Release Blitz: New Year, New You by Steve Pacer

Title:  New Year, New You

Author: Steve Pacer

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 23, 2018

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 97900

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, gay, bi, in the closet, coming out, family drama, contemporary

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Synopsis

Expectations are never realistic. Outcomes often fail to meet objectives. Wishes rarely come true.

None of that has ever stopped Abram Hoffman from meeting every goal he’s ever set. In a world full of constants—his pace per mile, daily caloric intake, number of isolated bicep curls—the balance of Abe’s delicately crafted life topples when his childhood best friend Cassie Montgomery unexpectedly moves back home with her new boyfriend, Jared, whose lingering touches and ambiguous actions make Abe question his true intentions. To top it off, Abe’s ex, Harris McGee, also makes a sudden splash back into Abe’s life.

As each of them suffer through life’s obstacles, they are forced to face the fact that control isn’t always an option and words, whether true or false, can’t always save you. Set in Buffalo, New York, NEW YEAR, NEW YOU deals with life and death—and the love that flourishes in between—told from three powerful perspectives.

Excerpt

New Year, New You
Steve Pacer © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
ABRAM

“New Year, New You!”

Abram rolled his eyes and let out a brief but exasperated grunt as those words on the sign stuck to the front of Vitality Fitness became visible through the wind-whipped flurries.

The welcomed warm weather of December had faded away with the start of the new year, and knowing this was likely the last time he could make the two-mile run to work, Abram kicked it up a notch and reached a full-on sprint as he hit the parking lot. He quickly and carefully skipped across the winter-soaked pavement, catching a reflection in the window of the light snowfall caking his perfectly parted hair. Abram always thought he’d look good with a little bit more salt mixed into his pepper hair, a belief that only solidified on this brutally cold morning.

The jangle of his keys opening the door and the quiet hum of the gym’s lights comforted him. At 4:00 a.m., he knew the next hour would signal his final moments of solitude for the day. Because it was January 2, a day Abram coined January Fools Day, when the impostors began their infiltration complete with unrealistic timelines and unattainable wishes for their bodies. He hated this day.

Maybe it was an Upstate New York thing. Everyone there wanted everything so quickly, tossing aside the notion that the only way to achieve washboard abs or rock-hard pecs was actual work and commitment. In Buffalo, football was more important than fitness, eating more important than exercise. At no point was that more evident than the start of the year. Abram suspected this wasn’t the case in San Francisco or Chicago or Brooklyn.

He couldn’t remember when the thought of a busy gym full of people with healthy aspirations turned from a thrilling challenge worth tackling to an annoyance he’d rather avoid. Maybe it was because Vitality would be marking its seventh anniversary this summer, and for seven Januarys in a row, it was the same shit: a full house the first week of the year, followed by fewer people the next week, and even less the week after that. The purge continued until only the regulars were standing at the end of the month.

“New Year, Same Shit!”

He wondered if that slogan could be printed for next year.

Correcting the annual January attrition was one of the things Abe had worked on over the years by setting up programs designed to turn the slightly interested and motivated individual into someone wholeheartedly dedicated to fitness. But he knew that goal was futile. He had learned personal trainers and fitness programs could only do so much. A person only had the ability to change when they actually wanted to change, and there was nothing any outsider or any The Wealth of Health! class could do to change their mind. Being healthy was a lifelong obligation that very few people chose.

Abe glanced at his watch: 4:37 a.m.

It was way too early to be so philosophically negative.

He really had no reason to be bitter. The energy inside the gym that day would be electric. And the stability of owning Vitality was oddly comforting. No surprises meant no new disappointments. And at this point in Abe’s life, no fresh disappointment equaled happiness.

Where had the morning bitchiness come from? He blamed it on his lack of caffeine. Eliminating caffeine—one of his three New Year’s resolutions—had not been as easy an undertaking as Abe had envisioned. But he was determined to make this year the one he would become entirely independent of addiction. For as long as he could remember, coffee was the only thing Abe physically needed.

Sugar? He’d been ten years without it this spring—having none since the weekend of his twenty-third birthday.

Television? Down to about two hours a week, usually while squeezing in an ab workout.

Alcohol? Two and a half years without a drop and going strong.

Sex? Abram winced at the thought. He didn’t feel like counting the months.

Wait, has it been years?

A quick headshake followed by a sudden slap to his face and Abram successfully dug out of that wormhole. The thoughts of the previous years would not continue to creep into his daily life and slowly gnaw away at the positive future. That was New Year’s Resolution number two: don’t let the past dictate your future.

Besides, today wasn’t the day to be irritated. It was the day he finally got to meet Jared, Cassandra Montgomery’s new boyfriend. Cassie had been Abram’s best friend through and through since the first grade and the amount of love he felt for her wasn’t quantifiable. From the age of eight to the time Cassie left Buffalo at twenty-three, they had lived life parallel with each other. No one in town had talked about the two without referring to them as a pair. “Cass and Abe” had become local legends during their high school years. It’d started after saving Olivia Davidson’s life outside the local Dairy Queen when the six-year-old choked on a piece of bubblegum as they were working. When it happened, Cass and Abe looked at each other and sprang into action without even speaking. Abe hopped over the counter, ran out the front door, and began the Heimlich maneuver while Cassie called 911. By the time he forced the gum out, Olivia was powder blue. Abe would never forget the hue Olivia’s face turned, or the color of the burns Cass suffered from kneeling on the scorching blacktop while administering CPR.

Every now and then, he popped in the VHS tape of their interview on the local news, chuckling to himself at Cass’s ridiculously large scrunchie and the way his uniform hung on his gawky body.

That event only started their list of accomplishments as teens: the two were New York State Champions in their age group for Science Olympiad every year of high school; they became the first—and to this day, the only—couple at Kenmore East High School to be crowned Homecoming King and Queen and Prom King and Queen in the same year; and they even were valedictorian and salutatorian, with Cass beating Abe by a mere .013 in their final GPAs. That fact didn’t even sting for Abe; he was happy to once again be linked with Cassie on a grand scale.

Everyone thought they’d end up married, but destiny had other plans.

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Having little luck finding anything similar to a “beach read” featuring a gay male character, Steve Pacer decided to write one himself. The end result, New Year, New You, is his first novel. The former television news anchor and reporter always possessed a penchant for writing but never imagined the satisfaction creating fiction has produced.

When not writing, Steve enjoys obsessing over what to eat for dinner, perfecting his tennis game, and watching reruns of the Golden Girls. He calls Buffalo, NY, home, where he lives with his husband Mike and their cats, Glory and Julie.

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Release Blitz: In Azgarth’s Shadow by Cassie Sweet

Title:  In Azgarth’s Shadow

Author: Cassie Sweet

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 23, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 94100

Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, LGBT, steampunk, fantasy, friends to lovers, fae

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Synopsis

When popular artist Nicholas Alexandre is shot and killed in a patron’s bedroom and his body dumped in Whitechapel, it is up to the talents of Drs. Mikhail Stanslovich and Dante Savoy to bring him back to life. Since the death of his beloved sister a few months before, Nicholas has lamented his pact with the fae master, Azgarth—for the world of the fae is one of broken promises and terrifying illusions.

Fae agent, Roman Cetanni has spent his tenure as one of Azgarth’s representatives trying to shield his charges from the fae master’s wrath. But what once seemed a division of worlds has now morphed until the lines between the human and fae world are blurred.

Even as Roman tries to help Nicholas recover from his injuries, a new threat looms. Lately more beings from the fae have invaded the human realm, and Oiredon, another fae master, wishes an alliance with Roman and his charges to aid in overthrowing Azgarth.

In these uncertain times, one thing is for certain: war has come to the fae and the lives of the humans they’ve touched hang in the balance.

Excerpt

In Azgarth’s Shadow
Cassie Sweet © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Light caressed Lady Clarissa’s bare breasts, creating interesting shadows as supplied by the long dark hair that cascaded over her shoulders in tousled curls. The strands revealed as much as they hid. She lay on the bed, gaze fixed out the window, staring at the moonlight. A pensive expression filled her lovely face. She didn’t do pensive well. Pouting and preening were more in line with her nature. Oh, there were the intrigues, instigations, and incidents, but they were solely to amuse.

“How much longer, Nicholas?”

“Not too much, my dear.”

Nicholas Alexandre put the finishing touches on the canvas and stepped back from his work. He’d painted her as Tatiana from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Most people assumed Shakespeare wrote the play as a fanciful comedy. What they didn’t know, or understand, was the fact the Bard wrote it from his experiences of the fae realm.

Lady Clarissa was as much Tatiana as any woman Nicholas had ever known. Petty and jealous, she lived in a world where her needs and desires were met at the cost of those around her. He indulged her because her behavior, though outrageous, amused him. He enjoyed the way her schemes horrified society. These days, it was the only thing that lifted his grief.

He studied the details of the painting, not quite satisfied with the illumination. Not to worry, he’d add flourishes later. For now, he was exhausted and wanted only to pack up his paints and—

The door burst open and banged against the wall.

“You wretched whore!”

Lady Clarissa screamed and grabbed at a sheet to shield her naked torso from her enraged husband. “My heart, it’s not what you think.”

Sir Rodderick Danworth laughed and held the dueling pistol pointed at Nicholas’s stomach. “You expect me to believe that? In my own bedroom?”

Nicholas wiped paint from his brush, unperturbed that the angry husband threatened his life. “As you see, I came here to work. I’m nothing more than a humble painter.”

The laugh this time came out bitter, pained. “There is nothing humble about you. Do your promises mean nothing?”

A prick of conscience and a slight brush of regret. “My word is still good, but my purse is not subject to the whims of honor. I still need to eat and live. I have a grieving mother to support.”

The fact his mother hadn’t left her bed since his sister’s death, notwithstanding.

Rodderick kept his gaze focused on Nicholas, much as a hunter might a wild animal. Something stirred in the depths of his eyes, not entirely of the man himself. “You are nothing more than a deceiver. A liar.”

Nicholas inclined his head in a subtle acknowledgment of the accusation and let his suspicions fall to the ground unvoiced. “And so I am what the world has made me.”

Realization and pain morphed into fury, filling Rodderick’s eyes. He fought an inner demon that shone in the dark depths. The gun went off.

Nicholas watched in horror as the shot struck him true. Crimson bloomed across the front of his white shirt, spreading like paint through a jar of mineral spirits. Odd how no pain registered.

The paintbrush dropped from fingers that no longer worked. Sound became a distant, hollow thing. A scream came from behind him, but even that had the quality of a train entering a tunnel, the whistle fading into the dark earth.

If he’d had the ability, Nicholas would have laughed. A mortal wound would not kill one such as him; it only released him into the hands of the fae master, Azgarth. And therein lay his real fear. Servitude on this plane was one of commerce, a way to provide for his family in the manner they’d become accustom. Being one of the chosen in the fae realm for eternity was not the thing of beauty Azgarth promised. The thing he’d seen welling in Rodderick’s eyes.

The only one to derive any pleasure from such an association was Azgarth himself. However, it might give him a chance to see Juliana again. To see if she’d been taken into the fae realm on her death and protected.

Rodderick stood over him, his face white, lips pale. Tears streamed down his face. The darkness had faded from his eyes. “Look what you made me do.”

He was unsure if Rodderick meant Nicholas, Clarissa, or Azgarth. He moved his arm to try to cover the wound and staunch the flow, but could do nothing more than watch as the blood began to soak into the carpet beneath.

Lady Clarissa finally rose from the bed. She stood over Nicholas, looking down on him. Her mouth was pinched with displeasure, no doubt for the stains that ruined the Aubusson. “I knew your jealousy would one day be your downfall.”

Rodderick still held the pistol. Disbelief pulled his mouth down at the corners. “I’ve killed him.”

Nicholas tried to inform Rodderick that he was very much mistaken—he still lived and heard every word they said. The one to kill him was much worse than Rodderick could ever imagine.

Lady Clarissa took Rodderick by the arm. “No. We will keep this between the two of us. Call Charles and have him dump the body in Whitechapel. No one will bat an eye for one more murder in that part of town.”

Rodderick nodded mutely. He started out of the room, then turned back as Nicholas took one last shuddery breath.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Cassie Sweet lives in beautiful Pensacola, Florida and often enjoys watching the Blue Angels do practice flyovers from the window in her writing nook. Growing up with a great love for the Grimm’s Fairytales and the original Star Trek, her stories might involve paranormal elements, space travel, or a combo platter of both.

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Love For All Seasons Charity Anthology

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True love always deserves a happy ending, whatever the season. A charity anthology with all proceeds split between The Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Albert Kennedy Trust.


With characters who find love in a New York park, or on a college campus, in the middle of a snow storm or in the heat of summer, ‘Love for all Seasons’ delivers romance for everyone.

Including stories from five established authors and supporting the work of three authors, new to the world of writing MM romance.


Brioche For Two – V.L Locey

 

Seasons of Bryant – SpringFour Seasons. Two Men. One Love.

For struggling film student Isamu Taylor, life’s refrain is about to change from boring documentary about a passionless delivery boy to a blazing and wildly erotic love story.

After spending weeks admiring handsome but older Manhattan executive Brian Gilles while delivering brioche to him in Bryant Park, the man of his lusty dreams has just expressed a desire to get to know Isamu better. A night on the town is just the beginning of a whirlwind romance that will span not only four seasons but countless years.

Amid the beauty and charm of Bryant Park, New York City, two men are about to discover that love knows no age or economic boundaries. This is the first of four short stories in what will be the ‘Tales of Bryant’ collection starring these two amazing men, their one sublime love, and the Park where it all started.

 

Sweeter than Honey – C.M. Valencourt 


Wyatt is a beekeeper, excited for the beginning of his town’s annual farmers market, where he expects to sell his wares and get some hot guys’ phone numbers. But these plans start to unravel when sets up shop next to a sexy vegan baker named Grayson.

Grayson believes that keeping bees is akin to owning a slaughterhouse, and he’ll do anything to run Wyatt out of business. Can Wyatt win him over with his sweet honey and even sweeter smile?

 

Special Nights – DJ Jamison 


Sam’s insomnia drives him out of his apartment in the wee hours of the night. He ends up at a diner, where he meets an intriguing waiter named Hunter. As the seasons go by, Sam and Hunter court over BLTs and OJ, slowly falling in love.

 

Winters Chill – Cathy Brockman


The ice storm of a century hits Missouri.

Winter savvy Lane Jennings is the only one prepared, thanks to a decade in North Dakota. Too shy to approach his drool-worthy neighbor, he’s left fantasizing about him at night. That is until the storm, when a branch breaks free, trapping him beneath. Now it’s up to Lane to save him from his icy peril and care for him throughout the storm.

It was a near death experience for stunned Jeffrey Nichols. Never had he seen anything as beautifully terrifying as the weather and his neighbor. One threatened his life and the other his secret. He wasn’t sure which was more dangerous, but when Lane gives him a warm shelter through the storm, he quickly realizes he will find out.

Can an ice storm thaw two frozen hearts?

 

Beach Boys – Annabelle Jacobs


Sea, sand, and hopefully sun, are all Russ expects to find on his week away in Cornwall.

Surfing with his two best mates is all Blake has planned for his short break. With the long drive to get to Penzance, there’s no time for anything else.

With help from Bailey the dog, Russ and Blake discover they might have more in common than they first thought.

 

Who Do You Love, My Valentine – EJ Smyth

 

Immortal Nox is subcontracted to love god Eros during the Valentine rush. After he gets distracted by his long-time human crush Matt, his arrows go astray. The second missile finds a pretty young woman who instantly falls in love with Matt. Which would be great, except that Matt is gay. Nox must prevent the unsuitable match before the Gods find out. Yet doing his job may very well break his heart…


Read this steamy, romantic short story by EJ Smyth to get you into the mood for the perfect Valentine’s night.

 

Favorite Flowers – Chris McHart 


Gabe runs a flower shop. He always makes bouquets for everyone, but nobody has ever brought him flowers. His love-life is non-existent. Until Jason walks in and sparks fly.

Jason in the middle of a nasty divorce and the last thing he needs is getting into another relationship. But he can’t resist the shop-owner.

But even if Jason comes back for flower every week, one of them has to make the first step. And even if one does, can favorite flowers lead to anything?

 

The Last Chance – RJ Scott


It’s the last year of college and Luke can’t forget the captain of the hockey team, or the kiss they shared as freshman.

Justin has to decide if hockey outweighs his attraction to Luke, because this might be the last chance he’ll have of making things right.

Authors

 
V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a flock of assorted domestic fowl, and two Jersey steers. 


When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand. She can also be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and GoodReads.

 
~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~
 

About new author, C.M. Valencourt

C.M. Valencourt is a new m/m and queer romance author. Their first book From the Ashes, an ex-friends-to-lovers road trip novel featuring slam poetry, pink hair dye, and a chase scene through a theme park, will be released in the first half of 2018. They like figure skating, ghost hunting shows, and Carly Rae Jepsen. You can get updates about From the Ashes and more of their forthcoming work by following @cmvalencourt on Twitter.

 

~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~

 

DJ Jamison is the author of more than a dozen m/m romances, including the Ashe Sentinel series and the Hearts and Health series. She writes a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual, with a focus on telling love stories that are more about common ground than lust at first sight. 

 
DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. 
 
DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction. She spent a lifetime reading before that, and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, two fish and, regrettably, one snake. 
 

~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~

 

About new author, Cathy Brockman

Cathy loves her grandkids, cats, cooking and working to make her patio an outdoor haven.

When she’s not writing stories with sexy cowboys, strong women, and the small towns they live in she’s probably working on expanding her doll collection, crafting, reading, or listening to audio books.

For updates on stories, snippets, contests, games, polls and more fun join my reader group – Cat’s Romance A-Holics

If you like recipes, stories about food or flops, writing, teasers and more you can find that on my Website/Blog Cathy Writes Romance.

Thanks for reading and watch for more Lane and Jeffrey.

You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon and Google plus

 
~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~
 

Annabelle Jacobs lives in the South West of England with three rowdy children, and two cats. An avid reader of fantasy herself for many years, Annabelle now spends her days writing her own stories. They’re usually either fantasy or paranormal fiction, because she loves building worlds filled with magical creatures, and creating stories full of action and adventure. Her characters may have a tough time of it—fighting enemies and adversity—but they always find love in the end. 


Twitter – https://twitter.com/AJacobs_fiction
Website – www.annabellejacobs.com
Email – ajacobsfiction@gmail.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ajacobsfiction
 
~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~
 

About new author, EJ Smyth

Hi there! My name is EJ Smyth, I live in Frankfurt, Germany and I’m passionate about romance with other elements mixed in. Paranormal romance, romantic thrillers, gay romance, if it’s got two difficult characters finding each other, I’m on board!

I’m currently working on a series of short stories Keith is Awesome about a young man exploring his sexuality. Not something I’ve ever written before but the research alone was quite a bit of fun. I love to talk to my readers, online and offline, so please feel free to drop me a line!

www.ejsmythauthor.com

 

~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~

 

About Chris McHart

 

I’m a writer of M/M romance and M/M erotic romance from Germany.


I’ve always had stories in my head, but a while ago I allowed them to get out and on paper. Looks like it has been a good decision, although the more stories I write, the more I have in my head. Maybe I’ll have all of them out someday, and there’ll be nothing more to write, but for the next years, I don’t see that coming.
When I’m not writing, I spend time with my family (I have the best husband EVER) and try to keep all my animals happy. I also enjoy gardening and cooking, although I’m still looking for someone to clean up afterwards. And, of course, I love reading, whenever I have a quiet moment.Writing and reading is my break from everyday stress and I hope you join me!

Website | ChrisMcHart@gmail.com | Google +

 
~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~
 

RJ Scott’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

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

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

Goodreads Page | RJ’s Blog | RJ on Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Book Blitz: Five Dares by Eli Easton

 

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Cover Design: Natasha Snow

Blurb

Andy Tyler has been the class daredevil since middle school. Over the years, he’s convinced his best friend, Jake Masterson, to perform some dangerous-looking stunts with him. But the dare they attempt on the night of their college graduation goes sideways. The firecrackers explode too soon and both of them end up with badly burned palms.

But hey, nothing gets the “terrible two-o” down for long, and they recuperate in style at Andy’s family cottage in Cape Cod. As the weeks go by, both Andy and Jake grow frustrated over the inability to use their hands for all sorts of daily activities—including getting off. So Andy begins a new series of dares that don’t just cross the friendship line, they obliterate it.

But what might be mere sexual relief to Andy is serious business to Jake, who only recently got over years of secret pining for his straight best friend. Inevitably, the burns heal, summer ends, and hearts are broken. To fix things, Andy will have to face the greatest dare of all.

Excerpt

 

The first few weeks at the cottage we had good weather and spent most of our time outside. Walter said our burns were coming along well. So far we’d avoided making things worse, which was a miracle. The burns were gnarly looking though, and painful when he rewrapped them.

My palms were the bright red of fresh blood. They looked like they’d been dipped in boiling water, with layers around the edge turning white and loose in spots. My hands alternated between a mild burning and piercing pain that went supernova anytime I accidentally clenched them or bumped them into something. Doing or lifting anything that required any pressure on the skin whatsoever was right out.

So by the time we’d been basking on the Nantucket Sound for two weeks, I was climbing the fucking walls.

“I’ve never been this damn horny in my life,” I complained to Jake, bitterly and sincerely.

It was almost noon, and we were sitting out on the dock like we usually did. It had been great hanging out together. We’d caught up on a lot of stuff we never seemed to get around to talking about during school—his upcoming new life. Harvard. Our mutual friends and exes. We’d told ghost stories. We’d taken long walks and kicked around a soccer ball for hours. We’d played poker on Jake’s tablet and consumed six seasons of The Walking Dead on the big-screen TV. It was nice having undivided Jake time, but I’d reached the point where frustration had me close to tears.

Not tears of boredom either. Sexually frustrated tears.

“Turn page,” Jake responded. He was reading on his Kindle.

“I’m not sure how that would help me get off,” I joked.

Jake snorted, but he didn’t rise to the bait.

I shifted in my chair. I wasn’t kidding. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d gone more than two days without an orgasm. Probably not since I’d figured out the magical wonderland that was my dick when I was eleven years old. I’d had a permanent semi for days now, and my loose, silky gym shorts—worn because I could get them up and down by myself if I scooched against a wall—were doing nothing to disguise it or help it go away.

I moved my bandaged hands onto the arms of the deck chair and looked down at myself. Even looking at my crotch made my dick grow under the silky blue fabric. It was like a hopeful puppy anticipating attention.

In my peripheral vision, I saw Jake glance at it too. He leaned forward in his chair, hunching toward the Kindle, which was propped on a little table in front of him. “Turn page.”

“You did not just read an entire page.” I smirked.

“Shut up, Mr. TMI.” Jake fake-read some more.

But I knew I had his attention. “Have you figured out a way to get off yet? Because I haven’t.”

“No,” he said in a distracted voice. Despite his blasé look, I knew there was no way he was absorbing a single word on that Kindle screen.

“Me neither. I tried humping the bed, but it didn’t work. Fucking mattress is so soft and lumpy.”

“Can you not give me the gory details?” Jake hunched further and stared at the Kindle.

“Rubbing against the tiles in the shower didn’t work. They’re too hard.”

He snorted. “What are you, the Goldilocks of self-love?”

I chuckled. “That’s me. I need something just right.” I used a filthy voice on the last bit.

Jake shifted uneasily but didn’t look at me. “Too bad Amber dumped you. Maybe you could call her and play the poor invalid card. She might be willing to drive down for a conjugal visit.”

“Nah. So not worth the bowing and scraping I’d have to do.”

I gave it a moment, trying to build up my nerve.

I hadn’t been kidding. I’d tried a half-dozen ways to get off, but nothing was working. So I’d put some serious brain power into figuring out a solution. I was good at working around obstacles, but the obvious answer—the thing I really wanted—involved Jake, and I wasn’t sure how he’d react.

Just thinking about it, I plumped up further, causing a definite tent in my shorts. I half expected Jake to tease me, something like, You could poke someone’s eye out with that thing.

But all he said was, “Turn page.”

“So . . . you haven’t gotten off since before the hospital?” I asked.

“No,” Jake said quickly. “And it’s not helping to talk about it, thank you very much. It’s like when you talk about having a tickle in your throat, it makes you want to cough.” His voice was tense. I saw his eyes flicker toward my shorts, though he didn’t turn his head and he continued to pretend to read.

My heart pounded. I felt exposed at the moment, my semi obscene, so I sat up and hunched forward too, elbows on my knees. I watched a ski boat go by. The roar of the motor was loud. I waited until it had passed. Then I swallowed and told myself it didn’t matter. It was no big deal to suggest it. And if he said no, it was no biggie. I could play it off as a joke. But it really didn’t feel that way.

“Speaking of a tickle in your throat . . . I have an idea about how we can get off.”

“You do?” Jake’s tone was fast and curious. Definitely interested.

“Yup.”

“Like what? Gonna have Walter install a Fleshlight in the shower?” He chuckled.

I huffed. “Yeah. You know my dad combs through every one of my credit card statements. No way am I ordering a Fleshlight. Not to mention the fact that I’d have to kill myself after asking Walter to install something like that.”

Walter, our nurse, was in his fifties, white, bald, and pudgy. He had a squeaky-clean fundamentalist thing going on and had mentioned “praying” for us several times. Ix-nay on asking Walter to mount a fuck tube in the shower.

“So what then, Oh Planinator?” Jake sat up from his slouch and looked at me.

Unable to meet his gaze, I studied the water. “Okay, so just hear me out before saying no.”

“Oh shit. You only say that when it’s really whacked.”

“Come on! I’m serious.”

Jake sighed, but I could swear there was a new tension in the air. He was no longer pretending to read his Kindle. He leaned back in his chair and waited. “Go on, then. Spit it out.”

I grinned and turned my head to look at him, raising an eyebrow. “That’s the goal, yeah.”

He kicked my leg lightly with his bare heel. “Just say it.”

“Okay. So. We can’t jerk off, right?” I held up my bandaged hands a little.

“Obviously.”

“Well, have you ever heard of guys who can, you know, suck their own dicks?”

There was a sharp inhale from Jake, but he kept his face blank. “Yeah. I can’t though. Not even a little bit.”

“I know. Me neither. So I thought . . .” Fuck. This was hard to say. Incredibly hard to say. But there was no point in beating around the bush. “Okay. So. What if we sucked each other, like, at the same time, and pretended we were doing ourselves? Sort of self-suck by proxy.”

I’d intended to keep a jokey tone during this, so I could claim I was teasing. But the words started tumbling out, and there was a hollow ringing in my ears. I honestly didn’t have the slightest fucking clue what my tone had been or how it must have sounded to Jake.

Next to me, he went deadly still. He stared down at his knees. There was a little frown behind his brow. He looked worried. Or disturbed. Or both concurrently.

I fought the urge to overexplain or justify. Play it cool. I leaned back in my chair and closed my eyes as if soaking in the sun. “It would get the job done.” I shrugged.

“Did you honestly just ask me to suck you off?” Jake asked in a quiet voice.

“No. That’s not what I said. Don’t go all homophobic on me, bro. Look, we can’t use our hands at all. Fact. If you could suck yourself, you would—right? Fact. But you can’t. I’m in the same boat. So I’m thinking if we were end to end, we could close our eyes and pretend we’re doing ourselves. And we’d get off. And we wouldn’t have to get Walter or anyone else involved. It’s really the best solution.”

Jake was silent again for a long moment. “I’m not doing that.” His voice was firm, grim, like he meant it.

Honestly, I was surprised. And a little hurt.

“Fine,” I said. “It was just a suggestion. You got a better idea? Or do you want the worst case of blue balls ever? Because I’m about to crawl the fucking walls.”

“I’m not doing it,” he repeated adamantly.

“Yeah, I heard you the first time, Jake.”

In my peripheral vision, I could see he was stiff and tense, like he might bolt. But, finally, he relaxed. He leaned forward toward the Kindle. “Turn page,” he said, his voice tight.

“What if I dared you?” I asked, unable to let it go.

“Jesus, Andy, fuck off!” Jake snarled. He got up and stormed toward the cottage. We’d figured out that if we kicked the bottom of the screen door, it would bounce open for a second, long enough to get one foot in. He did this harder than necessary and went inside. I was so shocked, I let him go without a word.

Goddamn it. I’d known it would be risky to bring it up, but some part of me believed Jake would jump at the chance. Or, worst case, brush it off as a joke. I hadn’t expected anger. Jake had never told me to fuck off like that. Not that I could remember.

Shit.

Okay. Bad idea. Abort, abort. But it was too late to take it back.

About Eli

Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, an author of paranormal thrillers, a fan-fiction writer, an organic farmer, and a profound sleeper, Eli Easton is happy these days writing love stories.As an avid reader of such, she is tinkled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with her husband, three bulldogs, two cows, a cat, and a potbellied pig. She enjoys reading in all genres and, when she can be pried away from her iPad, hiking and biking.

Eli Easton has published 24 books in m/m romance since 2013. She won the Rainbow Award for Best Contemporary Romance in 2014 (The Mating of Michael) and in 2016 (A Second Harvest). Her Howl at the Moon series of humorous dog shifter romances have become fan favorites and placed in the Rainbow Awards and the Goodreads M/M Group Reader’s Choice awards. She is best known for romances with humor and a lot of heart.

Connect with Eli:
Website: elieaston.com
Facebook
Twitter: @EliEaston

 
 

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Release Blitz: The End by M Rose Flores

 

Title:  The End

Author: M. Rose Flores

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 16, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 81200

Genre: Horror, LGBT, horror, zombies/undead, post-apocalyptic, in the closet, dark, no HEA, bisexual, tearjerker

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Synopsis

On Cate Mortensen’s seventeenth birthday, her family is scattered in a fight for survival, and she and her sister Melody are catapulted headfirst into a world where their phones are just hunks of plastic, they must scavenge for every bite, and they sleep with weapons in their hands. Traveling alone, and then not so alone, they follow the route their family planned to Alcatraz Island where the hope of safety and a real life awaits.

After more than a year on the road, Cate has found three things to be true. One: Zombies are a thing now. Two: Not all zombies are just zombies. Three (the game changer): Cate is immune to the infection.

Excerpt

The End
M. Rose Flores © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One: Pay Attention
Now

Where did these zombies come from, and how did I not notice them until now? This isn’t the worst we’ve faced, true, but zombies in general are dangerous and six at a time is not a number anybody should be comfortable with.

“Mel!” I call to my sister, keeping my eyes on the approaching zombies. “How’s it coming?”

Melody is a little way up the road from me, elbow-deep in the engine of a rusty old pickup that she said would be an easy fix. She was so confident, in fact, that we packed all our stuff and the dog into the truck. That was two hours ago.

“Fine,” she mumbles. “Getting there.”

“Soon?”

“I don’t know—yeah, soon.” Clang! “Why?”

“Like, in the next thirty seconds?”

“Cate, why?”

“We’ve got company.”

Mel growls and kicks the tire of the truck.

I yank the axe out of my belt loop just as three, four, eight, nine more come wandering out of the evergreens that surround the road.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Mel mutters. She whispers through the open window to the dog, “Chaz, down.”

Chaz settles on the front seat. A few of them may notice him if they get close enough, but they’ll always pick people given the option. He’ll be safe for now.

Safer than we are.

I swing my axe at the first one to approach, a clean hit to the back of the neck. The jaws continue to gnash after the body falls to the ground, but since that’s all that’s still moving, it’s not a threat anymore. The three fast approaching on my right and the one foot-dragger on the left, those are threats. I shove back the closest one, sending it sprawling, bury my axe into the second’s head, and work it free just in time to dodge the foot-dragger’s claws. The miss throws it off-balance and it falls to its exposed kneecaps. I split its skull before it has a chance to stand.

That’s one universally reliable factoid from zombie lore: head shot equals kill. The rest of it is a mixed bag of facts and fabrications.

By the time I dislodge my axe again, the one I shoved is in my face. I don’t even see another coming at me until it knocks the axe out of my hand.

“Damn it!” I fish my knife out of my jacket pocket and dispatch both of them. When I’m done, I bend down and pick up the axe.

I hear the thick squish of Mel’s little pocketknife penetrating rotten flesh and the subsequent dropping of one body, quickly followed by another, and the dull thud of her hammer and an exuberant ha! I turn to find her unscathed with three corpses at her feet. Go, Mel.

Before I can turn back around to assess my end, an especially rotten zombie takes my arm and pulls it toward its gaping maw. It bites down on the sleeve of my green canvas jacket, which I was wearing specifically for this reason. I let it think it has me while I split its skull. As the jaws go slack and the corpse collapses, I rub my forearm gingerly. Ouch. That’ll be a nasty bruise. But it serves me right for not paying attention. Again.

I turn to check on Mel just as a gigantic zombie in a leather jacket—and is that a motorcycle helmet?—lunges at her from behind, bowling her over like a house of cards. Her glasses go flying, and she hits the ground with an oomph, dropping her blade as the zombie chomps at her face uselessly through its helmet. Her knife skitters across the pavement and out of reach.

“Cate!”

I run toward them, vaulting myself over the hood of a car, losing my axe for the second time as I do. She’s pinned, and although the teeth are no threat inside that helmet, it’s only a matter of time before the claws rip through her hoodie. She’s trying to push it off, but it’s one of the biggest bodies I’ve ever seen, alive or dead. Just massive. I shove my hand into my pocket but find it empty. Where the hell is my knife? No time. I grab the first tool my hand lands on, a big-ass wrench, rip the giant’s helmet off, and swing for all I’m worth until its head is obliterated.

Mel retrieves her glasses and sits up, panting. That would have been a horrible way to go. She wipes her forehead with the back of her hand, shaking her head in relief. But her face changes and she points over my shoulder.

“Cate, behind you!”

Two more are right in front of me, so close they could reach out and touch me, which of course they do. One grabs my upper arm while the other closes in for a bite on the other side. I yank backward, shed my jacket, and stumble away from the two man-eaters but trip over the giant. Mel steps over me like an action heroine with her miniature .22 handgun drawn and ready. She puts them both down and helps me up. Four left.

We run around them in opposite directions, positioning ourselves behind them. I manage to kill one before the next has time to turn around. As soon as it does, I cave its face in with the wrench. When I turn to check on Mel, she’s already wiping her knife clean and stepping—somewhat delicately—over the last two corpses.

“Dude, what happened?” she asks.

I know she’s pissed; I had it coming. I don’t apologize, though. The words sit stubbornly in my throat.

“Sun was in my eyes,” I mumble. The excuse sounds even more flimsy out loud. “You said the truck would be an easy fix.” I don’t know why I resort to blame-shifting instead of just fessing up.

“Okay, how about next time you fix the car and I’ll try to get us killed?” she snaps. “And you’d better clean the brains off my wrench!”

I silently retrieve my axe from where it fell and my knife from the eye I left it in, and wipe the brainy blade, then the wrench, then my axe, on the clothes of various fallen zombies.

That’s something I didn’t expect: there’s very little blood in zombie killing if you’re doing it right. The movies would have you believe that there are buckets of the stuff just flying around every time you whack one. But the thing is—and it makes sense once you think about it—their hearts aren’t actually beating, and no beating heart means no pumping blood and therefore no bleeding. What ends up on the weapon and sometimes your clothing after you put a zombie down is a thick sludge made of gray matter and coagulated blood. It’s still disgusting, especially the odor, but at least it doesn’t splatter.

“I’m sorry, okay?” I slide my axe back into my belt loop.

Mel holds stubbornly onto her last shred of anger, aggressively polishing her glasses with the hem of her shirt. Suddenly she’s on me, squeezing the life out of me with her skinny arms. “Just keep an eye out, okay?” She strokes my hair the way my mom used to. “I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you too.”

“Deal,” I say, breaking the hug gently. I scan the area while Mel tosses her tools into the bed of the truck. “Those shots will bring more in. We’d better get a move on.”

Mel nods and pockets her gun. When she says his name, Chaz sits back up, tail wagging. She slams the hood of the truck. “Let’s go. I think I just barely managed to fix this heap before they got here. Moment of truth…” She twists a couple of wires together and pumps her fist into the air as the truck rumbles to life. “Yes! Life!”

It’s the best sound I’ve heard in a week. Mel and I have been traveling on our bikes since we had to ditch our last ride. The engine overheated, and while we were waiting for it to cool, a massive horde of zombies came wandering out of the forest by the highway. It was either fight and possibly die to save the car or get out quietly, take what we could, and run. We ran.

We did find a car the next day; drove it about five miles before we came upon a fallen tree that blocked the whole road. That didn’t even count as having a ride.

But thankfully, Mel is handy with cars. Very handy. So when we find a working or workable car, we keep it as long as it’s advantageous, and for the rest of the time, we have our bikes. It does limit what kind of vehicle we can use, since it has to have room for us, a seventy-pound dog, two bikes, and two packs, but it’s well worth it to keep the bikes.

Mel hops into the driver’s side and squeezes the wheel.

“I’ll drive first.”

I nod and slide into the passenger seat.

Chaz curls up between us with his torn-up tennis ball.

We pull away from the two cars that the truck was parked between, and we’re about to drive off when I jump in panic.

“Wait!” I fumble with my seat belt and throw open the door.

“Cate!” Mel slams on the brakes as I jump out. “Catherine! What are you doing?”

I run toward the zombies we just killed and jerk my jacket out from under two bodies, ignoring the zombie I didn’t fully kill that snaps at my hand as I do.

Mel glances at me sideways as we begin to pull away again, but she doesn’t say anything about my outburst. Instead, she just sighs and asks, “Back to the coast?”

Our trip through Medford was a bust. I glance at the map, staring at the lines I’ve long since memorized. If we’re lucky, we can be back on the marked route in a couple of hours. But luck is not abundant these days.

We both get discouraged and even a little irritable when a detour turns out to be fruitless. But I have to admit that we’ve had some really successful ones. We found better weapons and a fishing pole plus tackle in Hood River, and in mid-December, we found a house outside Newport in which to ride out a truly hellish winter. The previous owner was just another walking corpse when we found him, but he must have been a conspiracy nut or something because the entire basement was filled floor to ceiling with shelves of canned food and survival gear that we’re still using today. There were also boots that happened to fit Mel’s giant feet, thick jeans for me, those silvery space blankets, and loads of extra socks, which believe me, we needed. We even scored a bike trailer for the dog. So although the detours seem like unnecessary distractions from our ultimate destination, they are necessary. Every one.

We drive west, leaving a pile of twice-dead bodies behind.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

M. Rose Flores has enjoyed writing since she learned how to string letters together. She grew up in the vast green Pacific Northwest of the United States, which with its dense forests, four seasons, and proximity to the ocean made a perfect setting for The End. When she isn’t writing on her computer or in a notebook (though scraps of paper and the palm of her hand will do in a pinch), she works as a professional dog trainer and loves every part of it, even the copious amounts of drool. She believes everyone should be represented in literature and all other media. The End is her first novel.

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