Welcome Birthday Guest Stormy Glenn!

TJ’s Birthday Dilemma
~ A Hot Mess Short Story ~

I’d graduated from high school a couple of weeks ago, I was turning eighteen in a couple of days, and today I was my birthday party. Legally, I’d be an adult, able to make my own decisions and choose which direction my life went.
I knew my fathers would be planning a big birthday party for me, and that was great. I always loved it when the entire family got together. It was the conversation I needed to have with my fathers after that party that was weighing on me.
I’d been talking to my dad for awhile now about joining the service. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to follow in his footsteps and became a SWAT officer, but I wanted to do something that mattered. I figured the service would be a good start.
I just had to break it to my other father. Lany was going to flip his lid.
Lany Delvecchio had rescued me from hell, freeing me from a child slavery ring, and then he had invited me into his home and his heart. Between Lany and Sal, they had given me all the love a child should have and the time I needed to become the person I was today, a person I liked being, a person I hoped they were proud of.
I didn’t like the idea of upsetting them, but I felt strongly about this. I’d discussed it with Sal, my grandfather, Burke, Clarke, and even Vinnie. All men I looked up to. Each one had told me the same thing. I needed to do what felt right to me, and joining the service felt right.
It also felt scary.
Our massive estate was my safe place. Being with my family was my safety place. Hell, even the dog felt safe to me. The thought of leaving this all behind was gutting me, and I wasn’t sure what to do about that, but I also felt an overwhelming need to go.
“Hey, son.”
I glanced toward the doorway. “Hey, Dad.”
“Your grandparents are going to be here soon. Are you planning on coming downstairs to join us?”
I smiled. “Yeah.”
Sal frowned. “You okay, TJ?”
“Yeah.” I smiled, but I felt as if Sal saw right through me, especially when he stepped into the room and shut the door. He walked over and sat down on the bed next to me.
“You know you can come to me with anything, right?”
“Oh yeah, I know.”
“Then tell me what has you so upset?”
My shoulders slumped. “I want to sign up for the service, but I don’t know how to break it to Papà. I’m also not sure I’m quite ready to leave home.”
“Only you can make that decision, TJ. If you need to take the summer and figure that out, then do that. On the other hand, if you feel you have to go now, then that’s alright too. You’ll know when you’re ready. “
TJ glanced up. “How do you know?”
“You just do. You’ll still be a little scared, a little unsure. You’re leaving your safety zone and going somewhere new. New place, new people, new activities. I don’t care who you are, that’s always a little scary.”
My eyebrows lifted in surprise. “You’ve been scared before?” Sal Delvecchio was the most powerful man I knew. I was pretty sure there wasn’t anything in the world he couldn’t do.
“I get scared a lot, TJ. I’m scared that something will happen to one of you kids, Lany, Moe, one of our friends. I’m scared that one of these times I won’t be able to pull Lany’s butt out of the fire. I’m scared that someone I am trying to arrest will be faster or stronger than me and I won’t be able to come home to you all. I’m scared of what is going to happen the first time one of you gets your heart broken. I’m scared of a lot of things.”
My eyes widened with each word my Dad spoke. “How do you even get out of bed in the morning?”
I’d be hiding under the covers.
Sal chuckled. “I’m more scared of losing what I have by not appreciating it and living my life to the fullest.”
I wanted to say I didn’t understand what he meant, but I did. My fathers had been through more in the ten years they’d been together than anyone I’d ever met. It was pretty insane, but they always came out stronger, no matter what life threw their way.
“How do you think Papà will react if I tell him I want to join the service?”
“I think he’ll be sad, but he’ll do his best to hide it from you. He wants you to live your life to the fullest, too, even if that means you’re twenty thousand miles away from us.” Sal patted my knee. “Just remember to write home or your dad will hunt down your commander and demand to know what’s happening to his boy.”
“He would, too.” I laughed. I didn’t know who my commander would be, but he didn’t stand a chance against Lany Delvecchio.
“Come on, we need to head downstairs for your birthday party.”
Yeah.” I was actually a little excited about that. Not because of the presents, but because everyone was going to be there. I loved my family.
I knew we were closer than most families due to the different traumas we’d been through, but we all knew we were stronger together. Which was another reason why it was so hard for me to leave them all behind.
I could hear the noise level rise as I walked down the stairs. The kids were going crazy.
I could also hear Lany trying desperately to corral them. If they’d gotten into the cake or the food I’d seen Mrs. Martinez cooking earlier, there was no way they were going to calm down, not in this century.
My smile grew into a huge grin when I walked into the living room. Lany was sitting on the couch, his head in his hands. Jamie, Emily, and Mikey were tossing a balloon back and forth, with Moe, our dog, jumping up into the air trying to get the balloon. The twins sat on the floor out of the way, egging the dog on.
Sal walked over to the couch, sat down, then lifted Lany into his lap. I had no idea what Sal whispered into his ear, but within a few seconds, all the tension left Lany’s shoulders and he was laughing. Even after ten years of marriage and six kids, Dad seemed to have that affect on Papà.
I turned when the doorbell rang. I knew better than to answer it myself. That was Brant’s job. I did walk a little closer when I heard my grandparents’ voices. Lancaster and Cynthia Harris had adopted all of us into their family with welcome arms, thrilled to have grandchildren when they hadn’t thought it would ever happen because Lany was gay.
“TJ,” Cynthia called out as she walked toward me. “Happy birthday, son.”
“Thank you, Grandma.” I leaned in and pressed a kiss to her cheek and then turned to look at my grandfather. “Sir.”
“Is eighteen too old for a hug?” Lancaster asked.
“No, sir.” I’d always take a hug from him.
“Where’s your father, TJ?”
I snickered and gestured behind me. “Having a meltdown in the living room.”
Cynthia’s brow flickered. “Is everything okay?”
That was a loaded question.
“Yes, ma’am. The other kids are on overload.”
“Ah.” She nodded knowingly. “Well, I’ll just go see if I can scrape him off the floor.”
I smiled when my grandfather’s arm came around my shoulders as Grandma walked away.
“Eighteen, huh?”
I nodded.
“Got any plans?”
“I’ve been giving a few things some thought.”
I wasn’t sure I was quite ready to share them.
“Well, you’ve got plenty of time, but if I can help in any way, you just let me know.”
“I will, Grandpa.”
“Now, let me tell you about this new trip your grandmother wants us to go on,” he said as we started walking toward the living room. “We start out by flying to England.”
“England?”
Lancaster nodded. “It’s like thirteen countries in thirteen days or something crazy like that. I have no idea how we’re supposed to see anything if we spend all our time on a train, but your grandmother is so excited, she could bust.”
I wasn’t sure how I felt about this. The last time they had gone on vacation, their yacht had sank and they’d spend several days on a deserted island until they were rescued. I didn’t even want to think about what could happen if they were on a train traveling through thirteen different countries. The fall of Eastern Europe can immediately to mind.
“I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time,” I said, even if I didn’t believe it. “Just make sure you have good insurance.”
Lancaster chuckled. “So, have you decided what your birthday wish is?”
“No.”
Yes.
Maybe.
I wanted to not be so scared about leaving home.
I wanted Papà to not freak when I told him what I wanted to do.
I wanted to join the service.
I wanted to stay home.
I wanted someone to tell me what to do.
I was pretty sure I wasn’t getting any of those wishes.
“No to worry, son.” Lancaster patted me on the back. “You’ll figure it out. You’ve got time.”
“That’s what Dad said.”
Maybe they were right.
“We’d better get in there.”
I nodded and then stepped into the living room. The kids had quieted down for the most part. They were all sitting in a circle on the floor, batting a balloon back and forth. Lany sat on the couch with Sal, both men talking with Cynthia. Moe had given up and gone to sleep in his cushioned bed over by the window.
“Happy birthday to you…” someone started to sing.
I turned to find Mrs. Martinez standing there with a big blue birthday cake with my name on it. I smiled when everyone jumped in and started singing happy birthday to me.
“Blow out the candles and make a wish!”
I don’t know who shouted that, but it didn’t matter. My attention was on the eighteen candles lighting up my cake. I closed my eyes and wished on the first thought that came to my mind. When I opened them, I leaned in and blew until every candle went out.

HOT MESS 10

coming November 19th

Lany
Many people believe that once you are married and have kids, the romance is gone. It’s not. You just have to work at it a little harder. It’s just too bad that our attempt at a romantic weekend alone ends with me in the hospital. If I survive getting shot, we’re going to have to try a little harder. I refuse to give up the romance with my hot Italian SWAT commander.

Salvador
My plans for a weekend of romance with the love of my life go up in an explosion of epic proportions when we’re attacked in our very own home and Lany’s life is put in danger. Snowstorms, intruders, and a hit man on the loose. It’s just another day in the Delvecchio household.

https://www.bookstrand.com/book/hot-mess-10-mm

STORY EXCERPT
Lany
“Why am I being relegated to the panic room?”
It had been three weeks since I’d gotten a restraining order against Harry Vanderport and I hadn’t seen hide nor hair of him. I hadn’t done anything wrong either. I hadn’t tripped, gotten taken hostage, crashed a car, or even been crushed by an elephant. There was no reason for Sal to make me stay in the panic room.
It just wasn’t fair.
“Please, for me, caro?”
My shoulders slumped. There was no way I could deny the man I married when he looked at me with those big copper colored puppy eyes of his.
Damn it.
“How long do I have to stay in here?”
“Not long, I promise. I’ll come for you just as soon as I can.”
I swallowed tightly. “How much danger am I in?”
It was a real concern.
I was not reassured by the grimace that crossed Sal’s face.
“It’s just a safety precaution, Lany.”
“For what?” That’s what confused me. Sal hadn’t said a word about what was going on. He’d just come into the house and ordered me to the panic room. “Where are the kids? Are they safe?”
“The kids are with your parents.”
I already knew that. My parents had taken them out to do a little Christmas shopping. I just wanted to know if I was going to see them anytime in this century.
“They are perfectly safe.”
So, it was just me in danger then.
Great.
“I just need you to stay in here until I come for you, Lany. Just me. No one else. Understand?”
My brow flickered. “What kind of danger am I in, Sal?” I asked again. I needed to know.
Sal’s arm wove around my waist and I was pulled flush with his chest. “I’m going to take care of you, Lany. You know that.”
I did, but that didn’t make me feel any better.
“I’ll be back, caro.”
I huffed and looked around after the solid steel door closed behind Sal and I heard the beep that let me know it was locked. I suppose as panic rooms went, this one was pretty nice. It actually had two entrances, one from our bedroom and one from the twins’ nursery.
Both doors were locked.
There was a small kitchenette, bathroom, a couch and TV, two bunk beds, and a full size bed for me and Sal. For a panic room, that was pretty good. My old panic room had a cot.
I flopped down on the couch and pulled out my cell phone. I sent out a quick text to Lyn. “How much trouble am I in?”
Lyn would know.
Whenever Sal needed help, he called in Lyn Philips, who used to be a member of his team, but now worked on the FBI’s Cyber Crimes Division. He was a mastermind behind a computer screen.
I suspected Lyn would be moving back to the SWAT team sooner or later, especially now that he’d gotten things smoothed out with Sgt. Victor Clarke, the second in command of the SWAT team under Sal.
I jumped up when the door to the panic room opened. Sal walked in, a deep grimace on his face. “What’s wrong?”
“I need your cell phone and your shoes?”
My eyebrows lifted quickly. “My shoes?”
“Hurry, Lany.”
I handed over my cell phone then slid my shoes off and gave them to Sal. “Why do you need my shoes?”
“I’ll let you know in a minute.”
Ten minutes later, I was still waiting for an explanation.
I was back on the couch.
This time I was aimlessly flipping through TV channels.
Yippee.
When the door opened for a second time, Sal walked in with my cuddle blanket. “I need your clothes.”
“My clothes?”
“Shirt, pants, underwear, everything.”
I wasn’t wearing any underwear.
Sal held out my blanket. “You can wrap up in this.”
“You can’t just bring me something to change into?”
“Not yet.”
I slowly stood and started peeling off my clothes. “This is really starting to scare me, Sal. What reason could you have to take my clothes?”
Had Harry done something?
“It’s just a precaution, Lany.”
“A precaution for what?”
Sal tossed the blanket on the couch then grabbed me by the arms. “Baby, I promise I’ll explain all of this just as soon as I can, but time is of the essence.”
I huffed. “Fine, but you’d better have a damn good excuse for all of this.”
Sal shot me a quick smile as he took my clothes. “I do, Lany. I promise. All of this will make perfect sense soon.”
I grabbed my cuddle blanket and wrapped it around me before flopping down on the couch yet again. “It had better.”
I had ways of making Sal pay if it didn’t.
Evil ways.
My balloon kung fu was legendary.
I got through two really insane afternoon talk shows before the door opened again. How people could watch those things, I would never know. I seriously didn’t understand why I had been so fascinated. Didn’t make sense.
I glanced toward the door when Sal didn’t appear. Very few people knew the code to open the panic room door. It wouldn’t open unless the code was typed in.
I swallowed tightly as I tossed the remote onto the couch then stood. “Sal?”
Nothing.
Not a single sound.
I took a hesitant step toward the door. Sal had told me to stay in the panic room until he came for me. He wouldn’t have said that if it wasn’t important.
Where was he?
“Sal?” I called out again.
When I didn’t hear anything, I walked across the floor to the door. I had to peek around the edge to see out into our bedroom. Fear unlike anything I’d ever known—and I’d known a lot—swept through me when I spotted a foot.
“Sal?” I whispered as I took another step and pushed the door out of the way to get a better look. The sight that I found was so shocking to me, I didn’t know whether to scream or run back into the panic room.
Sal lay spread out on the rug we had on the floor in front of the fireplace, buck ass naked.
He wasn’t moving.
“Sal?”

Welcome Birthday Guest Kim Fielding!

Prince Teo’s Birthday

by Kim Fielding

Cal Walters and Teofilo Vabriga-Kastav are characters from the novel Drawing the Prince.In all the fairytales and cheesy movies, nobody ever warned about the drawbacks of falling for a prince. Sure, the glamor and money were nice, and if the prince in question was also gorgeous, smart, cultured, and kind, all the better. But then you had to deal with bodyguards, paparazzi, autograph-seekers, and boring ceremonies. And finding a birthday present for your royal boyfriend turned out to be a royal pain in the ass.

What was a boy from rural Nebraska supposed to get for the man who had everything?

“Can I take the blindfold off yet?” Teo asked, his accent as sexy as ever.

“No.”

“If I’m going to be held in bondage, at least you could molest me a bit.”
Cal at whacked at Teo’s wandering hand. “Not while I’m driving. Anyway, we’re almost there.”

True to his word, five minutes later Cal brought the SUV to a halt. “Stay,” he commanded, as if Teo were a puppy instead of a member of Porvunian nobility. Then Cal hopped out, immediately cursing the chill.

The Sandhills in late November could be bone-shatteringly cold. Too bad Teo’s birthday wasn’t during a more temperate season. Ah well. They’d be warm soon enough.

Cal hurried around to the passenger side, opened the door, and helped Teo out. “Have you transported me to the bloody Arctic?” Teo demanded.

“Oh, c’mon. It was like this in town too.”

“Where we were had a lovely meal with your grandmother in her centrally-heated home.”

“Wimp.” Cal laced his fingers with Teo’s and stuck their joined hands into a coat pocket. Then he led them away from the road, onto a flat spot where the scraggly grass had already gone winter brown. At least there was no snow.

Taking a deep breath, Cal reached over and untied Teo’s blindfold, careful to leave the knitted cap in place. Gram had made him that hat for his birthday, using the colors of the Porvunian flag. After unwrapping it, Teo had clutched it to his chest as if it were a priceless treasure.

Now, finally able to see, Teo took in the view: low, rolling hills stretching endlessly without a single human or house in sight. On the horizon, the last oranges of sunset were coloring the sky. To Cal, this was home. And he saw by the glint in Teo’s eyes that Teo saw the beauty here as well.

“What’s this?” Teo said when they’d both begun to shiver. He pointed at the small wooden structure a few yards away. Warm yellow light shone through its windows, and the balloons tied to the front porch made Cal smile. He hadn’t asked for those—they were a fun surprise.

“That, Your Highness, is a tiny house. A couple of people I went to high school with have started manufacturing them. They let me borrow this one.”

In fact, he’d paid them good money to deliver it to this particular spot on the back of a semi and set it up. It wasn’t connected to utilities—it would be here only temporarily—but a generator was enough to run the lights and heat, and the itsy tiny bathroom had a compost toilet. Cal had also gotten permission from the rancher to be here, and he’d had a bed and a few other items delivered.

“Borrow for what?” Teo’s mouth had curled into a soft smile.

“Camping out, sort of.

Not-so-roughing it. Just for one night.”
“You took me to this spot before. It’s where you made that painting. The one that made me first… appreciate you.”

“Yes.” The one that still hung in the rooms they now shared in Teo’s castle. Cal gave him a nervous look. “Do you like your surprise? It’s not… emerald-encrusted underwear, or whatever your family gives you.”

Teo looked deeply into Cal’s eyes. “It’s something only you could give me, and I love it.” He pulled Cal into a fierce embrace.

“Happy birthday, Teo.” Cal planted a kiss on Teo’s cold lips. “Now let’s get inside and heat up.”

***

Don’t miss Kim Fielding’s newest book, Caroled! It’s a story in the Bureau series but can be read as a standalone.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Caroled-Bureau-Story-Book-ebook/dp/B08LLCBHVR/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1049942
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/caroled-kim-fielding/1137961597
and all other e-booksellers

***

GIVEAWAY!

Comment here for a chance to win Volumes 1 and 2 of the Bureau series (5 complete novellas!) in your choice of formats: mobi, epub, pdf, or audio (narrated by Joel Leslie).

Welcome Birthday Guest Meredith Russell!

Firstly, Happy Birthday Month to Amber. Thank you for inviting me to take part. This is a little extra birthday scene between Kaden and Ryan from Kaden (Boyfriend for Hire, Book 2). Book 3, Gideon was out earlier this month. Hope you enjoy the brief moment between them.

“Happy Birthday.”

Ryan’s cheery greeting through the phone lifted Kaden’s mood. “Thank you.” He settled on the bed with his cell. “So, how’s filming going?” A warm breeze blew in through the open sliding doors, bellowed the drapes and blew across the soles of his bare feet. Ryan had booked the beach house for the two of them to celebrate months back, not long after Kaden’s last birthday and following a night of reminiscing of how the two of them had gotten together. That had been back before Ryan’s filming schedule clashed with the mini vacation.

“Slow. Too slow.” Ryan said with a groan. He fell silent for a moment before adding, “I’m sorry, Kaden.”

Kaden closed his eyes. He didn’t think anyone had apologized to him as much as Ryan had in the last month. “I know, and I keep telling you it’s fine. I would have been fine with you cancelling the booking too—”

“No way. You were looking forward to it, we both were. You love the ocean and I thought… I know it’s not exactly where we first met but, you know…”

Kaden sat forward. It was three years since he had been given the role of playing Ryan’s boyfriend. Ryan was an actor, who, back then, had found himself in some trouble and Kaden had been hired through Bryant and Waites to help paint a positive picture, elevate his profile. He tightened his hold on his cell. “I know, and it was an extremely sweet idea.”

“I’d hoped I could find a way to speed things up so I could join you. Maybe I should have played the diva or something, gotten them to reschedule.”

“Ah yes, great plan, and then someone leaks a crappy video from their phone on social media of you kicking off.”

Ryan mumbled something Kaden couldn’t make out.

“How’s the filming, besides being slow? Reshoots, wasn’t it?”

“I’ve one more scene today. I’ll be glad when I can get out of these clothes. My character wears such tight pants.”

Kaden chuckled, imagined Ryan pulling at the leather material clinging to his crotch. Ryan had shown him the promotional images from the TV show he had signed on for. “I would offer to lend a hand in helping you out of them but…”

Ryan laughed. “Do you think wardrobe would notice if I borrowed them when we’re done?”

“I like the idea of unwrapping you for my birthday.”

“Sorry,” Ryan said again. “So, how’s the beach house? Full of good memories I hope?”

“It is.”

“What have you done today? You better not have been working.”

Kaden picked up one of the cushions from the bed and hugged it to his chest. “I haven’t. I was a good boy and did as I was told.” He glanced out at the beach. “It was actually kind of nice doing nothing. I read a book, walked the beach, took a nap.” He chuckled. “I could get used to it.”

“That actually sounds amazing,” Ryan said, his voice left a warm sensation in Kaden’s chest, as if Ryan was smiling on the other end of the call.

“Maybe when we’re old and gray we could retire to the beach. Sit on the porch under a blanket every night, watch the tide roll in.”

“I could go for that,” Ryan said. There was the sound of voices on his end. “Damn. I’m really sorry, I’m going to have to go.”

“Don’t make me say it.”

“Yes, yes. I know. It’s fine,” Ryan said in a higher tone. “Okay. I better go. Love you and Happy Birthday.”

“I love you, too.”

“Talk later?”

Kaden smiled. “Sure, but if you’re tired, I understand.”

“You know, sometimes you can be too nice,” Ryan said.

“You like it when I’m nice.”

“Also pretty fond of you when you’re naughty.”

Kaden tossed away the cushion. “Shut up and get back to work.”

Ryan laughed. “Okay, okay. Love you. Bye.”

“Bye, Ry.”

Ryan ended the call.

With a sigh, Kaden relaxed into the pillows. He leaned his head, stared out to the decking and beyond to the horizon. The low roar of waves echoed in from outside. In the past this would have been perfect, being here, just him, the beach house, the ocean. All that open space. Three years he’d been with Ryan and now all he wanted was to share everything with the man he loved, including this view.

“Maybe next time,” he uttered. Because there would be a next time, and another, and so many more opportunities to see this view together.

Taking a deep breath, he sat up, rolled his legs over the side of the bed. “Now what?” he wondered. He picked up his phone, smiled as the screen lit up and showed a photograph of him and Ryan, all smiles and hugging. He made his way to the lounge. His memory wasn’t perfect about the interior, the design, the furnishings, but the place certainly had the same feel as it had back then.

I wish he was here.

The day crept on, afternoon, through dinner and into early evening, and eventually, exhausted from doing nothing, Kaden fell asleep on the couch.

When he woke the room was in darkness. He frowned and sat up, flinched as a loud bang echoed outside, followed by a crackle and pink light illuminating the room.

“Fireworks?” he wondered, getting to his feet as a second went off, this time blue and white light glowing through the translucent drapes. At the door, he leaned his head, searched the sky, then flipped the switch for the porch light and slid open the door. He stepped out, folded his arms across his chest against the cooler evening air. Another firework went up and he looked down at the beach to where he assumed it had been set off.

“Surprise,” Ryan called to him.

“Ryan?” His chest lurched in excitement. “What are you…?”

Ryan lit another firework, jogged to a safe distance away. The rocket whistled as it shot up into the sky, a spiral of yellow sparks streaking upward.

Kaden made his way down on to the sand. He smiled when he met Ryan in a warm hug. “What are you doing here?” He buried his face in Ryan’s shoulder, breathed in the comforting scent of his partner.

“Happy Birthday,” Ryan said and pressed a kiss to Kaden’s cheek.

“Please tell me you didn’t throw a tantrum to get them to finish early.”

Ryan shook his head. “No. We wrapped up early, so I had Larry drive me down here.”

“But I thought you said—”

Ryan poked Kaden in the chest. “Well, it wouldn’t have been a surprise if I told you.”

“Still—” Kaden was shut up when Ryan held his face, pulled him close and caught his mouth in a firm kiss. He squeezed his arms around Ryan.

They embraced for a long moment, Ryan slipping his leg between Kaden’s, applying pressure to his crotch. “Is that a rocket in your pocket?” he whispered in Kaden’s ear.

“Hey,” Kaden said and pulled back.

Ryan grinned. “So, do you want your birthday present now, or…” He stroked the back of Kaden’s neck.

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m pretty tired.” Ryan pouted and Kaden laughed. “I love you,” he said and cupped Ryan’s cheek. He stared into Ryan’s eyes. “Thank you.”

“For what?”

“Nothing in particular. For being you. For being here, being with me. For every day of the last three years. Just…” He shrugged. “Thank you.”

A smile spread across Ryan’s face. “I love you, too.” He rested his hand over Kaden’s. “You know that, right?” He brought Kaden’s hand to his mouth and pressed a kiss to his knuckles.

“Yeah, I do.” He squeezed Ryan’s thumb and glanced back at the beach house. “Let’s go inside. I’d like to open that present now.”

“I hope you like it.” Ryan brought Kaden’s hand down to his chest, lay it over the zipper of his jacket.

Kaden leaned in, gripped Ryan’s waist, pecked small kisses from Ryan’s ear to his mouth, and said, “I already know I will.”

~fin~

***

Boyfriend for Hire Book 3, Gideon is out now.

Available at Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08LTNRXDY

A snowy cabin with one bed? That’s only the first step toward Gideon falling in love.

Gideon is too old to be fought over at Christmas by divorced parents who should know better. The prospect of a Christmas on his own is better than having to face either of them. When Rowan hires him for a wintry break in Maine, it seems like a safe choice until his PA’s meddling family shows him something entirely new: Love.


Rowan hiring his boss for a trip back to his moms’ place for Christmas sounded like a good idea at the time. Killing two birds with one stone, he can cheer up Gideon and possibly steal a kiss under the mistletoe. After all, he’s been hiding his attraction to the man for years, and maybe with some Christmas magic, he can help Gideon see what is right under his nose.

***

Giveaway: Win copies of the Boyfriend for Hire collection so far – Darcy, Kaden, and Gideon.

This year has been strange to say the least and many of us haven’t had the opportunity to celebrate our birthdays the way we would maybe have liked. I myself had a birthday in lockdown. So, what I’d like to know is, if you could do anything, go anywhere, how would you spend your next birthday?

Along with seeing my family, I would want to get away for a break. I love the beach and I’m in need of my seaside fix.

Leave a comment on this post and I’ll select a comment at random after the end of the month.

***

About Meredith

Meredith Russell is an author, cover artist and vampire slayer. Okay, she may have made that last one up, but that’s what she loves about writing—the possibilities. No matter where her stories are set—from fantastical worlds of zombies and werewolves to the ambling life of an English village—she strives to write about romance and the tales of men searching for their happy ever after. Meredith writes the stories she loves to read—complex, emotional, a journey, and sometimes unexpected.

In 2012 Meredith had her first novels published, as well as being commissioned to do her first cover design. She now splits her time between populating fictional worlds with characters she adores, and helping other authors bring theirs to life through cover art. She has had a number of popular releases, including Dead Things, Just Jack, and the Sapphire Cay series written with RJ Scott.

Website: http://www.meredithrussell.co.uk

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/meredithrussellauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MeredithRAuthor

Instagram: http://instagram.com/miss_meredith_r

Email: meredithrussell666@gmail.com

Welcome Birthday Guest V.L. Locey!

Hello! I’m so excited to be visiting with Amber today as we celebrate one special day! It’s wonderful to be here. I’ve brought a brand new short story with me, taken from one of my Colors of Love MM hockey romance books. If you’d like more Mat and Indigo after you’re done with the birthday tale, you can find links and info about me, my books, an exciting new release, and links where you can find me online. For now, let’s dive right into this tender little tale set along the St. Lawrence River. I hope you enjoy it!

Gifts from Indigo (A Lost in Indigo Short)

V.L. Locey

I’ll admit it. I was having some issues with my fortieth birthday.

Nothing major, just minor things. Like not wanting to have a party, see a balloon, hear the crinkle of paper or the pop of a champagne bottle, or spend another moment contemplating how death was creeping up behind me.

My husband was unimpressed with my dour mood, but in all honesty, Indigo was used to my curmudgeonly ways. The man had nursed me back to health when I’d snapped my leg playing hockey and missed being on the ice when my ex-team, the Buffalo Surge, had clinched the Cup. He knew firsthand what a cantankerous shit Mathieu Beresford could be. And yes, despite my crabby, bearish ways, I’d managed to woo him and win him. Well, actually I’d hosed the wooing up pretty badly. If not for the fact that my beautiful, genderqueer spouse had a forgiving heart, I’d not be here on our yacht cruising down the St. Lawrence River to our summer home. Instead, I’d be living alone and cursing my stupid, crabby ways.

I was forty today so that gave me rights to be crabby. And scared of my own mortality.

“You’re frowning again,” Indigo said as he sat down beside me, a smile on his face, his chin tipped into the wind blowing over the bow.

He had come up from below where he’d been checking on the birds for the tenth time. I harrumphed and watched one of the thousand islands pass by. Ours was a few more miles upriver and my father-in-law was not in a hurry to deliver his son and me to Bere’s Den for some reason. Probably just to twist my tail a bit. Montclair Neu and I had known each other for many years, and he was one of an elite few who could get away with poking the Golden Bear, as I’d been known in my playing days. The list of provocateurs was short. Montclair, my summer island neighbor Fran Webster, my agent Arn Toras, and my beautiful Indigo. And my old fans, of course, and a few of the Surge. That was it though.

“The sun makes me squint,” I mumbled.

“You’re wearing sunglasses,” my husband pointed out.

He thought he was so cute. Which admittedly he was. Indigo Neu-Beresford was more than cute, he was breathtakingly beautiful. Nearly twenty years my junior, he stole my breath whenever I glanced his way. Like now. The wind in his ebony hair and the sun on his smooth cheeks made me yearn to touch him. His eyes were lined, his lips colored, and his hair gelled into a spiky creation that begged to be ruffled and ruined as we made love. He’d pulled on a summery shift, a bright yellow sundress with tiny white flowers. His long legs were bared and on display as the wind blew around him, flipping his dress up to flash taut, tanned thighs. His legs crossed at the ankle where a pair of yellow high tops graced his delicate feet.

“Promise me you haven’t planned a big party for today,” I said, ignoring the sunglasses jibe. He threw a look my way, smiled in that way of his, and then pulled his big, yellow shades down to rest on his finely made nose. “Indigo, you know I’m not in the mood for a big blowout.”

“Mathieu, I know. We’ve been married almost eighteen months now. I know how you are. I promise there is no big party for today, you antisocial thing.”

“I’m not antisocial I just don’t like people.” I wiggled around on the padded bench so that I could admire his profile as we passed a small isle with one bent tree and a tiny cabin.

“Such a grumpy bear,” he replied, one corner of his lush mouth twitching.

“There was a reason they called me that,” I replied, reaching for him. He scrambled into my lap, his weight slight as he settled on my thighs. With him in my arms, the upcoming plunge into middle age didn’t feel quite as deadly. I buried my nose in his long neck, inhaling the scent of a secret garden on his flesh. God above this man was my rock. “Why do you put up with me?”

“Must be I love you,” he answered, kissing my shaggy sandy blond head. “You should have let me trim this mess since you wouldn’t go to the barber.” He drove his fingers into the mass of hair. I groaned at his touch, wishing my father-in-law weren’t above us steering BERE NECESSITIES down the river. Taking Indigo into the well-appointed bedroom below and loving him well sounded like heaven right about now. “Oh! Land ho!!”

He leaped off my lap and ran to the side of the boat. I rose, slowly, sure I’d see a flotilla of boats gathered at the dock. Oddly enough, there wasn’t a single speedboat, rowboat, or even a canoe. Actually there was nothing or no one to be seen as we docked. I gave Montclair a questioning look when he joined us on the deck.

“Is there a surprise for today planned up at the house?” I asked on the sly as Indigo threw out the folding gangplank while his father tied off the boat. Montclair gave me a flat look. It was the exact same one his son gave me at times. They were similar in a few ways and very different in others. Same dark, dark eyes and jaw, same ebony hair only Montclair’s was militarily short and Indigo’s was usually spiky or flat, depending on how masculine or feminine he was feeling. That was about where the similarities ended although both men had good hearts and laughed with ease. “Please tell me so if there is.”

Indigo ran past after fetching the covered bird cage down below.

“There isn’t,” he said but I didn’t trust him. The Neu men liked to rattle my cage.

“Why don’t I believe you?”

He shrugged then hustled off the boat after his son. I followed behind at a snail’s pace with our suitcases in my hands. Yes, Montclair was officially my estate manager if one wished to use that term but he was also my father-in-law, so him toting for me felt odd now.

“Hurry up, old man!” Indigo called down to me. I paused on the dock, listening to the steady slap of the river over the rocks and piers below. Breathing in, I pulled the smell of the mighty St. Lawrence deeply into my lungs. I’d missed this place. Montreal had many wonders but nothing compared to this house on the river. Indigo and I had come together here, had fallen in love here, and had married here. Pity the winters were so brutal or we could stay here year round. Also there was his job at the Montreal Botanical Gardens that kept us in the city. He worked identifying new plant species and loved it. So, summer trips were what we would do and be grateful for those.

“Remember the days when we had a golf cart and you drove me to the house?” I asked as I crested the slight knoll to stand by his side.

“Your leg is fine now. Mat, look at this place!” He threw one hand into the air, and in the other, he held the travel cage his lovebirds Martin and Hugo were in. I pulled my gaze from him to check out the Greek revival home. It was an old beauty, with six bedrooms, three and a half baths, and bright white clapboards. Montclair must have had the painters out recently. I eyed the home with appreciation for her classic lines. Considering she’d been built in the 1830s she looked grand to me. “No, not at the house. At the flowerbeds! Who has been hired to tend to them? Do they ever water them?! And disgusting color schemes. I’m going to have to fix them. I can’t spend a long weekend here looking at purple and red in the same bed.”

I chuckled at my feisty botanist then patted his high, tight rump. “We have four days here before you have to go back for work.” He pouted. “The flowers are fine. Come on.” I took his hand and we made our way to the house, Indigo muttering about pansies being planted in the wrong place. Once inside, we opened the windows while Montclair got the water turned on for us. We made our way to the master bedroom, the same room that the original owner, Roberto Guillard Cote who had served in Napoleon’s Army, had died in, supposedly while in bed with a young male lover. If I had a choice in where and how to go, it would be in this house and with my husband riding me.

“They love it here,” Indigo cooed as he transferred the watermelon-colored birds into the massive, ornate cage by the French doors. “I think it’s the air off the river.”

“Okay, I have the water running and the sewer is ready. Enjoy the weekend and happy birthday, Mathieu,” Montclair called from the doorway.

I spun to gape at him. “You’re not staying?”

“No, I’m heading to Alexandria Bay.” With that he left leaving me staring at the empty doorway.

“So there really is no party today?” I asked, kind of shocked that they’d actually listened to me. It rarely happened so naturally I would be surprised.

“Nope, no party today,” Indigo replied as he rubbed his cheek against a lovebird’s soft chest. The bird nipped at his lip then bumped its small head to my husband’s chin. “Just us.”

“Huh.”

We then unpacked our clothes, had lunch, went down to the back of the house, the wild part of the island as we called it, and cuddled into a big hammock that faced Canada. It wasn’t truly wild at all. Just steep and incredibly rocky. Lying with him in my arms, the blue sky above, the roar of speedboats with snapping Canadian flags passing by, I sleepily drifted back to when we were newly met.

“Do you remember the first time we sat out back and held hands?” I asked out of nowhere.

“Mm, you were so shy.” His head rested on my chest. His long fine leg laying over my thick one. The one that hadn’t been so badly injured that it had ended my career.

“You were so young.”

“I was legal plus a couple of years, and now I’m twenty-two.”

Oui, to my forty.”

“Such a sexy old coot,” he teased gently. “I’m glad we did that, held hands. And then other things.”

I smiled at the clouds floating over. “Yes, I do love the other things.”

“Do you want your gifts now?” he asked on a purr.

“It’s quite hard to make love in a hammock but if you’re willing…”

He chuckled. “Ass. No, not that. We’re saving that for later.”

“We are?” I brushed a strand of black hair from his eye.

“Yes, we are. Do you want your non-sexual gifts now or after dinner?”

I pondered on that for a long time. So long my impatient spouse started to sputter. “I’ll take the non-sexual gift now and then, since it is the official day of my birth, I want to lay in bed with you tonight and all day tomorrow.”

All day?!” He asked as if the idea shocked him. I knew better. The man wore me more often then I cared to admit.

“All day. No clothing permitted, and the only reasons for leaving our love nest is for food, the bathroom, and to tend to Martin and Hugo.”

He dropped a kiss to my whiskery chin. “You sure you can keep up, grand papa?”

“Your French lessons are paying off. I rather like being called your big daddy, but yes, I can keep up.”

I hope.

With a spark of joy in his gaze, he untangled himself and eased out of the hammock. Rolling my head to the side, I watched him hustle inside. I closed my eyes and let the contentment of the moment seep in. So what if I were forty now? I felt no different. And looked no different. Tonight I would bed my spry young husband and make him howl with pleasure. Then I would go back to Montreal to continue work on my second memoir. I would spend my days of leisure at the food bank, the youth center, and at home puttering. There was also the offer to sign on to be color play man for Montreal to consider. It was tempting for I missed hockey desperately but traveling with the team would take me from Indigo. I wasn’t sure I wished not to see his smile every day or hold him to my side every night.

My life was not over, not really. Yes, I was forty and had to watch my diet now. Perhaps there was silver on my chin, in my hair, and cropping up down below. True, my bad leg ached when the barometric pressure fell, and my shoulder cracked so hard when I woke up in the morning that I winced. And there was the new ache in my back. And that funny clicking sound in my ankles, and the fact that my optometrist had suggested bifocals and…

“Ah God, I am old.” I sighed forlornly then Indigo arrived like a sunbeam bursting through a raincloud. I grinned like the old fool that I was. He clambered back into the hammock, holding two presents. After the wild swinging settled, he handed my first gift to me.

I shook it gently and got a sour look. “Stop trying to guess and just open it!” I loved teasing him. It brought a nice color to his high cheeks. Ripping the paper off, I grinned at the special 30th anniversary edition of The Breakfast Club DVD. “There’s commentary and interviews with the cast and crew, and the film itself has been remastered because things get dingy with age.”

“Such a brat.” I chuckled then pulled his soft and oh-so pink lips to mine. “It’s perfect. We’ll watch it tonight.”

“Oh yay,” he deadpanned. The film was one of my favorites and held a special place in our hearts, despite him pretending otherwise. “Now the next one!”

“You have no patience,” I remarked as he shoved a smallish box into my hands. Again, I tore into the purple wrapping paper and blinked at the new eReader.

“It’s the newest model and has every Louis L’Amour book ever published already installed on it.” He was beaming. “Even the science fiction and short stories!”

“Wow, Indigo, this is incredible.” I stole another kiss, this one a little more heated than the last. “Did you know he wrote over a hundred books?”

“Yep, I had to download them all.”

“I love it,” I whispered. I’d been slowly picking my way through the westerns. “Do you remember Nurse Rampette?”

“Ugh, yes, don’t mention her now. It will kill the good birthday vibes!”

“Sorry, sweet one.” I placed the eReader beside me and peppered his face with tiny kisses. The unease about my old nurse lifted from his brow as the kissing made its way to his mouth yet again. He began making those sensual, mewling noises of desire that drove me mad.

“Can we start the naked in bed part of your birthday celebration now?” he asked while sliding the tips of his fingers under my belt.

I glanced at the sun still high in the sky. “If we go now we’ll be done and sleeping by seven tonight.”

You’ll be done and sleeping by seven.”

“Smart ass,” I mumbled as he slipped from my arms then wiggled out of the hammock. A gust of wind blew in over the waterway, playing with his dress and hair. “Fine, let me get my decrepit ass out of this stupid thing.”

It took a bit of doing, but I finally had my feet on solid ground and my husband wrapped in my arms. He grabbed a taste of my mouth then broke free of my embrace.

“Come on.” He took my arm and gave it a tug.

“My goodness, such a rush to get me in bed. I must be quite the virile lover, no?”

“Oh well yes, for sure. Also, the party guests are arriving at eight in the morning so we should hurry if you want to make love to me and grab a nap while it’s still your birthday.”

He winked and scampered off into the house, leaving his dress on the patio. I caught a glimpse of a small, sweet buttock. Then I shut my mouth and raced inside after him, chasing my giggling husband around the house, shedding clothes as I went, until he let me capture him in the master bedroom.

“You said no party,” I panted then swept him off his feet and carried him to the antique bed.

“I said no parties today. I never said anything about tomorrow.”

His eyes danced with merriment.

We fell into the wide bed where I got lost in Indigo once more.

The End

*~*~*

GIVEAWAY

Want to experience the book where Mathieu and Indigo meet and fall in love? You can grab Lost in Indigo and all the other Colors of Love books over at Amazon. They’re all in KU now so you can binge the five that are out and be caught up when book number six, Songs of Red Currant Wine, releases in February of 2021!

http://vllocey.com/Read-colorsoflove

One lucky winner will win a ten dollar Amazon gift card simply by replying below and telling me which color of the rainbow is their favorite. Easy and super peasy, right?!

Winner will be chosen randomly. Best of luck everyone!!

You can find out more about me and my books by checking out my groovy online haunts:

If you want to keep up with all the latest news about my upcoming M/M releases, sign up for my newsletter by visiting my website:

http://vllocey.com/

I can also be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Instagram:

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NEW RELEASE NEWS

My bubbly coauthor RJ Scott and I have a brand new novella set in our best-selling Harrisburg Railers world! Baby Makes Three just came out on 11/11 and we’re so excited to be visiting with Ten and Jared again as they add to their family!

When baby makes three, Christmas will never be the same for Ten and Jared.

There’s not much that Tennant Rowe hasn’t accomplished, and all before reaching thirty. Hoisting the Cup, marrying the man of his dreams, and becoming a spokesman for LGBTQ2+ athletes’ rights have filled his world with great joy. While his successes on and off the ice have been beyond his wildest expectations, he’s now wondering if it’s time to add one more tiny addition to his already wonderful life.

Being a dad to Ryker and marrying Ten are the two of the best things in Jared’s life, only something is missing. He always wanted more children, but with Ten and the Railers riding a wave of success, how could he even broach the subject of adoption or surrogacy with the man he loves? Jared would give the moon and the stars to his husband, so when Ten reveals his desire to be a father, they start a journey that will fill their Christmas with a new and special kind of love.

https://rjscott.co.uk/Read-BabyMakesThree

Welcome Birthday Guest Sean Michael!

Matt finished his workout and headed to Blaze’s rooms, his muscles gleaming with sweat. The gym here at the club was incredible. Any equipment he wanted was at his disposal. Today was arm day and his muscles felt good – tired and stretched. Now he was ready for Blaze to stretch some very different muscles. He grinned and walked a little faster, eager to get there.
He opened the door and everyone he knew at the club yelled, “Surprise!” It startled him enough to make him jump.
Don’s grinning face was the first his eyes went to. “Happy birthday, Buddy. You didn’t think I’d forget, did you?”
Matt had to chuckle. He had forgotten, though he supposed he could be forgiven for that. His focus had been… elsewhere.
He shook hands with the two others humans there and the several demons who’d shown up to wish him a happy birthday. The last person in the room was the one he really wanted birthday wishes from and that was Blaze.
He tilted his head up to meet the huge demon’s eyes, Blaze’s horns curling up from his head, looking stunning, just like the demon himself.
“Happy birthday, baby boy.” Then Blaze’s mouth bent to his.
Oh yeah, Happy Birthday to him.

You can meet Matt and Blaze in Taking the Knot, now available!

Can a very human man find satisfaction with a demon?
Matt is a big guy, tall, broad and muscular; he’s a man you assume is a top. Matt has desires, though, needs that he keeps hidden until the day when he sees his friend Don naked in the gym’s changing room. Don’s a big guy like him, and he’s wearing some very sexy, very intimate jewelry in places Matt has never even imagined possible and he’s… intrigued.
Don invites Matt to the club where he met his Master and while Matt can’t quite believe he’s doing it, he goes along. When he arrives at the club, it’s one surprise after another, but the enormous man he meets there, who just might be more than human, gives Matt more than he’s ever dreamed of, or admitted to wanting.
Blaze has been searching for his one special human, the one who can be his partner and return to the underworld with him. When he sees Matt, he recognizes the stud immediately for the one he’s been waiting for. Now he just needs to convince Matt.
Can Matt and Blaze find happiness together being their true selves? Find out in this intense, hot as the hinges of hell romp.

Available at Amazon, Kobo and Turtlehat until Friday November 20 at midnight when it goes onto KU.

Amazon | Kobo | Turtlehat Creatives

Giveaway – one winner will get an ebook copy of Haunted, the latest Hammer Club Book. (https://www.amazon.com/Haunted-Hammer-Club-Book-43-ebook/dp/B08L6VX68J/)

Sean Michael
smut fixes everything
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Welcome Birthday Guest Andrew Grey!

Happy Birthday Amber!!!! She and I share a birthday month and I love when this time of year rolls around. So in honor of Amber’s birthday I thought I’d celebrate with the 5 best birthday presents I have ever received.

1) A stuffed mouse. He was about two feet tall, red, and I slept with him for years.
2) A ten speed bike – my dad spent hours helping me assemble the thing
3) A gold bracelet – Dominic bought me a byzantine chain bracelet ten years ago. I still cherish it
4) A card – Dominic gave me a birthday card years ago. It said “For your birthday, let’s play huggy bear, kissy face… and grabby assy.” 😊 It still makes me smile.
5) A surprise 50th birthday party. Dominic had it in the summer so I could celebrate with our friends and not conflict with Thanksgiving.

Amazon | B&N

Longboat Key, Florida, is about as far from the streets of Detroit as a group of gay former mobsters can get, but threats from within their own organization forced them into witness protection—and a new life.

Richard Marsden is making the best of his second chance, tending bar and learning who he is outside of organized crime… and flirting with the cute single dad, Daniel, who comes in every Wednesday. But much like Richard, Daniel hides dark secrets that could get him killed. When Daniel’s past as a hacker catches up to him, Richard has the skills to help Daniel out, but not without raising some serious questions and risking his own new identity and the friends who went into hiding with him.

Solving problems like Daniel’s is what Richard does best—and what he’s trying to escape. But finding a way to keep Daniel and his son safe without sacrificing the person he’s becoming will take some imagination, and the stakes have never been higher. This time it’s not just lives on the line—it’s his heart….

Welcome Birthday Guest Z.A. Maxfield!

Lindy doesn’t like to be reminded of his age. He’s hot, and I love him, and his age isn’t a big deal for me, but he’s become crankier and crankier as the day draws near. Having a party’s out of the question considering the way he lashed out when I asked what flavor cake he likes best.

He told his mother and father if they came up to celebrate his birthday he wouldn’t answer the door. Honestly, if he’s this traumatized over turning thirty-nine, I am dreading what will happen when forty rolls around.

The thing is, I want to celebrate his birthday. I want to celebrate finding him, loving him. I want to be the person who reminds him how much better the world is with him in it, and that’s something age has no bearing on. I’d love him if he was twenty, or forty, or eighty.

Linden is my guy. He’s the one I want to see last thing before I sleep. The one I want to wake up to for the rest of our lives, no matter much time we have together.

So he’s just going to have to put up with a little annual adoration in the form of cake and ice cream and a nice supper, even it’s just the two of us.

This year, I’ve hung strings of Edison lights on the patio. I’ve suspended photographs of me, and him, and the two of us together on multicolored ribbons. Pro-tip: It’s pretty windy here in St. Nacho’s, so I had to tape quarters to the back of the pictures to keep them from flying wildly around and tangling up.

I’ve got the fire pit going. Callie’s wearing a doggie birthday hat. And I’ve written a song, just for him…

All I need is—Oh. That’s his car in the driveway. Wish me luck!

***

A Much Younger Man

One man is older and not quite wiser. The other is young and steady. Can they ignore the critics and let their hearts decide?

Veterinarian Linden Davies gets on better with animals than men. After a lifetime of always putting work first, he’s resigned himself to one-night stands and shallow blind dates. But years of heartache evaporate when he offers a handsome young busker a free health check for his companion Labrador.

Christopher “Beck” Beckett vowed to care for his late brother’s loyal dog. After falling out with his parents and ending up on the streets playing music for tips, he longs for a warm embrace and a compassionate kiss. Linden is perfect, and he takes Beck under his wing, but his hangups over a relationship with someone half his age have Beck’s head spinning.

As Linden lets the sweet wayward guitarist into his world and gives him renewed purpose, he battles disapproval from his friends and family. And when Beck realizes the kindhearted vet could well be his true soulmate, he fears that their love is probably doomed.

Will this perfect match transcend the judgment of others?

A Much Younger Man is the first book in the tender The Men of St. Nacho’s gay romance series. If you like heartfelt chemistry, unequal partners, and emotional rollercoasters, then you’ll adore Z.A. Maxfield’s poignant tale.

Buy A Much Younger Man to throw societal expectations out the door today!

https://www.amazon.com/Much-Younger-Man-Romance-Nachos-ebook/dp/B08D7W7RRL/

Welcome Birthday Guest Charlie Richards!

Many happy birthday wishes, Amber! Another year come and gone. It seems like only yesterday when we were gearing up for last year’s holiday season. It has definitely shaped up to be a different kind of year with plenty of highs and lows.
Thank you so much for once again asking me to join you in your annual November Birthday Bash! All my best wishes for a fantastic, relaxing, and memorable birthday.
This time around, Amber has asked for a little short story where we share some time with a few favorite characters, so…of course we’ll swing over to Stone Ridge and join Jared, Carson, and many other friends in our wolf shifter pack. Here we go!

“Where’s the birthday boy?”
Carson turned and found his alpha, Declan, striding up the deck steps.
The large wolf shifter’s dark gray eyes twinkled as he peered around the backyard, obviously taking in all the decorations. Pointing at a huge bouncy castle, he teased, “Didn’t find one a bit more…phallus-shaped?”
Chuckling, Carson shook his head. “And ostracize every shifter with little kids? No.” Then he smirked as he winked at his alpha. “Yes, I looked, and no.”
Tipping his head back, Alpha Declan laughed loudly.
Carson chortled softly, shaking his head. Any time another shifter in the pack found his or her mate, they went to Jared for pointers. It was well known to everyone who came of age, that his human would happily pass on porn sites and links to instructional guides for safe sex. While many appreciated Jared’s slightly off-colored teasing and help, a few of the adults in the pack kept their younger kids away from Carson’s mate.
Oh, well. Jared isn’t much of a kid-person anyway.
Still, Carson had wanted everyone in the pack to feel welcome to Jared’s birthday bash, so he’d picked up a few family-oriented activities—like a bouncy castle, a twenty-foot-tall blow-up slide, and even a couple ponies for pony rides supplied by a stable owned and operated by a wolf shifter and his mate.
Recalling Declan’s original question, Carson told him, “He’s in Colin City somewhere, but he didn’t tell me where he was going.” He leaned his hip against the porch railing and frowned. “He was definitely a little melancholy this morning though. I guess turning forty can do that to a human.”
Alpha Declan hummed. “How did ye know he wouldn’t show up in the middle of transporting everyone here for the party?”
Carson pulled out his phone and opened up an app. “Special app Jared and Raul came up with,” he told him, holding it out for his alpha to see. “This way we can know where our partner is, if we so desire.”
Leaning forward, Declan hummed. “Huh. Is it new? I could use that for Lark.” The alpha grinned, probably thinking of Lark, his alpha-mate.
Nodding, Carson confirmed, “Just created last week. We’re still testing it out.”
“Well, according to this, Jared’s Porsche is speeding our way at”—Declan grimaced—“almost eighty miles an hour on curvy mountain roads.”
Carson immediately checked out the information given by the app and groaned. “I didn’t need to know he sped around the mountain like that.” Then he realized just how close his mate was to Declan’s massive lodge where everyone had gathered. “Kade,” he called to a fellow wolf shifter. “Get everyone into position!”
Kade spun from where he’d been setting out paper plates and silverware. Meeting Carson’s gaze, he nodded as his eyes widened. Then he began hurrying around, urging everyone to gather in the back, so the front yard was clear.
“I’ll fire up the grill,” Alpha Declan stated as he headed toward the massive, built-in range on the patio to the right of the deck.
“Thanks,” Carson called as he jogged into the house. He swiftly made his way through. After a quick glance out the window, he saw that no one was out front, and all the cars had been moved elsewhere. With a grin, Carson waited, tipping his head and listening.
It wasn’t long before Carson heard the distinctive whine of Jared’s Porsche’s engine. When they’d had to fake their deaths and go off the grid to remake their identities a few years before, Jared had blown up their home, along with his car. Carson had surprised Jared with a new Porsche only a few days before. His mate had been ecstatic.
Carson spotted the metallic orange vehicle between the trees, counted to three, then headed onto the front porch. Watching Jared park his car, he grinned as he met his gaze through the windshield. His mate smiled back, although it appeared a little strained.
Concerned, Carson trotted down the steps. He was beside the driver’s side door by the time Jared eased out of it. Taking his mate into his arms, he pulled him close.
The scent of sadness filled Carson’s nostrils, and he cocked his head. “What is it, Jared?” Pecking a kiss to the plush lips he loved to plunder, he pressed, “I scent your sadness. Talk to me.” An idea he didn’t care for pushed into his mind. “Were you at your grave?”
When they’d had to fake their deaths, Jared had left human family behind. They’d buried his fake remains in the Colin City Cemetery. One of the local vampires had put the idea into Jared’s head to go to the funeral, to see his family one last time, so he and Carson had—although they’d been heavily disguised.
Jared nodded. “Yeah. My family stopped by,” he admitted. Wrapping his arms around Carson tightly, his normally cocky and self-assured mate clung to him. “I know we made the right choice, that it was time for us to remake our identities, but it’s hard knowing I had to leave my family behind.”
Carson rubbed up and down Jared’s back while nuzzling Jared’s neck. “They’re not your only family, my mate,” he murmured while pressing kisses to his lover’s flesh.
After a few seconds, Jared leaned away from Carson. His self-assured smirk was once again firmly affixed to his lips. “Yeah, Declan has almost throttled me like a father a few times, eh, Injun?”
Chuckling softly, Carson nodded. “You got that right.” After one more slow, sipping kiss that was too-short for what he really wanted to do to his mate, Carson lifted his head. He turned, keeping his arm around his lover. “Declan said dinner is almost ready. Let’s go in and relax.”
Jared fell into step beside him, climbing the stairs. They headed through the house together. Pushing aside the blinds on the sliding glass door, Carson opened it.
As they stepped onto the back deck, everyone yelled, “Surprise! Happy fortieth, Jared!”
Scoffing softly, Jared grinned widely. “Well,” he whispered, his voice a little husky. “Guess I didn’t lose my family after all.”
Carson pressed a kiss to Jared’s temple. Ignoring the ever-so-subtle scent of salt, telling him the Jared fought back tears, he whispered, “No, you didn’t.” Then Carson led Jared into the backyard to join their pack.

Thanks so much for joining me for a trip down Nostalgia Lane! I hope you enjoyed a little peek into what’s going on in Stone Ridge. If you’d like to enter a drawing for a $20 Amazon gift card, please make a comment. I’d love to help you have a holly, jolly holiday season.

Once more, 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 fun with a fox, please check out my latest release in the A Loving Nip series – Book #23 – Fighting for his Fox – which came out November 6th. Here’s the blurb and an excerpt, plus where you can find it at eXtasy Books and Amazon.

Happy Birthday, Amber, and Best Wishes to Everyone!

Extasy Books | Amazon

Just a little Love Bite: When a man who thinks he’s straight acknowledges his attraction to another guy, he has to fight ore than the shifter’s stubbornness to win him.

Blurb:

When Jerome Harsnen’s best buddy, Stanton, meets a hot guy and gives in to his bisexuality, he learns something unimaginable—vampires are real. Stanton’s lover is one, and he’s part of a coven in Montana. Since Jerome’s younger brother is already living in another state, he decides to move with Stanton when his buddy asks him to. While Jerome could admit to being wholly unprepared to live with a coven of vampires, he’s even more ill-equipped to handle meeting a shifter who revs his engine like no one ever has before. The shifter lets slip that Jerome is his mate, but then he walks away. After some soul-searching, Jerome decides to track the man down. It’s a small town, after all. He discovers the guy is a red fox shifter named Deputy Cain Whistler. When Jerome goes to introduce himself, he’s surprised to find Cain having lunch with his fiancée. At least that answers why Cain walked away.

With the wedding fast approaching, can Jerome figure out if his fox is worth fighting for and why Cain would be willing to walk away from his fated mate?

Excerpt
“I’m sorry, Vivian. Mister and Misses Ridging,” Cain began thirty minutes later. He’d drank his coffee but hadn’t managed to get down more than a third of the frosted cinnamon bun Vivian had ordered for him. On more than one occasion, Cain had told her that he preferred salty over sweet, and with the frosting, the baked treat was too much for his taste buds. Rising from the table, Cain explained, “My lunch break is over. I need to get back to the station.”
Misses Ridging rose, as did her husband. “Oh, Cain,” she began, reaching out with both hands and cupping one of Cain’s. “We’re about to become family. If you’re not comfortable calling me Mom, then please call me Loretta.”
“And call me Mason,” Mister Ridging ordered, not offering the Dad honorific.
That was okay. Cain didn’t have any intention of calling either of them by Mom or Dad.
“Thank you, Loretta. Mason,” Cain replied, easing his hand from Loretta’s. “I appreciate that.”
Having also risen, Vivian took his hand next. “See you this evening, Cain,” she stated, which was news to Cain. “I’d like Perry’s lamb gyro for supper tonight. Oh, with deep-fried mushrooms.”
Cain nodded, realizing he’d just been ordered to bring Vivian dinner. “Of course. I’ll text you when I leave work.” When she turned her cheek, Cain gave her the perfunctory kiss she wanted even as he tried not to inhale due to the perfume she was wearing.
“To hide that I’m pregnant,” she’d told him.
Pulling away, Cain waved at them all. “Have a good afternoon.”
Then Cain turned and headed toward the door. The twinge of his bladder had him moving to the coffee shop’s men’s room instead. After a couple moments taking care of business, Cain exited.
A sweep of the room told Cain that Vivian and her parents had already left. They’d also left their trash on the table. Sighing, he crossed back to the table and picked it up. After dumping it in the trash can near the door, Cain headed out of the shop.
As Cain released the door and took a deep breath of the cool, fresh afternoon air, a large dark-brown hand gripped the door, pulling it open wider. The smell of salty peanut and nougat combined with a summer rain assailed Cain’s nostrils. His fox perked up in his mind with a yip, and arousal simmered through his veins.
Cain stared at the stranger in shock. He stood a couple of inches over his own six-foot height. His dark-skinned form appeared leaner, with toned, muscular legs covered in form-fitting jeans. Deep gray eyes stared back at Cain for several seconds, and Cain felt as if he could lose himself within their depths.
While Cain had accepted his bisexuality decades ago, he rarely had a chance to act on it. His family had a much more conservative view. Being gay, while accepted by some in the skulk, would not have been acceptable in the alpha’s son.
Except, when the man’s full lips quirked into a small smile, Cain wanted to taste them so badly his mouth watered.
Mine! Mate!
“Oh, fuck,” Cain whispered, recognizing his fox’s claim. “You’re my mate.” Feeling heat rise to his cheeks for a reason other than arousal, although his dick was still plumping quickly behind his fly due to the human’s scent, Cain muttered, “Sorry. Excuse me.”
Turning away, Cain tried to figure out what the hell Fate had been thinking sending him his mate, a male mate, right then.
“Wait.” The man’s deep voice washed over Cain’s senses as he felt the human grip his upper arm, urging Cain to turn back to face him. “Did you just call me your mate?”
Cain swallowed hard, seeing the interested gleam in the man’s deep gray eyes. “Uh, no,” he began, then realized he couldn’t lie to his mate. “I mean, yeah. I did, but—” Cain sighed and shook his head, pulling his arm from the gorgeous man’s grip. “I’m sorry. This is such fucked up timing. I…I gotta go.”
Then Cain hurried away from the human, all the while listening to his fox yip angrily in his mind.
Gods, what the hell am I going to do now?

Welcome Birthday Guest Jambrea Jo Jones!

Happy Birthday, Amber! I’m so happy to be here to help you celebrate.
I am going to offer up a prize! A pdf from my backlist. I’ll draw a name on Dec. 1st.

It took a bit for me to decide who I wanted to take on a birthday trip. I started going through all of my old books until I stumbled on one that I haven’t visited in a while. Wishing Star. Click the link to check out the book and blurb, if you haven’t already read it.

It was an unseasonably warm day for November, but Patric wasn’t about to complain. He wasn’t overly fond of the winter. He didn’t mind the cold so much as the snow. It was pretty when looking out from inside, but driving on snow and ice sucked.

Today was his birthday and his fiancé, Gabriel, had a plan he wasn’t letting Patric in on. He wasn’t big on surprises, but once Gabriel began speaking Spanish in Patric’s ear, he’d agree to anything. Gabriel knew it and used it to his advantage on a few occasions.

They’d been together for five years and were planning a wedding soon, now that Indiana passed the law letting gay couples get married. His and Gabriel’s moms already had their heads together planning. All Patric really wanted to do was elope. The talk of babies would come soon. He just knew it. But today he wasn’t going to think about that. Nope. It was his birthday and Gabriel was doing something special.

If he knew his man, and he did, it would be something so romantic that Patric would melt. He had done that a lot in the past few years. It was insane, but every day was like the first. When Patric woke up in the morning he was worried it would all be a dream and Gabriel would be gone.
“You ready, mi amor?” Gabriel nuzzled Patric’s ear.
“Mmm… We could always stay here.” Patric turned in Gabriel’s arms.
“We could, si, but it would ruin your surprise. Now let us go.” Gabriel tapped Patric’s ass and moved to the front door.
Patric might grumble, but he would love any moment he could spend with Gabriel. Usually he would drive, but Gabriel wasn’t letting him do that either. He was probably lucky to not be blindfolded. Patric got into the car and buckled up.
“Am I dressed okay? Can’t you give me a hint?”
Gabriel leaned over and brushed his mouth against Patric’s. “No hints. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.” Gabriel winked at him.
“Okay, okay.”
It seemed like they drove for hours, but it really couldn’t have been that long. Patric had closed his eyes, the gentle sway of the car putting him into a light sleep. It always did that when he was in the passenger seat.
“We are here, sleepy head.”
“Mmm, were?” Patric cracked open one eye to look at Gabriel.
“Come on.” Gabriel got out of the car.
Patric stretched a little before opening the door. He got out as Gabriel was opening the trunk. He didn’t even know Gabriel had packed anything. Patric looked around and it took him a moment to realize where they were. The stop sign in the middle of nowhere was the biggest clue.
“Where it all started.” Patric ran up to Gabriel and threw his arms around him. “I can’t believe—”
“It has been a while since we have been here. It is our special place and I could not think of anywhere better to spend your birthday. It is where it all started and I know you worry sometimes that things will go away, but I will always be here for you. Happy birthday, mi amor.”
“Thank you.” Patric raised up on his toes and kissed Gabriel.
Gabriel dropped whatever it was he was holding and wrapped his arms around Patric, picking him up a bit. God, he loved this man.
Patric was sad, when the kiss ended. He was hard and wanted nothing more than to have Gabriel take his ass.
“We’ll have time for that later. Right now,” Gabriel reached down and picked something off the ground. “We are going to have a picnic.”
Gabriel had a picnic basket in one hand and a blanket in the other.
“You’ve thought of everything, haven’t you?”
“Si.” Gabriel smiled.
“Let’s eat. I hope you have cake in there.”
“I do. You know—maybe we should have the wedding here.”
Patric snorted. “No way. Our mom’s would hurt us. Plus, I don’t think we can have one here. Can we?”
Now that the idea was in Patric’s head, he really wanted to get married in the place that helped him find his love. Maybe they could get everything together by Christmas Eve, the day a bit of Christmas magic brought them together.
“I know that look. You like the idea.” Gabriel spread out the blanket and sat down, holding out a hand for Patric to join him.
“You know me too well, love.” Patric leaned over and brushed a kiss along Gabriel’s cheek. “And you get to tell our mothers.”
Patric laughed as Gabriel tackled him. Best. Birthday. Ever.