Lavender is back! Ready for a peek at Lake Cliff #7?

Hello, my loves!

I’ve been a stranger and I apologize. The last few months have been a roller coaster but I’ve managed to get a bit of writing done! I got a little sidetracked by some crazy pain and sleepless nights that I thought I could muscle through because it “was just an ulcer”. Let’s skip ahead to the part where it wasn’t an ulcer but the ugliest, angriest gall bladder ever, according to the surgeon who removed said gall bladder. Add a few weeks of being lazy and enjoying very nice pain meds and you’ve got an unintended but delightfully restful vacation. I took many naps, did some gardening and annoyed my kids as much as their hectic summer schedules let me. I also finished Lake Cliff #7! I had the idea for the book “mapped out” in my head just before my gall bladder attacked but I wasn’t able to really focus until a few weeks ago. But it all flew out of me once I got to typing. I won’t get all sentimental or bore you with a discussion of themes and such because I’m excited to share this excerpt. It’s my favorite because we learn that Lavender can dance and it’s full of so much foreshadowing. Here’s a peek at In The Wind:

 

**Warning! Adult Language & Behavior! Warning!**

InTheWindPromo

 

Now, you can rest but don’t drift too far off, Lavender said and Sage sighed as he let go and gave in to the bone deep exhaustion and shut his eyes. He didn’t go too far, just back to Lake Cliff and one of the last warm nights by the pool, in the backyard.

“Our son is a wonder,” Jeremy announced as he skipped down the deck steps and Sage grinned over his sketch book at him.

“I’m aware but what did he do this time?” He asked as he reached for the joint in the ashtray and Jeremy gave him a hard look. “Daddy gets to smoke and play while Robin’s away,” Sage reminded him before he took a long drag and his head fell back onto the lounge before he slowly let it out. Jeremy rolled his eyes but his lips twitched at the corners.

“His Russian might be better than mine. We talked about school and his plans with Grandma and Grandpa Bradley on the way to Chicago and I don’t think he said a word in English,” he said as Sage took another hit. Sage hummed softly and a smile curved his lips as his limbs became lighter and tingled.

“You should join me,” he said as he set the joint in the ashtray and tossed his sketchbook on the other lounge then stretched. He was shirtless and Jeremy’s eyes caught on the semi pressing against the front of Sage’s jeans.

“I might…” Jeremy said as he unbuttoned his coat then rested his knee on the lounge, between Sage’s legs. He crawled over Sage and growled as he pecked at his lips then groaned in disapproval. “It is less noticeable once my mouth tastes as awful as yours,” he added and Sage pouted for another kiss as his neck craned then gasped as he heard the metallic click and felt cold metal lock around his wrists.

“Come on!” Sage complained as he tugged but his hands were cuffed to the lounge, above his head.

“Daddy gets to play…” Jeremy sang as he braced his hand next to Sage’s chest then reached for the joint. He stuck it between his lips and grinned tauntingly as he lit it then took a deep pull. He held it in for several seconds then angled his head and brushed his lips against Sage’s. He sucked as Jeremy blew and Sage pulled the smoke into his lungs then whimpered as he undulated restlessly beneath him.

“Unlock these!” He begged but Jeremy clicked his teeth as he slid away and rose to his feet.

“Hurry and I’ll reward you,” Jeremy said silkily before he took another drag from the joint and Sage became painfully hard. Sage definitely had a smoking fetish. Jeremy always made him weak but it drove Sage nuts, the rare times he took a hit off a joint or smoked a cigar with Lane.

“I’ll reward you if you take these handcuffs off right now. I’ll do anything you want,” Sage pleaded but Jeremy flicked the joint at the gravel and wagged his finger at him.

“What’s your very favorite thing?” He asked and Sage’s brows pulled together.

“Aside from this, right now, or you and Robin?” He asked as he considered and Jeremy chuckled as he pulled his phone from his pocket and swiped at the screen.

“What’s your favorite thing, Sage?” He asked as he dropped his phone on one of the cushions then smirked as a hard, driving beat floated from the speakers. He gave his tie a tug as his hips thrust in time with the music and Sage’s fingers frantically picked at the tiny nubs on the side of his watch.

“Oh, my God!” Sage groaned as Jeremy’s tie flew through the air and landed in one of the rose bushes by the deck. Jeremy hated dancing because he said it made him look undignified but sweet, sweaty Christ on the 4th of July, he could move. His shoulders popped along with the pulsing, throbbing beat as he shifted out of his coat then tossed it at the other lounge and Sage was desperate to get the cuffs off. He worked the pin sized strip of metal out and eventually found the key hole but his hands were sweating and he needed Jeremy. Sage was hard and shaking as Jeremy bounced on the balls of his feet and unbuttoned his shirt. He spun and rocked from side to side as his shirt slid down his shoulders and back and Sage’s teeth dug into his lip as he begged the lock to catch. Jeremy let the shirt fall and Sage whimpered as he pulled his undershirt over his head and threw it at the porch. His pants were about to come off and Sage was desperate as Jeremy toed off his shoes. He pulled his belt free and Sage gasped in gratitude as the lock on the cuffs clicked and they loosened. “Yes!” He cheered as he sat up and quickly replaced the tiny pick while Jeremy bucked his hips and slowly tugged at the zipper of his trousers. “Please don’t stop!” Sage cried as he dove and captured Jeremy’s face and kissed him hungrily. Jeremy hummed seductively as their lips tangled then blew Sage’s mind when his trousers dropped and landed in a puddle at their feet. “Holy shit. You’re almost naked outside.”

“One minute and ten seconds. That’s your best time,” Jeremy drawled and Sage nodded in agreement as he unzipped his jeans and shoved them down his thighs.

“I’m getting better, you twisted lunatic,” he panted as he hastily kicked his jeans away. Jeremy chuckled as he locked their hips together and pulled Sage with him as he danced them back to the lounge.

“Find northwest,” Jeremy commanded. Sage made a dismissive gesture as he reached for the elastic waist of Jeremy’s boxer briefs.

“Later,” he said then gasped and his lip pushed out when Jeremy slapped his hand away.

“Point to northwest and I’ll reward you,” Jeremy whispered as he traced the cleft of Sage’s ass, causing goosebumps to spread down his back and arms.

“Fine,” Sage groaned as he squinted at his wrist. He pressed the wrong button and the flashlight glowed bright and hard. Jeremy clicked his teeth scoldingly again as his hand covered the watch.

“Don’t forget that a light can be as loud as a siren if you’re trying to hide at night,” he reminded him and Sage rolled his eyes and snorted as he turned it off and found the compass.

“What exactly do you think I do while you’re gone?” He asked as he turned and found north then pointed. “Ha! There!” He declared and Jeremy clapped like an insufferable prick.

“I am so proud,” he said then hissed as he tilted his head conspiratorially. “And let’s not pretend that all manner of terrible things aren’t possible, given our history,” he added and Sage raised a brow at him.

“I will divorce you if you get me kidnapped again,” he warned and Jeremy shushed him.

“You will not,” he murmured as his lips brushed against Sage’s and he cradled his face tenderly. “And your reward,” he purred as he found a packet of lube behind Sage’s ear.

“You didn’t tell me this was going to be romantic,” Sage teased as he nibbled on the end of Jeremy’s chin and enjoyed the very faint stubble. “I thought you were just going to torture me with your Go-Go-Gadget watch,” he said and Jeremy’s brows fell as he leaned back.

“That watch has saved my life and sanity more times than I can count. I wanted you to have it because it’s useful but mostly because it’s brought me a tremendous amount of luck. Specifically that garrote,” he said as he raised Sage’s wrist and studied the watch. “Remember: if you ever have to use the wire, make sure you clean it well before retracting it. It’s a bitch to take that part of the housing off and clean it,” he added and Sage’s face twisted as he grabbed his wrist.

“Ew. Exactly how many times…?” He started as he found the clasp but Jeremy took his hands and raised them to his lips.

“Don’t all heirlooms have a bit of a past? It adds to the charm and character,” he said and Sage frowned but he was becoming distracted as Jeremy’s tongue flicked at the seam between his fingers.

“I don’t know if a body count adds to the appreciation of an item,” he argued and Jeremy snorted.

“I actually think it might…”

“Let’s stop talking about the watch, 007,” Sage ordered and Jeremy raised a shoulder.

“In this instance, I feel more like Q,” he said and Sage laughed.

“I’d be all about a James Bond movie with him fucking Q,” he decided and Jeremy’s head rocked from side to side.

“I haven’t seen any of the films since I was a kid but I’d be interested in Bond fucking the older, crankier Q,” he said as Sage plucked the lube from his fingers.

“Hot,” he stated. “But I’m going to put a pin in that and focus on this,” he said as he grabbed the front of Jeremy’s boxer briefs and fell back on the lounge. Jeremy fell with him and Sage groaned in relief as their bodies interlocked and their legs tangled. They kissed wildly as their hands gripped and pulled. Jeremy shifted and stretched until his briefs floated away and they were both naked. Sage’s jaw stretched and he moaned as Jeremy bit into his shoulder and sucked before he slid down his body. 

 

In The Wind will be available on Friday, July 5th on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. You can PRE-ORDER it now and the book shows up on your Kindle as soon as it’s available and I get a little boost in the rankings on Release Day!

In The Wind by K. Sterling on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TJKQ68W

InTheWind

Lavender is back! Ready for a peek at Lake Cliff #7?

My gift to you: a Lake Cliff Thanksgiving

I love you all very much. Enjoy your time with your family, eat lots of turkey and hug your pets for me!

 

Thanksgiving at Holderson Manor:

“Ok. Remember what we talked about,” Wilder said as he held onto Toly’s shoulders and leaned so he could maintain eye contact.

“Yes. I don’t have to eat everything and we want to have leftovers,” Toly repeated as he craned his neck and tried to see around Wilder.

“Right. I’m really worried you’ll hurt yourself. There’s a lot of heavy carbs, gravy and way too many desserts,” Wilder worried and Toly’s eyes sparkled as he looked toward the dining room.

“I can’t wait!” He whispered excitedly and Wilder’s lips pulled tight. His mother brought tamales and menudo and Toly got into them while Wilder was yelling at the football game with Lane.

“Just pace yourself, alright? We’re eating early because Sage wants to put out the leftovers as some kind of sandwich bar later so his fridge stands a chance,” Wilder explained again and Toly nodded.

“Lane explained the importance of turkey sandwiches,” he said and Wilder sighed.

“Good. Let’s go,” he said then stepped aside. Toly took a deep breath then pushed his hands away from him before he calmly reached for the door. They were good until they reached the end of the hall and Toly was in sight—or scent—of the living room and dining room.

“It smells so good!” Toly gasped as he ran into the living room and his socks skidded on the wood floors and he almost crashed into Sage.

“I was just about to call for you two. It’s ready!” He said and Toly’s face was priceless. His jaw fell and he blinked rapidly at the dining room.

“Wow. I think there just might be enough food,” Wilder said in awe. Lane brought most of the desserts and fried a turkey. Wilder’s dad made empanadas and flan. His parents were heading back to the city as soon as they were done eating to join the rest of Wilder’s family for more Thanksgiving festivities. Things would kick off a lot later in Chicago but Wilder was staying in Lake Cliff with Toly. It was too soon for either of them to be seen in public and Toly wasn’t ready to be grilled by Wilder’s abuela and his aunts. And the food would definitely kill Toly. He’ll calm down by next year, Wilder told himself but he wasn’t so sure as Toly shook out his hands nervously.

“Is it always like this?” He asked Wilder and he nodded.

“Always. Although it’s going to be a lot bigger with my family. I think there’ll be like sixty people at my abuela’s tonight,” he said and Toly was visibly concerned. “It’ll be fine. We’ve got a year to prepare everyone,” Wilder said then felt a bit uneasy as Lavender stood over the turkey Sage roasted with a carving knife. The turkey was stunning and Sage prepared every classic side dish in honor of it being Toly’s first Thanksgiving. Is that a ham? Toly asked Wilder as he drifted closer to the table and pointed. “Yeah. Sage thought it might distract you and give the rest of us a chance to have turkey sandwiches later,” he said and Lane cleared his throat.

“No cell phones or earpieces at the table,” he scolded and Wilder flashed him a sheepish smile as he pulled the earbud out and pushed it into his pocket. He was so used to putting it in as he rolled out of bed and as soon as he was finished drying his hair, after a shower. His ear felt weird without it but they both needed to stop relying on Toly’s alter ego as a communication crutch.

“Sorry,” he said to Lane then raised a brow at Lavender as he waved the knife at the turkey. It was carved so neatly, it looked like it was spiral sliced, like the ham. “I thought you didn’t eat meat,” Wilder said as Lavender sat in his seat at the head of the table and he nodded as he draped a napkin over his knee. Wilder lived at Holderson Manor with Toly off and on for several weeks but he couldn’t remember Lavender eating anything other than a few bites of raw fruits and vegetables. He just drank his green juice and the occasional cup of coffee or tea, as far as Wilder knew.

“I do during the holidays. I’m quite fond of Thanksgiving,” he said. Sage made a snorting sound and fought to stay composed as he placed a large dollop of sweet potatoes on Toly’s plate.

“He’s wearing his Thanksgiving suit,” he sang then ducked as he stifled another laugh. Lavender’s eyes were wide with horror as he stared at Sage.

“You promised!” He breathed and Lane snapped his chair out and dropped into it quickly.

“What?” He demanded then set his elbow on the table and propped his chin on his palm. “What’s a Thanksgiving suit?” He asked and he was overjoyed as he gave Lavender his undivided attention.

“I’m so sorry. I forgot,” Sage said without a single trace of remorse as he shook his head at Lane. Lavender’s tongue slid over his teeth as he glared at his husband before he made a bored, dismissive sound.

“As you can see, this is a warmer charcoal. There are flecks of burgundy fibers in the wool,” he began dryly as he gestured at himself. “I’ve paired it with a tie and pocket square featuring the appropriate autumnal shades and more burgundy, to bring out the red tones in the suit.”

“Get to the good part,” Sage said as he pointed a serving spoon at Lavender before he dug into the stuffing. Lavender’s lips tightened slightly and Lane made a giddy sound as he bit into his palm.

“These trousers are a size larger in the waist than my others and I’ve loosened my belt a notch in preparation,” Lavender murmured dryly and Lane beamed at Sage.

“Can we jump to the part where we say what we’re thankful for?” Lane said and Sage winked back at him as he poured gravy on Toly’s plate.

“I’m grateful for our friends. I’m not sure how we still have any,” Sage confided as he set a roll on top of the beautifully arranged plate then set it in front of Toly.

“I am very thankful for all this food,” Toly whispered in wonder and Wilder laughed softly.

“I’m grateful to Sage for making my last mission really count,” he said as he gave Toly’s knee a gentle squeeze. Toly pulled his eyes from his plate and blushed as he nodded and smoothed his napkin in his lap.

“I’m thankful for that too,” he said softly and Wilder saw his father wipe the corner of his eye as his mother’s lip trembled.

“I never thought you’d have a family of your own, mijo. This isn’t what I would have imagined was ideal…” She looked at Lavender warily then back at Toly and Wilder and her face softened. “But I’m so happy you found each other. I certainly didn’t expect this when you first turned up but we’re so glad you’re staying,” she said to Toly and a soft, startled laugh rushed from his lips. His eyes glistened as they darted between hers and Wilder’s.

“Thank you, Dr. Martinez. Sir,” he said as he bowed his head at Wilder’s parents and his mother gave him a hard look.

“Mom will be fine from now on, Toly,” she said before she reached for his hand and gave it a pat. Toly nodded and his hand shot to his cheek so he could wipe away a tear.

“Dad works too,” Wilder’s father declared gruffly as he passed his wife the gravy and Toly was struggling. Toly’s hand found Wilder’s under the table and it trembled as it curled around his.

“I’m thankful for this food and everyone in this room. You have given me a lifetime’s worth of friendship and good memories in just a few months and I feel extremely grateful to have a family again,” he said quietly and Lane raised his glass as he wiped a tear from his eye.

“We’re all glad you’re here,” he said and everyone nodded and hummed in agreement. “I’m still mostly thankful for your daddy’s fat pants but I’m also really glad things worked out,” Lane said as he booped Robin’s nose and he hid his face as he giggled. Aiden pointed his fork in agreement.

“I’m thankful that nobody I care about was hurt or killed. I really thought we’d be looking at more than new landscaping for our front lawn. It’s cool having new friends who don’t think I’m weird,” he added and Wilder gave him a warm smile.

“I think you’re weird,” he said and Aiden’s eyes narrowed as he tried to decide if Wilder was kidding. It took him a moment to decide before he smiled and took his plate from Lane. There were a few slices of turkey, plain mashed potatoes and a roll. Wilder coughed softly as he passed Sage his plate so he could add some sweet potatoes…

 

Digital Love on Amazon and KU: https://amzn.to/2KhnWeU

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My gift to you: a Lake Cliff Thanksgiving

Something Wicked Stirs In Lake Cliff…

How do you keep a series as big as Lake Cliff fresh and make readers want to come back? I can’t stop writing these boys and I never want you to stop reading them so I ask myself this several times a day. The answer is pretty simple, because that’s how it often works. Life. It has a way of complicating things for us and getting in the way of our Happily Ever Afters. In regards to Lake Cliff, we have some very large questions to resolve and some messes we knew couldn’t be avoided forever. Like: What happens when Reginald has to choose between Lavender and Paul? What if Lavender and Darius’ friendship is broken and they become adversaries? What would the child of a monster and an angel look like? I have a very long plan for Lake Cliff and Carlton House. In my head. I expect it’s going to take a few years and quite a few books but I wrote this little vision a while ago and I thought I’d share it with you:

 

Thmor Kol village, outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The shanty hut compound smoldered as light faded from an indigo and coral sky. The smell of smoke and charred flesh teased his nostrils and the ground vibrated faintly beneath Lavender’s feet as he stepped over a sentry and pressed his hand against the door.

“Everyone’s dead,” he said softly. “Except for him,” he added and Reginald snorted.

“I can see him, he’s two doors in front of you and he’s smoking,” he said and Lavender inhaled deeply then shook his head as he exhaled.

“Pot,” he complained.

“Minor, in the grand scheme of things,” Reginald pointed out. “The heat imagery is stunning, sir. You should be pleased,” he said and Lavender raised a shoulder but his lips curved as he ended the call. He used the end of his pistol’s suppressor to push the door open then nodded in approval as he made his way over and around limbs. Some were attached to their bodies but others were in pieces and riddled with holes. He stepped through what was left of a door and into another attached hut. He did his best to ignore the swell of pride and admiration he felt as his eyes swept around the scrap metal and plywood walls. They were splattered with flesh, bone and blood and bits of scalp and brain dripped from the corrugated ceiling. His gloved fingers pushed the door open and his senses stretched into the room as it swung silently. Shadows spread across the floor and overturned bowls of rice and soups were scattered on the cardboard mats but there were only a few bodies in the room. They tried to climb out the windows and they dangled from their asses as blood dripped down their legs. Lavender hummed a lullaby as he strolled into the room then spun. His arm extended and his pistol pointed as he snatched the rifle aimed at his face.

“Do you have any idea how pissed off your father is going to be when he finds out?” Lavender said as he pulled him into his arms then leaned back. “He’s going to kill me!” He scolded.

“Sorry, dad,” Robin said silkily as he tried to reach around him for his rifle but Lavender clicked his teeth as he danced back then tossed his pistol in the air. Robin caught it and his lips pulled tight as he hugged it against his chest. Lavender hissed as he balanced the rifle in the palm of his hand then tossed it and caught it closer to the grip on the pads of his finger.

“Very nice! Like the finest katana,” he observed then flipped it and caught it in his right 

hand. His fingers curved around the grip and pressed against the trigger but it didn’t budge. “As light as a feather but…” Lavender snatched Robin’s hand and pried his finger free with his thumb. He juggled the gun and touched Robin’s finger to the trigger and the laser from the scope shot across the room. Lavender released Robin’s finger and held the gun up and squinted into the sight. It was a little shorter than an M16 but a matte silver and almost delicate, it was so streamlined. “Where did you get this?” He demanded as he turned back to Robin then narrowed his eyes. “Talia?” He realized and Robin shrugged then winced.

“Don’t tell Rami,” he said and Lavender’s head fell back and his spine bowed as he cackled.

“I am absolutely telling Rami. I won’t answer to him if something happens to her or if he finds out I knew and didn’t tell him,” he said as he wiped his eyes. “Tell her twenty-four hours to tell him herself or I will,” he warned and Robin raised his finger and pointed in a circle over his head.

“I’ll tell him, Uncle Jeremy,” Talia grumbled from the speaker of what Lavender assumed was Robin’s cell phone.

“Is that who’s calling for you?” He asked and Robin held up a hand.

“Reginald wouldn’t and I knew he’d sell me out as soon as you asked him to find me. And Toly…” He chuckled and flicked his hand. Toly would never keep a secret like that from Sage.

“Who hired you?” Lavender asked as he turned and considered. He didn’t recall anyone putting out a request or anything in the news that would warrant this type of retribution.

“I wasn’t hired,” Robin stated simply and Lavender gasped. His eyes were hard and wide as he pointed.

“Do you have any idea how foolish this is?” He yelled as he waved around them. “You can’t go vigilante and not like this!” He said and Robin made a dismissive gesture as he snorted.

“This? The last dregs of the Khmer Rouge? Who’s going to care and who can stop us?” He said and Lavender swore under his breath as he paced.

“You might be able to get away with this because nobody cares about an all but extinct, genocidal Communist regime but you can’t keep this up. Was that you in Qatar?” He asked and Robin chewed on his lip as he studied the tip of his shoe then polished it on the back of his pant leg. “Jesus Christ, you’re a homicidal maniac. Sage is never going to speak to me again,” he said as he cupped the back of Robin’s neck and pulled him close. “Robin,” he whispered as he pressed his forehead against his son’s. “You won’t be able to get away with this for very long before someone decides you need to be checked and who do you think they’ll send?” He asked. 

Robin grinned as he patted Lavender’s chest.

“Would I have an assistant and execute something this precise if I was a homicidal maniac?” He laughed. “We’re just getting started and we’ll take care of anyone who gets in our way. We both know you’re never going to take that contract and you’ll kill anyone who comes after me but we can handle them,” Robin vowed and Lavender’s eyes tightened as they searched his.

“What are you doing?” He asked warily and his stomach became cold and twisted as Robin’s eyes lit up and his lips cocked.

“You’ve been trying to retire for almost two decades, we’re going to put you out of business. In a few years, there won’t be any need for your services. You, Rami, dad and the rest of the family can finally kick back and relax in peace. The world can be in peace,” he added and Lavender groaned as he twirled the rifle like a cane and propped himself up with it as he crossed his ankles.

“Sage always said I held you too much,” he admitted as he squeezed his temples. “What’s your plan? Kill all the bad guys?” He asked facetiously.

“Yes. This was just a practice run and to test the new gun.”

“You were such a good baby and a delightful child. How did we miss the signs?” Lavender mused and Robin shook his head.

“I don’t know why you’re surprised. You taught me how to escape a submerged vehicle when I was six and dad raised me to use my privilege and power to help the less fortunate and fight for the victim,” he pointed out and Lavender sighed as he nodded.

“All very practical lessons,” he argued and Robin’s nose wrinkled.

“Certainly but I wasn’t going to join the Peace Corps or go into politics,” he said and Lavender’s face pinched.

“Don’t be vulgar,” he muttered then swung the gun over his shoulder and put his arm around Robin as he led him from the room. “Let’s try to get home before Sage notices we’re both gone,” he said as they strolled through the corpse and limb obstacle course.

“He thinks I’m with Talia on Rami’s yacht, writing my thesis,” Robin said. “Did you bring a jet?”

“Of course. How’s that thesis coming along?” Lavender asked as they stepped out into the night. The air was heavy with humidity but it was fresh and brisk compared to the wet armpit they just emerged from.

“I turned it in yesterday, it was was depressingly easy,” Robin complained.

“Excellent! You’re definitely grounded until I figure out what I’m going to do with you and I’ve talked to Rami,” he declared and Robin groaned.

“Come on. Who’s going to miss some genocidal guerrillas or the drug cartels, terrorists, serial killers, war lords, pedophiles and human traffickers?” He said and Lavender shook his head.

“We’re not debating this here. I haven’t figured out how I’m going to explain this to Sage. I have a feeling we’re both grounded.”

 

It’s sweet, in a dark and Lake Cliff kind of way but, my dear pervy reader, how do you think Sage is going to react?

Something Wicked Stirs In Lake Cliff…

Who Likes Gore More? Boys Or Girls?

That’s an appallingly stupid question, isn’t it? But here we are, because of an @UberFacts tweet:

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I thought I’d counter this assheaded tweet (like, what is gender and what does it even have to do with it?) with ME and us. I have a new book to promote and we also have a brilliant example of how much gore my lady (mostly) readers enjoy. This chapter was met with actual horror, when read by the two brave men who would read it. In fact, this was my husband’s response as he read it: “Oh… What?… Oh, God… Wait… Jesus.” He really didn’t think this belonged in a romance novel but so far, the response from the ladies has been wildly popular. A few readers even described it as just Lavender being Lavender. There’s nothing in this book I’d describe as horror but we’ve done a touch of that in the past and still made readers swoon and sob. Digital Love has a hint of science fiction because readers, like people, are diverse and can like many things at once. A romance novel can be gory, techie and swoonie. There’s a lot of darkness and gore in Digital Love but it’s one of the sweetest, most empathetic books I’ve ever written and it’s going to crush some hearts. And I’ll probably die believing Mr. Lavender is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever made. He’s many of my readers’ favorite character. How’s that for bonding with a killer?

 

Here’s a peek at the “human confetti” chapter:

Colby Wentworth looked like he was having a horrendous day as he threw the door to his penthouse open then quickly shut and locked it behind him. Lavender could smell the sweat saturating Wentworth’s suit as he pressed his back against the door. A faint smirk tugged at Lavender’s lips as he relaxed against the wall and listened in the dark. His ankles were crossed as he tapped the notes of a sonata against his left temple with a pistol’s suppressor.

“I’ve got to get out of here,” Wentworth whispered to himself as he stumbled away from the door, through the foyer and into the living room, right past Lavender. He hurried to the bar and pulled the stopper off a decanter. Lavender hummed the recapitulation of the sonata as he pointed his gun at Wentworth and moved out of the shadows. “Jesus fucking…!” Wentworth shrieked as he dropped the stopper and threw up his hands. “How did you get past the guards?” He demanded and Lavender shushed him as he strolled forward until the tip of the suppressor touched Wentworth’s forehead.

“I told you we were going to have a talk about consequences soon,” Lavender drawled as he guided Wentworth back until his calves hit an armchair. He dropped and Lavender tilted his head appreciatively as he reached behind him with his right hand. He pulled a hunting knife from the holster under his coat and swiftly lodged it in Wentworth’s submaxillary triangle, just beneath his chin. Wentworth’s body arched and his hands locked around Lavender’s wrist as tears and shock burst from his eyes. “Well… I’m going to talk and you’re going to listen,” he amended as blood and saliva poured from Wentworth’s mouth and chin and over Lavender’s gloved fist. He released the handle of the blade and gently eased Wentworth back in his seat. Lavender held his hands up to spot Wentworth, to make sure he was stable then slowly stepped back. Wentworth grunted and whimpered in terror as he sat straight in his seat and his eyes pleaded with Lavender. “As I recall, you weren’t interested in being friends with us because you could buy men like me and Ivanof,” Lavender said as he went to the bar and raised the decanter and gave it a sniff. Vodka. “Excellent,” he murmured as he reached for a martini glass while he kept the pistol aimed at Wentworth’s forehead. He set the glass down then opened the ice bucket and winked at Wentworth. “I went ahead and filled that while I was waiting,” he whispered as he put a handful of ice into the glass then added some to the shaker. He tipped in what looked like three ounces of vodka and gave it a vigorous shake as he held his other hand level with Wentworth’s head. Lavender grabbed the stem of the glass and dumped the ice onto the floor then poured in the faintest splash of dry vermouth. He swirled it around the glass before he strained the chilled vodka into it and gave it a sip. He gasped appreciatively then strolled to the chair opposite Wentworth and sat. “I’m not much of a drinker but I do enjoy a very dry vodka martini on special occasions. To you,” he declared as he waved the martini at Wentworth then took another sip. “As I was saying, you didn’t need friends like us because you have money. Had,” Lavender pointed out then laughed to himself. “It took Ivanof seconds to torch everything and leave you with just enough to keep you pinned down in Chicago. And all those friends you thought you had…” Lavender’s bloody, gloved hand swept through the air gracefully. “Gone,” he whispered then snorted before he tilted the glass back and drained it. He set it down on the side table then switched the gun to his other hand so he could reach into his coat pocket without making too much of a mess. He pulled out a small black film canister then held it in front of him as he admired it. “This is quite remarkable and one of those reasons why I knew Ivanof would be a good friend to have,” he explained as he set it on the ottoman between them. “It’s a bomb and it works with this garage door clicker,” he said as he pulled the remote control from his pocket then reclined in his seat. “Now, on its own, it’s just enough to scatter the two of us around the room.” His finger twirled in a circle as he returned the clicker to his pocket. “But Ivanof carried that little canister with him for about two years because when packed tightly, in a backpack full of scraps of hard plastic and razor thin metal pieces, it would make a hell of a shrapnel bomb. My assistant is uncanny but weapons and explosives aren’t really his passion. They’re not Ivanof’s either but he has an exquisite understanding. I showed that to Rami Ali and he was just as impressed. I’ve been after a way to accomplish what I call “human confetti” and I think this might be it and I think you’re the man to help me,” he said as he rose to his feet and Wentworth shrieked up at Lavender as he shook his head and sobbed.

Lavender tapped his lips and shushed Wentworth as he stepped around the ottoman then grabbed Wentworth by his collar and threw him onto it. There was another strangled shriek as he landed on his face and chest and the knife jammed further into Wentworth’s mouth and tongue. Lavender reached under Wentworth and pulled out the knife then used it to slash open the back of his belt and trousers before he tossed it away. He pushed his hand beneath Wentworth and found the film canister then smeared it in the blood, snot and drool on his face. Lavender set his knee on the ottoman and bent over Wentworth as he grabbed his ass and held him open. 

“You vain bitch, you bleach,” Lavender noted as he pushed the slippery canister into Wentworth’s hole and savored his muffled, gurgling screams. He reached into the pocket of his trouser and pulled out the cord he borrowed from the curtains then tied Wentworth’s hands over his head. Lavender double-checked to make sure the canister was deposited good and deep then wiped his glove on the back of Wentworth’s coat and gave him a friendly pat. “Stay right here,” he said then rose and headed for the hall. He pulled off his gloves as he strolled through the foyer and tossed them at the table by the door. “Thank God I brought another coat,” he said to himself as he ducked behind an alcove wall then reached into his pocket. He cocked his head and listened as he pressed the button then gasped in delight at the muffled pop and massive, messy Splat!. He gave the air a moment to clear and all the particles time to settle then whistled the sonata’s coda as he stepped around the wall and drifted toward the living room. “Oh, well done, Toly!” Lavender sang as he raised his arms and admired the constellations of blood, tissue and bone on the walls and the shredded bits of suiting hanging from the furniture and fixtures around the room. “Aiden will be absolutely confounded!” He predicted then clapped his hands together. Lavender mentally congratulated himself then turned on his heel and headed for the door. “The perfect forensic disaster,” he declared triumphantly as he left.

 

Digital Love on Amazon and KU: https://amzn.to/2KhnWeU

DLCover

Who Likes Gore More? Boys Or Girls?

Digital Love and the Tank.

Hello, my Pervy loves! We’re getting closer to a new release and I’ve been working on a very different pair of heroes for our next adventure, Digital Love. If you’ve read Lake Cliff, you might recall that we lost track of a certain Russian hacker/cyber terrorist a while back. I didn’t forget and Toly’s been sneaking around the corners of my brain and waiting for his chance to cause some trouble. It took a while for me to figure out who Wilder is but then Sage told me he was his tank and BAM!, we were off! Here’s a very early and not remotely edited peek at our next adventure. In fact, I haven’t decided the name of Sage’s agency and you’ll see some of my all caps reminders here and there.

Our setup:

“Good evening, sir,” Reginald said and Paul nodded at Lavender as he reclined on a sofa on Reginald’s laptop’s screen. He was still at Carlton House, in London. Lavender’s husband, Sage, was sitting at his kitchen counter, in Lake Cliff, Illinois. “How is Mrs. Olinescu doing?” Reginald asked and Lavender smiled as he crossed his legs and stretched his arm along the back of the sofa.

“She went into labor last night. She and tiny Darcy and doing very well. I thought I’d stick around for a few more weeks and help keep an eye on things so Darius could enjoy a little paternity leave,” he said and Reginald hissed as he rested his elbows on his knees and leaned toward the coffee table.

“I’m afraid there’s a bit of a situation that requires our attention in Chicago,” he said and Lavender’s brow rose as his eyes focused.

“What kind of situation?”

“The Red Death’s returned,” Reginald said and Lavender’s head tilted.

“Who is he working for?” He asked and Paul shook his head as he leaned over the back of the sofa so he could get into the camera.

“He’s sick and he says he wants to disappear but he needs help finding something and a safe place to stay,” he said and Sage cleared his throat.

“Is this the same Red Death who caught Reginald then helped save him?” He said and Reginald nodded stiffly. He had a bit of a love/hate thing with Toly. Paul was way too smart to point out that it might be insecurity on Reginald’s part. But he respected Toly and vowed to help him whenever needed.

“Anatoly Ivanof. Toly,” he said as he typed and his screen filled with reports and pictures of piles of dead bodies and videos of exploding compounds, ships and convoys. Reginald’s eyes darted over the violence and chaos as his fingers flew across the keys.

“Jesus. He’s responsible for all of this?” Sage asked and Reginald nodded faintly but his eyes and fingers never stopped.

“He was abducted from Moscow State University when he was twelve and was in Petrovich’s custody until Mr. Lavender and I burned him. Petrovich kept Toly’s mother and sisters under close surveillance for years then picked them up when he refused to come after me,” he explained. “Toly slipped out of Lake Cliff with Denver’s help then disappeared. I’ve been trying to find him but he’s impossible to find, if he doesn’t want to be found.”

“And what does Toly need help finding?” Lavender asked and Paul became slightly nervous when Reginald scrubbed the back of his neck and groaned.

“I’m not 100% certain but I have a feeling we’ll want to help him. Toly has successfully erased all traces of his past and his identity. He’s hidden his family and there’s no way they can be linked to him. Toly should be a free man and a free agent but Colby Wentworth, Petrovich’s former attorney, is auctioning off “the key”,” Reginald said and Lavender whistled as he sat forward.

“Do you actually know what the key is?” He asked and Paul frowned.

“Are we talking about a physical object or…?”

“I have no idea but I’m assuming it must be. Petrovich created the key after he kidnapped Toly. Only a few people know what it is but it’s something Toly can’t touch with technology. Whatever this key is, if it goes up for auction, the winning bidder will get control of Toly,” he said then waved at his screen. “The winning bidder gets a one man weapon of mass destruction. I have a feeling Toly’s in Chicago so he can steal that key then disappear for good,” he said and Paul hummed thoughtfully.

“How does he know the key’s in Chicago?”

“Colby Wentworth brought it from Russia when Zubkhov brought Toly here to find me and trap you. I suspect Petrovich knew about your arsenal of weapons and wanted Toly there, in person, to disarm and bypass your security. He probably planned to pick through it then auction off the rest,” Reginald said and Lavender sighed contentedly.

“He deserves everything he got,” he said and Paul chewed on his lip.

“Is that arsenal worth bringing the Red Death to Lake Cliff?” He asked and Lavender blinked at the camera.

“Why would you ask me that in front of my husband?” He said dryly and Reginald cleared his throat as he quickly muted his microphone.

“Hundreds of millions, Paul,” Reginald whispered then cleared his throat again as he unmuted it. “Moving on…” He said loudly as Sage drained a glass of wine.

“Some husbands are into model trains,” he murmured to himself as he refilled it and Paul cringed. Reginald’s face twisted.

“And sex as well?” He asked in utter confusion and Lavender snorted.

“Perhaps I could take up gardening, like Lane,” he said and Sage grabbed the counter as wine sprayed from his lips.

“In what? Your charcoal pinstripe?” He asked and Paul laughed as he pointed at Sage’s window.

“Perhaps something a little more breathable, like linen,” he offered and Lavender rolled his eyes.

“I believe we were discussing a potential crisis,” he murmured and Sage chuckled as he sat back on his stool and folded his arms over his chest.

“Do you know where he is, in Chicago? My foundation has people working all over the city,” he said and Reginald’s lips tightened as he pulled up a map.

“Toly’s made things just a little bit more challenging for us. He sent me his coordinates and our little lost renegade cyber terrorist found the closest thing to home in west Chicago,” he stated and Paul gasped when he saw the map close in on a blue dot in the last place any sane human would venture.

“He’s in West Garfield Park,” he whispered then shook his head. “Fuck,” he added for good measure.

“I really wish he would have waited until I returned from London,” Lavender said.

“I don’t think Toly can wait more than a few hours,” Reginald warned. “He looks exhausted as fuck and he’s sick and hungry,” he said and Sage waved dismissively then reached for his phone.

“I’ll have him picked up in half an hour. I’ll send a tank.”

 

Wilder meets Toly:

“This doesn’t look good,” Wilder muttered to himself as he parked in front of the dilapidated two-story semi-detached house that might have been a crack pad in its heyday. He held onto the steering wheel as he scanned the graffiti on the front of the house and cursed. Someone left a body and tagged the door. “Might be more of a recovery than an extraction,” he said as he shut off the engine and grabbed his bat. It was a quiet evening and the street was clear but he didn’t want to leave the Suburban or be in the house for more than five minutes. Any longer and he’d have a welcome committee when he came out. He locked the car then ran up the sidewalk to the front door and grimaced at the smell when he reached the door. There was more than one corpse inside. Wilder tried the door and the knob turned but wouldn’t open. He gave it a hard shove and the frame and hinges gave easily but he had to put his shoulder into it until he could clear whatever had fallen behind it. Half the ceiling, apparently. Wilder coughed and waved as he pushed the damp, moldy debris back then sidestepped into the room quickly. He unclipped his holster and used the end of his bat to push large pieces of wall and busted furniture out of the way as he made his way through the front room and into what used to be the kitchen. All the fixtures were ripped out, down to the studs and the walls were crumbled and soggy as another brutally wet and cold October took its toll on the city. Wilder spotted the body on the floor and covered his nose as he crouched to get a better look. It was bloated and used to be a larger Hispanic man. Probably not the guy who called for help a few hours earlier. Wilder pushed off his knees and his eyes scanned the ceiling as he listened for any sign of life. “Bradley and Marston sent me,” he whispered clearly then jumped and scooted back several steps as a dark, crumpled shape moved in the corner. He thought it was a pile of rags or trash but a head rose as a hood was flipped back and Wilder swallowed a gasp. A flash of silver hair and eyes glowed in the darkness before his limbs unfolded and his body unfurled. This is Ivanof?

“Let’s go,” he breathed as he stumbled toward Wilder. He moved like a bolt of lightening but he was faint and weak as he swayed toward the door.

“Let me help you,” Wilder offered as he reached for him but Ivanof held up his hand, holding him off. It was covered in tattoos. They wound around his palm and fingers and over his arm and spread up his neck. As far as Wilder could see, everything but Ivanof’s face was covered but it was too dark to make out any of the design.

“I can get there on my own but I need to see a doctor soon,” he said as he pulled himself through the room. Wilder had never seen a person more emaciated and exhausted than Ivanof and it seemed impossible that he could carry himself through the house and onto the porch but he moved with a determined almost quickness. He leaned against the post and struggled with the pocket on his hoodie until he pulled out a pair of glasses and slid them on with shaking fingers. Wilder tried to take his elbow to help him down the steps but Ivanof pulled it away then tripped down the stairs toward the Suburban. “We should hurry,” Ivanof stated as he ran for the passenger door. Wilder nodded in agreement as he shoved his hand into his pocket for the keys then froze when Ivanof waved his hand at the car and the doors unlocked and the engine started.

“What in the fuck?” Wilder breathed as he stared.

“Please hurry,” Ivanof called as he shut the door behind him and Wilder blinked for a moment then jogged around the car.

“How did you do that?” He asked as he pulled open the door and dropped into the seat.

“This vehicle is run with and monitored by computers,” Ivanof explained blandly as he sank into the seat. He was tall but he shrank into the large chair as Wilder buckled his belt.

“Right… But how did you do that without the key or a computer?” He asked as he pulled away from the curb and there was a dry chuckle.

“That was magic. Do you know a doctor that can be trusted?” Ivanof asked.

 

Toly meets Wilder:

“Well… It’s like watching a dehydrated human come to life. I think,” she murmured as she adjusted the drip on the IV and Toly kept his lips straight and his face relaxed as he listened. Martinez’s mother was direct, competent and quick thinking. Toly liked her. Martinez’s father floated in and out of the room, hovering warily. He still wasn’t sure if Toly was a danger despite his instinct to help and protect him. Toly liked him very much as well.

But Wilder Martinez… I don’t know. He didn’t make sense to Toly. He was a highly decorated police officer and credited with pulling off several high-profile undercover operations. He retired from the force somewhat abruptly at the age of forty-two and was immediately hired by Sage Bradley as a “social worker”. From the AGENCY NAME’s reports and a few news articles Toly found during the drive to the Martinez residence, Wilder Martinez was the head of Bradley’s special outreach unit. Bradley hired Martinez and a handful of former Chicago police officers and Special Forces soldiers to rescue homeless LGBTQ teens from the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. Apparently, Bradley spent a fortune to keep the team on call and well-equipped, judging from Martinez’s bank account and the state of the art up-armored Suburban he’d been provided with. Martinez and his vehicle was equipped to survive the streets of Kabul and hack the Pentagon. Thanks to Bradley’s husband, Mr. Lavender, the team was armed well enough to defend Chicago until the Pentagon could send reinforcements. AGENCY NAME got away with bending the law now and then because of Martinez’s reputation among local law enforcement and Bradley’s generous donations and charisma.

He looks like a monster.Toly knew men who looked like Martinez and he’d suffered terribly at their hands. He suspected it was why Martinez was so successful as an undercover cop. He was too large and too hard, especially his face. It was made of stone and his eyes were dark and menacing. Toly could translate the graffiti on Martinez’s arms, neck and face. He may have been undercover but he’d earned every tag. He’d become a high ranking officer in a brutal Mexican gang over the course of a very long and risky operation. Martinez’s reputation on the street would rival that of the worst of Petrovich’s thugs. Toly didn’t want to like him but…

“I’ve never seen anyone look so damn exhausted in my life,” Martinez murmured as he delicately inspected the back of Toly’s hand. It took every bit of Toly’s self-control to hold still and not pull away. Please don’t touch me. It wasn’t terrible though and Toly had a feeling it was Martinez who bathed him while he was truly unconscious. His touch was so light and cautious as his fingers traced but Toly’s nerves always flared and his stomach clenched when he was touched. Especially by someone like Martinez. “I want him to wake up so I can feed him something decent,” Martinez complained and his mother snorted.

“Be careful. You know how much of a sucker you are for strays,” she warned and he made a disgruntled sound.

“I don’t think he’s as lost and helpless as you think he is but it’s my job to bring him in from the cold and protect him,” he said.

“Protect him but remember that you can’t save every stray you bring in. You know just as well as I do, some of these kids don’t want to be saved,” she replied.

“He’s not a kid,” he reminded her and she groaned softly and Toly felt the bed sink by his foot.

“Isn’t he, though? He looks kind of sweet and helpless. Even with all this on his neck and those piercings on his face,” she said. “You don’t have to put your neck out and your heart on the line for every kid Sage sends you after. I can tell Ivanof’s involved with something way bigger than either of us have ever seen and he may be more than you can fix,” Martinez’s mother added and he sighed.

“You’re probably right but that’s not the man you raised,” he argued gently as he left Toly and moved around the bed. Toly wanted him to come back and his heart raced as he waited for some sound, so he could tell how far Martinez had gone. There was a faint scrape and Toly sensed that Martinez was moving something large closer to the bed. A chair. Martinez’s breathing and disgruntled grumbling drew closer and lower as he sat and Toly relaxed. Just don’t touch me again. Unless you’d like to…

 

They’re coming, my loves. Soon. Keep an eye out for more updates. In the meantime, here’s our cover!:

Untitled 25

Digital Love and the Tank.

It’s Release Day! How about a peek at Darius and Jenna?

*Excerpt below!*

Stealing

PersephoneBlurb

*Deep, long exhale of existential relief*

It’s done and they’re here. Stealing Persephone is available on Amazon and KU. Go get it while I rest. I’m exhausted, gang. How many times have I told you that a book was a  mistake or a surprise? After Saving Kate, I swore I was done writing about straight people sex and boys kissing boys was very much my Happy Place. But then Jenna came along and everyone wanted more of her. Including Darius. Originally, Jenna just existed to prove that Quinn was indeed a straight man. I get a little tired of the “unlucky in love” and inexplicably single yet otherwise utterly perfect straight guy falling for the savvy and experienced gay Romeo trope. Show me how he’s straight so I know it’s real. Unfortunately, I got carried away and fell in love with Jenna so she naturally had to fall in love too. I rearranged the last half of A Thief In The Night so her and Darius could live happily ever after. THEN, everyone else fell in love with Jenna and wanted to know what happened with her and Darius. Which just created a whole big mess of possibilities. I’ve had huge plans for Lake Cliff and Carlton House and intended for them to overlap here and there but something amazing happened when our Lake Cliff boys fell in love with Jenna. This book is full of Easter eggs and foreshadowing but let’s start at the beginning:

 

Darius was twenty-four when he lost his father and he’d almost gone the length of his father’s life without falling in love. He didn’t think he’d outlive his father by too many years but he thought he’d nearly outrun the curse. He thought he’d outrun her until she got lost in Stockwell. Something touched Darius’ shoulder and whispered in his ear, the night Roman ruined his well laid plan. Darius

looked down at his hand and remembered the way it trembled when he answered his phone and heard the panic in Roman’s voice the night she found him. Darius felt panicked too. Something of his was lost.

“A girl was just taken into the Underground, here at Stockwell,” Roman said quickly. Darius heard the trains and the river around Roman and could see him on the map in his head then pointed at Constantin.

“Someone’s grabbed a girl near Joe Green’s station. I want everyone looking and I want her in a car and on her way here in two minutes. She better not be harmed. Go get her,” he ordered then put the phone back to his ear. “They’ve got two minutes and I’ve sent Constantin,” Darius told Roman.

“We’re almost to you,” Roman said then ended the call. There was some sort of drama with the girl Quinn was fooling around with before he met Roman. Darius knew about the girl and he had reservations about Quinn until he acted like a man and cut the girl free. Roman predicted he would and Darius had someone monitoring the situation until he decided he could trust Quinn. Darius had a feeling he was about to meet Quinn’s jilted nurse. The poor thing was probably having the fright of her life and would be in shock for days. Roman called her “plucky and adorable”. It would be a shame if they were too late.

“Any news, Tom?” Darius called as Roman arrived.

“None yet, sir. But it’s just been about a minute or so…”

“Fuck,” Darius said as he dialed Joe Green then hung up as Quinn rushed at him.

“You have to find her,” Quinn said. Darius gripped Quinn’s arms tight and pinned his eyes.

Everyone is looking for her. I will have her location before…” Darius felt his phone vibrate then held up his hand and put it to his ear. “Do we have her?” He asked and Quinn held his breath.

“Yeah, we’ve got her but… Ouch!” Constantin gasped and Darius’ head pulled back at the sound of a struggle. “Ma’am, please! Motherfuck… Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Just get her arm. We’ve got her, Darius. We’ll have her there as soon as we can get her into the car. They found her behind the stairs on the last platform. Three of Green’s runners got a hold of her but she just about got free of ‘em. Jim Wise got sprayed in the eyes with some paint and she busted Mackie’s nose with a brick. Mackie’s little brother, D, was still tryin’ to have a go at her but he took off when we said you was lookin’ for her. Come on, Wallace! Get the blindfold tied so we can go!” Constantin begged then muffled a shriek. “Shouldn’t be too much longer.”

“Thank you,” Darius said as the hand holding the phone dropped. What kind of women was Quinn into? “She is en route and should arrive in about three minutes,” he said and Quinn became heavy as he held onto Darius for support.

“Is she…?” He asked and Darius frowned as he set Quinn away from him.

“She might be a little scratched and bruised but she’s fine, I was told. I’m not sure she needed our help,” he said and Quinn looked stunned. Darius smiled as he recalled Constantin’s shriek. “My people found her just in time to save her attackers. She got hold of a can of spray paint and blinded one then broke the other bloke’s face with a brick. There was another guy on top of her but he took off,” he added and Roman laughed softly. “You might hire her, as a backup for Mr. Bishop,” Darius said as he went to the coffee table and found the pictures of Darlington and the call and messaging history for every phone he’d touched in the last three months. “While we’re waiting. I’ve got him connected to Dash and I may know what his game is,” he said. Roman became alert and his brain spun like a top as he flipped through the folder.

“He is selling for Darlington,” he stated.

“Son of a bitch,” Quinn swore under his breath.

“This Dash is his distributor and is using his connections to find young men to sell at parties for Darlington,” Darius explained as he pointed at the folder and Roman nodded in agreement.

“The ones who’ve gone missing got greedy and ran?” He said.

“Jayce wouldn’t leave me like that! He has to be out there!” Quinn insisted as he became agitated and Roman held up his hand soothingly. Darius’ eyes tightened as he watched Roman balance his desire to protect Quinn with his determination to see their plan through and assuage their need for vengeance.

“We’ll find him if he’s alive, Quinn,” Roman promised.

“I know but this doesn’t help us find him,” Quinn argued and Darius slid Roman a warning glance. Darius understood why Roman wanted to comfort Quinn but he knew better than to promise something he couldn’t deliver.

“If we can’t find Jayce, we find a way to make Darlington tell us where he is,” Roman said and Quinn pulled him into his arms for a tight hug.

“Thank you,” Quinn said.

“We still might not find him in time,” Roman warned him and Darius looked away, giving them a moment as Quinn’s eyes shimmered.

“I know but you said ‘We’re going to have to search…’. It’s always been just me and Jayce. And just me dealing with Jayce. I’ve never had help before,” Quinn explained.

“You’ll always have help,” Roman said and Quinn hid his face in Roman’s shoulder.

“I know,” he whispered.

“What do you know?” Roman asked as he leaned back.

“The thing Jenna and I were talking about,” Quinn said as he gave Roman a pointed look. “I know,” he said and Roman smiled as he cradled his face. Darius gagged then checked his watch. It was all precious and he wished them both well but Quinn’s missing nanny would be arriving at any moment.

“You’ll have to tell me about it later,” Roman said and Quinn nodded.

“I will,” he said and Darius turned as he heard a car arrive and doors open then slam shut. Constantin opened the door and looked exhausted and shaken as he helped Corley guide a kicking, thrashing bundle of hair and profanity into the warehouse.

“Put me down or I swear I will…” She growled and Darius didn’t understand what was happening. Constantin was sweating and Corley was swearing to every deity under his breath and she was so tiny and…exquisite. Darius couldn’t make out very much of her face but her hair was a rich, silky tornado as it flopped over her eyes. Her jumper was torn and sagged around her shoulders, revealing a stained and ripped white camisole. Darius’ collar tightened and his shirt clung to his body as a white cotton bra strap slid down her arm. Her grey leggings were filthy and Darius was in pain. She had a tiny waist but it flared into a full, firm round ass and lush thighs which were busy kicking and stomping. Her knee nearly caught Constantin in the groin and he grunted as he jumped back.

“Jenna!” Quinn called as he laughed and her head snapped toward him

“Quinn?” She gasped and Darius was disoriented.

“This is her?” He asked in disbelief then gestured for Constantin to release her. Darius sniffed and it took physical effort to keep his feet where they were. She smelled impossibly good. The smell of cake, frosting and coconut was so absurd in Stockwell, in Darius’ warehouse, and he couldn’t understand how she could have been dragged on the floor of the Underground and mauled by Green’s clumsy thugs and still smell like fucking heaven. She froze as the blindfold was untied and Darius couldn’t feel his body or hear anything over his heart. She had the biggest, warmest brown eyes and her lips were full and pouty and glistened as she panted.

“Quinn!” Jenna cried and raced into his arms. He squeezed her then leaned back so he could look at her.

“Are you ok?” He asked as he tugged her bra strap in place and she nodded. “I’m so sorry,” he said as he hugged her again and Darius thought it was a bit excessive.

“I’m fine!” Jenna insisted and Quinn became serious.

“Why were you following us?” He asked and Roman pointed as he raised his brows at her.

“That is a very good question,” Darius said and he cautiously leaned so he could get a better look at her. Her skin was so flawless…

“You said you were going to Stockwell and I was worried because who in their right mind goes to Stockwell?” She said to Quinn and Darius flinched as she offered him a sheepish smile. “No offense! This is all very lovely and you all seem very nice,” she added cautiously as she greeted people as they returned from searching for her.

“It’s a shitehole, love,” Darius declared impatiently. “You would have to be out of your mind to go to Stockwell. Why are you in Stockwell?” He demanded and Jenna pointed at Quinn.

“I just said… I was worried about them,” she stated very slowly and gently then blushed as her eyes slid down Darius’ body. Heat followed in their wake and he took a step back as she fixed her jumper and swept her calamitous bun back, off her face. She was breathtaking as she pulled back her shoulders and his eyes fell into her cleavage. Her breasts pushed decadently out of the cups of her bra as she offered her hand. “You must be Mr. Darius. I’ve heard quite a bit about you,” she said and Roman stifled a laugh. Darius was mesmerized and slightly appalled as he took it.

“It’s a pleasure?” He said as he searched her eyes. There was so much curiosity and fire.

“Are you friends with Ramon?” She asked and Darius blinked down at her.

Roman,” Roman complained and she waved dismissively.

“Yes. Are you friends with Rubin?” She murmured as she stepped closer and Darius felt a tremor of fear. Dear God, it’s her. No, no, no, no, no.

“We’re cousins,” Darius replied then looked to Roman for help. Get her out of here.

“I won’t hold that against you,” Jenna said silkily.

“We need to get her home,” Quinn groaned sensibly.

“We could drop her off then run by your place so you can change,” Roman mused and Darius nodded quickly but he couldn’t get his eyes to leave her lips.

“I’m going to be a corpse tomorrow but I don’t have to work!” Quinn stated jauntily. Jenna chewed on her lip as she offered Quinn an apologetic smile then aimed it at Darius.

“If it helps, I’m sure Mr. Darius could give me a ride home,” she suggested coyly and Darius tensed to run. The only women who dared to command him were his mother and bunică yet he felt a very strong desire to do this small, insane woman’s bidding.

“I don’t think that’s…” Darius began but Roman gasped.

“I think it’s perfect!” Roman declared and Darius’ jaw fell. Traitor! “It’ll save us loads of time and you can tell Darius all about how you managed three grown men with just a rock and a can of spray paint. Give him a few pointers,” he suggested to Jenna as he towed Quinn toward the door.

“I don’t think this is…” Quinn argued but Roman cut him off.

“It’s perfect,” he stated pointedly and Jenna gasped.

“There you go! Everyone, listen to Ronald,” she cheered and Roman glared.

“I’m trying to help you,” he ground out.

“Don’t!” Darius and Quinn yelled. Jenna made a very loud and assertive shushing sound as her hands pushed into the air and her fingers splayed. She was the most beautiful, batshit crazy thing Darius had ever seen and not a single person in the warehouse knew what to make of her. Jenna sensed that she might have overstepped just a touch and Darius’ eyes were glued to her lip as she bit into it then cleared her throat.

“Sorry, just them!” She hissed at people at the table and around the warehouse then gestured at Darius, Roman and Quinn dismissively. “Now,” she said as she turned to them. “I haven’t had the best time, these last twenty-four hours, so if it’s alright with all of you, things are gonna go Jenna’s way for a bit,” she declared then dared them to argue. Fuck me, she’s incredible.

“That’s my girl,” Roman said and she gave him a withering look.

“We’re not there yet, Roland.” Jenna stated then smiled threateningly at Quinn. “I’m sure you have no reason to object whatsoever,” she warned.

“He doesn’t. We’ll be on our way,” Roman said and Quinn looked worried as he was pulled toward the door. Those miserable arseholes are abandoning me, Darius realized.

“Roman,” Darius growled and they ran and ducked behind a stack of crates.

“Now, about those gentlemen in the tunnel,” Jenna began exuberantly as her arm slid around Darius’. “I took a women’s self-defense class and I learned some very handy tricks,” she explained and Darius decided Roman didn’t need to see another sunrise as he heard him howling with laughter. Darius heard Quinn mutter something and Roman admitted he didn’t have plans for the evening.

“Roman!” Darius roared as he turned to go after him but Jenna held on tight and tugged hard.

“I’m certain your mother raised you with much better manners,” she said and Darius paused.

“I beg your pardon?”

“You really should. You’ve been quite rude,” Jenna said. Darius looked at the table and Constantin and the rest of the gang were hiding smirks and signaling for him to get moving.

“You’re all fucked when I get back,” he promised and he heard Tom snort. “Get the car ready,” he barked and Corley stood and slowly backed toward the door.

“The car?” He confirmed and Darius’ arm flailed.

“Yes, the car! I can’t drive her to…?” He raised his brows at her expectantly and she squealed giddily as she clasped her hands behind her.

“ Chelsea!” she announced and Darius would have whimpered if they weren’t being watched. Her breasts pushed against the front of her top and the left was very close to spilling out.

“I can’t drive her to Chelsea in the back of a delivery truck,” he ground out and Darius was dizzy as she raised her left shoulder.

“I don’t mind!”

“Get the car!” He begged then cleared his throat. “I want the car.”

“Yes, sir,” Corley said as he slipped out of the warehouse. Jenna rose on her toes and craned her neck as she inspected the sitting room Darius kept in the back of the warehouse.

“This is quite sharp,” she said and Darius frowned.

“It’s comfortable enough,” he murmured then nodded at the door as Constantin opened it and the car pulled up.

“Do you live here?” She asked and Darius shook his head.

“No.” He helped her over the threshold as Corley waited by the car. Jenna stopped at the door and raised her brows haughtily as she crossed her arms defiantly, pushing her breasts higher. Darius gulped as he fought to keep his eyes on hers.

“I’ve got nothing waiting for me but a bottle of wine, which I plan to down in the shower. I’m in no hurry,” she said and Darius’ eyes tightened.

“You’ll fit in the trunk,” he warned and she snorted.

“I’d love to see you try.”

“Did someone give you drugs while you were lost?” Darius asked and Jenna grinned.

“No but I might not mind, depending on what you’ve got,” she said and he brushed his hand through his hair. Christ, she’s fucking stubborn. 

“I have a home but it’s my grandmother’s. I go there when I want to sleep,” he explained quickly and she hummed in approval then lowered into the car and climbed onto the opposite seat. She sat in the middle of the bench and curled her feet under her as Darius slid onto the seat across from her. The door shut behind him and he groaned as her scent flooded the cabin and wrapped around him.

“How do you have a home but it’s your grandmother’s?” She asked as she flipped up the armrest and peeked into the console.

“Do you understand who I am?” He asked and she rolled her eyes.

“I did figure it out. You’re king of the baddies,” she stated nonchalantly and his brows jumped.

“And I thought nannies were supposed to have a little more common sense. My father bought the home shortly after we first came to England. It was our family home until he built a larger home for my mother. We kept bunică in it and she’ll stay there until she dies but it passed to me after my father died. How old are you?” He said quickly as he admired how long and elegant her neck was as she set her hands on the seat and leaned to look out the window. She was so small but so decadently curvy. His hands itched and his dick was hard as her back arched and her ass stuck out.

“We’re still a ways from the river,” she noted then sat as she crossed her legs under her. “I’m twenty-six, how old are you?” She countered and Darius chuckled wryly.

“Too old for whatever you’re into,” he said suggestively and she pulled a face.

“Too old,” she muttered then snorted dismissively. “Don’t pretend you’re not into this,” she said as she gestured at herself and Darius shifted discreetly.

“Into what?” He asked then forced his eyes to the window as she made a pffftttt sound.

“Proper and perfect nanny in the streets, deranged pegging dominatrix in the sheets,” she declared and Darius coughed as his head swung toward her.

“The fuck, woman?” He complained and she bit her lip sheepishly again as she shrugged.

“That might be a touch of an exaggeration but you know what I mean.”

“You don’t look very perfect,” Darius lied as he waved at her and she held up a hand.

“I was getting pissed in a pub just about twenty-four hours ago because I caught the man I thought I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with snogging the fuck out of your cousin, Ralph. My life has been quite a ride since then and this is the result. But if you have any doubts, you’re welcome to meet me at the park tomorrow afternoon. I’ll wear a smart looking dress with pockets and bring a ruler, so I can slap the back of your hands when you get grabby. If that will turn you on,” she offered.

“No,” Darius squeaked then cleared his throat. “I’ll pass. Are you always this forward?” He asked and she licked her lips as she studied him from across the dark car.

“Do you have a problem with women who are forward or are you afraid of what happened back there?”

“What are you talking about?” He asked warily and she gasped then slid across the cabin and crawled onto the seat next to Darius, practically into his lap. He tensed and pressed himself into the cushions behind him.

“You don’t strike me as a liar or stupid,” she said as she braced her hand on his lap and leaned close. Her fingers spread and she looked down as they curved around his erection. Her nose brushed against his as a wicked grin tilted her lips. “You ever meet someone and felt like you’ve had sex with them before, even though you hadn’t? Have you ever looked at someone and knew, deep in your bones, that you were going to have sex with them and it would change your whole damn life? That it was going to be so good and so hard, your soul would limp when it walked into heaven?” She asked and Darius swallowed hard.

“Do you think I’ll see heaven?”

“That depends on what your idea of heaven is, Mr. Darius,” Jenna whispered and her breath tasted clean and sweet as her lips hovered over his.

“Just Darius is fine,” he said and she purred.

“Is there something else you’d like me to call you?” She asked and Darius shook his head faintly as they crossed the bridge. They were nearly there but his control was slipping.

“I’m not interested,” he said and she gasped again.

“You are a liar!”

“I’m not doubting the sex will be incredible. I’d fuck you so hard, those perfect little teeth of yours would come loose. But I don’t fuck girls like you, Jenna. You’re the kind of girl a man calls back and makes plans with. I’m not interested in that,” he explained. She chuckled and she fell against him as the car rocked to a halt.

“You’re assuming I’ll want you to call me back,” she said as the hand around his cock squeezed and Darius clenched his jaw as need and heat swelled within him. “I’m sure you know where to find me, if you change your mind,” Jenna breathed against his lips then pushed away from him as the door opened. She winked as she turned and smiled up at Corley as she stepped out. “Thank you so much! I can’t wait to be home and in my bed again,” she declared then bent so she could wave at Darius, giving him one last glimpse of luscious, bouncing cleavage. “I’m sure I’ll see you again soon.”

“Let’s go, Corley!” Darius called as he beat on the roof and the door swung shut. He watched as she waved again then turned and jogged victoriously up her front steps. The car pulled away and he groaned as he scrubbed his face with his hands then swore. They smelled like her. He looked back and she was gone and he swore again as he slammed his head against the headrest. He shut his eyes tight and he could taste her as he pictured her naked, spreading cake scented bubbles over her skin in the shower. His mouth watered and blood pounded in his ears as his hands clenched. Darius’ hard-on throbbed angrily as he imagined it buried in her pussy. He knew she’d be wet and tight and moan like a siren. That she’d be heaven. “Fuck!” He spat as his fist hit the roof of the car again. “Pull over!” He yelled and leaned as the car swerved then pushed the door open before it came to a stop. “I’ll find my own way home,” he said as he ran into the nearest alley.

Darius jumped and grabbed a fire escape and pulled himself up and over. He leapt from the rail to a window ledge then quickly scaled the side of the building. He reached the roof then located Jenna’s flat and sprinted and jumped from building to building. The attic window had an ancient, rusted lock and Darius broke it with a stiff jab of his elbow then ducked through the window easily. He found his way to the stairwell and Jenna’s door then quickly slipped inside. She had a narrow but immaculate galley kitchen and he smiled at the spare key and the cork on the kitchen counter and his head tilted as he listened to her singing in the shower. She was off key and so loud but it was adorable. Darius smiled as he stepped into the hallway and peeked into the small sitting room. He scanned quickly and wasn’t surprised to see that it was tidy despite the books and cardigans scattered around the room. His pulse raced at the cardigans and he frowned. What was it about Jenna that suddenly made them so sexy? They were possibly the most innocuous garment a woman could wear. Nanny on the street… The shower stopped and Darius was anxious and impatient as he pushed her bedroom door open silently. Steam and the scent of her shampoo and body wash rolled from under the door and Darius’ brain begged him to run as his body became tight and restless. She was humming as she brushed her hair and he was nervous as he looked around her bedroom. Her bedding was white and a worn but cheerful quilt was folded at the foot of the bed. A scarf was draped over the lamp, casting the room in a tranquil aqua glow. Everything was neat and cozy and there were more books but he was so fucking aroused and panicked as he listened to her rub marshmallow scented lotion onto her skin. You need to run! The bathroom door opened and Darius gave up as he pulled her into his arms.

“Oh!” She yelped but her hands slid over his shoulders and she pressed herself against him as he captured her lips. Her hair was wet and cool as it slid around his fingers and he groaned raggedly as he pulled and the towel around her chest loosened. She let it fall and Darius was intoxicated and helpless as his tongue swirled and thrust desperately. His hands curved around her ass and she jumped and wrapped her legs around his waist as he lifted her.

“Please tell me you have condoms,” Darius said as his lips ground against hers.

“I gave my last two to my sister,” she huffed as she sucked and licked. “Her prospects were looking a lot better than mine last night,” she added and they grunted as they crashed on the bed. She was soft and slipped and twisted impatiently beneath Darius and her hands fought with his clothes.

“Christ! Slow down!” Darius hissed as he caught her hands then pinned them over her head. He released them so he could rise on his knees and peel off his coat and his head spun as he looked down at her. His eyes glided over dark pink nipples, a softly rounded belly and a small patch of shortly trimmed hairs between generous, impatiently squirming thighs. “Futu-i!” He cried then shook his head. No. Do not fuck her, he warned as he flung his shirt at the wall then dove at her breast. “I have to hear you come,” he said as his lips washed over her nipple.

“Any time you’re ready,” she urged as her fingers swept through his hair and clutched at his skull. Darius sucked the peak into his mouth and she whimpered as she writhed beneath him. “Or before you’re ready. Please!” She said as she took his hand and pushed it between her legs.

 

Were you expecting anything less from Jenna? Darius wasn’t ready and neither are you. This one’s steamy and full of laughs but it’s dark and extremely gory at times because it’s October and I’m a bit of a ghoul. Beware but hurry!

Get them here:  https://amzn.to/2Os5xBo

If you haven’t read the first three books in the Carlton House series, you should.

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It’s Release Day! How about a peek at Darius and Jenna?

The birth of my dark prince. Would you like to meet Darius?

42

(Not actually Darius and Jenna, just gorgeous people from the internet who look like them)

 

Talk about boys who were never meant to have their own book… When I began A Thief in The Night I planned to write a rake adventure with a straight love interest. That was all that was intended and the rest of the books in the series were just meant to be tangentially connected. Roman was just an associate of Reginald’s and Ran was a friend of Roman’s and they all knew Rami. I love the Gay For You trope because it suggests that love isn’t limited by gender and sexuality, it’s about whatever it is inside of us that catches when there’s a spark and glows. I’ve written GFYs before, obviously. In the beginning, the first hurdle is how the straight boy finds himself wading in queer waters. A lot of writers, MYSELF included, go to crazy lengths to set up a scenario where the straight guy is single and going through a dry spell despite being crazy hot and horny. Awkward introverts, guys who’ve been burned so bad they just can’t, workaholics… With Quinn, I asked myself why? If he’s a healthy, attractive straight man, he’s going to have a love interest or be looking for one. Which meant we needed a Jenna. That was her sole purpose. She was so good at convincing us that Quinn was a real straight man that we fell in love with her and Roshni said I needed to find her a HEA. I agreed that we couldn’t do Jenna like that. Which brings us to Darius. I’m also just as guilty for creating an almost exclusively gay universe and I’m not even a little bit sorry. But realistically, Roman would be related to a few straight people and I decided it made more sense for the plot if Darius was straight so he wasn’t involved in London’s gay party scene. If that was Roman’s purview, I guess. Because he was one of the few straight men in Thief, Darius was the easy/only choice for Jenna. A lot of the scenes with Darius in the second half of the book were altered and expanded to fit Jenna into them so they could have their little arc.

What is Darius? A gangster? A vampire? A cannibal? It became a running joke through the series because I didn’t have a problem with him for real eating his enemies but so many people did. I decided to leave it vague in Thief and let you make the call. No matter what he was, he was meant to be a slightly darker, more dangerous version of Roman. Then, readers fell in love with Jenna and Darius and began asking for their story. I told Roshni I didn’t think I’d do it. If I did, it would be much later and maybe a short. By the time I got to the end of Truce I knew they couldn’t wait and readers wouldn’t want to either. Because it was Darius, I realized this story had to be dark and dangerous. Which meant I had to figure out what made Darius so dark and dangerous…

 

 

“Look at me, Darius,” Vasile Olinescu said as he wiped blood from his hands, wrists and forearms then handed Martin the towel before he removed the butcher’s apron. “Does this make you feel sick?” He asked as he waved at the splatter on the grey tile wall behind him. Darius shook his head then leaned on his stool and looked at the dead, broken man on the concrete floor of the abattoir. He felt nothing as he watched his father remove his bodyguard’s tongue then disembowel him.

“No, tati,” he stated firmly and Vasile grinned as he lowered and opened his arms. Darius hopped off the stool and went to him. “He betrayed you and tried to help your enemy kill you,” Darius said as his father brushed the hair away from his face then traced his cheek tenderly. Vasile’s eyes were sharp and seeking as they searched Darius’ before he laughed and kissed his forehead.

“Very good, pisoiaș” he said. “I teach you these things because I love you, my little cat. My prince,” he added as he gave Darius’ chin a shake. “One day, you will be responsible for this family and you will have your own queen and princes and princesses. Do you understand?” He asked and Darius nodded.

“I understand, tati.”

“You can’t make mistakes and you must always be the most feared. You can have no other weaknesses because you will always have one very dangerous weakness: you have a family. Show your enemies you fear nothing and that you will eat their children. Never show them any mercy or leave them standing. Save your mercy and your softness for your wife and your children because you will owe it to them. They will suffer terribly because of you. You will have to teach your son monstrous things because your enemies will take your family from you if you make mistakes and show them mercy. Never leave your enemies standing or you will never stop looking over your shoulder,” he warned. Darius nodded then frowned at him.

“What if I didn’t have a family?” He asked and Vasile sighed as he pulled him close and kissed his hair.

“Then you would not be an Olinescu. Your family is your soul, Darius. No matter where we go, bunică and all those women are our home and the reason we must be feared. Protect your family because that is the only place you can be hurt,” Vasile said and Darius’ lips twisted.

“Why do I need a wife and princesses? We already have too many girls,” he complained and Vasile laughed. It was like the shriek of his violin when he made it cackle like a witch or the wind in his stories.

“You won’t have a choice. We’re cursed, pisoiaș!” He warned as he squeezed him. “You’ll see your queen and she’ll steal your heart. But she’ll be brave and stubborn, like your mamă, and keep it safe. She’ll be the reason you get up in the morning and the reason you’ll go out to fight and kill at night. She’ll keep you strong and hungry and she’ll heal you,” he explained but Darius was still dubious.

“Can she heal me if I’m sick of girls?” He asked. Vasile chuckled as he stood and settled Darius on his hip.

“You’ll feel very differently later. Won’t he, Martin?” He said as he winked at his young lieutenant and Martin smirked.

“If you follow in your father’s footsteps, you certainly will,” he said to Darius conspiratorially as he opened the door for them. Vasile clicked his teeth scoldingly as he passed him but his black eyes glittered with laughter.

“You’ve been listening to gossip. Which means you’ve been hanging out with Big Tom too much. He talks more than my aunt Maria,” he said and Martin snorted as he followed them out. “Don’t let my wife hear you or I’ll be sleeping on the floor. What is that, Darius?” Vasile asked as he pointed at a constellation and Darius followed his finger and studied the stars.

“Virgo,” he said and Vasile hummed in approval as he kissed his hair again.

“They also call her Persephone. She was taken by Hades, the god of the underworld,” he stated as he turned them toward Stockwell.

“He was a monster who kept her prisoner,” Darius said and Vasile’s head tilted but he raised his hand.

“In some stories. In others, she was a powerful queen who delivered the curses of men upon the souls of the dead. Those who so much as spoke her name were damned,” he said as they passed under a streetlight on their way home. It was a long walk but Darius often fell asleep with his head on his father’s shoulder as Vasile softly sang an ancient Romani lullaby.

 

My characters have a way of writing themselves and telling me their stories. The story Darius has to tell… It’s so graphic and intense. Jenna is just the burst of snark and joy he never knew he needed. He tries his best to resist but once she catches him, he refuses to let go. Prepare for something different, reader. Stealing Persephone is nearly finished and will be available soon. Mid October-ish for my Patreon supporters and look for it just before Halloween on Amazon and KU!

The birth of my dark prince. Would you like to meet Darius?