Tag Archive: Fae


Enjoy this (completely unedited) excerpt from Chapter Two of my work-in-progress, tentatively entitled FLIGHT OF FANTASY!

Perry tried to relax back into the plastic chair. It wasn’t really made for relaxing in, though; the only way to sit in it was to slouch, in a posture that showed off a hell of a lot of leg and pretty much screamed fuck me.

A low chuckle came from across the tiny waiting area. A man who looked like Idris Elba’s younger brother was draped across an identical chair, right under the plasma screen that cycled through the price list for all the forms of massage theoretically offered at Big Boy Massage. Perry knew he could handle the shiatsu and could fake Thai, but in the unlikely event a client wanted anything else on the menu, he was screwed.

Which was, of course, the idea.

“You must be the new guy.” Idris Junior’s voice was even sexier than his smile. “Don’t worry, we don’t stay in the chairs long once things get busy.”

Perry nodded. “Boss explained the system to me yesterday when he hired me.” And what a job interview that had been, with Perry still kitted out as Falcon and carrying his stiletto heels because he hadn’t wanted to run up the stairs from Purgatory in them. “Three boys working at once, max, with the fourth out here to keep an eye on the screen.” Big Boy Massage had four small massage rooms opening off the waiting area, one for the boss’ exclusive use when he was around and three for business, two of which were presently occupied. And each of the massage tables had a kick switch built into one leg that would light up a telltale on the plasma screen if the masseur was in trouble with a client. Lochlann Doran wanted his boys to have each other’s backs.

Safety in numbers. That was how it was supposed to work, right?

Except when the one who has your back is a coward.

Long-Dark-and-Chiseled nodded, then treated Perry to the sight of a luxurious stretch, all the way from fingers interlaced overhead to bare toes pointed and curled hard, the mesh muscle shirt and leather shorts in between doing little to deter speculation about what lay beneath. And leaving Perry feeling decidedly underdeveloped by comparison. Though he doubted his companion could rock a mermaid hemline the way he himself could.

“Relax while you can, baby, pace yourself.” God, Perry could listen to that voice all night. “Something tells me it’s gonna be a long night–”

The street door opened, closed.

Sweet six-pound-nine-ounce baby Jesus.

Perry sat straight up in the loathsome plastic chair, ignoring the way his ass complained, and stared. The newly-arrived client had to be at least six-five. The first things he noticed were eyes that reminded him of pictures he’d seen of glacier ice, an uncanny shade of blue. Looking into those eyes felt like grabbing on to a bare electrical wire, and when the guy shifted his gaze to Idris the Younger, Perry wanted nothing more than to grab the wire again.
But at least now he could look at the rest of the guy without anyone noticing him going slack-jawed and stupid. The client–my client, please God, I promise to be good for as long as I can stand it, just let him pick me–had hair so blond it was almost white, just long enough to show a little wave, and wore a denim jacket over a plain faded blue t-shirt and cutoff shorts.

Now the Adonis in denim was studying the menu. Perry caught himself holding his breath.

“Do you do shiatsu?”

He’s looking at me.

“Sure do.”

The blond’s smile, and his trace of an Irish accent, combined to make Perry’s shorts feel much too tight. “Anything else?”

“We can talk about that once we get started.” The standard answer. Letting a john comparison shop in the lobby used up valuable time. Besides, Perry wanted to whisper the specials into this guy’s ear.

“Sounds good to me.”

Perry unfolded himself from the torture chair, and grinned as his co-worker gave him a surreptitious thumbs-up. Don’t wait up, he wanted to say.

He turned to oh my GOD he’s tall. His own five-eight was just right for Falcon’s five-inch stilettos, but looking up at six-five without them was going to give him a pain in the neck.

Good thing he wouldn’t be looking up much longer. Unless it was while he was lying on his back. That he could handle.



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?

Happy Prideanniverthday!



This weekend hits a lovely trifecta — it’s Pride weekend, and tomorrow (June 28th) is both my birthday and the second anniversary of the day I signed the contract for my first books, the SoulShares series (featuring the exquisite Tiernan Guaire, pictured above.) To celebrate, I’m offering y’all, in a very hobbit-y fashion, presentses! — an (unedited) excerpt from Blowing Smoke, the fifth Fae novel and the first in the Broken Pattern series, and a giveaway. Comment below with your e-mail address by 8:00 p.m. Central time on Sunday, June 29th for a chance to win YOUR CHOICE of: (1) an autographed paperback of your choice of any one of the SoulShares novels (Hard as Stone, Gale Force, Deep Plunge, and Firestorm), (2) Kindle copies of both Tales of the Grove novellas (Heart of the Oak and Tempted from the Oak), or (3) an autographed (by me) copy of the lovely picture above, drawn for me at ComicCon Minneapolis by the amazing Mike Grell).

Happy Pride! And it’s been an amazing couple of years, and I’m looking forward to many more!


Excerpt from Blowing Smoke, Chapter Two:

It took a while to get up all the glass slivers, find the mop, and mop the floor, but it was time well spent. Ever since coming home to the stench it had cost him five grand to get rid of, Bryce had a horror of having anything around the apartment that might smell.

He stowed the mop back in its cupboard. There was a place for everything, and everything in its place, especially in a little New York apartment.

Of course, he’d been that way for a long time. His grandfather had moved in with them when he was seven, after his first stroke, and overnight his room had become the one place where he’d been able to have things the way he wanted. Most of the time, anyway.

He limped back to the table, nursing a bruise on his hip where he’d fallen against the counter. Funny how he’d never managed to pair up with a man as fastidious as he was. Or even close. Aren’t we all supposed to be fussy? He usually drove most of the men he picked up, or who latched on to him, completely bugfuck crazy in the space of a few days.

Terry hadn’t minded, though. He’d been perfectly happy to let Bryce be Bryce, all the while scattering costume sketches and leotards and water bottles and leg warmers everywhere. On purpose, sometimes, he suspected. There had been one time, when Bryce had started to pre-heat the oven for coq au vin, and the strange smell that had filled the apartment had turned out to be roasted ballet slipper.

Bryce’s throat felt tight. He tried so damned hard to drag me out of myself. Drag my head out of my ass. Why the hell did I throw him out? He still couldn’t remember, even after almost a year. He’d asked Terry, but Terry hadn’t wanted to talk about it. Bryce supposed he wouldn’t, either, under the circumstances, but it still would have been nice to know, to get back some of those lost memories, even second-hand. Even painful ones.

Painful? Who am I kidding? I’m a dick. I probably laughed when I did it. Though he couldn’t have treated Terry any worse than he’d treated the parade of men who had followed him–

Bryce froze. What was that?

A barely audible sound, but he realized it had been there, on the very edge of his hearing, for a while. A soft whimpering. And, just as he started giving the sound his full attention, a tiny howl.

What the hell? The guy on the second floor, whose name Bryce had never bothered to ask, had a Rottweiler, but it had a bark like you’d expect from a monster that size and he’d never heard it whimper or howl. Besides, the noise sounded like it was coming from downstairs, not upstairs.

Fucking wonderful, an animal of some kind trapped in the basement. The landlord had a strict policy, all vermin were supposed to be reported to him so he could take care of them before the city caught wind of any problem. Not that Bryce gave a shit about anyone’s policy, but having someone other than him take care of rodents in the basement was his idea of common sense.

Another faint howl.

Rats don’t howl.

No, but dogs did. Bryce hated dogs. Not just Cujo upstairs, he’d hated them all as long as he could remember. His grandfather had kept mastiffs, before his stroke, and Bryce had been about four years old the day one of them had run him down on the front lawn until he tripped and fell, and had gone for his throat. He’d pissed himself from fear before his grandfather called the dog off. His mother had demanded the dog be put down, his grandfather had laughed, and dear Daddy had taken a belt to him for wrecking his new trousers.

The howl didn’t sound like a mastiff, though. Not even close.

I should at least find out what it is.

Bryce methodically unlocked all the locks on the front door, turning the second deadbolt on his way out so the door wouldn’t lock behind him and leave him in the foyer in his underwear. The door to the basement was closed, but not locked; he let himself in and left the door ajar.

The whimpering continued. Bryce reached around the doorjamb and fumbled for the light switch. The light didn’t stop the sound, either. Frowning, he bent to peer down the stairs.

A man lay unmoving on the grey cement of the basement floor. A man with long blond hair curling in soft waves around his face and an amazing body in what looked like someone’s idea of a Ren Faire costume, dark green. Wrapped around in silver chains, so tightly he wouldn’t have been able to move even if he’d been awake, and the linen charred where the chains touched it. And a whisker-faced brown and grey puppy lay on the man’s chest, sprawled out on its side, shivering, its belly rising and falling with rapid panting breaths.

Bryce took a few steps down the stairs. The pup stirred, raised its head maybe an inch, and howled. Not really a howl, more like a pitiful wail. Then it turned away from him, nosing at the man, crying.

He was confused as fuck, and he didn’t like the feeling. What the hell was going on with the man? He tried to imagine some combination of circumstances that could have ended with a Robin Hood type–a fucking gorgeous Robin Hood type, probably a model, just the kind to put a tent in his shorts under other, less bizarre circumstances–chained up in his basement. Unconscious. Smelling of smoke. With a dog. He came up blank.

Great, now the puppy was looking at him. There was something strange about its eyes, he could see that even from this distance. It was having trouble holding its head up, too, he thought.

What the hell am I supposed to do about this? About a dog he was supposed to hate, and a man he was supposed to… well, what? Catch and release?

One thing, at least, was clear. Bryce owed the intruders as much as he’d ever owed anyone else.


Clear, right?




This summer is a little unusual for me. For the first time in a couple of years, I’m taking just a little bit of a writing vacation. Well, technically, I suppose it’s more like a “staycation” – the only immediate things on my plate are a short story with an August 1 deadline and prep for a couple of blog tours later in the summer. I need the breather, as I’m also getting ready to move (pretty much all through the month of July).

Plus, I just passed through a very unpleasant time in my writing life. I hesitate to call it “writer’s block,” because it wasn’t, really. The ideas were all there, I knew where the story had to go, I loved the characters (yes, even Bryce). But writing was almost physically painful. The only physical analogy I’ve ever come across that kind of gets the feeling across is an unfortunately crude one – dry-humping. An activity that’s supposed to be exquisitely pleasureable, that you remember as being exquisitely pleasureable, yet it’s somehow reduced to sheer effort and a lot of pain.

How did I get to this point? I didn’t realize it while I was in the middle of the desert, but basically, I let being a writer pull me away from writing.

It all started innocently enough. I was writing merrily away on my fifth Fae novel, the first in a new series for Ellora’s Cave, but growing out of the SoulShares series. And I started getting a little hung up on finding the right balance between explaining references to the original series and moving forward with the new story. Then I started noticing all the articles and blogs and links on “the craft of writing.”  I saw articles posted by all kinds of helpful people and pages on structuring your story, outlining, research. The appropriate ratio of explicit content to non-explicit content. The story arc of a romance. Tension between the protagonist and the antagonist. Tropes we love. Tropes we hate.

And just as I was pretty sure I’d never written anything correctly in my life, I found help with…  marketing. How to tweet to best advantage – when to favorite, when to retweet, how to create an attention-grabbing profile page, making the hashtag your friend. How to leverage LinkedIn and Google+. Getting the most exposure for your YouTube channel. Building buzz on Goodreads. Optimizing your Amazon footprint to take advantage of its recommendation algorithms. Maximizing my Pinning so as to reach my target audience. (I do have a Pinterest account, born of a night of too much champagne and quite a bit of unfounded optimism… I don’t even remember the password, much less how to pin anything – sorry to disappoint all of you who have started following me there!)

And I wasn’t doing any of that stuff.

And then came… the phone call from my mother. “So how are your sales doing, sweetheart?”

Crash. Burn. Ouch.

*insert uncontrollable sobbing here*

Bottom line, I got completely sucked into other people’s ideas of the “how” of writing, and completely lost my own sense of the “why”. I write because I love it. I never expected to be published; I was lucky enough to be noticed by an editor who loved what I was doing, and I continue to be lucky enough to work with editors who love what I write and help me make it even better. When I forget that, when I stop concentrating on my writing (and, okay, on conventions, I love conventions, I could live at conventions and be completely happy), when I fixate on mastering social media technology and maximizing online presence…. on selling books, instead of writing them, the joy goes out of it. And I need the joy, to make the rest of it work.

I have it back now, by the way. The joy. Rory’s got her groove back. *winks* Wait till you see this story. Hint:  shifters. Yes, shifters. Gotta run, time to write…


I had an amazing day today — I took my son to Wizard World’s ComicCon, where we went to a talk by William Shatner, and one by Nathan Fillion (I love you even more now, Captain Mal!) and Adam Baldwin. AND… after 30 years, reconnected with Mike Grell, one of the best comic book artists in the business and the gent who hooked me up with DC Comics, well, 30 years ago. I was stunned when he remembered me, after all this time, and thrilled when he agreed to do a sketch of Tiernan Guaire for me. Now, I need to be able to see my characters as I write, so I have painstakingly-collected photos that serve as my inspiration for all of them. But this…. this IS Tiernan. Right down to the crystal hand, the one he lost saving Kevin from the Marfach. Kevin, incidentally, is one insanely lucky man. I hope you enjoy Tiernan as much as I do…. thank you, Mike!



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.




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 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.

Josh66Happy Valentine’s Day to all, from the Fae and humans of the Demesne of Purgatory. *winks* May your celebrations be as joyous as the boys’!

              Josh tugged at the door, making sure it was locked. No sense staying open late tonight—he’d decided that last night, watching the snow fall and listening to the wind. Which hadn’t a bad thing to do while wrapped up in Conall, but he’d realized that no one with any sense was going to be going anywhere for a while. He’d only had one client booked for tonight, anyway, and the guy was just as happy to cancel.

                He could see the dim light from the window of Big Boy Massage, next door. They were still open, and no doubt catering to the lonely hearts – and other parts – of those Washingtonians not lucky enough to have a date for Valentine’s Day. He was pretty sure, however, that the owner was already home, observing the holiday with Garrett.

                And soon he’d be home himself. He had to step over a pile of snow to get to the door leading up to the apartments over Purgatory, but it was still a damn short commute. He took the stairs two at a time, grinning. All thoughts of ice and snow were soon going to vanish.

                He knocked to deactivate the ward Conall had put on the door, and opened the door. A wave of incredible, amazing, mouth-watering scent instantly washed over him, leaving him dizzy and remembering he hadn’t eaten since breakfast.

                What the hell? Conall didn’t cook, though he was a great one for ordering out. But this was no take-out smell.

                Conall appeared in the kitchen doorway, a pink ruffled apron over his usual jeans. “You’re a little early, dar’cion.” His smile, as always, left Josh feeling weak in the knees. “But that’s all right, dinner is too.”

                Bemused, Josh let Conall lead him to their tiny dining table and pull out a chair. A wave of the mage’s hand lit candles, and another dimmed the lights.

                “D’orant, you didn’t have to go to all this trouble!” He craned his neck, trying in vain to see into the kitchen. “How did you find a place that would deliver today? In all this snow?”

                “Bite your tongue. Or better yet, let me. But not until you’ve had dinner.”  Conall bent and brushed a kiss across Josh’s cheek, then disappeared into the kitchen before Josh could so much as take his hand to pull him in for more.

                Josh glanced around, as clanking sounds came from the kitchen. “There’s only one place set.”

                “Nothing gets by you.” Light Fae laughter floated in from the kitchen, followed by the laughing Fae, carrying a small plate. He set it down in front of Josh, with a flourish.

                Josh stared down at three scallops, seared golden on their tops, on a bed of saffron rice, drizzled with a rich golden sauce and garnished with what looked like mint leaves.  “You… made this?”

                “I did. And you might want to start eating, it’s much better hot.”

                Conall vanished back into the kitchen, and Josh did as he was told, groaning as the sweet scallop melted in his mouth. My mouth has died and gone to Heaven.

                He heard chopping sounds coming from the kitchen as he polished the plate with the last of the rice. This time when Conall emerged, he was carrying a salad plate, piled with arugula and green-skinned apples and fennel, sprinkled with walnuts and smelling something like… gin? Crushed juniper berries, good Lord. “Conall…”

                This time a hand rested on the back of his neck as Conall set the salad plate down, and Josh’s skin tingled at the touch. As always. His hand was unsteady as he picked up the second fork. “Where in God’s name did you get juniper berries in a blizzard?”

                Again the light laughter. “I cheated a little and made them myself. Took a few tries to get the flavor right.”

                Josh couldn’t keep back his own laughter, at the thought of the mightiest mage in two worlds, standing at the kitchen counter, creating strange-tasting juniper berries out of nothing. Obedient to Conall’s gesture, he forked a bite of the salad and fought to keep his eyes from rolling back in his head.

                Conall smacked his forehead with the heel of his hand. “I can’t believe I forgot the wine.” Once again he hurried into the kitchen; the refrigerator door opened and closed, glass clinked, and he re-emerged with a bottle of white wine – and, Josh noted with relief, two glasses.

                “I have no idea if this even goes with seafood.” Conall set the glasses down and concentrated until the cork popped free. “I know nothing about wine. Human wine, anyway. I could tell you a thing or two about Fae vintages—“

                “Conall.”  Josh caught at his partner’s wrist, his hand making it look slight. “What else are you dishing up tonight?”

                The red-blond Fae colored slightly. “Lobster Newburg, when you’re done with the salad. Dessert’s not really fancy, it’s tiramisu—“

                “My favorite.” Josh set the fork down firmly and looked up into Conall’s bright green eyes. “D’orant, where did you learn… all this?”

                Conall worried his lip between his teeth for a second before answering. “In the Realm. Cooking, there, is something Fae usually do by hand only when there are a lot of mouths to be fed. A feast, or the dining room in a public house. It’s easier to do it with magick, and the results are limited only by a Fae’s imagination.”

                Josh detected a quiver in Conall’s voice. “Should I not have asked?”

                “No, no, it’s all right.” Conall’s slender fingers played with one of the ruffles on his apron. “I never dared to cook that way.”

                Of course not. Conall’s channeling ability was so strong, the slightest use of it in the realm had sucked the life from everything around him.

                “So…” Conall sighed. “I got very, very good at this kind of cooking. And I haven’t done it since I came here because…” He swallowed hard. “It reminds me of how alone I was, for so long.”

                “Oh, God.” Josh pushed back from the table just enough to let him draw Conall onto his lap. “Baby, you didn’t have to do this for me.” He placed a kiss in the shell of his partner’s ear. He’d felt funny calling Conall ‘baby’ at first. But the Fae enjoyed it, so Josh had gotten over it.

                “Yes, I did. Today, I had to.”

                “Why today? Just because it’s Valentine’s Day?”

                Conall took such a long time to answer that Josh started to wonder if he was going to.  And when he finally spoke, his voice was soft, unsteady. “Cuinn calls me a horndog, when he’s not calling me Twinklebritches. And he’s right. But you and I know why he’s right.”

                “So does Cuinn,” Josh growled. The other Fae knew perfectly well that before being exiled to the human world, Conall had never dared let another Fae touch him for pleasure, or for love, for fear of what his unleashed, unchecked magick might do. Not in three hundred years. It made Josh’s heart hurt, just thinking about it.

                Conall nodded. “I’m not apologizing for it. But it seems to me…” Another long pause. “It seems to me that every time I try to tell you, or show you, how much I love you, the horndog comes out, and it ends up more like’ ‘I lust you.’”

                The Fae turned, an effervescent tear making its way down his cheek before evaporating. “I thought maybe that if I tried to say it this way, it would come out the way I wanted it to for once.”

                Josh closed his arms around Conall, drawing his lover into a tight embrace. “Oh, baby, oh love.” He whispered, murmured, kissing Conall’s ear. “D’orant.” ‘Impossible’… hell yes, it was impossible that he held a male like this in his arms. “You say it every time you look at me. Every time you touch me. Every time you walk in my dreams and I wake up wrapped around you.”

                Conall pulled back a little, and looked into Josh’s eyes, as if trying to read his mind. “I want to say it this way, too.” Slowly, he smiled, the smile that never failed to make Josh’s heart race. “I love you. And I’m going to feed you until you can’t move, and then I’m going to have my way with you.”

                “It’ll be my way, too, baby. I promise you that.”

As part of the festivities during launch weekend for Deep Plunge, Erin Kelley at The Lurker invited me to ruminate about where the SoulShares series started, where it is, where it’s going, and what I think The Meaning Of It All is. I had some fun with the project — so I thought I’d share it with you, with Erin’s kind permission!

Lurker Spotlight — September 1, 2013

Thanks for having me here to talk about the SoulShares, Erin! – I don’t really want to give away any spoilers, for people who haven’t read one, or two, or all three of the books that are out so far (though, really, what are you waiting for? – this post will still be here after you go to Amazon! *winks*) So I’ll summarize the books, but I thought I’d spend more of my time talking about how my Fae came to be, how they evolved, and what I think they’re trying to say through me.

Hard as Stone: Tiernan Guaire is a Fae in exile. Forced from the Realm into the human world for the unimaginable crime of a brother’s murder, he lives by a century-old vow, to trust no one, and never to allow himself to love or be loved. Kevin Almstead has just lost his future, to a vote of the partners at his law firm. Trying to escape for an evening, he ventures into Purgatory, the hottest all-male nightclub in Washington, D.C., where he allows himself to be seduced by a stranger with long blond hair and ice-blue eyes. Drawn into a Soulshare bond with his intended one-night stand, Tiernan soon learns that the most ancient and evil enemy of the Fae still walks the human world, and it will stop at nothing – certainly not Kevin Almstead – to possess the magick of a Noble Fae.

The Fae – MY Fae, anyway – were born on Facebook. I wrote up a Fae character for roleplay, and being the attention-to-detail sort that I am, I wrote a whole back-story for him. Where he came from, what he was doing in the human world, and so on. I’ve loved Irish legend and lore ever since I was old enough to read (which is a VERY long time), so I’m well acquainted with the Fae of Irish legend. Mine… aren’t quite those Fae. I played with the idea, had fun with it, changed a few of the basic assumptions just to see what kind of changes that might make in my character. I’m a great believer in creating a detailed and realistic world for my characters to play in, and letting it shape them. Then I entered a short-story contest that I couldn’t use my original Fae for, because of the theme of the competition, so Tiernan and Kevin were born. And the month after that contest’s deadline was NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writers’ Month, where you’re challenged to write 50,000 words in a month. I used the short story as the core of my project… which became HARD AS STONE.

Gale Force: Conall Dary is the most powerful mage born to the Fae race since the Realm was parted from the human world, over two thousand years ago. But that power condemns him to a lifetime of celibacy, because sex calls to power, and he has power enough to drain a world. When he refuses to use his talents for a Noble lady’s petty revenge, he finds himself shanghaied to the human world, his soul torn in half and his magick blocked. Josh LaFontaine is the beautifully inked owner of Raging Art-On, a Washington, D.C. tattoo and piercing parlor. While taking part in New York City’s Pride march, his world changes forever when the man of his dreams materializes at his feet. Josh’s sensual and loving touch, the first Conall has ever known, may be enough to give him back the magick he’s lost. But before they can complete their Soulshare, a terrible accident leaves Conall bodiless, lost, and invisible, to everyone except – maybe – the human with whom he shares a soul. But Josh will need to find him before the ancient evil of the Marfach does or everything they have – and more – will be lost.

I was stunned, to put it mildly, when I was offered a four-book contract by Ravenous Romance after they saw the first chapters of HARD AS STONE. I’d been prepared for years of slogging from one agent to the next, collecting rejection letters, the ‘normal’ author’s life. Now, all of a sudden, I had a ginormous playground I was responsible for filling up. ‘Terrified at the prospect’ sums up how I felt, pretty well. So I was pleasantly surprised when the stories didn’t stop coming. Conall and Josh had a compelling story to tell, so I sat down and started writing it. As I wrote, though, the story grew, and changed, the way all living things do, and I found myself in the position of wishing I’d built a better foundation for a few things in the first book. (This is not a problem that has gone away – while I was working on DEEP PLUNGE, I got myself a tattoo for a Mother’s Day gift, and spent the whole two and a half hours quizzing my artist about the ins and outs of tattooing. I would do a MUCH better job with Josh now. Did I mention my attention-to-detail personality?) And keeping track of who knew what about whom when caused me more than a few headaches. I would love a chance to go back through the first few books and re-write them. Maybe someday… And I started discovering all the additional things that come along with being a Published Author. Like the utter lack of time for anything other than working, eating, sleeping, and writing, not necessarily in that order. They say it’s essential to writing to read everything you can get your hands on — I’ve had to learn to keep my darn hands to myself. If I’m REALLY lucky, I can steal five or ten minutes before bed to read, but I don’t get lucky very often. I miss it…!

Deep Plunge: For the last six hundred years or so, the only things reminding Lochlann Doran he’s a Fae have been his faceted aquamarine eyes and the fact that he can’t die. He’s been a wanderer for so long in the human world – over two thousand years – that he’s lost his magick, including the gift of healing that goes along with being a Fae of the Demesne of Water. Finding his SoulShare might get it back for him. But it might kill him, too. Garrett Templar has been living on borrowed time, in a sense, since he was eighteen, when one of the johns he entertained to pay the bills while he danced at Purgatory infected him with HIV. It was always supposed to be a “manageable” disease, though, at least until a cure was found. Except he’s just found out that the virus in his system has inexplicably mutated into full-blown AIDS, and no known drug cocktail can even slow it down.  And when Lochlann and Garrett find each other at last, on Purgatory’s dance floor, the only thing as urgent as their need for one another is the hunger of an ancient evil to do whatever is necessary to possess Lochlann’s magick…

When I first started writing the SoulShares, back in the fall of 2011, I wasn’t thinking at all in terms of a message or a theme. There were people in my head, Fae people and human people, who wanted their stories told, and that was about it. That’s changed, the more I write. The first notion I had of a “theme” dawned on me when a gay friend of mine, who I’ve known for something like 25 years and who is the only person I know I would trust to “fact-check” my erotic scenes, responded to my first draft with “Have you been a gay man in drag all these years, and I just never knew?” I love being able to write gay romance, and erotic fiction, in a way that I hope says something to the rest of the world about how love is love, period. When my Facebook banner is done, it’s going to have a motto on it: “Many Fantasies… One Love.” And the other theme that’s come to mean a lot to me in these books started by accident. (Except that there’s no such thing as accident, really.) The first incident of what I’ve come to call “SoulShare joy” just sort of happened, between Tiernan and Kevin, but it’s become a hallmark of all the erotic scenes in all the books.  Love and delight, love and laughter go hand in hand, and even the hottest sex imaginable is heightened by joy. And as long as I still have anything to say on those themes, there will be Fae, and there will be SoulShares.

Thank you for having me, Erin! – and you can find all my books (including several anthologies I have stories in that I didn’t mention here) on my Amazon Author page, at


Watch this space…

Several readers have offered me suggestions on my Facebook page for short short stories. The challenge was “give me any two characters from the SoulShares, and any object. And I’ll write a story around them.” The first is in progress… watch this space for Tiernan, Kevin… and a puppy. *grinning*

An all-new, original short short story with Kevin and Tiernan, and their first Valentine’s Day as husband and husband. Enjoy! (And please be aware, this being Tiernan, and this being Kevin, it’s going to be a very HOT Valentine’s Day…)  And don’t forget, GALE FORCE, with more of Kevin and Tiernan as well as a new pair of Soulshares, will be available on March 12!)


Kevin eyed the plastic cup in his hand speculatively. Well, kind of a cup. A hollow hand grenade. And the bartender was watching him with an ill-concealed grin. Maybe I shouldn’t have admitted it’s my first time in New Orleans. Off to one side, the house band on the small stage was rocking out a zydeco song about what girls in the bayou they will do, won’t do.

Strange choice for Valentine’s Day. But, then, so was the Funky Pirate. Sighing, Kevin raised the cup, saluted the bartender, and took a healthy swig. Then, slowly, he set the cup back down on the bar, fighting the urge to cough. Holy shit.

The bartender laughed. “You let me know when you want another one.”

He moved off down the bar, stopping in front of what looked like a group of friends of the band, and Kevin’s gaze wandered. The front door of the bar stood open, and looked out onto the famous Bourbon Street. The street was closed to traffic, and was fairly crowded with pedestrians, most of them probably bar-hopping, carrying their take-away cups from one bar to the next. Probably nothing like it had been a few days ago, though.

The firm couldn’t have sent me here for Mardi Gras, no, they had to wait for Valentine’s Day. Kevin grimaced and had another go at the cup of death and delirium in his hand. Just let me get this down and I swear I’ll go back to civilized drinks. Nothing wrong with Jack and coke.

Nothing except the fact that he’d be drinking it alone. Damn, he missed Tiernan. Which was silly, because he’d be home in a couple of days. But he’d been looking forward to this Valentine’s Day, the first of his married life.

Almost on the thought, there was a pleasant buzz in his pocket. He pulled out his phone, saw the familiar number, and grinned as he slid the toggle to unlock the screen. “Hey, lanan.” He slipped off the barstool and looked quickly around; the Funky Pirate had a back courtyard, and he headed for it, phone in one hand and drink in the other.

“Hey, bodelafint.”

Kevin felt his cheeks flush even as he grinned. Only a Fae would turn ‘Elephant Dick’ into an endearment. “Are you at work?” He sighed with relief as he escaped into the courtyard; there was hardly anyone out here, and even though the music inside was being piped outside, it was a hell of a lot easier to hear.

“Hell, yes. Though I don’t know why, it’s not like there’s anything for me to do here.” Kevin thought he could hear the pounding bass of Purgatory’s sound system behind his husband’s voice. “Where are you? I hear music.”

“I thought I’d try the Funky Pirate. Great music, lethal drinks. I’m out in the courtyard now, though.” Kevin tried another pull at the oddly shaped glass, and this time there was no reason not to cough.

Tiernan’s laugh was pure wickedness. “You’re trying a hand grenade? When I’m not there to take advantage of you afterward?”

“You know the place?” A small staircase in a corner of the courtyard led up to a second story that was gated off; Kevin crossed to it and sat down on the stairs, balancing his drink on his knee.

“Yeah, I’ve been there a few times. I like the music. Though Bourbon Street Blues Company’s better for picking up guys.”

“Happy Valentine’s Day to you, too.” Kevin chuckled, but there was frustration in the sound. “I’d rather be at home right now. Especially considering that I wanted to dress to suit the day, but I don’t own anything pink, and the only red item of clothing I have is my red silk tie.” The tie that was his private signal to his husband that he was in the mood for breath play. Which he was. Damn.

“You don’t say.” The words were slow, drawn-out, and followed by a long silence. Then, just as Kevin was about to ask if the Fae was still there, “You say you’re in the courtyard?”

“Yes.” Puzzled, Kevin took another drink, held the peculiar glass between his knees, and rubbed the back of his neck.

“Send me a picture.”

“Of me?” I am so not unconfused.

Another low chuckle. “No. Of the courtyard. That back corner, by the steps.”

Kevin opened his mouth to ask how Tiernan knew the layout of the courtyard, but one glance at the corner beside where he sat answered that question very nicely, supplying him with all sorts of images of his husband putting the semi-privacy to thorough use with a woman, women, a man, men… All of which thoughts were making him horny as hell. “Hang on.”

Switching the phone to camera setting, he snapped a shot of the corner and texted it off, then returned the phone to his ear. “Was that what you wanted, m’lanan?”

“That was fucking perfect.”

Tiernan’s reply wasn’t coming from the phone.

Kevin’s head snapped around, and his eyes went wide at the sight of the Fae, shirtless under a denim jacket, in jeans so tight they looked like they’d been tattooed on, blond hair curling around his shoulders. And wearing a smirk that brought the lawyer’s cock to instant and rigid attention.

“I needed the reminder.” Then, in a murmur that should have sent up tendrils of smoke, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

“Holy shit.” Kevin slammed down the last of his hand grenade, let the cup fall to the ground, and surged to his feet, to be caught up in Tiernan’s arms and turned and pushed back against the vine-covered brickwork, where the Fae’s mouth came down on his in a kiss that left him dizzy.

He felt one of Tiernan’s hands sliding up between their bodies, out of sight; long, strong fingers closed around his tie and slid up the silken length to fist just below the knot. “You weren’t kidding, I see.” Faceted ice-blue eyes held him spellbound, as his husband’s other hand undid his belt buckle, unbuttoned his trousers, and slipped inside to curl around his shaft. “Hold very still, lanan, and let me show you how much I’ve missed you.”

The only answer Kevin could manage was a faint moan, one that Tiernan kissed away before starting to twist the silken tie tight. Kevin’s pulse was like thunder in his ears; his breath came in soft, rapid pants against Tiernan’s lips, and his hips made little, tight jerks of their own volition as his cock was firmly, insistently stroked.

“You are so incredibly fucking hot.” He could feel Tiernan’s lips moving, breathed in his words, and shuddered in ecstasy from his touch. “I can’t get enough of you.” The Fae’s hot tongue traced a path back to his ear, probed; teeth nipped, and the tongue soothed. “Are you close? Are you ready?”

Kevin tried, and failed, to get a breath. And the failure sent liquid heat racing down his spine, to pool in his sac. He felt Tiernan’s hand tighten in anticipation – both hands, the hand twisting the tie as well as the exquisite vise around his cock. He had no voice to whisper with, all he could do was move his lips. “…don’t let me fall…”

Tiernan leaned into him, pinning him to the wall, as his knees buckled with the first thick white jet of his release. His eyes threatened to roll back, his hips jerked forward; darkness started closing in, his vision becoming a tunnel. Tiernan’s hand became slick, and the Fae was moaning now, too, along with him, with every pulse of hot fluid that welled up and spilled over.

And the joy. Oh, Christ, the joy. Pure bliss, the delight of being held, pleasured, cherished.

Scair-anam,” he whispered, as the last wave of pleasure rippled through his body.

Opening eyes he hadn’t realized he’d closed, he saw his husband nod. “So fucking beautiful you stop my heart.” Tiernan’s lips parted, he leaned in, in a kiss that was as close to gentle as he ever came. “I love you, m’lanan.”

And before Kevin could answer, the faceted blue of the Fae’s eyes heated with a smile. “Let’s go back to your hotel room so I can do it some more.”