I want to thank fans and author friends who joined me for my birthday month. This has a been a hard month for me. I had so many great plans of all the things I would go out and do to celebrate my 50th birthday, but with the pandemic none of them were possible. Now I’m done with my self-indulgent whine 🙂
December is next and I hope to be back to writing full force. I spent a lot of this month working on story ideas and hope to bring new ones to you soon. I’m getting super close to finishing something (I know you’ve heard that before).
Let’s get through December and hope 2021 is a much better year! If you have questions for me I am always available at email@example.com.
Happy Birthday month to Amber! Thanks you Amber for letting me come and join the fun. Yay! Let’s party.
I’ve written a little interlude featuring characters from my Zander Oaks series. Birthday Photo Shoot By Talia Carmichael An Zander Oaks Interlude November 2020 Genre: Contemporary Series: Zander Oaks Length: Interlude
When a man who doesn’t like disorder meets a man who embraces it they find they are made to fall into each other…
Jaxx Coulter doesn’t like change. He’s used to things a certain way and in its place. When a man comes to his ranch and shakes up his orderly world, he’s not in the mood to deal with it. But this man doesn’t seem to get he’s not one to mess with. He challenges him and Jaxx is surprised he finds himself drawn to Turner who is unlike anyone he knows.
Turner Black doesn’t follow anyone’s rules. He walked away from a fortune because he refused to be dictated to. Now he’s here on a ranch at the request to help out a friend. Yet when he arrives, he finds that he’s not expected and confronted by a man who needs to loosen up. A man who pushes all his buttons. Now it’s time to show Jaxx that sometimes disorder can be a good thing. You just needed to embrace it.
Will Jaxx be able to release his need for control and embrace what Turner has to offer?
Contest: From the comments below, 1 winner will be selected at random from all the comments and the prize for winner will be a $5 Amazon egift card! (This is open to all. Note you will need to be able to get an egift card from Amazon)
The contest will go until 11:59 pm Eastern time on November 30, 2020, so you have time to enter. Please enter an email address when you post your comment below. Once I announce the winner your email is how I confirm I am sending the prize to the person who commented below for the contest.
I have some party favors for you all. Here are 3 free books that are part of my Palmer Series. ★.¸¸,.✶´.¸¸,.✶ FREE BOOKS ✶´.¸¸,.✶´`´*★ Maximum Exposure Palmer, Book # 1 It will take an exposure of a maximum kind for them to admit what they want. https://dl.bookfunnel.com/a00vqfn9mf ☆☆Note: This book is set in Palmer.
Forever His Fake Palmer, Book # 2 What happens when two men afraid to take a step to get what they want enter into an arrangement – fake boyfriends with real dates for practice? https://dl.bookfunnel.com/5ha4ptlhd5 ☆☆Note: This book is set in Palmer.
Risk Everything Palmer, Book # 3 To get what he wants he’s willing to reveal to his good friend how he feels and risk everything for a chance at making him his. https://dl.bookfunnel.com/4xpyhxhr10
☆☆Note: This book is set in Palmer.
Bio: Talia Carmichael is a romantic who believes that family, no matter if it is by blood or those you choose as family, is integral to who you are. She is an author who writes sexy stories in a variety of genres. She believes in creating stories that encompass all that falling in love or lust entails, from the highs of that first blush of attraction to the lows of not knowing if you can make your coming together as a couple work, and then finally to the acceptance of the reality of making a life together. It’s all about the journey.
Among her books you’ll find contemporary, futuristic, fantasy, and paranormal settings with M/M themes that will have a happily-ever-after. Her books are passionate, intense, and real… to fill the craving.
“Roses red, violets blue, sugar sweet and so is you, but roses wilting, violets dead, sugar lumpy, and so is you head. So is you head. You head. You head. Lumpy you head.” “No lumps this time, Bug.” “Eeep!” I jumped back, pressing a hand to my heaving chest. A man who stood six and a half feet tall should not be able to sneak up on me like that. I pointed a threatening finger at Bear. “You no scare Bug!” Bear chuckled as he drew me into his arms. “I wasn’t trying to scare you, Bug. Promise.” “What you want?” “I can’t just come to see you because I want to?” I thought about it and then shook my head. “You working. Bug no bother you. Boss man get mad.” “Well, I just so happen to be done working and thought we could go for a ride.” “Mate ride or club ride?” There was a difference. “It’s not a club ride because it will be just you and me, and if it was a mate ride, we’d be headed upstairs.” I wasn’t opposed to that. “Mate ride good.” Bear chuckled again. “How about we go for a ride on my bike now and then come home for a mate ride?” I didn’t even have to think about that one. “Okay.” Bear leaned down and brushed his lips across mine then gave me a little swat on the ass. “Go get your gear.” I hurried upstairs to our room and grabbed my heavy riding jacket, gloves, and helmet. Bear never let me ride without them, not even in the summer time. Something about not getting road rash or a broken skull if we crashed. Considering how much I loved being on the bike behind Bear, it wasn’t worth arguing, even when it was so hot I felt as if my skin was going to melt right off. Bear was waiting for me out back, straddling his bike. It wasn’t until I climbed on behind him that I realized Bear’s bike was the only one in the garage. “Where everyone?” “Oh, Ryder took them for a ride,” Bear said. “I wanted to ride with you.” I was pretty good either way. I enjoyed the rides Ryder, the Soldiers of Fortune road captain organized, and I enjoyed the rides I took with just Bear. I just liked being on the back of Bear’s bike. I didn’t care who else was along for the ride. Once we were on the road, we had to make it through weekend afternoon traffic before we reached the outskirts of the city and then it was nothing but hills and valleys and trees. Lots and lots of trees. When we stopped at a four way stop and Bear turned right and started following the road that went along the river, I smiled. I knew where we were headed. “Bear play chase?” It was one of Bear’s favorite games. He’d bring me up to this spot in the woods, I’d go hide, and he’d track me down. If he found me within a certain amount of time, he got to do whatever he wanted with me. More times than not, I purposely made noise so he’d find me. Still, it was a fun game for both of us. “Not today, Bug,” Bear replied through the comm. unit built into our helmets. “I have something else planned for you today.” I was intrigued. But I was also confused when Bear pulled onto the dirt road that led to the camp spot used by the club and not the one he usually took me to when we played chase. That was a little farther up the road. “We miss meeting?” It was the only way I could think of to explain all the bikes parked in front of the trail that led down to a large wooden park pavilion where we had our outdoor meetings and get-togethers. “We in trouble?” Bear parked next to the other bikes then turned the engine off. He grabbed me and pulled me around in front of him. One of my favorite spots. “No, Bug. I promise we’re not in trouble.” “We miss meeting?” I asked again. “There is a meeting, but we didn’t miss it.” Bear lifted me up in his arms and climbed off his bike. I groaned when he released me and I slid down his hard body. “In fact, they are waiting for us.” “Why?” Yes, technically, I was a member of the Soldiers of Fortune MC. Butch had given me the patch right off his own cut. That didn’t mean I was involved in every aspect of the club. There were some things Bear didn’t want me involved in. Other things I just didn’t understand. “How’s your tummy?” Bear asked. I frowned. It acted up when danger was about. Since it wasn’t acting up, I figured I was safe. “Tummy okay.” Shouldn’t it be fine? Bear grinned. “Good.” “You being weird.” Considering I was talking to a bear shifting biker, that was saying a lot. “What wrong?” “Nothing is wrong, mate. I promise.” Promises were important. Bear gripped my hand and gave it a little tug. “Come with me.” I’d follow him anywhere. He led me down the trail that led to the through the trees to the wooden pavilion. I loved this spot. Not only was the pavilion right next to the river so we could go swimming, but it was set in the middle of a small field. Bear and the other members of the MC could shift and lay about in the sun or play in the river or just hunt for berries. I could hear music playing and people talking before we reached the field. When we broke through the trees and I saw the small crowd of people, I could help feeling a bit apprehensive. “We not in trouble?” “No, babe.” Bear’s arm settled on my shoulders. “We’re not in trouble.” “What meeting for?” I don’t remember anyone saying anything about there being a meeting. “Soldiers of Fortune,” Butch shouted out. “Front and center.” Uh oh. I swallowed tightly when every patched member of the club lined up next to Butch. Tex even stepped into line, and he was still a prospect. Bear stopped me several feet in front of the line of men and stood behind me, his hands on my shoulders. “We don’t know exactly when you were born, Bug, so Butch and I decided to pick out a birthday for you, and that day is today, so happy birthday, Bug.” One by one, the men standing in front of us brought out a present they had been hiding behind their backs. They all had grins on their faces, even Tex. “Bug birthday?” I didn’t remember ever having a birthday. “Yeah, baby. This is all for you.” It was good to be me.
To learn more about Bug, Bear, and the Soldiers for Fortune, check out their story in:
FORGIVENESS Soldiers of Fortune 1 His name was Bug. I assumed it was because he was nuttier than a bed bug until he saved me when I was attacked. For reasons known only to him, Bug thought it was his duty to keep me safe. I was the sergeant-at-arms of the Soldiers of Fortune MC. I didn’t need saving, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell him so, especially not after I discovered he was my mate.
His name was Bear. It fit. He was tall and scary and built like a bear. He was also my savior, even if he didn’t know it. When I saw someone attack him in an alley one night, I knew I had to save him. When everyone brushed off my concern for his safety, I knew I was the only one who could save him. But, when he started talking about mates and bear shifters, I had to wonder if he was even crazier than I was.
When troubles comes for the Soldiers of Fortune MC, convincing Bear and his club brothers to listen to the whispers I hear from the shadows might be harder than accepting the fact that shifters are real and I’m mated to one of them.
EXCERPT: ~ Bear ~ “Roses red, violets blue, sugar sweet and so is you, but roses wilting, violets dead, sugar lumpy, and so is you head. So is you head. You head. You head. Lumpy you head.” I cracked an eye open and looked up at the man softly singing as he stroked his fingers through my hair. I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on. The world around me was a bit fuzzy, all except the man hovering over the top of me. Pale skin, a thin face with high cheekbones, hollow, sunken eyes, and a wicked looking scar that went from his cheekbone back into his hairline. Long, stringy hair that might have been blond if it hadn’t been so matted and dirty. But it was the pale moss green eyes that held my attention the most. There was a world of pain and anguish in those little green orbs. I frowned when a flower was placed on my cheek. When I went to reach for it, the grungy little man gasped then scurried back several feet. He stayed crouched on the floor, hunkering down as if trying to make himself as small as possible and covering his head with his arms. “Lumpy, lumpy, lumpy,” the man whispered, but maybe he was more of a boy. I couldn’t quite tell. I started to sit up then groaned when shards of pain sliced through my skull. When I reached up and felt the nice sized egg on the back of my head, I suddenly understood what the man had meant by lumpy. No wonder my head ached so damn much. I sank back down onto the cold concrete and closed my eyes. I breathed in through my nose then out through my mouth, trying to calm myself enough to get through the pain slamming into me. I opened my eyes again when I heard a scraping noise. The man moved closer, once again placing flowers on my face and down my neck, then over my chest as if the last thirty seconds had never happened. He started chanting that stupid rhythm again. “What is your name?” I asked. The man froze. He didn’t even blink. He might not have even been breathing. “What is your name?” I asked again, in the softest tone I knew how to make, which wasn’t easy. I didn’t exactly have a soft tone, but I didn’t want to scare him. “Bug. I’m Bug. I scurry around and hide in dark, so yeah, I’m Bug. Not bad Bug. Not cockroach Bug. Good Bug.” He held up a handful of flower petals. “Maybe ladybug, but not lady. No, no, not lady. Boy Bug. Boy Bug. So, I’m Bug.” Okay then. “I’m—” “Bear.” Bug nodded and started with the flowers again. “Bear. Bear. Big, bad Bear. Teddy Bear.” Bug patted my chest just open the collar of my shirt. “Furry Bear.” Okay, apparently he knew who I was. “Where are we, Bug?” It was dark and all I could see were shadows cast by a sliver of light coming in through a crack in the wall. “Hole. Hidey hole. Small little hidey hole.” Bug’s brow flickered. “No bad guys here. No. No. Safe here. Bug keep Bear safe.” Bug shot up and hurried over to the corner. I watched as he dug into a pile of stuff stacked on the floor. It looked like garbage, but what did I know. When he came back, he set a gun down on my chest then held his closed fist out. When I opened my hand, he dropped a handful of bullets into my palm. “Safe. Yes, Bug keep you safe. No more wilting flowers. No more lumpy.” I moved slowly when I sat up, trying not to scare Bug, but he still scurried out of arm’s reach. I checked over the pistol. It wasn’t mine. I had no idea who it belonged to. “Is this your gun, Bug?” For some odd reason, it didn’t sit well with me thinking that Bug needed a gun to protect himself. “No, no.” My eyebrows shot up when Bug laughed. “Bug no like guns. Guns hurt. Guns loud. Guns make people go away. Guns bad.” All of that was true. “Where did you get the gun, Bug?” “Mmm,” Bug hummed to himself as he tapped the side of his head with his fist. “Bad man, bad, bad, bad man. Hurt Lumpy. Hit Lumpy. Make Lumpy bleed. But Bug got him, yes he did. Bug make bad man go away. Bug keep Lumpy safe.” Holy shit!
The vicious bite of an enemy, a shout, a cry in the dark. A lover’s touch, the whisper of a kiss. A sigh, a groan, heart beating faster, desire surging through a body. Love words spoken in the shadows. The yearning for a soft caress. I’m a writer of fiery passion in all its glorious forms. Paranormal, Contemporary, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, MM Romance books. There is no limit to my imagination.
Everyone who entered did a great job. I picked the ones I thought I could make a cute short out of. Winners should contact my assistant Sheri at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for entering!
For those who participated in the Storymatic contests the winners are:
#1 Jessica Parsons Ever since becoming a ex-super hero i have lost count the number of times i have been stood up just because i no longer did any hero stuff and wanted to enjoy my dream job at a aquarium. Even my lucky underwear couldn’t help with my dating prospects unless you counted the sea creatures feeling me up when i wore them.
It served him right. It should have been just another one night stand. One night with the most beautiful man he had ever met. He had spent one glorious night with him and then left for the mission at 0 dark hundred. He should have claimed him; instead, he had left his unclaimed mate to finish his mission. He was supposed to be back in just a few days. He had promised.
Instead he was sent on a mission that lasted 7 months with no contact stateside. As soon as he was back, he went to Marcus’s apartment and received his first shock of the night. His apartment was empty. Marcus didn’t live there anymore. In fact, Mrs. Kravitz, the neighborhood tattle-tale took great relish in telling him all about how “that boy” had been gone for over 6 months. Just packed up one weekend and left without a forwarding address. All that was left behind was a small package that had arrived for Marcus. With dismay, he realized Marcus had never received his contact information. Marcus would think he had abandoned him. Mrs. Kravitz was more than happy to give it to him when he said he would deliver it. His second shock arrived after he had to call in few favors from his old team, and found that Marcus had been admitted to the hospital. Now, he was sitting in the waiting room at OHSU with the unexpected box for Marcus containing his plans for their life together waiting to find out if his mate-to-be was suffering from separation angst or pregnant. Either way, he had some ‘splaining to do. Now all he had to do was wait, and survive the grilling that awaited him from Marcus’s guard dog of a best friend. He always cut to the chase, and never shied away from asking the questions no one else would dare ask an alpha.
#3 gameistress77 there he sat, all by himself – ostracized, ignored — yet you could tell it didn’t matter to him. his confidence surrounded him, filling that empty corner of the cafeteria where he alternated between eating, tapping away on his laptop and scribbling in his notebook. that thick sandy blonde hair kept just long enough to start to curl a bit in waves and dark wire rimmed glasses still made me feel things I knew I shouldn’t, couldn’t allow myself to feel. if only i hadn’t made those promises to my father before I met him, hadn’t said I’d follow thru on the agreements father and his business associate had entered into to unify their companies via marriage between their heirs. if only I was truly free. when he raised his head and looked straight at me, it was as if he could read my thoughts from across the room. looking into his deep blue gaze, even from that distance, it brings back all the feelings to the fore front, making me long to return to those secret meetings where it was just the two of us and reality could be forgotten. how will i ever manage to be happy again?
#4 Maria Ellner with “Casey was down on his luck after the mishap in the laboratory. The only thing between him and poverty was the heirloom that he was getting readyt to pawn. That’s when he saw the poster announcing the beauty contest. The prize was $50,000.00!!! With that money he could do something! He would have to dress as a woman, but that was no problem for him. He loved to dress up. Did he dare?”
First, I wanted to offer my gratitude to Amber Kell for allowing me to be a part of her celebration, as well as wish her a very Happy Birthday!
Secondly, I guess I should introduce myself. I’m Arden Steele, and I write both contemporary and paranormal M/M romance. To find out more about me, including a list of my available titles, check out www.ardensteele.com.
In the spirit of giving, I wanted to offer a little something to everyone! Just click the link to get your FREE copy of my short story, Only You. (Please note that signups for my newsletter are appreciated when claiming your free book but are completely optional.)
And now, without further ado, I give you Asher Dare and Cameron Stone. If you want to read more about them and find out where it all started, check out the beginning of their story in Flirt. (Side note: the third and final book of their trilogy will be releasing next year!)
Darkness had settled over Mission Grove, blanketing the sleepy, Texas town in shadows. The music, laughter, and conversation from the boardwalk across the lake had faded away, leaving only the frogs and crickets to serenade the night. A singular streetlamp outside the two-bedroom bungalow filtered through the slats in the blinds, casting skewed rows of amber across the hardwood floors.
Seated on his worn, but perfectly comfortable sofa, Cameron Stone flicked aimlessly through the channels on his television. Finding something to watch might have been easier if his attention hadn’t been constantly drawn to the clock in the corner of the screen, the numbers mocking him as they silently inched toward midnight.
It was tradition, and it had been ever since he’d first left home for college. Even when he had to wake up at an ungodly hour for work, he still stayed up every year on this day until the clock struck midnight—the official beginning of his birthday.
Precisely after the clock changed over, his phone would ring, and his mother would be on the other end of the line, always the first to wish him happiness and good fortune in the coming year. Then, she’d pass the phone to his father, who usually interspersed his congratulations with some tidbits of “dad wisdom.”
It was something Cameron looked forward to every year…until now.
“Happy Birthday to me,” he muttered under his breath when the display finally showed twelve o’clock. Picking up his cell phone, he held it ready, waiting for it to ring. And it did. Right on time. Sighing, he connected the call without really looking and brought the phone to his ear. “Hi, mom.”
“Nope,” came a familiar yet unexpected voice. “I’m hijacking her call this year.”
“Asher?” Cameron sat up straighter, all traces of weariness gone.
Warm, rich laughter drifted over the line. “Of course, it’s me.”
“Hey, Ash.” Cameron couldn’t help but smile at the edge of cockiness in Asher’s voice. “How are things going there?”
He’d known from the beginning that he would have to share Asher with the world. Such was the price of being in love with a successful author who had more than a dozen bestsellers under his belt. Even if that meant Asher was in California, on the set of the film adaptation of his latest mystery novel, instead of home for Cameron’s birthday.
“Everything is fine, but I don’t want to talk about me. It’s your day.” His tone took on a more subdued quality. “Tell me what you’re thinking right now.”
“I miss you,” Cameron blurted before Asher had even finished speaking.
“I miss you, too.” There was a long pause, then, “Hey, I got you something.”
“Oh?” All he wanted was Asher, but the guy was trying, so he did his best to feign enthusiasm. “Something from the movie set?”
“In a manner of speaking,” Asher said around another chuckle. “It should be there. Check your front porch.”
Cameron looked over his shoulder toward the windows that bracketed the front door, his brows drawn together. It was far too late for a delivery, but then again, it wasn’t the most outrageous thing Asher had ever done.
“Okay, one second.” Taking the phone with him, he made his way to the door, unlocked it, and pulled it open. “What exactly did you—”
His voice cut out abruptly, the last word still stuck in his throat as he gaped at the man standing in the circle of light cast by the porch lamp. He was dressed casually—well, as casually as he ever was—in fitted jeans and a lightweight shirt the same color blue as Cameron’s eyes. He looked tired, and maybe a little thinner than the last time Cameron had seen him, but the smile on his face seemed to light up his entire being.
“What are you doing here?” The last he’d heard, Asher had another three weeks left in Hollywood before he could return home.
Reaching across the threshold, Asher grabbed him around the waist and pulled him into a crushing hug. “You really didn’t think I was going to miss your birthday, did you?” With a finger under Cameron’s chin, he tilted his head up for a hard, heated kiss. “I love you.”
Being with Asher meant fame and fortune were forever a part of their lives. Cameron had no interest in fame, but the lifestyle suited Asher. As for fortune, he enjoyed living comfortably, but he’d give it all up just to be in Asher’s arms. That was all the fortune he needed.
“I love you, too. I’m glad you’re here.”
“Me, too.” Taking his hand, Asher led him into the house and closed the door quietly behind them. “It’s good to be home.” Then, he caught Cameron up in his arms again and planted another kiss on him that made his head spin and his knees tremble. “Happy Birthday, sweetheart.”
Night and Fae
Blackhaven Manor, Book 2
Colorful and eccentric, Leelan Rivers knows he’s a little too “extra” for some people. Since those people are exceedingly boring, he couldn’t care less about their opinion. Yet, when a night out leads him right into the arms of fate, he never expected the broody vampire to deny the connection between them.
Wealthy and powerful, Sebastian Delgado is used to people wanting things from him. He’s not even surprised at the lies they’ll tell to get them. So, when Leelan claims to be his mate, he’s skeptical to say the least. Leelan might be beautiful and enchanting, but Sebastian has been disappointed too many times in the past not to be suspicious.
All it takes is one bite to reveal the truth but claiming Leelan comes with its own set of problems. Especially when he realizes he’s not the only vampire at Blackhaven Manor interested in the faerie.
“No need to play hard to get. You know you want it, or you wouldn’t be dressed like that.”
While true Leelan had been hoping to attract someone to take back to his room for the evening, that didn’t mean he lacked standards or self-respect. “I really think you should leave.”
Too fast for his eyes to follow, the vampire reached across the table, grabbing Leelan’s wrist and squeezing it roughly. “I think you should be nicer—”
“Now, now,” a smooth accented voice interrupted. “Is that any way to behave?”
Leelan’s eyes rounded as the most gorgeous specimen of male he’d ever seen stepped up behind his date and wrapped a hand around the back of the vampire’s neck. Dressed impeccably in a tailored black suit that molded to his broad, muscular frame, the stranger looked like he could have stepped right off of a runway.
No visible tattoos marked his tawny skin. He had no piercings, wore no jewelry, not even a watch. His dark hair was cut short and styled in a conservative though fashionable side part. While not really the type Leelan usually went for, he still somehow managed to embody every wet dream Leelan had ever had.
But that wasn’t why he couldn’t stop staring.
“Get your fucking hands off me,” the vampire growled as he struggled against the hold on his nape.
The new guy stroked the side of the male’s neck with his thumb. “Even a limited vocabulary doesn’t excuse poor manners.” As he spoke, his thumbnail grew, lengthening nearly two inches before ending in a sharp point. “Now, apologize.”
While he spoke calmly, danger practically radiated from his very being. The vampire must have felt it, too, because he subsided in his chair and lowered his head in obvious submission.
The guy seemed far less inclined to offer Leelan an apology, but he eventually lifted his head just enough to meet his gaze. “Sorry.” He winced when the sharp claw dug into his skin. “I’m sorry for being such a dick.”
The other vampire—Leelan was pretty sure the newcomer was a vampire as well—turned his dark, penetrating stare on him. “Well, it wasn’t very eloquent, but will that suffice?”
Leelan nodded numbly.
“Very well.” Releasing the younger male’s neck, he grabbed the collar of his tank top instead and dragged him to his feet. “Off you go.”
The guy wasted no time getting the hell out of there, and honestly, Leelan really couldn’t blame him. That had been simultaneously the sexiest and most terrifying thing he’d ever witnessed.
“Thank you,” he blurted. “For, well—” He waved his hand vaguely toward the exit. “—you know.”
“Of course.” Lowering himself into the now vacated seat, he reached across the table with another of those oddly chilling smiles. “Sebastian Delgado.”
Leelan took the proffered hand and shivered as a jolt of electricity raced up his arm from the contact. Distracted by the sensation, as well as the misty haze of pure golden light that surrounded the vampire, he lost all train of thought.
He knew he should say something, but by the fae, he couldn’t even remember his own name. Everything in his brain had been shunted to the side, allowing just one word to repeat on an endless loop.
Thanks for letting me entertain you for a bit! Before you go, don’t forget to grab your FREE copy of my short story, Only You. (Please note that signups for my newsletter are appreciated when claiming your free book but are completely optional.)
Hi everyone and Happy Thanksgiving to those in the US! Most of all, HAPPPPPPY BIRTHDAAAAAY Amber! I hear it’s a significant one. 39, right? I must confess to having been 39 for a while now (sort of in the sense that Edward Cullen has been 17 for a while. LOL). You’ll love it.
To celebrate, I’d like to give a $5 Amazon (US) GC and the winner’s choice of any ebook from my backlist to a winner chosen at random. Just leave a comment with birthday wishes for Amber!
In honor of Amber’s birthday, all of your fortunate guests like me were asked to share a birthday scene or memory. Funny thing. I’m re-releasing this week one of my cowboy books that happens to begin on the hero’s 30th birthday. The hero is a world champion bull rider, so 30’s not good news for him, since it’s a very young man’s sport, but the universe compensates by introducing him to the guy who totally changes his life. Quite a birthday present. I decided to share with you the scene of my hero’s reluctant birthday celebration.
The book (and my new re-release) is COWBOYS DON’T SAMBA. This scene takes place right after my hero, Maury, has beaten his detested rival by a fluke —
They hurried through the fast-dropping temperatures of a Texas February, climbed in Earl’s rented SUV, drove for about two minutes, and pulled into a crowded parking lot, full of trucks for the most part. Maury glanced around. “I don’t know, Earl. I’m not crazy about seeing every cowboy from at least two countries tonight.”
“No help for it, man. Can’t get a drink in Texas without a cowboy.” He sighed. “Okay.”
Cowboys and their girls were walking into the bar, some of the men with the compact bodies and athletic roll to their walk that said bull rider. If a rider was over six feet, he was pretty much a giant in that business. When Earl held the door and Maury walked in, a few guys looked up, and a couple started to clap. Not really what he’d wanted, but Maury gave a smile and touched his hat brim.
A pretty dark-haired waitress either recognized Maury or got a misimpression he was important from the reaction because she hurried over. “I’ve got a good table for you right back here.”
They followed her to what was a really good table away from the band and the crush at the bar. Wonder who she chased away to give it to us. Maury took the corner seat facing the room and ordered a beer.
Earl put a hand on his arm. “Don’t you want a margarita or something? Come on, it’s your birthday.”
Maury shook his head. “Gotta ride.” “Not tomorrow.”
Earl raised his eyebrows. “Okay, guess I’ll have a beer too.”
The waitress grinned. “Okay, two beers. And happy birthday.” She waggled her fingers as she walked through the crowd toward the bar. Maury stared around the room, nodding toward men he knew. In the opposite corner of the big room, a group of Brazilian riders sat around a table together. He couldn’t hear them, but he knew they were chattering in Portuguese since some of them didn’t speak much English. No matter what language they spoke, the Brazilians still won a helluva lot.
Earl punched his arm. “Hey, man, what’s the big deal about having a birthday? You’re young. I mean, I’m gonna be thirty-five. You know what they say. Birthdays are better than—” “—the alternative. Yeah, I know.”
The waitress brought the beers and a plate of french fries that she’d managed to bury a birthday candle in. “Happy birthday to you….”
She sang off-key, but people from a couple of surrounding tables picked it up, and pretty soon half the room was singing. Hell, a lot of them probably had no idea whose birthday it was. Enough beer would do that. He wanted to say, “Fuck that fucking song,” but he didn’t. He smiled, blew out his candle with only the wish that they’d stop singing, picked up a fry, and waved it in the air before taking a big bite that got laughter and applause.
Someone yelled, “Speech. Speech.” No effing way. Maury shook his head. “Come on, Garcia. Tell us how it feels to get old—er.” That came from Andy O’Hara, one of the ranked riders who never managed to beat Maury.
“I guess what they say about getting better must be true, right, O’Hara? How else can you explain it?” The girl sitting with O’Hara gave Maury a smile. “Better. Definitely better, baby.”
O’Hara glared at the girl, but he kept smiling at Maury. The front door of the bar opened. Maury looked over. Oh shit.
BREATHING. BREATHING would be good.
Maury watched Xesús Silva swagger in the door, but he wasn’t alone. Behind him came another guy. Young. Dark hair, pale skin. And probably the most gorgeous human Maury’d ever seen. Not that he noticed guys’ looks all that much, but hell. This dude set new records in plain beautiful. He also resembled Silva, who was, after all, a pretty handsome man if you didn’t count his soul.
Silva made a straight line to the table where the Brazilians were sitting. Some of the men definitely didn’t look thrilled, but a couple of other guys hailed him. People moved aside, and someone pulled over two chairs.
Silva straddled the chair in that hypermacho way of his. The other guy? Holy crap. Poetry. Loose-hipped and graceful, he slid into the open chair and crossed his legs. Most of the Brazilians were squeaky clean-cut, but this dude’s inky hair hung down to his neck and curved around his ears. He was a little taller than usual for a bull rider and lean rather than the more compact build of a lot of the PBRA competitors. Of course, he looked young, so that might explain the lanky body.
“That’s the younger brother I told you about.” Earl helped himself to a french fry.
“Haven’t seen him ride, but I hear good things.”
“Let’s drink up and get out of here. I, uh, need some sleep.” Maury pushed back his chair with a scrape.
“Uh, boss, it’s five fifteen.” Earl grabbed for his wallet in his hip pocket. “Let me pay the check.” Maury stood and started toward the door. Just need to get out before I meet the asshole again.
“I hear it’s your birthday, Wetback.”
Usually Silva was subtler, but he yelled this halfway across the room. “No wonder the judges felt like they had to let you cheat to beat me.”
Maury plastered on a smile and turned. “No one has to cheat to beat you, Silva. Little kids can do it.” He said it like a joke, and a few people laughed, but the serious competitors, especially the Brazilians, looked uneasy.
Silva stood at his chair. “I’ve got the baby that can beat you, Garcia.” He reached down, took the young man—younger—by the arm, and pulled him to his feet. “This is Tristão, and he can ride the butt off any bull and defeat a herd of American cowboys. He’s a Silva.”
Maury gave the young guy a direct gaze. Almost too much for his eyes to take. Like looking straight into the sun. “Hey, Tris, good to meet you. Welcome to American cowboying. Good luck with that whole winning thing.” He flashed a smile, but the guy didn’t return it.
Tristão yanked his arm from his brother’s grip. He said nothing. Probably didn’t speak English. Maury dragged his eyes from Tristão, glanced around, and waved a hand.
“Thanks for the best wishes, everyone.” He thrust a fist into the air. “Go PBRA.”
With a collective breath, people went back to their conversations. Xesús took a step forward, but Maury walked straight to the door and out into the rapidly cooling evening. He tensed when the door opened behind him, but Earl walked up, stuffing his wallet in his jeans.
“Man, that dude’s a piece of work.” Maury nodded. “And now I go to California.” He sighed.
Maury Garcia’s a world champion bull rider who’s always been attracted to guys –but never done crap about it That’s because his lucrative career feeds his huge family – and he wants to stay alive. His brother learned that the hard way. Besides, Maury likes women well enough and nobody’s ever tempted him to change that.
Tristão Silva sure as hell came all the way from Brazil to drive Maury insane – perfect face, sexy samba hips, gentle, kind nature. But Tristão’s the brother of Maury’s biggest enemy and together they could rob him of all that Maury’s given up everything to achieve.
Any chance these alpha males can survive machismo and make their love last longer than an 8 second ride?
COWBOYS DON’T SAMBA is a gay-for-you, enemies-to-lovers, gay bull riders, macho males, totally dysfunctional family, death-by-homophobia, MM romance.
Thank you so much to Amber for inviting me. I hope everyone is enjoying this gateway to the season and, despite the challenges of the year, have joyous holidays! Hugs and love!
Baby’s first Christmas featuring Sean, Asher, and Mia from Single (Single Dads book 1)
Set between Single and Today (Single Dads book 2)rjscott.co.uk/read-always
Cap’s nose was sticky with frosting as he finished off Mia’s entire birthday cake on the kitchen floor. It would have been cute to see if it wasn’t the cake I’d only finished decorating a short hour ago. Hell, it would have been cute if not for everything else that conspired to ruin Mia’s first birthday. Like the fact that, for some inexplicable reason, it was raining on what was supposed to be a hot San Diego day, and also that artfully arranged helium balloons were deflating and bobbing on the floor. Also, Sean was stuck at work because the ER had been inundated after a car-meets-storefront accident. Not only all of that but Mia was red-cheeked and fretful, cutting a tooth and chewing her fist, all while clinging to me like a limpet. What did I do first? Did I shout at Cap and stop him eating? Was there any point in salvaging the cake? It was nearly two-thirds gone, smeared up the cupboard and as I watched in numb shock, the black lab bit off the frosty castle that had sat on top of the grand Frozen-themed cake, then swallowed it whole. No point in shouting now. I couldn’t stop the rain. I couldn’t fix the humidity that was messing with the balloons. I couldn’t stop Mia from teething, or make the pain go away. That just left Sean, and unfortunately for him, he answered the phone on the first ring. “I’m just leaving,” he sounded out of breath, as if he’d been running, “I’m nearly at the car.” Just hearing his voice was enough to make things better. Clever, capable Sean was going to come home and fix everything, and everything that had gone wrong spilled out of me in one long breath. “Cap ate the entire cake, the balloons are dying, and it’s raining, Mia’s unhappy, and I wish you were here!” I said all of that in a run-on sentence that would have confused even the best of men. Add to that, Sean was coming off a fifteen-hour shift, and I bet none of what I was saying made any sense at all. “I’m coming home now, babe—” “Cap ate the cake! The entire fu—fudging cake, Sean. Why is Cap even here in our house?” I wasn’t angry, or pissed, I was just… done with today. “Because Leo is away on that training course and—” “That was a rhetorical question,” I said miserably, and slumped to the sofa, with Mia curled into my neck. All my textbook plans for the absolutely picture-perfect birthday had been destroyed in an instant. When I’d gone upstairs to change Mia, the balloons had been hanging perfectly over the bright blue cake, the garden was filled with sunshine, and I’d expected Sean home at three. Somehow, I’d forgotten to lock up Cap who’d been eyeing the cake ever since I finished the work. It didn’t look exactly the same as the expensive one I’d seen in the window of Kelly’s Cakes but it wasn’t so bad that I would make it into an episode of Nailed It. I’d been proud of it and everything was going so well. But in the space of an hour it was the opposite of going well, in fact it was bad. “I’m in the car,” Sean advised, and I heard the noise of the engine. “I’ll be home soon.” “Drive safe.” “Love you,” he added, and then the line was dead. As I stroked her back, Mia finally slept, curled up against me, blissfully unaware that her first birthday party was even happening, let alone ruined by the weather and a dog named Cap. Talking of the devil dog, he slunk into the front room, tail between his legs, hugging the wall, and then darted past me and out into the yard. If he thought I was going to chase him then he was mistaken. It was my fault—I should never have left the cake where he could reach it, or in fact let Cap anywhere near the kitchen at all. I was too tired to care—deadlines messed with teething, and this week had been so busy that sleep had been low on the list. Sean, Mia and I were on vacation from tomorrow—five whole days in a villa with a pool—and I’d tried to clear the decks of everything. Overdone it as usual. I just needed five minutes to close my eyes and get my head straight before I fixed the mess, but after getting hardly any sleep last night, the moment I closed my eyes I was dead to the world.
“Is he alive?” The murmured words woke me slowly. Eric. “He’s definitely alive,” a second voice added. Leo “We should poke him to see,” Eric added. “I’m not poking him, that’s Sean’s job.” Leo sounded horrified. I opened an eye to find Eric and Leo standing over me with matching shit-eating grins. Sean pushed past them to take Mia from my arms, and stole a kiss from me while he was at it. “Up and at ‘em sleepyhead,” he said and offered a hand to help me stand. I took the help, ignored Eric and poked Leo in the chest. “Your dog… your… dog…” I didn’t have all the words in my head yet, but I knew what I meant. “Cap didn’t mean it,” Leo said, and stared pointedly at Cap sitting at his side acting as if butter wouldn’t melt. “Did you, Cap?” “He’s a menace to cakes everywhere,” I muttered, but scratched his ears as I followed Sean through the kitchen, stopping when I saw what was in the middle of the table. A cake just like the one in the window of Kelly’s Cakes, all blue and white and perfect. “I ordered it last week as a surprise, but then Sean said you were going to make one, so I put it at our place with no plans what to do next, although Jason and Daisy have had their eyes on it. Good job they hadn’t started on it.” Leo laughed as he spoke, and I him a glance and he bit his lip. He was more serious. “So anyway, it’s the least I could do to bring it over, and Cap is really sorry.” “Thank you,” I murmured. “And I fixed the balloons,” Eric added helpfully. Emotion welled inside me. The cake was nearly the same size as Mia, and the balloons were indeed bobbing gently in the breeze from the ceiling fan. “Thanks guys,” I said, and then offered fist bumps and bro-hugs before going up to find Sean and Mia. “Your best friends are idiots but they’re good idiots,” I announced as I watched Sean change Mia from a now drooled-on sleeper to the tiny party dress we’d bought. “Believe me, I know that.” He threw me an amused glance and then scooped Mia up and danced around the room humming the tune to Stevie Wonder’s ‘Happy Birthday’. How had I got so lucky to have Eric and Leo in my life, not to mention Cap the ever-hungry dog? And what miracle had happened that I’d met Sean, and we shared Mia, and I was so in love that it hurt? “I love you,” I stopped him dancing and hugged him and Mia close. “I love you both so much.” Sean held me and Mia, then kissed the top of my head. “And we love you more.” He glanced out of the window, “Your family is here, ready to go down?” “As I’ll ever be.” We exchanged a quick kiss and then headed downstairs. Who needed a three-tier princess cake, perfect balloons, and sunshine? As long as family and friends were there, all you really needed was love.
The story of long nights in a wintry mountain hotel, a baking show with secrets, a snowman called Jeremy, and finding the greatest love of all.
After winning season four of ratings hit the World’s Best Baking Show, Brody Thomas had become a sought-after cake maker to the stars. Happily married, he dreamed of a bright future, but his perfect life imploded when he discovered that his husband had done nothing but lie to him. A year later, Brody is mid-divorce, and his life has been turned upside down, so being part of the WBBS charity event is excellent timing. He’s sure it will give him time away from home and space to get his head straight, only he never expected to meet the man of his dreams in a snowy Alberta.
Winning season one of WBBS gave Justin Mallory a chance to outrun the demons of a childhood lost in the foster system. He’s a social media influencer, with millions of followers, and works every hour to make money that equals security for the rest of his life. His marketing team signs him up for the WBBS Christmas charity show, but he’s convinced he’ll fall at the first hurdle. Only, after a few days in the competition, his worry isn’t that he’ll be the first to leave, it’s that he’ll lose his heart to a rival baker, Brody.