He was tired, bone-tired. His shoulders slumped with the weight they carried. The suffering, the pain, the loss. He wasn’t sure if he could ever walk upright again.

 

Breathing deeply, Nick lifted his head and blinked his eyes, staring out of the car window. Looking at the house, he knew he couldn’t stay in the car. He’d given his word, and he intended to keep it.

 

He opened the door and stood, slamming it shut behind him. He took a breath in, holding it, and closed his eyes. The wind moved over and through him. Cleansing him, or so it felt, but Nick didn’t know if he would ever truly feel clean again. That smell, one he’d smelled for months followed him everywhere, even here, thousands of miles away.

 

Releasing his breath, Nick walked towards the front door, wiping his suddenly clammy hands on his jeans. His heart hammered in his chest, so fast and loud, he was sure everyone around him would hear it. The safety of the car behind called him, and Nick fought the urge to stop, turn around, and walk away, but deep down, he knew he couldn’t, and so he continued, putting one foot in front of the other.

 

When he reached the door, he paused, staring at the yellow door. He had to do this. He’d made a promise, and he wouldn’t break it. Swallowing, he lifted his hand, staring at his clenched fist, and lowered it to his side. The door looked clean, pure. Nick didn’t know if he should soil it.

 

He leaned forward, resting his head on it, closing his eyes. His heart threatened to burst free from his chest, and his hands went clammy once again. He swallowed hard, opened his eyes and knocked on the door before he could stop himself. He’d come too far to turn away.

 

Pushing away from the door, Nick waited for someone to answer, breathing in through his nose and out his mouth, trying to calm his racing heart, his turbulent stomach. He didn’t have to wait long.

 

The door opened, and a man stood there, frowning. Older than Nick but not by much.

 

“Hello. Can I help you?”

 

Nick swallowed and cleared his throat. “Chase? Chase Buchanan? Son of Andrew Buchanan?”

 

The frown deepened as the man looked Nick over. “Who’s asking?”

 

Nick swallowed again and took a deep breath before answering, “My name’s Nick, and I’m your brother.”

 

.

 

Megs Pritchard lives in England and is a mother to two small boys who drive her crazy! When she isn’t working or being mummy, tearing her hair out or drowning her sorrows in alcohol, she is busy writing about complex characters that know the harsh realities of life but want a HEA.

 

Megs writes both contemporary and paranormal romance and is working on two new series for 2019: a paranormal shifter series, Salutem, and a contemp series, Sater’s creek. She might also be dipping her big fat toe into the m/f paranormal too!
Growing up in a military family, Megs has travelled Europe and has a great deal of respect and gratitude for all the men and women who have and who still serve. Her dream job was to be a Bomb Disposal Expert and even had her own ‘kit’ when she was younger, which her dad took away from her one day because he didn’t like tripping over the floss she was using as her trip wire. She thought it was a good idea. He may have also taken away her cricket bat too which she was using for Self-defence!

 

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Best Laid Plans

Title: Best Laid Plans
Author: E.M. Denning
Genre: MM Romance
Publisher: Paper Gold Publishing
Production Date: March 20th, 2019
Blurb:
In a world where omegas rule, alphas must provide. Maxwell Moore is a successful omega who loves his job as CEO of his family’s automotive company. After successfully navigating the company through an economic slump, he wants nothing more than to keep doing what he loves, but his alpha brother, Howard, has other plans. Faced with the threat of a forced marriage he doesn’t want, Maxwell comes up with a plan.
Diagnosed as infertile when he was a teen, Chase Grant is a lonely, unmatched alpha with no hope of having the life he’s always wanted. Working a menial, but fulfilling job at an animal shelter, he doesn’t expect things to change for the better. When he’s approached by a dashing older omega with a mutually beneficial proposal, Chase can’t think of a single reason to say no.
Weeks turn into months and feelings develop between the two men, proving love knows no bounds and fate yields to no one. When an unexpected development turns their world upside down, Max and Chase come together, only to find their separate goals are now the same and they must work together to save the life they’ve built and make their dreams come true.
Best Laid Plans is set in Star Valley, a fictional omegaverse where centuries of power struggles have seen the omegas come out on top. Alphas still provide, but it’s the omegas who call the shots. This book also contains a little angst, a fetch-loving canine, a dash of mpreg, and some naughty knotting.
 
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E. M. Denning is a writer from British Columbia. She loves her family and animals, and anything cute and fuzzy. She writes romance for the 18+ plus crowd because she’s both a hopeless romantic and a dirty old woman.
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Perilous Hearts

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Book Title: Perilous Hearts (Deviant Hearts #3)

Author: A E Ryecart

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Meredith Russell

Genre/s: MM Romance (friends to lovers with psychological suspense)

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: approx. 95 000 words

It’s the third in the Deviant Hearts series, but can be read as a standalone. There is no need to have read the other books in the series first.

Release Date: March 8, 2019

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Blurb

You can lock your door, but can you lock your heart?

Finding the courage to end his relationship with his manipulative and vicious boyfriend, Jamie Wheeler turns to his close friend Ed Corrigan to help him get his life back on track.

Jamie and Ed have been inseparable for years, and all it would take is a small step to cross the divide from friends to lovers.

It would be the biggest mistake they could make.

Jamie seeks the security of a settled long-term relationship, but Ed vows never to put his heart on the line again after a devastating betrayal. Anything beyond friendship is a risk, and could break them forever.

As Jamie’s vindictive ex causes trouble from the side-lines, a face from the past makes an unwelcome return. Jamie’s life isn’t getting back on track, it’s coming off the rails, as a series of seemingly random events lead to only one of two conclusions: either somebody’s playing a dark and sinister game, or Jamie’s losing his mind.

Tensions rise and danger approaches, drawing Jamie and Ed closer than ever. But time is running out as they race to discover not only what is happening, and why, but also what they truly mean to each other.

The third book in the Deviants Heart series, Perilous Hearts is a slow burn friends to lovers romance intertwined with dark psychological suspense. It can be read as a stand-alone and there is no need to have read the previous two books in the series. No cliff hanger and HEA guaranteed.

Excerpt

“I like what you’ve done here. Redecorating and wiping away all traces.”

“It was long overdue.”

“It was.”

So much truth, in those two little words. There was nothing I could say and silence settled in around us.

“I just wish you’d told me earlier what was going on.”

Ed’s voice was tight and hard as though he’d had to force the words out. His deep blue eyes bored into mine, and I couldn’t drag my gaze away.

“Why, Jamie? Why didn’t you say anything to me? I could have dealt with it – with him – and stopped everything from escalating. Don’t ever hold back on me like that again.”

“I—” Shame filled me and I looked away, no longer able to hold Ed’s steady gaze.

Had I really thought I could deal with Callum and everything he was doing to me? The drugs, the intimidation, the men he was fucking and not bothering to hide from me. Little by little, drip by drip, Callum had made me feel worthless, and that what he was doing was somehow my fault. But hadn’t I allowed him to treat me like that? Hadn’t I, in some way, been complicit?

I jumped, the sear of electricity shooting through my nerves as Ed trailed his fingers along my forearm. I swallowed down the hard, dry lump lodged in my throat.

“I—I didn’t want you to think I was weak and stupid, even though that’s what I was.”

“What?” Ed sat up straight, his face fighting shock, anger and indignation. “You think I would blame you in some way? I’d never, ever do that. You’re not responsible for him and how he was, and don’t even begin to think you are. Hey, look at me.”

I could feel the heat and pull of Ed’s gaze, and there was nothing I could do to resist. Ed tilted his head, just a little, and the ghost of a smile sat on his lips. He spoke, and his voice lost its edge as it became quieter, deeper.

“Did you think I’d shake my head and walk away? That I’d leave you to struggle?”

“No, but. . .” But what? I was floundering, sinking into the depths of Ed’s unwavering gaze. “You and Callum,” I croaked, “things were always tense between you. I wanted to keep some kind of, I don’t know, peace I suppose.”

“Peace? Between me and Callum?” Ed shook his head. “There was no peace. I hated him from the very beginning, and it wasn’t long before I had him worked out for the user and parasite he was. He had just enough going on in his vicious little brain to know I’d figured him out. But that wasn’t all, it wasn’t even the main part of it.”

“I don’t understand.” The words were a lie. I understood perfectly.

“Don’t you? We were jealous of each other. Right from the start we were at war.”

Ed’s eyes held my own, never, never before so serious and focused. Focused on me. If the world around us stopped spinning I wouldn’t have cared, because in that moment we were the only world that mattered.

I tilted my head as Ed leaned into me, his breath warm, damp and just a moment from my lips. In some tiny, dark corner of my mind a little voice whispered we were crossing a line which could never be uncrossed. I didn’t care. I closed my eyes as my mind shut down and my body took over, ready for the kiss that would alter the course of my life and seal my fate.

A heavy crash, and the angry, loud creak of floorboards. My eyes flew open, both of us jerking backwards, away from the kiss that would have changed everything forever.

We stared at the ceiling, open mouthed and wide-eyed, as the lightshade swung from side to side.

About the Author

A E Ryecart – or Ali as she’s known to many of her readers – writes contemporary mm romance and gay fiction. From the warm, sweet and fuzzy to the gritty, hard-hitting and challenging, Ali doesn’t hold back from making life just that little bit (or a lot) difficult for her men. But then who said the road to love and happiness was an easy one?

Ali’s stories are often set in London, where she was born and raised, providing the perfect metropolitan background to the main action. Now she’s older, if not wiser, and lives just outside of the big bad city with her husband, an overactive imagination, and a huge pot of coffee as she pounds the keyboard of her trusty laptop.

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The Rising

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Book Title: The Rising (Badlands, Book 2)

Author: Morgan Brice

Cover Artist: Natania Barron

Genre/s: Urban Fantasy, MM paranormal romance

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Release Date: February 13, 2019

Can be read as a standalone

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Blurb

A big storm is brewing, there’s a killer on the loose, and the ghosts of Myrtle Beach are restless. Psychic medium Simon Kincaide and his sexy cop boyfriend, homicide detective Vic D’Amato have their hands full helping the Grand Strand brace for rough surf, driving rain and high winds as a winter storm roars toward shore.

Everyone’s on edge, and rumors are rampant about sightings of Blackcoat Benny, a ghostly omen of danger, and worse, the Gallows Nine, the spirits of nine infamous criminals hanged back in the 1700s, a harbinger of disaster. Rough tides wash the wreck of an old pirate ship into shallow waters, high winds threaten to damage an old mansion with a dark past, and the citizens of the beach town hunker down to ride out the storm.

As the skies grow dark and the sea turns wild, several men from prominent local families end up dead under suspicious circumstances. Simon’s premonition confirms Vic’s gut feeling—the killing is just getting started. As Simon tries to reach out to the spirits of the murdered men to help the investigation, he’s attacked by malicious ghosts that don’t want anyone getting in the way of their long-overdue vengeance.

With the storm hammering the coast, and new victims piling up, Simon is certain that the sins and secrets of the past are coming due, and that the murders have a supernatural link. Vic and Simon race to stop the murders against an unholy deadline, but as they battle rising tides and risen ghosts, can they save the intended victims without getting trapped themselves.

Trigger Warning: Mentions of suicide (not main characters)

 

Excerpt from Chapter 1

SIMON

“We need more pirates. Pirates sell.”
Simon Kincaide, owner of Grand Strand Ghost Tours, looked up with a chuckle. “Especially dead pirates. Or should I say ‘dread’ pirates?”

Pete King, Simon’s assistant store manager and part-time tour guide, rolled his eyes. “Both. I’m just saying, we could switch up the scripts and add more pirates to the ghost tours. Especially with the new wrecks the hurricane exposed. That’s all everyone seems to be talking about these days.”

Simon nodded. “I think you’re on to something. I have some good pirate ghost stories, but they’re pretty well known. Why don’t you do some research and see if you can come up with some that aren’t as familiar?” He grinned. “Let me guess—you’re itching to try out a new pirate costume?”

“Guilty as charged,” Pete replied. “You know the tourists love that stuff.”

“Oh, believe me. I know!” Simon used to do all the tours himself, but during the past year, business had grown enough for him to promote Pete and bring him in to expand the number and types of tours offered. Pete did his tours in full costume and made it more of a performance, fitting since he was finishing up a degree in drama. Simon had been a folklore professor before coming to Myrtle Beach, so his tours stuck to the facts and history. Both types of tours were popular.

“People say that the new wreck was a pirate corsair, pretty notorious in its day,” Pete went on, obviously thrilled with his topic.

“Don’t get your hopes up too much—around here, everything is a pirate ship until proven otherwise,” Simon joked. “Seriously, the last time a good wreck washed in, everyone was sure it was Blue‐ beard’s ship until it turned out to be a garbage scow!”

“Shh!” Pete teased. “Leave me my fragile illusions!” he added, throwing an arm across his face and pretending to swoon.

Ten in the morning on a late January Monday meant Myrtle Beach was quiet. The snowbird tourists were likely still sleeping or enjoying breakfast. Not like the summer when walkers and joggers practically crowded the beach and boardwalk at dawn. And with a storm forecast, it was likely to stay quiet.

“I’ll go pick up some coffee,” Simon offered. “Somehow, I don’t think you’ll get overwhelmed with customers while I’m gone.”

Simon wandered down to the railing and looked out over the Atlantic. Wind blew his shoulder-length brown hair and stung his hazel eyes as he looked out over the whitecaps and the rough surf. He loved the ocean like this, wild and powerful. Simon took a deep breath of salty air and listened to the pounding waves.

Tourists might not be on the boardwalk, but the weather never stopped its resident ghosts. Simon watched two children in old-fash‐ ioned clothes skip several yards, then vanish. A translucent old man on a bicycle laden with possessions rode past, giving a ghostly jingle of his bell. On the steps to the beach access, a dreadlocked young man leaned on his elbows and stared out at the water that took his life, in no hurry to move on.

Most people couldn’t see the ghosts, but Simon could.

 

About the Author

Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions. Characters from her Gail books make frequent appearances in secondary roles in her Morgan books, and vice versa.

On the rare occasions Morgan isn’t writing, she’s either reading, cooking, or spoiling two very pampered dogs.

Other books include Witchbane, Burn, Dark Rivers, and Badlands. Watch for more in these series, plus new series coming soon!

 

 

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Loving Again Series

LOVING AGAIN SERIES BLOG TOUR

 

January 25, 2019 – A World Apart

February 22, 2019 – A New Life

March 22, 2019 – A Broken Promise

 

NEW RELEASE

Book Title: A New Life (Loving Again Series, Book 2)

Author: Mel Gough

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Black Jazz Design

Genre/s: Contemporary romance

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 49,000 words/188 pages

Release Date: February 22, 2019

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Blurb

New apartment, new job, new love – Ben and Donnie’s life in Atlanta is everything they dared to hope for. And when Zac, a baby in need of a home, comes to live with them, their family is complete.

But caring for a little one is hard work, and Donnie’s fragile health soon suffers. And then certain criminal elements from Donnie’s past turn up again. Ben and Donnie fight hard to preserve their little piece of heaven, but the destructive forces are determined to pull their happiness to pieces.

Can the two men prevail, or will they lose their baby son and everything they’ve fought for?

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

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Excerpt – Chapter 1

A drowsy post-lunch hush hung over the large, comfortable room. Small clusters of kids sat around low tables, drawing pictures or building models with brightly-colored Legos. Late fall sunlight dappled little faces and danced over the playful wall murals the community center volunteers kept adding to, whenever someone with a smidgen of artistic talent joined the team.

Donnie glanced through the glass doors into the courtyard. It was a beautiful day, mild for so late in the year. He planned to go outside with the kids for some sandbox playtime soon. He wondered if he could sneak into the staffroom and put the coffeemaker on for an afternoon cup before that, but just then, a small, dark-haired girl at a table near the back looked up from her drawing. “Donnie, can you help me?” she called in a stage whisper that made Donnie smile.

“Sure, Padma.” He wended his way through the other tables and kneeled next to the girl’s child-sized chair. “What’re we doing?”

She held out an orange crayon for him. “Can you draw a lion?”

Donnie glanced down at her paper. “Course. Where d’you want him?”

“There.” Padma pointed at a gray box with bars across the front. “Into the lion cage.”

The girl had drawn a zoo. There were cages for the animals, and enclosures with green grass and landscaping. A big red house had a stick figure outside. Donnie pointed at it. “Who’s that?”

Padma said proudly, “That’s the zookeeper.”

“But where are the animals?” Donnie asked. “Did they all run away?”

Padma shook her head and gave a tragic sigh. “I can’t draw animals.” Her big, dark eyes shone. “Can you do it for me?” she wheedled.

“All right, let’s see.” Donnie settled down on his haunches and pointed at a patch of gray and blue on the paper. “What’s that?”

“That’s the Arctic enclosure, where the penguins go, and the polar bear,” Padma said.

Donnie nodded, keeping his expression serious. This would take a while, but he didn’t mind. “Makes sense. Right, lion first.”

They had drawn the lion and four penguins, and were just getting started on a zebra, when Arthur came into the daycare. Arthur was the community center’s director, a retired high school teacher who had come from England to Atlanta with his wife almost forty years ago. After Bess’s death, Arthur had decided to stay. Donnie couldn’t imagine the center, and his own life, without the old man.

Arthur was accompanied by a young woman Donnie had never seen before. Arthur looked around, and when he spotted Donnie, he and the woman started to make their way to him and Padma. The woman carried a baby in her arms. They stopped in front of Padma’s table. Arthur leaned down to admire Padma’s drawing. “That’s a very nice zoo,” he said kindly. “Well done!”

“Donnie did the animals,” the girl informed him.

“Well, he did a jolly good job, too,” Arthur said, nodding.

Donnie smiled gratefully. Arthur was good with people, and he always took time with the kids, even though running the community center kept him busy. He treated the children as if they mattered as much as the adults, and Donnie tried his best to emulate him.

Arthur addressed Padma again. “I need to borrow Donnie for a little while, is that okay?”

The girl nodded, pleased to be asked for permission.

Donnie got up, shaking the pins and needles from his legs. He loved being with the kids, but maybe he was getting too old to crouch on the floor so much.

The woman by Arthur’s side gave Donnie a quick, nervous smile, and Arthur said, “Donnie, this is Celia.” He indicated the baby. “And this is her son Zac.”

Donnie gave Celia a nod and a smile. Small-boned and no taller than five-two, she seemed to be barely twenty. Donnie had worked at the center for long enough to know that her slenderness and pallor were due to drug abuse. But her eyes were clear, and she seemed alert. She clutched her child to her like a shield. The little boy watched Donnie with big brown eyes for a moment and gave a happy chuckle. Donnie estimated her son to be about six months old.

“Celia has a new job,” Arthur explained. “She’s starting at JFK High tomorrow, with the school lunch team. Zac will be with us when she’s at work.” Arthur took hold of Zac’s foot and jiggled it. The baby grinned at him with toothless gums.

“Thanks, Arthur,” Celia said in a quiet, musical voice. “I’m so grateful. This’ll work out, I promise.”

“Of course it will, my dear,” Arthur said.

So Celia was another one of Arthur’s foundlings. Whenever the old man wasn’t at the center, keeping an eye on things and leading the AA meetings, he walked the streets of downtown Atlanta, talking to homeless young people, junkies and anyone looking as if they might be in need of a square meal and a bed. He would find them a shelter place and then, once they were willing and able, a spot in a detox program or a job, depending on their wishes. Arthur had the biggest heart of anyone Donnie had ever met. He had saved Donnie’s life in more ways than one, and Donnie would be forever grateful.

“Now, then,” Arthur said, turning to Donnie. “Can you show Celia around the daycare? And explain to her about the medication protocol, too. Zac’s positive.”

The protocol held details of all the medication and healthcare needs of the kids at the center. The daycare had been established as a safe place for the children of drug users, rough sleepers and low-income single mothers, and many kids brought their very specific challenges. Several were HIV positive, or suffered from developmental problems related to fetal alcohol syndrome, or showed severe signs of ADHD. No child was ever refused a place, if they had room.

“Sure thing,” Donnie said, and beckoned to Celia. “C’mon, I’ll show you the place.”

“Thanks, Donnie, I appreciate it,” Arthur said. “I’ll leave you to it.” He nodded at Celia, patted Padma on the head, then left.

Donnie showed them around the large main space first. He pointed out the play areas, the row of cots where the smaller kids and the toddlers slept after lunch, and the outside yard with its playsets and swings. He introduced the other volunteers by name, and everyone exclaimed over Zac, who smiled at everyone and babbled away happily.

Only when they went into the quiet staff room and stopped before the medicine cabinet did the little boy begin to fuss. He seemed to miss the attention from the other volunteers already. Donnie held out a finger. Zac took it and put it into his mouth. A warm feeling flooded Donnie as the tiny, wet mouth closed around his knuckle. “He’s a cutie, all right,” he said to Celia.

“He’s my heart,” she said very quietly, more to herself. “I have to make it, for him. He needs a better life than what I can give him right now. The shelter…well…”

She wouldn’t meet Donnie’s eyes, and her face crumpled as if she might start crying. Donnie felt uneasy. He didn’t have a lot of experience with women, or people he didn’t know well. He had no problem relating to kids, but adults were a different matter. He would’ve liked to say something nice, but nothing appropriate came to mind.

“Err, right…this is where we store the meds,” he said, hoping Celia would be okay. He pointed to the locked cabinet. “I’ll add Zac onto the protocol. When you bring him in tomorrow, bring all his meds along, all right? I’ll help you figure out which ones we need to keep here. Then I’ll give you a receipt. At the pharmacy down the street they’ll give you extra refills with that.” That arrangement was another of Arthur’s triumphs. He was amazing at finding donors for the center children’s particular needs.

Celia nodded, back in control. “Thanks, Donnie. You and Arthur, you’re real nice. Do you,” she hesitated. “Do you get a lot of kids with HIV?”

“We got a couple at the moment,” Donnie said. He was about to tell Celia not to worry, that the volunteers were all trained to handle kids with special health needs, and that he was positive himself. But Arthur stuck his head through the door.

“Celia, the AA meeting’s about to start. Do you want to come upstairs and attend?” He nodded at Zac in her arms. “You can leave the little guy with Donnie for an hour. Like a trial run?”

Celia glanced up at Donnie, uncertain. “That okay with you?”

“Course,” Donnie said. “Me and Zac, we’ll get to know each other, and he can meet some new friends, too.”

“Okay,” Celia said, still hesitant. But then she squared her shoulders and handed Zac to Donnie. “He’s had his lunch, he shouldn’t need anything, really. Oh, except this…” She dug in her bag for a moment and pulled out a purple stuffed dinosaur toy. “It’s his favorite. If he gets grizzly, that’ll calm him right down.” She also pulled out a small baby bottle with water and handed that to Donnie, together with the toy.

Donnie held the dinosaur out to Zac, who grinned happily and put the toy’s head into his mouth right away.

“He sure is precious,” Arthur said, smiling.

Donnie nodded. “Yeah, he is.”

Arthur beckoned to Celia. “Let’s go up. Zac’s in safe hands.” Celia took one last, nervous glance at the baby, then let Arthur lead her away.

Donnie watched Zac’s expression as his mom disappeared from sight. The little guy seemed unperturbed, and looked around with interest. It was a nice feeling, holding him. Donnie liked babies. The daycare didn’t often have the very small ones, and Zac was cute. Donnie stroked his back. “D’you wanna meet your new friends, huh?”

He walked back into the main room. One of the volunteers, a bright, bubbly woman called Sonia, was gathering the kids for story time. They clustered around her chair on the floor, fidgeting and nudging each other. Donnie sat in a threadbare armchair to one side. Some of the kids observed Zac with curiosity, but it was Padma again who spoke up. “Who’s that, Donnie?”

Donnie turned his upper body, so Zac could see the children. “This is Zac, everyone. Say hello!”

Many of the kids called, “Hello Zac!”, a few waved, and one of the older girls said, “Aww, he’s so cute!”

Zac grinned at them for a moment, but then twisted in Donnie’s arms and, suddenly shy, buried his face against Donnie’s shoulder. Donnie rocked him, and stroked his soft curls. He could smell baby powder. The little body relaxed.

“All right, everyone,” Sonia called, and the children’s attention returned to her. “Who wants to hear the story of Toothless the dragon?”

Donnie settled down to listen. Zac had snuggled up against his shoulder and seemed very content there, sucking on his purple dinosaur.

It was peaceful, sitting in the sunlit room and listening to Sonia’s cheerful voice as she read the story. When Arthur and Celia returned after the AA meeting, Donnie was amazed to find that an hour had passed. He found it hard to let Zac go, and had to remind himself that it was a very short separation. The little guy would be back the next day, and every day after that.

 

About the Author

Mel was born in Germany, where she spent the first twenty-six years of her life (with a one-year stint in Los Angeles). She has always been fascinated by cultures and human interaction, and got a Masters in Social Anthropology. After finishing university she moved to London, where she has now lived for ten years.

If you were to ask her parents what Mel enjoyed the most since the age of six, they would undoubtedly say “Reading!” She would take fifteen books on a three-week beach holiday, and then read all her mom’s books once she’d devoured her own midway through week two.

Back home in her mom’s attic there’s a box full of journals with stories Mel wrote when she was in her early teens. None of the stories are finished, or any good. She has told herself bedtime stories as far back as she can remember.

In her day job, Mel works as PA and office manager. No other city is quite like London, and Mel loves her city. The hustle and bustle still amaze and thrill her even after all these years. When not reading, writing or going to the theater, Mel spends her time with her long-time boyfriend, discussing science or poking fun at each other.

 

 

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His Fake Temptation

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Book Title: His Fake Temptation

Author: B. Blake

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Genre/s: Gay Romance

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length: 50,000 words/183 pages

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Blurb

Eric, my most cocky student, loves to flirt and thinks that every man wants him.

Not me.

I’m his professor, a widow and most importantly of all, a single dad. Besides, I’ve never been attracted to men. I’ve only ever dated women. I even married one. So, why does Eric think that he has a chance with the likes of me?

Everything about Eric is so exasperating. He wears clothes too tight and does sultry things with his lips — things that keep me awake at night. He offered me an opportunity to be my fake boyfriend. But, the more time we spent together…things started to change.

No more, was I the confident professor, I became weak at the knees as I realized that I didn’t want us to be fake, I wanted us to be something more.

His Fake Temptation is a student-teacher romance. It is a standalone gay romance about an older man and his student who are complete opposites, but when it comes to matters of the heart, they become a perfect match.

 

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Excerpt

“What?”

It almost felt as if time stood still as soon as I heard the word escape from my lips.

Focus.

I was in the middle of class, but I was hardly paying attention. There was just one problem, I was supposed to be teaching not. Not a nerdy student as I was a few decades ago looking up at my professor as if he was Einstein and I could learn everything about him. He was before my time and I wondered for a split second if I’d ever been so inspirational to any of my students that they felt that way about me.

Fuck it!

I was here to teach, and I wasn’t here to build a fan base. I tapped on the keyboard and let the next slide appear and before I could even open my mouth to explain it, someone shouted out.

“This is the same slide again!”

“What?”

Then it hit me like a flash of lightning, this is what someone had said, before I murmured, reading over the content again. I couldn’t figure out if we had gone through it or not. The way I structured my notes for class, I had bullet points on the projector, but lectured the full lesson from beginning to end. I was currently in the middle of lecturing through a case study. It had only been about half an hour and the class would take three hours. I wasn’t even close to done with my class and I was already distracted.

“Any questions?” I asked trying to make it seem as if I was in control as I smoothed down my forever growing dark hair behind my ears. No hands went up once again, proving that the students didn’t listen. They hardly asked, I was even surprised that someone noticed that the same slide had been up more than once. I pressed on the computer for the next slide, and then read over the points to remind myself what I wanted to say.

“Next, we’ll be looking at our patient’s behavior…”

I went on with the lecture, explaining the points on the new slide, and there was the sound of rustling as the students took notes. I had to remind myself not to go too fast as they jotted down my notes, but it wasn’t easy. I was trying to remain focused, but my mind was too far away.

It was so frustrating. It had been two whole years since my wife’s death, and it wasn’t like I’d lost my job, or anything, but I couldn’t help feeling like such a failure. I wasn’t completely over her death, either, and I knew it wasn’t healthy, but after two years, when I found myself still thinking about her, I didn’t know how to get over it. Especially since, I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that I’d failed her in some way or failed her memory.

 

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