Tavern of Conquests is LIVE on Indigogo

Today is the day my company, The Bold and The Brazen, launches Tavern of Conquests, a foreplay game for couples.

Click here to read about The Bold and the Brazen: Tavern of Conquests on Indigogo

Role the Dice to find Paradise

This little book mixes table-top role-playing games (TTRPs) and a choose-your-own romance fantasy. The Hero player makes a sexy character striving to finish a quest and save the day, but The Muse player uses Roving Conquests to send all sorts of lusty temptations to seduce and distract The Hero. To stay on track, The Hero can use the “Bribe the Muse” tables and use real-life sexual favors to influence the will of fate. Whether The Hero saves the day and wins The Muses reward, or both players decide to ‘finish’ early, there is no losing in foreplay!

Labor of Love

As an award-winning fantasy romance writer who regularly talks about the transformative power of love and sex, it is not unusual for people to share… personal things with me. Friends I’ve known my whole life, fans I’ve met that day, people on the train who will never meet me again trust me with their dark secrets. Their unfulfilled desires.  Their kinks. I look at this as a perk of the job.

 Anyways, about eight months ago, an old friend reached out to me because she wanted to create something special, sexy, and fun for her boyfriend, who loves TTRPS. But everything sexual on the market fell either into “violent goblin porn” or highly clinical rulebooks. So the two of us brought in a  professional game master (GM) and set out to create the sort of product she was looking for: a beginner’s guide to erotic role-play with a TTRPG flair.

This little booklet will act as a little buffer between people’s real lives and their sex lives. We hope it helps lovers add a little “dragon fire” to the bedroom without cringe of improving dirty talk on the spot. This is a way for me to help my friends and fans bring their inner world of fantasies to light with their partner, who would no doubt enjoy a taste of their imagination.

Please support this game on Indigogo.

The game itself, with all my sexy content, is written and in the editing stages. We’re trying to raise money to pay an artist to bring these scintillating stories to life, to add additional quests, and to print the book. There’s a ton of great supporter perks (including erotic stories written by yours truly), but all levels of support get access to:

Two Quests: The Princess and the Flame, where The Hero strives to save a beautiful princess from an equally beautiful dragon, and Prison of Desire, where The Hero can help the handsome villager Jack keep an Incubus King imprisoned or set the demon free.

30 Roving Conquests: These are the temptations the hero must face along the way and they come in various flavors, Bold (lightly flirty), Bawdy (a little blush-worthy), and Brazen (a lot blush worthy).

To give you a taste of Taverns of Conquest: here’s one of my favorite Roving Conquests where the hero runs into a starving succubus.

Devil’s Advocate

The path is perilously steep. Rocks slide and plummet from the granite cliffside as you force your way further up. Your muscles strain and ache as you find a small shallow cave. Finally, a place to rest!

You’ve only just caught your breath when from inside the cave, comes the delicate echo. “Help!”

A fair maiden in distress! You turn towards the sheltering cave and see… not exactly a maiden. The ruby-skinned woman weakly crawling towards you is built like sin. Lucious hips, juicy lips, perky breasts, and… an inhumanly long tongue licking between them. A tail drags under her ragged skirt, and her pitch-black eyes roll desperately. On her knees, she grasps at your legs. “Please.”

The touch of her hands sends electric currents of pleasure up your calves. “So thirsty. Small drink. I’ll repay you.”

She pulls your hips forward, and her hot breath warms your inner thighs.

What will you do?

Attempt to escape, charm, or deceive Roll Slick.

You may not be the sharpest sword in the armory, but this does not seem safe. “Whoa,” you back away, but her tail wraps around your leg.

You’re on the ground, and she’s straddling you. The heat radiating from her naked body, kisses sear your flesh before her licks soothe the wounds. She moans with complete abandon. You struggle to escape those clutches, but her thighs tighten around your body, and the impact of her skin, the magic… it makes it difficult to think of anything but her perfect body.

Her tongue tastes the inside of your mouth as you breathe more life into her body. The more you wiggle, the more she rubs against your limbs.

“YES!” She finally screams as her wings explode outward. She giggles at you. “Was it good for you, too?”

Fight, endure, or do nothing: Roll Strength.

You raise your weapon, about to strike. But her helplessness and her beauty, however demonic, make you hesitate.

You ought to cast the demon out. Or offer some sort of heroic resistance… but it’s been a long day.

And she already pushed your clothes to the side. Her lips gently kiss that most sensitive skin, then her tongue slithers to caress.

Lust jolts your body, and it is no longer yours to control.

At her command, you push yourself further into her mouth and release an animal grunting.

She drinks voraciously, laughing as she laps, and you pour strength into her broken body.

Finally, she pulls away and smiles at you, mischievous. She wipes the shine off her lips. “Refreshing.”

Use magic, knowledge, or other schemes: Roll Savvy.

Succubi are dangerous. This dying creature is already in your mind nibbling at your thoughts.

“Stay,” you command.

She sits obediently, chin up, waiting.

There’s an old Orcish ritual for certain kinds of soothing. Usually used to aid in sleep and… to trigger orgasms. You mutter the words, and she licks her lips curiously, tasting the magic.

She feeds on your imagination. As you visualize her straddling her lover, her tail curled around their legs, the succubus arches her back and shudders. She spreads her legs, presenting herself like an offering, and you imagine a world where you give in, where you come in this devil’s hands. She squeals and sighs with delight and looks up at you, fed enough to survive. “Mmm- may I have another?”

If you liked what you read here, there’s much more where that came from. Find out more and support us at Indigogo:Tavern of Conquest.

The Stranded Sky Castle

Paranormal romance lovers will devour these seven novellas featuring alpha male shifters and the men they’re determined to claim. Our handpicked stories are full of heat, passion, and romances to remember. Seven authors, including some of your favorite Evernight bestsellers, are proud to present Alpha Male: Manlove Edition.

Releases Nov. 8th.

Get it here from Evernight, Amazon, Apple, kobo, Barnes and Noble, Scribd

My story in Alpha Male is “The Stranded Sky Castle”

The Stranded Sky Castle is a Romeo and Juliet story, if Romeo was a magic-wielding wolf and Juliet was a very militant eagle. Rokor, an eagle-shifter and child-soldier, grew up in a war with witches that ended when his father died to defeat the coven. He takes his role as a leader very seriously and is skeptical, flattered, and somewhat annoyed when he finds himself relentlessly pursued by the cheerful and cunning alpha wolf of the valley, Tchen the Trickster. The wolf lives up to his name laying traps to get closer and closer to his lover, until he finally manages to take the young eagle hostage. It’s only then that Rokor realizes how much the witches’ stole from the wolves and how very alive the witch threat still is.

Selection from “The Stranded Sky Castle”

He stood there by the window, howling at the moon in his human form, ignoring me and my entourage. Today, he was wearing soft fabric trousers and a thick hemp belt. Otherwise, he was only covered with one of our cheap feather blankets. The sight of his broad shoulders, his long unkempt hair, the angles of his jaw, and the shape of his mouth made me weak. I’d made love to that man. I’d kissed that skin, had those lips around my cock, felt the body move over and inside of me.

I had to stay cold. “All right, you hell-raiser, what are you doing in my prison?”

The howling silenced at once, and he beamed at me like a child. “Well, you look very nice out of your armor, your majesty. Like a red peacock. Very soft, very elegant.”

I turned to the other second and both of our entourages. “Would it be possible for me to speak to this person alone? I commend you all on your service in capturing and subduing this man, but it takes a while before he says anything other than lewd jokes and meaningless drivel when he’s alone with me. I can only imagine how much worse he will be with an audience.”

“You know this man, sir?” The other second was curious.

“From patrols. He frequently comes too near the border.”

She was not at all sorry to miss the show. “I wouldn’t leave him to anyone but you, sir. Call if you need help. Flock dismissed!”

Tchen leaned on the bars, devilishly handsome and innocently pathetic. Still, he at least had the sense to wait until the rustle of their feathers retreated. “I had to see you again.”

“You’re insane.”

“Am I?”

“You must be. To abandon your people and give up your freedom just to see—”

“I hope to more than see—”

“That’s not likely—”

“I hope to touch, kiss—”

“God’s balls, wolf. You are a prisoner of war!”

Tchen stepped back as if he’d been punched. Shocked deeply by my shout. I hoped I’d made progress, just the slightest dent in his madness.

“Tchen, you have to give this up. There’s no world where you and I—”

I saw his trick too late. The man didn’t have a shred of contrition, and by the time he’d grabbed my wrists, I wasn’t strong enough to hold my ground. He yanked me against the cold metal and kissed me.

My cock leaped at even this slightest contact, and I knew I’d been anticipating this. As much as I promised myself I would remain in control, Tchen’s hands groped at my ass. I should never have left the library. Never have sent my entourage away. Never put myself near this beast.

“Rokor.” My name in his mouth cracked my control, and the rest of his growl melted me to the core. “I want you so much. Please.”

Sent out first Queary Letters for a new novel: Route 413

Recently, I attended the 2022 Writer’s Digest Conference, where I was able to pitch my latest rom/com horror novel, Route 413. This is a story about a mail carrer whose route takes him through hell, fairyland, and a retiremnent community for dead and dying gods.

I pitched to three agents with this project and got requests to send materials to each of them…

which I did today!

[cue exhausting variety of celebration videos, memes, parades, etc]

Anyways, now I will forget I ever sent these in order to not get my hopes up.

Route 413

Bridger Hahn is a solitary mail carrier, whose route takes him through hell, fairyland, and into a retirement community for dead and dying gods. If he can survive his route, his mother, and the constact attacks of an unfeeling universe, he might true love and becomes the next Santa Claus.

A rom/com for fans of literary horror, ala Welcome to Nightvale, John Dies at the End, and Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. Between 70 and 90 k, this book uses mythology from all over a world but especially folktales from Southeast Asia (Bridger is Vietnamese-American) and the indigenous people of the New York area (another character is the Hudson River who has not forgotten he was once worshipped as a god).

CLICK FOR FIRST CHAPTERS

To Harvest Lavender

Very honored and excited to announce that my short story “To Harvest Lavender” won 3rd place in Writer’s Digest Short Story Contest 2022. This story is very much a product of quarantine and my real life experience with the passing of a loved one. I hope you enjoy...

To Harvest Lavender

I saved her from the oven all those years ago, only because her death by fire would have been a calamity for the rest of us. Of course, she couldn’t tolerate me in the house, so I slept in her wilderness. For years. To protect her.

No, to watch her die.

Well, that job is done. All that’s left is to clean.

I steal in her doorway, like she will come with thunder in her fingertips. Like she will scream at me for dawdling.

She never once welcomed me. Even when I came to the door, a child in a red bramble-torn cloak, pursued by a savage furred terror, she’d sneered. “You should’ve sent the wolf to eat me. It would have been kinder.”

I light the sage to consume the magic she left behind.

One must be of strong will to command magic. It’s difficult for two strong wills to coexist, harder when one is learning the art. She hated teaching. She bragged of the worlds she’d slain, the princes she’d conquered, the dragons she’d seduced before I made her an unwilling mother.

The dust caking her books, the shelf of rotting potions, the filthy cauldron remind me of her broom striking my back, of the foul taste of her ladle in my mouth, of the dark places she’d abandoned me. The pain sits like a rock in my belly. Unforgiven. Made small by newer memories.

In the end, she was fragile as spun-sugar, weak as broken teeth, and soft as wet dough. I never beat her or tested potions on her, and the only dark place she wandered was her own mind.

It’s hard to hate a woman who can’t chew her own gingerbread.

I scrub the ancient and sticky residue in the oven, stooped over inside the black maw. This oven hasn’t been cleaned for decades— not since a girl with a stronger spine than me pushed—

No, I mustn’t be unkind to myself. Not when I won’t be unkind to her and just burn the whole house down. That girl had a brother, another heart to protect. She wasn’t alone with this confusing love for someone she hated…

Or do I feel hatred for someone I loved?

I can’t tell. Not surrounded by the damp and sticky muck of her life.

When the oven blazes clean, I burn the scraps of her life. The chocolate rotted in a bowl. The licorice glued to the page of a book. She’ll never finish reading that book.

Do I actually smell burning flesh, or is that just her ghost?

I scrub the chalky cauldron. She hasn’t been able to clean this terror for centuries. It isn’t fit to conjure soup. When the fresh water stays clean, I brew a potion to drink the magic. While it bubbles, I rest in her chair.

The aroma of stale cookie fades into the clean scent of fresh ash. Soon the walls will only be wood. I breathe deeply to preserve that sweetness in my lungs, already missing it.

Her lungs never were right after the oven. And at the end, it was her gasping that called me from the woods. I meant to ease her passing, but when I found her sitting by the water, exhausting herself with breathing, she’d already eaten her own poisoned apple. Self-sufficient. She didn’t have the teeth to break the skin. Had waited for it to rot so she could scoop out the mush.

By the time the rattling croak of her breaths had stopped, her eyes were glazed and sweet. She didn’t curse me. But only because she didn’t recognize me.

That hurt far more than any beating.

Her golden rings litter the table below the cloth-draped mirror, a lure for greedy crows and dutiful daughters. I gather the treasure, uninterested in the shine, respectful of their recovery.

Such a vain old toad. Here’s the powder to cover wrinkles. Here’s the ointment for smooth skin. Here’s a flaking paper to remind—

Harvest lavender.

Lavender wouldn’t have prolonged her life, only soothe her lungs.

But the lavender grows just outside her door. She used to grab handfuls from the window, gleefully flinging them into the cauldron…

To need to harvest…

To need a reminder…

How mad was she at the end? How lonely? How lost?

I catch her scent. Not in the perfume. In the mirror. Saying goodbye? No. Not her. She’s lying in wait.

If I were clever, I’d catch her in my pocket mirror. If I were cautious, I’d light more sage.

I tear the cloth away, confront the ghost.

I was never clever nor cautious; I was bold.

Her smile is honey. She reaches from the mirror to embrace me. I know it’s a trap, but I sink into the softness of her arms… one last time. She sinks her claws in my back… one last time.

She means to trap my soul in the mirror, to crawl inside my body. Once she has my hands, she will bake something sweet and crunchy.

That’s all I am to her. Good teeth. Strong hands. I’m disappointed. Disappointed to find I still care what she thinks.

Her ghost pushes at my heart. It’s too hard for her to invade.

“You had to harvest your own lavender, because you’d rather have me howl in the wilderness than tolerate me as your daughter.”

It’s difficult for two strong wills to coexist, but I have learned my art, and she is dead.

“I love you, baba, but you’ve taken all I’m willing to give.”

The scent of the ghost— carrot-cake and candied plums— wafts away, dragged into the cauldron with the rest of the dead magic.

My soul tremors. Relief? Grief?

There is freedom in death and longing in life. I will never visit her again.

The tears only come now. I feel guilty they have not come sooner. Resentful that they come at all.

She will give me no new hurts.

No matter how hard I seek them.

Smashword Stories

I’m dipping my toe just a little into self-publishing with Smashwords.com; you can find my profile here, under my name, L.J. Longo.

Mostly what’s up here now are short stories and previously released novellas. Some are absolutely ridiculous (Alien Abduction; Thug’s Night Off). Some are just too short to be published through normal channels or involve history I don’t have any interest in researching enough to make into a full-length (A Fair Deal; Before the Rain). Some have been previously published.

“Writing Tutor” was actually my first story ever published, and it was released in the early 2000s in a book called “Dorm Porn.”

“Whims of Witches” was originally published as part of Virginia Nelson’s Flip the Trope Anthology.

October Surprise: Inspiration

Reluctant Groom: Manlove, Evernight’s latest LGBT anthology, is an collection of stories celebrating May/December romances between two men… and, you know, forced marriages turning into happily-ever-afters.

What a perfect way to celebrate Pride Month!

Get it here from Evernight, Amazon, Nook, Kobo, iBooks

My story in Reluctant Groom is “October Surprise”

Image is everything to Whim, a stoic mayor who is also an openly gay, black man running for governor of a Southern state. So when the blackmail letter arrives, Whim knows there’s only one person in his city he can trust. Sunshine, raised in Whim’s aunt’s foster home, has idolized Whim since he was a kid. The young man is as brilliant as he is free-spirited, and his solutions to Whim’s troubles will either save the campaign or destroy them both.

October Surprise: Inspiration

Evernight released the call for Reluctant Groom just before the 2020 elections. So I had politics on the brain. The initial plot-bunny that hopped through my head was about a gay politician who covered up a scandal by claiming the sex worker in those dirty pictures was actually his fiancé.

And that was all I had.

In my first attempts to carve out a story, I thought maybe the politician was the sort of rake who’d make Bill Clinton blush while the younger man was a college student who could barely speak in public. Or maybe he was a secret war vet? Or maybe a born-again Christian… that wasn’t working. Then I thought, maybe the politician was super corrupt and the young fellow was the victims of a sex trafficking thing and… that fell apart very quickly.

With the deadline for the submission getting closer and no idea who I should be writing about, I took drastic measures.

I made a playlist.

I love Spotify because it lets me like any damn song I want and keeps that song in a positively enormous list for me. When I get stuck on a character or a conflict in a Romance book, I shuffle it and let the first three songs dictate where I go from there.

The first song I came to was Johnny Cash’s cover of Eagles, Desperado. It’s an absolutely legendary song, made even more heart-breaking by Cash’s lonesome vocals. It was the perfect starting point for the December in my story. A cowboy type, trying to save his city. Thinking he had to do it all alone without letting anyone see his weaknesses. Whim Deluth became a paragon of his community, obsessed with appearances and haunted by his own virtues.

The second song was so wildly different I nearly skipped over it on instinct. be steadwell’s “What I Want,” is a glorious ode to lesbian seduction (like most of her songs). Lines like “she is a reoccurring dream/ and she came back just like I knew she would” and “I don’t wanna hear you scream/I wanna hear you whisper “Please don’t stop” coupled by the raw sensuality of the song are the reason I’m a huge fan of be steadwell. The May of my story was not going to be a wilting flower, or a soft, inexperienced victim. With that one song, Sunshine became a young, gender-fluid man who knew who he was, who he wanted, and how to get his way. Is it any wonder, the young man became the more forceful of the two?

The final piece to the puzzle came with another less known artist, Rebecca Angel, and her song “Again.” It’s a deceptively simple song. Here are the lyrics without repetition.

Touch me again
like you did before.
My skin cries out
with the memory of you.

I was tempted to include the repetition and the stresses. Half the magic of the song comes from the singer’s pleading, playful, forlorn longing. There’s a lovely spareness and mystery to those few words and the light touch of the instrumentation. It evokes a rich history between these two lovers, hints at something deeply broken, and offers hope that this time will be different, better, and more satisfying.

Three songs that I doubt have ever been put near each other before, but they came together, and suddenly, I had a story to write.

October Surprise: A Bit Odd

Reluctant Groom: Manlove, Evernight’s latest LGBT anthology, is an collection of stories celebrating May/December romances between two men… and, you know, forced marriages turning into happily-ever-afters.

What a perfect way to celebrate Pride Month!

Get it here from Evernight, Amazon, Nook, Kobo, iBooks

My story in Reluctant Groom is “October Surprise”

Image is everything to Whim, a stoic mayor who is also an openly gay, black man running for governor of a Southern state. So when the blackmail letter arrives, Whim knows there’s only one person in his city he can trust. Sunshine, raised in Whim’s aunt’s foster home, has idolized Whim since he was a kid. The young man is as brilliant as he is free-spirited, and his solutions to Whim’s troubles will either save the campaign or destroy them both.

October Surprise: a little bit odd

October Surprise: not exactly the story I thought I would be writing

I don’t usually write contemporary realism stories. My mind tends to run more towards the thriller and speculative sides of the romance genre.

I don’t usually write May/December romances. The power dynamic of a much older partner and a young person ‘groomed’ for the role always freaked me out when I was a teenager, and I never got over that.

And I never thought I would be asked to write a Forced Marriage between two men. I’m a little like Whim, and my old-fashioned ass is still tickled pink and a bit unused to the fact that gay marriage is legal in the U.S.

But one of the fun things about anthology calls is that challenge to get outside yourself and write something specific to a theme.

Like every other person on the planet, 2020 was a tough year for me. I’d left my apartment in NYC to teach abroad in Shanghai, China, just as the pandemic shut everything down. Abruptly, I was thrown out of my comfortable life with an enriching career and the luxury of my own home and pushed back into life as a cashier, living with my in-laws. I spent most of 2020 joking that quarantine was a writer’s dream, but in truth, I was worn out by fear. Fear of the pandemic, fear of my nation’s negligence, fear of the racial strife that seemed just as dangerous to my family as the disease.

Evernight released the call for Reluctant Groom just before the 2020 elections. I was so wound up in these thoughts that a politician forced to marry to quiet down a scandal was the only story I could dream up. Thinking about a gay, black, uber-responsible Democrat running for governor was therapeutic for me.

Partly because I wished for a real-life Whim so much, I couldn’t bring myself to make him the sort of fella who would coerce his lover into a marriage. So, it ended up being Sunshine, the younger man, who was applying the pressure. It’s a little bit odd, so is Sunshine, so I wrote the story the way I needed to and hoped for the best (more on this in another post).

By the time I submitted it, my nerves were back. I knew I was walking the line of the most important part of the theme, and kicking myself for being cavalier with the rules, with spending months on this story with such an obvious flaw at the very heart.

I fully expected a rejection.

So when Evernight’s email came back, I was devastated but not surprised. It read: “Thank you for your submission. The story doesn’t fit the anthology requirements (almost opposite with the younger man being the forceful party)”

And then I stopped reading and wallowed for a while.

It wasn’t until a day later when I received a follow-up email asking for my response, that I went back and finished reading the initial email.

“… but the acquiring editor really enjoyed your story and is willing to bend in this specific case.”

So moral of the story, kids, finish reading your emails.

I hope you enjoy “October Surprise” even if it’s a little bit odd.

October Surprise

Reluctant Groom: Manlove, Evernight’s latest LGBT anthology, is an collection of stories celebrating May/December romances between two men… and, you know, forced marriages turning into happily-ever-afters.

What a perfect way to celebrate Pride Month!

Get it here from Evernight, Amazon, Nook, Kobo, iBooks

My story in Reluctant Groom is “October Surprise”

Image is everything to Whim, a stoic mayor who is also an openly gay, black man running for governor of a Southern state. So when the blackmail letter arrives, Whim knows there’s only one person in his city he can trust. Sunshine, raised in Whim’s aunt’s foster home, has idolized Whim since he was a kid. The young man is as brilliant as he is free-spirited, and his solutions to Whim’s troubles will either save the campaign or destroy them both.

Selection from “October Surprise”

A blackmail letter sneaks onto my desk in early spring. I’m on a call with a local school board member who needs to be reminded he’s essential, and I open my mail with indifference until the handwritten lettering peeks through. Chisel-tip marker, quite beautiful, if I’m honest. I look at the envelope again—good forgery of City Hall’s seal.

The message reads: I know your secret. When we meet, you’ll give me what I want. No questions asked.

The fellow from the school board pauses, so I mirror enough of what he’s said to make him continue on.

There’s a tiny part of me that’s pleased to receive a blackmail letter as the mayor of a mid-sized city. Death threats, I’d grown accustomed to during quarantine two years ago. But to be blackmailed … that’s proper validation.

The greater part of me is confused. Do I have a secret worthy of extortion? I’ve spoken openly, though not frequently, about my sexuality. I’m not exactly proud of my time in the Army, but there’s nothing to publicly shame me. As far as I know, I’ve never been successfully bribed. Maybe something from before. Before the military. Before my political ambitions.

Sunshine will know which of our old friends sent this.

I return the letter to its envelope, tuck it into my jacket pocket, and focus on my phone call.

After I’ve soothed the school board official, I sit in the silence. City Hall is a tomb after hours, a pristine echoing place, especially my office. The clean empty walls are cool and crisp as snow.

The last time I talked to Sunshine—not so much talking as moaning and panting, if I’m honest—I hadn’t returned his calls. He knew I wouldn’t. I’m the mayor of a mid-sized city, aiming to be governor, and he was … is … a strange kid. Feral, lawless, but not in a mean way. Boy’s heart is pure gold, just … unpredictable. He’s magic to kiss, heaven to hold, and impossible to keep. For me, anyway. Someone with less ambition and a softer heart might tame him. But he’s too fragile for my strength, too odd for my world.

Still, he answers the phone when I call. As usual, he doesn’t speak first.

“Sunshine, it’s me.”

“Who?”

“William Duluth.”

“Naw, it ain’t.”

I smile to spite myself. “It’s Whim, then.”

“Shame on you, Whim, forgetting yourself.”

Considering the blackmail letter filling my pocket, is there shame in forgetting what deserves to be forgotten? “I’m glad you remember me. How’ve you been, son?”

Sunshine bucks against the small talk. “What color’s the sky where you are?”

“Black.” Then I look out the window and consider the darkest part of this southern sunset. The springtime heat floats in a haze above the asphalt. Rows of city-approved palmettos and oaks sway in the glow of streetlights, and the skyscrapers hemming in the historic district reflect the peaceful twilight. The glowing dome of City Hall dims the stars. “Hazy gray.”

“I’ve been where the sky is purple in the night.”

“You outside the city?”

“Yup. Just ’cross the river. I like your town, Mayor Whim.”

His endorsement means more to me than a dozen donors. “Proud to hear that. Listen, I’d like to—”

“Where and when?”

“Sunshine, you don’t even know why I’m calling.”

“You sound lonely.” I bet he’s smiling to hide his own aloneness. “You know I’ll keep you out of trouble.”

In more ways than one. “Nothing has changed, son. If I’m honest—”

“I know it.” He has no patience for my defenses.

“Let’s—as a thought experiment—keep it professional. Set some boundaries.”

He laughs at my attempt. “Come and fuck me, Whim.”

I pinch the bridge of my nose, frustrated by his transparency and by the excited energy zipping through my spine. “I’d rather meet in public.”

“How’d that work last time?”

Last time. Winter. He’d worn a pink scarf from a street vendor, a long trench coat, and— I learned when he’d sauntered into my condo later—nothing else. The brightness of cheap cashmere on his mysterious dark skin … the platinum blond cloud of his shoulder-length afro … the memory burns my blood.

“It was a good effort.”

“We know how this goes, Whim. It’s like playing with matches in a pile of newspapers.”

Or a flamethrower in a weapons bunker.

“Come on over and start a fire.”

Beautiful Chains

Billion Dollar Love: Manlove is Evernight’s newest anthology about, as the title suggests, billionaire bad boys.

Get it here from Evernight, Amazon, or Bookstrand

My story in Billion Dollar Love is “Beautiful Chains”

In this “Phantom of the Opera” meets “Moulin Rouge” m/m romance Harper Brosh, a dancer with a fledgling theater company seduces Mr. Ito, the theater’s mysterious patron. While the sparks fly with the eccentric billionaire (who Harper has never seen unmasked), Harper is surprised as anyone to find himself falling for timid stagehand, Carlos.
As Mr. Ito get more possessive and demanding, Harper must make a choice between his passion for theater and his heart.

Selection from “Beautiful Chains”

Outside New York City, people’s heads turn when I pass—with as much confusion as admiration, as if tall, blond, and skinny is a new breed of humanity. But in NYC, no one stares when I get on the uptown B, no one points me out to their friends. No one tries to strike up a conversation or suggests with cheerful ignorance that I ought to be a model.

The doorman to the condo tower notices me. But doormen in historic apartments on 5th Ave. are as subtle as the gilding on the ceilings; they blend in with all the dizzy little details. They recognize who belongs and know when they want attention and when they want to slip past unseen.

But somebody is watching when I enter the penthouse suite.

It’s not a true penthouse, not in the sense of being the very top of the building or having the rooftop terrace. But with the decorative beams on the ceiling and the sunken marble floor, it’s damned close. Central Park peeks between other luxury apartments, and across the room, I can look slightly down on Rockefeller Center.

I unwrap my red scarf and peel out of my fall jacket, slinky as a showgirl. After all, there’s a genuine silver hook to hang it on. I bend to politely remove my shoes, then rake my hands through my curls to settle them. Putting on a little show for the man I can’t see yet.

The room is lit only by the city’s false starlight and the blinking lights of hidden electronics. The darkness purrs with machines. A smart tower to command the lights and heat and music. At least one camera and God knows what else this dark, minimalist décor is hiding.

The centerpiece is the kabuki mask on the far wall. Even in the darkness the silver and gold catch the light. It’s a demon face. Black and hollow-eyed, the lower half is carved away to let the performer rant and roar, but the cheeks and eyes and brow are extravagantly detailed. Inlaid with precious metal to give that inhuman face the impression of an ever-changing expression. The glowing big screen TV hangs beside it like a caption box.

“Welcome Home, Omocha.”

I freeze at the steps, poised to walk down into the sunken den, but helpless before that mask. My heart taps a ghoulish Bob Fosse routine, one frenetic pulse inside an ocean of darkness and calm. If I could remember free-will, I’d turn and flee, but he’s here, and he’s watching.

So, I stand tall and dignified, in a casual first position, and watch the mask and the screen for further instructions.

The text does not change.

It ought to be a command. Half-riddle. Half road-map. A precursor to tonight’s torture.

Once, it read: “Ice. Cool down in the kitchen.” And I’d found a bowl of ice in the freezer. I’d spent fifteen minutes gliding it over my lips, around my nipples, into my ass. Playing by myself while he watched from … somewhere. He’d emerged like a phantom, faceless in the shadows, but hot as the sun. He’d burned away the chill, stolen more than my breath and sanity as he fucked me.

Once, it read: “Ropes in the bedroom.” And I’d found a silken rope and a kimono to match folded on his huge bed. The light in the room transitioned to an eerie blue light when I changed into his costume. But my lover didn’t come until I looped my hands in a noose. Wearing only that strange mask, he’d more than explored my body that night, tying me down in a dozen different ways, opening and shutting the robe as if debating whether he preferred me to look more lascivious or innocent while he fucked me.

Tonight, the empty mask leers, as if it also remembers every time I’ve come.

“Welcome Home, Omocha.”

The flickering smile on the mask isn’t real. Just the product of an overworked imagination that’s already on high-alert and one hard shove from a drop into madness. Welcome home? What the hell do I do with that?

Nominated for Evernight’s Best Paranomal Romance 2019

Freeing the Witch is nominated for an award (it was already an Editor’ Pick!)!

I’m so ridiculously thrilled about this. If you liked the book, please vote for it here:

Evernight’s Best Paranormal Romance 2019

Freeing the Witch is the hardest romance novel I’ve ever written since it’s about two people who are very different than me. They are shy and self-effacing and the kind of folks you want to get a happily-ever-after. Even though one a wolf and the other is a witch. So really its an Enemies to Lovers story, but with genuinely sweet people.

 

Emaula Whispel thought she’d be happy if she could live outside her mother’s magical stone tower, but when Emaula starts working as a chef at her friend’s trading post, she becomes smitten with Porter, her co-cook. Now Emuala’s magic is obsessed with possessing this quiet, charming wolf, and the budding witch has to fight to control her powers and her lust, to prevent her new friend from becoming her accidental victim.

If you’ve not read the book, click here to get it from Evernight or contact me. I still have a few author copies to give away!

 

Embrace adventure, magic, romance, and the power of escapism.