It’s giveaway time!!! If you’ve hung around the blog for a while, you know that I do a giveaway each month of those books that’s been published during that month previous years. I’ve messed it all up by re-releasing books, but I’m going with the original release date.
How does it work?
It’s easy. I’ve set up a Kingsumo giveaway, and all you have to do is jump on over there and type your email into the little field. You’re not subscribing to anything by doing so, but the email you give them is the email I’ll contact you on should you win, so use one you check regularly.
We have four books this month – Once in May, Happy Endings, Pine Tree Mary, and Acronym. I don’t know if Acronym counts since it’s not published anywhere, it’s the story you get if you sign up for my email list, but I’m including it.
Happy Endings is no longer available as a story on its own, but it is in Aiden and Tristan, so that’s the book we’ll go with. It’s the second to last of the Aiden and Tristan stories (though I always planned to write one, but it’s been years now, and still no story 😒)
Once in May is a contemporary story about Zach and John. John is hiding in his cabin and doesn’t want to see anyone, but Zach has a hard time staying away.
Pine Tree Mary is a paranormal tale with loads of Scandinavian folklore. A pine tree Mary is a forest nymph, and Hush is one. Quinn Manning is a cop, and when he’s chasing after a criminal, he meets Hush.
Sidenote: In this story, Hush rides on a moose, and the day before yesterday, Littlest and I were out walking in the woods, and we were almost trampled by a bull moose. They’re effing huge! I thought we’d die, but my rabid dog went berserk, and the moose veered off 😵. We walked home on shaky legs.
Acronym is a Tattooed Corpse story. The Tattooed Corpse stories have nothing in common other than the same body appearing in every story. Here the body is only dead during the daytime and wakes up in the morgue LOL
Aiden changed the green paper on the massage table, hissing as the piercing pain in his muscles made him freeze. How the hell would he be able to massage Tristan? Stiffly, he walked over to the corner table, made sure there was enough water and no dirty glasses. The room smelled of orange and peppermint, as it normally did, but for Tristan, he wanted something different.
Careful not to make any hasty movements, he went out to his storage room to fetch another bottle of oil. When Tristan came, he always used one with lavender and sandalwood. It was calming, while the oil with peppermint was invigorating. He wanted Tristan to relax—he wanted all his customers to relax, but Tristan needed a sense of calmness. He always carried around so much pressure. He looked like the kind of guy who would tell you if something was wrong. He growled—a lot—but only about the little things. When something was bothering him for real, he bottled it up inside until it exploded. Aiden hated it.
Something was up with Tristan. It was right there in his carefulness and the way he weighed his words before he spoke. What Aiden wouldn’t have given to be able to go to Whiteport with him for a day—not that he could afford it, but it would’ve been lovely.
He needed to work more, needed the money.
Tristan might be okay with paying for everything right now, but he’d been doing it for months.
Maybe that was what was wrong.
Ice spread in Aiden’s belly. He needed more customers, had to work more hours. He bent to pick up the right bottle and sucked in a breath as his muscles seized up. He waited for it to ease, for the pain to fade—it didn’t.
Panting, he clutched the bottle with the purple label and took a few staggering steps towards the massage room. His eyes burned and a lump formed in his throat as he stared at his massage table. Normally, he loved seeing it, but today it filled him with dread. He was too young for his body to betray him like this. He couldn’t afford it.
Great. He took a calming breath and forced a smile onto his lips. “In here!”
Tristan appeared in the doorway. God, he was hot. Those broad shoulders and strong arms, Aiden longed to melt into him, to climb on top and never get off. He couldn’t, though. His muscles wouldn’t let him, and this was his workplace. His studio was not a place to play, there were no ‘happy endings’ for his massages.
“Ready?” Aiden tried to smile even though he couldn’t fathom how he would survive digging into Tristan’s hard muscles for an hour.
Tristan gave him a look Aiden couldn’t decipher, then he shook his head. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong.” He aborted the shrug he was about to give into.
“Don’t lie to me, Aiden!” Oh, that growl. Aiden shivered.
“It’s nothing. I’m just a bit tired.”
Tristan’s hazel eyes narrowed as he studied Aiden. It was silly how his pulse sped up.
“Now, let’s try this again, sweetheart. What’s wrong? Are you happy here?”
Happy? “Of course, I’m happy.”
“Then why aren’t you smiling? Why aren’t you bouncing around, sipping on your lattes, gossiping with Jason—”
“You want me to gossip with Jason?” Aiden tried to come up with something to say, something Tristan would believe. A voice in his head told him it was ridiculous to lie, but for once he needed Tristan to look at him and see an equal.
“No, but it’s what you do when you’re happy. You’re…” Tristan flapped his hands about, and Aiden cringed at how foolish he looked. “I haven’t seen any of that in weeks. Weeks, Aiden. So, either you tell me what the fuck is going on or I’ll—”
“You’ll what?” He put his hands on his hips, ignoring the torturous slashes in his back, and glared at Tristan.
“I’ll throw you in the car and drive you to Whiteport.”
Aiden gasped. His eyes burned. Would Tristan throw him out like that? “You would?”
Tristan reached for him, but Aiden pulled away and flinched as the pain shot down through his body. Tristan ground his teeth, and Aiden prepared for some more growly threats. Then, in a blink of an eye, Tristan grabbed his arm and pulled.
“Ouch!” Aiden squeezed his eyes shut as agony speared his back. He clutched Tristan’s T-shirt as he breathed through the worst of it.
Large warm hands carefully moved up and down his back. “Fuck, Aiden. Even I can feel how tense you are.”
“It’s nothing…” He tried to untangle himself from Tristan’s embrace, but his arms wouldn’t cooperate as they should. “Come on, hop up on the table.” God, how would he be able to get through the next hour?
“What?” Aiden didn’t have the energy to argue. His chest ached and his throat burned, he was so fucking tired. Tired of working all the time without getting anywhere, tired of not sleeping well, tired of being in pain. So tired.
“You hop up on the table.” Tristan cautiously turned him around.
“I can’t do that. It’s my studio and you’re not licensed. I can’t have you practising. No insurance company would cover you.”
“Babe, I’m not practising. I’m giving my boyfriend a much-needed massage.”
John swallowed the last of his coffee and glanced out the window. Two burly, bearded men came walking across the parking lot. It took a second or two before the panic slammed into him with full force.
It was the man from the shop.
The clatter from where he dropped the cup on the plate made him flinch. Crap! He shouldn’t have accepted another cup. The coffee had tasted unusually good this morning, and he’d enjoyed listening to Jen talking to her son, Luke, while she made him breakfast. It was nice, and it gave John a feeling of normality even if he was only an observer. He shouldn’t have stayed, though. The man had brought a friend, which made things even worse than John had feared.
Cold sweat broke out as he watched the men turn and head right for the door. Of course, they were coming here; it was only stupid to hope for something else. One of them stopped, not the man from the shop but the other one. He gestured wildly while the man from the shop scowled. John began to tremble. They were going to take their frustration out on him.
He needed to get out of there. He needed to run. The chair banged against the wall behind him before he knew what he was doing. Jen’s head shot up from behind the counter. “You okay?”
John stared at her, unable to find his voice.
“It’s all right, sweetie.”
John winced at her words. He hated when she let on how much of his anxiety she actually picked up on. Most of the time, she pretended he was like everybody else, but, of course, he wasn’t. He was going to be sick. He wanted to go to her, wanted to pay so he could leave, but his feet wouldn’t cooperate.
“It’s okay, John. You can leave.”
“I haven’t paid.” He hated the way his voice shook, but he couldn’t do anything about it. His throat closed up as he caught movement outside the door.
She dried her hands and hurried out from behind the counter, closing in on him. John didn’t know where to go. They were coming at him from different directions.
But Jen didn’t come at him. She walked around him, leaving plenty of space between them, and headed for the door. “You can pay double next time, or I wouldn’t mind payment in eggs.”
“That’s illegal.” John would happily give her eggs. Why he hadn’t before, he didn’t know. He couldn’t pay with them, though. It wasn’t right.
“We’ll sort it. Now get out of here.” She smiled, and John almost wanted to hug her. Almost.
The bell above chimed as she opened the door. “Zachary Fane.” She giggled and John was struck by how young she sounded. “I never thought I’d see the day. When did you get back?”
The man from the shop grinned and scooped her up in his arms. John almost choked. God, he’s big. Broad and tall, and arms so thick John wanted to shrink back before they could snake their way around him, too.
The man must’ve sensed John’s eyes on him because he looked right at him while still hugging Jen. Without thinking, John let his blond tresses fall like a curtain over his face and kept his head tilted forward, glancing towards the door in hopes of finding an opening to sneak past them and out to his car. It was pathetic to hope; not even Jen could save him from them now.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the large man take a step in his direction. Every muscle in his body tensed as he braced himself, but then Jen was there. With one small hand on the man’s arm, she guided him and his friend towards a table away from John and the door.
As soon as all three of them had their backs turned, John slipped out, thankful for Jen’s manoeuvre.
Manning was trying to make sense of what he was seeing. Diamond was pushing a gun into the mouth of a woman he’d tied to a tree and the goon with him was fiddling with his jeans, or… He narrowed his eyes. Was the fucker jerking off? Disgusting.
“Freeze! Police.” He jumped out from behind a tree and pointed his gun at Diamond only to shift his aim to the guy who’d let go of his dick and grabbed a pistol.
“Stay where you are.” He glanced at Diamond who edged away. Shit, he should’ve brought backup or at least called Jacobs before he’d trailed the black Mercedes.
Diamond held up a hand to his ear as if he was listening into the forest. “It’s awfully quiet, Detective.” He widened his eyes in an exaggerated manner and took another step.
“Stop!” Manning strode closer to the woman. “It’s all right, Ms. I’ll get you out of here.” A quick glance had him halting. It wasn’t a woman. Delicate, with long dark hair, and almost silvery eyes, but not a woman.
Diamond’s laughed echoed between the trees as he hurtled out of sight. Manning glanced between his disappearing back and the…hostage? Prisoner? Enemy or victim?
Fuck! He prepared to run, muscles tense, gun at the ready, and then he hit the ground. Rolling he glared at the man tied to the tree. He couldn’t have tripped him, but how else did he end up in a heap on the moss? There was nothing he could’ve stumbled over. A car engine roared in the distance. “Bastard.”
The man slumped against the tree, the barbs digging into his chest and Manning winced. Fucking Diamond. He got up and aimed his gun at the goon who surprisingly still was there. “You’re coming with me to the station.”
He picked a zip tie from his pocket and cuffed the man who shrugged. “You have nothing on me.”
“We’ll see.” He didn’t have anything, but he was sure Jacobs could find something they could keep him for. Jerking off in public or something.
He grabbed his phone and asked for a police car to be sent to the Misty Grove Reservation before going over to the man tied to the tree.
“I’ll untie you now. No funny business.” He pointed his gun at the man to emphasize his point. Shiny bright eyes blinked open as if he’d been napping. Why was he wearing a dress? Was it Diamond’s doing? It was a kind of wrap around thing, and he’d tied a string of ivy around his waist. Perhaps not Diamond’s doing—his women were most often wearing tight-fitting dresses that left nothing for the imagination. And his men…his men didn’t wear dresses.
“Dolt.” The man’s voice was frail and fear etched his face.
Dolt? Manning had been called many things in his line of duty, but dolt? It might be a first. “Yeah, yeah. I’m not gonna hurt you, but you need to come with me to the station for some questioning.”
The wire was cutting in on several places and anger bubbled up inside of him. Was it necessary to use barbed wire? The man didn’t show much sign of pain but flowers of blood decorated his clothing from where the metal spikes had been buried in his flesh.
Manning reluctantly grabbed a zip tie and secured the man. Where the hell was the police car?
Detective Lars Horn leaned over the body on the slab. A chill shot up his spine as he studied the messy dark hair, the broad shoulders, and the tattoo of one black and one white snake tangling together on the victim’s left forearm. It was hard to tell how tall someone was when they were lying down, but this man was taller than Horn.
“It’s him, right?”
Horn stepped back and adjusted his shoulder holster as he watched Coroner Samantha Pittman step up to the body. She was a short, curvy woman who looked like she should still be in school, but she’d already been working in the mortuary when he started in homicide six years before. She was the kind of woman he’d dreamed about falling in love with before he accepted his lot in life. “Yeah, it’s him.” Though why she’d called him down here, he didn’t know. “Cause of death?”
There were no wounds he could see, nothing indicating strangulation, no marks of injections letting him believe the man had overdosed.
She shrugged, a tress of her honey-colored hair caressing her cheek before she stroked it away. “Same as last time.”
Last time. As far as Horn was concerned you only died once. “What was it last time?”
“Unknown cause of death.”
He scowled. “And why am I here?”
She winced and Horn held his breath. “Well… You brought him in last time.”
“Because they called me to the scene. Who brought him in this time?”
Horn glanced at the man. If it hadn’t been for the almost blueish-pale complexion, he’d be willing to guess the man was asleep. He looked way too fresh to have been dead long.
Biting back a growl, he sought Sam’s gaze again. He did not want this case, if it was a case at all. How someone could die, the body disappear, and then come back, dead again, was a mystery. Horn solved murders, not stolen bodies.
“They found him in the men’s room at the Fountain.”
Ah… “So you called me.” Being the only out cop in the district had its pros and cons. He still hadn’t figured out the pros, but he would one day. Every time something happened at a gay club, they tried to dump the case on him, no matter what department it belonged to. It was not how the police force was supposed to work, but it didn’t surprise him anymore.
She sighed. “I know, but aren’t you curious?”
“About how he ended up in the bathroom at the Fountain?” She rolled her eyes. “Seriously, Lars, sometimes you get on my nerves. How can he still be this fresh?” She gestured at the body. “It’s been six weeks.”
“Six?” Horn surprised himself by shouting. “It’s been three weeks.” Sam usually had her numbers straight.
“Three weeks since you brought him in, that doesn’t mean it was the first time I saw him.”
“You met him when he was alive?”
She grimaced. “No.”
Horn crossed his arms over his chest and stared at her with narrowed eyes. It usually got people talking.
“He was first brought in six weeks ago, cause of death unknown.”
“And you didn’t tell me?” Why hadn’t she told him?
Sam shrugged, engrossed by a crease on the pristine sheet.
“But you cut him open?” Horn shuddered.
“I… eh… yeah. Healthy as a horse. No way to identify him and no one claimed him.”
Horn stepped up to the slab and pulled off the sheet covering most of his body. “He’s not—” He gestured at the perfectly smooth abdomen, fit enough for a Greek sculpture, and no sign of the horrendous Y of stitches. How had Sam ended up in this profession?
“I haven’t cut him open yet. Seems like a waste if you ask me. I won’t find anything.”
“You don’t know that.” Could she?
“No, but I’ve already done it twice, and I found nothing. There is no investigation going on, and no next of kin have turned up. Autopsies aren’t standard procedure for John Does.”
Horn was quiet for a minute or two. He should leave, get back to the mountain of paperwork on his desk. The captain hadn’t given him this case—it wasn’t a case, except…
“How long was he here?” Horn had a bad feeling about the body disappearing. Bodies didn’t disappear, and why hadn’t Sam hinted at something strange going on?
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” He cleared his throat and peeked at the body again.
“I did my work and put him away.” She motioned at the wall with the steel doors he tried not to think about.
There were fifteen small doors, and if Sam opened them he suspected more than one pair of feet would be visible. “Next time I checked he wasn’t there. I assumed someone had claimed him.”
Daring a snowstorm might not be the smartest thing Aiden Evans has ever done, but he can’t stand being in his flat a moment longer. With only three days to Christmas, he doesn’t want to be alone. He wants a place to belong, wants people around him who won’t look down on him. He might not find that at his mother’s place, but it’s better than being alone in the city. If he can make it there, that is.
Tristan Gardner is looking forward to a quiet night in front of the TV, but instead, he has to save an idiot in designer clothes from freezing to death in his forest. Tristan tries not to notice the man’s good looks, just like he has tried not to notice any man’s good looks for the last seven years. He knows where relationships go and is far better off living alone, with his dog, in his cabin.
Aiden is driving Tristan mad with his bratty comments and irresponsible ways, and Aiden is going crazy from Tristan’s judgmental attitude. Luckily, in a few days, the weather will clear up, and the two men won’t have to be together any longer. But will a few steamy nights with the grumpy lumberjack change Aiden’s mind about wanting to leave? And will Tristan still want to go back to his peaceful, predictable life without fear of getting his heart broken?
Note: This book contains Once in a Snowstorm, The Empty Egg, Happy Endings, and Just Words
In an attempt to run from his past, John Welsh has spent the last few years building walls around himself. He knows the best way to stay safe is to keep people at arm’s length and preferably out of sight. During weak moments, he might wish he had someone, but he’s not ready. After all, it takes seven years for the body to replace all its cells. He has four years to go before he’s new.
Zachary Fane is always on the move, always on his way to somewhere. He’s going from job to job, from country to country. Contrary to what people might think, he wants nothing more than to find a place to call home, and he knows just where. This time, he is ready. This time, he will stay in Nortown. This time, things will be different. But when he arrives to buy the log cabin he believed would be his, he finds it inhabited. When he goes to talk to the new owner, he is met by the most beautiful green eyes followed by a door slammed in his face.
John should’ve known the peace he’s found in Nortown wouldn’t last. One day everything is fine, the next a mountain of a man shows up wherever he goes. All Zachary wants is to be close to the quiet man who has moved into his cabin. If following him around is the only way, then so be it. Sooner or later, John will get used to having him there…at least, if Zachary hangs around long enough.
Note: This story now includes Honey Baked.
Detective Quinn Manning wants nothing more than to see Diamond Dace, one of Fagerdal’s most notorious drug lords, behind bars. After years of the man eluding the authorities, when Manning accidentally stumbles onto an opportunity to catch the powerful dealer red-handed, he doesn’t hesitate. But what should be a simple tail, instead drops Manning into a real-life world of myth and legend.
Hush is a hulder, a forest spirit also known as a pine tree Mary. Since the beginning of time, his people have lived in the forest, feeding off the energy they derive from the lust and desires of passing hunters. But Hush is an abomination, the only male of his kind.
After a lifetime of starvation, Hush has struck a deal with a human. A simple trade that will give the human what he desires and keep Hush from wasting away completely.
When Manning saves a young man from Diamond and one of his men, his view of reality is altered forever. And Hush, who has never met anyone like Manning, finds the man’s attraction to him enough to finally stave off his constant hunger.
When together they set out to rescue Manning’s partner, their connection to one another grows. But can a human detective have a future with a creature of the forest, a creature who isn’t supposed to exist?
Detective Lars Horn is called down to the morgue when a body he retrieved from a crime scene a couple of weeks ago is brought in again. No one had noticed it had gone missing, and it looks just as fresh as it did the first time Horn saw it.
Disappearing bodies is not his responsibility, but when it goes missing a second time, he can’t help but get involved. And to make matters worse, he glimpses a guy at the local pub who looks just like the lost body.
Maybe he’s overworked and maybe he had a little too much to drink, but he can’t let it go until he finds the man from the pub and makes sure he isn’t seeing dead people.