I thought I’d do a recap of my latest releases.
When JB auditions for a gig, a remorseless queen traps him in the Fae kingdom. Raine avoids Fae court intrigue, but when JB goes missing, Raine gives up his freedom to save the man he loves.
Jimmy Bo Jackson auditions for a gig but ends up stuck in the Fae kingdom unable to return to his man.
Prince Raine avoids the stifling environment of the Fae court, but when JB is trapped, he’ll jump into the intrigue and backstabbing, and willingly give up everything to save the man he loves.
Seeing the line of musicians filling the hallway, JB tightened his hold on the battered guitar case until the hard plastic bit into his fingers. Nerves rattled through his body like an earthquake, shattering his confidence as it went. He had to get this job. The cops had shut down the club he currently played at, claiming it was a drug haven or that it harbored prostitutes or something like that. He didn’t really pay attention until the ‘Closed’ sign went up, along with the boards across the windows. When JB told Raine about the club shutting down, his lover had smiled crazily like Christmas had come three months early.
Raine had never liked the bar. He always claimed the owner watched JB’s ass too much for Raine’s comfort. Of course Raine didn’t appreciate the way anyone looked at JB or that other men had eyes.
“Hey, JB!” Mike Nelson nodded from his spot further up the line. Mike had gelled his short blond hair until it stood up in spikes, covered his arms with multiple bracelets, and dressed in strategically ripped clothing.
His fit body drew more than one interested gaze.
JB nodded back. He and Mike often auditioned for the same gigs. Mike had the sort of star presence most musicians dreamed about, while JB had a more low-key style. Needless to say, they weren’t buddies. They’d be frenemies if they were friends.
Quickly sliding into line, JB resolutely pushed the competition out of his mind. He needed to focus on his possible future employment. Nothing would derail him faster than fixating on Mike instead of focusing on his own music.
The ad claimed the clients were looking for someone who could play a stringed instrument, vocals optional. Kind of an odd request, but a musician looking for work didn’t question eccentricity, especially considering the generous salary listed.
How hard could performing for some VIPs be anyway? If it turned into a regular gig JB could come home for once without reeking of tobacco and booze. As long as the job didn’t involve removing his clothes, JB would take it if offered. Hell, forget that. He’d even be all for working in the nude if it got him a timely paycheck.
He didn’t suffer from excessive modesty.
Unfortunately, before he left the apartment, Raine had told JB if he had to take off even one piece of clothing, to walk away. “Because if they think they’re going to get a cheap thrill over my man, they’d better think again.”
Why Raine thought anyone else would want to see JB’s skinny, naked ass, he didn’t know, but Raine’s gravelly threat almost had him heading back to bed and letting the man mark him all over again. JB could still feel the sting from Raine’s teeth on his shoulder from the night before.
Unfortunately, JB really needed a job and this one appealed to him more than any of the other auditions currently posted. If he didn’t get a gig soon, he might as well throw in the towel and live off his boyfriend.
Raine would be ecstatic.
After three years of living with Raine, JB knew he could survive just about anything as long as he had his man. Raine had helped JB through alcoholism, supported him with his struggling career, and removed him from a bad boyfriend situation. In return Raine had JB’s complete devotion.
Although JB knew he should be focusing on what he wanted to play, he couldn’t help glancing over the competition. There were the usual young, shiny kids still in school looking for a weekend gig and the sallow-complexioned older guys who’d seen more action than JB ever wanted to experience. A few musicians JB recognized, they exchanged head nods, and the rest of them JB ignored.
They weren’t anything to worry about.
Finding an empty space along the wall, JB slid until his butt reached the wooden floor. He knew from experience it would take at least a few hours before his turn came up, assuming they didn’t hire someone before they even heard him play. It wouldn’t be the first time. They were under no obligation to listen to JB just because he showed up. A musician’s life didn’t include fairness in the job description.
Opening his battered guitar case, JB lifted out his instrument. With the guitar in his hands JB felt settled for the first time since arriving for the audition. Left to him by his daddy, a man who died while JB still wore diapers, he thought of it like an old friend. When Raine offered to buy JB a new guitar, they had their first real fight.
Taking a slow, cleansing breath he started tuning his guitar, the familiar motion a balm for his shaky nerves. JB closed his eyes and strummed a few bars before warming his throat on the piece he was writing for Raine. He and Raine weren’t the mushy type of lovers. JB had never even said those three little words, but the knowledge lived strong and fierce between them. JB hoped this song would show Raine his feelings without making his lover uncomfortable.
Sinking into the music, JB jerked in surprise when someone kicked his left boot. He had to blink a few times to pull out of the well of deep concentration he’d slipped into. Scowling, he looked up to find a black-haired, muscular man standing above him wearing a frown like the one JB’s mother used to give him when he’d particularly annoyed her. The stranger reminded JB a little bit of Raine. Something about the way both men stood as if they were in charge and expected everyone to listen to their demands. When Raine gave JB his commanding look it made JB harder than rock. With this guy JB had to resist the urge to pull the knife from his boot and stab the stranger in the foot. He hated people who were assholes on principle.
JB always carried his knife. He never knew when the place he played at might have some questionable clientele. Raine had gifted it to JB on their first anniversary. Some people gave flowers, JB’s lover wanted him to be well-armed.
“Hey, man,” JB greeted the intruder with a guarded look as he struggled to keep a check on his temper. What kind of person interrupted a man mid-song?
“You’re up next,” the man said. His eyes were dark and flat as if this entire situation bored the hell out of him.
JB glanced up the line. There were at least thirty musicians ahead of him.
“I don’t want to cause no trouble,” JB drawled as he eyed the disgruntled expressions on the other musicians’ faces. They looked like they’d happily disembowel him for cutting ahead in line.
“You’ve been requested.” The man’s expression didn’t encourage a negative response.
JB shrugged. If the client wished to hear him next he wouldn’t say no. JB needed a job no matter what Raine said. He knew his lover would be more than happy to take care of their bills, but a man had to have his pride, and JB had more than his fair share. He was no man’s kept boy.
JB stood with his guitar in one hand, his case in the other, and nodded to the dark-haired man. “I’m ready.”
The stranger looked him up and down before turning and walking along the hall. JB hurried after the guy, trying not to trip on instrument cases or people as he went. He could tell from their expressions that more than one musician wouldn’t mind watching JB fall on his face.
They stopped before a door with the word ‘stage’ printed on it.
The guy turned to talk to JB, his tone as serious as death. “Don’t ask them any questions. When I open the door I want you to walk onto the stage and play that song you were playing before.”
“But it’s still a work in progress,” JB protested. “I have more polished pieces ready for the audition.” He always liked to bring his best to the table. How much would they be able to tell from a half written song?
The man scowled. “I’ll warn them that you’re still working on it, but you play that song.”
JB shrugged. “Okay.” He wouldn’t argue with a man over a rough piece of music. The customer was always right and all that crap. “Can I play another one after?” Maybe he’d get a second chance if they liked the first one enough.
“If it’s necessary.” The man’s tone indicated JB had one shot and he’d better not blow it. It took a lot of effort to resist the urge to turn around and leave. After all JB didn’t think he’d get the job with the audition piece requested by Mr Tall, Dark and Scowly.
Opening the door, the man, whose name JB still didn’t know, waved for him to enter first. Nervous energy jolted through JB’s body like a lightning storm when he peered at the brightly-lit stage. He took another slow, cleansing breath to find his center before walking across the wooden boards. His boots thudded on the stage, the sound echoing in the cavernous room with each step he took.
JB squinted under blinding lights. He couldn’t see the audience and the heat from the light bulbs soaked his shirt with sweat before he’d even started. JB nodded towards where he guessed people were seated, as he couldn’t see them, before setting down his guitar case and launching into Raine’s song. In JB’s mind, the melody lacked a bit of something he had yet to define. The piece needed more fine-tuning but the client requested this music so they were going to get it. Taking a long, slow, breath JB blocked out everything else and focused on singing his love story. His heart bled across the stage with each strum of the guitar.
The song finished with the notes fading into a soft melody, ringing of love and commitment. At the end of the song a long silence greeted him. No coughing, no mutters or whispers that JB could hear, only quiet.
“I can play something else,” he offered even as his hopes sank faster than his cousin’s rowboat after a gator ate half of it.
Silence never came before a job offer, at least not in JB’s experience. Sighing, he kneeled beside his guitar case, opened the latches, and quickly settled his instrument back inside before snapping it closed again.
Standing up he bowed to his mute audience. “Thank you for the opportunity.”
No sounds came from the silent listeners when JB turned to leave. He was almost glad he didn’t get the job. Anyone who couldn’t even thank him for coming lacked basic manners. JB didn’t like to work for people like that.
Shrugging, he headed back to the door he’d entered through. Tomorrow he would scan the ads again and find another place to audition.
The weight of failure rested heavily on his shoulders and although he tried to philosophically brush off the lack of response, silently he wondered where he’d gone wrong. Maybe the people he sang for didn’t have the same musical taste as the guy who plucked JB from the line. He knew he had a good voice and his guitar playing was top-notch, but somehow he never seemed to catch a break. There apparently weren’t a lot of jobs for battered country singers with attitude. JB sighed again. Raine would be so happy, he preferred JB at home anyway.
Grabbing the doorknob, a tingle of electricity zapped JB. He didn’t know how but apparently he’d collected a crap load of static crossing the stage.
“Shit.” JB shook his hand and reached for the knob again. He gave a soft gasp of relief when he didn’t receive a second jolt.
Opening the door, his pleasure over not being shocked vanished.
Walls, floor, a glowing mysterious light source, were all white.
“What the fuck?”
Walking through the doorway, JB looked around, his mouth dropping open. Where were the other musicians? For that matter where the hell did the building go? This hallway didn’t look anything like the one JB left to enter the stage. Maybe he’d gone the wrong way. Turning back around, he stopped in surprise.
The wall, smooth and unblemished, mocked him with its blankness. Had he fallen and hit his head on the stage? Would he wake up in a hospital bed with a million things beeping around him like in the movies? What the fuck had happened?
Lian Blythorpe avoids entanglements. Nevair Dragonfang is deeply entrenched by them. When they meet, their outlooks change and they forge a bond. But not everyone is happy with that outcome.
His parents’ violent ending makes Lian Blythorpe vow to keep things light between himself and any partner. His promise is abandoned when he meets Nevair Dragonfang, the religious leader for an entire planet. One glance into Nevair’s intense gaze and Lian melts. It only takes them coming together one time for Lian to find himself captured by his sexy mate to the point where he can’t imagine life without him. Unfortunately, not everyone is pleased with their bond and one man’s jealousy sends Lian to a trial by fire he may not survive.
Nevair Dragonfang sat in his large wooden chair and contemplated the wall. As Prime Pontifex of the planet of Dragait, Nevair served as religious advisor for the four planetary kings. Every Pontifex before him had kept the most current picture of the planetary rulers on the wall to keep them humble. To remind the religious heads they served not only the goddess, but also the people.
Nevair needed to update his collection. The kings were finding their mates and they should be added to the wall of pictures. Next to King Raiston, Nevair needed to add the king’s mate Joriah Eprion and their third, Duke Klarian. Nevair still had reservations about a triad working out well but as both dragons claimed Jory, Nevair agreed to sanction their relationship and had performed the marriage ceremony himself. He had to approve their bonding despite his personal misgivings because Joriah’s mother, the planet’s goddess, accepted her son’s mates. Nevair refused to go against the will of a goddess. Nothing good had ever come of that.
King Naron’s new mate Tor, a duke in his own right, also needed a picture made. The man, bonded with a space dragon, was probably the most interesting person Nevair had ever met. Tor suffered from the restrictions of both his sight and his dragon, but bore it gracefully and still helped negotiate difficult treaties between planets.
Nevair had no doubt King Avin’s son Prince Kaemon would find a mate soon and take over the throne. Until then, Avin would remain alone on the wall.
When he came to the last king, Nevair sighed. King Zeir was the only dragon ruler living in a tropical habitat. Desert covered three quarters of the planet of Dragait, with the remaining quarter being tropical forest. Years ago, King Zeir had lost his mate to a terrible accident, sending his dragon into a downward spiral. Under the crushing pain of his sorrow, the king turned feral and took most of his people with him. No one travelled to the tropical forest any more. To enter would be to embrace death.
Because of King Zeir’s reaction, many dragon people now hesitated before taking a mate. No one wanted to be like the half-crazed dragon king who lost connection with his humanity over a century ago.
When he’d first come to his position Nevair had tried to seek out King Zeir. The teleportation pad in his office allowed Nevair to go anywhere on the planet in an instant. He’d barely escaped with his life and a particularly nasty scar on his back attested to his adventures. He regretted not being able to help the king and still prayed to the goddess for guidance. Now that Joriah had married his men, maybe she’d be more open to helping him out.
Rolling his head on his shoulders, Nevair looked out over the city. By tradition, the cathedral sat at the point where King Avin, King Raiston and King Naron’s territories met. Each of the three kingdoms was represented equally and Nevair always wondered if King Zeir’s land had touched the cathedral, too, he might not have lost his way.
A knock at the door distracted him from his solemn thoughts.
Trestair Dragonwing, Nevair’s assistant and best friend, entered the room. “Are we having our afternoon mope?”
“I’m not moping. I’m thinking.” He refused to mention he’d spent the afternoon fixating on his failures.
“Uh, huh.” Tres’s blond hair flopped over his face. He brushed it back with a practiced motion.
“Why don’t you get your hair cut and stop bugging me?” Nevair asked crossly.
Tres smiled. “Because I’m paid to bug you and I wouldn’t be half as sexy without my long hair.”
Nevair laughed. “Who said you’re sexy now?”
“Every guy I hit on at the bars.” Tres gave Nevair a dimpled grin.
Some days Nevair wished he felt comfortable going off to bars to get laid, but he planned to keep himself pure for his mate. Probably a silly conviction, but one he’d decided on at a young age and had never met anyone tempting enough to get him to break that promise.
We are special. We will wait. The soft voice of Nevair’s dragon whispered in his head like a quiet dream. Like all the Pontifex before him, Nevair’s dragon lived like a separate being inside him. Nevair had a closer connection to his dragon than most dragonkin.
He shook his head as he considered Tres’s dating habits. To put it politely, his friend could only be described as a man-slut. Tres considered an empty bed a sign of personal failure. Luckily the Dragait goddess didn’t care who her disciples bedded as long as they were happy. Nevair had heard stories from Pontifex on other planets about goddesses who preferred their worshippers pure and insisted they take vows of chastity. Nevair wondered sometimes if he wouldn’t do better at one of those planets. Although he didn’t know for sure what he wanted in a life partner, when he finally met him, Nevair knew his dragon would let him know.
Tres scowled. “It’s romantic bullshit to wait for your one true mate. What if you never meet him? You’d rather live and die alone?”
Nevair smiled. “I know we differ on this, Tres, but if you haven’t changed my mind over the past twenty years, why do you think you will now?”
Curiosity had Nevair examining Tres more closely. A plain tailored black suit fit his friend’s rangy body and despite its constant flopping, his haircut flattered the sharp lines of his face. Tres appeared as plain as his suit until his smiled. His dimpled grin had tempted many admirers into his bed. Luckily, Nevair had grown up next door to Tres and his friend’s expressions had no effect on his libido. Instead of bedmates they’d become good friends and although they each disapproved of the other’s sexual habits, or lack of them in Nevair’s case, they generally respected the other’s decisions.
Tres raked a hand through his hair. “You’re a beautiful man moldering in this office. You need to get out and meet more people. Look, I found a conference for you. It’s to discuss the latest techniques in dealing with gods and kings. They even named it the Gods and Kings conference.” He held out a compad with a scrolling brochure on the screen.
Nevair laughed. “Great name.”
“And it’s being held on Sizan, the pleasure planet. Gambling, half-dressed men, and all the rich foods you can eat.” Tres waved the tablet towards Nevair.
“And the conference,” Nevair said dryly.
Tres shrugged. “Yeah, you could go to that, too, if you wanted.”
Sighing, Nevair took the device to review the conference lectures. “This does look pretty good. They even have a lecture on goddess persuasion techniques.” Nevair knew he didn’t try to influence Dragait’s goddess as much as he should.
“Ahh, don’t be too hard on yourself, Nevair. She likes you better than anyone else.”
“That doesn’t mean she listens,” Nevair argued.
“Yeah, but now you can threaten to tell Jory on her. That boy might look sweet, but he’s sharper than a dragon tooth and twice as dangerous,” Tres pointed out.
Nevair silently agreed. He wouldn’t say something like that out loud. He never knew when the goddess might be listening, and bad-mouthing her son wouldn’t win him any points.
Looking around his room, Nevair made a decision. “I’ll go. It’s past time I stepped out of my comfort zone. The goddess always says to grow you must experience more of life.”
“Hmm, she might have meant in bed,” Tres teased.
“For you, everything involves the bed.” Nevair rolled his eyes.
“There’s a reason I’m always in a good mood.” Tres laughed. “Take your surly self to a planet of decadence. Maybe you will come back a changed man.”
Nevair didn’t know that he especially wanted to be changed, but he did want to get away for a bit and refresh his soul. Sometimes escaping everyday life now and then made all the difference.