Tag Archives: guest blogger

Guest post: Sue Brown on “Falling for Ramos”

FallingForRamosLGYou know that phrase “I don’t know what I like, but I know it when I see it.”

That applies to me for art and music. I’m not really into either. I love wandering around art galleries but I know nothing about art, and rely on other people for details of the symbolism of the era or technical information.

In Falling for Ramos I mention the Tate Gallery, which later became the Tate Britain. Full points to eagle-eyed readers if they spot the change in name in the book.

I spent a couple of hours with an artist in the Tate Britain. I’m afraid we disgraced ourselves and earned some disapproving looks. Apparently, going up to a painting and saying “And this is where the artist learnt to paint fur,” or “He’s wrestling with his sexuality? I think his sexuality is winning,” upsets some of the more serious visitors.

I’m a Philistine where art is concerned. I like paintings from IKEA as much as the most expensive art piece in the Louvre. But I know what I like. And that is why Falling for Ramos has a painting for the cover. I saw “Real Men Wear Jocks” on Facebook and it was different. I contacted Ian Brown (no relations) and he agreed to let us use it. What a star.

Buylinks for Falling for Ramos

Dreamspinner, ARe, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk

A glimpse of a group of businessmen in a newspaper tells Colin Hess his old love, Alejandro Ramos, is back in London a decade after they split up.

They met by chance as students, when Colin was pushed into Ramos’s lap at a party. Despite the disapproval from Ramos’s parents, Colin and Ramos were inseparable from that moment and settled in their own place as soon as they finished university.

But when Ramos’s father fell ill, Ramos was forced to return to the family vineyard, leaving Colin behind. When Colin joined him for a holiday, the plans Ramos’s parents had for their son became painfully clear—and those plans did not involve Colin.

Colin knows it would be stupid to rekindle their old love after the devastating end to their relationship. Still, neither can deny that they still have feelings for each other from the minute they meet, and Colin learns the meeting might not be as random as it seemed.

Sue’s bio:

Sue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn’t following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot and has got expert at ignoring the orders.

Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favorite television series. The series was boring; the kissing was not. She may be late to the party, but she’s made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.

Sue’s internet links

https://www.facebook.com/suebrownstories?fref=ts

https://twitter.com/suebrownstories

mailto:suebrown.stories@gmail.com

http://suebrownsstories.blogspot.co.uk/?zx=711a0a0202d37ef6

http://www.pinterest.com/suebrownstories/

https://www.goodreads.com/sue_brown

 

FallingForRamosLGExcerpt:


January 23, 1998

COLIN LOOKED dubiously at the house. “It looks like a squat.”

The venue for the party was a three-story crumbling monstrosity hidden behind a huge overgrown hedge. Compared to the rest of the street, this house looked unloved and definitely out of place.

“So? It’s not the first time we’ve been to a squat.”

Tim dragged Colin to the front door. It was open, and without hesitation Tim went in, swallowed up by the crowds in the hallway. Inside was a pleasant surprise compared to the unprepossessing exterior.

For a split second, Colin was tempted to bail on his friend, but as he hesitated on the doorstep, Tim emerged, grabbed his hand, and dragged him into the maw of the house. Tim didn’t stop until they reached the huge lounge heaving with people. Then he let go of Colin’s hand. “Where is she?”

“Who?”

“Rita, of course.”

Rita was Tim’s current girlfriend. Colin hadn’t met her. He never bothered unless they lasted longer than a week, which was rare for Tim.

“What does she look like?”

“Short, blonde, and stacked.”

No change there, then. Tim had a type.

Colin looked around. “What about that girl over there?”

“Where? Oh yeah, that’s my girl.”

“She’s kissing someone else.”

“What?”

Tim ploughed through the crowd toward Rita with Colin following reluctantly. By the time they arrived, Rita had stopped kissing the other guy and launched herself into Tim’s arms with an ear-piercing “Timmy!”

Tim responded by shoving his tongue down her throat. Colin supposed it was more hygienic than pissing on her leg to claim possession. Still it was gross to watch and went on for a long time. Rather than watch them play tonsil hockey, Colin took the opportunity to survey the room. The usual suspects from his year were there, a couple waving at him as he caught their eye. He was mainly known as the person to call when Tim got out of hand. Colin decided to grab a beer before he settled into a long evening entertaining Rita’s friend. The beer was in large kegs along one wall.

As Colin reached for a plastic tumbler, someone went for the same one and their fingers collided.

“Sorry,” he muttered and pulled back.

“No worries.”

The rolling accent caught Colin’s attention, and he looked up to see the man of his dreams smiling at him. But before he could say anything, Tim appeared, dragging Rita behind him.

“Hey, dickwad. You haven’t met Rita. Beer, great.” Tim reached between Colin and the other man to take the tumbler and filled it up.

Rita caught Colin’s eye and smiled. “Hey, you must be Callum. Great to meet you. Come and meet Kyla.”

“It’s Colin,” he corrected.

She shrugged, obviously uninterested.

Colin smiled apologetically at the guy—who, Christ, pushed every one of his buttons—and let himself be dragged away without a beer, wishing he could touch the other man’s hand again because that brief touch had set all his nerves afire.

Once Kyla established that Colin wasn’t going to be interested in her no matter how much she thrust her cleavage in his face, she huffed and went off to find a guy who knew where to stick his dick, since she was already used to watching this at 18PlusPics.com, but needed more than that. Her words, not Colin’s, who already knew perfectly well where he’d like to stick it. Tim was all over Rita, and that left Colin bored witless and wishing he’d stuck to his guns and stayed on the sofa. His stomach growled every so often to remind him that Tim hadn’t allowed him to finish his dinner. He eventually found a tumbler, filled it with cheap beer, and retreated to a corner so he could drool over Mr. Tall, Dark, and Gorgeous in peace.

Whoever the guy was, he was popular. He’d got a seat on the sofa, and a crowd of people had gathered around him. Colin wished he could be one of those people. He stared down into his half-empty glass. He needed enough alcohol to survive the evening but remain sober enough to get Tim home.

Heading over to the dustbins, the unexpected shove between Colin’s shoulder blades lurched him forward, right into the people by the sofa. They scattered, and he ended up in the lap of Mr. Tall, Dark, and Gorgeous. Normally he wouldn’t mind sitting in the lap of any gorgeous man, but he did prefer it to be consensual, and this man looked anything but happy. Then Colin realized his glass was now empty, the contents emptied down the man’s T-shirt.

The guy looked down at his soaked shirt, and his lips twitched. “I like to drink beer and have my men plastered against my chest. Not the other way round.”

 

 

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Filed under Blog Tour, Contemporary, Drama, gay, Guest Blogger, New Release, Romance

Guest Blog: Gay Love in Medieval England by Eli Easton

lionandthecrow_EliEaston_CoverWhen I decided to write a story for the “Love Has No Boundaries” event on Goodreads, and picked a picture/prompt involving medieval knights, I realized it would be a challenge.  I’d never written anything set in that period before.  But I’ve always been drawn to knights and Arthurian legend.  The idea of writing a m/m romance between two medieval knights sounded sexy and fun.  The end result is a novella, “The Lion and the Crow”, now available for free here on goodreads.com with free downloadable ebooks to follow here.

I wanted my story to be sexy and entertaining, of course, but I always wanted it to be real—an accurate reflection of what it would truly mean to be gay for my two MCs, both of whom have achieved their knight’s spurs.  So I researched.

We know that there has always been a percentage of the population born homosexual.  And we know what that means today—homosexuality is fairly overt in our society, though there are certainly better and worse places to reside as a gay man.  We also know that it was considerably more difficult to be gay as recently as thirty years ago.  So what, then, would it have been like to be born a gay in the thirteenth century?

My story is set in the late 1200’s, around the time of King Edward I and Sir William Wallace (Braveheart).  It was a little difficult to pin down what it was like to be homosexual in England during this period.  Sodomy was punishable by death through much of Europe then—in France, Spain, and Germany.  But in England it was not a high offence yet.  Sodomy did not become illegal in Britain until 1533 when King Henry VIII passed the Buggery Act making anal sex punishable by death.

It is true that Edward II (1284-1327) was rumored to be at least bisexual.  But he was assassinated at age 43.  Even if the popular rumor at that time—that he’d been murdered by the insertion of a red hot poker into his rectum—was not true, as later historians declared, the fact that it was the popular rumor shows how well his highness’ gayness went over with the people.

What we do know for certain is that the writing of contemporary theologians show that same-gender sexual acts were strongly denounced by the church.  Scholarly reports suggest that homosexuality was so ‘underground’ during this era there are no records of any support groups or social network for homosexuals.  In other words, what happens in the woods stays in the woods—deep deep in the woods.

Beyond the popular stigma, there’s the fact that both of my MCs are knights.  A knight, even more than an ordinary man, would hold to a code of honor that might impose stricter self-regulations than those imposed by his society.

I took two slightly different approaches with my MCs.  Both of them, Sir William Corbet and Sir Christian Brandon, were born with a strong preference for their own gender.  Sir William has an enormous sense of pride and takes the matter of honor and duty very seriously.  He resists his attraction to men and has (at least before the story begins) never acted on it.  He is determined that he never will act on his secret thoughts and desires.  Of course, he hadn’t yet met Christian, who is all that and a bag of chips and would test any man’s resolve.

Sir Christian is a bit younger and much more practical.  He was raised in a household where he was severely mistreated.  As he puts it, “I keep faith with those who have kept faith with me.”  Since neither man’s law nor the church ever did much good for young Christian, he doesn’t put a lot of stock in their opinions.  Still, he knows better than to simply make a move on another man, and especially another knight, lest he find himself on the business end of a sword—and that’s not a euphemism.

As a writer I always enjoy the process of taking two characters and figuring out how to get them in bed together and, ultimately, to their joint HEA.  The bigger the obstacles, the more intriguing that journey tends to be.  I pray you’ll take the journey with Will and Christian.  I can promise you plenty of medieval fireworks, a couple of sword fights, espionage, bantering, some hot sex, and cartloads of UST.

Eli

About Eli Easton

Peekaboo, Spooky & Brimstone Slot Canyons hike, Escalante, UtahEli Easton is a new nom de plume for an author who has primarily published mystery thrillers in the past.  As an addict of m/m romance, she decided to tip her size-nine toe in the water and write in the genre herself.  “The Lion and the Crow” is her first published m/m novella.  She has two short stories out now and three new m/m romance books coming out from Dreamspinner in 2013. You can get news about her books on goodreads here:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7020231.Eli_Easton

Or visit her blog:

www.elieaston.com

Excerpt:

CH 1

The first time William saw him, he was riding onto the tournament field on a red horse. His tunic was brilliant blue with a white eagle spreading its wings on the front, identifying him as one of Lord Brandon’s sons. Glinting silver armor was plated over his shoulders, his arms, and the tops of his legs. Underneath he wore black leggings and boots.

It is a warrior’s habit to size up an enemy— or a rival. So William felt no shame in staring as he took the youth’s measure. The armor he wore was polished but functional. It was well-used, not that of a mere peacock. A black velvet girdle was slung low on his narrow hips. His shoulders were broad for his frame, but his chest was slender and his waist slim. There was nothing of the larder on him. He rode his mount as light as a feather. William’s eyes dropped to his spurs— gilded. He was a full knight. But William knew well enough that such a thing could be all but bought by the nobility.

The round was archery, and the young knight had foregone any protection or decoration for his head— neither helmet, beads, nor braids. His hair was nearly black, chopped shorter than was fashionable, and bristled on top in a barbaric style. It was a harsh warrior’s cut, but on him it only made a more open frame for his face. It was the finest face that William had ever seen. It was long, narrow, and delicate, with full, quirked lips, a straight nose, a dimpled chin, and broad arched brows over large, dark eyes. His skin was as pale as a bucket of cream. There was a rosy cast on the proud bones of his cheek that any maiden would kill her own dam for. It was a battle flush perhaps, in anticipation of the contest.

William was used to forming an impression in an instant, and he rarely changed them. In his mind there were men made for battle, craggy and crude. Those were the men you wanted by your side— if their tempers were not too odious whilst in their cups. And then there were men made for the pleasing of women, as if God had put such men here for the sole purpose of warming a woman’s blood for her husband’s bed, thus guaranteeing the spread of the human race. The later might well claim to be the former— as good in battle as any man. But rarely had William found it to be the case. Perhaps it was a problem of motivation. What man, given the choice, wouldn’t rather be thrusting between a woman’s thighs than thrusting a spear on the practice field? Beauty was most oft lazy.

This young knight was definitely a woman-pleaser. He was beautiful in a way William had never seen on a man. In truth, he’d never even seen it on a woman. That did little to inspire his trust. He registered the distinctly feminine cheers of welcome the crowd afforded the rider, aptly proving William’s point. And then the young knight rode past William— and looked at him.

It wasn’t a mere glance. His eyes met William’s when he was still ten paces away and held them, unrelenting, as he rode in front of him. He even turned his head as he passed before letting his gaze finally slip from William’s. William did not back down from the stare. He dropped his eyes for no man. But he stood stoically, nothing showing on his face. It seemed forever that the knight passed, that those eyes were locked on his. They were a rich, dark brown and full of warmth and life. Even with the knight’s face placidly composed, those eyes seemed to speak volumes in a language William didn’t understand. They reached inside him and made his stomach clench hard with feeling.

Confusion? Curiosity? Outrage?

What did he mean by looking at William thus? They’d never met. Was it a challenge? A welcome to a stranger? The admiration of a young warrior to an elder one? Had he heard tales of William’s prowess? Or had he mistaken William for someone else?

William had stopped to watch the procession of archers on his way to the stables, where he’d been taking his tired mount after the last victorious round of jousting. Now he found himself in a crowd of the castle’s laborers. One of them was a blacksmith, his beefy form wrapped in a scarred leather apron.

 

“D’ya know ‘im?” he asked William. “The Crow?”

“No.” William frowned as the name sank in. “The Crow?”

The man chuckled. “Aye, poor lad. He’s the youngest of seven and his brothers took all the more favorable names.”

Another man, craggy and shrunken with age, spoke up. “Lessee, there’s a bear, a hound, a fox….”

“Badger,” a third man said brightly. “That’s Sir Peter Brandon.”

“Aye. Badger. Vulture’s one, innit?”

“’Tis Sir Thomas,” the blacksmith agreed amiably.

“Lessee. Must be one more….” Craggy Face pondered seriously.

“Lion?” The third man suggested.

The blacksmith glanced at William knowingly. “Nay. None of the Lord’s sons has earned that title. And if the first two don’t, you can bet the latter won’t. Elder brothers won’t be outdone.”

“Hence ‘the Crow,’” Craggy Face snorted.

“Boar,” the third man supplied helpfully. “’ee’s the biggest ’un.”

“Sir Stephan! That’s got it done. Boar suits him too. Even the teeth.” Craggy Face barred his teeth and chomped. A stench wafted on the breeze.

William’s eyes were drawn back to the Crow as he moved away, tall and straight in the saddle. From the back his shoulders looked broader still. They narrowed in a defined V to an almost delicate waist. “And that one? The Crow? What’s his Christian name?” William asked.

That earned him guffaws of laughter from all three of his new companions. William looked at the blacksmith in annoyance, his hand going to the hilt of his sword. The blacksmith held up his large paws placatingly. “No offense, Sir Knight. Only his name is Christian. Sir Christian Brandon. ’Tis that what’s amused us.”

William smiled and relaxed. “I see. I must be getting prescient. He’s young to have his spurs.”

“Not so young,” Craggy Face said.

“What has Sir Christian, twenty summers?” the third man questioned no one in particular.

“Say what you like, ’ee’s earned them spurs,” the blacksmith said firmly. “Them brothers of his gave him no quarter. Hard as iron nails, every last one of ’em.”

 

“Let’s go watch ’im shoot,” said Craggy Face, with eager anticipation. They hurried away from William, following the general flow of the crowd towards the archery targets.

William almost followed. He was curious to see the Crow shoot, to see if he had any skill to match that noble bearing. But then he thought better on it, changed direction, and headed for the stables. He did not know what to make of the youngest Brandon, knew not the meaning behind his look. But an uneasy feeling warned him that keeping his distance was the most expedient course. He was here for a purpose. He needed to put his cause to Lord Brandon and earn his help. He couldn’t afford to antagonize any of his sons. And he couldn’t afford to get led astray with wenching, gaming, or fighting either. His suit was too important— to Elaine and to himself.

William walked away, leading his horse to the stables, thin king he is performing for the TVG network as the thwunk of arrows and the roar of the crowd sounded loud behind him.

The Lion and the Crow links:

Read an excerpt:  http://elieaston.com/books-by-eli-easton/the-lion-and-the-crow/

On Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17855574-the-lion-and-the-crow

Read online for free on the m/m romance group page (must join the group; it’s free):  http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1354989-the-lion-and-the-crow-by-eli-easton-6-4

Free Downloadable ebooks:  http://www.mmromancegroup.com/?page_id=1121

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Filed under Drama, gay, Guest Blogger, Love Has No Boundaries, New Release, Romance, Writing

Guest Blogger: Grace Duncan on World Building, Geography & Climate

It is no secret by now that I love research. For anyone who’s kept up with my blog posts (especially the last one about research) or read my bio, they are, undoubtedly, aware of just how much I do.  Some of it isn’t necessary, but that’s okay. I love it and I feel it makes a world much fuller and more realistic if you include all the right details.

One big portion of that is the world-building.  Most of us have a general idea when and where our story will take place, but refining that into something that can become real, that the reader can feel and smell and hear takes a lot more thought – and the aforementioned research.

I had a firm picture in my head of what the world was that Teman came from and where he lived. I knew it was a desert, I knew he roamed (he was a gypsy, after all).  I knew what the city they were in during the opening chapter looked like in my head. I just had to get that on paper.

ACRThe pictures I found were amazing! It’s very easy for me to get lost in the first place on the internet and when I found so much that was exactly what was in my head, it took a supreme effort to remember I had a lot to do.   I discovered that the second series of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed games had a lot, visually, of what I thought my world should look like.  Set at a later time than my story (Assassin’s Creed: Revelations happens during the Renaissance) but the desert cities didn’t change all that much in that time, so I knew I’d found what my city looked like.

I have boatloads of details in my head that never made it into the book which is, I think, one of the downfalls of world-building.  I have so much I want to tell about! So much I want to put in! But I know that I wouldn’t necessarily want to read pages and pages of description like some of my favorite authors are guilty of (*coughTolkiencough*).  So even though I know that there is a large, busy marketplace that runs from the river dock through a number of the tight, winding streets, it didn’t make it in there.  Even though I can see the tiny alleys, hear the fishwife calling her wares or smell the roasting lamb, it stays in my head.  And though I know that Behekem contains everything from the shady parts of town (with the taverns Teman undoubtedly patronized before being caught) to the upper class districts (where the nobility keeps residences while they are there), it’s something I just have to make notes on and hope someday I get the chance to put it in a blog post like this.

BlueMosqueBut Neyem’s capital city of Behekam was only a small part of the world. I quickly realized that the main city (and its palace, which I loosely base off of the Blue Mosque in Turkey) was by far, not the only setting I’d be using and set out to draw a very rudimentary map.  Thankfully, Jamie rescued me and took my (really basic) map and turned it into something quite beautiful (See above).  So as I started to put together my outline, I saw desert trips, other cities and even an oasis to include.

So back to the drawing board I went to decide on the other countries.  My world is small, I will readily admit that.  But I decided that Neyem, its neighbors and the politics surrounding it all didn’t necessarily need to be huge.  So I made my own choices and gathered Europe and Asia and brought them much closer.

Neyem_rendered2

To the northwest is Saol.  Think Medieval England the names are Celtic, the vegetation very European and the country, in general… quite vague.  I needed contrast to Neyem and the Asian-based neighbor Tiantang, but knew that I wasn’t going to need remarkably more than that.  So I settled on the country, the capital (Calafort) and a rather… entertaining gentleman who serves as its ambassador.  I do hope you enjoy reading Lord Atherol as much as I enjoyed writing him.

ForbiddenPalaceTo the southwest, then, is Tiantang.  Obviously Asian, it is unashamedly patterned after China.  The Empress Tian lives in a palace that is, in essence, the Forbidden City and I spent great gobs of time looking through pictures of it and China in general (though weeding though the pictures of the Great Wall was annoying).  So when I finally pulled myself out of the Internet and started writing about Bathasar, Teman and their company approaching the city, I am sure I spent too much time describing it.  A big part of it was inspired by this picture:

China

Duankou, Tiantang’s capital city is an odd mix of the three countries in my world: Tiantang (of course), Neyem and Saol.  It is a prominent port city with a spot on my world’s version of the Silk Road – the overland trade routes.  No wonder it’s a conglomeration of the world.  It is set up in districts – one for Saol, one for Neyem and the biggest (of course) is for Tiantang, all characterized by their architecture and marketplaces.

The world of Choices is relatively small, but I hope it still feels full and diverse with enough details to pull the reader in and give them the opportunity to feel and hear it.  I certainly enjoyed making it and put even more of it into the next book, Deception.  What do you like to see in the worlds you read and write about? What makes it real for you?

Do be sure to leave a comment so that I can award a bag of goodies to someone!

Thank you so much, Jamie, for hosting me! It’s a real honor and pleasure.

ChoicesLGBorn and raised a gypsy in the late eleventh century, Teman values freedom over everything. He and his best friend, Jasim, are thieves for hire—until one night they’re caught and their precious freedom is revoked. Given the choice between the dungeons or palace pleasure slavery, they become slaves, but Teman vows to escape someday. 

Bathasar doesn’t want the throne. He supports his brother instead, which suits their sadistic father, Mukesh. When Teman, the handsome slave Bathasar has secretly been watching, saves his life, Bathasar requests a slave for the first time. Before long, Bathasar and Teman fall in love. But all is not well. One day Mukesh brutalizes Teman before the court, angering the empress of a neighboring nation. To appease her, he then offers her Jasim as a gift, and Teman decides to stay with Bathasar for now—despite the abuse he may suffer. 

The peace doesn’t last. Mukesh plans to invade Jasim’s new country, and Bathasar must find a way to stop the destruction. But if he succeeds, he’ll ascend to the throne and have the power to grant Teman his liberty. Then Teman will surely leave him. What other choice could a gypsy make?

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Filed under Fantasy, gay, Guest Blogger, World Building, Writing

Interview with new author F.E. Feeley!

This week my guest is F.E. Feeley, author of the new supernatural romance The Haunting of Timber Manor.  After the interview, he’s provided us with some information about the novel and an excerpt, and of course where to get it!  Welcome, F.E. Feeley!

Interview:

Is this your first novel?

Yes it is.

What inspired you to write it?

Gosh. Well, I’ve always been writing things here and there. Starting something but never finishing it. One day I sat down at the computer and started to piece a story together and before I knew it, I had written quite a bit. As for inspiration? I’ve always loved a spooky story, ever since I was a kid reading R.L. Stein’s Fear Street novels. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of ghosts and hauntings. So, I combined my two great loves and there you have it.

So who are your favorite authors in the horror genre?

Stephen King hands down is my favorite. John Carpenter is good. Anne Rice is all right but Stephen is the best in my humble opinion.

Did you find it a challenge to mix romance into a horror novel?

Sure. I think that I was able to do it with Timber as a means of lightening up the story. Giving Daniel a safe haven in the arms of Hale. But yes writing romance and horror together can be a little daunting. Remember the movie scream and all the rules about horror flicks, I sort of broke the cardinal rule of having sex and surviving. Oh well, it’s my book lol.

That’s true. Romance/Horror does seem to break that “rule.”

Right

Had you read other novels published by Dreamspinner before submitting your novel to them?

To be honest, no. About three quarters of the way through my book I inquired about m/m publishers just to see if any existed. I didn’t know about the genre. I had known there were erotic publishers out there but that wasn’t what Timber was.

So what’s been your experience working with Dreamspinner, as a new author?

Oh my gosh. It’s all been surreal for sure. Everyone has been so nice even when I inundated them with my noob questions. Really professional, really patient, really cool to talk to and I’ve gotten to meet so many different authors and get their support and words of encouragement….. Overall I can say it’s been an amazing experience and one I hope to relive.

I’m sure you will—many times!  Do you have any advice for new authors looking to get published?

I’m such a new guy and I feel like my publication is a bit of a ghost thing that’s happened, I still don’t feel like I can provide anything useful other than never listen to naysayers. If you want to be a writer and that’s all you can think of when you wake up, then write.

That’s interesting.  You often hear the advice to plow through, even when things aren’t flowing well.  What do you find is the hardest part of the writing process?

The hardest part for me is that the muses want to start gibber jabbing late at night and until I write something down, they won’t let me sleep. Other than that, learning to ignore the manuscript while I have nothing to write. Otherwise all I do is frustrate myself.

So are you working on a new project? Can you tell us anything about it?

Well I’ve started a few and set them aside for now to work on my current novel called Objects in the Rear View Mirror. It’s another ghost story about a couple in Kansas whose house is haunted. But the ghosts have a huge role to play in the married couple’s lives.

And one last question to throw out there: what book are you currently reading?

Actually a biography about Abraham Lincoln called Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It’s what the movie with Daniel Day Lewis is based off of in part. It’s amazing I gotta tell ya. You fall in love with how gentle he was. I’ve never had a biography make me cry before.

It’s been good chatting with you!

I hope that people enjoy the book and a thank you to you of course for conducting the interview.

Blurb:

While recovering from the recent loss of his parents, Daniel Donnelly receives a phone call from his estranged aunt, who turns over control of the family fortune and estate, Timber Manor. Though his father seemed guarded about the past, Daniel’s need for family and curiosity compel him to visit.

Located in a secluded area of the Northwest, Timber Manor has grown silent over the years. Her halls sit empty and a thin layer of dust adorns the sheet-covered Ivy and Wilde furniture. When Daniel arrives to begin repairs, strange things happen. Nightmares haunt his dreams. Memories not his own disturb his waking hours. Alive with the tragedies of the past, Timber Manor threatens to tear Daniel apart.

Sheriff Hale Davis grew up working on the manor grounds. Seeing Daniel struggle, he vows protect the young man who captured his heart, and help him solve the mystery behind the haunting and confront the past—not only to save Daniel’s life, but to save his family, whose very souls hang in the balance.

(Click on the image to the left, or go to http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=3509 to get the novel!)

Excerpt:

“Sure. I’ll even buy you some cotton candy,” I said. He smiled, and I leaned in for a kiss. His mouth met mine, and it was warm and inviting. He sat up straighter to lean into me, and I wrapped my arms around his body and dragged him closer to me. Our mouths ravaged each other, and the heat between us threatened to consume our bodies. His hands ran up my chest, held my face, and ran through my hair. I reached over, lifted him, and sat him in my lap, and as the passion intensified between us, I leaned into his neck and moaned. My lips hurt from the intensity of our kissing. We both were breathing heavily, and he held my head close to him. I could feel my pulse running through my whole body and felt every nerve on edge. I wanted him so badly, but I was determined to take it slow. To do things right. Dammit, stupid standards.

He sat back from me, and I stared up at his face, so handsome, and those lips, so kissable.

“I gotta get going soon,” I said.

“I know. I know.” He sighed and stood up. I had to adjust myself quickly. He reached for his laptop, turned it off, and unplugged it. “I’ll walk you out.”

I stood up, and as we were walking toward the door, Danny set his laptop down on the desk and, before I knew it, pitched forward and fell hard. He braced himself with his hands, but as he rolled over, he was holding his wrist and scooting back from the desk with a confused look on his face.

I leaned down to help him up, but he wasn’t budging, and his eyes were fixed under the desk, where nothing but a lamp cord was plugged into the wall. The winds outside howled, and the wolves howled with it. The look on his face disturbed me, and I said, “There is nothing there, Danny.” But the evidence on his ankle belied my words. Five distinctive red scratches were present along the foot, as if someone had grabbed it. “I didn’t stumble on anything; something tripped me,” he said. I was going to reiterate that nothing was there, but the scratches on his ankle defied anything I could have said. Finally, I was able to get him to his feet. He dusted himself off, and we headed out of the library, shutting the door behind us.

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Filed under gay, Guest Blogger, horror, Interviews, Occult/Paranormal, Romance, Writing

Guest Blogger Shira Anthony

So this morning, for a change of pace, we’re joined by guest author Shira Anthony, as she discusses her new novel, Aria, the third book in her Blue Notes series!  Shira gives us a little information about her novels, some excerpts, and even a free giveaway!  Welcome, Shira!

BlueNotesFSThanks, Jamie, for hosting me on your blog and letting me ramble a bit about my classical music series, Blue Notes.  It’s a pleasure to be here!

For those of you who may not be familiar with the Blue Notes Series, these are interrelated, standalone gay romance novels, each with a classical music theme.  Secondary characters in one book become the main characters in another, and the books can be read in any order.  The third book in the Blue Notes Series, Aria, was released on December 24th, and is now available for purchase in ebook or paperback format on the Dreamspinner Press website, Amazon, AllRomanceEbooks, and Barnes and Noble.

With each Blue Notes book, I’ve tried to create romances with real characters and real situations, many of those situations taken from my own experiences as a violinist and later, as an opera singer.  Of all of the books in the series so far, Aria is the one that is perhaps the most realistic.

AriaAria is the story of lawyer Sam Ryan, who first appears as a secondary character in the original Blue Notes.  Still reeling from the sudden death of his longtime partner, Sam meets aspiring opera singer Aiden Lind in a Manhattan gay bar.  The attraction between the two men is immediate, and the promise of their fledgling relationship obvious to both.  But Sam is still grieving, and when Aiden receives a prestigious scholarship to study in Europe, Sam lets Aiden go, unable to move forward and try to forge a relationship with someone new.

Five years later, the two men meet again at a party in Paris hosted by Blue Notes #1 pair Jason Greene and Jules Bardon.  Aiden is now at the top of his game, performing internationally with the best opera companies.  Sam thinks he’s finally ready to move on, but he’ll have to convince Aiden to forgive him for breaking his heart years before.

When Aiden and Sam finally decide to give their relationship a second chance, they are both full of hope that this time it will work.  But the realities of a long-distance relationship are hard to ignore, and things between them start to fall apart.  They must learn to communicate through the challenges, or their relationship won’t survive.

The reality of a long-distance relationship in Aria was my own reality at one point in my life.  Living with the man who would later become my husband, I was often on the road singing while he was left behind to deal with the day to day issues of job and home (which I conveniently forgot about – big surprise!).  On the road, I was lonely, but I was also rehearsing and performing operas–something I loved to do more than just about anything else.  It was a challenge for me and my husband, one that nearly broke us up.  And our difficulties didn’t include some of the challenges facing Aiden and Sam in Aria.

The Melody ThiefOther books in the series include the original Blue Notes, the story of a former pianist and a jazz violinist, and The Melody Thief, which is the story of a classical cellist.  Each book deals with different aspects of love relationships and immerses the reader in the world of music and musicians.  The next book in the series, Prelude, will be released in April of this year.

Want a chance to win a signed copy of Aria I’m giving two paperbacks away on Goodreads.  The drawing ends at midnight on March 2nd.

I hope that my own experiences add to the realism of Aria (and not only the challenges, but also the opera world setting itself).  Oh, and if you’re curious, you can hear a recording of me singing in a live performance of Puccini’s “Tosca” by clicking here.

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Blurb:  Five years after a prestigious scholarship jumpstarted his opera career, Aiden Lind has it all: fame, choice roles, and Lord Cameron Sherrington to share his life with. Maintaining his façade takes effort, but under his poised, sophisticated mask, Aiden is still the insecure kid from rural Mississippi. Then he walks in on Cam with another man, and the illusion of perfection shatters.

Levitt LLP attorney Sam Ryan never moved on after his partner died, though he tried. Instead of dating, he keeps himself busy with work—but when he unexpectedly runs into ex-lover Aiden while on a rare vacation in Paris, he’s inspired to give their love a second chance. First, though, he’ll have to get Aiden to forgive him. Because when Sam was still grieving five years ago, he broke Aiden’s heart.

When rekindled lust blossoms into a true romance, it seems like the start of something wonderful. But Aiden’s career has him on the road much of the time, and the physical distance between him and Sam starts translating into an emotional disconnect. If Aiden and Sam can’t learn to communicate, their separation may prove more than their love can bear.

Shira’s blog/website:  www.shiraanthony.com

Shira on Twitter: @WriterShira

Shira on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shira.anthony?ref=tn_tnmn

Shira’s email: shiraanthony@hotmail.com

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Excerpt from Chapter Two:

London

“MR. LIND!” the reporter shouted at him as he walked out the side door from Covent Garden. “Do you have a minute?”

Aiden had just finished rehearsing for his London debut in a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. He was exhausted and looking forward to a hot shower back at his place. He pulled up the collar of his wool coat and tucked his scarf a bit tighter around his neck. With all the insanity that seemed to swirl around him recently, the last thing he wanted was to get sick and have to cancel a performance. He could see the headline now: Lovesick Opera Star Misses Opening Night.

Deep breath. I can do this. He turned and flashed his best, most confident smile at the woman. Opera singers never got much press attention, but ever since he’d met Cameron Sherrington, Aiden had been on the radar screen. Cam wasn’t only the outrageously wealthy heir to a global hotel conglomerate, he was also a sometime impresario who financed Broadway-bound productions and even a movie or two when it struck his fancy.

“Mr. Lind, I’m Janine Thomas, from the Sunday Press,” the woman said as he shook her hand. “I was hoping to ask you a few questions.”

“Sure.”

He had been expecting the usual “Did you know that the queen will be attending your debut?” or “Are you and Lord Sherrington planning another vacation aboard his yacht this summer?” So he was entirely unprepared when she asked, “Is it true about Lord Sherrington and Jarrod Jameson?”

“What?” He stared at her for a split second, then swallowed hard and fought to regain his composure.

He knew Jarrod. Cam had invited him and about a hundred other guests to a party a few months before at “the castle,” as Aiden liked to call Cam’s family’s sprawling estate about an hour out of London, at which he and Cam sometimes spent the weekend. Jarrod was an Olympic swimmer and recent gold medalist in the European games held only six months before. Lean, muscular body, model good looks. Gay.

The reporter—Aiden had already forgotten her name—thrust a large glossy photograph into his hands. He knew he should hand it back to her, but he was so rattled he couldn’t think straight. The photo was grainy, obviously taken at night. It showed two men entwined and kissing behind a tall iron gate. The kiss was not chaste.

Aiden’s mouth went dry. He knew that gate—the gate in front of the London home he and Cam shared in Bloomsbury. One of the men looked a lot like Jameson, although he couldn’t be sure. And the other man… Aiden was pretty sure he recognized the familiar high cheekbones, the short brown hair that was always stylishly mussed, plus there was also a little of castor oil for hair smell coming from him, and the lean, athletic frame that looked so striking in an expensive suit. And well he should. He’d been living with the man for nearly a year.

He shoved the photograph back at her. “No comment.” His jaw tensed as he strode quickly over to the curb and flagged down a taxi.

“Mr. Lind!” she shouted as he ducked into the cab and shut the door. He ignored her and gave the driver his address.

AT NEARLY two in the morning, Aiden heard the front door open and close. He had spent the better part of the past three hours making a serious dent in the contents of a cut crystal carafe filled with expensive scotch. He was drunk, but not so drunk that he didn’t care. He wished to hell he was. He didn’t want to care. It hurt too much.

It was still so surreal, living in this incredible Edwardian house in one of the most expensive London neighborhoods. He had grown up in rural Mississippi in a three-bedroom ranch on his grandfather’s farm. The house had been comfortable but small, built in the late 1960s, when his father married his mother. A wedding present. Aiden had always wondered how his mother must have felt, having her front door a few hundred feet from her in-laws’ home. But if it had bothered her, she’d never mentioned it. Elizabeth Lind was the perfect wife and mother, attending church, cooking and cleaning and raising her two children. His mother’s world was far removed from the one into which Cameron Sherrington had been born—one of wealth and privilege. Aiden still felt like a usurper, a pretender to his current circumstances.

“Waiting up for me, sweetheart? I told you I’d be at the gallery opening late. Lady Billingsley insisted we go out for drinks afterwards, and you know how she is.” Cameron laid his coat over the back of the loveseat, walked over to Aiden, and bent down to kiss him on the head.

“I looked online,” Aiden said, his voice a monotone. “The gallery opening was last week.”

“Checking up on me?” Cam laughed and kissed Aiden again. “I’m sure you’re mistaken.” He walked over to the buffet and poured himself a glass of sherry. “I hardly imagined the party tonight. And it was a dull one, frankly. If Sarah hadn’t been there, I’d—”

“Was he good, Cam?” Aiden got up from the couch and stood in front of the fireplace.

“What on Earth are you talking about? And who is he?”

“Jarrod Jameson.”

The slight twitch in Cam’s cheek told Aiden everything he needed to know.

“Jameson? You mean the swimmer? What would I know about him?” Cam refilled his glass and waved it in Aiden’s direction.

“I know you’ve been fucking him.”

Cam raised an eyebrow. “You’re drunk.”

“Don’t change the subject.”

“We can talk about it in the morning, when you’ve sobered up a bit.” Cam gave him a long-suffering look that made Aiden feel like he was six years old again.

“Cam. Shit. You promised you wouldn’t—”

“Shhh.” Cam took Aiden in his arms and ran his hands through Aiden’s hair.

Aiden wanted to pull away, but he couldn’t do it. Instead he melted into Cam’s arms.

“You know I love you. What happens out there, it’s not us. This,” he continued, “here, this is who we are.”

The fire spit angrily, and Aiden watched it with calm detachment over Cam’s shoulder. Cam was right. This was home. He loved this old place with its creaky stairs, wood paneling, painted doors, and beautifully worn oak floors. They had picked out the furniture together, shopping the antique stores of Portobello Road until they found the perfect pieces.

“Cam, I—”

“You’re being paranoid, sweetheart,” Cam interrupted. He ran a thumb over Aiden’s mouth, tracing his lips until Aiden closed his eyes. “You worry too much. You always do.”

Aiden took a deep breath. Maybe Cam was right. Maybe he was being paranoid. The photograph had been taken at night, after all. And he hadn’t been sure it was Cam.

“Come to bed, Aiden,” Cam purred as he licked a line from Aiden’s chin to the sensitive spot under his ear. “And let me show you how much you mean to me.”

“AIDEN?”

Shit. He had missed his entrance. Again.

“Sorry, David. I don’t know what’s wrong with me today.”

David Somers peered at him over the rim of his reading glasses and frowned. “It’s about time for lunch anyhow,” the conductor said as he stood up from the piano. “How about it? My treat.”

“I… ah… sure.” Aiden had eaten with David before, but he still felt supremely awkward around the superstar conductor whose old-world grace and sophistication were so far removed from Aiden’s humble upbringing. David was classical music royalty, and Aiden was the hick kid with the incredible voice.

They’d met three and a half years before, not long after he’d arrived in Germany. David had taken Aiden under his wing, gotten him work in the larger European houses, introduced him to the best European conductors. David was the reason Aiden was making his Covent Garden debut; in the terms of his contract, he had insisted on Aiden singing the title role. David had even sent Aiden to a friend and had his own line of clothing with one of the largest European fashion houses for a “bit of polish,” as David had put it, there they have the best clothing lines and accessories from brands as The Fifth Collection and others. David had taught Aiden about good wine and good food. Aiden’s best friend, Cary Redding, loved to tease Aiden that David was his fairy godfather.

When David’s driver let them out in front of a small fish and chips place near Piccadilly Circus, Aiden was more than a little surprised. He’d been expecting something a bit more posh. David was clearly amused to see Aiden’s reaction.

“Fish and chips is an art form in its own right,” David told Aiden in his upper-crust New England accent. “Not everything on your plate needs to be haute cuisine.”

Ten minutes later, settled at a table near the back of the tiny restaurant, Aiden nodded in hearty agreement as he bit into a delicately battered piece of fish that melted on his tongue. “This is incredible.”

David’s response was a knowing but reserved smile. David never laughed, as far as Aiden could tell, and right now, Aiden was thankful for it.

“Something’s on your mind, Aiden,” David said. He never did beat around the bush.

“It’s nothing.” Aiden wiped his lips and tried not to blush.

“I’ve never seen you this distracted.”

Aiden was utterly embarrassed. It wasn’t as if he was going to discuss his love life with someone like David Somers. Why would David even care?

“I am not entirely oblivious to your situation,” David continued, apparently unfazed by Aiden’s silence. “I knew Lord Sherrington’s parents quite well.”

Oh God, Aiden thought. Can it get any worse? He waited for the other shoe to drop. David would fire him now, wouldn’t he?

“That’s interesting,” Aiden said, knowing he looked like a complete fool and reminding himself that there were other jobs to be had. Of course, none of the other jobs he’d gotten since coming to Europe were anywhere near his current gig: performing at the best opera house in Great Britain with the best conductor around, singing the title role in Don Giovanni.

“I simply wanted you to know that if you need anything,” David continued, “I’m here to assist. I have several spare bedrooms at my London flat.”

Aiden’s mouth fell open. Was the man offering to put him up if he left Cam?

David offered Aiden a warm smile. “I put very little stock in the gossip rags,” he said as he tore a piece of fish off with his bare hands, “but I am not so naïve as to believe that there is never a grain of truth to be found between their covers.”

“You… you would do that?” Aiden stammered as David’s words began to work their way to his fuzzy brain. “Put me up?”

“Of course. Aren’t we friends?”

Aiden coughed and choked on a piece of fish until tears appeared in the corners of his eyes.

David handed him an extra napkin with casual aplomb. Does anything ruffle this man? Aiden wondered. Friends? Me and David Somers?

“It would be my pleasure.”

“I… uh… I mean… that’s very kind of you and all, but….”

“Aiden.” David’s face was serious now, his expression sympathetic and kind. “You have far too little faith in your own abilities both on and off the stage. It isn’t my place to give you advice as to your private affairs, but I feel it’s my duty as your friend to remind you that I am here should you ever need my help.”

“I… uh… thanks, David. I’m honored. I mean, I’m—”

“There’s no need to thank me. And no need to speak of it further.” He gestured to Aiden’s plate. “By the way,” he continued, “the fish is far better consumed hot.”

Aiden nodded dumbly and went back to work on his food, knowing the heat in his cheeks was visible to his companion but unable to do anything about it. There was no doubt in his mind that David’s offer was entirely genuine.

David Somers wants to be my friend? It seemed so improbable, so surreal. And yet, there it was.

“YOU were splendid, darling,” Cam gushed as he met Aiden in the front entrance of his family’s estate and planted a kiss on his lips. “Not that I expected anything else, of course.”

Cameron had invited the entire Don Giovanni cast back to the castle to celebrate iden’s London debut. And the orchestra. And the stage crew. Half of London, really.

Cam guided Aiden into the grand ballroom of the estate to a round of applause from the guests. Aiden caught David Somers’s eye, and the conductor raised his glass and smiled.

The place was magnificent. Glittering chandeliers cast flickering slivers of light on the polished marble floors. The ceiling was painted with tiny stars on a deep blue background, the walls paneled in well-oiled wood that shone and reflected blue and white with the crystals overhead. Toward the back of the ballroom, enormous arched doors led out onto a patio running the length of the room. Aiden was reminded of the dizzying effect of a disco ball, only far more ethereal.

A jazz orchestra played at one end of the high-ceilinged room as women in ball gowns danced with men in tuxedos. Aiden had begged Cam for a little party at their own home. He was entirely out of his element here, amidst the titled guests and local celebrities. Cam, however, had insisted that Aiden deserved the lavish celebration, and Aiden, knowing it was useless to argue, had finally relented.

For nearly two hours, Aiden smiled politely as guest after guest congratulated him on his performance. Finally, at the end of his patience and feeling the usual exhaustion that followed an evening of singing, he walked onto the patio and into the damp evening air. The midwinter chill on the breeze helped clear his mind.

It was quiet here, overlooking the formal gardens. Beyond, Aiden could barely make out the copse of trees he and Cam had often picnicked under. Beyond that were the woods where they’d ridden on horseback—where Cam had taught Aiden to ride. Even now, as winter began to weave its tendrils throughout the countryside, it was still lovely. In spring, the trees and flowers would burst into a frenzy of color, each plant painstakingly placed for maximum visual impact. Aiden wished his mother could see this. She’d always loved to tend her garden.

Overhead, a plane made its way to parts unknown, but the only thing Aiden could hear was the wind as it moved through the trees and shrubs. He wondered what it must have been like for Cam, growing up in this beautiful but formidable place. They often spent weekends here in the spring and summer, but it never felt like home to Aiden. He couldn’t get used to the servants who pressed his clothing and turned down the bed at night, or the elaborate breakfasts that greeted them in the mornings with food enough for ten people.

In all his stays at the castle, Aiden had never once met Cameron’s mother. He once asked Cam how often he saw her, but Cam only laughed and pointed out that Aiden hadn’t seen his own parents or his sister in more than two years. Funny, thought Aiden, how he still missed his parents sometimes. But then again, John Lind had made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing to do with his only son. Aiden’s mother wouldn’t defy her husband, although she wrote to Aiden regularly by e-mail. His sister, Deb, had also made the effort to stay in touch, and he saw her once a year at most.

“Aiden!” he heard Cam call from the glass doors behind him. “You must meet Lord Cook and his wife, Audrey.”

With a sigh, Aiden turned and walked back into the ballroom.

AT NEARLY three in the morning, Aiden climbed the back stairs to the enormous bedroom he and Cameron shared. The room, as the rest of the house, was decorated in antiques. The bed was the only compromise in the room. Made of reclaimed wood Cam had told him once made up a wall-sized cabinet, it had been crafted to resemble the other pieces. Mahogany, finely detailed carving. Outrageously expensive. Cam had told him it was French and several hundred years old. Oil paintings of the English countryside hung at perfectly placed intervals on the damask-covered walls.

The party still continued below. It would go on until sunrise, Aiden guessed, but Cam would forgive him for turning in early. Not that Cam would hesitate to tease him mercilessly about being an early bird the next day. Aiden had a difficult enough time keeping up with Cam’s seemingly boundless energy, but after a long day and performance, Aiden knew it was a lost cause even to attempt it.

Aiden shed his tux, slipped into a heavenly pair of silk pajamas Cam had given him as a gift—one of many gifts—and washed his face in the spacious bathroom attached to their room. He reached for the toothbrush, neatly laid out on the glass shelf above the sink, when his stomach rumbled loudly enough for him to hear. He laughed. In all the chaos of the evening, he had forgotten to eat.

He never did eat much before a performance. He was loath to admit it, but he desperately feared burping when he was on stage. Not that he ever had. Still, it was a bit like a good luck charm for him, not eating. But afterward….

Damn. The servants would all be helping out at the party, so it wouldn’t be easy to find someone to bring him a snack. He didn’t want to get dressed again, he was too comfortable. He’d have to get the food himself without being noticed. Aiden smiled at the thought that he knew his way to the kitchen without descending the main staircase. He and Cam had sneaked down to the kitchen by way of the servants’ stairs more than a few times to snag leftovers after a particularly athletic round of sex.

He pulled on a pair of slippers and tied a warm woolen robe around himself. He made his way down the long hallway that joined the east wing of the house with the west, past the enormous staircase that led to the front entry, and toward the back stairs. He had nearly reached the stairs when he heard it—the sound of voices from a sitting room that joined a pair of bedrooms.

“Right… oh, yes… right there. That’s it. Just a little more. Oh… fuck!”

Aiden laughed to himself. He wasn’t all that surprised that some of the guests had made their way up here for a little added entertainment. The servants had been instructed to make the guest bedrooms available to Cam’s “good friends,” which in Aiden’s experience meant anyone who asked to stay.

He quickened his pace, not wanting to eavesdrop. The door to the sitting room was slightly ajar, so he kept his eyes focused on the stairwell so he wouldn’t be tempted to look inside. But then he heard a second voice, and he froze where he stood.

“Damn, but you’re tight tonight, sweetheart. Have you missed me? Have you been saving yourself for me? Because that tight little ass of yours is too delicious—”

Aiden’s gut roiled. He stormed over to the door and kicked it open with such violence that the sound echoed down the hallway. What he saw inside made him sick.

Jarrod Jameson was bent over an overstuffed settee. Naked. Cam, fully dressed, was ramming him from behind, his hands grasping Jarrod’s waist. Later, Aiden would realize that his gaze hadn’t focused as much on the men as on the antique sofa, with its beautiful carved scrollwork and hand-embroidered upholstery. Cam had taught him to appreciate the delicate beauty of just such an antique.

“Get the fuck out of here!” Aiden shouted at Jarrod as the two men abruptly separated.

“Aiden, sweetheart, I—”

“Shut up,” Aiden snapped at Cam as Jarrod picked up his scattered clothing from the Persian rug and ran out of the room, still naked. It was a good thing Jarrod left so quickly, because Aiden’s hands were balled in fists and he was having a hard time restraining himself from punching Jarrod’s face in.

Cam opened his mouth to speak, but Aiden didn’t give him the opportunity. “Don’t fucking try it, Cameron. It won’t work this time.” He turned and left, slamming the door to the sitting room behind him.

Back in his room—their room—a minute later, Aiden threw off his pajamas, pulled on a pair of jeans and a cashmere sweater, slipped on a pair of moccasins and a wool jacket, grabbed his wallet, and headed down the main stairway. He’d get his things later. He couldn’t stay a second longer.

Several guests were milling about the front door, drinks in hand, laughing. They barely looked at him in his street clothes. Maybe they didn’t recognize him.

Or maybe they don’t give a shit.

“I’m taking the Jag,” Aiden told one of the servants. The man looked at him with surprise but complied, returning a moment later to let him know the driver would be bringing the car around. Aiden was on the road back to London a few minutes later.

WHEN Cameron returned from the castle the next morning, Aiden had several suitcases spread around the bedroom and was packing his belongings, taking them out of the Leicester self-storage he had. Aiden had tried to sleep but had given up in the end, deciding instead to get his things together. He couldn’t do this anymore. How could he have been so naïve? He had stupidly believed the man the first time. But the second….

What’s the old expression? Fool me once, shame on you… fool me twice, shame on me?

God, his chest hurt. His eyes were red from lack of sleep and tears. Ironic that the biggest night of his career would be the worst night for his heart.

“Darling,” Cam said as he looked into the bedroom at the array of suitcases on the floor and on the bed, “don’t do this.”

“Do what, Cam? Because last time I checked, I wasn’t the one doing anything. It was you, doing it to us.”

“Darling, please!”

“Don’t you fucking call me that! You don’t deserve to call me that.”

“Dar—Aiden,” Cam began again, “let’s talk about this. We can straighten this out.”

“Sure. We can straighten it out. I’ll forgive you again and you’ll go on doing what you want, won’t you?”

“You’re jealous. You always were.”

“Cam, for God’s sake! Of course I’m jealous. We live together, and I just caught you fucking some—”

“Sweetheart. Aiden.” Cam walked over to Aiden and took him in his arms. “Don’t do this.”

Aiden did his utmost not to respond to that touch, to the touch that had once sustained him through the ups and downs of his career. It was one of the hardest things he had ever done, not to melt into Cam’s arms as he loved to do.

“It’s over, Cam. I can’t live like this. It’s not what I thought we were about.” Aiden’s voice cracked.

“I’ll never speak to Jarrod again.” Cam’s tone was reassuring. “I promise you.”

“It’s not him. Don’t you understand? You’ll just find someone else. I’m obviously not enough for you.”

There. He had said it. And it was true. Because no matter how much he told himself he deserved better, it all seemed to come down to his own failings. He, Aiden Reuben Lind, hadn’t been able to keep Cameron happy. It didn’t matter how he looked at it. He had failed. It was time to admit it. Time to leave. Time to move on.

“I want you.”

Aiden pulled out of Cam’s arms and walked silently to the bathroom, grabbed his toiletry bag, and tossed it into the suitcase he’d been working on. “It’s over, Cam,” he said as he latched the case and pulled it off the bed.

“What will you do without me?”

The question scared Aiden to death. “I’ll be fine,” he said under his breath. He hoped he sounded more convinced than he really was.

“You need me, Aiden. You need what I can give you. Money. Better name recognition. Work.”

Work. Aiden hoped to God Cameron wouldn’t interfere with his work. Would he do that?

“I’ll be fine,” he repeated.

“You’ll regret this, Aiden. I assure you.”

Was that a threat? He didn’t dare ask. “Good-bye, Cam,” he said. He picked up the suitcase and headed out the bedroom door. “I’ll send someone around to pick up the others.”

Cameron said nothing.

“DAVID,” Aiden said an hour later as he stood on the doorstep of David Somers’s London flat, “it’s good to see you. I hope I’m not coming at a bad time.”

David smiled and opened the door for Aiden, took the suitcase over Aiden’s protests, and led him inside. “The offer to stay here didn’t have an expiration date.” He gave Aiden’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze. “You can stay as long as you like.”

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Filed under Drama, gay, Guest Blogger, Romance