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Welcome Birthday Guest Charlie Richards!

A huge Thank You to Amber for inviting me to join in her annual November Birthday Bash! Best wishes to her, and I hope she has a fantastic birthday.

This year Amber has asked us to write about our most significant birthday…as well as the traditional why.

It took me a while to come up with something. First off, if we’re focusing on a birthday that is supposed to have some significance, then one would assume it would impact our life in some way. That made me think of my childhood. After so many years, I’ve had a lot of birthdays. How many of your childhood birthdays do you remember once you’ve hit almost forty? Me, not so many…

I recall the standard little girl birthday parties with friends and cake, balloons and games. That’s not really significant. Then I started thinking about gifts. Did someone give me a gift that impacted my life? That made me recall one year when my parents purchased a guided trail ride for me and one friend. Another year my parents purchased a couple of jump lessons for me.

Those were both in my teenage years. That made me recall how most of my memorable gifts involved horses—everything from My Little Ponies to Breyer horses to activities with horses themselves.

Then another memory surfaced. It’s hazy, and I only recall certain images. The excitement and wonder, however, those I remember clear as day.

My best guess, I was ten or eleven. I don’t remember if my birthday actually fell on a Sunday, but that is when my parents did something super special for me. As you all can guess, I was already horse crazy by then. For my fourth Christmas, I was given a stuffed Starlight (the horse from the Rainbow Brite show), and I still have him (yes, even to this day).

Anyway, on this particular Sunday. My parents woke the family early to celebrate my birthday, but they didn’t tell anyone where we were going.

After what I remember was a pretty long drive, we turned down this dirt, tree-lined driveway. We drove through an open gate, and a huge clearing opened up before us.

My eyes widened, and excitement pounded through my young body.
There was a parking area full of trucks, cars, and horse trailers. There were gorgeous horses tied up around the place. People in riding habits milled around, as did some in nice clothes and others in jeans and shirts. Several riding rings were off to one side, complete with small grand-stand seating. Inside those rings were large, colorful jumps.

My parents had taken me to my very first jump competition.

For a couple of hours, I watched leggy, toned horses canter around a ring and jump over fences in a myriad of colors and designs. Each time a horse and rider crossed in front of me, I found myself wishing I were the one riding it. I longed to feel the power of the animal beneath me and enjoy the wind on my face as we soared through the air together.

A not-so-silent love was born.

I remember I didn’t want to leave, but my parents could only deal with my siblings’ boredom for so long. My family didn’t understand or share my obsession. Ha ha.

Over the years, I went to summer camps that focused on horseback riding. My favorite was the one that had the opportunity to jump our lesson horses, and I went there every summer for several years. Although, playing freeze tag on horseback is definitely a close second. =D

The beauty of the animals as they flew through the air is something I still enjoy to this day. I enjoy watching competitions on the television and, of course, the summer Olympics. While I will never jump at that level, I have had the pleasure of taking years of lessons and jumping in low level competitions. I still get a thrill out of flying through the air with my horse, landing safely on the other side, and running off toward the next jump.

Hopefully, that will never change, and I’ll keep riding until the end of my days.

That’s all for me, my friends. Thank you so much for joining me today. Once again, many thanks to Amber for having me today. I hope your birthday is everything you want and more.

If you’re in the mood for a little steamy gargoyle fun, please check out my latest release in the A Paranormal’s Love series – Book #28 – The Bachelor Thief – which came out November 16th. Here’s the blurb and an excerpt, plus where you can find it at eXtasy Books. It’ll be on Amazon soon, too.

Happy Birthday, Amber!

Extasy Books

Blurb
Attain Walsh knew something was odd at Nicholas Lindson’s ranch. Ever since his best friend married Sandra, things have turned…strange. Wanting to get to the bottom of things, Attain begins to show up unexpectedly. He’s shocked to stumble across Nicholas making out with someone other than his wife. The idea that his buddy was a cheat had never crossed his mind.

Unable to help himself, Attain confronts Nicholas…and learns that the marriage is a sham. Both Nicholas and Sandra have separate partners.

Not only that, but his friend’s partner—Bodb—isn’t human. He’s a gargoyle.

When Attain meets more of them, he’s shocked to find himself attracted to one of the huge beasts—a dark-blue gargoyle named Ssimeas. Then he learns about mates—someone the gargoyle considers the other half of their soul—and Ssimeas claims that Attain is his.

But Attain is a confirmed bachelor. He has no desire to be anyone’s soul mate. Can Attain convince the gargoyle to leave him alone? Or will the male’s flattering pursuit sway him into turning his life upside down?

Excerpt
“You know,” Attain murmured, finding his voice. “I’d thought something weird was going on with you for a while.” Rubbing the back of his neck with one hand, he waved his other at the pair who still stood in each other’s arms. “But I sure never woulda thought it was this.” He shook his head as he muttered, “I didn’t even realize you were into guys.”
Bodb turned and gazed down at Nicholas, a smile toying at the edges of his kiss-swollen lips. “You did tell me you thought we should share the truth with Attain.”
Nicholas nodded. “I did.” Then he chuckled as he eased from Bodb’s arms. “Not the way I thought it would happen, but—” He shrugged, the color easing from his cheeks as he waved toward the table. “Bodb will get us all coffee. Have a seat.”
To Attain’s continuing surprise, Nicholas tipped his face up, and Bodb pressed a quick peck to his lips before heading through the swinging door that led to the kitchen.
“Shit, man,” Attain hissed, grabbing the back of a chair and yanking it out. Discomfort flooded him as he plopped onto it. “What the fuck?”
Nicholas settled at the table across from him. Resting his hands on the table, he rubbed over the dark wood. “Does me kissing a man disgust you that much?”
So not the question I thought he’d ask.
“No,” Attain burst out, scowling at his friend. “I couldn’t give a shit that Bodb is a guy.” Rolling his eyes, he snapped, “It’s the fact that you’re cheating on Sandra…and you’ve been married less than two months.” Attain scoffed as he scowled at Nicholas. “What happened, man? You know I never settled down to date anyone because I have an issue with that. Not after—”
Snapping his mouth shut, Attain shook his head. He was not going to think about her. Attain continued to glare at Nicholas, uncertain what else to say without sounding like an asshole.
“Ah.”
How Nicholas made that one word sound so damn understanding, Attain had no idea. When Nicholas reached across the table and rested his fingertips on Attain’s clenched hand, Attain jolted in his seat.
“I’m sorry, Attain,” Nicholas murmured. “I should have remembered how sensitive you are to cheating.” After tapping the back of his clenched fist, he added, “That’s not what’s happening here. I assure you.”
After sucking in a deep breath, Attain let it out slowly. At the same time, he eased his hand away and placed his palms flat on the table. “Okay.” Attain held Nicholas’s gaze, seeing the concern in his dark-brown eyes. “So what’s going on here?”
“Okay, well…” Nicholas straightened in his seat as Bodb entered carrying three mugs. The two in his right hand he placed on his and Nicholas’s side of the table. Bodb reached over and put the third mug before Attain. “Thanks, Bodb,” Nicholas stated, grabbing a cup and cradling it between his palms.
Bodb nodded, then settled beside Nicholas.
Nicholas cleared his throat, then asked, “At the wedding, did you notice how bigoted Sandra’s father was toward Mitch and his partner?”
While Attain didn’t know what it had to do with anything, he nodded. “Kinda hard not to.”
The man had never met a cliché he hadn’t embraced.
“Well, Sandra is a lesbian. She’s been in a relationship with a woman named Maggie for several years.” Nicholas threaded his fingers through Bodb’s, a wry smile curving his lips. “I agreed to be her beard, and she didn’t care who I fucked as long as I was discreet.” Then Nicholas gazed at Bodb. “Then on the trip with Baltus to track down Mitch, I met Bodb, and—” His smile turned sappy-looking as he held the older man’s gaze. “Well, Bodb understood my situation, and he’s been patient about it while we wait for Sandra to decide it’s time to come out.” Nicholas returned his focus to Attain, a happy light gleaming in his eyes. “His patience has paid off because that time was just last week. Sandra and I are getting an annulment, but we didn’t want to tell anyone until it went through.”
Gaping, Attain stared at Nicholas for a long minute, waiting for more. There had to be more, right? However, Nicholas just smiled at him and sipped his coffee.
Attain lifted his mug to his lips and drank deeply of the dark, bitter brew. Grimacing, he set it down and reached for the glass sugar decanter in the middle of the table. During those few precious seconds it took to doctor his coffee, Attain swiftly processed everything his best friend had said.
There’s still more. There has to be.
Nicholas and Sandra having separate relationships didn’t explain the extra wranglers—big men who looked a whole lot like security or guards.
Focusing on Bodb, Attain narrowed his eyes. “You’re still hiding something,” he declared, deciding to be blunt. “What’s with the bodyguards in disguise? Are they your men?”
Bodb nodded as he smirked. “They are my men.”
“Told you Attain was observant,” Nicholas stated around a snicker.
“Indeed you did.” Bodb gripped his coffee mug in his left hand while slinging his right arm around Nicholas’s shoulders. He threaded his fingers through Nicholas’s hair, petting him. “Do you think it’s safe to share everything with him?”
Nicholas nodded once. “I told you we would have to eventually,” he reminded.
Bodb sighed deeply. “I know. I had just hoped to be able to put it off as long as possible.” His thick lips twisted into a grimace. “Telling outsiders is dangerous.”
“Attain isn’t, though,” Nicholas insisted, reaching over and squeezing Bodb’s thigh. “I’m sure.”
Scowling, confusion and concern flooding him, Attain leaned forward and tapped the table with his forefingers. “Hello. Sitting right here.” His belligerent comment drew both men’s attention. Attain focused a hard look at Bodb. “Did you drag Nicholas into something illegal? Something dangerous? Because if you did, I’ll—”
“Just stop, Attain,” Nicholas countered, lifting his hand palm out. “It’s not like that.”
“Then what’s it like?” Attain glanced between them, trying to read Nicholas’s expression, but all he saw was amusement. “What’s so funny?”
Grinning broadly, Nicholas waggled his brows as he leaned forward, resting his forearms on the table. “You know how whenever someone tries to explain something unbelievable, they always start with…now I know how crazy this sounds, but I swear it’s true?”
“Yeah?” Attain murmured, cocking his head. Just what was his buddy going to tell him?
“Well.” Nicholas rubbed the back of his neck as he cleared his throat. He turned his attention to Bodb. “Now, I realize how hard this was for Mitch to explain to me.”
Bodb chuckled as he grinned. “I could do a little show and tell first.”
Nicholas rolled his eyes. “That would just freak him out.”
Attain huffed a sigh. “What the hell, man?” He waved his hand in a go ahead motion. “Just blurt it out already.”
“Okay.” Nicholas tipped his chin in a quick nod. “Paranormals are real.” He jutted his thumb toward Bodb. “This is Elder Bodb, a leader of the gargoyle race, and I’m his mate.” Pointing toward the back door, Nicholas added, “Those big men you see wandering around. Those are his security, gargoyle enforcers.”
Glancing between the pair, Attain waited for the punch line. Then the reason Nicholas prefaced his explanation with—I know how crazy this sounds—hit him. His buddy actually believed what he said.
Nicholas patted Bodb’s thigh. “Okay. Now time for the show and tell part.”
Bodb nodded and rose to his feet.
Attain watched as Bodb stripped off his shirt and kicked off his boots. He glanced at Nicholas, who held up his index finger in a wait a sec gesture. Gritting his teeth, Attain returned his focus to Bodb…just in time to see…something…
Bodb’s skin had changed, darkened, and taken on a distinctively purple hue. He grew taller, larger, broader…his jaw squarer, and—
“What. The. Fuck?” Attain roared the words as he leaped to his feet.