New Release – Snowstorms and Second Chances

This summer, Hank Edwards and I discussed writing stories in a shared universe. He released his book Snowflakes and Song Lyrics on December 6th and my book Snowstorms and Second Chances just went live today!

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These sweet and sexy holiday romances are available for purchase on Amazon or free to read with Kindle Unlimited.

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Title: Snowstorms and Second Chances

Author Name: Brigham Vaughn

Universe: The Williamsville Inn

While both stories in this series are set in the same universe, each book features a different couple and can be read as a stand-alone.

Summary:

Erik Josef is a forty-three-year-old, recently divorced businessman with one goal: wrap up his last project of the year so he can spend the holidays in Tahiti. All he wants is drinks on a beach, served to him by a woman in a bikini.

While waiting at an airport bar for his business partner to fly into Buffalo, New York, he encounters Seth Cobb, a chatty travel writer waiting for a flight to Pittsburgh to visit his family.

After a huge snowstorm grounds all flights, a mix-up at the Williamsville Inn leads to Erik and Seth sharing a room. Seth’s love of Christmas gets on Erik’s last nerve, but a mugful of Seth’s hot chocolate slowly melts Erik’s icy exterior.

When Erik realizes he’s attracted to Seth, he must choose between the life he’s always known, or a new adventure with a man a decade younger and a second chance at happiness.

Excerpt:

“All joking aside, I guess we’ll have to hope that Christmas romance pans out for you after all,” Seth said a few minutes later.

“Guess so,” Erik said absently as he stared at the TV screen. He glanced at Seth. “For you too.”

“Thanks. Maybe that should have been my birthday wish last week.”

“You had a birthday last week?”

Seth nodded. “On the nineteenth. I spent it in Dresden. I was there to write a piece about the Striezelmarkt—the Christmas market—that’s been going on for over 600 years.”

“I’ve heard of those,” Erik said. “They’re all over Germany, right?”

“Yes. This is supposed to be one of the best though. There’s a carousel and the world’s biggest nutcracker. Plus, hundreds of booths filled with handmade crafts, pottery, candles, toys, wooden ornaments, and food. It’s incredible. Twinkling lights everywhere and the whole atmosphere feels festive.” By the end, Seth’s serious expression had melted away and was replaced by his now-familiar happy smile. He glowed when he talked about travel.

“It does sound incredible,” Erik agreed. “I can think of worse places to spend my birthday.”

“Oh, me too,” Seth agreed. “And I met a nice strapping German man by the name of Hans to celebrate it with. My German isn’t great, and his English was a bit broken, but we managed.” Seth gave him a little wink.

“I can’t say spending my birthday with Hans would be my choice,” Erik said drily. “But good for you.”

Seth shivered. “Is it just me or is it getting colder in here again?”

“It does seem like it.” Erik stood, then walked over to fiddle with the heater controls. “I’ll try cranking it up a little more.”

“I wonder if there are any extra blankets in the room?” Seth said as he walked past. He opened the closet doors. “Hmm. Nothing in here. Maybe in the dresser?”

“I didn’t notice anything when I put my clothes in there but check the bottom two drawers—I didn’t look in them. If you don’t find any blankets, I’ll have a talk with someone at the desk in the morning,” Erik said. He doubted a maintenance person was on hand twenty-four hours, especially in this weather.

“Or we could share body heat,” Seth said with a grin as he returned to his spot on the bed.

“Are you sure you didn’t get me liquored up so you could take advantage of me?” Erik asked, but he kept his voice light and teasing.

Seth shot him a dirty look. “No. Of course not. But the offer stands if you need it.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Erik grabbed his toiletry kit and a pair of pajamas out of the dresser. “I’m going to shower. Alone. And get ready for bed unless you need the bathroom before I head in there.”

“Nah, I’m good.”

Erik fled to the bathroom as if Seth’s offer to help him out was hot on his heels.

Snowstorms and Second Chances IG Out Now (1)

Publisher: Two Peninsulas Press (Indie/Self-Published)

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Word Count /or Page Number: 43,309 words

Formats/Price: eBook – $3.29 Available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

 

Buy on Amazon or Read on Kindle Unlimited

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The Midwest Series – Sale & New Release!

Midwest Series Promo Out Now

It’s an exciting week for me! Touch & Go, the third book in The Midwest Series is live on Amazon and you can buy it now!

To celebrate, Bully & Exit, the first book in the series, is on sale for $0.99. But only until October 1st so grab it before the price goes back up!

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Buy Bully & Exit Now!

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Buy Push & Pull Now!

Here’s a little teaser from Touch & Go:

“Then what’s stopping you?” Micah rubbed a little, teasing him with a promise of how good it could be if he said yes.

“My career, mostly,” Justin muttered.

“Hey,” Micah softened his tone. “I get it. I really do. I have everything to lose. I’m going to be working as hard as anyone to be sure no one finds out about what we’re doing, okay?”

“I know. But I’ve got a shitty poker face, Micah. What if I give something away? What if our involvement clouds my objectivity and I can’t give you the best care?”

“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy,” Micah admitted. “But are you telling me you don’t get lonely on the road? You aren’t horny and worked up and want an outlet?”

Justin remained silent.

“Look, if you don’t want me, I get it. But this seems like the perfect arrangement to me. We both know the risks, and we’d go into it with clear eyes.”

“You’re very persuasive, you know?” Justin said with a wry grin. “Ever thought about becoming a lawyer instead of a ballplayer?”

“Nope.” Micah grinned back. “So, does that mean I’ve won my argument?”

“You’re getting close.”

Touch & Go Out Now Promo

Buy Touch & Go Now!

 

 

New Release/Freebie – A Tidal Series Short: Southampton Sea Breeze

If you’ve read the Tidal and Speakeasy series, you already know Carter Hamilton and Riley Porter-Wright. Their books, Wake and Calm, were published in the summer of 2017, and we put together a short story to mark that anniversary.
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Southampton Sea Breeze is FREE to download from Pride Publishing:
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This short story can be read on its own, but it certainly has ties to the Tidal books, Behind the Stick, and the other Speakeasy books, so if you haven’t already, we suggest you enjoy them all!
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New Release – Speakeasy #3: Behind the Stick

“Behind the Stick”, Book 3 in The Speakeasy Series, is live!

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Kyle is one of our favorite characters and we know you’re going to love Luka as well so we’re really excited to share it with you.
Love, served behind the stick.

Kyle McKee lives a charmed life. He co-owns Under, an uptown speakeasy, where he is chief mixologist. Friends poke fun at Kyle’s tiny one-bed apartment in Chelsea, but they’re the best support system a man could ask for. Unfortunately, Kyle’s lackluster love life has led him to take a break from dating.

Harlem resident Luka Clarke is a lieutenant with Engine 47, the Pride of Morningside, where he carries on his father’s legacy with the FDNY. Luka, who is mixed race and bisexual, has his eye on Kyle, whom he met at a local burger joint and he just needs to make time to visit Kyle’s bar.

Before work one evening, Kyle is trapped inside the luncheonette when a fire breaks out. Luka’s firehouse answers the call and he connects with Kyle again under the most unexpected of circumstances. When Kyle gratefully invites Luka and the firehouse squad to Under, the flirting between the two men leads to a date.

Kyle and Luka quickly grow close, but Luka’s mother and sister distrust Kyle for being both white and gay. Luka believes his family will come around and accept Kyle in the end, but Kyle is not optimistic and hides his disquiet as attraction blossoms into love.

Kyle and Luka’s near-idyllic bubble is shattered one evening after a hate crime leaves them scarred, inside and out. Shaken, they put on a strong front but struggle inwardly against fear and personal demons. As the emotions seething beneath the surface finally come to a head, both men must decide if they have the strength to find love enough to conquer hate.

Click on the buttons below to order the book or save it on your TBR list:
Retail links (Amazon, B&N, etc.):
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We hope you love these guys as much as we do!

Cover Reveal and Pre-Order – The Speakeasy #3 Behind the Stick

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K Evan Coles and I are excited to announce that “Behind the Stick”, Book 3 in The Speakeasy Series, is available for pre-order!

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Isn’t this cover gorgeous? Kyle is one of our favorite characters and we know you’re going to love Luka as well so we’re really excited to share it with you.
Love, served behind the stick.

Kyle McKee lives a charmed life. He co-owns Under, an uptown speakeasy, where he is chief mixologist. Friends poke fun at Kyle’s tiny one-bed apartment in Chelsea, but they’re the best support system a man could ask for. Unfortunately, Kyle’s lackluster love life has led him to take a break from dating.

Harlem resident Luka Clarke is a lieutenant with Engine 47, the Pride of Morningside, where he carries on his father’s legacy with the FDNY. Luka, who is mixed race and bisexual, has his eye on Kyle, whom he met at a local burger joint and he just needs to make time to visit Kyle’s bar.

Before work one evening, Kyle is trapped inside the luncheonette when a fire breaks out. Luka’s firehouse answers the call and he connects with Kyle again under the most unexpected of circumstances. When Kyle gratefully invites Luka and the firehouse squad to Under, the flirting between the two men leads to a date.

Kyle and Luka quickly grow close, but Luka’s mother and sister distrust Kyle for being both white and gay. Luka believes his family will come around and accept Kyle in the end, but Kyle is not optimistic and hides his disquiet as attraction blossoms into love.

Kyle and Luka’s near-idyllic bubble is shattered one evening after a hate crime leaves them scarred, inside and out. Shaken, they put on a strong front but struggle inwardly against fear and personal demons. As the emotions seething beneath the surface finally come to a head, both men must decide if they have the strength to find love enough to conquer hate.

To pre-order the book, click on the buttons below:
Retail links (Amazon, B&N, etc.):
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Pride Publishing:
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Add on Goodreads:
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ARCs will be happening soon, so if you’re interested in one, join my Facebook Fan

Guest Post – Deanna Wadsworth and “The Boyfriend Cruise”

Deanna Wadsworth and I have taken part in several Pride events in the past few years together and she is one of my favorite people! So when she asked if she could do a guest post on my blog to promote her latest release of course I said yes.

I haven’t read “The Boyfriend Cruise” but she consistently writes books that are both funny and steamy, so I hope you’ll take the time to read her post and check out her new novel!


Thank you for hosting me, Brigham! I’ve brought along a super special, extra sexy scene to share with your fans.

THE BOYFRIEND CRUISE is the first Pride of the Caribbean Getaway, and a must read for paranormal and contemporary readers. Imagine a gay-friendly cruise ship where paranormals hide in plain sight!

Think LOVE BOAT meets SUPERNATURAL with some steamy love!

And of course a happily ever after!

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THE BOYFRIEND CRUISE

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The Pride of the Caribbean is a cruise ship unlike any other. Paranormals working on board the enchanted ship hide in plain sight, under the benevolent protection of a demigod captain and his fairy husband.

And this is a shipboard romance unlike any other.

Josh Gilbert’s well-meaning family booked a gay-friendly cruise for Christmas in order to find Josh a boyfriend. Hoping to escape the constant parade of bachelors—and the collapsible fishing rod dangling mistletoe his mom keeps in her purse—Josh takes solace in a growing friendship with the ship’s photographer, Nathan. Though Josh is falling for Nathan, he worries it will never be more than a shipboard fling.

Nathan recently became aware of his incubus heritage and has finally learned how to control his demon side. But Josh has awakened more than just the demon’s need for orgasms—Josh has awakened Nathan’s heart. What’s developing between them is the real thing, but can Josh ever accept Nathan’s promiscuous past… and love a sex demon?

Amid lush tropical settings, family hilarity, holiday costume parties, sexy snorkeling adventures, gingerbread martinis, and mythical creatures, will Josh get his Christmas wish and finally find the true love he’s wanted for so long?

Special Excerpt:

“Wanna come back to my room? Aaron’s at the costume party… and, well….” Josh left it hanging.

Squeezing his hand, Nathan grinned. “I’d love to.”

Innocent man, indeed.

Nathan hadn’t expected Josh to be so bold, especially without Nathan’s incubus lure in play. But he held his demon in check. Might cause an unfixable scandal if Nathan followed through with the scene playing out in his mind right there in the bar…. Nathan dropping to his knees to drink the delicious nectar from Josh’s cock, milking him with his tongue and mouth until the heady power of the man’s orgasm fueled Nathan’s demon soul.

Nothing better than the high of draining orgasm after orgasm from a man. The high he’d get from Josh’s orgasm would be sweet, because willing orgasms had a power unlike any other.

Anxious and ready to feed, Nathan set down his empty glass. “Ready to go?”

The scent of Josh’s hunger spiked, and Nathan caught his breath.

“Yup.” Josh nodded, and they left the lounge, hand in hand.

Josh had him so off-kilter, Nathan hoped he could contain his energy and keep himself from coming when they had sex. The power might frighten Josh, but it would also turn all the fairies on board and anybody nearby into sex-crazed fiends.

No, Nathan would have to make sure Josh came first. The power from Josh’s orgasm would give Nathan the strength to think clearly—an ability he seemed to have lost in Josh’s presence.

“I’ve never done this before,” Josh said. “Invite a stranger back to my room.”

Nathan gave Josh’s hand a gentle, reassuring squeeze. “We don’t have to,” he heard himself say, and his demon side screamed in protest.

Why am I giving the guy an out?

Josh faced him, wide-eyed and cheeks flushed. “I want to. If you do?”

Relieved, Nathan stepped closer, their chests all but touching. He kissed Josh on the lips. Though a tiny kiss, something electric and shimmering went throughout Nathan’s entire body. His power thrummed in want, and for the first time in all his life, he had a sudden desire to bite.

Not like a blood thing, but he wanted Josh so much, his predatory instincts were on high alert. He wanted to make this man his. To mark him with love bites, taste his release, come deep inside him….

Josh closed his eyes and held very still, as if poised for another kiss.

“Does that answer your question?” Nathan whispered.

“Uh-huh,” he said, nodding, then slowly opening his eyes.

Still holding his hand, Nathan cinched his other arm around Josh’s waist and pulled him close. His warm body pressed to Nathan’s was sheer nirvana.

Josh placed his free hand on Nathan’s chest. “I’ve never done this before.”

Nathan dipped his head close to his ear. “Then let’s make it special,” he whispered, leaving a tiny kiss below his lobe and delighting in the full-body shiver he got out of Josh. Nathan could taste Josh’s desire, like the rich, mouthwatering aroma of fresh-baked cookies. His stomach all but growled for Josh’s orgasm. Josh’s wanting gave Nathan a renewed strength.

If Nathan felt stronger just from Josh’s desire, how much would Josh’s essence strengthen him?

When Nathan kissed Josh, the man’s pheromones intensified even more. Eager, Nathan kissed him deeper, drawing on the power of Josh’s unchecked desire. While he had not inherited demon immortality or the need to drink blood, his need to bring others to orgasm was a vital part of his being.

If it just so happened to be pleasurable for both parties, all the better.

After all, what was the whole point of being on this rock if you didn’t want to enjoy it? Traveling and soaking up the riches of life had been one of the driving reasons for Nathan to leave home on his eighteenth birthday.

That and all the tension his demon had caused within his family.

Nathan withdrew, catching his breath. Not wanting his past to cloud his future tonight, he ran the back of his hand across Josh’s cheek. He needed to slow down before he took Josh right in the hallway.

“Oh my,” Josh whispered, his eyes fluttering open.

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THE BOYFRIEND CRUISE

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Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and a couple adorable cocker spaniels. She has been spinning tales and penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010. She has served multiple board positions for different RWA chapters, including President of the Rainbow Romance Writers in 2017. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. An avid reader, she also loves gardening, cooking, music, and dancing. Often she can be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.

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You can also find her young adult alter ego, K.D. Worth FacebookTwitter

Buy Deanna’s books at Dreamspinner Press, Decadent Publishing or at any reputable eBook seller like Amazon

 

New Release – The Speakeasy #2 Extra Dirty

In addition to releasing “The Ghosts Between Us”, my co-written novel with K. Evan Coles was released!

It’s the second book in The Speakeasy series. The books in the series can be read as standalone stories, but if you haven’t read the first book and you’d like to, here is some more information about “With a Twist“!

If you’ve been eagerly waiting for Cam and Jesse’s story, here it is!

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Title: Extra Dirty

Author Name: K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

Tagline: Love, served extra dirty.

Series: The Speakeasy, #2

While the stories in this series are connected, each book features a new couple and can be read as a stand-alone.

Summary:

Jesse Murtagh loves his life as a wealthy bisexual businessman dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure. With a circle of friends he trusts implicitly, he enjoys a successful career in his family’s business and as co-owner of Under, an uptown speakeasy, with his friend with benefits, Kyle McKee.

Music teacher and part-time DJ Cameron Lewis lives modestly in a DUMBO loft and isn’t interested in serious relationships. However, he’s always up for some casual fun.

Doing a favor for his friend Carter Hamilton, Jesse meets Cam and is immediately charmed. When Jesse discovers Cam’s other life as a DJ, he is further intrigued. Viewing Cam as a challenge, Jesse pulls out all the stops, but his usual methods to avoid serious relationships fail. Though Cam has no intention of becoming attached, he begins to fall for Jesse, unaware that Jesse’s feelings are changing.

Afraid of heartbreak, Cam pulls away, leaving Jesse bewildered and hurt. They remain friends until a series of misunderstandings widens the rift to breaking point. When Cam steps in to help Jesse through a family crisis, they realize they care for each other more than they’ve been willing to admit. Jesse and Cam don’t want a traditional relationship, but can they build a future that makes them both happy?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of mmm ménage as well as references to homophobia and recreational drug use.

Publisher: Pride Publishing/Totally Entwined Group

Publication Date: March 26, 2019

Word Count /or Page Number: 89k + words

Formats/Price: eBook – $4.99 Available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

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Purchase “Extra Dirty” from the publisher:Pridelogo

or your favorite book retailer:

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New Release – The Ghosts Between Us

Somehow in the excitement of “The Ghosts Between Us” being released, I forgot to blog about it. Whoops?

But if you did miss the news, the book is now live on Amazon and available on KU/Kindle.

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Title: The Ghosts Between Us

Author Name: Brigham Vaughn

Tagline: From Loss, A New Beginning

Series: The West Hills (Book 1)

While the stories in this series are connected, each book features a new couple and can be read as a stand-alone.

Summary:

Dr. Christopher Allen knows how to deal with death. He’s a psychiatrist who works with hospice patients and their families, helping them cope with grief and letting go. But Chris’s job doesn’t prepare him for the sudden death of his devil-may-care brother Cal.

At Cal’s funeral, Chris is completely thrown when he meets Elliot Rawlings, an artist Cal has been dating. Chris is hurt to discover that the brother he knew as straight was actually bisexual. Elliot is angry and resentful of having been kept hidden from Cal’s family.

After the funeral, a night of drinking at the bar with Cal’s friends leads to Chris and Elliot falling into bed together.  The next morning, they’re overwhelmed by guilt and grief and agree to never speak of it again.

But Cal’s apartment needs to be packed up and Elliot reluctantly agrees to help Chris, as well as answer some questions about Cal’s life and their relationship. Despite their guilt and initial dislike for one another, they sort through the pieces of Cal’s life and begin to fall for each other.

Despite his best efforts to fix things, Chris’s family seems to be crumbling around him and he begins to question who he is and what his role with them is.  As his feelings for Elliot grow, Chris must decide if they’re worth further damaging his fragile relationships with his friends and family.

Elliot’s rough upbringing has left him distrustful of getting close to anyone, much less another man who isn’t willing to acknowledge him in public. The odds seem stacked against Chris and Elliot, but if they can overcome them, they may be able to lay Cal’s ghost to rest, along with their own demons.

Publisher: Two Peninsulas Press (Indie/Self-Published)

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Word Count /or Page Number: 130k + words

Formats/Price: eBook – $5.99 Available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

 

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Readers are loving “The Ghosts Between Us” and you will too!

Add on Goodreads: 

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Coming Soon – The Ghosts Between Us

If it feels like I’ve been teasing you with promises of this book for years, it’s because, well, I have. Somewhere about five years ago, the idea for it popped into my head. I jotted a few things down and then went on to work on other projects. Slowly, over that time, I’ve worked on the story. I did it in fits and starts as I struggled with it. First titled, “In Mourning” it slowly morphed into a massively long novel that explores grief, family, relationships, and love.

To be honest, it’s felt like a story I had to grow into. Both as an author and as a human. There were life experiences I needed to have along with writing skills I needed to develop. This story refused to be ready because I wasn’t ready.

But in a sudden burst of both inspiration and motivation, it came together. My beta readers returned it with some helpful suggestions for how to tweak and polish it, and a blog tour is being arranged.

I am truly excited to share this book with you–maybe more so than with any other book I’ve previously written–because I am so proud of it. I love the characters and I love the story and it was a real stretch for me as an author. I hope you’ll keep an eye out for it next month when it’s available because I know you’re going to love it as much as I do.

Ghosts Between Us Cover (1).jpg

Title: The Ghosts Between Us

Author Name: Brigham Vaughn

Tagline: From Loss, A New Beginning

Series: The West Hills (Book 1)

While the stories in this series are connected, each book features a new couple and can be read as a stand-alone.

Summary:

Dr. Christopher Allen knows how to deal with death. He’s a psychiatrist who works with hospice patients and their families, helping them cope with grief and letting go. But Chris’s job doesn’t prepare him for the sudden death of his devil-may-care brother Cal.

At Cal’s funeral, Chris is completely thrown when he meets Elliot Rawlings, an artist Cal has been dating. Chris is hurt to discover that the brother he knew as straight was actually bisexual. Elliot is angry and resentful of having been kept hidden from Cal’s family.

After the funeral, a night of drinking at the bar with Cal’s friends leads to Chris and Elliot falling into bed together.  The next morning, they’re overwhelmed by guilt and grief and agree to never speak of it again.

But Cal’s apartment needs to be packed up and Elliot reluctantly agrees to help Chris, as well as answer some questions about Cal’s life and their relationship. Despite their guilt and initial dislike for one another, they sort through the pieces of Cal’s life and begin to fall for each other.

Despite his best efforts to fix things, Chris’s family seems to be crumbling around him and he begins to question who he is and what his role with them is.  As his feelings for Elliot grow, Chris must decide if they’re worth further damaging his fragile relationships with his friends and family.

Elliot’s rough upbringing has left him distrustful of getting close to anyone, much less another man who isn’t willing to acknowledge him in public. The odds seem stacked against Chris and Elliot, but if they can overcome them, they may be able to lay Cal’s ghost to rest, along with their own demons.

Publisher: Two Peninsulas Press (Indie/Self-Published)

Publication Date: February 26, 2019

Word Count /or Page Number: 130k + words

Formats/Price: eBook – $5.99 Available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43690574-the-ghosts-between-us

 


The pre-order for this book won’t be available until February 22, but if you want to be notified about The Ghosts Between Us when it goes live there are two options!

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New Release – Seeking Warmth

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“Seeking Warmth” is live everywhere!

Four years ago, I did a holiday blog hop.  The rules were to write a flash fiction with a winter holiday theme and a bad boy character. There was a black and white photo of two young men embracing in what looked like a gift shop.

I wrote about two thousand words and posted it on my blog, but I knew that someday I’d want to expand it. At some point in the past few years, I did start to expand it, so when I got the itch to write a holiday story, I knew I had something solid to start with. In the end, it came in around twenty thousand words, which makes for a perfect short story length.

I really loved telling Benny’s story and I hope you enjoy it too.

Title: Seeking Warmth

Summary:

Benny Fuller is on his way to rock bottom. He’s seventeen, fresh out of juvie, homeless, and desperate to find a job.  His dad’s in jail and his drug-addicted mom is in no shape to take care of his sick sister, Angel. A run-in with his ex-boyfriend, Scott Sullivan, makes Benny feel even worse. He’s a thief with no future. Scott is smart, with plans for college and a great future ahead of him. Benny knows Scott can do so much better than him. Because no matter how hard Benny tries, he can’t seem to find a job or a way to take care of Angel.

The further Benny falls, the more he needs Scott’s help. Benny will have to let go of his pride and trust Scott and the Sullivan family in order to get the Christmas miracle Benny and Angel so desperately need.

Reader Advisory: This is an older (15+) YA story with themes of homelessness, drug use and prostitution (off-page), neglect of minors, and foster care.

Excerpt:

People hurried past Benny Fuller without seeing him. They were bundled up warmly against the snow, clutching their holiday shopping bags and packages. They were too intent on their destination to see the kid they pushed past. Now that the sun was going down, the crowds were beginning to thin. The wind picked up and the fat, fluffy snowflakes grew smaller and sharper. They stung his cheeks and made his hands ache. It had been early spring when he went into juvie. He’d had a hat stuffed in his old, beat up Army-style jacket but no gloves.

When the caseworker picked him up at the juvenile detention center and drove him to a foster home, she frowned at his bare hands. She said something about making sure he had a pair of gloves—and a warmer coat and boots—but she got a phone call a few minutes later and apparently forgot. He hadn’t said anything to the foster care lady about it either. So now the slushy snow soaked into his shoes as he walked and he still had no gloves or winter coat. He’d have to make do. But that was nothing new for him, was it? Benny had been doing that for a while now.

He kicked at a piece of torn, soggy cardboard on the sidewalk as he passed it. It did nothing to relieve the gnawing hunger in his stomach or the cold air that crept down the collar of his jacket and numbed his fingers.

It was satisfying though. Something to do to let out all of the frustration and fear boiling inside of him. His job search had amounted to nothing. Everything amounted to nothing. There were no opportunities for kids like him.

He’d been wandering the city for a week. Ever since he left the foster home they placed him in. It hadn’t seemed bad at first. It was clean and there were only two other kids there, both younger. But one of them was a nightmare. Benny had never seen anything like it. The boy screamed and tried to hit the little girl all the time. The foster mother did nothing to stop it. The little girl had bruises on her arms and legs from the boy and it made Benny sick to watch it happen. Within the first day Benny was there, the boy bit Benny hard enough to draw blood, but Benny was the one who got yelled at by the foster mother for provoking him. Benny hadn’t done anything but sit down next to the kid.

Benny had tried to help out, thinking maybe the woman was just overwhelmed, but she yelled at him for interfering. The day after he got there, the little girl had to go to the doctor for pinkeye. Benny was left home with the boy. It was a nightmare. After the boy screamed and hit him and acted like a little monster all day, Benny couldn’t handle it anymore. As soon as the woman got home with the girl, Benny crawled out the bedroom window and left.

He went straight to his childhood home, even though there was no one there waiting for him. He collected his car and a few belongings, but he knew he couldn’t stay or Child Protective Services would just drag him out of there and back to a foster home.

But once he left his old house, he had nowhere else to go. He had a car though, thankfully. It had sat, unused, while he was in juvie. It was still registered, thankfully, although the insurance on it had lapsed. He’d have to hope he didn’t get pulled over, or he’d be in big trouble.

With no home and no job, what else could he do now but wander? Sit in his car and feel sorry for himself? Even if he wanted to, he didn’t have any money for gas so he couldn’t do it for long. He tried to run the engine as little as possible. Just enough to keep himself from freezing to death. At least when he was up and walking, his blood was flowing.

He wasn’t warm, but at least he wasn’t dead. That was something, right?

Up ahead, a brightly-lit storefront spilled yellow light onto the snowy sidewalk. Its warmth beckoned Benny to come closer, but as he approached, he recognized the building and scowled. Sullivan’s Fine Gifts, the sign on the window read. Damn it. His wandering had taken him to the last place he should be.

Stupid. Why did I come here? He wondered. It wasn’t like he could go in and see Scott Sullivan. God, he wanted to though. Scott was the only person Benny had ever trusted. The only one who really knew him. Scott was the best thing that had ever happened to Benny. Too bad Benny was the worst thing that had ever happened to Scott.

Benny stood in front of the gift shop long enough for the snowflakes to settle on his too-thin jacket. His breath fogged the window and cold and hunger faded away as he stared into the store owned by his ex-boyfriend’s parents, mesmerized by the cheerful lights and decorations. It advertised home and family.

Warmth. Security. Love.

All the things Benny didn’t have.

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