Tag Archive: Trevor MacLeod


QueerSciFi Holiday Blog Hop

Xmas Logo

QueerSciFi is running our first ever holiday blog hop. Our members will be sharing a number of our great holiday-themed titles on their blogs – it’s a great way to find speculative-fiction themed LGBT holiday books! We’ve included buy links for each of the books below – books are listed in alphabetical order by title. Happy Holidays!


candleinthedarkCandle in the Dark Anthology
Author: Various
Price: $5.00 eBook / $10.00 Paperback

Summary: In almost all traditions, winter has been a time to huddle around the fire and be thankful for those the fire is shared with. The holidays grew out of a need to celebrate that time, from Christmas to Chanukah to Solstice. The longest night of the year has always held some special mystery, and we’re proud to present you with several stories of how those mysteries bear fruit. In the first story, Patrick receives a mysterious invitation to dine at the most exclusive restaurant for men. His server, Gio, encourages him to Savor the experience…

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER | AMAZON | ALL ROMANCE


christmascactusforthegeneralA Christmas Cactus for the General
Author: Angel Martinez
Price: $3.99 eBook

Summary: Exiled to Earth for perhaps the worst failure in Irasolan history, General Teer must assimilate or die. Earth is too warm, too wet, too foreign, but he does the best he can even though human males are loud, childish louts whom he can’t imitate successfully. When a grieving seaplane pilot strikes up a strange and uneasy friendship with him, he finds he may have been too quick to judge human males. They are strange to look at, but perhaps not as unbearable as he thought.

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER | AMAZON | ALL ROMANCE | APPLE | KOBO


darkestmidnightindecemberThe Darkest Midnight in December
Author: Jana Denardo
Price: $3.99 eBook

Summary: The year is 1930, and something is hunting infants and young couples in Economy Village, PA. When a local priest begins to suspect a demon may be the culprit, the sheriff calls in a team of Soldiers of the Sun. Caleb, Agni, Temple, and Li specialize in demon hunting, but they can’t rule out an old religious sect as the true culprit. Prejudice, distraught parents, and angry townspeople don’t make the team’s job any easier. And if something goes wrong, their own their own, because by the time their backup arrives, it will be too late.

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER | AMAZON | ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS


FruitcakesFruitcakes
Author: Renee George
Price: $1.99 eBook

Summary: Losing your boyfriend because you see monsters…not good. Getting locked up in the local mental hospital because you accused your boss of being an actual ogre…also not good. Falling for your crazy roommate, who thinks he’s one of Santa’s elves…so not good! Or is it? Come along for a sexy ride as Donner and Bran try to escape the locked ward before Christmas Eve so Bran doesn’t lose the only job important to him. USA Today Bestselling author Renee George pens a laugh-out-loud MM Fairytale Christmas…Nuts included!

Buy Links:

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | APPLE | KOBO


holidaylightsHoliday Lights
Author: Jana Denardo
Price: Free

Summary: Aaron asks Rhys for some help with putting up the tree and finalizing their holiday plans, even though he knows Rhys will have something to say about all of Aaron’s geeky ornaments. Rhys puts his own special touches on the holiday decorating as only a fae could.

Buy Links:

LIVE JOURNAL


ilyaandthewolfIlya and the Wolf
Author: Rory Ni Coileain
Price: $1.99 eBook

Summary: Ilya, the youngest son of a Moscow oligarch, is so deep in the closet he’d find Narnia if that weren’t a decadent Western story. On Christmas Eve, his brothers lure him into the forest, intending to murder him and erase the shame he inflicts on their family by existing. However, the attempt is interrupted by Volyk, a wolf who carries the blood of the ancient oboroten’ —shapeshifters. Ilya never imagined a Christmas gift like the handsome wolf, but accepting what Volyk offers will have consequences that change both of their lives forever.

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE


Lion's HeroLion’s Hero
Author: Alexis Woods
Price: $.99 eBook

Summary: Eight nights to fall in love.

Ari has a mission: meet and fall in love with a man chosen for him by God. The catch: he only has eight nights to complete it—the eight nights of Chanukah

Gabriel has a test of faith. Reaching out to a young man, he finds himself confronted with the unbelievable. Believe, and the Festival of Lights may herald a miracle.

Buy Links:

AMAZON | ALL ROMANCE | BARNES & NOBLE


lovingblitzLoving Blitz
Author: Charlie Cochet
Price: $3.99 eBook

Summary: From North Pole City to Winter Wonderland, preparations are underway after a royal announcement sweeps everyone into a frenzy of festivity. At the heart of the celebration are the city’s most beloved elf pilots, the Rein Dears. Once the Big Flight is behind them, the pilots prepare for the royal event. Assigned a special task of finding an Elska rose, Cupid and Blitzen are unaware of how their friendship is about to change forever.

Yet not all that glitters is gold. The sweet, angelic Cupid hides a dark secret, one that threatens to destroy his Rein Dear status, his friends, and the elf who’s captured his heart. It’s up to Blitzen to help Cupid see the light in the darkness and show him that together they can mend broken hearts.

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER


The Magic of ChristmasThe Magic of Christmas
Author: Pelaam
Price: $2.99 eBook

Summary: Jared joins his four best friends on an early Christmas holiday in a beautiful winter wonderland. He’s been in love with the talented and extroverted Casey for years, but lacked the courage to say anything. Casey loves Jared, but despite his gregarious exterior, inside lurks someone shy and insecure and so he’s never spoken up. Both men are about to experience real Christmas magic.

Buy Links:

MLR BOOKS | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | APPLE | KOBO


nicolasNicolas
Author: Dianne Hartsock
Price: $6.99 eBook / $14.99 Paperback

Summary: Betrayed by a lover, Jamie rents an isolated cabin on Lake Huron, wanting only to be left alone. Instead, he is pulled from his solitary existence as an artist and tumbles headlong into the legend of Saint Nicolas. As a young man, Nicolas accidentally killed a man intent on murdering three children, only to have the man’s malicious spirit rise up against him. Fleeing through the centuries from the Krampus, the evil troll-like creature that dogs his steps, Nico finds refuge with the young artist who takes him into his home and bed. But Jamie has questions. Who is Nicolas, and why does the Krampus want to destroy him?

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER EBOOK | PUBLISHER PAPERBACK


No One to Greet the Season
Author: Elizabeth Barrette
Price: Free (poem)

Summary: Victor Frankenstein and Igor have a queerplatonic relationship and a constructed son. Igor’s deformed back causes him more trouble in cold weather, which makes Christmas more of a challenge. Victor helps him through it. Gothic fluff, holiday hurt/comfort.

Buy Links:

LIVE JOURNAL


scrudgeandbarleyScrudge & Barley, Inc
Author: John Inman
Price: $6.99 eBook / $14.99 Paperback

Summary: A classic tale takes off in sexy new directions! Poor Mr. Dickens must be twirling in his grave. When E.B. Scrudge, putz extraordinaire and all-around numbnuts, is visited by his dead ex on Christmas Eve, he can’t imagine how his life could sink any lower. But the three ghostly spirits that come along after are even worse! Good lord, a dyke, a drag queen, and rounding out the trio, a big, hunky bear with nipple rings and a butt plug! What’s next? What’s next is a good deal of soul-searching and some hard lessons learned with a dash of redemption thrown in for good measure.

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER EBOOK | PUBLISHER PAPERBACK
ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS


silversteelSilver/Steel
Author: Belinda McBride
Price: $6.99 eBook

Summary: When dream hunter Dylan Ryve spots a beautiful shapeshifter raising hell in a bar, he knows he wants the wild young man. But Travis Feris is more to Dylan than a few hot minutes outside in the snow; he’s the assassin’s ticket into the magical town of Arcada. He didn’t plan to rescue the kid, but when he found the shifter being attacked, the opportunity to play hero was too good to pass up. Through the solitude of a long winter night, Dylan walks in Travis’s fevered dreams, learning about Arcada and the pack, and showing the shifter the man he’d been so very long ago.

Buy Links:

AMAZON | ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS


Spindrift GiftsSpindrift Gifts
Author: Aidee Ladnier
Price: $TBD

Summary: Scars and a tattoo may be the only physical reminders from his years as a slave, but when Jimenez suffers a setback in his medical treatment, the only option is a therapy that will wipe away his all memories of the past including his time with Teo. Teo, torn between supporting his lover’s decisions and the good intentions of his family, sets out to teach Jimenez about Spindrift Gifts and how memories are celebrated on Celos even when they are painful. Can Teo and Jimenez weather the storm to find their happily-ever-after on Celos?

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER | APPLE

| KOBO

| ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS


temptedfromtheoakTempted from the Oak
Author: Rory Ni Coileain
Price: $5.60 eBook

Summary: With his blue eyes and heart-melting smile, Gavin could have been made-to-order to entice Tearlach, a lonely tree spirit. But the human is the one who’s been enticed—stolen from snow-buried Minneapolis to the Scottish Highlands by Tearlach’s darag, the ancient oak tree of which he is the living spirit. Tearlach is trapped within the darag by the terrible memory of his own death—hundreds, maybe thousands of years ago, but as recent to him as his last heartbeat. And if desire for the handsome human fails to tempt him out, spirit and oak are both doomed.

Buy Links:

PUBLISHER | AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE


And, as an extra Christmas treat, a “blast from the past” — an original Christmas story with Darach and Trevor, of Heart of the Oak. Enjoy — and may you and yours have a blessed holiday season!

https://rorynicoileain.com/2013/12/23/christmas-eve-on-the-isle-of-skye/

Advertisements

Collage 4-11

It’s an experience I think we’ve all had. Sometimes it happens when you’re feeling stuck, when everything you do feels forced or stale or joyless and you can’t think of anything new to try. Other times it falls on you out of the sky, when you’re totally not expecting it, and sometimes it takes you a while simply to figure out what this odd thing is that’s landed on you and what the heck you’re supposed to do with it. And still other times, you take a deep breath, close your eyes, open yourself up to God or the Universe or karma or your Muse and you say “Hit me, baby, I’m waiting.”

And then it hits, and you open one eye, just a crack, and peer upward or inward and say “Are You/you/y’all really sure about that?”

Every once in a while, in other words, you get a clue.

The last month or so of my life has partaken of all of the above, to a greater or lesser extent. I’ve been feeling very stuck, not so much in my writing, as in my writing career. Due to a whole bunch of circumstances beyond my control, it’s been over a year since I’ve had a new book come out, and it’s going to be another six weeks or so before the first of the reissued SoulShares comes out. And while I write because I love to write, and because at this point in my life I can’t imagine not writing, I’ve always nurtured the hope that I’ll be able to make the writing pay, at least enough to let me go to conventions and get a new laptop when I drive the old one into the ground. So it’s been a l-o-n-g dry spell.

Then a bunch of my friends, in the Rainbow Romance Writers forum and elsewhere, all started talking about the same thing.

Marketing.

Now, if you know me at all, you know that I consider the m-word an honorary four-letter word. Most of this is because I’m not technologically very ept, for all that I work for an Internet information provider and spend all my time at BOTH my jobs on a computer. The time it would take for me to get up to speed on multiple social media platforms, learn marketing techniques on them, and then actually, well, market would add another year on to my dry spell, easily. Not to mention that I was raised never, ever, EVER to blow my own horn. Praise yourself, or ask for praise, and utter disaster will follow. Blowing your own horn just shows that no one else is interested in blowing it for you. If you have to ask for praise, it means you don’t deserve it. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Marketing. *shudder*

But as several people kindly put it to me, “Rory, you have to get over that. You have to grow up.”

I still didn’t like it. “I don’t have time to do all that and write, too!”

“You don’t have to do ‘all that’ at once. Start by picking what you want to be known for. What you love best, what you think you do best. What excites you. And start selling that. Not your individual books. Your passion.”

Well, maybe I can do that part, I thought.

And when I gave that part some thought, it wasn’t all that hard to figure out what I love best. Myth, legend, fantasy, fairytale. (All in an m/m context, of course.)

There was a feeling of being trapped, though, that I didn’t much care for. What about contemporary m/m, or historical m/m, or science fiction m/m? I love reading all of those subgenres, even though I don’t write them – do I want to say ‘No, nay, never’ to them?

And then it hit me.

I’m not ‘trapped’ in myth, legend, fairy tale, folk tale.

I’m effing ROCKING them.

And, funny thing, as soon as that dawned on me, doors started opening. In the last eight days, I’ve sat in on three panels at two separate conventions, on the subject of fairy tales as writer fuel. I’ve been able to give copies of one of my novellas to Jane Yolen and Emma Bull, two of my biggest inspirations to write fantasy and urban fantasy. I’ve signed on to blog with Queer Sci Fi on a monthly basis, as both a romance author and a fantasy author. I’ve designed a new logo, one I hope to unveil by the time the SoulShares reissues start, that makes me want to hug myself and giggle because it’s just so gosh darn perfect.

And I’m loving what I’m doing again. I’m excited.

I hope y’all are, too. Because I’m looking forward to giving you a LOT to be excited about.

*****

Speaking of giving… and scheduling… I know I’ve given out a lot of conflicting dates lately, and I’m starting to sound like the Fae Who Cried Wolf. Or something. I do apologize – but this latest delay is for a very good reason. Namely, I want to be able to give you all buy links for the new books when I debut the covers. Which means giving my publisher, Riverdale Avenue Books, a little more time to get everything set up properly so I can have buy links before the books come out. So here’s the schedule, as far as I know it and please God let it be the final one:

May 27: HARD AS STONE reissue
June 3: GALE FORCE reissue
June 10: DEEP PLUNGE reissue
June 17: FIRESTORM reissue
June 24: BLOWING SMOKE – new release!
June 28: My birthday *winks*

And if you just can’t wait until the end of May for more? Check out HEART OF THE OAK, TEMPTED FROM THE OAK, and “Ilya and the Wolf” on Amazon!

HEART — http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Oak-Boys-Will-Book-ebook/dp/B00FBF4XIY/ref=la_B009M8XQP2_1_4_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428797268&sr=1-4
TEMPTED — http://www.amazon.com/Tempted-Oak-Rory-Ni-Coileain-ebook/dp/B00J8N6SY2/ref=la_B009M8XQP2_1_3_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428797333&sr=1-3
Ilya — http://www.amazon.com/Ilya-Wolf-Rory-Ni-Coileain-ebook/dp/B00QEUP9XS/ref=la_B009M8XQP2_1_5_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1428797364&sr=1-5

*****

And, finally, if you want to hear from me a little more often than I post here, I invite you to come find me on Facebook – I have an Author page at https://www.facebook.com/Soulshares and a group, Rory’s Three Rs – Rowdies, Ruffians, and Rogues, at https://www.facebook.com/groups/721651487924752/ .

One way or another – see you soon, for more Men, Myths, and Legends! (And, hopefully, a better tag line than that!)

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?

 

Welcome to my stop on the Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia! May 17th is the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia – find out all about it, including all the events going on all over the world, at http://dayagainsthomophobia.org/.

HopBadge

The Hop doesn’t end today, though! The HAHAT is here until late in the day on May 27th. And if you comment at the end of this post, with your e-mail address included (even if you know darn well I have it already *winks*) two things will happen. One, you will be entered in a drawing to win your choice of any of my books (listed off to the right, I’ve finally learned to put badges on my Web site, I’m so proud of myself….) And two – for everyone who posts, I’ll contribute a dollar to the Ali Forney Center in New York City (http://www.aliforneycenter.org/), a safe space for homeless LGBTQ youth. (Heck, if you’re the drawing winner and you already have all my books, I’ll add the value of the book to the donation!) I’ll put up a post on the 28th, announcing the winner. I’ll also e-mail the winner, so don’t forget to include your address.
And, to get you back to the main post for the hop when you’re done here, to find all the other terrific authors who are participating – http://hopagainsthomophobia.blogspot.com.
Now, to the point. The reason we’re all here.
I’ve been struggling with writing this post. I really have. Trying to find something meaningful to say, to people who have probably experienced a lot more trauma because of other people’s misunderstandings and phobias and hatred than I ever will. (Well, okay, genderfluidity has contributed to the loss of a couple of marriages and any kind of meaningful sex life, and the one date I’ve been on since my last divorce couldn’t handle a book cover with a shirtless guy on it, but still, that’s small potatoes.)
Finally, though, it dawned on me. I’m a writer. That’s what I do, that’s how I let what’s inside of me out. So I’m going to share a bit from one of my books. In Heart of the Oak, Trevor, an American architect on holiday on the Isle of Skye. He’s met a tree spirit, a Gille Dubh, or Dark One, named Darach. At this point in the story, they’ve been lovers, but Trevor has seen something about Darach, something so alien, non-human, that he’s terrified. He’s running. He’s on the bus back to Glasgow, ending his holiday early, haunted by his dreams. And Maggie is the grandmotherly bartender he met at a pub several nights before. I’m going to let the two of them say what I think needs saying.

 

“Trevor? Lad?”
There was a hand on Trevor’s shoulder. He woke with a start, tears streaming down his face and his breath catching.
In the seat beside him sat Maggie, the bartender from the Broadford Hotel, regarding him with a grandmother’s concern. “Is everything a’richt, lad? I thought I saw ye get on th’ bus in Kyle, but ye were gone sae quickly, I wasnae sure.”
Trevor would have laughed, if the last remnant of the dream in his memory had left any laughter in him. “No, Maggie, not really. But I’m glad you’re here, I didn’t mean to run out on my bar tab.” He shifted his weight to enable him to get at his wallet.
Maggie laid a firm hand on his arm. “Money is th’ furthest thing from my mind, this maement.” Her brows went up and didn’t start to lower until he eased his hand away from his pocket. “Guid lad. Now, what has ye in such a state? Surely ye werena planning tae leave sae soon?”
His throat went tight all over again and he had to cough before he could answer. “I wasn’t, no. But I have to.”
“Naething’s wrong tae hame, I hope?”
Only everything. “No. Thanks. I just have to leave.”
Blue eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly. “Have to?”
Trevor nodded miserably. His head fell back against the seat. He closed his eyes for the space of a deep breath. Any longer and the dream started crowding back into his mind again, Darach pacing the bounds of what had become a prison.
“Wi’ ye humor an auld woman, and let me tell ye a bit story?” Her voice was oddly gentle, her gaze a little less piercing.
“Sure.” Maybe hearing a voice that wasn’t leaves and wind would help chase the dream away.
“Nae sae much a story as a memory.” Maggie smiled and the lines around her eyes creased and deepened, but it was an unreadable smile even so. “Ye remind me of anither lad, years ago. Near enough your age, he was, but a ginger. Though he hated tae be called such.” She laughed softly, nearly inaudible over the motor. “He was a sweet lad and a gentle one, wi’ no taste for the tales of gingers stealing souls or haein’ none themselves, e’en in jest.”
Trevor managed a little smile and the old woman nodded as if encouraged, even as her own smile faded.
“A sweet lad he was, but one who ever kept himself to himself. Feared tae be known for wha’ he was. For back in that day, ’twas few there were on this island who would hae left him untroubled had they known.”
Oh, Christ, she knows. “Is it any different now?”
“Among the young, aye. And those of us wi’ the sight tae see past the ends of our own noses, and our own pasts. But this was monie a year ago, and folk were nae sae forgiving as a’ that.” Just for a moment, Maggie’s lips tightened into a thin line. “And this lad, his life was unco’ lonely, and full of the thoughtless cruelty of others, who would speak athout knowing hae they wounded him. Until he fell in love.”
“Why would that remind you of me? No offense,” Trevor added hastily, wishing he could take back the edge to his words.
Maggie completely ignored the interruption. “For years, he kept that love close tae his chest. For ’twas a lad he’d grown up with who took his heart, and he kenned that tae speak it would be his ruin. But the day came when the other lad was tae be wed.
The night before the day, a group o’ them went up tae Portree. For a celebration.”
A chill rippled down Trevor’s spine. “What happened?”
“I dinna ken.” Blue eyes welled up with tears. “But he was pale and drawn, at the wedding and left airlie. And when I came tae hame masel’, that night, ’twas I wha’ found my own son hanging from th’ shower head, and it too late to do aught.”
“Dear God.” Trevor reached out and rested a hand on Maggie’s, where it was clenched into a fist in her lap. “I’m so sorry.”
Maggie shook her head, wiping at her eyes with her free hand. “Dinna be sorry. Only keep your own feet off that path.”
“But I—”
“Follow your heart, Trevor, lad. Dinna hide from it. And for the guid God’s sake, dinna run from it.”
Trevor wanted to close his eyes but Maggie’s wouldn’t let him. “Thank you.” No sound came out but Maggie nodded as if she’d heard, patted his hand gently and eased out of the seat beside his, leaving him alone with his thoughts.
He almost called her back. What if my heart has gone somewhere I don’t dare follow? he wanted to ask. Into another heart, the heart of an ancient oak.
But she was gone. He settled back in the seat, drawing a deep, unsteady breath, and closed his eyes. Deliberately, knowing what was coming.
Again he watched Darach in the moonlight, pacing. Seeking. Alone. So unlike the memory of what had actually happened, the light in the tree spirit’s eyes at the sight of Trevor. The light had stayed there, too. All through their lovemaking. Both times. He came back to life, he rediscovered what it was to be alive.
But Darach hadn’t known the full joy of that life until he shared it. With me.
The light had left those beautiful eyes, though. It’s not what you did, it’s what you are. Dear God, had he been that afraid? Had he really been so cruel? To someone who had given him his heart?
Someone he needed. Someone he loved.
Awkwardly Trevor levered himself out of the pair of high-backed seats. Across the aisle, Maggie caught his eye and nodded. He nodded back, then made his way up the aisle for a brief and urgent conversation with the driver.
Minutes later he found himself at the side of the road, cursing the lack of reception on his phone as the bus rumbled off. He hefted his bags, walked a hundred yards or so up the road, set them down and tried again. He had to reach the bus company, warn them to expect an unscheduled roadside pickup.
He needed to get home.

Firestorm for Kindle — http://www.amazon.com/Firestorm-Soulshares-Rory-Ni-Coileain-ebook/dp/B00IOWB2BW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1393540924&sr=1-1&keywords=rory+ni+coileain

Firestorm for Kindle, UK — http://www.amazon.co.uk/Firestorm-Soulshares-Rory-Ni-Coileain-ebook/dp/B00IOWB2BW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1393543044&sr=1-1&keywords=rory+ni+coileain

Firestorm for Nook — http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/firestorm-rory-ni-coileain/1118761114?ean=2940149592579

Firestorm for Kobo — http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/firestorm-45

Firestorm, Ravenous Romance — http://ravenousromance.com/fantastica/firestorm-soulshares-number-iv.php?keyword=firestorm&search_by=all

Firestorm, All Romance eBooks — https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-firestorm-1436511-340.html

Firestorm, Bookstrand — http://www.bookstrand.com/firestorm-3

Heart of the Oak for Kindle — http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Oak-Boys-Will-ebook/dp/B00FBF4XIY/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1380206135&sr=1-4&keywords=Heart+of+the+Oak

 

Heart of the Oak for Nook — http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heart-of-the-oak-rory-ni-coileain/1116996454?ean=9781419948145

Heart of the Oak for Kobo — http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/heart-of-the-oak

Heart of the Oak, All Romance eBooks — https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-heartoftheoak-1374595-340.html

 

Deep Plunge for Kindle (US) — http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Plunge-SoulShares-ebook/dp/B00EV7OAYU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377825393&sr=1-1&keywords=Deep+Plunge+Rory+Ni+Coileain

Deep Plunge, trade paperback, Amazon — http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Plunge-SoulShares-Number-III/dp/1607779498/ref=la_B009M8XQP2_1_1_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1394317628&sr=1-1

Deep Plunge, Ravenous Romance — http://www.ravenousromance.com/fantastica/deep-plunge-soulshares-number-iii.php

Deep Plunge, All Romance eBooks — https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-deepplunge-1271533-145.html

Deep Plunge, Barnes & Noble (Nook) — http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/deep-plunge-rory-ni-coileain/1116795221?ean=2940148572602

Deep Plunge, Kobo — http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/deep-plunge

Deep Plunge for Kindle (UK) — http://www.amazon.co.uk/Deep-Plunge-SoulShares-ebook/dp/B00EV7OAYU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378063082&sr=1-1&keywords=Deep+Plunge+Rory+Ni+Coileain

 

Gale Force for Kindle (US) — http://www.amazon.com/Gale-Force-Soulshares-ebook/dp/B00BSEDKB8/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1363476525&sr=8-3&keywords=Gale+Force

Gale Force for Kindle (UK) — http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gale-Force-Soulshares-ebook/dp/B00BSEDKB8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363112251&sr=8-1

Gale Force, trade paperback, Amazon — http://www.amazon.com/Gale-Force-Soulshares-Volume-2/dp/160777934X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375935343&sr=8-1&keywords=Gale+Force+Rory+Ni+Coileain

Gale Force, Ravenous Romance — http://www.ravenousromance.com/fantastica/gale-force.php

Gale Force, All Romance eBooks — https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-hardasstone-977359-143.html

Gale Force, Barnes & Noble (Nook) — http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gale-force-rory-ni-coileain/1114819137?ean=2940016296111

Gale Force, Kobo — http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Gale-Force/book-Lcg0U_igUUyXOsufiKIvPQ/page1.html?s=GakQctslHkqvHH3JsFY8JQ&r=3

Gale Force, Angus & Robertson (Australia!) — http://www.angusrobertson.com.au/ebook/gale-force/40329536/

Gale Force, Amazon (Kindle) Germany — http://www.amazon.de/Gale-Force-Soulshares-ebook/dp/B00BSEDKB8

 

Hard as Stone for Kindle — http://www.amazon.com/Hard-as-Stone-ebook/dp/B009SX91JQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355285138&sr=8-1&keywords=hard+as+stone+rory+ni+coileain

Hard as Stone, trade paperback, Amazon — http://www.amazon.com/Hard-as-Stone-Rory-Coileain/dp/1607779293/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1363476804&sr=1-1&keywords=hard+as+stone+rory+ni+coileain

Hard as Stone for Nook — http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hard-as-stone-rory-ni-coileain/1113526804?ean=2940015530766

Hard as Stone, Kobo — http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Hard-As-Stone/book-06D0J5iMoEOk2FwhYFWLnQ/page1.html?s=1sR8MxtCREeacsxkHGm4gQ&r=2

Hard as Stone at Ravenous Romance’s Web site — http://www.ravenousromance.com/fantastica/hard-as-stone.php

Hard as Stone at Fictionwise — http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/b135271/Hard-as-Stone/Rory-Ni-Coileain/?si=0

 

Dangerous Curves (anthology) for Kindle (writing as Susan Swann) — http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Curves-Stories-Voluptuous-ebook/dp/B007ZE2H2S/ref=sr_1_18?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1355285356&sr=1-18&keywords=Dangerous+Curves

One-Stop Shopping

It occurs to me that I haven’t posted sales links to all my books for a while… so without further ado, here’s the list — including the two anthologies I’ve contributed to, Evernight 2 and Dangerous Curves!

Heart of the Oak for Kindle — http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Oak-Boys-Will-ebook/dp/B00FBF4XIY/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1380206135&sr=1-4&keywords=Heart+of+the+Oak

Heart of the Oak for Nook — http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/heart-of-the-oak-rory-ni-coileain/1116996454?ean=9781419948145

Heart of the Oak for Kobo — http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/heart-of-the-oak

Heart of the Oak, All Romance eBooks — https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-heartoftheoak-1374595-340.html

Deep Plunge for Kindle (US) — http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Plunge-SoulShares-ebook/dp/B00EV7OAYU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377825393&sr=1-1&keywords=Deep+Plunge+Rory+Ni+Coileain

Deep Plunge, Ravenous Romance — http://www.ravenousromance.com/fantastica/deep-plunge-soulshares-number-iii.php

Deep Plunge, All Romance eBooks — https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-deepplunge-1271533-145.html

Deep Plunge, Barnes & Noble (Nook) — http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/deep-plunge-rory-ni-coileain/1116795221?ean=2940148572602

Deep Plunge, Kobo — http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/deep-plunge

Deep Plunge for Kindle (UK) — http://www.amazon.co.uk/Deep-Plunge-SoulShares-ebook/dp/B00EV7OAYU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1378063082&sr=1-1&keywords=Deep+Plunge+Rory+Ni+Coileain

Gale Force for Kindle (US) — http://www.amazon.com/Gale-Force-Soulshares-ebook/dp/B00BSEDKB8/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1363476525&sr=8-3&keywords=Gale+Force

Gale Force for Kindle (UK) — http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gale-Force-Soulshares-ebook/dp/B00BSEDKB8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363112251&sr=8-1

Gale Force, trade paperback, Amazon — http://www.amazon.com/Gale-Force-Soulshares-Volume-2/dp/160777934X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375935343&sr=8-1&keywords=Gale+Force+Rory+Ni+Coileain

Gale Force, Ravenous Romance — http://www.ravenousromance.com/fantastica/gale-force.php

Gale Force, All Romance eBooks — https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-hardasstone-977359-143.html

Gale Force, Barnes & Noble (Nook) — http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gale-force-rory-ni-coileain/1114819137?ean=2940016296111

Gale Force, Kobo — http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Gale-Force/book-Lcg0U_igUUyXOsufiKIvPQ/page1.html?s=GakQctslHkqvHH3JsFY8JQ&r=3

Gale Force, Angus & Robertson (Australia!) — http://www.angusrobertson.com.au/ebook/gale-force/40329536/

Gale Force, Amazon (Kindle) Germany — http://www.amazon.de/Gale-Force-Soulshares-ebook/dp/B00BSEDKB8

Hard as Stone for Kindle — http://www.amazon.com/Hard-as-Stone-ebook/dp/B009SX91JQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355285138&sr=8-1&keywords=hard+as+stone+rory+ni+coileain

Hard as Stone, trade paperback, Amazon — http://www.amazon.com/Hard-as-Stone-Rory-Coileain/dp/1607779293/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1363476804&sr=1-1&keywords=hard+as+stone+rory+ni+coileain

Hard as Stone for Nook — http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hard-as-stone-rory-ni-coileain/1113526804?ean=2940015530766

Hard as Stone, Kobo — http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Hard-As-Stone/book-06D0J5iMoEOk2FwhYFWLnQ/page1.html?s=1sR8MxtCREeacsxkHGm4gQ&r=2

Hard as Stone at Ravenous Romance’s Web site — http://www.ravenousromance.com/fantastica/hard-as-stone.php

Hard as Stone at Fictionwise — http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/b135271/Hard-as-Stone/Rory-Ni-Coileain/?si=0

Evernight, Vol. 2 (anthology) for Kindle — http://www.amazon.com/Evernight-Vol-2-ebook/dp/B009LLZHX4/ref=pd_sim_kstore_2

Dangerous Curves (anthology) for Kindle (writing as Susan Swann) — http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Curves-Stories-Voluptuous-ebook/dp/B007ZE2H2S/ref=sr_1_18?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1355285356&sr=1-18&keywords=Dangerous+Curves

Christmas Eve on the Isle of Skye

As a Christmas gift to all of you… an original, unpublished Darach and Trevor story, looking in on them on the Christmas Eve after their Midsummer meeting.

                Darach is having trouble sitting still. Or sitting at all, really. Somehow he gives the impression of being a prisoner in his unaccustomed clothing, the outfit I’d picked up for him in town. As I watch from the kitchen doorway, he brushes his fingertips over the front of the shirt, tanned skin against white linen, hooks two of them in the collar behind the knot of his tie, just a shade darker than Christmas-green, and tugs.

                Am I supposed to feel as if I am being executed?

                I can’t help laughing. And I can see the change coming over his face at the sound. He keeps telling me how much he loves my laughter, can’t get enough of it. I pause for a kiss, and of course it isn’t a short peck on the cheek, before crossing to the far wall, to bend and flip the switch to turn on the lights on the little tree I’d found and cut.  Tiny lights, a few simple ornaments, and an ornate glass star, the darag’s gift. It had appeared under the oak tree one morning, without explanation from either the tree or my husband.

                Husband.

                “I’m sorry about the tie.” I slip my arms around Darach’s waist, and breathe in his scent, musk and woodsmoke. “I love you so much for being willing to do this for me.”

                I do this for her, even more than I do it for you.

                Sometimes he comes to me here in the cottage, and on some of those nights he wears a silk robe, but he does that mostly because he loves the feel of me removing it, and I love what happens to him when he feels silk against his skin. These clothes are meant to stay on for a while, though. Kind of a pity. But damn, he looks as fine dressed as naked, and I keep surprising myself with how much in love I am. Me. Who would ever have thought?

                 “I still love you for it.” I pull him closer, rocking my hips against his as he leans into me. Just a little, we can’t get too distracted with company coming, but enough to let him know his nearness is having the same effect on me it always does.

                Yet he tenses, a little. I can feel it. And that sensation saddens me, because it’s part of a loss of his innocence. I don’t avoid talking about the outside world with him, but neither do I bring it up any more often than necessary. But as little as we talk about it, he knows that the world he woke up in is almost nothing like the one he lost when the magick went away, and that it’s not a world likely to be kind to a magickal being most of it would refuse to believe in.

                I stroke his hair gently, urging his head down to rest on my shoulder, working my fingers into his unruly hair until I feel him relax against me. “It’s going to be all right.”

                I trust you. The whisper is faint, but resolute. You, and whoever you bring to me.

                Almost as if that were a cue, we hear the sound of a car engine. Darach hears it first, of course, he’s always the first to hear anything. But then I hear it too, an uneven drone that doesn’t sound much healthier than my old keep-the-hell-away-from-the-crazy-American-driver truck. We don’t break apart, though, not right away. The long nights of midwinter are a blessing, but that doesn’t mean we don’t fill those night hours  as full as we can. There’s something about knowing that we can’t touch at all during the daylight that makes the night precious. Not to mention the faint shadow of fear I still see in his dark, green-flecked eyes.

                Finally, though, the car grumbles to a stop next to the cottage, probably next to my truck, and we reluctantly step back from one another. The car door opens, closes. I exchange glances with Darach; while I don’t share his fears, it’s still a strange feeling, having an outsider within our perimeter. We’re isolated out here, him by necessity and me by choice, and I never would have imagined that a guy bred, born and raised in Manhattan would grow as attached to solitude as I have.

                Soft footsteps approach the door, but the knock that follows is firm. Which doesn’t surprise me. I give Darach a quick kiss on the cheek, squeeze his hand, and cross the little room to open the door. It’s never locked, not out here, and I pull it open.

                The woman standing on the flagstone step is bundled in a woolen coat, a little hat perched on top of her gray hair and a basket over her arm, its contents mostly covered with a cloth but flashing a flirtatious hint of shortbread.  And she gives me a kindly and delighted smile that makes me certain of my choice to invite her to share our Christmas Eve. She reaches up to hug me with the arm that isn’t holding the basket, and I return the hug one-armed while reaching to help her with the basket.

                And stop, startled, as Darach steps in and slides the basket down Maggie’s arm. She’s startled too, and turns, and as they each hold on to the almost-forgotten basket with one hand,  for a moment all she can do is stand and stare.

                I don’t blame her, he still has that effect on me at least twice a night. “Maggie, this is my husband, Darach. Darach, this is Maggie.” The lady who saved me from myself and my own stupidity, when I was about to run away from the most incredible thing that had ever happened to me. But, then, Darach knows that. I told him about that near-disastrous bus ride to Kyle of Lochalsh, and what Maggie did for me.

                The two of them look at each other, with almost identical studying expressions, and I wonder which will be the first to speak.

                Darach, as usual, surprises me. “I’m pleased tae meet ye at last, Maggie.” He’s been learning English slowly – he prefers his own language of wind and moonlight and whispers. Which is beautiful , but God, when he speaks in that deep voice of his, with the accent he must have picked up from the Scots of two thousand years before, I go weak in the knees. Better not do that now, though.

                Maggie’s eyes go wide at the sound of his voice, and she looks him up and down quickly, taking in the dark wild hair, tanned skin against white linen, tapered torso and lean hips and dark trousers. And bare feet. We’ve never been able to find shoes he can stand for more than a minute.

                Her gaze travels back up to his face, and I can see the pounding of his pulse in his throat. And then she reaches up, and cups his cheek in her hand. “Husband, is it?” Her smile trembles a little.

                “Aye, handfasted at Lammas, we were.”  Darach eyes Maggie uncertainly, but his hand comes up to cover hers.

                She turns to me, and blinks quickly to clear away tears before her smile blossoms.  “I was i’ the right, then, lad, or nearly so? ‘Twasn’t the land calling to ye, but someone very close tae th’ land. Close kin.”  She goes up on her toes a little, to look more closely at Darach.

                And he returns the gaze, steady now, no hint of fear, only a lively curiosity. This one sees, he whispers to me.

                Maggie pats Darach’s cheek, her eyes twinkling. “Each of ye a blessing tae th’ other.”

                My “He is” crosses with Darach’s “That he is.”

                And we all laugh, and walk to the kitchen, to have Maggie’s amazing and sinful shortbread and Drambuie. Darach’s first Christmas, and my merriest.

If you haven’t yet read Darach and Trevor’s story, you can find it here:  http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Oak-Boys-Will-ebook/dp/B00FBF4XIY/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1380206135&sr=1-4&keywords=Heart+of+the+Oak

And, as the Scots would say, Nollaig chridheil! — Merry Christmas!