Tag Archive: Raging Art-On


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?

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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.”

Today is Release Day for GALE FORCE, the second Soulshares novel! Josh LaFontaine is the gorgeously self-inked owner of Raging Art-On, the tattoo and piercing parlor that occupies one of the storefronts over Tiernan Guaire’s Purgatory. When the man of his dreams literally falls at his feet, during the Pride march in Greenwich Village, he finds his life — his soul — entangled with Conall Dary, the greatest Fae mage in over two thousand years.  Conall has lost his magick, and before Josh can help him restore it, he suffers a terrible accident. And only Josh stands any chance of finding him before the Marfach — the ancient, implacable enemy of the Fae race — finds him, turns him, and ends him.

Buy it on Amazon  http://www.amazon.com/Gale-Force-Soulshares-ebook/dp/B00BSEDKB8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363057355&sr=8-1&keywords=Gale+Force+Rory+Ni+Coileain or All Romance eBooks https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-galeforce-1115136-140.html or straight from the publisher, Ravenous Romance http://www.ravenousromance.com/fantastica/gale-force.php! (And if you haven’t read the first book in the series, HARD AS STONE, you can pick that up at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Hard-as-Stone-ebook/dp/B009SX91JQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363060233&sr=8-1&keywords=rory+ni+coileain)

 

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