Hard-Ass Vacation by S.C. Wynne

Hello, all!037-6x9-Tablet-Coffee-Wood-Table-SMALLERCOVERVAULThardassvacation

Just re-released the sequel to Hard-Ass Is Here. It used to be called Hard-Ass Christmas, but it really isn’t a holiday story. Phillip drags Taylor up to Big Bear for the holiday, but the story is about how the two of them learn to trust and take the next step.

AMAZON

EXCERPT:

He’d dropped the subject of my father like a good host. I was happy. Talk about a buzzkill. Discussing my old man was not conducive to a romantic evening. I suppose it was touching that Phillip thought he wanted to know about my past. Maybe he’d seen too many Hallmark movies.

Phillip cooked the steaks on the built-in grill in the kitchen while I sliced plump red tomatoes and settled for drinking wine and keeping him company. It grew dark outside. The mountains were black silhouettes against the fading light. The last time I’d checked, it was still snowing, and the forecast promised more tonight and tomorrow.

“How do you like your steak?” he asked, flipping one of the warm brown fillets.

“I prefer it when the plate doesn’t resemble a bloody murder scene.”

His laugh was rich and husky. “I’ll do my best.”

He continued to give the meat his full attention, and I gave the wine mine. I enjoyed watching him cook, his tan, slender hands so practiced and assured. A silky raven lock of hair fell across his forehead, and his thick lashes rested on his angular cheeks. He glanced up and caught me watching him.

“I’m starving. How about you?” he asked.

“Always.”

“Can you pass me the Worcestershire sauce?”

I handed him the dark bottle. He slathered the steaks with the sauce and scooped them off the grill onto pretty blue plates. He dipped into another pot and spooned red potatoes onto the dish.

My phone vibrated in my pocket, startling me. I pulled it out and could see the number of the person texting me. Gregory. It flustered me to see his name, and I gave a guilty glance toward Phillip. I stuffed the phone back in my shirt, a nervous fluttering in my gut as I heard the little beep reminding me I had a message.

“If you put the salad on the table, we can eat,” he said, unaware of my dilemma. He carried two plates to the big, knotty pine table on the far side of the living room.

We settled into our chairs across from each other. Phillip topped off his wine and mine. The steak was perfect. It melted in my mouth with a rich, tangy burst, and the potatoes were firm and buttery.

“This food is so good,” I mumbled.

“Sometimes I think instead of the brilliant financial wizard I am, I should have been a chef.”

“Yes, you’re such a slacker.”

“I hope it’s not too late to leave my mark on the world.” He looked like he was holding back a smile.

“You’d really make a killing right about now if you owned a snow shovel company.”

“That’s a great idea.”

“I can picture the sign, Daniels Shovel Company.” I grinned. “Your jingle should go something like: ‘Nobody shovels it better than Daniels.’”

“I love it,” he said. “Smart-ass.”

I helped myself to salad, drizzling some dressing over the green leaves. “I’ll handle the phones. I have such stunning people skills.”

“I think it might work. We make a great team.” He was smiling, but he kept his gaze averted.

I dropped my gaze to my food, giving it my full attention. I could get used to this. Nice meals, laughter, and someone who seemed to care. But after my failed experiment in domesticity with Gregory, it was best to take this budding relationship with Phillip one day at a time.

I was chasing a tomato around my plate when everything plunged into darkness. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the light from the fireplace and candles.

“I guess that means no movie tonight,” Phillip quipped.

“We lost power?” It was a stupid question.

“We did indeed.”

“Good foresight to have a candlelight meal.”

Phillip’s gaze glittered in the half-light. The wind howled outside around the eaves of the roof. It was silent without the background noise of things like the refrigerator or the heater.

“I had a big night of needlepoint and karaoke planned. Now it’s all shot to hell.”

“I guess there is a God,” I said, putting my hands together in mock prayer.

His white teeth were visible in the darkness. “It should come back on in about an hour.”

“The important thing is, I can still see the wine.”

“Should we tell spooky stories?” he asked in a ghoulish voice.

“Of course.”

“The one about the babysitter and the guy calling from inside the house; that one always freaked me out as a kid.”

“That one was creepy,” I said, my eyes wide.

We finished off the meal, laughing about the scary stories of our childhood. Then we cleared the table, setting the dishes in the sink until morning. The fireplace glow didn’t reach quite far enough to clean the kitchen to Phillip’s standards.

I sat on the couch in front of the hearth. Phillip brought over the wine and our glasses.

“Well, this is quite nice anyway,” he said. “Who needs electricity?”

He settled in next to me, and we put our feet up on the coffee table.

“My mom would be irritated with me right about now.” He laughed.

“Would she scold you?”

“Yes.” He sipped his wine. “Then she’d have turned it into a joke.”

The shadows flickered on the walls with the occasional pop from the fire. The wine made me groggy, and I snuggled against Phillip’s warm shoulder. I didn’t feel the need to move away and find my own space at the moment. Maybe later I would, but for now it felt okay.

“Are you happy at Peterton Financial?” I asked.

He turned to look at me. “I am. Why?”

The alcohol was making me feel less guarded than usual. “I know regionals move around a lot.”

“I don’t plan on going anywhere if that’s what you’re asking.”

“You’re so smart. No wonder you’re the boss.”

He chuckled. “You can ask me stuff, you know. I’m private, but not with people I…care about.”

My heart lurched. Don’t get ahead of yourself. You can care about a parakeet.

“I could ask the same of you. Are you happy at Peterton?” he asked.

“I am, and I will say I enjoy work more than usual at the moment.”

“Me too.”

The fire crackled and danced near us.

“For reasons of full disclosure, I should tell you they did offer me another position in New York,” he said.

I felt like he’d kicked me in the stomach.

“Are you going to take it?”

“Didn’t I just tell you I wasn’t going anywhere?”

“Why the hell do they move you guys around so much? It creates instability within the local branches.” I scowled.

“It’s not an orphanage. It’s a brokerage.”

I laughed. “I know, but any company should have stable management. How do you create a team environment if the players keep changing?”

He rubbed my thigh. “To be fair to them, I used to ask to be moved around.”

I absorbed that for a moment.

“I see.”

“When I was first with Peterton and going through my divorce, I got restless easily.”

“When you were living in Japan?” I asked.

“It was when I got back from Japan. That’s when I decided to stop torturing Mary by living a lie.” His lips were pursed, and his expression in the firelight was brooding.

I covered his hand with mine. “You did the right thing.”

“Took me long enough.”

“Can I ask you something?”

He turned his sharp features toward me. “I encourage it.”

“Were your parents accepting of…?” I stopped.

“Being gay?”

I nodded.

“It’s such a cliché, but they wanted me to be happy. Whatever my choices.”

“You’ve led a charmed life, my friend.”

He shrugged. “It was up until my parents died.”

I felt like a heel. I needed to try and remember other people loved their parents. Most people didn’t consider their mother and father to be simply sperm and egg donors like I did. “Sorry.”

He stroked my hand. I guess he forgave me.

“I’d love to take you to Japan someday.”

The idea excited and stressed me. Vacationing together in another country would be a whole new level of intimacy. I wondered if I could handle it. “There’s an interesting thought.”

“I lived in Tokyo when I worked for Frandin Finance. There’s this place called Kabukicho. It’s this little area, can’t be more than six hundred square meters, but it’s the largest entertainment district in East Asia. I think I heard last count there are four thousand businesses crammed in there.”

“Sounds claustrophobic.”

“It can be. But it’s a fun place. There are tons of bars and fast-food places.”

“So I could still get me a burger while I’m there?”

“I hate to break your heart, but it will taste different,” he said.

“They shouldn’t mess with my beef.”

“It has a different sauce on it or something.”

“That does it. I’m never going to Japan,” I said, laughing.

“We’ll see if I can persuade you when the time comes.” His tone was gentle. He leaned over and kissed me. It was soft, searching, and my stomach buzzed with desire. He took the glass from my hand and put it on the coffee table. Then he turned back to me, the light of the fire reflected in his gaze. “I want to fuck you on the floor, in front of the fire,” he whispered.

I glanced over at the expansive, furry bearskin rug near the hearth.

“On that?”

He displayed a wide grin. “Yes. Let’s defile the damn thing.”

“You’re insatiable.”

“I am when it comes to you.”

S.C.

http://www.sc-wynne.com

Re-release of Hard-Ass Is Here

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I just re-released what was my very first MM romance, Hard-Ass Is Here. It was originally published in 2013 and I still remember how exciting it was to get that acceptance email. Honestly, that thrill never wears off no matter how many books I write. Evey time I get an acceptance letter, it’s amazing. But there’s something about that first time. That first ‘yes’ we want your story.

The storyline of Hard-Ass Is Here is about, Taylor, who’s just gotten out of a bad relationship where he lost his cool and got himself arrested. Enter the new hard-ass boss, Phillip, who’s investigating a theft at Peterton Financial, where Taylor works. Unfortunately, the account being pilfered is Taylor’s responsibility.

Phillip suspects Taylor might be the thief, but he’s hugely drawn to him too. Things get more complicated when the men give in to their mutual attraction, but the stealing continues.

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Excerpt:

“What the hell is this?” I scowled as Randy dumped a huge, sloppy pile of files and data sheets onto my desk.

“The new hard-ass is here.” Randy’s voice had the usual respect he afforded the higher-ups. None. “He wants us to go through all of these, ASAP,” Randy said.

“He’s here already?” I swiveled my chair and peeked out of my office to see a man standing with the bigwigs in front of the shimmering Christmas tree in the lobby. The new guy was about forty, black hair, at least six feet tall, with broad shoulders impeccably encased in what was probably a two-thousand-dollar designer jacket. His jaw was tense, belying the air of relaxed confidence he was doing his best to sell.

The guy allowed a polite smile as Sally, the receptionist, pulled a piece of shiny silver tinsel from his shoulder. Knowing Sally, she’d be positioning him under the mistletoe first chance she got.

“Where did he come from?” I asked.

“Your dreams?”

“Why didn’t anyone tell me he was already here?” I asked, ignoring Randy’s sarcasm.

“I am telling you.”

“I mean sooner. Why didn’t you tell me sooner? Did you explain to him we’ve compiled this already?”

“I tried. He’s good-looking, but he might be lacking in smarts.”

I exhaled impatiently. “It makes no sense to go through these again. We have it all in digital files already,” I grumbled, flipping through the sheets. “What is this, 1984?”

“You can take it up with Pretty Boy yourself. Looks like he’s making the rounds, and he’s coming this way.”

Great. This was who they sent? The guy looked like maybe he’d be an expert on hair products, but not necessarily business theft. We had a crook here at Peterton Financial and we needed someone who really knew their shit so we could catch the culprit. We’d been hemorrhaging buckets of money due to theft. Reviewing data printouts of losses we’d already gone over a hundred times was a waste of energy. My energy.

But the higher ups didn’t always care what I thought. Peterton Financial was a large, well-oiled machine, which meant it took a lot of busywork from little guys like me to justify the big bonuses the guys at the top raked in. I guess I’d have to shut up and let the new boss take a stab at fixing our branch’s problems. And when he failed and left, like the last two, I could get some actual work done.

“Ten bucks says he doesn’t last the week,” Randy whispered, waving a bill in front of my nose.

I eyed the new guy’s perfect haircut and aquiline nose. Maybe he was tougher than he looked? Probably not, but it was only ten bucks.

“You’re on.”

“Like taking candy from a baby,” Randy said, tucking the money back in his pocket.

Lucinda Mercy, the office manager, stopped at my door with Mr. Haircut.

“Taylor Williams, I’d like to introduce our new regional manager, Phillip Daniels.” She smiled at me, lipstick on her teeth. “Taylor is the senior financial analyst for the New York project.”

“Nice to meet you, Taylor.” Daniels took the lead. His shake was firm, the skin of his manicured hand smooth. I got a whiff of grapefruit, lavender, and lemongrass. He smelled terrific, I wasn’t going to deny he was enticing, but he wasn’t nearly as impressed with me since his gaze appeared tepid at best.

It had been a long time since I’d met someone as good-looking as Phillip Daniels up close and personal. In fact, I hadn’t been up close and personal with anyone in quite a while. I assumed that was why my pulse sped up and I felt a little flustered standing so near to him.

“I look forward to grabbing some alone-time with you.” My face warmed as I realized I sounded like I was hitting on him.  “I mean… you know to do work.” I grimaced.

His lips twitched. “I assumed.”

I laughed a little too loudly. “Right.” Pull it together.

He cleared his throat and said in a velvety tone, “I see Randy dropped off the files I want you to comb through.”

“Yeah.” I shifted uneasily. “About that, we’ve got all this on the computer. I don’t need to go through the hard copies.” I met his cool stare and hoped I didn’t sound as annoyed as I felt.

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to insist.” He lifted his chin.

I gave a surprised laugh. “No, I mean it’s been done several times already in hard copy and on the computer.”

He leaned toward me pointedly. “Then one more time going over the physical paperwork won’t hurt anybody, will it?”

I hesitated. Did he have bad hearing or something? “Seems a little silly to pay me to do something I’ve already done many times.” I spoke through gritted teeth, but I attempted to keep my expression pleasant.

“Why don’t you let me worry about the man hours?”

“Looking at the same thing thirty times isn’t going to change the outcome.”

“I guess we’ll see.” He narrowed his gaze.

Angry heat filled my face. “I’m happy to look over the computer stuff again if you really want me to. But I’m not inclined to go through all those paper files when it’s not necessary.”

“How about you get inclined?” His eyes flashed with irritation.

I sucked in a calming breath and counted to twenty. Ten wasn’t good enough. “I’ll see if I can get to it.”

A muscle in his jaw hardened. “On the contrary, I want you to make this a top priority.”

Apparently, we were now soundly engaged in a pissing contest. He might be gorgeous, but he was either dumb or an arrogant prick. “Maybe I’m not making myself clear. Let me try this one last time; these have already been gone through and saved to the computer. Everything piled on my desk right now is already scanned into the computer.” I spoke slowly, in case he was having trouble understanding the big words.

“Look, Taylor, is it? We need to get something straight right off the bat. I’m your boss, and I’m giving you a direct order.”

“I understand that, but I have a lot of work and this is a waste of my valuable time.”

Until Lucinda gasped, I’d forgotten she was there. She looked nervously between Phillip and me. “Um… Taylor what can it hurt to look the stuff over?”

I held up my hand. “With all due respect, Lucinda, I don’t think Mr. Daniels quite grasps my point.”

“Do you actually want to catch the thief, Taylor?” Phillip snapped.

“Of course I do, but—”

“Then you should be willing to do whatever it takes. Since you’re so familiar with the data, it shouldn’t take you long.”

“It’s not as simple as that. Going over all this is extremely time-consuming,” I said. “I have other things I need to get to. I have other deadlines.”

“I’m sure you’ll work it out. I expect a report ASAP.”

He turned his back on me and walked to the next cubicle, perhaps to spread his good cheer elsewhere. I stared after him feeling embarrassed and irritable at his abrupt dismissal.

“Wow, you like the rough stuff.” Randy snickered.

“Fuck off.” Warmth crept under my skin, and I kept my gaze as far from the frustrating Phillip Daniels as possible.

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My Newest Book: Shadow’s Edge

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Anyone who follows me knows I don’t like to write only one kind of story. Sometimes I’m not sure that’s the greatest career move, but it does keep things new; for me and the reader. However at the base of all my stories is romance. I can’t seem to write anything that isn’t ultimately about two people, going through whatever it is they’re going through, falling in love and triumphing over the challenge.

This latest is about a guy who has psychic abilities. Liam is grieving the loss of his boyfriend while helping the police solve a stubborn serial killer case. His unofficial partner is tough, and rumpled Detective Kimball Thompson, a twelve year veteran of the force.

While the two men are very different, they both share the same passion to get this murderous monster off the streets.

This one will be out January 21, 2017! Be on the look out. 🙂

www.sc-wynne.com

BLURB:

Liam Baker can see things. Dead people like to visit him and tell them how they were wronged. Some might call it a gift, other’s a curse. But either way this ability makes him useful to Los Angeles homicide detective Kimball Thompson.

Some madman is slitting the throats of young male prostitutes and then dumping their bodies in the desert with vague clues of pink feathers and the number five. Usually Liam can talk to the spirits of the dead. But someone is blocking him. Someone is taunting him.

The case is rapidly deteriorating into a violent, psychic pissing contest and Liam can’t see far enough ahead to figure out who wins or who dies.

EXCERPT:

Thompson pushed one of the shot glasses toward me. “Drink up.”

Scowling, I shook my head. “No.”

He leaned forward and his light gaze was serious. “One drink isn’t going to kill you.”

“Why do you want me to drink?”

He shrugged. “I want you to loosen up a little. You’re wound as tight as the queen at an IRA meeting.”

I laughed in spite of myself. “I’m not that fun when I’m loose. You need to trust me on this.”

“I’m not saying get wasted. It’s one shot.” His smile was warm and coaxing. He unusually reserved that charm for reluctant witnesses and his captain. “Come on. I want to get to know you better.”

You do?

The cops at the bar were looking over and sniggering every now and then. I was surprised Thompson didn’t seem to care. Most hardened macho cop types treated me like I had cooties. None of them were in a hurry to go out drinking with me that was for sure. I was lucky if they didn’t glare at me when I arrived at a crime scene. I wasn’t sure why they seemed to dislike me so much really. It wasn’t like I was after their jobs. Maybe it was simply that the unknown bothered them because they didn’t understand it.

“Why?” I asked quietly.

His brow wrinkled. “Why what?”

I looked at the tequila shot and then back at him. “We’ve been solving cases together for three months. Why all of a sudden do you want to know me better?”

He sipped his beer and fingered his untouched shot. Then he said, “We work together.”

“So?”

He shrugged and dropped his gaze. “Look, I should have taken the time long ago. But you’re kind of touchy and I didn’t bother for whatever reason.” He lifted his eyes to mine. “The more we work cases together, the more I realize I respect what you do. Because of that I want to know more about you. Is that a crime?”

His sincerity was like a warm blanket as it washed over and through me. I shivered at the intensity of the feelings it drummed up in me. Confused by the strange sensations I was experiencing, I grabbed the shot and took a sip, coughing as the bitter liquid slid down my throat.

He smiled and threw his shot back in one gulp. Then he licked his lips and that shiver rippled through me again. What the fuck was going on with me? My cock throbbed gently between my legs as he watched me intently. If I didn’t know better, I would say we were having a moment. A sexual moment. But this was Thompson and I didn’t have moments with guys like him. Or anyone for that matter lately.

“See, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” he asked softly.

I just stared at him uncertain of what to say and hoping he couldn’t tell what was going on inside of me.

He leaned back against the booth. “Why do you suppose Samuel didn’t talk to you tonight?”

That was still bugging me too. “I’m not sure.” I touched my throat as I remembered the choking sensation that had come over me at the crime scene. It had almost felt as if the presence of the murderer was there instead of Samuel’s.

“Has that ever happened before?”

“You mean the dead person not talking to me part?”

“Yeah.”

“Sometimes if the body is moved from where the murder took place, it’s like the soul stays behind where they died.” I swallowed. “But from the amount of blood and…” I shook my head. “I think that was definitely the crime scene.”

“Me too.” He cleared his throat. “Have you always had the ability to talk to…?”

“Dead people?” I guess maybe he really was interested in who I was. “Yes. But it’s gotten stronger with age.”

“I hate to picture you as a kid seeing the gruesome shit you do.” He bit his lip.

“I didn’t. Well, at least not at first.” I swallowed hard. “I used to just get feelings about stuff. Like maybe someone was beside me when no one was there.”

“Creepy.”

“Yeah.” I sipped my shot some more, actually enjoying the heat that was settling in my stomach now. “Then I started actually seeing things that weren’t there. Or at least I was the only one who knew they were there.”

“Like what?”

I laughed. “There was this one guy, I think he was in a gang and his own guys popped him. He would hang outside the front of the Popeye’s Chicken in town, bitching about how he was betrayed and stuff. He was one of the first ones I really heard clearly.”

Thompson grinned. “Popeye’s Chicken is delicious. If I ever get murdered, that’s where I’m hanging out too.”

We held each other’s gaze, smiling a little longer than usual. I looked away first. “Anyway, I started noticing spirits more and more, especially the ones who died violently.” To be more accurate I should have said they started noticing me noticing them. It was as if the second they discovered I could see and hear them, they were desperate to tell me stuff. Sometimes I pretended I couldn’t hear them just so I could ignore them in peace.

www.sc-wynne.com

mystery

WRITING TO MARKET By S.C. Wynne

BelievingRory_FBprofile_OptizimedForFeedI was thinking about how sometimes, as an author, I feel pressured into writing to what I think is commercial rather than what I would want to write about. But it occurred to me that isn’t why I write. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the lighter stories. I enjoy every story I write or I wouldn’t write it. But I do seem to be occasionally drawn to darker subjects. (Believing Rory and Painful Lessons would be examples of that) Or maybe just writing a story that isn’t dark, so much as it deals with dark subjects like stalking, death or subjects such as those. After all, I’m writing romance.

So I guess my question is; do you not buy books if they have any kind of serious subject? Do books that touch on the subject of death or grief turn you off? I don’t like movies or books that end sad, but I can handle anything if the book or movie ends happy. Are you like me, or do you veer away from anything that isn’t super cheerful and fluffy?

Go ahead and leave a response in the comment section along with your email address and I’ll pick two winners to receive an e-book of choice! I’m excited to hear what you have to say. Should authors just write to market or can you handle romance books that aren’t always light and fluffy, so long as they ultimately end happy?

S.C.

www.sc-wynne.com

PainfulLessonsFS

 

Cowboy and the Pencil-Pusher

 

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New release!

BLURB:

Paul Smith prefers his calculator to people. People are annoying and demanding, but numbers will never let you down. He works tirelessly for his dad’s mortgage firm, foreclosing when it makes financial sense, and not losing any sleep over it either. Paul’s dad has always been a demanding taskmaster. But when he has a major health scare, Paul’s dad see’s the error of his ways. He decides he wants to change to a more benevolent business model. After having decades of harsh business practices drilled into him, Paul is not a fan of his dad’s new idea.

Cort Callahan lives and has worked on his granddad’s ranch most of his life. But times are hard and they’ve fallen behind on their mortgage. When Paul’s dad decides he wants to offer them a way out of debt, if they’ll just go along with his unorthodox idea of turning the spread into a dude ranch, it’s hard to tell who thinks it’s a worse idea: Paul or Cort.
But when Cort and his granddad take the deal, Paul is forced to work closely with Cort. The two men are surprised to realize they share an intense attraction that only grows stronger the more they’re around each other.
The problem is Paul has spent his life trusting numbers and calculations. No matter how much he wants Cort, when he looks at how different they are from each other, the two of them just don’t add up.

I love pairing really different types with each other. There’s nothing more fun to me than showing my main characters differences in the beginning and then watching the two of them slowly come together.

EXCERPT:

As Cort worked on the fence next to me, I held my hand over my nose and stared down a black steer a few feet away. I assumed the numerous semi-fresh cow pies surrounding me were probably what smelled so bad. The bull didn’t seem that interested in me, but it had horns so I kept a nervous eye on him.

“Could you hand me the crimper?” Cort held out his hand.

I looked at the pile of tools near my feet. “What’s it look like?”

“Blue handle.”

I scoured the stack. “I’m not seeing it.”

“It’s right there.” He pointed with a frown. “The blue one.”

I grabbed a long metal gadget. “This?” He nodded. “This is teal, not blue.”

He rolled his eyes and held out his gloved hand. “Give it.”

I handed him the tool. “Here.”

“Much obliged,” he drawled.

I snorted. “But you’re color blind, just so you know.”

“Gawd.” He clipped a piece of wire and shook his head. “You probably have the entire color wheel memorized.”

I laughed. “What? You don’t?” I clutched my flannel shirt closed as a breezy gust buffeted me.

The wind had picked up in the late afternoon and the prairie grass waved and flowed like rippling water. The air was chilled, and I wished I’d brought a jacket, and not just the flannel shirt. Since he was distracted, I could study Cort as he worked. He was in a T-shirt and he had his hat off, and his silky black hair fluttered in the breeze. I wondered if it would be as soft to the touch as it looked. Sweat beaded on his forehead and he grunted occasionally when he’d lift the roll of barbwire. He was definitely all rough man. Not my usual type, but something about him got to me.

I licked my lips and tried to suppress the attraction that nagged at me at the sight of his firm biceps. Whenever he tugged at the barbwire his sinewy, muscled shoulders flexed, practically making my mouth water.

“I can help if you need me to,” I volunteered, hoping to distract myself from my lusty thoughts. “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m willing to learn.”

He straightened, pulling his gloves off, and wiped the perspiration from his forehead with the back of his arm. His shirt rode up and I caught a glimpse of defined, tanned abs. I swallowed against the push of lust that hit me, and lifted my chin to meet his gaze.

“Yeah? Would you mind holding this part up while I stretch the wire?” He sounded grateful and I was glad I’d offered to help. This task was most probably a two man job, but since he’d brought me along instead of one of his crew, he was stuck doing all the work.

“Sure.” I wiped my palms on my jeans and then started to grab hold of the fence.

“Wait,” Cort’s voice was sharp. “Hold up.” He pulled an extra pair of gloves from his back pocket. “Wear these. I wouldn’t want to ruin your baby soft hands.”

My lips twitched. “Screw you.”

He grinned. “It’s tempting, but right now we have work to do, City boy.”

An excited thrill went through me at the look in his eyes. He was teasing, but there was a heated flicker deep in his gaze. He took my wrist briefly and he handed me the gloves. The feel of his calloused fingers against my flesh had my knees weak. I pulled my gaze away and slipped on the rawhide gloves.

“That section there. If you can hold it tight I’ll stretch the wires.” Cort tugged on one side of the wire with a hiss and turned his head toward me. “Think you can hold this?” He sounded breathless.

I grabbed the barbwire and pulled with all my strength. I was in good shape for someone who went to the gym, but I didn’t kid myself that I was used to hard, dirty work like Cort. “How’s this?” I panted out my words.

“Perfect.” He slapped my back and went about placing the fence stretcher between the two sections of wire. Once he had both ends secure in the stretcher he met my glance. “You can let go.”

I did as he said and looked at my grimy gloves. I held my arms out at my sides so they wouldn’t touch my jeans. When I looked up Cort was grinning and shaking his head. Then he began to tighten the mechanism on the fence stretcher.

“What?” I asked frowning. “What’s so funny?”

He snorted as he jerked the ratchet on the stretcher. “Nothin’.”

“You’re laughing at me.”

He grinned. “No.”

“Yes.” I kept staring at him.

He chuckled and then finally answered me. “I just think it’s amusing that you’re trying not to get dirty.” He sniggered. “Good luck with that.”

“Of course I don’t want to get dirty.”

“You’re surrounded by cow shit.”

“I’m well aware. But that doesn’t mean I want to get it on me. These gloves look filthy,” I exclaimed. “God knows what’s on them.” I shuddered, examining the stained leather.

“I have a good idea.”

I scrunched my face. “Yuck.”

“If you’re out here working you’re gonna get dirty. You get used to it.” He finished what he was doing and stood back, breathing hard.

“I’m sure you’re right, but excuse me if the idea of having cow feces smeared on me doesn’t excite me.”

He narrowed his gaze. “Sometimes when you do hard work it is unavoidable.”

I pulled off the gloves and handed them to him. “That’s why I prefer to hire others to do the lowly menial labor.”

His jaw hardened and he looked away. “I would expect no less from a rich city slicker.”

I studied his irritable expression, wishing his easy going vibe would return. “I’m mostly kidding.”

“Sure you are. Only I think maybe you aren’t.”

“All I mean is I don’t like getting dirty.”

He returned his steely gaze to mine. “Shocker.”

I gave an uneasy laugh. “It takes all kinds, right? We have the macho types and then the brainy types.”

“Yep,” he snapped.

“Not that macho types can’t be smart too…” I grimaced as I dug myself deeper.

“Wow.” He shook his head.

I frowned at his irritable tone. “Are you mad at me?”

“Nope.”

“Look… I’m sorry if I said something insulting. I didn’t mean to.”

“Paul, it doesn’t matter.” He bent down and kicked the roll of barbwire until it was wedged against the fence. “I need to be realistic, that’s all.” He headed toward his horse.

If that sounds like a fun read to you here are a few links:

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Also failed to mention…

3D-Book-TemplateDuring my lazy period *cough, cough* I also neglected to mention another book I released in May. It is called Unleashing Love. How about a blurb and an excerpt to catch you up? 🙂

Blurb:

A year ago Drew dropped out of the corporate world following the death of his boyfriend, Steven. Unable to stomach the cutthroat environment of his old job he starts his own dog walking business. Drew struggles to move forward, consumed by guilt over his lover’s death.

Kyle Bradley is rich, successful and relishes his orderly life. But things get turned upside down when his sister Janie gets sick and he temporarily inherits her dog and her five year old son, Benjamin. Drew can see that Kyle is completely out of his depth with the dog and the child and he offers to help out.

The two men are drawn to one another and as time passes the feelings grow stronger. But Drew is still guilty over Steven’s death and afraid to embark on a relationship with someone who comes from the shallow world he now hates.

AMAZON

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KOBO

I’ve been lax. Forgive me.

I’ve been busy but you’d never know that if you followed me on my WordPress page. I shall try and make a more concerted effort to keep you updated. I have a book coming out from Riptide August 8th which I’m super excited about. But first I want to mention a story I wrote for Dreamspinner Press that was one of my favorite books that I’ve written.

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Believing Rory

Will Rory bring them together or stand between them?

Eighteen-year-old Lane Graham has always relied on his braver, more confident buddy, Rory. But Rory’s sudden suicide blindsides Lane and sends him into an emotional tailspin. How’s he supposed to start college in a few months feeling this damaged?

Baron MacDonald knew Rory from playing League of Legends together. He was always intrigued by Lane’s online presence, and Rory had promised to set them up. Now that Rory’s gone, Baron has to approach Lane on his own.

On the surface, Baron and Lane couldn’t seem more different. Baron is confident and serious, and Lane is guarded and uncertain. But it’s the pain beneath the flesh that binds these two souls together like barbed wire and cement.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

I guess I’m the stupid one for believing Rory.

I’m angry at him. I know there’s no point in that, because not only is he nowhere around to feel my wrath, he wouldn’t care if he was. Rory always went his own way. I needed him more than he needed me. Obviously. He proved that when he leapt into the great unknown without me. I can barely handle staying in my old familiar life, untethered from him.

Is it weird that my skin hurts? I’m so depressed my flesh actually aches. The ends of my hair feel sensitive as I watch Mrs. Greg approach with my math test in her hand. A bright red C sits at the top right of the paper. Thank God, I passed. My mom would take away my laptop if I fuck up in school again. Especially this close to graduation.

“I expected more from you, Lane.” Mrs. Greg sniffs and adjusts her black-rimmed glasses farther up the bridge of her nose.

I take my paper, feeling the eyes of the class on me. They probably all think I’m stupid. I’m not. I wonder how well they’d do on a math test if their best friend died the day before. I think a C was just fine, considering. Obviously I’m the only one who thinks that way since Mrs. Greg is still giving me a disapproving look, and the redheaded girl next to me is shaking her head. I want to skip ahead to lunch where I can tell Rory about how judgmental they’re all being. He’d rub my head and tell me to relax. You’re overthinking things again, L, he’d say with his white grin splitting his face.

But Rory’s dead.

My stomach rolls and I stand abruptly, knocking into my desk. “May I go to the bathroom?” Mrs. Greg hates letting kids go during class. But there must be something in my expression that softens her. Or maybe she just doesn’t want me throwing up in her classroom.

“Don’t be long.” She hands me the key with a huge wooden plaque attached.

I jangle my way through the hall and hurry to the bathroom. I slam into the stall and unload everything in my stomach. Then I sit breathing like a racehorse, with tears streaking down my cheeks. I don’t know what to do with all the rage I feel toward Rory. It feels like it’s eating me from the inside. I want to punch something. But instead I sit in a pathetic, crumpled heap, sobbing onto the wooden plaque with a key attached.

The bathroom door squeaks open and two guys come in. They’re laughing and fooling around. There are two stalls, and I’m occupying one. I peer under the fiberboard walls and glimpse expensive orange and black hi-tops. One person takes a piss while the other guy talks to him. I scramble to my feet and, keeping my gaze averted, go to the sink area and splash cold water on my cheeks. The guy waiting shuts up finally, and takes the stall I just left, as the other person comes around the corner and stops when he sees me. Then he continues on to wash his hands. Good bathroom manners. It’s a rarity among high school boys.

“Hey,” the guy says. He’s blond with spiky hair and the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. He’s watching me like he expects a response. Of course he would. Anyone well-bred enough to wash their hands after peeing expects a response when they speak to you.

“I have permission to be here.” I don’t know why I say that. We aren’t in prison, although sometimes it feels that way.

“Are you okay?” He sounds genuinely concerned.

Of course not, I want to scream. But instead I drop my gaze and turn to the door. “Is anybody?” I say finally as I leave.

Lunch is torture. If you’re dumb enough to only have one real friend to sit with, it kind of leaves you in the lurch if he kills himself. I’m not hugely popular. I’m not actually unpopular either. I’m one of those invisible kids who flits through the school years not leaving much of a mark on anything. God, maybe Mrs. Greg and that redheaded girl are right, and I am pathetic.

Somebody punches my shoulder. Wincing, I look up from my yogurt to find Mason Price standing over me. He’s the school clown. His talent surpasses just class clown. “I’m sorry about Rory,” he says gruffly.

He’s the only person who has even said a word about Rory dying. I’d have never expected such compassion from someone who sticks straws up his nose for a laugh.

“Thanks,” I say.

He punches my shoulder again and moves off. I guess hitting me makes him feel like less of a wimp when he offers me sympathy. I rub my shoulder and watch him join his friends. Someone plops a tray down across from me. Judy from science class has decided I need a pep talk. She has her hair dyed pink, with purple tips. Her makeup is similar to an anime character’s with thick eyeliner, and long fake lashes. She pops open her grape soda while staring at me. The color of the can matches the ends of her hair.

“You should have taken today off.” Her voice is gently chiding.

I stare at her wordlessly. If it were up to me, I’d take the rest of the school year off. But my mom wasn’t having any of it. She screeched at me until I was dressed and in the car. I didn’t have the energy to fight her. I just did as she said and now here I sit with my yogurt.

“There’s a suicide support group on campus. You should probably go.”

I wrinkle my brow and just watch her.

“Not that you’re going to hurt yourself. But they help the people left behind too.” She gulps her soda, her throat muscles moving up and down with each swallow.

Left behind. Fucking Rory left me behind.

“I’ll take it under consideration.” Wow. That was oddly formal. What, am I running for Congress or something? I’m finding it impossible to be normal. Well, my normal.

Her brown, makeup-enhanced eyes soften. “Rory was a dick.”

I should slap her for defaming my beloved friend. My lifelong buddy who jumped off a parking structure and left me all alone to face this fucked-up world. I’d rather hit Rory.

I nod.

She crunches her way through a bag of chips as she continues to study me like I’m bacteria lying in a petri dish. Then she says, “You can always talk to me if you want. I know you’re shy, so maybe a big group thing isn’t for you.”

Why does she care? I’ve had maybe three conversations with her in the four years of high school. Is she a psych major? Maybe that’s it. They love psychoanalyzing everyone. It makes them feel less crazy.

Somebody has carved their name into the top of the table along with a heart. Steve + Sally 4-ever. I trace my finger into the grooves, wondering if their undying love has survived high school. Steve would never off himself and leave Sally alone. The table wiggles and I notice Judy is getting up to leave.

“See you in class, I guess.” She wanders away into the crowd of students. She’s still easy to spot with her pink hair, though. Maybe that’s the point.

Amazon

ARe

KOBO