A Shameless Selfie for Food Philistines: Interviewing Wade

I’m visiting Grace Marshall’s back list for today’s Shameless Selfie. While the little piccie isn’t actually a selfie,  it certainly could be. I suppose I made Wade and Carla food philistines in Interviewing Wade because I’m a bit of one myself —  especially when I’m busy writing. When my head is down and I’m in the zone, anything that fills the void will get me there — though I try to make my choices a little healthier than Wade and Carla do.

That they find comeraderie in food that’s neither gourmet nor all that healthy is something that endeared me to them. That they both have the genes and the metabolism to not have to worry about what or how much they ate makes me more than a little envious.  They’re busy people, and they’re both a bit obsessive about their work. That being the case, they don’t really think about what they eat. An unexpected late-night breakfast turns out to be way more of a bonding experience than either of them expected.

Here’s a tasty little excerpt

 

 

Interviewing Wade is Book Four of The Executive Decision Series (Click Here for Book One | Book Two | Book Three)

 

Interviewing Wade Blurb:

The Executive Decisions Trilogy may be over, but the story continues. Intrepid reporter, Carla Flannery, wants to interview Wade Crittenden, the secretive creative genius behind Pneuma Inc. But when, against all odds, Wade actually agrees to the interview, Carla suspects ulterior motives.

Carla has made a lot of enemies in her work and when Wade discovers she’s being stalked, he agrees to the interview to keep her close and safe. As the situation turns deadly, lives and hearts are on the line, and the interview reveals far more about both than either ever expected.

 

Interviewing Wade Excerpt:

Carla nodded to the chair opposite her and Wade sat down cautiously. She offered a dry smile and spoke around a mouthful of toast. ‘Chair’s not booby-trapped, food’s not poisoned. My security system’s not that good.’

When he made no reply but savoured a forkful of eggs, she joined him in devouring the feast, satisfied that after the first bite, he shovelled it in with as much relish and lack of delicate table manners as she did. With her, eating was always done in a hurry to get on with what was always way more work than she had time for, unless she was settling in for a meal with her father. She suspected he cooked for her especially for that reason. And as she watched Wade stuff half a slice of toast into his mouth in one go, she figured he was probably the same, with no one to make sure he got a good meal from time to time. Though possibly Ellis invited him over occasionally, or maybe Harris Walker and his new wife, Stacie Emerson. Apparently her culinary skills were spoken about in hush tones. Strange, but it felt good to be able to offer something to Wade, even if the idiot did show up at three in the morning

‘Good,’ he said, at last, covering his full mouth with the paper towel she’d given him in lieu of the napkins she didn’t have.

‘Thanks. You think this is good, you should see me make Pop Tarts.

‘I like Pop Tarts,’ he said.

‘The secret is,’ she leaned across the table, ‘you’ve got to get the toaster set just right. And then afterwards,’ he leaned closer with wrapped attention, ‘afterwards I put butter on ‘em and stick ‘em in the microwave until it melts.’

Wade’s eyes were huge and very green in the kitchen lighting. He looked dead serious, as though she had just given him her secret for cold fusion. ‘I never thought about melting the butter on them in the microwave,’ he said, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. ‘But I find that I do like mine so that the little pastry edges are just beginning to get almost too brown.’

Christ! Were they actually talking about Pop Tarts? She laughed. ‘I like ‘em almost burnt, but I know that’s a matter of personal taste. My Dad likes his just barely warm.’

He lowered his head and went back to shovelling eggs.

She popped the last of her bacon into her mouth and spoke around it. ‘So tell me, is Fort Flannery as unassailable as my father assured me, or are we in need of an upgrade?’

He drained his glass of orange juice and pushed back from the table. ‘Your father did a good job. I didn’t have to do hardly anything.’

‘He’ll be glad to hear that,’ she said. ‘Sorry you had to waste your valuable time in the wee hours. I know how busy you are.’

‘Yes, well, it was on my mind. If you’ll let me see your Android, I’ll give it a little upgrade too.’

‘Will I be able to watch Russian porn on it?’ she asked.

‘Japanese and Chinese porn as well, if you like.’ There was that quirk of a smile that she really would love to eat right off his face.

‘And I’ll assume you’ve given it a test-drive.’

To her delight, the smile didn’t disappear, even though the blush was hot on those chiselled cheeks. ‘I’m my own best guinea pig.’

‘Wade Crittenden, that borders on too much information, but in the interest of consumer protection and all, I thank you.’ The blush grew, but the smile stayed put as she offered him a salute and went into her bedroom to get the device.

She returned to find that he’d shed his hoodie and was filling the sink with soapy water, his broad back mantling the counter like a giant bird of prey. For a second her stomach bottomed at the sight of Wade Crittenden doing dishes at her sink. She stood, Android crushed to her chest, feeling flushed and slightly off-balance. His t-shirt was a loose fit, misshapen and short in the back from too many washings for something that should have migrated to the rag drawer some time ago, and when he reached across the sink to add still more soap, the shirt rode up to reveal the slim line of his back and the muscles where his hips joined his torso just above the swell of his buttocks. The baggy jeans gave enough of an intimation of that swelling to leave Carla breathless and hot enough to want to throw off her own hoodie and splash herself with the soapy water in which he was nearly elbow-deep.

As though he sensed her watching, he turned, slopped water down the front of his shirt and onto his jeans and uttered a surprised curse.

Without thinking she rushed to his side, dropping the device on the table. ‘You don’t have to do that,’ she managed, in a breathless gasp. ‘Sometimes I go for weeks without ever washing so much as a coffee cup.’ She stretched around him, grabbed for a dish towel and offered it to him instead of patting him dry herself, which was what she really wanted to do.

He reached for the towel, holding her gaze. ‘You cook for me, I do the clean-up for you. Fair’s fair.’ His hand slid into the cloth and around her fingers as he drew it to his chest. His breath caught, his lips parted as though to speak, and God help her, she couldn’t resist, she leaned into him on tippy-toe and planted a kiss firmly on his mouth. She only meant for it to be a friendly peck, a way of saying thanks for checking up on her and for doing the dishes, but his other hand, covered with soapy water, swooped in and grabbed the front of her hoodie reeling her to him. Then he curled his fingers in the tangle of her wild hair and cradled the back of her head, pulling her still further up on her toes. ‘Oh God,’ he whispered, his tongue darting deep, his lips, soft and hard and bruising all at the same time, meeting hers in a clash of wills and a heroic effort to get closer and deeper. ‘Oh God, Carla, why did you do that,’ he gasped against her mouth.

‘Just being friendly,’ she managed, before the tongue sparring got serious. He gave the towel a toss and yanked down the zipper of her hoodie, shoving it off onto the floor, his hands skimming her breasts in his efforts, thumbs lingering to rake her nipples that were already painful in their peaking. His jeans might have been loose, but they were not loose enough to disguise his erection, and he didn’t seem to care. Both hands slid to cup her bottom and he lifted her, settling her onto the kitchen table, pushing her legs apart with his knees and moving in between her thighs as she went to work on his fly.

‘I have lots of friends,’ he breathed. ‘None of them do that to me.’

‘How about this,’ she said biting his lower lip and sliding her hand down inside his boxers. ‘Do they do this?’

‘No,’ he returned the nip. ‘Never, none of them.’ For a second he faltered. ‘Carla, I –’

‘Shut up, Wade. I don’t wanna hear it.’ This time she bit his tongue before she took his hand and guided it down into her baggy sweat bottoms and into her own boxers.

 

 

 

Available from:

eBook:

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Print:
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Reviews:

“Take one part of tall, dark and reclusive millionaire who likes to go bowling alone on Monday mornings, stir in another part in-your-face intrepid female reporter who never gives up until she gets her story and shake it up with a killer who has a score or two to settle. The result is a steamy and suspenseful tale that takes you on a fast-paced ride and keeps you turning the pages. The suspense is well done and really kept my interest. The book is easy to recommend. You won’t want to put it down. Go and grab your copy.” 4.5 out of 5, Love Bites and Silk Ties

“The story is well paced, with only inklings of the stalker’s identity showing up, after all kinds of computer searching, and old-fashioned footwork. The climax is shivery scary, and I couldn’t put it down.” 5 out of 5, Manic Readers

 

Toys for Boys Up for Pre-order

 

Exciting news for me! My M/M novella, Toys for Boys, which was originally a part of the Brit Boys with Toys Box Set is now available for pre-order as a juicy stand-alone. Release date is Valentine’s Day. Better than chocolate. Here’s a little taster.

Toys for Boys Blurb:

Alpha nerd Will Charles teams up with Caridoc ‘Doc’ Jones in a coast to coast walk across England reviewing outdoor gift suggestions for the Christmas edition of Toys for Boys—an online magazine dedicated to the latest gadgets to tickle a man’s fancy. Will is recording their adventures with the latest smart phone technology. Doc is reviewing the latest outdoor gear. The two quickly discover the great outdoors provides even better toys for boys, toys best shared al fresco, toys that, in spite of Will’s great camera work, will never be reviewed in Toys for Boys.

Note: Toys for Boys has been previously published as part of the Brit Boys: With Toys boxed set.

Toys for Boys — No Room in the Inn — Excerpt:

“I really am sorry, lads,” the proprietress at the Keld Lodge said, “but I’ve only a tiny single room available which, due to health and safety, I can’t rent as a double.”

“God, I really don’t want to spend another night in that leaky tent,” the dark-haired bloke was barely understandable between chattering teeth. “There must be something else close by.”

“Not within easy walking distance,” the proprietress said. “I can let you put up the tent around the back,” she offered. “You can even use the showers and the drying room for your wet gear. Of course stay inside by the fire as long as you like.”

The weather had been abysmal when I arrived the night before on a short writing and walking retreat. It was worse today, so I’d spent my time ensconced in the pub’s restaurant at a table by the window looking out onto the misty Yorkshire Dales. It was mid afternoon when the two drenched, bedraggled lads slogged through the door, bringing with them a gust of icy, wet wind. I had just come to the bar to order a pot of tea and, as I stood quietly in the queue behind them, I noticed the blond casting worried glances at his shivering companion.

“Walking the Coast to Coast?” I asked.

“We are,” the dark-haired bloke replied. “Though I’m pretty sure we swam most of it today.”

“You taking the high level route through the mining ruins tomorrow?” I asked.

They both nodded. “Supposed to be sunny,” the blond replied. “Three days of bad weather and last night the tent sprung a leak. We were hoping for a hot meal and a real bed tonight.”

“I’m truly sorry, lads,” the proprietress said. “I wish I could help.”

I’m not sure what inspired me to make the offer, perhaps memories of the times I’d walked cold and wet, but more than likely it was simply because I’m a hopeless romantic and I recognised that the two men were more than just mates out for an adventure.

“Look, why don’t you take my room for the night? I’m on my own and I have a nice double until the end of the week. I can take the single, and then we can switch back tomorrow. Wouldn’t that work?” I asked the proprietress.

“I don’t see why not,” came the reply. “I’ll sort it with housekeeping, and you can work out the details among yourselves.”

“It has a bath and lots of hot water,” I said, recalling what a pleasure an actual bathtub was after a long, cold walk.

“Oh God, you’re a saint,” the dark-haired one said, offering me a blinding smile between chattering teeth.

Still thanking me profusely, they introduced themselves as Will Charles—the dark-haired lad with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen, and Doc Jones—the blond with a lovely Welsh lilt in his rich, baritone voice. They helped me switch my meagre belongings to the smaller room. Then I returned to my table and my tea. I couldn’t help wondering what their story was and just what they might get up to in that deep tub and on that nice bouncy bed. Quite the coincidence that I was here because I had agreed to write a story for the Brit Boys: With Toys anthology and, with the deadline bearing down on me, I was still drawing a blank, but with Doc and Will’s arrival, I suddenly felt inspired.

 Pre-Order Toys for Boys Here:

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Out Now! – Shopping for A Billionaire’s Honeymoon (Book 11 in the Shopping series) by Julia Kent

Release date: January 31, 2017

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Contemporary Romance

Description:

He is addicted to his phone and his new role as CEO. I’m addicted to getting some on my own honeymoon.

One of these things is not like the other.

I am pretty sure a serial killer’s lair is the only place in the world where I could stash my new husband so he can’t manage the acquisition of our new company.

And that seems a little drastic.

But only a little…

All I want is one week alone with him. Hours in bed, legs tangled together in ecstasy, room service and long walks on the beach in Hawaii.

Not vying for his kisses around a Bluetooth microphone. The Borg aren’t sexy in real life.

So I’m taking matters into my own hands and hitting “reboot” on our honeymoon.

We’re going to a place so remote that no one can find us.

Not even my mother.

Shopping for a Billionaire’s Honeymoon is now a full-length book of 150+ pages, with both Shannon and Declan’s points of view. Originally published with only Shannon’s viewpoint, this expanded edition is a result of reader feedback. People wanted to know what Declan was up to – so here you go. This book is meant to be read after Shopping for a Billionaire’s Wife and/or Shopping for a CEO’s Fiancée, but if you read it out of order (or even as a standalone), that’s fine. Shannon and Declan forgive you. 😉

Buy links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2idvTWZ
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2hkjFrh
Amazon Canada: http://amzn.to/2izYeY4
Amazon Australia: http://amzn.to/2izXJxb
Nook: http://bit.ly/2izRZ6C

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2i1YETg
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2hJCZSb
iBooks: http://apple.co/2hKfjdX

Author Bio:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Julia Kent writes romantic comedy with an edge. From billionaires to BBWs to new adult rock stars, Julia finds a sensual, goofy joy in every contemporary romance she writes. Unlike Shannon from Shopping for a Billionaire, she did not meet her husband after dropping her phone in a men’s room toilet (and he isn’t a billionaire). She lives in New England with her husband and three sons in a household where the toilet seat is never, ever, down.

Social Media Links:

Website:  http://jkentauthor.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/jkentauthor

 

Excerpt:

Shannon

Let’s do an inventory of this fine day. My day-after-I-got-married day. In Vegas.

After fleeing my Momzilla mother.

Today is supposed be Day One of my honeymoon after marrying the billionaire of my dreams.

(Let’s not count the night before).

Woke up to the lovely sight of my husband’s tousled dark hair sliding down my torso so he could feast on me for breakfast.

Had actual breakfast in bed after room service delivered mixed berries, cream, bacon, and maple-soaked carrot-cake french toast, and the best damn coffee on the planet from the coffee chain I now own.

Made love with my delightful husband in the giant jetted bathtub in our suite. Turns out I’m as bendy as a Cirque du Soleil performer when I need to be. Maybe Mom’s insistence that I attend all those yoga classes she teaches has a silver lining after all.

Dressed and prepared to hop the corporate jet for Hawaii, kisses interspersed between readying ourselves for the trip. Undressed twice. Dressed twice. Declan insisted I not wear panties for the plane trip.

“But I’m already a member of the Mile High Club,” I’d protested.

“Not as a wife.”

He had a point.

Panties abandoned.

Found his brother, my best friend, a former colleague and an Anterdec chauffeur all married to each other.

Notice something a little different about that last one?

Yeah. Me too.

Day One of my honeymoon had promise, but now? Now it’s a little too real.

We’re on the plane, settling into our seats, and I’m doing my best not to think about my poor best friend and her chaotic mess back at the Anterdec resort where Declan and I just spent nearly a week trying to figure out our entire life.

Which we did, successfully, to my utter surprise. After fleeing our wedding in a helicopter and lying to my Momzilla mother, we managed to get to Las Vegas, ensconced in a resort on the Vegas Strip that Declan had designed himself as an intern in college. By the time my crazy family caught up to us, we’d steeled ourselves for the inevitable fallout.

And got so much more than we expected, in more ways than one. We’re married now. Husband and wife.

That’s really all that matters.

That, and honeymoon sex.

Lots and lots and lots of honeymoon sex. It’s my wifely right to walk funny for the next few days.

And his husbandly duty to make it so.

Release blitz hosted by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Out Now—The Beauty and the Badass, M/F BDSM Erotic Romance by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985)

The Beauty and the BadassBlurb:

From the moment Alexei Miles sets eyes on the kickboxing instructor at his new gym, he’s enthralled. She’s strong and sexy, and he senses something in her that speaks to his deepest desires. Bored of meaningless one-night stands, Alexei vows to find out more about the beautiful badass. He hopes his senses are correct—that her desires will match his own, and that his period of unsatisfying sexual encounters is over.

Zoe Harrison notices the new guy as soon as he walks into the gym—difficult not to, really, given he’s a six-feet-plus gorgeous Viking. As well as being attractive, he awakens something deep inside that she’d almost forgotten about. Men that can handle Zoe’s busy lifestyle are few and far between. Add to that her very specific sexual appetites and it’s little wonder she’s been single for so long. Is the Viking about to change all that?

Note: The Beauty and the Badass has been previously released as part of the Dirty Doms boxed set.

Buy links:

Amazon (universal link): http://mybook.to/beautybadass

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2iX4eqe

iBooks: http://apple.co/2ivPlfu

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2i2OgdX

Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2hKxPVM

*****

Excerpt:

Alexei followed John into the building, a sense of trepidation hanging over him. It was never easy moving to a new place, and as an army brat he’d had more than his fair share of relocating. Dealing with new landlords, new neighbors, new neighborhood. Not to mention the job side of it—new role, new building, new boss…

He’d spent the last month dealing with all that, and now – thanks to the friendship that had sprung up between him and his colleague, John – he was getting back on track with his hobbies, too. John wasn’t a gym bunny, exactly, but he did like to keep in shape, which was why he’d recommended his local sports gym to Alexei when he’d asked.

“Just a bunch of folks keeping fit and trim, letting off some steam,” he’d said. “No posturing, silly competition, or showing off. God, I reckon if someone started posing in front of a mirror in that place, they’d get their arse kicked.”

He’d made the place sound a bit rough and ready, but that was fine by Alexei. As long as it had the equipment he needed, it would suit him down to the ground. It was made all the more attractive by the price – around half of what the more traditional gyms wanted in membership fees. And he only had to pay when he actually attended. He wasn’t sure yet how much working away his new job was going to entail, but it still made more sense to use a place that had a pay-as-you-go system. At least until he got settled.

They passed a reception desk of sorts, which looked like somewhere the building’s owner probably did the admin and accounts. After that, there was a row of seating up against the wall on their right hand side, and the space opened up on their left. Wooden flooring stretched from just beside them to the far end of the long area, and a boxing ring sat in one corner.

Alexei raised his eyebrows. It was a bit rough and ready, but it was well-appointed and clearly well-used. Much better to have a place with regular, dedicated clients than some gleaming, spick and span monstrosity of a gym that nobody ever went to, or went more to lift weights and gaze lovingly at themselves in the mirrors than to actually do a thorough workout.

He continued following John along the carpeted area that ran around the nearest two sides of the wooden flooring, allowing people to access the rooms opposite the entrance without getting in the way of the people using the main space. It was currently taken up by what looked like an all-female kickboxing class. And they were good. He certainly wouldn’t like to piss any of them off—they could definitely handle themselves.

Alexei was just about to look away—he didn’t want them to think he was some kind of pervert for staring—when his gaze alighted on the instructor. She was a petite blonde, with a long, sleek ponytail sitting high up on her head, which swung as she walked from one student to the next, passing comment, suggesting improvements, and so on. He was so mesmerized by her that he forgot all about not staring. In fact, he forgot about pretty much everything, and let out an “ooof!” as he slammed straight into John’s broad, hard back.

“Hey,” John said, turning around and putting a hand on Alexei’s shoulder to steady him. “Look where you’re bloody going, mate. What the hell’s the matter with you?”

Alexei opened his mouth to reply, but his brain refused to supply any words. Instead, his eyes gave him away, as he couldn’t resist another glance in her direction.

Following his gaze, John smirked when he spotted just who had distracted Alexei so much. “The cute blonde, I take it?”

Alexei nodded, his face growing hot at the thought someone might have seen what happened. At the thought she might have seen. “Who is she?”

*****

Author Bio:

Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of, and an Amazon bestseller), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award, and an Amazon bestseller) and The Persecution of the Wolves. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 150 publications to her name. She owns Erotica For All, and is one eighth of The Brit Babes. Find out more about her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk, or on Twitter or Facebook. Sign up for automatic updates on Amazon or BookBub. You can also subscribe to her monthly newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

Release blitz hosted by Writer Marketing Services.

 

 

Shameless Selfie: Landscapes

 

 

 

It’s Shameless Selfie time, and because I’m very busy with the final rewrite of Blind-Sided, in which both Reese Chambers and Alonso Darlington from In The Flesh and before that, Landscapes, are very much main players in that tale, I decided to share a little snippet from Landscapes, which is the story of how Alonso and Reese met. And since their tale is a tale of Lakeland at it’s loveliest and High View, Alonso’s home, is set in the Lakeland fells, this little selfie from the Lake District seemed appropriate. Enjoy their little garden encounter.

 

Sometimes love is the most dangerous choice

 

Landscapes Blurb:

(A Medusa’s Consortium story)

Alonso Darlington has a disturbing method of keeping landscaper, Reese Chambers, both safe from and oblivious to his dangerous lust for the man. But Reese isn’t easy to keep secrets from, and Alonso wants way more than to admire the man from afar. Can he risk a real relationship without risking Reese’s life?

Note: Landscapes has been previously released as part of the Brit Boys: On Boys boxed set.

 

 

Landscapes — Encounter in an Overgrown Garden — Landscapes:

Before dinner Reese decided to take another wander through the ruins of the gardens he’d be restoring. He anticipated working long hours, or at least as long as he could manage with the days closing in. Tomorrow was the first of October, a strange time to begin such a restoration, but that was why Alonso Darlington was paying him so well. It was unusually warm for October, but Reese knew, especially in the Lake District, the weather could turn in a matter of minutes, and High View was definitely just that. If the weather were bad down below, it would be worse up here. He could understand exactly why Darlington wanted to restore the manor house, but God the man must have bags of money because it was costing a bomb just to have the gardens done. He could only imagine the cost of restoring a manor house that was barely more than a ruin. Talia had informed him the wiring and plumbing to make it livable for Darlington and his small staff had been sorted, and it was warm and comfortable in spite of the way it looked. It was fit for winter, but the actual restorations wouldn’t begin until spring. Yet Darlington was adamant about the garden. It was to be a night garden – something Reese had never done before, something that would be even more of a challenge since many of the plants common in night gardens were not native to the harsh climate of the fells. Talia had explained that Alonso Darlington had a medical condition that made him extremely sensitive to sunlight, but the man loved to be outside and especially to wander his gardens. Reese got the impression the man had lots of gardens on lots of estates. At the moment all that mattered to him was scraping by enough to keep a roof over his head until he could get established in Keswick, and the money he would get working for Darlington would go a long way toward that goal.

As he walked through the overgrown tangle of a space that had little left but a tumble of dry stone wall to indicate it had ever been a garden, he noticed the natural terracing of the land, the lovely view, which, at night would have very little light pollution. He could imagine Alonso Darlington, bundled against the Cumbrian chill, watching the moon hanging weightlessly above the beck. He’d not actually met the man. He wondered if he were fit enough to make the descent from the house to the garden and back. It was steep, and if he had a medical condition, not at all ideal. It seemed a strange place for an invalid to settle. Reese bent to pull a handful of weeds away from some piece of stone statuary to discover that it was a sleeping griffin.

As was often the case, he found himself pulled into his efforts. In no time, he had cleared the thick tangle of growth enough to reveal a low stone bench next to the griffin. The day was unusually calm. The angle of the late afternoon sun bore down on him until trickles of sweat ran over his ribs from beneath his arms. He shoved out of his shirt and let it fall onto the bench, and his pulse kicked up with inspiration as he contemplated the stone bench flanked by the sleeping griffin and the lazy arch of the sun across the sky. His heart kicked up another notch as the pale face of a heavy moon rose like a giant balloon over the opposite end of the valley and hung as though it were balanced by the blazing disk opposite it. The terrace, stones now buried beneath several centuries of earth and growth, had been flat, a small space gouged out of the high flank of the fell by forces much older, but if he wasn’t mistaken, the fell-side garden and the angle of the valley far below provided something far greater than a place for Mr. Darlington to sniff night-blooming jasmine. It provided a place to observe the passage of the sun and moon and the movement of the constellations along the ecliptic in the dark dome of the sky as the seasons came and went.

He paced off the space, and cleared a small patch at each corner for a visual, all the while scribbling notes and simple line drawings on the small pad he’d brought for the purpose. He worked quickly as ideas formed in his head, barely noticing the darkening of the sky to shades of mauve and melon and then to the clear blue black of approaching night. It was only when he could see to sketch no longer, that he tossed the pad on the bench and looked up to see Venus on the horizon. The fells hunkered like sleeping giants above the moon glow on the silver thread of the beck below. The shapes of sky and earth rested against each other like lovers in an embrace, and he stood there in the middle, his eyes focused on Venus, feeling as though it all revolved around him, as though he held it all in balance. As a child, he had stood and watched the earth rotate. His father had taught him to mark that rotation by use the single standing stone that dominated the meadow behind their house. If he waited patiently, he could see the earth slide past the arc of the rising sun. Breathlessly, he stood, frozen, watching long enough that Venus appeared to move above the serpentine path of the beck.

‘Dinner’s getting cold, Mr. Chambers.’

Before Reese could do more than jump and swallow back a curse, a man materialized out of the shadow of the fell in a sudden wave of spice and sandalwood.

‘Though I can hardly blame you lingering for such a view.’ The voice was a velvety baritone that Reese could almost feel in his own chest. ‘Thanks to the diligent work of the electricians, the microwave runs just fine, and though cook is excellent at what he does, some things are worth waiting dinner on. Venus?’ He nodded to the sky.

‘Yes,’ Reese replied, trying to catch glimpses of his host in his peripheral vision. ‘And you’re Mr. Darlington, I presume?’

‘Alonso, please. I think working with our hands in the earth, as we will be, is good reason to dispense with formalities.’ He offered his hand.

‘Reese.’ The instant skin touched skin it was as though lightning bolted through him. He stumbled backward, swallowing a startled cry as images flashed behind his eyes, Alonso’s mouth on his neck, on his belly, Alonso’s tongue snaking a path over his arse, Alonso kneeling over him, cock in hand. And him yielding. It was only Alonso Darlington pulling him close that kept him from falling. When he came back to himself, he was settled him onto the bench and it was a good thing. The erection that threatened to unload in his jeans would have made walking difficult.

‘I’m sorry,’ he managed, when the fell stopped spinning beneath him. ‘Not sure what happened. Too much staring at the moon maybe.’ He could feel Alonso’s gaze, almost like a caress, and he felt shy, as though somehow the man knew that he had nearly come in his jeans. Fuck if his touch hadn’t felt almost like … foreplay.

‘Perhaps you’re hungrier than you think, and though it’s nearly October, it’s still quite warm for exerting oneself in the sun.’

Reese forced an embarrassed smile. ‘I’m used to working in the hot sun.’

‘Then you’re a lucky man,’ Alonso stood and handed him his shirt from where he had dropped it on the end of the bench. ‘Come, you’re chilled. See there, you’ve broken out in goose bumps. Put on your shirt and I’ll take you back to the house and feed you.’

Somehow the idea of letting the man feed him made him blush.

‘I’m sweaty. I’ve been pulling weeds. I need a shower.’

‘Nonsense,’ once again he could feel the man’s eyes raking his body like the touch of a palm. ‘We’re not formal in this heap. We just barely have electricity. You’re welcome as you are, and my home will be the happier for the spirit of the outdoors you bring.’

Reese chuckled. ‘I just hope that spirit is not too strong for pleasant company.’

Again, there was the feel of being caressed. ‘I assure you, Reese, your spirit is just the thing for pleasant company.’ Then he turned and headed up to the house.

Alonso’s pace was vigorous and, even in full darkness, it was not hard to tell he was slender and fit, but Reese knew that as surely as if he had seen the man naked, as surely as if he had explored the rise and fall and slope and valley of those firm muscles with his own hands. He couldn’t know. He couldn’t! Christ, he needed to think of something other than Alonso Darlington’s naked body before he thoroughly embarrassed himself.

Reese was surprised to find that several rooms of the big house were cozy and well decorated. Alonso offered a shrug as he looked around. ‘A man has to have a little space that’s livable. The wash room is down the hall.’

When Reese returned from his hasty ablutions, he found Darlington speaking quietly with Talia, who wore a silky red dress and heels that made her almost tall enough to look Alonso in the eyes. Talia pressed a kiss to Alonso’s cheek, and Reese’ belly burned as the man’s hand slid over her shoulder to rest in the small of her back. With the burn came the startling realization; it wasn’t that he wanted his hand on Talia, but rather he wanted Alonso’s hand on him. Christ, he really had had too much sun.

‘You two have a good evening.’ Talia said. Then she planted a kiss on Reese’ cheek, and his skin prickled with the feel of Alonso’s lips, with the feel of Alonso’s hand coming to rest on his hip. ‘I’m off to meet friends in Penrith,’she was saying, when he could get his mind off the idea of Alonso’s mouth on his. ‘I’ll see you in the morning.’

‘Talia’s one of my oldest and dearest friends,’ Alonso said, as they watched her leave. ‘She’s my eyes in the daylight and often the source of wisdom I lack.’ Was it possible that he sensed Reese’ jealousy, even before he had?

 

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“Landscapes is, quite simply, one of the best pieces of paranormal erotica I’ve read in a very long time. Ms. Grace’s eloquent, sensual prose weaves a spell that pulls you into the shadowy world of vampire Alonso Darlington and turns his desperate, reluctant, indirect pursuit of landscaper Reese Chambers into a pulse-pounding, breath-stealing fever dream.” Lisabet Sarai

 

 
© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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