Tag Archive: Broken Pattern


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Just a tiny taste (totally unedited, of course) of Chapter 19 of Flight of Fantasy (Broken Pattern #2). Blowing Smoke, Broken Pattern #1, will be coming to a Kindle near you on March 5th….

Washington, D.C.
August 12, 2013
3:25 a.m.

Perry leaned against the tiled wall of the shower and fumbled with the shower valve, wincing as the cold spray hit him and turning the valve as far left as it would go. Even when it warmed up all the way, the water in his apartment was barely tepid, which was a pity.

Hauling himself upright, he filled his palms with coconut-scented soap and started to gently clean his shoulders and upper arms. The bruises were nothing to worry about, they’d fade, but he’d need to be careful with the bites. And no strapless gowns for Falcon for a while.

He laughed, surprised by how normal he sounded. He’d show his marks off with pride tomorrow night. Tonight. Whatever. And then, with any luck, they wouldn’t matter any more.

Once he’d taken care of the ragged marks on his shoulders, he grabbed the shampoo and lathered his hair. He hissed, as much in startlement as in pain, as he ran his palm over the back of his head. Probing the lump with his fingertips made him queasy; he backed into the stream of water from overhead, and stared at the red swirling around his feet.

Lochlann’s going to be pissed. The boss was fine if any of his boys wanted to cater to a rougher trade, but it had to be consensual. He’d been adamant, when he’d hired Perry: he wouldn’t let Big Boy get a reputation as the kind of place where a client could get his rocks off with violence.

“Because then I’d have to deal with them, and I hate the paperwork when I kill a client,” Lochlann had explained. Perry was sure he’d been kidding.

Pretty sure.

Yeah, he should have put a stop to it when his last customer decided to “take the fight out of” him by throwing him against the wall. He could have.

But he hadn’t wanted to. He’d needed it.

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Remember when summer was about sleeping as late as you could get away with, biking to the library once a week, and spending as much of the remaining time as you could curled up in your secret private reading nook, devouring one book after another at a pace that made the librarian assume you were the supplier for your entire family?

I wish that had been my summer. Really. Instead, mostly I just heaved a great big ol’ sigh of relief when I tore August off the calendar. Here’s why…

My original contract for the SoulShares was for four books — Hard as Stone, Gale Force, Deep Plunge, and Firestorm. And it specified that I had 15 months to turn in all four books. Now, if I were able to write full-time, that would have been no sweat. But between the Evil Day Job and my family obligations, I generally only have a few hours a night to write. So after four books in 15 months (plus a couple of novellas), I was a great big stressball. But I had a new publisher who really, really wanted the fifth SoulShares novel, so I kept pushing, and turned in the manuscript for Blowing Smoke at the beginning of June. Then there was a short story to write, to submit for a Dreamspinner Press anthology (look for “Ilya and the Wolf” in Celebrate! — the Dreamspinner Press 2014 Advent Calendar anthology, and also as a stand-alone story, the beginning of December!). (Yes, it’s shifters. *grins* You’re welcome.)

Then July happened. I had to move, and downsized from a house to an apartment in a suburb a half-hour’s drive away, chosen because it was close enough to my son’s college that he could commute by bus and because they would let me keep my elderly golden-retriever mix, Fiona, and my Cornish Rex kitty, Grace O’Malley. One (small) carload at a time, we moved that house, all through the month of July. Three days before the final move, Fiona died. (Needless to say, between being burned out and dealing with the move and my sweet girl, not much writing happened in July…)

Then August happened. I started writing again (Bound in Oak, Tales of the Grove #3). The publisher with which Blowing Smoke had been resting comfortably since June announced that it was terminating all its freelance editors, including mine, and that all outstanding manuscripts would be reassigned to its staff of in-house editors. Now, there’s a very good reason why I became a lawyer rather than an accountant, but some numbers even I can crunch, and I realized that I would undoubtedly be an old(er) gray(er) lady by the time SoulShares #5, which had not yet gotten as far as first edits, saw the light of day. So I exercised my contractual right to pull the manuscript… and on Labor Day I sent it off to another potential home. Any and all crossed fingers, good wishes, prayers, and the like will be greatly appreciated, and hopefully I’ll have good news to report in a couple of months!

Now it’s September. I’m still working away at Bound in Oak (which may end up being a working title only, as Ellora’s Cave only wants titles to contain the word “Bound” if they’re BDSM titles, which this definitely isn’t), which I hope to have done by mid-October. And come visit me at the Midwestern Book Lovers Unite Conference, September 26 to 28, at the Minneapolis Airport Marriott — http://midwesternbookloversunite.wordpress.com/ — I’m hosting a table at the Dinner with the Authors, and I know this really great Mongolian restaurant five minutes from the hotel….

And finally… you’ve been waiting so long, and so patiently, for Blowing Smoke, it would be remiss of me not to leave you with at least a taste. Enjoy! — and comment!

 

 

Chapter Four

Greenwich Village
New York City

The first thing Lasair saw when he opened his eyes in the human world was an ass. A very nice, scantily-clad ass, although he might have been more appreciative if his face wasn’t bumping into it every few seconds. And if he felt even a little less as if he’d just been run over by the King’s best racing chariot and its entire eight-horse team. Over the thunder of his heartbeat in his own ears, he heard a muffled thumping noise and occasional grunts.

And a whimper. Culin was somewhere nearby.

Tipping his head back, Lasair saw a staircase, dull grey wood. Arching back as far as he could–not far, thanks to the chains–he could see as far as the floor at the bottom of the stairs.

He blinked. The floor glowed faintly, in the auroral hue of pure unbound magick. Not possible.

“Great, you’re awake.” The baritone voice was slightly out of breath, and the speaker sounded more than slightly put out. “Would you mind holding still until I get you upstairs? I’d rather not drop you on your head, you’d probably pull me down with you.”

I beg your pardon for occupying space. Lasair bit his tongue, kept the words to himself, and let his head drop. He could feel an arm now, wrapped around his thighs.

The jarring stopped, and he heard the creak of a door opening. His own personal scenery remained pretty much the same, but with poorer lighting. Then another door. Light. Furniture half-glimpsed, and other doors.

“Oh, fuck. The one door I forgot about.”

The floor suddenly came a head closer, and Lasair got a glimpse of beautifully muscled calves as his bearer bent his knees. There was a click, and another door opening.

Then, suddenly, Lasair was lying on his back, with Culin at his side. On a bed, he presumed. He was getting tired of presuming. The chains were bad enough–truesilver chains were forged to burn in the presence of a channeling, and they surely did–but being trussed like a roast made it much worse. He strained to sit up, but the chains made it impossible to do more than raise his head and shoulders.

Which was enough to let him see where he was, and who had carried him up the stairs. He was in a small bed-chamber, lit by pale sunlight from a single window. The first human male he had ever seen looked down at him, wearing nothing but short trousers of some soft fabric and a deep frown. His hair was nearly dark enough to be chort-gruag, bark-hair, like the tree folk out of legend. But on this male, it was nothing to be scorned. It suited him. So did his mustache, a rarity among Fae. Eyes of dark green watched him warily, glancing every so often at Culin.

He must be ravishing when he smiles.

“Do you have a key to those chains, or do I need to cut them off?” The male’s voice was rough, almost harsh.

“If I had a key, believe me, I wouldn’t be in this situation.” Lasair winced. He didn’t remember most of his transition, other than the agony of the beginning of it, but whatever had happened to him after that had left his head feeling as hollow as the inside of a great bell. And any word, any sound from him was a mallet pounding on the bell.

“All right. Wait here.” The male’s stare raked him from his head to his feet; he put up a dark brow, turned, and left the bedchamber.

Culin whined softly.

“It’s all right.” Lasair murmured. “It’s going to be all right, tréan-cú.” He had called Culin strong, a strong hound, since the pup’s birth. Names channeled power, even names given by one with little magick of his own.

Now all I have to do is be right.

When the male reappeared, he was carrying a long-handled pincers with a metal beak. This he fitted to the chains, and started to bear down on the handles. Doing so brought out splendidly defined arm muscles and a thin sheen of sweat. I would give my left nut not to feel like I’ve been pounded flat and scraped up off the stable floor right now.

“These are stronger than they look.” The male checked the wicked beak of the pincers, running long, slender fingers over the cutting edges as if he expected to find them notched by the chain.

Humans were very different from the way Fae lore drew them, at least if they were all like this one. This male was as handsome as any Fae, in his way, and the measuring intelligence in his gaze was as exciting as his strange beauty. “They’re meant to be. But you ought to be able to cut them.” Now that the links had no magick running through them, and had been given no new purpose to know.

One dark brow went up as the male re-set the pincers. “Mind if I ask what you were doing chained up in my basement at six in the morning?”

“Yes.” Shit, I should have expected that. One thing the old stories weren’t going to tell him was what humans thought of Fae, several thousand years after their parting of ways. Even the most trusting Fae–assuming such an exotic creature existed anywhere–would be skeptical under the circumstances. And he had even less reason to be trusting than most.

Why had he forgotten that?

BLOWING SMOKE is the fifth Fae book. And the first in its own series, the Broken Pattern. See, at the end of FIRESTORM, the fourth SoulShares book, in order to save Cuinn and Rian and coincidentally the Fae Realm and the human world, the SoulShares of Purgatory had to, well, blow a great big hole in the Pattern, the portal between the worlds. And strange things are beginning to happen. (Yes, even stranger than in the first four books…) This is an excerpt from Chapter 8 — Lasair Faol, formerly the Master of Fade-hounds for the Royal family of the Demesne of Fire, and his newborn Fade-hound puppy Culin haven’t yet been formally introduced to Bryce Newhouse, but Lasair’s already feeling the pull of the as-yet-unconsummated SoulShare bond.

 

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Lasair stopped short. The human lay on his back on a richly-upholstered and beautifully carved divan, his head propped against one arm and his feet hanging over the other, sound asleep. Culin was curled up on his chest, half wrapped in a soft cloth, likewise peacefully asleep. A little table had been pulled over to the divan, near the human’s head, and a small cooking-pot sat on it. Even from where he stood, the enhanced senses of a Fae could smell milk. There were even traces of it on Culin’s short grey-brown mustache. Milk, and something else, something that smelled like salt.
A pang of pure jealousy went straight through Lasair, surprising him with its intensity. He wasn’t sure which was harder to swallow, the thought that the human had been able to get Culin to eat where he’d failed, or the visual proof that he and the pup hadn’t bonded. Most modern Fade-hound breeders considered the old stories about blind Fade-hounds no more than idle tales. And surely it was fantasy, to think that a blind dog could form such a close, exclusive bond with a Fae that each could see through the other’s eyes. Pure fantasy. Yet he’d hoped, when little blind Culin had looked up at him…
Lasair shook his head. The important thing for now was that the human had gotten the pup to eat. Filled his belly, too, from the look of him.
I am not jealous.
Not.
Not jealous at all. But Culin was his responsibility, not the human’s. He reached to pick up the puppy–froze as the human stirred, groped restlessly, mumbled under his breath. One slender, long-fingered hand found Culin and settled protectively over the furry body; the muttering stopped, replaced by a snore almost too faint to hear, even for a Fae.
Just that quickly, Lasair realized that he was indeed jealous. But not of the human. Of Culin.
I want that hand on me.
He backed up quickly, almost falling over a chair he’d forgotten was there, catching himself, turning and hastening back to the bedchamber. It wasn’t until he was leaning against the far side of the closed door, head tipped back, eyes closed, trying to slow his breathing, that he started to curse. Under his breath, so as not to wake the human.
In the Realm, the Master of the Royal Fade-hounds had been held in awe. The hounds were terrifying to most Fae, a story told to misbehaving children, used as a method of execution by some Royals. Forces of nature with five-inch fangs, relentless hunters with a taste for blood. But to him, they had been like family. He had been ready to lay down his life for them, and he knew they would have done the same for him. Even little Culin, following him trustingly through the terror of transition.
His rapport with the hounds had been legendary.
When it came to Fae, on the other hand, he was a disgrace. He definitely had all the reflexes and instincts and hungers of his race, but if seduction was an art form among the Fae–which it most certainly was–then he himself had never passed much beyond sketching childish stick figures on the hearthstones with charcoal. In a culture where desire always came wrapped in layers on layers of enticement and mystery, no one knew what to make of a Fae who refused to play the kinds of games they were all born to play. As clumsy as one of his pups, they’d said, laughing. But clumsy he was not. He only wanted to be open about what he wanted.
He hadn’t realized until just now how much he’d hoped things would be different with the human. Hadn’t Fae had their way with humans whenever they wished, back in the time before the Sundering when the two races shared a world? There would be no need for the dance, the game. For once, surely, he was free to take what he wanted, what his body needed. All he had to do was do what he wished, be what he was and had always been. All would be well.
Except it wouldn’t. It wasn’t. For the first time, he saw at least in part the point of the rin’gcatha gríobhan, the labyrinthine dance. He still didn’t want to play the game for the sake of playing, for the style and the beauty and the craft of it, but neither did he want to simply wake the human up, roll him over, and take the pleasure he both needed and wanted. He wanted to smooth away the frown line that seemed to live between the human’s brows. He wanted to see the smile he knew the human hid, and he wanted to know he’d been the cause of the smiling. He wanted to find out if the scent of salt had come from human tears, and to make them stop.
There were a great many things Lasair wanted. None of which he had ever wanted before, and none of which he had the slightest idea how to get.
No. There was one thing he knew how to get. Knew very well. One of the many words as’Faein for self-pleasure was dara-láiv. Literally, it meant ‘second-hand’–the implication being that your partner had grown bored and left after one orgasm, and you were thus forced to rely on your own devices for the second.

Excerpt from BLOWING SMOKE

Here’s an excerpt from Blowing Smoke, the first book in the Broken Pattern cycle of the SoulShares. (I’m sitting at my desk, looking out my back window at the sight of snow melting, hearing a chorus of angels singing “Hallelujah,” and I’m just so happy I need to spread a little joy around!) This bit is part of Chapter 7, and it doesn’t actually involve the main characters, Lasair Faol and Bryce Newhouse (ducks objects thrown by those who have read the first four books and think I’ve lost my mind). This chapter lets us catch up with Lochlann and Garrett, the Fae healer and the pole dancer from Deep Plunge. Enjoy!

Garrett slid a hand down Lochlann’s side, along the curve of his ass to his thigh where it rested over his own. At the same time, he leaned in, catching the dark Fae’s startled breath with a kiss, and a soft laugh.
Lochlann relaxed into him, deepening the kiss, and using his leg to draw him closer. Garrett’s hips tilted, without him telling them to, getting the most out of the sweet friction.
“My morning wood thanks you.” He didn’t feel like pulling back from the kiss, so his lips rasped against Lochlann’s heavy stubble. One more reason to regret all the years he hadn’t been waking up with his SoulShare. Or anyone. “Though it’s almost my afternoon wood.”
“Noon?” Lochlann worked his hand between the two of them and wrapped it around Garrett’s erection, his thumb immediately going to the heavy ring piercing the head. “You’re up early. In several senses of the word.”
“Noon isn’t early.” Garrett groaned as Lochlann toyed with his PA. “You realize, I’m supposed to be using that to drive you insane.”
“It is when you got in so late.” Lochlann’s smile was pure wickedness. “And life’s unfair, grafain. Get used to it.”
“That wasn’t a complaint, exactly.” Garrett bit his lip, closing his eyes to focus on Lochlann’s touch. It was still new, this thing of having someone else focused on his pleasure. Hell, someone else focused on blowing his mind with every touch, every kiss, every word out of his mouth.
After almost ten years of renting his ass out to pay the rent and keep the lights on, and almost nine of being HIV-positive, Garrett had become an expert at sex without intimacy. Expert even for a rent-boy. Whore. Fracun, the Marfach had called him. A thing, an object, only valued for how it was used, not for what it was. Lochlann had been furious, but Garrett had just shrugged. That was what he’d been, before Lochlann.
And to hear Lochlann tell it, Fae never got close either, and for some of the same reasons. The only way to be sure you couldn’t be broken was to be damn sure no one ever touched you.
The tip of Lochlann’s tongue traced over his closed eyelids, breaking off Garrett’s thoughts. He was glad. That train of thought never took him anywhere he wanted to go.
“I worried about you. Last night.” He could almost feel Lochlann’s voice, like silk on his skin. Rough silk.
“I’m sorry.” He flushed, opening his eyes. “I actually meant to tell you what happened, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open.” He hadn’t made it back to the hotel until just after sunrise, and the decadently soft bed had been way more temptation than he could handle.
Lochlann laughed softly, rolled Garrett onto his back, and pinned the lower half of his naked body to the bed with his own hips. “So tell me now.”
“Vice showed up, about an hour before closing.” Garrett felt his erection softening, and sighed. What happened to Purgatory affected all the Fae, though, and all their human partners. Report first, afternoon delight later. “They sent an undercover cop in first, but Lucien spotted him right away. He always does, I don’t think  Vice has ever gotten anyone past him.”
“What did Tiernan do before he hired Lucien?” Lochlann propped himself up on his elbows, his black hair tumbling down around his face as he studied Garrett. Apparently his lover wasn’t giving up on afternoon delight entirely.
“Nearly got busted a couple of times, I think. Kevin’s a fast talker, though, and it didn’t hurt that he’s a partner at a big-name law firm with some real clout. Fabian, the guy who owned the club before Tiernan, just bought off the cops. Probably put a dozen of their kids through college, just in the years I worked there. But Tiernan refused to work that way.” The new owner had started putting the protection money into improvements in the club. And in the salaries of the dancers.
“So Lucien called in Conall.” Lochlann worked the fingers of one hand into Garrett’s curls and tipped his head back, eyeing his throat speculatively.
“Yeah.” Garrett sucked in a breath between clenched teeth as Lochlann’s hot, soft lips caressed his throat. He’d compared notes with Kevin and Josh, and the humans were all in agreement that Fae never let any business, other than the most serious, interrupt amorous play. They were also all in agreement that that tendency was one of their more attractive features, and one of their most frustrating. “He doesn’t know that’s who he’s calling when he trips the alarm, he thinks it only goes to Tiernan’s office. But Conall showed up right away, down in the cock pit where no one would pay any attention to one more naked guy, and glamoured the cop.” According to Conall, an undercover officer with a see-no-evil channeling on him could stand on the edge of the cock pit and look down, and be convinced he was seeing a dimly lit, semi-private lounging area, with tables set up for drinks and maybe a few guys getting hot and heavy outside the clothes. He could even walk down into the pit, but the channeling didn’t work against physical objects, and things could get interesting if a cop ever tripped over a twink giving a BJ or a writhing mass of leather boys spilling off a sofa. So far, that hadn’t happened.
“So then what happened?” Lochlann started nuzzling right below Garrett’s left ear, his breath warm, his tongue gentle and insistent.
Then I had to stop for a mind-blowing orgasm. Jesus Christ in a rickshaw. Garrett had to pause for a couple of deep breaths before he could go on. “About half an hour before closing, Detective Harding came in.” Purgatory was part of Russ Harding’s bailiwick, had been since just after Tiernan bought the place. and while the Man from V.I.C.E. gave Tiernan props for running what he’d been heard to call a ‘remarkably clean place, considering,’ he was convinced Purgatory was crossing a line somewhere, and that it was his mission to find the line.
Things would be slightly less awkward if he were wrong. Between the “official” goings-on in the cock pit, the occasional freelance ass-rental a few of the dancers still kept up in the dressing room, and the tendency of some of their wealthier and better-connected customers to tip the dancers in designer drugs, there was probably enough action on any given night to keep butch cop Russ Harding busy for a week.
“And Conall took care of him, too.” It wasn’t a question.
“Well… kind of.”
That, unfortunately, brought Lochlann’s head up. “What do you mean, ‘kind of’?”
“When Detective Harding strolled over to the cock pit, he saw Conall. And he saw all of Conall, if you take my meaning.”
“The illusion didn’t work?”
“Apparently not. Conall thinks he just got careless. As soon as Harding said something, Tiernan came up with a distraction, and held his attention long enough to let Conall conjure some clothes, but even that glimpse was enough to put a bug up the cop’s ass. “ Garrett grinned as one of Lochlann’s fingers slipped briefly past his tight entrance. “Brat. Anyway, he went on the prowl, and it became my job to get everyone in the cock pit disentangled, dressed, and on their way out the door before he started to look too closely. Not that he ever actually goes into the pit.”
“And that was your job why?” A frown line appeared between Lochlann’s dark brows.
Garrett nipped his Fae lover’s chin. “Because Tiernan was escorting Harding around and trying to distract him from what he wasn’t supposed to see without looking like he was distracting him, and Conall had his hands full keeping the channeling up given that Harding was acting especially snoopy. I could have used Mac’s help, at least with getting guys out the door without it looking like a scene from fucking Exodus, but his prosthesis was giving him grief early on and Tiernan sent him home.”

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New year, new series — here’s a bit (unedited, of course!) from tonight’s work on Chapter 3 of Blowing Smoke. The Broken Pattern books pick up at the end of Firestorm (SoulShares #4), and I suppose the series title is a tiny bit of  a spoiler…

“To what do I owe the pleasure, Twinklebritches? And aren’t you up early?”
“Who says I’ve been to bed?” Conall was out of breath, and a little hoarse.
“Well, I suppose it could have been the kitchen table, or the sofa, or the middle of the dining room floor, but my money’s on the bed.”
Rian appeared in the bedroom doorway, grinning broadly and then pantomiming the insertion of a ball gag. Cuinn waved him off.
“Shows what you know, we were up on the roof.” The mage sounded not the least bit apologetic–he had three hundred years of involuntary celibacy to make up for, and he didn’t really care who knew it. “But we came down because I noticed something I thought you and the Prince might like to know, and I needed my phone. Didn’t want to give you an inferiority complex by Fading in unannounced.”
Rian’s smirk was almost too much for Cuinn to bear. You’re begging for a paddling. The thought was accompanied by narrowed eyes and pursed lips, though a true pout was more than he could manage at the moment.
Shite, I thought I was going to have to engrave you an invitation.
“Don’t flatter yourself.” Cuinn’s comment to Conall was almost an afterthought.
He could almost hear the mage’s spring-green eyes rolling. “Look, I can always go back to what we were doing. Josh and I are learning yoga, and there are uses for a Sun Salutation undreamt of in your philosophy.” Low laughter sounded in the background; it always struck Cuinn as strange that the easy-going Josh took such delight in Conall’s randy nature. “But I just picked up on a disturbance in the Pattern, and you did say you wanted to know if that happened.”