Up North | Around Seven

River

It’s time to share a little about Oswald and Joshua from Around Seven. This is an autumn story with lots of yellow leaves and crisp, cool air. It’s not yet nippy, but the summer warmth is gone. The river is quiet and peaceful, the trees reflecting on the surface, and then there is a huge splash as Oz falls in. 

Oz is a friend of Aiden’s from the Aiden and Tristan stories and he’s come to Nortown because Aiden has asked him to work with him. Aiden is a massage therapist and Oz an acupuncturist and Aiden thought it would be good for them to work together. Oswald isn’t convinced but he has nowhere else to go. 

Joshua has spent a week on Andre’s couch since he’s renovating his cabin.  

Fun fact, I had no idea I’d placed a second person on Andre’s couch before someone pointed it out to me – that Once in May and Around Seven both has a guy on Andre’s couch who then leave him behind for another guy. Poor Andre LOL 

Anyway, Josh is a down to earth guy who doesn’t get involved unless he has to. He listens to his friends’ problems, but he never talks about his own. The last thing he wants is people gossiping about him. 

I love this story and it’s the last one I wrote that takes place in Nortown. In other Up North stories, the characters visit Nortown, but no one has lived there since Joshua. Perhaps it’s time to rectify that. 

Oswald Sattle Joshua Roth

Blurb:

aroundsevenOswald Sattle has been sleeping in his Toyota Camry for the last 273 days, the exact number of days since he discovered his fiancé cheating on him. Now, out of money and out of options, he’s on his way to Nortown. Aiden, an acquaintance from his past, has offered him a job opportunity he can’t turn down, no matter how much he’d like to.

Joshua Roth moved to Nortown four years ago, and he has everything he needs — a job, friends, peace and quiet. He’s not looking for a boyfriend; no one even knows he’s gay, and he’d like it to stay that way. Everything changes when he offers Oswald a place to stay, though.

Oswald looks like he wants to run away, and Josh finds himself suggesting things that will make him stay. All he wants is for Oswald to smile. Oswald doesn’t want to overstay his welcome, but nothing soothes his nerves like being with Joshua in his cabin.

How long can Oswald stay before it’s time to move on again? Can Joshua have Oswald staying with him without the whole town talking about them? Probably not, but does he care?

Buy links:

Contemporary Gay Romance: 23,995 words

JMS Books :: Amazon :: books2read.com/AroundSeven

Fridays at Ofelia’s | Just to Breathe

Guest-Post

Hello everyone! Holly here 😀 I’m here today to tell you about a story of mine that’s released tomorrow. As some of you might know, I write stories to celebrate certain days – all days should be celebrated. We’ll see if I ever get to write 365 (or 366 I guess so leap day is included too). I’ll try. 

On Tuesday, 8th of June, it’s Best Friend Day, so I’m having a friends to lovers theme over at my blog this month, and Just to Breathe that’s released tomorrow is of course a friends to lovers story. 

This all started with a song. I was walking to work early one morning and I’d put on one of those Discover Weekly lists on Spotify. On came You Say with Dori Freeman. Some lines in that song stuck with me, and I spent the entire workday thinking up a story. It’s nothing like the song, but there are little snippets that fit pretty well. 

So we have Nico and Matt who have been best friends since kindergarten. Nico has been in love with Matt for years, but he can’t picture his life without him and has therefore promised himself he’ll never let Matt know in case it would ruin what they have as friends.  

On his way to meet up with Matt, he’s knocked on the head and thrown in a trunk of a car. He’s then roughed up some by a group of guys who tell him he has twenty-four hours to get them the item they want. The problem is that Nico has no idea what it is they want.  

As soon as he can, he calls Matt who is a cop. To keep Nico safe, Matt takes him to a cabin where the two of them spend the night while trying to figure out what to do next. 

It’s a fast-paced slightly insane story. I had a great time writing it LOL. 

Mona Lisa

Excerpt:

What are you doing?”

Nico jumped as Matt appeared inside the front door.

I told you to lock the door.”

Like a locked door would have stopped anyone.” He should have locked the door, though. He’d been too busy pacing to remember.

Matt was balancing a small cake on the palm of his hand and held a grocery bag in the other. “Happy birthday.” He offered the cake to Nico.

Nico smiled. He’d forgotten it was his birthday. “We’re having cake?”

Not the dinner we’d planned but better than nothing, right?” Matt grimaced. “David called while I was in the car.”

They’ve found them?” Hope spread in Nico’s chest.

No. Someone broke into your apartment.”

Ice filled Nico’s veins. “What?”

I’m sorry, Nico. It’s trashed. David said it looks like they were searching for something.”

Searching? I don’t have anything.”

Matt dropped the bag and walked up to him. He plucked the cake from his hands and put it on the kitchen island before wrapping his arms around him. Nico couldn’t relax into the embrace. Someone had been in his apartment. He couldn’t go back there.

We’ll figure it out.”

What did they expect? That I had The Mona Lisa hanging on my wall? It’s a shitty apartment, Matt!” He took a step back, so he could gesture with his hands. He needed to gesture.

I know. And I don’t think they were looking for The Mona Lisa. I haven’t heard anything about it being stolen.”

What then? My dildo collection? They’re not made of gold.”

The corner of Matt’s mouth quirked. “I didn’t know you were a collector.”

Oh God, has David seen it? He already hates me.”

Matt crossed his arms over his chest, looking a lot like David as he did. “He doesn’t hate you.”

He does!” Nico threw his hands in the air. “He’s always growling when I’m around, always acting as if I’m… something.”

You are something.”

Nico glared. “He’s acting as if I’m… subpar.”

Matt shook his head. “He’s not. It’s…” He shrugged.

What?”

He doesn’t like the way we are.”

Nico blinked. “He’s a homophobe? Typical cops.”

Matt grinned and shook his head. “No, he’s not a homophobe. He thinks I, or you, should do something about this situation.” He pointed between them.

What situation?

Do you want me to go check your apartment? See how bad it is?”

Nico sighed. He didn’t want Matt to leave again. Being alone in the cabin drove him out of his mind. “Yeah. Could you hide my sex toys?”

Matt laughed. “Sure. Where do you keep them?”

Bedside drawer, where else?”

Considering both the burglars and Amber and David have been there, I doubt it’ll do any good, but I wouldn’t mind a peek at your collection.” He winked, grabbed the bag of groceries, and moved closer to the fridge.

Nico groaned and sank down on the ratty two-seat sofa. It wasn’t a big collection, but… “I’m gonna blush next time I see David.”

Matt barked a laugh. “I doubt it’s any worse than what he already had pictured.”

Once Matt had put away the groceries, he grabbed the car keys. “I’ll be back in a few hours then. Anything you want from your apartment?”

Clothes? I don’t know. How long are we staying here?”

Matt shrugged. “Since they’ve raided your place, they know it isn’t there. I fear they’ll come for you next.”

Blurb:

justtobreatheNico Allegretti has been best friends with Matt Barnes since kindergarten. There is no one more important to Nico than Matt, and while he’s known for years Matt is the one for him, he’ll never tell him. He won’t risk ruining their friendship.

On his way to meet Matt at the restaurant, a case of mistaken identity ends with Nico in the trunk of a car. When he’s released, his kidnappers give him twenty-four hours to give them what they want. The problem is, Nico has no idea what that could be.

Not knowing what else to do, he turns to Matt, who is a cop. Together they go into hiding while looking for clues. Being kidnapped doesn’t change Nico’s resolve to not let Matt know how he feels, but hiding in a small cabin together makes it hard to ignore. Matt’s small touches and compliments must mean nothing. Had Matt felt the same, he’d let him know by now … right?

Buy links:

Contemporary Gay Romance: 15,392 words

JMS Books :: Amazon :: books2read.com/JustToBreathe

June Giveaway

Giveaway!

Giveaway time! If you haven’t been around long (welcome!), I had this idea at the beginning of the year that I would celebrate my book birthdays. Every month, I pick a winner who gets an ebook copy of the books that were published during the month previous years. So this month we’re looking at Knickers in a Twist, Blood on Sand, Dazzle Me, Jaeger’s Lost and Found, and Elevator Pitch. 

Knickers in a Twist was the first thing I ever published. It was written for the Don’t Read in the Closet event that the Goodreads M/M Romance Group hosted. That was back in 2014, and then in 2015’s event, I wrote Blood on Sand. These are both free stories, and should I share excerpts and blurbs for them too this would turn into a very long post, so I’m just gonna leave links here if anyone should want to grab them. 

books2read.com/Knickers

books2read.com/BloodOnSand

Onto the books that aren’t free but that you have a chance to get. 

How does it work? 

I’ve set up a Kingsumo giveaway, so to enter you hop on over here, and type in your email. You’re not subscribing to any email list by doing so, so worry not. Then in a week, Kingsumo will draw a random winner, and I’ll be in touch with that person. Easy! 

The books 

Dazzle Me was just re-published, but I’m going with the old date. It was written for an anthology called Summer Bigger Than Others from Beaten Track Publishing which is an anthology of short summer stories. I seldom write summer stories, I’m working on getting better at it, but autumn and winter are so much nicer LOL. It’s a ‘one of those days’ kind of story. 

Jaeger’s Lost and Found was the first story I wrote for JMS Books, and it’s a favourite of mine – here we’re really talking dark and grey. It’s raining all the time and Jaeger is a finder with social anxiety who can’t find shit. He lives in an old dusty bookstore. It’s all thunder and smattering rain. I have considered turning it into a series. We’ll see. 

Then we have Elevator Pitch which is another favourite. It’s a short story about a bat shifter with claustrophobia and a bear shifter caught in an elevator. It’s cute. Just writing this makes me smile 😀

Excerpt:

dazzleme

The smell of the plane had my stomach in knots. How did they always manage to make it smell like that inside the air cabin? It was odourless and yet it had a tinge of disinfectant to it.

You want the window seat?” Santino’s eyes were filled with concern as he watched me over his shoulder. Window seat or the seat one step closer to the middle of the row—I could hardly see that it mattered. “It’ll be fine, Tommy-boy.”

I growled. He knew not to call me ‘Tommy-boy’—never ever when other people could hear.

We’ll be there in no time. Let’s see if they have a content filter on their Wi-Fi. Maybe we can watch something fitting for our tastes.” He gave a wicked smile and wiggled his brows.

Quiet.” I glanced around the cramped plane. It was huge, but still cramped with all the people squeezing themselves into their seats. “Pick your seat and keep your mouth shut.”

Oh, you’re letting me choose?” He squealed like a schoolgirl and waved his hands, making more than one person turn around and gawk at us. My lips stretch into something that probably was closer to a parody of a smile than a real one, but it was all I could muster at the time.

It’ll be okay, love,” he whispered and patted my arm, the corner of his mouth quirking. “Sit by the window. Maybe the view will take your mind off things.” I wanted to scoff, but it wouldn’t do any good, so I sat down at the same time as he slumped in the seat next to me. He leaned toward me. “It’ll be all right, I promise. I’ll save you from all the big bad co-travellers.”

I’m not worried about the travellers.” My jaw ached from all the clamping I’d been doing.

Argh, I wanted to save you, be your knight in shining armour and all of that.”

I caught the annoyed glare the traveller next to Santino sent in our direction and shook my head. I knew he was trying to distract me, but the rapid beating of my heart made it impossible for me to indulge him. Why the hell had I agreed to this? Why did I have it in my mind that I needed to propose on our anniversary? Three hundred and sixty-five days a year, and I had to propose on the twenty-second of June.

I tapped my foot. I hated when people tapped their feet. The roar of the engines rumbled through the plane, and I grasped the armrests. I hated that sound. My fingers clutched the grey plastic in a bruising grip. I was an embarrassment to all mechanics, but I couldn’t help it. Cars were one thing, planes entirely another. As my knuckles turned white, I closed my eyes. I tried to ignore the roar of the engines, pretended I couldn’t smell that distinct air-cabin odour, tried not to see the blue seats on the inside of my eyelids. I concentrated on my breathing. In and out. In and out. I’m in a car, a beautiful car. In and out. In and out.

I sensed the plane turning, knew it meant that we were out on the airstrip. Soon the plane would start to go faster, and faster, until it lost contact with the ground. I’m in a car.

Hot air ghosted over my ear. “Let’s join the mile-high club.”

Excerpt:

Thunder and rain at Jaeger's Lost & Found

Gael watched Archie’s face slip back into the blank mask, but as he looked at his eyes, he realized they weren’t as expressionless as he’d first thought. Sure, all signs of frowns, smiles, winces, and smirks were ironed out, but his eyes—his eyes were telling him he was an idiot. He hunched his shoulders. It was true.

“Shall we go?”

Edie got up on tiptoe and kissed Archie’s cheek but instead of Archie returning it as Gael expected him to, he spluttered and pushed her away. “Keep your germs to yourself. Snake.”

The forked tongue poked out between her lips.

“You’re not married?”

Edie barked a laugh, Archie paled. It made Gael chuckle simply watching him.

“Okay, off you go.” Edie pushed at Archie. “Do you have a car, Mr. Murray?”

Gael shook his head.

“Take mine.” She tossed him the keys. “I expect it back in perfect condition, and no snacking on Archie.”

“Why not? He looks tasty.” He wouldn’t drink from Archie, it would be unprofessional to bite someone he’d hired, though he would be lying if he said he wasn’t a little curious about what a finder tasted like.

“He’s likely to vomit all over you if you try it.” Edie flashed her fangs again. “He’s squeamish.”

He is right here.”

“I promise not to eat you.” Before he could stop himself, he added, “Unless you beg me to.”

Archie didn’t respond, didn’t move a muscle in his handsome face. Gael tried not to frown, but damn it, was a blush too much to ask for?

Clutching a black coat, Archie took a step toward the door, backed up two, blew out a breath, and slid forward about half a step. The air filled with the scent of fear and Gael glanced at Edie. What the fuck was this?

“The car is parked around the corner.” She gestured for Gael to go. He hesitated. Archie’s heart was beating hard enough to hurt his ears. Shit, they didn’t have time for this. They’d already wasted a good chunk sitting around here chatting.

“I…eh…I’ll wait there.” He nodded at Edie and strode out into the chilly night. He didn’t bother moving at human speed. There was no one around to watch him, so why should he endure the rain longer than needed?

There was one car parked around the corner, one. The rusty old Volvo had been dark blue at some point. Gael sighed, but since it beeped to life from the key, it had to be Edie’s. He yanked the door open and slid in on the driver’s seat.

Lightning flashed behind his eyes and pain exploded in his brain. He curled his fingers around the steering wheel and hissed. He would die in a fucking Volvo.

Slowly, all too slowly, the pain ebbed away, and he became aware of a shadow creeping around the corner of the building. Back pressed against the wall, fingers tracing every brick, Archie took one step after another. A sloth would’ve made faster progress. Edie came jogging, grabbed Archie’s arm, and shoved him toward the car. Opening the door, she pushed him inside.

“Sometimes he needs a little help. He’s usually fine once he’s in the car.” She pursed her lips and shielded her face from the rain. “If he yells for you to stop, stop.” She slammed the door shut and ran back around the corner.

Gael got them moving, only glancing at Archie every other second or so.

“Are you agoraphobic?”

“No.”

Gael took a turn out on the freeway leading away from the city. “I think you are.”

Archie didn’t answer.

“I’m Gael.”

No response.

Gael drummed the wheel. “So…you’ve known Edie long?”

Archie gave him a blank stare and Gael rubbed his neck. Damn, this was uncomfortable.

elevator pitch

A panting young man was standing in the middle of the lobby. His dark hair was pointing in every possible direction, and not in an artfully styled way. His jeans were paint-stained and tattered, his black shirt had a T-Rex tangled up in Christmas lights and the text Tree Rex in large block letters despite it being April. His black-rimmed glasses sat askew on his nose. He was on the thin side, shorter than Bjorn, but most people were.

Bjorn grinned, but then a pack of wolves pushed through the door, and the grin died a quick death. What were they doing in a bear hotel? It didn’t matter if they were low ranking and only in their twenties, they should know not to set foot in a bear establishment uninvited.

The man made a shrieking sound before diving for the shrinking opening into the elevator. Bjorn braced himself for the impact. The wolf in the lead reached for the man and would’ve caught him if he hadn’t looked up at Bjorn. The moment Bjorn allowed his bear to peek through his eyes, the wolf dropped his arm.

By some miracle, the human—he had to be human, Bjorn had never met a shifter with glasses—managed to squeeze himself through and only brush up against Bjorn’s arm for the briefest second.

The wolf took a step closer, his eyes locked on the man, and the naked hatred on his face shocked Bjorn.

Fucking fag.”

Bjorn rolled his eyes. So he liked dick, why did every fucking shifter in this city have a problem with that? The door finally slid all the way closed, hiding him and the panting human from the world.

Friends of yours?” Bjorn sought eye contact without success. Instead of his breathing evening out, it became more and more frantic. The scent of paint, panic, and coffee overtook the small elevator.

Easy, man.”

Wide, frantic eyes snapped to Bjorn’s. Yeah, definitely panic there.

Hey, slow your breathing. You got away from them, you’re safe.”

The eyes, if possible, got wider. “Bear.” He could hardly make out the word between the breaths, but when he did, he frowned. How could he know?

The light flickered and the elevator came to an abrupt stop. Bjorn groaned. They stood still between floors.

Everything went black.

The man made a keening sound and a wave of magic washed over Bjorn. What the fuck? The sound of clothes hitting the floor made him roar. He’d assumed the man was human.

Fur exploded out of his body as his bones and muscles changed form. What could he be? Spider? Fear clouded Bjorn’s mind. Snake? His clothes tore, the seams fighting to hold everything together as the fabric shredded.

Bjorn hit the wall, tried to sidestep and hit the other wall. Something shattered under his paw—glasses. He winced and his behind hit the door. As a bear, he had excellent night vision, but the elevator was pitch black. He couldn’t see the man anywhere.

Taking a deep breath, he willed himself to change back into human shape. It didn’t happen. Something bounced against the ceiling and Bjorn tried to duck, but the elevator was too damn small for him not to hit the walls with every little motion.

A clicking, high-pitched sound bounced off the walls and Bjorn flinched. Bat? It was the sound of a bat, right? Bats couldn’t kill bears, could they?

He took a nice, deep breath and slowly his body responded to his demand, and changed back to human shape.

Come on, man, change back.”

Nothing happened except the flapping and bouncing.

dazzleme

Tom and Santino’s anniversary is coming up, and Tom has a plan. He’s going to show Santino how much he means to him. The night will be magical.

Tom’s plan did not include a trip to Thailand. He doesn’t do aeroplanes, doesn’t do tropical climate, and he doesn’t do spas. Yet he finds himself without a stitch of clothing on a spa table, with a man he’s never met before while Santino is away on a business meeting.

This was not how it was supposed to go. Tom will do his best to live through the day so they can celebrate their anniversary when they get back to the hotel, but If Santino wanted him smooth and sparkly, couldn’t he have told him instead of booking him an appointment?

Jaeger's Lost & Found

Jaeger’s Lost & Found is the only finder shop to be had on the whole of the west coast. The problem is, Archibald Jaeger, the last of the Jaeger line, seems to be defective. A result of too many generations of crossbreeding with humans. But Jaegers are finders, and there’s nothing to be done about it.

Gael Murray has lost his connections. A vampire can’t survive without the energy exchange he has with the members of his coven through mental links. And, as of this morning, they’ve all vanished. Gael will die if he doesn’t reinstate his connections through a blood exchange. And his only hope to find the other members of his coven is to hire a finder.

Even a terrible finder is better than no finder at all.

Together they set out to save Gael’s life, but what was an already difficult task becomes nearly insurmountable. And Archie, who can never find what he’s looking for, finds himself falling in love with a man he’ll be hard pressed to save.

elevator pitch

Bjorn Ritter only wants one thing – to live his life away from nosey, demanding bears. That’s easier said than done when you’re the son of the female running the Bayside Bear Community. Cecil Baxter might be a bat, but he grew up away from shifter communities and he’s doing his best to continue to keep his distance. Shifters aren’t an accepting bunch and Cecil has never fit the norm.

Already facing a dreaded meeting with his mother, the last thing Bjorn needs is a stranger using his elevator to escape a pack of werewolves. And Cecil, whose day just seems to be getting worse and worse, could really do without the added stress of finding himself trapped in an elevator with a huge bear shifter.

Still, what could go wrong in three minutes?

Enter the giveaway here!