Hidden Impact – an excerpt

Hidden Impact

(#gayromance, #eroticromance, #MM, #contemporary, #secondchance #may-decemberromance)
HiddenImpact_cover_smReed Parr loves Drew Sanborn with a passion that flares bright and hot and lasting. Drew fulfills every fantasy Reed has ever imagined of the perfect lover, the perfect partner. And Drew loves him right back. So what’s the problem? Reed’s life, for one thing. Reed’s children and Drew’s parents. And their inner vulnerabilities. Age differences and past hurts…

Reed is a gifted architect, and his livelihood hinges on the career he’s built over fifteen years with the Sanborn Architectural Firm—the company owned and run by Drew’s father, a man with whom Reed and his wife had regularly socialized before Reed’s wife’s death. Reed had watched Drew grow up, watched as the young man become fast friends with his own son, Mark, never realizing how their paths would cross in later years. Their lives are so intertwined, that the impact of their relationship on both families could be devastating. Reed simply can’t take the chance on outing his love for Drew without considering the hidden impact on all their lives.

Drew, sixteen years younger than Reed, is openly gay. At some level, he understands Reed’s hesitance on outing their relationship. Yet after two years, he’s ready for their secret affair to transform into a public commitment.

Can a week in the mountains, away from the pressures and expectations surrounding them, help to cement the relationship enough for Reed to publicly admit his love for Drew? Or will everything fall apart, causing the lovers to separate forever, no matter how painful the parting?

Confrontation, revelation, and steamy nights of hot, searing sex could make all the difference in the world…

EXCERPT

Drew loved listening to Reed’s voice. It made him so hot to hear him relate the story about his first time with a guy.

But he also loved listening to him in meetings. The man was an enigma. On the outside he looked so cool and composed. His blue eyes were quiet, reminding Drew of calm, pale winter skies. It was that quiet strength that had Drew hanging on his every word when Drew had first started working with his father’s company. He hadn’t been certain the job at the architectural firm was the right move, but he’d gone ahead and done it anyway. What did he have to lose? His football career was shot to hell because of the shattered kneecap he’d suffered during that last pivotal game. He already had the schooling and his love life was pretty well blown, Caleb not liking the role of nurse. In the end there’d been no reason for Drew to look back, no other options for him to consider, particularly after the downward spiral he’d taken when Caleb had walked out. But little had he known what the fates had in store for him.

Until he’d walked into Reed’s office and everything seemed to fall into place. It wasn’t his friend Mark’s father he saw standing there. It was the most handsome, exciting man he’d met in a long time. That for his first project his father had teamed him up with Reed was almost a wet-dream come true.

He was attracted to Reed from the very start, but as far as he knew Reed was totally straight and he’d never cross that line. Not unless he was invited. And the invitation better be loud and clear. Too darn much hidden impact if Drew read the signals wrong. With a stranger he might give it a shot, but especially with Reed Parr he had to be careful. Reed was not only his best friend’s father, but Drew’s father’s employee. It was a tightrope of twisty, sensitive and slender wire he tried to navigate. Every day it was harder and harder to deny his attraction to Reed. From that first moment it had been unrequited love.

Until the afternoon they found out the project they’d worked on together so hard had been enthusiastically approved by the client. It was his own first success with the company and he was flying high.

For Reed it had obviously just been another project completed, because he was back at his desk already eyes deep in another commercial design. But Drew hadn’t been able to come down to earth yet. He wanted to celebrate and he wanted to celebrate with Reed.

Drew had ended up going to dinner alone. Yet something had drawn him back to the office. After stopping off to buy a bottle of champagne, he went back to the building planning to have his own private party, maybe with a little self-pity thrown in on the side since he had to do the celebrating alone. It was when the elevator doors slid open on the sixteenth floor long past when everyone should have been gone, and he found Reed still hard at work in his office, that a strange sensation began to flood through his veins. Drew had come back here for a reason. He’d felt fate close around him like a tailor-made coat designed especially for him. His heart had drummed in his chest. He realized he still had the bottle of champagne and a couple of plastic glasses. Maybe there was someone he’d be able to celebrate with–who he’d been meant to celebrate with all along.

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Find it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07M95P8Y2

Hot Male – an excerpt

Hot Male

(#scifi #gay #erotic romance #MMM)

hotmale_smLeo is into a very hot male on the new .man network. Sirras is breaking every law known to Avvarian travvellers in hooking up with Leo online. And then mage-lord, Raddlack re-appears in Sirras’s life to further complicate things.

Sirras and Leo, two lonely men, aren’t looking for love when they connect online. Yet what happens when three hot males come together physically will blow all their worlds apart and fuse something brighter, hotter, and more lasting than any of them could have imagined—a relationship that changes everything. Interplanetary relations are taken to new dimensions with these sexy men.

EXCERPT

Tonight.

Leo stared at the message in the little box in the corner of the screen. He inhaled on a shuddering breath. It seemed like he’d been waiting for this moment forever and at last it was here. His fingers hovered over the keyboard. His gaze slid to the vibrant picture he kept on his desktop.

The indistinct neon burnt orange figure outlined in the photograph brought his desire surging to the surface. He stroked a hand over his crotch, feeling the stiff prick pressing against the fabric of his jeans. Was he really ready to meet Sirras and his new assistant in person?

Leo had been shocked a few weeks ago when Raddlack had joined his conversation with Sirras. But slowly, over the last few weeks, Leo had become familiar with the other man, as he had learned to know Sirras. The threesome they had engaged in online only made Leo want to experience the same level of passion in person. Did he dare take the chance?

What time? And where? he responded.

Leo knew he shouldn’t be doing it. Ever since the accident he’d stayed away from forming any type of physical relationship. But there was just something about Sirras, and now, Raddlack, that he couldn’t let go.

When the dot-men network first rolled out, Leo had been hesitant about surfing through the new gay men’s network. And then he’d found stardex.men. It was like finally coming home as he spoke with other men about his passion for the stars. There was even a whole digital library, including position papers on some of the newest discoveries in space exploration he’d never found anywhere else.

Uniquely unguarded conversations developed on stardex, communications that Leo had soon become addicted to, unable to stay away. And then he’d read Sirras’s paper on the discovery of a new solar system located just beyond their solar system. Leo had been so intrigued by the idea he couldn’t help emailing Sirras directly to try to learn more. And now there was Raddlack as well. A man who seemed to have an immense amount of information also. And knew how to fuck online as well as Sirras did. But now it was time to meet these men in the flesh.

Ten o’clock. The Warren Observatory.

Leo’s leg began to ache and he stretched it out. He’d been sitting too long at the computer again and the injury made him more than aware of the fact. He reached out for the cane resting next to the desk. His fingers fondled the smooth round knob at the top.

He stared at the fiery image on the screen unable to stop the fantasy that spun through his mind, curious about the men who hid behind the sexy avatars.

For months he had been chatting with Sirras, but he had delayed meeting him in person, afraid of what he would think when he saw Leo with the cane. Leo was still self-conscious about the disability. Conversing with Sirras over the last few months had helped him to forget the reason he no longer sought out relationships in the real world. Cybersex was about as good as it got for him anymore. And now there were two delicious men to play with.

We’ll be waiting for you, Leo. There will only be a short window of opportunity to actually view Avvaris.

The planet Avvaris was something he was dying to actually see. It was the one thing that could get Leo out of his apartment–the opportunity to actually view the new planet that Sirras had written about. It wasn’t something that was visible to the naked eye; only the high-powered telescope at the observatory would offer Leo a chance to actually see Avvaris. If he missed this opportunity, there wouldn’t be another chance for several years. He was going to have to take courage in hand and step outside his safety zone for the first time in six months.

You won’t disappoint us?

Leo’s fingers hesitated over the keyboard. This was not an easy decision for him. He really knew nothing about the men in this three-sided online relationship. They’d been tap dancing around each other for long enough. No real background exchanged, just talk. And sex. Cyber sex.

Talk to me, Leo. Leo opened the mic and turned up the volume.

“I’m here, Sirras.”

“I wanted to hear your voice. It’s the only way I can be certain you mean what you say.”

“I can’t wait to meet you in person, Leo.” This time it was Raddlack who spoke.

Leo stared at the glowing, orange avatar. Then his gaze turned to the blue-flamed avatar. The outlines of lean, male flesh kept him hot and ready at any given moment. He lowered his hand to cup his thick erection, stroking over the heat pushing against his jeans. He wondered if Sirras and Raddlack were anywhere near as flaming as the images the men projected online. Their deep, sexy voices certainly matched the images.

“What are you doing, Leo?” Raddlack asked

“What do you think I’m doing?” It hadn’t taken long for them to develop a deeper intimacy online. It seemed Sirras and Raddlack were just as curious about Leo.

“Does it feel good, Leo? Do you wish you were here right now? Raddlack and I are both waiting for you. We have a lot to show you.”

Leo couldn’t help it. He unzipped his fly and pulled out the rock-hard prick, stroking his fingers over the flared head.

“You’re going to see us in a couple of hours, Leo. We don’t want you to come yet.”

“Your voice does that to me, Sirras. I can’t help it.” He shuddered when he heard the purr of Sirras’s intonation.

“We’re going to show you things when you get here. I want you hot and ready when you come. And don’t forget the toy bag.”

“When I come?” God, he wasn’t certain he could wait.

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Fires of Crete – an excerpt

Fires of Crete

(#eroticromance #gayromance #MM #contemporary)

firesofcrete_cover_smUnexpected, instantaneous, and combustible attraction. Two strangers meet online sharing a passion for Minoan history. An invitation to holiday on Crete. Andrew Larson, a studious university professor, and Stephanos Angelika, an attractive up-and-coming young Greek executive, finally meet, and an undeniable need blazes to life. They have two weeks to explore this heady level of their relationship. Is it lust or something deeper?

Andrew, adopted as a child, has only a medallion that ties him to his Greek heritage. And a faded photograph of a young woman, the name of a village scrawled across the back. He sets upon a journey of discovery, but finds even more than he bargained for when he sees Stephanos awaiting him at the airport on Crete.

Stephanos leads a cautious, solitary life as a young gay man leery of living his lifestyle openly, already estranged from a family that has disowned him. It’s a huge leap when he invites Andrew to visit. Upon seeing Andrew, Stephanos knows everything will change.
The friendship that began online erupts into something far stronger and lasting. Will the weight of past wounds destroy the deepening bond they have come to share? Or will it be love that triumphs?

EXCERPT

Stephanos left the apartment at dawn, before Andrew was up, in order to walk the silent streets and clear his head. He had to come to a decision; the sexual tensions that existed between him and Andrew had reached breaking point. He came to the steps of a Greek Orthodox Church. He often wound up here either late at night or early in the morning, when he was particularly conflicted. Something drew him to climb the steps and walk into this sacred space. Perhaps he would find that elusive answer he searched for in regard to his relationship with Andrew.

He studied the Byzantine-inspired architecture, focused on the cross affixed above the archway, and then walked inside. He inhaled the incense-scented air, the aroma of polished wood, studied the rectangular stained-glass windows for a moment, then sat down in the last pew and allowed the peaceful spirituality of the atmosphere to envelop him. His father had lived by the creed of this church. Had Stephanos wandered so very far away? He closed his eyes and bowed his head, instinctively reciting the prayers he had memorized as a child. They were a comforting ritual, and slowly the tension eased. All the memories of his youth came flooding back. Bittersweet now. He opened his eyes and stared up at the cross mounted above the altar, waiting for an answer.

He jumped when a hand settled on his shoulder. He glanced up, was shocked when he saw Andrew staring down at him.

“What are you doing here?” he whispered as he slid deeper into the pew.

“I heard you leave, and I decided to follow. Call it a hunch,” Andrew said quietly.

Stephanos stared at the cross. “I don’t know what to do,” he finally admitted out loud. “I think I am a coward.”

Andrew reached for his hand, and Stephanos gripped it tightly. More tightly than he probably should have.

“What do you want to do?” Andrew asked.

Andrew’s steadying touch felt right to Stephanos. His presence was steadfast and necessary to Stephanos’s happiness and well-being.

“I don’t want to push you away. But I want more than friendship. I don’t want to lose the camaraderie we have established and exchange it for something less…substantial and fleeting, Andrew. Our relationship is too important to me.”

Andrew squeezed Stephanos’s hand. “Realistically anything beyond friendship can’t last. I have to return to the States in less than two weeks. But I’ll admit that I want more even though I know it can’t last.”

“I don’t know what to do. It seems I’ve waited all my life for now—for meeting you. And now I’m paralyzed. What if it’s not right? We can’t go back.”

“Everything is a risk. You could have stayed in the mountains, with your family, and never known something of the world. Do you regret what you did?”

“There are some days that I do, yes.”

“Because you’re alone now? But you know who you are, don’t you? Better than you did before? Do you really want to go back to that naïveté?”

It didn’t take Stephanos long to consider his answer. “No. Even with being disowned, I couldn’t change it if I wanted to. It’s inside me, and I can’t alter who I am, although some would think that would be an easy thing to do.”

“Risks are part of life. They’re scary, but they make us feel alive. Don’t you think?”

“Alive,” Stephanos repeated. “Yes, but I want more. I want to be free.”

“Come home, Stephanos. I want to be free too. I want to fly. With you.”

Stephanos looked at the angled fresco on the domed ceiling. Again, he thought of Icarus and how high he flew, how close to the sun he got. Was it worth it to feel the fire, to soar that close to a flame so bright? Wasn’t there always a price to be paid? Perhaps wounds borne? Stephanos twisted around to look at Andrew. He smiled and then stood up.

He got the answer he’d come for. Maybe not in quite the fashion he’d expected, but it was a response he embraced.

The sun was just beginning to ascend in the sky as they made their way back to Stephanos’s apartment, walking slowly. Stephanos still gripped Andrew’s hand, afraid to let go.

It was as they rounded the corner of Stephanos’s building that he pulled back and dragged Andrew into his arms. It was at the corner of his street where he kissed Andrew, thrusting his tongue deep into Andrew’s mouth. It was in the elevator that Andrew cupped Stephanos’s face with both hands and claimed a kiss, tongues clashing, lips fused, until the bell dinged and the elevator doors silently slid open when it arrived at Stephanos’s floor.

But it was inside the apartment when the fire roared out of control. Hardly had the door slammed shut when the inferno consumed them with the hunger of suppressed lust now freed as a wildfire racing across a drought-ridden field too encompassing to even think of quenching before it consumed everything in its path. And more than anything, Stephanos wanted to be engulfed by the fires of Andrew’s passion. Anogia and Andrew’s search for his past would have to wait another day.

In their own world now, sequestered from prying eyes, passion knew no bounds. Hands and tongues and bodies fused and mated. There was unleashed urgency to their movements, to their ravening hunger. And there would be no stopping the firestorm that erupted with full force.

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Now available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KCNDGFW

Currently a #kindleunlimited selection

Get Odium for .99 on February 13th

Odium will be discounted at Amazon on February 13th to .99 for one day only.

Odium

(#MM, #eroticromance, #contemporary, #bdsm, #submission)

Odium_smSomething is missing from Chaz’s life and it’s going to kill his career as an artist if he can’t resolve it. What’s missing is passion—real, honest-to-goodness passion—and emotional connection. Without it, there is no art. In desperation to find answers, Chaz takes a job at an all-night diner, hoping something, or someone, will spark that passion.
He’s not wrong, because one night, a mysterious man with a simple tattoo enters the diner. Chaz senses something different about the stranger, and becomes intrigued when the man arrives with a different date every Friday night. And what transpires in that last booth on Fridays at midnight is enough to spark anyone’s libido.

Icarus Smith, a former slave in the BDSM world, is trying to break out of a lifestyle that has become onorous and destructive. And he has taken drastic measures to accomplish this, but it’s not easy turning to affluent clients with dark needs for the only relationships he allows himself. Things, however, are about to change. … When a new employee shows up at the diner, all hell breaks loose for both Chaz and Icarus as they fight against the unrelenting grip of fate.

Two men, vastly different, and yet some spark, some need, some danger draws one to the other. Is it simply desperation, or can this be true love, the one thing that has eluded both men until now?

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Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078VQXVW2

Lonely Hearts – #FREE Today

Lonely Hearts will be #FREE on Amazon – February 13-14th. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Lonely Hearts

“…a captivating romance that I could not put down…”

#MM #eroticromance #contemporary

LonelyHearts_smRomantic commitment planner Caleb Wilson creates happily-ever-afters for a living. He believes in forevers of the poetic perfect kind, but he’s never found a man who wanted the same things out of life that he did. Until he’s given a task by his father that takes him through the doors of Morgan and Sons Jewelers, an errand that may change his life.

James “Diamond Jim” Morgan inherited his father’s knack for working with fine gems. But even though Jim is surrounded by the glittering symbols of long-term commitment every day, Jim continues to pay penance for sins of his past, sins he thinks leave him no hope of a future. Then Caleb walks into his store and suddenly every gem in the display beams brighter. Caleb is everything Jim wants and nothing he can have.

Passion warms their lonely hearts, but will they learn that diamonds are forever?

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Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CXTNHWX

Also a #kindleunlimited selection

White Lightning – FREE for a short time

On Amazon, get White Lightning #FREE February 7-9th.

White Lightning

WhiteLightning_sm…I was captivated by the potent white lightning romance… In Kentucky, where loyalty means everything, secrets and disloyalty can kill…

#MMromance #contemporary #erotic

In Kentucky, where loyalty means everything, secrets and disloyalty can kill, Linc, the son of a mountain moonshiner, and Whit, the son of the local banker, had dreams of a future together far from the Kentucky hills. But one dangerously foolish act culminated in Linc’s need to make a painful decision in order to protect his secret lover. Whit left, and the years have made Linc a hard, dangerous, and lonely man.

When Whit left for college, they’d made a promise to each other. Whit would have stood by Linc no matter what, but Linc shut him out. Years later, a successful New York entrepreneur, love still eluded Whit. Those very hills and the memory of his Kentucky lover called him back to find closure, one way or the other. Whit couldn’t have picked a worse time to return to Kentucky as a murderous war was about to erupt. Moonshine and bad choices tore Whit and Linc apart a long time ago. Can Linc protect Whit, the man he still loved, from being drawn into the power struggle between moonshiners and drug lords, or would they both die when the smoke cleared, never having a chance to reclaim the love they thought lost?

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Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H71GKJ2

Captivity – Discounted 51% – One Day Only

captivity_smFEBRUARY 3RD – Get Captivity at a reduced price of $1.99, a 51% discount. Discount will be 26% on February 4th, after which this sale ends.

Captivity

#MM #masterslave #futuristic #fantasy #eroticromance #gay #bdsm

NOW AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK AND DIGITAL.

Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01K1BQB8C

 

Captive to the charisma of a powerful, sensual master – and slave to his own unquenchable desire. The winged man, once known simply as sthe wild thing, was free to roam the jungles outside Bendar City. Until he was betrayed, captured, and sold to a powerful lord who covets the birdman’s unique beauty for himself. Lord Adolpho Serratin of the Kalamadur Oasis maintains an unusual collection. Orion Birdwalker soon becomes the most precious of Serratin’s possessions, in more ways than one. The wild thing is soon named, tamed, and trained to serve his new master in all ways…

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Also available as a #kindleunlimited selection

 

Sexual Chemistry

Erupting Sexual Chemistry Between Nathaniel and Elijah in Knave of Hearts

knaveofhearts_smIn Knave of Hearts, Elijah and Nathaniel seem very different from each other. Nathaniel is high-powered and all about business and the end result. Elijah is all about emotion and people. Elijah’s guardian, Charles, the head of a very thriving business empire,  is dying of cancer. Elijah, a sound engineer, has returned to Seattle to be with him during his final days. He could care less about the business, he’s here for Charles, and is dealing with a range of emotions concerning the loss of his only family.

Nathaniel seems almost a mirror of Charles in that he also is the head of a thriving business. He’s come to Seattle to help assure the security of Charles’s empire as a transition of leadership must occur without incident. Nathaniel is all about the business and emotion does not play into his life. Not that he hasn’t had his share of lovers. But lovers in Nathaniel’s world usually involve an ulterior motive.

The twelves steps of intimacy rears its head at a most inopportune moment. At least for Elijah it is. His focus in on Charles and his guardian’s needs during these final days. His emotions have everything to do with love for his guardian, and nothing to do with sex or have a short-term affair to ease tensions. Until the night of Charles’ birthday party–his last. And everything changes when one man walks through the door of the hotel ballroom.

Chemistry is what erupts. Eye to body. When Nathaniel first lays on Nathaniel, not even knowing his name he is intrigued. Eye to eye. Interest sharply deepens when they come face to face a little later in the evening, but not close enough to speak. Yet eye contact is achieved. The eyes can say a great deal. Voice to voice. And when a moment of respite from the party brings Elijah to the reception area for a moment of quiet, he gets anything but peace when Nathaniel finally initiates a conversation between them.

“You’re with Charles Ballard.”

Elijah’s head shot up. He must be dreaming. He blinked. Nope, the image didn’t go away. He got to his feet in order to face the gorgeous stranger. No socialite clinging to his arm. He was making conversation with Elijah. Elijah took a deep, shuddering breath. Oh, shit. Had he ever been less prepared for an encounter than this?

“Uh, yeah. I am.” Now what did he say? This was not the impression he wanted to make. Where was the brunette? Was he maybe just being polite by dancing with her? Oh, man. “Are you a business associate of his?”

“You might say that. I just arrived in Seattle. I received the invitation and thought I’d stop in to the party for a bit. But as I said, I’ve only arrived in town. I was just getting ready to go back to my hotel.”

“Oh.” Too bad. “Will you be in Seattle long?” Perhaps the question was a bit too eager.

“A while. A few weeks at least. Perhaps a month. It will depend.”

Too bad Elijah was leaving with Charles, so it was kind of a moot point. Though he would have liked to get to know this man better. Then a desperation to not lose the connection kicked in. He needed something normal…like a little flirtation, to keep him sane. He saw a discarded cocktail napkin on the table. He pulled a pen out of his jacket pocket, and scribbled his name and cell number. This was not something he did every day, but these seemed to be unusual circumstances. He had no idea if the guy was interested or not. If his business had anything to do with Charles directly or not. Whether he was just trying to make small talk or find out more about Charles. Frankly, it didn’t matter. Not one whit.

“If you happen to find yourself at loose ends, why don’t you give me a call?”

The stranger glanced at the napkin, then back at Elijah. “But you’re with Charles.”

Elijah nodded. “Yeah. I have to leave or I’d ask if you wanted to go for a coffee. Charles is getting a little tired and he needs to get home. But maybe another time, while you’re in town. You gotta name?”

The stranger seemed to be sizing him up. He reached out for the napkin. “I do have a name.” He glanced down at the phone number, then slipped the napkin into his breast pocket. “Elijah.” The way he said it was slow and drawn out. His tone was low, his voice soft and deep. Elijah recognized the tone. He gave Elijah a mysterious smile. “And if I decide to call, perhaps I’ll give it to you. Goodbye for now.” And then he turned and strolled away toward the front door of the hotel.

That Nathaniel, he is a smooth one all right. But don’t underestimate Elijah. He’s no pushover and he’ll give Nathaniel a run for his money–just as soon as he finds out the damned man’s name. And we still have like nine steps of intimacy to go. Oh, boy, was this story fun to write.

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Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07963HDWN

Camaraderie – An Excerpt

Midnight Pearl Brotherhood: Camaraderie

(Ep. 2, Midnight Pearl Brotherhood) (#fantasy, #MM, #submission)

MidnightPearl_Camaraderie_Ep2_smThe ancient myths of the Brotherhood of the Midnight Pearl tell of an island formed from the depths of the ocean, in the midst of a sea of mystical, sapphire beauty. It is an island paradise built on love and devotion to a common belief, a society made up entirely of handsome and desirable men. And Alonzo Smith is on a journey to discover his place among them.

In this story, Alonzo has passed his initiation, but now he and the other initiates await their guide who will take them across the Titan Mountains and into the city. These men discover more about themselves, and each other, than they ever expected. In particular, Alonzo finds that there are depths to his sexy comrade, David, that he never anticipated…

EXCERPT

“I think we should go. How long are we expected to wait?” Helmer asked on the fourth night as they sat around the fire, having just feasted on a supper of steamed clams and crabs, none of the young men having been able to spear a fish today. Smart little creatures to have eluded them so. But not so lucky were those buried beneath the shores or scampering across wet sand. Parker, the Silent, as he’d been dubbed early on, was already cleaning up the discarded, broken shells with an eye toward burying the remains farther along the beach. Each of them had been trained well in maintaining cleanliness surrounding the area where they lived.

“Not a good idea,” Krispin, the Immaculata, said as he worked to clean his teeth with the end of a twig he’d cut from a tree at the edge of the jungle. Krispin certainly had a creative knack about maintaining his personal hygiene. No matter how primitive the circumstances, he found a way to always keep his appearance at its best. Alonzo had taken a lesson or two from the Immaculata. Krispin spit into the fire before continuing. Though his appearance was immaculate, there was something to be said for his manners. Alonzo was relieved he didn’t pee into the fire—he’d been known to pull that stunt a time or two.

“If you haven’t learned anything else from staying in these bloody huts,” Alonzo said, “I would have thought you’d learned that patience is one virtue those in authority admire most.”

“Hardly think he’s learned that bit,” David, dubbed the Steadfast, said. “I think he rather likes the punishments his squire meted out to him. That’s what you really want, isn’t it, Helmer? Get us all in trouble just because you prefer the spankings and the whippings.”

Helmer, who had acquired the moniker “Prick,” just grinned back at David. The nickname was meant more to needle Helmer than anything else. Helmer had shown himself to be a most impatient fellow right from the start, giving rise at most inappropriate moments. The group had shared more than one of his “reprimands” during training. In more than one instance the word had been mumbled by men rubbing their sore asses all thanks to him. And that obviously hadn’t changed one iota. A cheeky fellow, too. Not in the least as respectful as he should be. “Maybe. Never have been very good with patience. Not my strong suit.”

“Perhaps,” Alonzo suggested, “you’ll enjoy serving the Painmaster.” He shuddered inwardly at the thought of serving such a harsh man of authority. But here on the island there were all types, to suit every taste.

“Mmm,” Helmer said. “My squire spoke with me at length about apprenticing with that particular man of authority. I will say it does sound rather intriguing. I wouldn’t ever have to worry about getting enough…if you get my point. I’d think he’d be delighted having a man like me apprentice to him. Someone who rather enjoys being bad, more than being perfectly amenable…like our lad Alonzo here.”

Not the most wondrous nickname, but rather that than some other. Amenable Alonzo. And it had been the damned Prick who had thought it up.

“I’m not perfect, Helmer. In fact, I’d say I rather enjoyed the odd whipping from Squire. He has a very good hand. But I’d rather not have a steady diet of it, such as you’d enjoy, I’m sure.” He settled back between David’s thighs and felt the stiff presence of his friend’s cock poking insistently between his shoulders. He rubbed against that alert presence. David softly groaned. “I wonder who we’ll all end up serving once we make it to the city? I have a feeling it may not be who we think it is. But I must say, I am looking forward to the challenges that await us there.”

“First we have to get over the mountain,” Parker said, as he came back and dropped down cross-legged onto the sand. “My Squire said it’s not going to be any picnic crossing the Titans.”

“Yes, mine said the same,” David injected. Alonzo closed his eyes and David kneaded his scalp, combing his fingers through Alonzo’s long, dark hair. “He said we should get plenty of rest because we’re going to need every bit of stamina we can muster.”

“Well, this waiting around is killing me,” Helmer complained.

Parker leaned toward the pile of driftwood and picked up a sturdy stick. He directed the end toward Helmer. “Would you like some help? Just so you can sleep better, of course.”

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