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ADaringRide MD

Simon “Frizz” Frizzell sneaks away to the rodeo on weekends, and it’s not until after he wins a buckle that he tells his parents about his bull-riding. He knows they won’t approve of his choice of sport, but his parents own a Christian bookstore, and he couldn’t possibly tell them the whole truth: he’s gay. And so are some of his rodeo friends, like Dante and Ryan, and Jacky—a young man he wishes could have been more than a one-night stand. When Simon sets his sights on his dreams, he finds work with Dante and Ryan, and bumps into Jacky on the job.
Jacky Douglas is a rodeo fanatic, plain and simple. He loves the ride, and he loves the cowboys. He fell hard for Frizz when they met, and theirs was a one-night stand made in heaven. When they meet again, Jacky thinks it’s a stroke of luck. Frizz takes some convincing, but once he’s on board, they begin a relationship. The fledgling romance faces a challenge when news of it travels all the way to the one place Frizz doesn’t want it to go: his parents’ bookstore.
Reserve a copy at Dreamspinner Press: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4183

Excerpt
“Hey, kid, give ’em one hell of a show. That’s all you need to do,” said the old man standing near the bull chute as Simon Frizzell walked past to take his ride on Geronimo’s Revenge, the bull he’d drawn. He kept the Frizzell part quiet and went by the nickname “Frizz,” ostensibly because of his curly red hair. No one on the rodeo circuit knew his last name and everything that went along with it, and that was exactly how he wanted to keep it.
“I’ll do my best,” Simon said as he checked his equipment over for the last time and got into position. Bull rope, protective vest? Check. Hat, chaps? Check. Sanity? Well, by most people’s standards that was debatable, but from the rush of blood through his body and the zing, bordering on a high, that sang through his brain, he could put a check behind that as well.
The handlers signaled that they were ready, and Simon climbed on the rail. “Ladies and gentlemen, Simon the Frizz will be riding Geronimo’s Revenge, one of the meanest bulls on this part of the circuit. So put your hands together and let him hear it.” Simon the Frizz. That was a new one, but he liked it. He heard the people in the stands around the outdoor ring whoop and holler. It was doubtful that any of them had ever heard of him before—this was only his sixth rodeo. He’d wanted to ride rodeo since he was big enough to sneak away from his folks’ place to the ranch next door and pull himself up the fence so he could see the men practice busting broncs and take turns riding the bulls. This was what he’d always dreamed of doing.
Simon waved from the top of the fence, smiling wide and mugging for the crowd. Then he climbed over the fence and settled on the bundle of caged power that was Geronimo’s Revenge. He could smell sweat and pure testosterone coming off the beast. He waved to the crowd one more time and then took hold of the rope, making sure his legs were in the proper position before giving the signal.
The bull leaped out of the gate, landed, and then bucked straight up, turning in midair, landing and then turning the other way. By sheer luck and the grace of God, Simon managed to stay on. He jumped again and began to whirl. Simon moved with him, trying his best to anticipate the animal’s next move. His training said one thing, but that voice in his head told him something different. He went with the voice, and dad-gum, he was right. That fucking bull switched directions, but Simon was ready. It wasn’t pretty, and he forgot to use his hand the way the professionals did to make it look easy, but he was still on. Simon yelled at the top of his lungs, shouting the joy of lasting this long to the universe. The bull switched gears again, and Simon felt his balance begin to go. Just one more second. He held on, using his legs to last just a split-second more.
The bell sounded, and Geronimo’s Revenge seemed to have had enough. He jumped straight up once again, then landed on his front hooves. His rear hooves touched the ground and then bounced right back up. Like being flung from a slingshot, Simon flew off his back. Thankfully, he had the presence of mind to let go of the rope, and instantly he was in the air, sailing over the bull. Simon landed and rolled, hoping like hell the bull didn’t come after him. He’d only just come to a stop before he scrambled to his feet and raced toward the fence. He didn’t even look back as he climbed the fence. Bang! The fence shook, and Simon leaped over and onto the ground. He found his feet, barely, and one of the spectators grabbed his arm to keep him from sprawling into the stands.
“Whooee, what a ride!” the announcer called. “The kid’s okay. Let’s give him a hand for making the count!” The crowd cheered, and Simon went to take off his hat, but realized it was gone. Someone shoved it into his hand, and Simon turned in time to see one of the rodeo clowns nod to him. Simon waved the hat in return and then climbed on the fence, holding his hat high to the Saturday rodeo crowd while he waited for the score. “Well, folks, it wasn’t pretty,” the announcer said, and a chuckle went up from the ring of bleachers that lined the ring. “But Frizz stayed on Geronimo’s Revenge, and that’s a feat, I must say. The score for that ride is 87.3. He’s in the money, folks.” The crowd cheered once again.
Simon knew that because of his ranking, most of the score had been for the bull, but he’d take it. Like the announcer had said, it might not have been pretty, but he’d done it. Simon waved one last time and then climbed down from the fence and headed around the arena walkway toward the space between sets of bleachers.
“Frizz, you did it,” Gardner cried as soon as Simon made his way behind the crowd. Simon and the bronc rider had formed a deep friendship over the years. They’d grown up relatively close together outside Oklahoma City and had discovered a mutual love of rodeo. Simon and Billy Bob—which was why he went by Gardner—shared rooms at rodeos to save expenses. Gardner’s dad was like a second father to him, and they were the only two people who knew Simon’s little secret. “Can’t believe you stayed on that sumbitch!” Gardner teased.

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Love Comes in Darkness, the follow up to Love Comes Silently released at midnight last night.  This story really truly touched my heart.  The opening scene with Howard in the car and being left by the side of the road came to me while I was laying awake one night.  The helplessness, loneliness, and fear of being stranded that way had me shaking and I couldn’t get those feelings to go away until I’d written the scene.

LoveComesInDarkness MD

 

Howard Justinian has always had to fight for his freedom. Because he was born blind, everyone is always trying to shelter him, but he’s determined to live his life on his own terms.

When an argument with his boyfriend over that hard-won self-reliance leaves Howard stranded by the side of the road, assistance arrives in the form of Gordy Jarrett. Gordy is a missionary’s son, so helping others is second nature—and he does it in such an unassuming manner that Howard can’t say no.

Life is barely back on track when Howard receives shocking news: his sister died, leaving him her daughter to care for. Howard now faces his greatest challenge yet: for Sophia’s safety, he’ll need to accept help, but will he learn to accept it from Gordy, the one man who will not curb his independence?

Dreamspinner Press:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4071

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Love-Comes-Darkness-Senses-ebook/dp/B00EER6FM2

Rainbow eBooks:  http://www.rainbowebooks.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=11533

All Romance:  https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-lovecomesindarkness-1266324-149.html

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

“You’re going too fast,” Howard Justinian said. He sat with his arms planted on the armrests.

“I’m going sixty in a fifty-five,” Cedric returned sarcastically.

“I didn’t mean that and you know it,” Howard retorted. Riding in strange cars was always very disorienting for him. He had no idea how fast he was going, and the sound of the road varied with tires, pavement, and even the wind. Cedric had shown up at Howard’s with what he said was a new car. But there was none of the scent he equated with a “new” car, and the seats had enough lumps that Howard had to consciously keep from fidgeting. He only hoped he wasn’t riding in some sort of death trap.

“Howie,” Cedric began coaxingly, “it would be so much easier for me to help and take care of you if I was living with you. You need some help, and if I was there, I could make sure everything was the way you like it.”

On the surface the offer sounded good, and a few days ago, Howard probably would have said yes without question. Before what had happened. Cedric lived just down the street in a second-floor apartment. It was summer, and when Howard had opened his front door, he’d felt the sun on his face, so he’d decided to take a short walk. He’d picked up his cane and made sure he had his keys before he closed the door behind him and navigated the two steps down to the walk. Eight steps later, he reached the sidewalk and began his careful journey to Cedric’s. The air had been warm, and people must have had their windows open, because he’d heard snippets of conversation mixed with television programs as he made his way.

He knew where he was by the feel of each section of the sidewalk. To most people it felt the same, but to Howard’s keen senses, small differences in pitch, places where tree roots had raised slabs, even cracks, were like signposts telling him exactly where he was. At the large crack that made one piece of the walk rock slightly, Howard took two more steps, then made the turn as he verified with his cane that he was truly where he thought he should be. He took the twelve steps and climbed the three stairs to the porch in front of the house. He stepped across the porch, careful to avoid the loose floorboard. Howard felt for the doorbell and was about to ring it when faint sounds drifted down the fourteen steps he knew were in front of him.

Howard pulled open the screen door and quietly took a step inside. Yes, it was what he’d thought. Loud moans reached his ears, and then a cry of, “Fuck me,” in what was most definitely Cedric’s voice. Howard stood stock-still, unable to move.

A Harley Davidson rumbled as it came up the street, the potato-potato sound vibrating around him. Howard opened the door and stepped out, then let it close behind him. Then, as dejection cascaded off him, Howard had slowly made his way home.

“Don’t ‘Howie’ me,” Howard said now, as he felt the car slow down a bit. “You’re not moving in with me.”

“But you need help,” Cedric said again, and Howard refrained from grinding his teeth. “There are so many things I can do.” Cedric stroked Howard’s leg, so Howard pulled it away, shifting closer to the door. When they’d first met, Cedric had been solicitous. He’d helped without intruding and had actually made Howard’s life easier and better. Howard had fallen in love with him quickly—way too quickly, it turned out.

“I don’t think so,” Howard said. “Just give it a little more time.” They were on their way to a party being given by his friend Ken, and he just wanted to get there and have a nice evening. He should have canceled on Cedric and called to see if Ken could pick him up.

“I’ve given things plenty of time already. How long am I going to have to wait before we can be together?” Cedric asked. Instantly Howard regretted this whole thing and wished he was back home, where he wasn’t under Cedric’s control.

“Can we please talk about this after the party?” Howard asked levelly and as sweetly as he could manage.

“No,” Cedric said, and Howard felt the brakes being applied. A loud rumbling sounded as the car continued to slow.

“What’s happening?” Howard asked as the car pulled to a stop.

“Get out!” Cedric said roughly. “You think you’re so independent and don’t need me, then you can find your own way to the party. Now open the damned door and get the hell out.”

“Are you serious?” Howard asked, scared.

“Get the fuck out!” Cedric screamed, and suddenly Howard was more afraid of Cedric than anything else. Howard felt for the handle and pulled it. He pushed the door open and unfastened the seat belt. Then he carefully got out of the car and stood up. He closed the door. Tires squealed, and he turned away as bits of gravel pelted him. He listened as Cedric’s car sped up and the sound disappeared into the whizzing of traffic as it zoomed by him.

Howard didn’t move. He didn’t even have his cane with him. He had folded it up when he got into the car, and it must have shifted when Cedric braked, because he didn’t have it with him. Slowly, he took baby steps back from traffic. Just a few—he didn’t dare go any farther. He had no idea where he was or what was around him, other than cars passing by. Was there a ditch, a wire fence, a creek? He had no idea. At least he should be far enough back that he wouldn’t be hit. “Don’t panic, think,” he told himself as he pushed down the fear that welled inside him. With no points of reference other than the cars flying by and the ground under his feet, he was lost and getting more confused by the second. To make matters worse, the wind was coming up and the heat from the sun he’d felt when he’d first gotten in the car was gone. He inhaled deeply and groaned when he smelled water in the air. It was likely coming off Lake Superior, but it shouldn’t be in that direction. Either that or he was very turned around and even more lost than he thought. He patted his pockets quickly and found his phone. Breathing a small sigh of relief, he raised it to his ear. “Call Ken,” he said, and then he took a deep breath to calm his nerves.

“Calling Ken,” the rich male voice said, and Howard waited.

“Ken,” Howard said when the phone was answered, but all he heard was a mumble. “Patrick, is that you?” Two simple vocal tones sounded. “I need Ken. We were on our way to the party and… well, Cedric and I had a fight, and he left me along the side of the road.” A long wait followed, and then he heard movement behind Patrick.

“Howard, what happened?” Ken asked as he came on the phone. “Patrick looks like he’s ready to kill someone. Are those cars I’m hearing? Are you by a freeway?”

“Yeah,” Howard said as he swallowed hard. “Cedric kicked me out of the car. I’m standing by the side of the road. We were on our way to the party and we had a fight. He kicked me out of the car and left me,” he repeated, desperation kicking in.

“Howard, hon, the party is tomorrow,” Ken said softly. “We had to reschedule because Hanna needed to go in for some tests.”
“Is she okay?” Howard asked, forgetting for a moment about his predicament. Seven-year-old Hanna had been through leukemia treatments, and everyone hoped she remained cancer-free.

“She’s fine. Just routine follow-up,” Ken said. “I called you last week and… shit, Cedric answered your cell. Let me guess, he didn’t give you the message.”

“No,” Howard said, clutching the phone like a lifeline.

“Do you know where you are?” Ken asked. “We’re on our way to the car.” He heard a door close in the background.

“I must be someplace between Marquette and Pleasanton, but I’m not sure where. I’m by the highway. We’d been traveling for about ten minutes, I think, if that helps.”

“It does. Just stay on the line,” Ken said. “We’re leaving now.” The connection clicked, and for a second Howard thought he was going to lose them. “Hanna and Patrick are in the car with me. The phone is on hands-free, so I can drive.”

“Okay,” Howard said a bit nervously as cars continued to zoom by. “I think someone is stopping. God, I hope it isn’t Cedric coming back.”
“If it is, you tell him to hit the road. I’m driving as fast as I dare,” Ken said with energy, and Howard breathed a bit easier.
“Okay. The car is definitely stopping. But I don’t know if it’s Cedric’s.” He would have known the old one by the ticking sound the engine made, but he hadn’t immediately registered a unique sound for Cedric’s latest car. Howard heard a car door slam closed and he flinched slightly.

“Do you need help?” a melodious voice asked, definitely not Cedric’s slightly nasal tone.

“Yes, please,” Howard said, turning toward the sound of the voice. “I have friends coming to get me. Can you tell me exactly where I am?”

“Huh?” the man asked.

“I’m blind and I got dumped here. My friends are on the way, but I’m not sure where I’m at,” Howard said, hoping the guy didn’t decide to rob him or something.

“You’re between mile markers 135 and 136, or pretty close,” he said, and Howard relayed the message to Ken.

“That son of a bitch,” Ken swore. “We’ll be there as fast as we can.”

“Where were you headed?” the stranger asked.

“To Pleasanton,” Howard answered.

“No wonder. You’re going the other way,” he told him, and Howard swore.

“He did this on purpose,” Howard said mostly to himself. “The bastard did this to me on purpose.”

“Why would he do that?” both Ken and the stranger asked in each ear, and Howard shook his head.

“I’ll stay with you until your friends arrive,” the man said. “They can call you when they get close.” Howard relayed the message to Ken, who swore again.

“What?” Howard asked, concerned. Ken rarely cursed, and almost never in front of Hanna.

“I picked up a cop. Shit,” Ken said.

“Daddy, you swore… lots,” Hanna sang. “Potty mouth. Does that mean Daddy Patrick will wash your mouth out with soap?”

Ken groaned, but didn’t swear. “I’ll be there as soon as I can explain what’s going on,” Ken said.

“Call when you’re close. I’ll be okay.” He hung up but held onto his phone.

“You can sit in my truck if you want,” the man said. Howard heard him take a step closer, and he tensed. The man’s touch on his arm made him jump, but only for a second. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. Let me guide you toward the truck.” His touch was gentle and he stayed slightly behind, guiding rather than tugging Howard forward. Cedric had never gotten the hang of walking with him. He’d always tried to pull Howard along. “I’m Gordon Jarrett, but my friends call me Gordy.”

 

LoveComesSilentlyMD

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LoveComesInDarkness MD

 

Howard Justinian has always had to fight for his freedom. Because he was born blind, everyone is always trying to shelter him, but he’s determined to live his life on his own terms.

When an argument with his boyfriend over that hard-won self-reliance leaves Howard stranded by the side of the road, assistance arrives in the form of Gordy Jarrett. Gordy is a missionary’s son, so helping others is second nature—and he does it in such an unassuming manner that Howard can’t say no.

Life is barely back on track when Howard receives shocking news: his sister died, leaving him her daughter to care for. Howard now faces his greatest challenge yet: for Sophia’s safety, he’ll need to accept help, but will he learn to accept it from Gordy, the one man who will not curb his independence?

Purchase an advance copy: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=4071

Excerpt:
Chapter 1

“You’re going too fast,” Howard Justinian said. He sat with his arms planted on the armrests.

“I’m going sixty in a fifty-five,” Cedric returned sarcastically.

“I didn’t mean that and you know it,” Howard retorted. Riding in strange cars was always very disorienting for him. He had no idea how fast he was going, and the sound of the road varied with tires, pavement, and even the wind. Cedric had shown up at Howard’s with what he said was a new car. But there was none of the scent he equated with a “new” car, and the seats had enough lumps that Howard had to consciously keep from fidgeting. He only hoped he wasn’t riding in some sort of death trap.

“Howie,” Cedric began coaxingly, “it would be so much easier for me to help and take care of you if I was living with you. You need some help, and if I was there, I could make sure everything was the way you like it.”

On the surface the offer sounded good, and a few days ago, Howard probably would have said yes without question. Before what had happened. Cedric lived just down the street in a second-floor apartment. It was summer, and when Howard had opened his front door, he’d felt the sun on his face, so he’d decided to take a short walk. He’d picked up his cane and made sure he had his keys before he closed the door behind him and navigated the two steps down to the walk. Eight steps later, he reached the sidewalk and began his careful journey to Cedric’s. The air had been warm, and people must have had their windows open, because he’d heard snippets of conversation mixed with television programs as he made his way.

He knew where he was by the feel of each section of the sidewalk. To most people it felt the same, but to Howard’s keen senses, small differences in pitch, places where tree roots had raised slabs, even cracks, were like signposts telling him exactly where he was. At the large crack that made one piece of the walk rock slightly, Howard took two more steps, then made the turn as he verified with his cane that he was truly where he thought he should be. He took the twelve steps and climbed the three stairs to the porch in front of the house. He stepped across the porch, careful to avoid the loose floorboard. Howard felt for the doorbell and was about to ring it when faint sounds drifted down the fourteen steps he knew were in front of him.

Howard pulled open the screen door and quietly took a step inside. Yes, it was what he’d thought. Loud moans reached his ears, and then a cry of, “Fuck me,” in what was most definitely Cedric’s voice. Howard stood stock-still, unable to move.

A Harley Davidson rumbled as it came up the street, the potato-potato sound vibrating around him. Howard opened the door and stepped out, then let it close behind him. Then, as dejection cascaded off him, Howard had slowly made his way home.

“Don’t ‘Howie’ me,” Howard said now, as he felt the car slow down a bit. “You’re not moving in with me.”

“But you need help,” Cedric said again, and Howard refrained from grinding his teeth. “There are so many things I can do.” Cedric stroked Howard’s leg, so Howard pulled it away, shifting closer to the door. When they’d first met, Cedric had been solicitous. He’d helped without intruding and had actually made Howard’s life easier and better. Howard had fallen in love with him quickly—way too quickly, it turned out.

“I don’t think so,” Howard said. “Just give it a little more time.” They were on their way to a party being given by his friend Ken, and he just wanted to get there and have a nice evening. He should have canceled on Cedric and called to see if Ken could pick him up.

“I’ve given things plenty of time already. How long am I going to have to wait before we can be together?” Cedric asked. Instantly Howard regretted this whole thing and wished he was back home, where he wasn’t under Cedric’s control.

“Can we please talk about this after the party?” Howard asked levelly and as sweetly as he could manage.

“No,” Cedric said, and Howard felt the brakes being applied. A loud rumbling sounded as the car continued to slow.

“What’s happening?” Howard asked as the car pulled to a stop.

“Get out!” Cedric said roughly. “You think you’re so independent and don’t need me, then you can find your own way to the party. Now open the damned door and get the hell out.”

“Are you serious?” Howard asked, scared.

“Get the fuck out!” Cedric screamed, and suddenly Howard was more afraid of Cedric than anything else. Howard felt for the handle and pulled it. He pushed the door open and unfastened the seat belt. Then he carefully got out of the car and stood up. He closed the door. Tires squealed, and he turned away as bits of gravel pelted him. He listened as Cedric’s car sped up and the sound disappeared into the whizzing of traffic as it zoomed by him.

Howard didn’t move. He didn’t even have his cane with him. He had folded it up when he got into the car, and it must have shifted when Cedric braked, because he didn’t have it with him. Slowly, he took baby steps back from traffic. Just a few—he didn’t dare go any farther. He had no idea where he was or what was around him, other than cars passing by. Was there a ditch, a wire fence, a creek? He had no idea. At least he should be far enough back that he wouldn’t be hit. “Don’t panic, think,” he told himself as he pushed down the fear that welled inside him. With no points of reference other than the cars flying by and the ground under his feet, he was lost and getting more confused by the second. To make matters worse, the wind was coming up and the heat from the sun he’d felt when he’d first gotten in the car was gone. He inhaled deeply and groaned when he smelled water in the air. It was likely coming off Lake Superior, but it shouldn’t be in that direction. Either that or he was very turned around and even more lost than he thought. He patted his pockets quickly and found his phone. Breathing a small sigh of relief, he raised it to his ear. “Call Ken,” he said, and then he took a deep breath to calm his nerves.

“Calling Ken,” the rich male voice said, and Howard waited.

“Ken,” Howard said when the phone was answered, but all he heard was a mumble. “Patrick, is that you?” Two simple vocal tones sounded. “I need Ken. We were on our way to the party and… well, Cedric and I had a fight, and he left me along the side of the road.” A long wait followed, and then he heard movement behind Patrick.

“Howard, what happened?” Ken asked as he came on the phone. “Patrick looks like he’s ready to kill someone. Are those cars I’m hearing? Are you by a freeway?”

“Yeah,” Howard said as he swallowed hard. “Cedric kicked me out of the car. I’m standing by the side of the road. We were on our way to the party and we had a fight. He kicked me out of the car and left me,” he repeated, desperation kicking in.

“Howard, hon, the party is tomorrow,” Ken said softly. “We had to reschedule because Hanna needed to go in for some tests.”

“Is she okay?” Howard asked, forgetting for a moment about his predicament. Seven-year-old Hanna had been through leukemia treatments, and everyone hoped she remained cancer-free.

“She’s fine. Just routine follow-up,” Ken said. “I called you last week and… shit, Cedric answered your cell. Let me guess, he didn’t give you the message.”

“No,” Howard said, clutching the phone like a lifeline.

“Do you know where you are?” Ken asked. “We’re on our way to the car.” He heard a door close in the background.

“I must be someplace between Marquette and Pleasanton, but I’m not sure where. I’m by the highway. We’d been traveling for about ten minutes, I think, if that helps.”

“It does. Just stay on the line,” Ken said. “We’re leaving now.” The connection clicked, and for a second Howard thought he was going to lose them. “Hanna and Patrick are in the car with me. The phone is on hands-free, so I can drive.”

“Okay,” Howard said a bit nervously as cars continued to zoom by. “I think someone is stopping. God, I hope it isn’t Cedric coming back.”

“If it is, you tell him to hit the road. I’m driving as fast as I dare,” Ken said with energy, and Howard breathed a bit easier.

“Okay. The car is definitely stopping. But I don’t know if it’s Cedric’s.” He would have known the old one by the ticking sound the engine made, but he hadn’t immediately registered a unique sound for Cedric’s latest car. Howard heard a car door slam closed and he flinched slightly.

“Do you need help?” a melodious voice asked, definitely not Cedric’s slightly nasal tone.

“Yes, please,” Howard said, turning toward the sound of the voice. “I have friends coming to get me. Can you tell me exactly where I am?”

“Huh?” the man asked.

“I’m blind and I got dumped here. My friends are on the way, but I’m not sure where I’m at,” Howard said, hoping the guy didn’t decide to rob him or something.

“You’re between mile markers 135 and 136, or pretty close,” he said, and Howard relayed the message to Ken.

“That son of a bitch,” Ken swore. “We’ll be there as fast as we can.”

“Where were you headed?” the stranger asked.

“To Pleasanton,” Howard answered.

“No wonder. You’re going the other way,” he told him, and Howard swore.

“He did this on purpose,” Howard said mostly to himself. “The bastard did this to me on purpose.”

“Why would he do that?” both Ken and the stranger asked in each ear, and Howard shook his head.

“I’ll stay with you until your friends arrive,” the man said. “They can call you when they get close.” Howard relayed the message to Ken, who swore again.

“What?” Howard asked, concerned. Ken rarely cursed, and almost never in front of Hanna.

“I picked up a cop. Shit,” Ken said.

“Daddy, you swore… lots,” Hanna sang. “Potty mouth. Does that mean Daddy Patrick will wash your mouth out with soap?”

Ken groaned, but didn’t swear. “I’ll be there as soon as I can explain what’s going on,” Ken said.

“Call when you’re close. I’ll be okay.” He hung up but held onto his phone..

“You can sit in my truck if you want,” the man said. Howard heard him take a step closer, and he tensed. The man’s touch on his arm made him jump, but only for a second. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. Let me guide you toward the truck.” His touch was gentle and he stayed slightly behind, guiding rather than tugging Howard forward. Cedric had never gotten the hang of walking with him. He’d always tried to pull Howard along. “I’m Gordon Jarrett, but my friends call me Gordy.”

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There are times as a writer when you are hit by an idea that really knocks your socks off. When that happens, you get down on your knees and thank your lucky stars.  Stranded was that kind of story for me.    There are many plot points that have been used again and again.  I’m not saying there is anything wrong with them, they work.  But coming up with something different is difficult.  So when I saw a car sitting in the desert when I was in Albuquerque for a convention, I had one of those excited moments because I thought of handcuffing my hero in the car.  The heat, the tension, the stress… all of it hit me at once.  All the will to survive that would be sapped by the heat and I was excited.

I had already been thinking of a life imitating art type of idea, so the story for stranded started to take shape.  From there I developed my characters and then wrote the story.  I really hope you’ll give it a try.  And I hope you love it.

 

Stranded lg

 

Kendall Monroe is handcuffed to a car in the desert.

Is this life imitating art or art imitating life? The only thing he’s sure of is that the situation he finds himself in is a copy of a scene he filmed earlier, only this time, there is no director yelling “cut” and no crew to rescue him. Terrified for his life, Kendall takes comfort remembering happier times with his long-time lover, Johnny. He hasn’t seen Johnny in weeks since Johnny stayed behind to finish his latest best-selling novel.

As he attempts to survive scorching-hot days and freezing nights, Kendall tries to figure out who did this to him. Could it be Johnny, or the research assistant he suspects Johnny is having an affair with? Both options fill him with bitterness. Or is it a more likely suspect? Kendall has a stalker who sends him flowers and always seems to know where he is. But what does this stranger have to gain by leaving Kendall stranded in the middle of nowhere?

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The door buzzer sounded. Kendall hated to leave, but he knew it was probably the messenger, so he turned and left the apartment, then took the flight of stairs to the main level. Sure enough, he saw a bicycle messenger waiting outside the door. He took the package and gave the kid a tip before making sure the door closed tightly and then going back to the apartment. Johnny was back at work, immersed in his story, and Kendall knew he needed to let him work.

He opened the envelope and pulled out the screenplay for Stranded, then threw away the wrapping. Then he sat in one of the chairs, the clacking of computer keys his accompaniment as he began to read.

He hardly moved for almost two hours as he read the script from cover to cover. By the time he was done, he had an excellent idea about the story.

“So, what do you think?” Johnny asked. The lid of his computer was closed and Johnny handed him a glass of iced tea. “I figured you could use something to drink.”

“Yeah, I think so,” Kendall said as he took the glass and drank down half of it. “This is….” Kendall swallowed. “I think this could be very powerful, but I don’t know if I can do it.” He opened the script and found the pages he wanted. “The main character gets stranded in a car. You know I’m claustrophobic, and they want to handcuff me in a car for hours on end.” Kendall could already feel the sweat threatening to break out all over at the thought.

Johnny read for a few minutes. “Hey, think about it. The car will only be parts of a car, because they have to film it. So while it’ll look like you’re stuck in a car, you won’t really be.” Johnny handed him back the script. “I think you’re trying to psych yourself out so you won’t have to do this.” Johnny sat next to him. “Here in New York, you’re a big fish. Everyone knows who you are, and yes, you can get almost any part you want. But this would be like starting new. You should be excited, not afraid.”

“Are you trying to get rid of me?” Kendall asked.

“No. I’m only returning the favor. You encouraged me with my first book, and now it’s time for me to do the same for you. You need to spread your wings.” Johnny lightly patted his leg and then leaned in and kissed him softly. Kendall hoped for something a little warmer, and attempted to pull Johnny closer, but he pulled away. “I have an appointment with one of the librarians at Columbia.” Johnny glanced at his watch. “I’ll only be gone for a couple of hours, and when I get back, we can have dinner together. I promise.”

“On a Sunday afternoon?” Kendall asked, but Johnny was already up and going. He grabbed a light jacket and hurried out of the apartment. Kendall didn’t know what the hell to do, so he went back to the bedroom and opened the book he’d started earlier. But he couldn’t concentrate.

A cell phone ringtone sounded, and he snapped the book closed and located Johnny’s phone. He answered it to stop its incessant ringing. “Hello,” Kendall said tentatively.

“Johnny?” a young male voice asked.

“No, this is Kendall, can I help you?”

The line was quiet for a few seconds. “No, that’s okay. I’ll see him later.” The call disconnected, and Kendall stared at the blinking number. He set the phone on the coffee table and was about to go back to his reading, but instead, he picked up the phone again and brought up the call history. While there was no name in contacts, Johnny had been getting calls from the same number every few days for at least the past month or so. Kendall closed the phone and placed it back where he’d found it.

He needed something to do, so he decided to start dinner. He chopped vegetables and got them ready to cook. He seasoned the beef he’d bought earlier and let that sit to build up some flavor, and peeled potatoes before getting them ready to boil. The entire time, Kendall found himself staring every few seconds at Johnny’s phone, and finally he allowed himself to voice what he was fearing: Is Johnny having an affair? At least that would explain the complete lack of interest. God, he didn’t want to think so, and his heart ached. He still loved Johnny, and he needed him. Johnny was his anchor, his rock—he always had been.

They had been growing apart; he could see that. But maybe it was just a product of their busy lives and months or years on very different schedules.

His phone rang, and Kendall hoped it was Johnny. No such luck. “Hey, Sal,” Kendall said when he answered.

“Did you get the script?”

“Yeah, and I read it,” Kendall said.

“Good. I wanted to make sure. They need an answer tomorrow,” Sal told him, and Kendall nodded.

“I know, and you’ll have it. I need to think things over. I know how you feel, and I’m giving this a lot of thought,” Kendall said as he wandered over to the window, peering out at the relatively quiet street below. “I have to be honest that I’m nervous about doing it.”

“Of course you are,” Sal said. Kendall settled on the bench and watched the people and cars as they navigated the narrow street. “This is going to be different with all new people, but I know you’re right for this part. I’ve represented many people who’ve gone from Broadway to Hollywood over my career, and rarely have any of them received a vehicle as perfect for them to make the transition as you have.”

“But, Sal, they’re going to lock me in a car,” Kendall said as he half watched out the window.

“I know. Isn’t it wonderful?”

“Sal!” Kendall yelled.

“Don’t take that tone with me. I know how you feel about enclosed spaces, but that’s why it’s perfect for you. Use that fear in the movie. Let them see what that does to you and your character. Don’t run from it—embrace it. Trust me,” Sal said, and Kendall sighed softly. “I told you it was perfect.”

“If you say so,” Kendall said as a cab pulled up in front of the building. “As I said, I’ll be sure to call you Monday morning.” The cab door opened, and Johnny got out. “I need to go. Johnny just got home from the library, and I need to get dinner ready.”

“You two have a big celebratory night planned?” Sal asked.

Kendall’s smile at the thought lasted until he saw another man lean out of the cab. He appeared to be speaking to Johnny. The other man disappeared from view back in the cab, and Kendall saw Johnny lean inside the vehicle for a few seconds and then back out once again. Johnny closed the cab door, and Kendall could have sworn he saw a huge smile on Johnny’s face before he disappeared from view.

“Kendall, are you there?” Sal asked.

“I’m here,” he said. “Tell the people in Hollywood I’ll do it.” Kendall said. Maybe three or four months on his own to explore a bit and figure out what he really wanted wasn’t such a bad idea, after all.

 

 

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Whipped Cream MD

Former model Brent Phillips now works the other side of the camera. He makes his money on senior portraits but wants to create an art exhibition. His only problems are lack of a central image and a three-week deadline.

Enter Brent’s friends, who resolve to discover the perfect model for his project. They find him in Tristan Greer, a college student who left home after coming out and is trying to make ends meet.

Though initially reluctant, Tristan agrees to work with Brent to capture the image Brent wants—a gay version of Herb Alpert’s Whipped Cream album photo. It turns out the camera loves Tristan, and the photographer may as well.

Purchase an Advance Copy: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3978

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By The Creek is the culmination of an idea that I got from my good friend Mary Calmes.  I wasn’t sure I could write a young adult story at first.  I’ll admit this story kicked my butt as I wrote it.  But I love it.  The story really warmed my heart and as I was completely captivated by it.  During the editing process, I often got caught up in the story.

There are many things about this story that are me.  I used alot of my own teenage experiences and feleings.  In alot of ways, this is the story I wish I could have written when I was seventeen.   This was what I wanted, but at the time I didn’t have the words.  Now I do and I really hope you enjoy this story.

Blurb

Soon-to-be high school junior David Harper hates his family’s move to the country. There’s nothing to do, and he misses his friends in the city. But he doesn’t have a choice. His mother’s job is in Mason County now, so David and his mom are too, and he has to make the best of it.

At first, the only redeeming feature of David’s new home is the swimming hole across the field from his house. Then David meets Benjamin Killinger, and suddenly life stops being so dull.

Benjamin is Amish, and cooling off in the swimming hole is one of the few liberties he and his brothers enjoy. A friendship with an English boy is not—but that doesn’t stop him and David from getting to know each other, as long as it’s on the neutral ground by the creek. After David risks his life to save Benjamin’s father, the boys’ friendship is tolerated, then accepted. But before long, Benjamin’s feelings for David grow beyond the platonic. Benjamin’s family and the rest of the community will never allow a love like that, and a secret this big can’t stay secret forever….

Available form All Romance eBooks:  https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-bythecreek-1036132-176.html

Excerpt

David sat on the front steps looking across the yard. He was as bored as he could ever remember being in his life. They’d moved into the house three weeks ago, and he had absolutely nothing to do. His mother was at work, and she’d left strict instructions about what he could and couldn’t do. They’d already unpacked everything, and David had spent the past two days watching television, but there was no cable and they only got three stations, so basically television really sucked. He’d gotten his mother to take him to the video store earlier in the week, but he’d watched all the movies already, and she hadn’t had time to take him back so he could get more. Standing up, David shut the door and decided to walk across the field to the line of trees and see what was there.

The summer sun was warmer than he’d expected, and David wished he’d brought something to drink by the time he was halfway across the field. He thought about turning back, but continued forward, eventually reaching the line of trees that bordered the open field. Turning around, he looked back at their house, which seemed so small and low on the land, before walking beneath the cool shade of the trees.

He hadn’t gone far when he heard the sound of water, and it wasn’t too long before he came upon a small stream that meandered and gurgled over and around rocks in a shallow ravine. With nothing else to do, David looked up and down stream before deciding to follow the flow of the water and see where it led.

The ground near the stream was squishy, but there seemed to be some sort of path, so he followed it, climbing over fallen trees and across grassy spots where the trees parted. Eventually he came to a spot where the stream deepened at what David figured was on old-fashioned swimming hole. The stream widened and for a short time appeared deep and almost still, with a large flat rock on the other side and a fallen tree running along his side of the stream. David sat on the log and took off his shoes and socks, then dipped his feet into the surprisingly cool water. He sat for a while, listening to the breeze, and he was about to get up and start heading back when he heard something or someone approaching. God, he hoped there weren’t any bears out here. For a second he sat still, unable to move as fear gripped him.

Managing to get his brain working, David pulled his feet out of the water. He’d started tugging on his socks and shoes, getting ready to run, when a boy appeared from the woods on the other side, near the rock. David nearly dropped his shoe into the water as he stared silently at the dark haired boy about his own age staring back at him from across the swimming hole. David had known, deep down inside, that he was different from the other boys. For as long as he could remember, he’d dreamed and fantasized about other boys. At school, he’d heard the guys talking about girls and which ones were pretty or hot, but they did nothing for him. Now, show him pictures of strong legs and a handsome chest, and he couldn’t seem to pull his eyes away. Instead of girlie magazines under his mattress, he had men’s underwear catalogs. All through school, David had dreaded gym class, afraid something would happen and he’d get a stiffie in the showers or something equally embarrassing. He’d had a lot of friends, but they were mostly girls. Staring at this boy with dark hair, deep blue eyes, and what looked like the palest, softest skin he’d ever seen made David’s mouth go dry and his breath hitch.

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Shared Revelations was just released by Dreamspinner Press!!!!  When I was writing this story I swear I was channeling my dear friend and wonderful authior Amy Lane.  I really hope you like it!!!

Blurb:

It’s the sixties, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to be different. Eddie Baronski spent his high school years looking out for his partially deaf friend, Jack Emmons. Now that they’ve graduated, they spend their free time at Green Bay’s newly renamed Lambeau Field, taking in the practices.

When Eddie’s crush, Johnny Grant, a new Packers team member, offers him a ride home, Eddie thinks it’s the start of a grand romance. But Johnny and Eddie may not be on the same page, and love—true love—sometimes comes from an unexpected quarter.

Add to your Dreamspinner Wish List: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3226

Excerpt:

“Shhh,” Jack scolded, but he smiled as he said it.

“Maybe he’d be better off deaf,” Donny cracked in a soft voice, and Eddie reached behind Skip and smacked Donny lightly on the back of the head.

Jack was the unfortunate one in the group, even if his family had money. When they were kids, Jack had had a difficult time hearing, and as he’d gotten older, he’d been able to hear less and less. The other kids had picked on him mercilessly, but he never heard half of it anyway. He wore hearing aids that sometimes whistled, and in a group like this, he often turned them off because the ambient noise drove him totally crazy. Jack was also the closest person to a brother Eddie had. When the other kids had teased him, it was Eddie who’d taken them on. Sometimes he’d won and sometimes he hadn’t, but once they became friends, no one picked on Jack with impunity. And that extended even to now. Jack was his brother in every way that counted. Eddie was an only child, and while Jack had older brothers and sisters, he was his parents’ “late in life baby,” and the other kids had been nearly out of the house by the time he and Eddie had met in junior high.

“Hey,” Donny griped, rubbing the back of his head, but Eddie simply glared at him before turning his attention to the field. The guys were running play after play, practicing for the game in a few weeks. His friends all liked Bart Starr and thought he was the cat’s meow, but Eddie watched Johnny Grant. He wasn’t one of the stars of the team, but for some reason Eddie could always pick him out of the group of players, his eyes gravitated toward Grant wherever he was on the field. Eddie knew damned well why, but he tried not to admit the truth, even to himself, because after watching an hour of practice, Eddie would have to shift in his seat a few times to hide the wood he was sporting. There was no way he could admit what he was feeling to anyone in the world. But his eyes rarely left the field as he watched Johnny run plays with the other guys.

“Bart’s doing great,” Skip said from next to him, pointing out the star of the team, and Eddie nodded, agreeing silently as he watched his own star on the field. But what he thought he loved most were the tight pants and the way Johnny kept bending over all the time. Every now and then Johnny’s practice uniform would ride up, giving Eddie the fleetingest glimpse of skin before the shirt fell back into place.

Eddie knew he was being completely ridiculous, and he knew nothing could ever come of his infatuation. And for God’s sake, no one on earth could ever know how another guy made him want things he could never have. “It’s getting late,” Skip said. “Dad wants me back at the store by seven, so I gotta go.”

“Okay,” Eddie said as he half stood to give Skip and Donny a chance to scoot by in front of him. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”

“Okay, Mr. Whipple,” Skip quipped, jumping out of the way before Eddie could take a swipe at him. “Don’t squeeze the Charmin.” Skip hurried away and up the stairs with Donny right behind him. Once they were gone, Jack moved over, and Eddie noticed him fiddling with his hearing aids.

“Is it better now?” Eddie asked, and Jack nodded slowly as he continued to watch the men on the field. The practice wouldn’t go on for much longer. It was starting to get dark, and while they could work out under the lights, Eddie figured they’d already been practicing for hours. Sure enough, before he could say anything to Jack, the men started walking to the sidelines, gathering their stuff and headed into what Eddie knew was the entrance to the locker room.

Jack stood, and Eddie did as well, and both of them walked up the stadium seats and  through the empty corridors, their footsteps echoing off the walls until they reached the outside. “Were you able to get tickets to the game next Sunday?” Jack asked as they passed by George in his booth.

“No. I can’t afford them. You?” Eddie asked, and Jack shook his head. Both of them were lucky if they got to go to an actual game once a year, and some years they weren’t able to swing that since tickets were just that scarce. They both said good-bye to George, and he waved at them as they passed. Jack walked across the parking lot to where the old car his mother had given him was parked. They called the old Cadillac “the Boat,” because the thing was huge and rode like a land yacht.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Eddie called, and Jack continued walking toward his car. He knew Jack hadn’t heard him. Jack had told him that even with the hearing aids, according to the doctors, his hearing would continue to get worse, and in the next few years, he wouldn’t be able to hear anything at all. Eventually Jack turned around, and Eddie saw him wave. He returned it and watched Jack get into the car, and heard the engine start before his friend drove away.

Eddie walked to where he’d left his bike,  got on, and pedaled twice before he realized the bike didn’t feel right. Stopping, he looked down and saw that his back tire was totally flat. “Damn it,” he swore and walked the bike back to the rack. The parking lot was empty when he looked around. Eddie returned to George’s booth, but he was gone too, the gate and doors locked up tight and the only phone around was in the closed guard booth. Eddie had no idea how he was going to get home except to walk. Figuring he had no other choice, Eddie started walking. At least it was still warm, and along the way he could probably find a pay phone to call his dad. Eddie fished in his pockets to come up with a nickel and remembered he had one tucked in the corner of his wallet. Sighing loudly, he headed toward the road on the far side of the parking lot.

Headlights shone around him, and Eddie turned as a car moved in his direction and pulled up close, the convertible top down. Eddie could hear the radio playing. He noticed the deep-red paint and white scoops along the side of the impressive sports car before he saw the man driving it—Johnny Grant, in the incredibly handsome flesh. “Is something wrong?” he asked in a deep, rich voice that sounded like Eddie’s mother’s hot chocolate felt in the middle of winter.

“I got a flat tire on my bike, so I was walking home,” Eddie said, and Johnny reached over and popped the door open.

“Hop in. I’ll give you a ride home.”

Eddie hesitated for a split second before sliding down the plush seat and closing the door. “Thank you, I appreciate the lift.” He thought about asking to take his bike, but Johnny giving him a ride was favor enough.

“No sweat,” Johnny said with a smile as he gunned the engine and they took off across the pavement toward the parking lot exit. “I see you and your friends in the seats for almost every practice.”

“We’re all big fans, but can’t afford tickets very often. My dad knows someone who knows the coach, so we get to watch the practices. The guard at the gate lets us in.” They stopped at the corner, and the air in the car got real still. Eddie got a nose full of Johnny’s rich, herbal scent, mixed with a hint of soap. He wanted to lean closer and inhale deep, but he stared ahead. Damn, he was just inches from the man who gave him wood just from thinking about him. Thankfully he’d left his shirt untucked, so he could use it to cover the huge woody he was sporting right now.

“Which way, uh….”

“Eddie,” he supplied. “Straight up Military to Dousman and turn right toward town.” Eddie was trying to figure out how he could delay getting home. When the light changed, they took off, and Eddie laughed as the wind whipped his hair. He was riding in a car with Johnny Grant.

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