Hi. I’m so happy to be here wishing Amber tons of happiness, joy and success for her birthday and new year. Amber asked for a birthday story, and I was torn as to which character would get to celebrate. Today (Nov 29th) I’m celebrating the release of a new book called Death Dancer, my first murder mystery romance. My heroes are a brilliant, bad boy ballet dancer and a by-the-book police detective. Somehow, however, they didn’t inspire a birthday story. On Dec 7th, I have another new release, Cowboys Don’t Come Out, that deserves a birthday but I don’t want to give away too much of the story before you read it. So I decided to turn to another recent release, SPELL CAT, for some serious birthday inspiration! Here goes.
Killian’s Magic Birthday
Blaine paused in his steps just long enough for Aloysius to sail through the air from the top of the cabinet and land on his shoulder. He reached up and scratched under the sleek, black chin and got the expected purr. “Sorry guy. I know you’re not getting enough attention, but we’ve got shit to do.”
Carrying Aloysius, he walked into the kitchen where Jimmy and Lavender Janx were bending down, staring into the open oven.
Jimmy stroked a hand over Lavenders rigid back. “It’s okay, honey. I told you not to do it this way.”
Lavender stood to her not inconsiderable height holding a square pan she held with oven mitts in front of her. Okay, it was in a baking dish. Beyond that, it’s identity failed. Black, oozing some kind of gelatinous mess from its center, it looked like a candidate for the trash can.
Blaine tried not to laugh. “One of your potions go wrong?”
Lavender flashed her brilliant pansy-colored eyes at him. “I’m a failure as a woman. I can’t bake a damned cake.”
Blaine gave in to the grin. “Fortunately you don’t have to succeed as a woman — ” He made quotation marks in the air. “ — since you’re the greatest witch of your generation.”
“Humpf. If you don’t count the birthday boy.” She set the mess down on the counter and crossed her arms. “I really wanted to make him something with my own hands.”
Jimmy said, “How about you conjure him something with your own hands? Blaine needs the oven and we need to get home.”
“Ooookay.” She stared at the failed confection then up at the cat. “Come on Al, give me a boost.” She waved her hand, Aloysius’s blue eyes glowed and the burnt cake transformed into a breathtaking pillar of frosting and flowers.
Blaine shook his head. “Jesus you guys!”
Lavender gave him a look. “Sorry to be challenging your physicist convictions so blatantly, dear. But desperate times and all that.”
“Sometimes it’s tough being the only human in this gathering.” That thought had a devastating ring of truth.
Jimmy said, “We’ll see you tomorrow for the community party. We ordered a cake from the bakery for that one.”
Lavender gave him a scowl and grabbed her purse from the counter. “I hope this one tastes good anyway. You two have a lovely private birthday.” She waggled her eyebrows. “I guess I should have said you three.” She walked over and gave Aloysius a scratch behind his ears. “Night Al. See you tomorrow.”
Blaine walked Jimmy and Lavender to the door.
Jimmy said, “Do you think Killian will be surprised?”
“I hope so. He knows about tomorrow but not tonight.”
“I wish I could see his face.”
Blaine smiled. He was glad no one would see Killian’s expression but him since he planned to do some serious kissing on that face. “Thanks for the lovely cake. Killian’s going to love it.”
“Way more than the other one.” Jimmy laughed and Lavender gave him a smack on his arm. He chuckled all the way down the stairs.
Blaine closed the door and hurried back to the kitchen, still carrying Al. He glanced at his watch. Three o’clock. Killian got out of his last class at five. Perfect. Blaine took out the beef roast he’d had sitting in herbs in the refrigerator and set it on the counter.
“Yes, you’ll get some too.”
The oven was still warm from Lavender’s cake efforts, so he set it to preheat and retrieved the mashed potato casserole and the salad makings. A few minutes later, the roast was cooking, the salad was made, and the table was arranged with the fresh flowers he’d bought as a centerpiece. Champagne chilled in the refrigerator. As a piece de resistance he grabbed a package of confetti and put it on the coffee table so he wouldn’t forget it. He’d station himself beside the door and be ready with a shower of golden flakes when Killian entered. See, even humans can be tricky. He chuckled.
“Hey guy, I think we can sit for a while.” Blaine grabbed his latest physics journal, flipped off his shoes, and flopped on the couch. Aloysius jumped from his shoulders and staked out his lap. He started to read.
The sound of the key in the lock shot through him like a witch’s spell and his eyes popped open. Killian! Damn I fell asleep.
He leaped from the couch getting a wail from Aloysius, grabbed the confetti package and ripped it with his teeth as he took two giant leaps toward the door and felt his legs crumbling under him. Clearly the most asleep part of him. Flailing like a windmill, he glanced up into Killian’s surprised blue eyes as he fell in a heap to the floor, simultaneously throwing a handful of confetti in a move that rivaled a major league pitcher – but with far less effect. It plopped to the rug in a damp wad as a crash sounded behind him.
“Blaine! Gods man, are you okay!” Killian fell to his knees beside Blaine, his mane of pale hair whirling around him. Killian even looked good when he was about to have a coronary.
Blaine nodded. “Shit.”
“Baby, what happened?”
He sighed. What a loser. “I wanted to surprise you and I fell asleep – mostly my legs fell asleep.”
Killian’s lips pressed together. Clearly he was about to split a gut – the witch. “Well, you certainly surprised me.”
Blaine reached up, wrapped his hand around Killian’s neck and pulled him down until they were nose to nose. “Happy Birthday.”
“Thank you. This will be the happiest – uh, do you smell something burning?”
“Shit!” He leaped up, slamming their noses together.
“Damn, I’m sorry.” He looked closely at Killian’s beautiful, straight nose. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” He rubbed his nose.
“I’ve got to save my roast!” He jumped to his feet, found them working again, and ran to the kitchen. A trail of wispy gray drifted out of the oven door. “Shitfire and damnation!” He pulled open the door, smoke pouring out. He reached for the vent just as the fire alarm started blaring. “Crap!”
The phone rang and Killian ran to grab it. “No, no. I’m sorry. It’s just a burnt roast. False alarm. Yes. Thank you.”
Just a burnt roast. Stupid, but he kind of wanted to cry. His beautiful dinner, wrecked.
Killian walked up beside him, Aloysius on his shoulder, and stared into the oven at the remains of the meal. “That just needs a little magic.” He waved his hand and the roast returned to browned perfection.
Blaine sighed. “Why do I even try?”
Killian wrapped his arms around him. “But I love that you tried. I could never have cooked that roast in the real world.”
“Obviously, neither could I.”
“Blaine, what’s wrong?”
Blaine looked at Killian, his eyes glancing over his shoulder and – no! “My table.” Somehow in the melee, something had hit the flower vase he’d used as a centerpiece. Wilted flowers lay across the plates and on the floor, water dripped from the tablecloth.
Killian followed Blaine’s line of sight. Without taking his hands from Blaine’s shoulders, he flicked his fingers and the table rearranged. Even the flowers looked fresher. “Come on.”
Killian wrapped an arm around Blaine’s waist and walked him into the bedroom. Leaving Blaine standing, Killian ambled into the walk-in closet and pulled off his shirt revealing his smooth, white skin molded by subtle musculature.
Blaine couldn’t contain the grin. “Can I help with that?”
“How about you remove your own shirt – very slowly?”
“Gee, do I have to do all the work?” He chuckled.
“No. Actually, you don’t.” Killian raised a hand and Blaine’s shirt untucked, unbuttoned and flew to the corner chair where it lay itself down.
Blaine laughed. Killian didn’t show off his magic much. They mostly lived like humans. But it was pretty impossible for Blaine to forget his husband was the most powerful male witch in ten generations.
Killian shook his head. “Still too many clothes.” Blaine’s belt unwrapped itself from his waist like a skinny python and flew to the chair, followed by his jeans that slid down his legs then seemed to wait patiently for him to step out of them before joining the shirt and belt.
“Here I am. What are you going to do with me?”
Killian had stripped to the skin and walked toward Blaine, his body showing an interested but not demanding condition. He pulled him down on the bed and rolled him to his back. Killian lay over him, peering into Blaine’s face. “Tell me what’s wrong.”
“No fair. You’re wearing your most persuasive outfit.”
“Well, it is my birthday suit.” He smiled.
Blaine snorted but then he gazed into Killian’s eyes. “You and Jimmy and Lavender, even Sammy, are so amazing and capable that I feel kind of inept sometimes. Don’t mind me. It’s a human thing.”
Killian tucked his head into Blaine’s neck and spoke softly. “Listen my human, there’s only one true magic in the world and you’re the master of it. Everything we see, touch, taste and hear is made of love, the fabric of the universe. Your love quickened me, made me the witch master, and shapes every power I have. Nothing in my world is stronger.” The sound of thunder rumbled above the building.
Blaine’s heart wouldn’t fit in his chest. “I love you, Killian. You opened my eyes and showed me the true wonder of the world. “
The thunder rumbled louder.
Blaine laughed. “You’re playing Killian’s symphony.”
“When I’m with you, nothing holds back the power.”
Blaine smiled. “I’d like to take this symphony to new heights, but I seem to remember a perfectly cooked roast and a perfectly set table waiting for us.”
Killian laughed. ”I’ll bet I can reheat it.”
Blaine joined in. “Or I can call for pizza.”
Their lips met as Aloysius calmly chewed his next bite of roast.
I hope you enjoyed Killian’s birthday party! If you’d like to win a copy of Spell Cat, please enter below!
Today is the release day for my first murder mystery romance called Death Dancer. Below is an excerpt —
EXCERPT 2: DEATH DANCER by Tara Lain
Amazon | Pride Publishing
A tattooed dancer and a by-the-book detective dance with death in the ego-fueled halls of ballet.
Bad boy of ballet Valentin ‘Val’ Aalto stands poised on the verge of huge success—except for one big obstacle. Influential lead dancer Harry Hardesty hates Val and cheats him out of the lead in Romeo and Juliet.
When Hardesty winds up dead, Val looks like a prime suspect—and gets thrown under the detailed and methodical inspection of the handsome NY detective with the stick up his butt, Andrew Preston. At first, Preston believes Hardesty may be the victim of the chilling Dancer Killer who’s struck three victims, but evidence stacks up against Val.
Still, Andrew can’t seem to keep his hands off his suspect and when the Dancer Killer starts stalking Val, Andrew is forced to choose between his dedication to a job he loves and his growing passion for his beautiful dancer. Together Val and Andrew discover that chaos can be beautiful, one should choose desserts wisely, and love can even trump death in the rehearsal halls of ballet.
His eyes opened wide. Dark. Why am I awake? He shivered. No so-called uncles trying to slip in beside him or boys sneaking in to drop ice in his bed.
A sound, between a scratch and a squeak, sent the feel of that long-remembered ice down his back. Don’t move yet.
Squrunch. Woosh, Squrucnch.
Where? The door? Too close. The window then?
Shit, the branch Andrew had freaked over. Val’s heart slammed so hard it had to make a sound. The sheets over him actually shook.
He snaked out a hand and grabbed his cell phone. He pulled it under the covers. Speed dial, baby.
One ring. Two. Three— “Preston.” Thanks for police reflexes.
He put his head under the covers and whispered, “Andrew. It’s me.”
“I know. Why are you whispering? What’s wrong?”
“Someone’s trying to break in, I think.”
“Shit. Jump out of bed. Yell into the phone. Make it clear you’re talking to the police. Turn on all the lights. Now. Go.”
Val threw back the covers, grabbed for the bedside light and flipped it on, half expecting to see some killer standing in his room, but nobody. “Police. Get here now! Someone’s breaking into my apartment. Hurry. Please!” He raced around the apartment, turning on every light.
Andrew’s voice, panting. “What do you see?”
“Nothing. No one’s here.”
“Look out the window, but stand back in case he has a gun.”
“No, it’s okay. Don’t do it.”
“Hell.” He sidled to the window, pulled back the blinds and looked out. A sliver of light from his apartment shone into the darkness outside, although darkness was relative and his street pretty much never got more than dim. Staring between the buildings, he might have caught a glimpse of movement below, but it could have been a cat or a shadow. “I don’t see anything.”
A siren cut through the general noise of traffic that created the background of Val’s world. Nothing unusual about sirens, but this one got closer. Andrew was still breathing hard. Was he running? Val looked again. “I hear the black and whites.”
“Yeah. Just pulled up in front of your building, I think. They’ll buzz. Don’t let them in until I tell you.” The tinny squawk of a police radio sounded in the background. Andrew seemed to be talking. He came back on the cell. “Have they buzzed?”
The buzzer sounded.
“Yeah. Just now.”
“Okay. Let them in. I’ll be there in a second.”
Val started to the door where the buzzer was, stopped and laughed.
“I forgot I’m bare-assed. I’d better grab my jeans fast. See you in a second.” Still chuckling, he hit the buzzer, grabbed his pants from the floor and was zipping them as the police knocked on his door. New stair speed records. He opened.
The young female cop’s eyes widened just a little. “Valentin Aalto?”
“I understand you had an attempted break-in?” Two male cops in uniform stood behind her.
“I think so, but I’m not sure. Come in while I grab a shirt.”
Her half smile said ‘not on my account’, but she didn’t voice it. “Tell me what happened, sir.”
He pulled a long-sleeved T-shirt over his head. “I was asleep. I’m a light sleeper. I woke up and heard a strange sound, like a scrunching and a squeaking. I might not have thought anything about it since I’d double-locked the door, but An— Detective Preston inspected this apartment and suggested the limbs on the tree outside should be cut since they hang near the apartment windows. I got worried and called him.”
“Why didn’t you dial nine-one-one?”
Val speared her with his eyes. “I’m a dancer with the NYBT. Detective Preston is investigating the murders of dancers. He was my first thought. Is there a problem with that?”
“Of course not.” She turned to the male officers. “Check the tree and the area around it. The apartment window from the outside also, although we may have to come back with a ladder. I’ll look at it from in here.”
“No, thank you, Officer. I will.”
Oh, man, was Andrew a sight to make a scared dancer’s heart go pitty-pat.
Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 33. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!
Tara is giving away an ebook copy of Spell Cat. Comment to enter!