Graven – part 5

The unfriendly vamp that had joined them broke out into laughter. “I like him already.” The man’s words were friendly but his tone had an iron thread indicating danger. Steerl knew this was a man you didn’t turn your back to.

“We’ll meet you later.” The prince said. “Tell the family we’ll see them in two hours. Anyone who disturbs us before then will have to face the consequences.”

The chill in the prince’s voice let everyone know that whatever the reason for interruption it wouldn’t be worth the cost.

Undaunted Steerl let the prince drag him through a thick wooden door and into a darkened chamber. If they were true mates then he was the safest person the kingdom.

It was too dark for Steerl to make out anything other than indistinct shapes in the dim lighting.

When the prince flipped a switch, and flooded the room with lamplight Steerl blinked for several minutes trying to clear his vision.

For the first time he was alone with the vampire prince.

Knots of tension ate at him. What the hell was he going to do with a royal mate? Mother wasn’t going to be happy she was expecting him back in time for dinner.

Father would be thrilled.

“My mother isn’t going to be happy either she expected me to mate with a woman.” The prince grumbled reading Steerl’s mind.

“Then go out there and bloody well get one.” Steerl snapped heading for the door. Or where he hoped it would be in the dark.

“Don’t you walk away from me.” The prince shouted. “You’re my mate and as the laws of our planet demand you will stay and be my husband. There is no divorce, no separation. You will live in my palace and in my bed until the end of our days.”

Fury filled Steerl. “Keep it up and your days are going to end just a little sooner than you thought.”

* * * *

Graven looked at the cloaked figure and burst out laughing. What the hell was he doing? He was starting a fight on his wedding day and he hadn’t even properly met his husband.

Sighing he tried another approach. Unlike other people in his kingdom, his new mate wasn’t intimidated by his anger. Whether because he knew Graven couldn’t harm him without harm to himself or just because the man was stubborn the prince didn’t know.

“Let’s start with something simple. What’s your name?”

“Steerl Raisal.”

Fuck. “Like the emperor’s youngest son Steerl Raisal?”

“Yes.”

The plus side was his mother would be a lot happier that he married royalty. The negative was rumor had it that the only person the emperor loved more than himself was his youngest son. The fallout from this union could be immense.

Swallowing hard the prince said the four fateful words that would change his life forever. “Take off your robes.”

“Is there some procedure I should follow?” Steerl’s voice was amused adding to the irritation Graven felt at never having seen his mate and already fighting.

“The quicker, the better.” He tried for a reassuring smile but passion made his fangs drop down so it was probably more frightening than calming.

He heard Steerl take a deep breath before pulling off the robe and scarf in one sweeping movement.

Graven’s heart stopped in his chest as a sleek slightly muscled form was exposed. Gleaming gold hair fell in silky layers as his mate dipped his head hiding his face.

“No look up at me I want to see your eyes.”

Bracing himself Graven looked into the face of the man fated to be his mate and forgot how to breathe. Gold eyes with flecks of blue looked out of a perfectly symmetrical face. High cheekbones sculpted into perfection framed an aristocratic nose. Lush lips briefly drew his attention from the goddess kiss on the man’s firm chin. If an artist wanted to draw a picture of perfection, he could use this man as the model.

The beauty’s body was covered in a sleek black shirt that slid across a set of obvious pebbled abs and the thin silk pants that clung in all the best places.

“Strip.” The prince demanded in a hoarse voice he barely recognized as his own.

Steerl took off his shirt revealing a chest even more beautiful than the shirt implied.

“By the gods and goddesses you’re a beautiful man.” The words were soft and worshipful as if ripped from Graven’s soul.

“Take off the pants.”

Graven was surprised when his mate crossed his arms across his chest, gold eyes flashing defiantly.

“What are you taking off?”

“Me?’

How had he lost control of this situation?

“Yes you. If we’re going to be mates I want to see what I’m getting.”

A growl rolled out from deep in the prince’s chest. “We are going to be mates.” The thought of this golden beauty touched by someone else made his stomach churn. He felt physically sick.

 

Update!

Hello all,

I thought I’d post what is going on. Since November ended and the story didn’t get finished I will continue by posting the November story twice a week (Tuesday & Thursday) while finishing off Graven on Monday and Wednesday. I’m not sure what I’m going to do on Fridays but we’ll see! Thanks for everyone who participated in the birthday bash.

 

New Kindle Worlds: Plundered Chronicles with Guest Talia Carmichael!

kwplunderedphronicles

Introducing Kindle Worlds – Plundered Chronicles

By: Alex Westmore

 

I am thrilled to be offering The Plundered Chronicles as the first LGBT Kindle World, and truly believe this community of brilliant writers has created some amazing stories for you to read.

 

Kindle Worlds are books by authors writing in same world created by another author. Each author writing in the world has some elements that are part of original world/stories and add their own characters or world.

 

This world couldn’t come at a better time – a time when it is vital our collective voices are heard, when we have the chance to hold hands and remind each other that we and our stories matter.

 

And what stories we have.

 

If you like steampunk, we have it. If you like undersea adventure we have that. If you are a fan of the Plundered Series, we have backstories as well as future plotlines. This is a world where everything is possible and anything is probable. Prepare to suspend your disbelief because this powerhouse of writers is serving up more than a yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum. They have worked tirelessly to create original and entertaining stories that will make you laugh, make you cry, make you wonder, and hopefully make you want to be a part of something fantastic.

 

I am honored that these writers took precious time away from their own characters to play with mine in a variety of genres, and set them sailing off into outerspace or into the faery realm. I am proud of the hard work each author has put into their plotline and I am very pleased with the fabulous quality of the writing.

 

And thanks for stopping by, matey.  I know I speak for all of the writers here when I say we are glad you came and we are confident you will find yourself so immersed in our world, you’ll come back again and again as we create even more diverse stories for your reading pleasure.

 

So welcome to the exciting world of Quinn’s pirate adventure where words are sharper than knives and where bravery and courage are as important as breathing. No matter what genre you enjoy reading our world has something for everyone.

 

For more on Kindle Worlds –  Plundered Chronicles-   http://alexwestmore.net/pirates

and check out the video https://youtu.be/fYyDbofc-ZI

 

START WITH THE ORIGINAL SERIES BY ALEX WESTMORE

 

Book 1:  The Pirate’s Booty

Book 2:  Shiver her Timbers

Book 3:  Fire in the Hole

… with more coming soon!

 

AND THEN KEEP EXPLORING!

 

Much Ado about Pirates by Falcon Storm

Sayyida by K’Anne Meinel

The House at Sea by R.J. Blain

The Time Parlay by Jill Cooper

The Girl Who Touched the Stars by M.D. Cooper

Falling for a Pirate by Meredith Bond

Shipwrecked by Kathryn Hickle

Steel, Steam & Immortality by Annathesa Nikola Darksbane

Bring Me the Horizon by Shei Darksbane

Skyblade’s Gambit by Robert Dahlen

Nebulous Rising: Inferno by Talia Carmichael

 

Lord of Small Magics – 29

Meck placed a spell to lesson Anders weight and bind his broken leg against jarring. He might not be able to heal Anders but he could prevent his injuries from becoming worse, or at least he hoped he could.

Anders examined his newly bandaged leg. “That’s a helpful skill.”

“I’m sure the healers can do much better.” Meck tried not to blush under Anders’ admiring gaze but he couldn’t stop a smile from spreading across his lips. He liked that the general never failed to compliment him.

“As much as I appreciate all this care I think it might go better if I transformed.”

“Can you really turn into a wolf?”

“Yes.” Anders nodded.

“Have you ever done it while injured?”

Anders paused as if considering the situation. “No.”

Meck considered the ramifications. “Do you think it will hurt you more if you shift while injured?”

Anders spent a few minutes looking over the battlefield. “In my wolf shape I can at least have three lets instead of four making it easier to get across.”

Meck was a bit disappointed he couldn’t argue with that logic. Worry had him frowning as he took in the scene of blood splattered bodies and battle cries. “Okay. I’ll be right behind you.”

“Or you could stay over here where it’s safe,” Anders argued.

“No where is safe, we’re in a battle,” Meck pointed out. He wasn’t trying to be difficult by pointing out their situation but there wasn’t any reason for Anders to rush off on his own when other people could be helping him.

Anders scowled. “Fine. Have it your way.”

“If I had it my way we’d be back in the tent having sex,” Meck said in a low voice.

The prince’s abrupt coughing spell told him he hadn’t spoken quietly enough. He frowned at the royal but only received an amused look in response.

“Stop trying to stare down the prince,” Anders scolded, nudging Meck.

“You have to get the general patched up before you worry about anything more strenuous.” The prince’s serious expression was only marred by his sparkling eyes.

“Fine. If you think it won’t kill you,” Meck gave in gracelessly trying not to show how much this idea worried him.

“Only one way to find out.” A feral light gleamed in Anders’ eyes.

Meck only had a few seconds to catch his meaning before a bright glow encompassed the general and he shrank from human sized to large wolf sized. Meck got an impression a gorgeous grey and white wolf before he was running away from him and across the battlefield.

“Look at him go,” the prince muttered.

“He is fast,” Meck agreed as the wolf tore across the field, dodging swords, kicks and the occasional bolt of magic shot toward him. He hoped he could follow as easily without getting injured. Casting a few more protection spells on himself he jogged toward the healers hoping no one tried to stop him. Halfway across something slammed into Meck sending him flying into someone else’s shield.

Meck grunted with the impact.

His ears rang. Shaking his head he tried to clear out the sounds ricocheting around in his skull. A strong grip pulled him to his feet. The prince’s white-toothed grin eased his concern.

“Go!” the prince shouted.

Stumbling more than running, Meck made it over to the healers. Luckily the tents weren’t so large that it took long to find Anders. He lay in the middle of the tent with four fawning healers.

“Glad to see you are feeling better,” Meck said. He looked away from the enticing bare chest. Now wasn’t the time to indulge in his fantasies.

“I made it!” Anders loopy smile made it all worthwhile.

“Yes you did. “

“Stay still,” one of the healer’s said. “We’ll never get you healed with you squirming around.”

Anders froze, a wry smile on his lips. “Sorry.”

Meck doubted Anders truly felt remorse if the teasing looks he gave Meck through his lashes were put into the equation. Whoever had reported Anders as an angry, volatile soldier hadn’t really known him very well.

Winners!

Hi everyone!

 

Sheri Here! I’m announcing the 40 $5 Amazon Gift Card winners, the 6 $50 Amazon Gift Card winners and the winner of the Kindle Paperwhite(or $100 Amazon GC). I’m also listing all the other people who get to pick one of Amber’s self published ebooks to receive. IF you already own all of her current books, I will let you email when a future book comes out and that can be your free ebook! Don’t worry, I’ll keep the list, but it’s up to you to email telling me what book you want and what format!

 

All winners, gift cards, ebooks or Kindle winner please email me at authoraccomplice@gmail.com. Gift card winners please include the best email to send the gift card to and ebook winners please include what format you want! I will be posting another post with a few of the guest authors winners too!🙂 Congratulations to all the winners. I look forward to my email inbox overflowing, so please be patient as I work to get all the prizes out!

 

$5 AMAZON GIFT CARDS

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Lord of Small Magics – 28

Meck searched his memory for the limited healing spells he knew. He couldn’t even ask Vedder for help because his powerful friend had almost flunked out of the medical section. Healing wasn’t about powering through and that was Vedder’s best ability. He didn’t do as well with more subtle magic.

“Get to work! What kind of wizard are you?” The soldier jeered.

“The non-healing king.” Meck resisted the urge to show off his fire starting spells. An explosion nearby sprayed them with bits of rock and dirt. Meck cast a quick shield over them until the rubble stopped raining from the sky.

The open wounds were the easy part it was the stuff hidden below he didn’t know how to fix. A quick mending spell closed the gash across Anders’ chest but the same wouldn’t fix anything broken. “Where is your medical team?”

“On the other side of the battle,” one of the soldiers volunteered.

Great. Of course they were. Why would they have anyone nearby to help with wounded when they could be standing on the sidelines doing nothing? Meck pushed a stabilizing spell across Anders hoping to stop anything from shifting where it shouldn’t. Unfortunately the influx of magic woke Anders up. Meck pushed down on his shoulder when he tried to move.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“In case you missed it there’s a battle going on,” Anders waved a hand toward the two men battling it out with swords and shields.

“I noticed,” Meck said. “But you are in no condition to do anything. You have some broken bones. I’m trying to figure out how to get you to the other side of the battle to heal you. I’m afraid I don’t have any teleporting spells.” Magic to transfer people from one place to another was a myth. Meck was sure someone could do it but that someone wasn’t him.

“I can make it,” Anders said completely disregarding his injury.

“I don’t think you can.” Now wasn’t the time to tiptoe around the idiot trying to pretend he was well.

“We don’t have a choice.”

“We have several. I can run across and fetch someone, we can wait and see if the battle ends soon, I can perform more of my limited healing magic and hope for the best.” Meck paused as he thought over different scenarios. “That’s all I can think of right now.”

“You can help me over to the healer tents and stop complaining,” Anders offered.

Meck scowled at the general. “You could also be stabbed to death by the enemy while we are walking across the battlefield.”

“Or by my wizard,” Anders smirked at Meck’s expression. “You are looking rather homicidal, my sweet.”

“I’ll give you sweet,” Meck growled. “Don’t look at me like that. I thought you were dead.”

“How is he?” A tall man with sharp features and an air of authority kneeled down beside them.

“I think he has a few broken bones,” Harry said automatically. “I think it is minor but I don’t know. I can’t get him to stay still enough to check.” He pouted.

“I’m Prince Farlon. Anders is one of my best generals. How much do you want to bet that he’s also the worst patient?

Meck exchanged knowing smiles with the prince before it occurred to him how familiar he was being with someone of royal blood. “I’m sure he is, your majesty.”

“Now no reason to be so formal. We are battlefield friends after all. If you want to take Anders over to the healers I can protect you from attacks.”

Meck considered that while looking at the battle that raged on around them. “Very well.” He wouldn’t be willing to take anyone’s else’s offer but surely the prince had extra training or two in order to keep him and his entourage safe.

 

 

Welcome Birthday Guest Tara Lain!

Hi. I’m so happy to be here wishing Amber tons of happiness, joy and success for her birthday and new year. Amber asked for a birthday story, and I was torn as to which character would get to celebrate. Today (Nov 29th) I’m celebrating the release of a new book called Death Dancer, my first murder mystery romance. My heroes are a brilliant, bad boy ballet dancer and a by-the-book police detective. Somehow, however, they didn’t inspire a birthday story. On Dec 7th, I have another new release, Cowboys Don’t Come Out, that deserves a birthday but I don’t want to give away too much of the story before you read it. So I decided to turn to another recent release, SPELL CAT, for some serious birthday inspiration! Here goes.

 

Killian’s Magic Birthday

 

“Merrrrwaowrrr!”

Blaine paused in his steps just long enough for Aloysius to sail through the air from the top of the cabinet and land on his shoulder. He reached up and scratched under the sleek, black chin and got the expected purr. “Sorry guy. I know you’re not getting enough attention, but we’ve got shit to do.”

Carrying Aloysius, he walked into the kitchen where Jimmy and Lavender Janx were bending down, staring into the open oven.

Jimmy stroked a hand over Lavenders rigid back. “It’s okay, honey. I told you not to do it this way.”

Lavender stood to her not inconsiderable height holding a square pan she held with oven mitts in front of her. Okay, it was in a baking dish. Beyond that, it’s identity failed. Black, oozing some kind of gelatinous mess from its center, it looked like a candidate for the trash can.

Blaine tried not to laugh. “One of your potions go wrong?”

Lavender flashed her brilliant pansy-colored eyes at him. “I’m a failure as a woman. I can’t bake a damned cake.”

Blaine gave in to the grin. “Fortunately you don’t have to succeed as a woman — ” He made quotation marks in the air. “ — since you’re the greatest witch of your generation.”

“Humpf. If you don’t count the birthday boy.” She set the mess down on the counter and crossed her arms. “I really wanted to make him something with my own hands.”

Jimmy said, “How about you conjure him something with your own hands? Blaine needs the oven and we need to get home.”

“Ooookay.” She stared at the failed confection then up at the cat. “Come on Al, give me a boost.” She waved her hand, Aloysius’s blue eyes glowed and the burnt cake transformed into a breathtaking pillar of frosting and flowers.

Blaine shook his head. “Jesus you guys!”

Lavender gave him a look. “Sorry to be challenging your physicist convictions so blatantly, dear. But desperate times and all that.”

“Sometimes it’s tough being the only human in this gathering.” That thought had a devastating ring of truth.

Jimmy said, “We’ll see you tomorrow for the community party. We ordered a cake from the bakery for that one.”

Lavender gave him a scowl and grabbed her purse from the counter. “I hope this one tastes good anyway. You two have a lovely private birthday.” She waggled her eyebrows. “I guess I should have said you three.” She walked over and gave Aloysius a scratch behind his ears. “Night Al. See you tomorrow.”

Blaine walked Jimmy and Lavender to the door.

Jimmy said, “Do you think Killian will be surprised?”

“I hope so. He knows about tomorrow but not tonight.”

“I wish I could see his face.”

Blaine smiled. He was glad no one would see Killian’s expression but him since he planned to do some serious kissing on that face. “Thanks for the lovely cake. Killian’s going to love it.”

“Way more than the other one.” Jimmy laughed and Lavender gave him a smack on his arm. He chuckled all the way down the stairs.

Blaine closed the door and hurried back to the kitchen, still carrying Al. He glanced at his watch. Three o’clock. Killian got out of his last class at five. Perfect. Blaine took out the beef roast he’d had sitting in herbs in the refrigerator and set it on the counter.

“Merwaor.”

“Yes, you’ll get some too.”

The oven was still warm from Lavender’s cake efforts, so he set it to preheat and retrieved the mashed potato casserole and the salad makings. A few minutes later, the roast was cooking, the salad was made, and the table was arranged with the fresh flowers he’d bought as a centerpiece. Champagne chilled in the refrigerator. As a piece de resistance he grabbed a package of confetti and put it on the coffee table so he wouldn’t forget it. He’d station himself beside the door and be ready with a shower of golden flakes when Killian entered. See, even humans can be tricky. He chuckled.

“Hey guy, I think we can sit for a while.” Blaine grabbed his latest physics journal, flipped off his shoes, and flopped on the couch. Aloysius jumped from his shoulders and staked out his lap. He started to read.

The sound of the key in the lock shot through him like a witch’s spell and his eyes popped open. Killian! Damn I fell asleep.

He leaped from the couch getting a wail from Aloysius, grabbed the confetti package and ripped it with his teeth as he took two giant leaps toward the door and felt his legs crumbling under him. Clearly the most asleep part of him. Flailing like a windmill, he glanced up into Killian’s surprised blue eyes as he fell in a heap to the floor, simultaneously throwing a handful of confetti in a move that rivaled a major league pitcher – but with far less effect. It plopped to the rug in a damp wad as a crash sounded behind him.

“Blaine! Gods man, are you okay!” Killian fell to his knees beside Blaine, his mane of pale hair whirling around him. Killian even looked good when he was about to have a coronary.

Blaine nodded. “Shit.”

“Baby, what happened?”

He sighed. What a loser. “I wanted to surprise you and I fell asleep – mostly my legs fell asleep.”

Killian’s lips pressed together. Clearly he was about to split a gut – the witch. “Well, you certainly surprised me.”

Blaine reached up, wrapped his hand around Killian’s neck and pulled him down until they were nose to nose. “Happy Birthday.”

“Thank you. This will be the happiest – uh, do you smell something burning?”

“Shit!” He leaped up, slamming their noses together.

“Ow!”

“Damn, I’m sorry.” He looked closely at Killian’s beautiful, straight nose. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” He rubbed his nose.

“I’ve got to save my roast!” He jumped to his feet, found them working again, and ran to the kitchen. A trail of wispy gray drifted out of the oven door. “Shitfire and damnation!” He pulled open the door, smoke pouring out. He reached for the vent just as the fire alarm started blaring. “Crap!”

The phone rang and Killian ran to grab it. “No, no. I’m sorry. It’s just a burnt roast. False alarm. Yes. Thank you.”

Just a burnt roast. Stupid, but he kind of wanted to cry. His beautiful dinner, wrecked.

Killian walked up beside him, Aloysius on his shoulder, and stared into the oven at the remains of the meal. “That just needs a little magic.” He waved his hand and the roast returned to browned perfection.

Blaine sighed. “Why do I even try?”

Killian wrapped his arms around him. “But I love that you tried. I could never have cooked that roast in the real world.”

“Obviously, neither could I.”

“Blaine, what’s wrong?”

Blaine looked at Killian, his eyes glancing over his shoulder and – no! “My table.” Somehow in the melee, something had hit the flower vase he’d used as a centerpiece. Wilted flowers lay across the plates and on the floor, water dripped from the tablecloth.

Killian followed Blaine’s line of sight. Without taking his hands from Blaine’s shoulders, he flicked his fingers and the table rearranged. Even the flowers looked fresher. “Come on.”

Killian wrapped an arm around Blaine’s waist and walked him into the bedroom. Leaving Blaine standing, Killian ambled into the walk-in closet and pulled off his shirt revealing his smooth, white skin molded by subtle musculature.

Blaine couldn’t contain the grin. “Can I help with that?”

“How about you remove your own shirt – very slowly?”

“Gee, do I have to do all the work?” He chuckled.

“No. Actually, you don’t.” Killian raised a hand and Blaine’s shirt untucked, unbuttoned and flew to the corner chair where it lay itself down.

Blaine laughed. Killian didn’t show off his magic much. They mostly lived like humans. But it was pretty impossible for Blaine to forget his husband was the most powerful male witch in ten generations.

Killian shook his head. “Still too many clothes.” Blaine’s belt unwrapped itself from his waist like a skinny python and flew to the chair, followed by his jeans that slid down his legs then seemed to wait patiently for him to step out of them before joining the shirt and belt.

“Here I am. What are you going to do with me?”

Killian had stripped to the skin and walked toward Blaine, his body showing an interested but not demanding condition. He pulled him down on the bed and rolled him to his back. Killian lay over him, peering into Blaine’s face. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

“No fair. You’re wearing your most persuasive outfit.”

“Well, it is my birthday suit.” He smiled.

Blaine snorted but then he gazed into Killian’s eyes. “You and Jimmy and Lavender, even Sammy, are so amazing and capable that I feel kind of inept sometimes. Don’t mind me. It’s a human thing.”

Killian tucked his head into Blaine’s neck and spoke softly. “Listen my human, there’s only one true magic in the world and you’re the master of it. Everything we see, touch, taste and hear is made of love, the fabric of the universe. Your love quickened me, made me the witch master, and shapes every power I have. Nothing in my world is stronger.” The sound of thunder rumbled above the building.

Blaine’s heart wouldn’t fit in his chest. “I love you, Killian. You opened my eyes and showed me the true wonder of the world. “

The thunder rumbled louder.

Blaine laughed. “You’re playing Killian’s symphony.”

“When I’m with you, nothing holds back the power.”

Blaine smiled. “I’d like to take this symphony to new heights, but I seem to remember a perfectly cooked roast and a perfectly set table waiting for us.”

Killian laughed. ”I’ll bet I can reheat it.”

Blaine joined in. “Or I can call for pizza.”

Their lips met as Aloysius calmly chewed his next bite of roast.

 

I hope you enjoyed Killian’s birthday party! If you’d like to win a copy of Spell Cat, please enter below!

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Today is the release day for my first murder mystery romance called Death Dancer. Below is an excerpt —

 

EXCERPT 2: DEATH DANCER by Tara Lain

 

deathdancer_9781786515179_800

Amazon | Pride Publishing

 

A tattooed dancer and a by-the-book detective dance with death in the ego-fueled halls of ballet.

Bad boy of ballet Valentin ‘Val’ Aalto stands poised on the verge of huge success—except for one big obstacle. Influential lead dancer Harry Hardesty hates Val and cheats him out of the lead in Romeo and Juliet.

When Hardesty winds up dead, Val looks like a prime suspect—and gets thrown under the detailed and methodical inspection of the handsome NY detective with the stick up his butt, Andrew Preston. At first, Preston believes Hardesty may be the victim of the chilling Dancer Killer who’s struck three victims, but evidence stacks up against Val.

Still, Andrew can’t seem to keep his hands off his suspect and when the Dancer Killer starts stalking Val, Andrew is forced to choose between his dedication to a job he loves and his growing passion for his beautiful dancer. Together Val and Andrew discover that chaos can be beautiful, one should choose desserts wisely, and love can even trump death in the rehearsal halls of ballet.

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His eyes opened wide. Dark. Why am I awake? He shivered. No so-called uncles trying to slip in beside him or boys sneaking in to drop ice in his bed.

A sound, between a scratch and a squeak, sent the feel of that long-remembered ice down his back. Don’t move yet.

Squrunch. Woosh, Squrucnch.

Where? The door? Too close. The window then?

Shit, the branch Andrew had freaked over. Val’s heart slammed so hard it had to make a sound. The sheets over him actually shook.

Andrew.

He snaked out a hand and grabbed his cell phone. He pulled it under the covers. Speed dial, baby.

One ring. Two. Three— “Preston.” Thanks for police reflexes.

He put his head under the covers and whispered, “Andrew. It’s me.”

“I know. Why are you whispering? What’s wrong?”

“Someone’s trying to break in, I think.”

“Shit. Jump out of bed. Yell into the phone. Make it clear you’re talking to the police. Turn on all the lights. Now. Go.”

Val threw back the covers, grabbed for the bedside light and flipped it on, half expecting to see some killer standing in his room, but nobody. “Police. Get here now! Someone’s breaking into my apartment. Hurry. Please!” He raced around the apartment, turning on every light.

Andrew’s voice, panting. “What do you see?”

“Nothing. No one’s here.”

“Look out the window, but stand back in case he has a gun.”

“Shit. Seriously?”

“No, it’s okay. Don’t do it.”

“Hell.” He sidled to the window, pulled back the blinds and looked out. A sliver of light from his apartment shone into the darkness outside, although darkness was relative and his street pretty much never got more than dim. Staring between the buildings, he might have caught a glimpse of movement below, but it could have been a cat or a shadow. “I don’t see anything.”

A siren cut through the general noise of traffic that created the background of Val’s world. Nothing unusual about sirens, but this one got closer. Andrew was still breathing hard. Was he running? Val looked again. “I hear the black and whites.”

“Yeah. Just pulled up in front of your building, I think. They’ll buzz. Don’t let them in until I tell you.” The tinny squawk of a police radio sounded in the background. Andrew seemed to be talking. He came back on the cell. “Have they buzzed?”

The buzzer sounded.

“Yeah. Just now.”

“Okay. Let them in. I’ll be there in a second.”

Val started to the door where the buzzer was, stopped and laughed.

“What?”

“I forgot I’m bare-assed. I’d better grab my jeans fast. See you in a second.” Still chuckling, he hit the buzzer, grabbed his pants from the floor and was zipping them as the police knocked on his door. New stair speed records. He opened.

The young female cop’s eyes widened just a little. “Valentin Aalto?”

He nodded.

“I understand you had an attempted break-in?” Two male cops in uniform stood behind her.

“I think so, but I’m not sure. Come in while I grab a shirt.”

Her half smile said ‘not on my account’, but she didn’t voice it. “Tell me what happened, sir.”

He pulled a long-sleeved T-shirt over his head. “I was asleep. I’m a light sleeper. I woke up and heard a strange sound, like a scrunching and a squeaking. I might not have thought anything about it since I’d double-locked the door, but An— Detective Preston inspected this apartment and suggested the limbs on the tree outside should be cut since they hang near the apartment windows. I got worried and called him.”

“Why didn’t you dial nine-one-one?”

Val speared her with his eyes. “I’m a dancer with the NYBT. Detective Preston is investigating the murders of dancers. He was my first thought. Is there a problem with that?”

“Of course not.” She turned to the male officers. “Check the tree and the area around it. The apartment window from the outside also, although we may have to come back with a ladder. I’ll look at it from in here.”

“No, thank you, Officer. I will.”

Oh, man, was Andrew a sight to make a scared dancer’s heart go pitty-pat.

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Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 33. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.  She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books.  Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

 

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