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Lynne Shelby Launches The One That I Want

 

 

The One That I Want Blurb:

When Lucy Ashford lands a top job at a leading theatrical agency in London, work mixes with pleasure, as she literally falls into the arms of Hollywood heartthrob Daniel Miller.

Handsome, charming and irresistible, Daniel is just what unlucky-in-love Lucy needs, and she is quickly drawn into his glittering celebrity lifestyle. But can she tame the A-list bad boy or is she just one more girl in Daniel s long line of conquests?

And then there’s up-and-coming actor Owen Somers, fiercely talented but as yet uncast in a starring role. After she takes him onto the agency’s books, Owen and Lucy’s friendship slowly grows. If she looks closely, Lucy’s leading man might be right before her very eyes…

 

The One That I Want Excerpt:

This extract takes place early in the book after the theatrical agency’s Christmas party, when Daniel invites Lucy to continue the evening at a nightclub.

 

As I followed Daniel to one of the leather sofas, I was aware of faces turning towards us, the sudden absence of talk as we approached, and renewed chatter once we’d walked past. With so many eyes on me, I was relieved that I made it to the sofa without falling over my feet. Daniel sat next to me, leaving very little space between us. A waiter immediately materialised beside us and asked what we’d like to drink. Daniel promptly ordered champagne.

 

‘Did you notice everyone looking at you?’ I said to him when the waiter had gone.

Daniel shrugged. ‘Since Fallen Angel came out, I get recognised all the time.’

 

‘Having total strangers watching your every move must take some getting used to.’

 

‘I’m an actor,’ Daniel said. ‘Being the centre of attention kind of goes with the territory.’

 

I thought of the numerous articles about Daniel’s amorous exploits in Ireland that I’d read in the gossip columns. And the photos of him glued to his co-star’s face.

 

‘But you must find it irritating to be continuously stalked by the paparazzi,’ I said.

 

Daniel smiled. ‘I don’t mind them. I rather enjoy seeing photos of myself in the tabloids. It’s free publicity.’

 

The waiter returned with our champagne, poured two glasses, and left the bottle within easy reach in a bucket of ice.

 

When we were alone again, Daniel said, ‘I waited a long time to become famous. Now that I’ve had a taste of what it means to be a star, I want more. I want the Hollywood mansion and the Malibu beach house. I want the private jet and the yacht in the south of France. And if getting them means I have to pose for a few photographs outside a nightclub, I really don’t see it as a problem. But I’m glad there weren’t any paparazzi around tonight. It would’ve been hard to make you run a gauntlet of flashing cameras when we’re only on our first date.’

 

‘Is this a date?’ I said.

 

‘Well, there’s you, me, and a bottle of champagne,’ Daniel said. ‘I’d call that a date.’

 

I was on a date with film star Daniel Miller. The thought made me feel light-headed.

‘What would that actress you dated in Ireland think about you being here with me?’ I said.

 

Daniel looked taken aback. ‘She wouldn’t think anything. I was never in a relationship with her. DCOL.’

 

‘What?’

 

‘Doesn’t Count On Location.’

‘I see.’

 

About Lynne:

Lynne Shelby was the winner of our Accent Press/Woman magazine writing prize with her debut novel French Kissing.

She has worked in a variety of day jobs from stable girl to legal administrator. She also had a very enjoyable vicarious career as a stage mother, which has given her a love of the theatre that inspires a lot of  her writing.

She lives in North London with her tall, dark and handsome husband, her son, her two daughters and a lot of books.

 

Twitter: @LynneB1

Website: https://www.lynneshelby.com/

Instagram: lynneshelbywriter

 

 

 

Out Now – In Bed with the Enemy, Undercover Lovers: Book Two by Ellie Barker (@sinfulpress @EllieBa3)

Released on June 15th 2018 from Sinful Press, In Bed with the Enemy is the new LGBT erotic crime novella by Ellie Barker, and is the second novella in the Undercover Lovers trilogy.

In Bed with the Enemy continues the story of Nikolas, a bisexual police mole, and Sky, a transgender thief, as they work to infiltrate the local crime syndicate. Ellie Barker has created a fast paced and highly entertaining trilogy, with a diverse range of characters, various sexual encounters, and unconventional romance. Secrets and Spies, the first in the trilogy, was released in May 2018, and For Queen and Country, the remaining book in the trilogy, is due for release on July 13th 2018.

In Bed with the Enemy is Amazon exclusive for a limited time before being released across all main platforms. It is available to read through Kindle Unlimited.

Blurb:

Nikolas Jinsen, police mole and mafia odd-job man, is given an ultimatum; stop seeing his girlfriend, or lose his job. When a hasty attempt to keep both goes wrong, he does the only thing he can think of: he lies. But with his new roommate a member of the elite gang that Nikolas has been tasked to look into, and his assignations with his girlfriend constantly interrupted by calls on his services as a lover, Nikolas finds that work isn’t all fun and games.

Excerpt:

I pulled out my phone.

Bear answered within two rings. “Nikolas! This is a pleasant surprise.”

“I changed my mind about that nightcap, if the offer’s still open,” I told him.

Why the change of heart?” He sounded a bit surprised.

“I can’t stop thinking about you.” And actually, it was true. I wanted to know what he was like in bed. How far down that beard went. What was under that suit. What he looked like when he came.

I thought you didn’t do one-offs?”

“Sky wants to hear all about it afterwards.”

I heard the bellow of laughter down the phone, and then he came back on the line, still chuckling. “Well, I can’t disappoint her, can I. When?”

“What’s wrong with now?”

Forty-five minutes later, I was getting out of a taxi at the foot of a tower block. Ten minutes had been picking up a bottle of wine that I liked, wondering if he’d like it, checking with Sky—who told me she didn’t have a fucking clue and I’d just got her killed, which meant she was playing something with Benny—and going back to my original choice. And now I was here, looking up at the lit windows above me and thinking about Tanya’s exhibitionism.

I’d wondered about getting a hotel room, but Bear had invited me over and I’d accepted. It meant if there was a trap I was walking into it, but then a hotel room had a veneer of anonymity that I didn’t necessarily like. Sky knew where I was going, and had offered to come and rescue me if needed—and that meant she could potentially bring both the Queen and Tanya’s resources down on someone’s head. Tanya Mardos didn’t care about much in the world, but I figured she’d probably have something to say if her current sex toy wasn’t available on demand.

And so I headed for the main door and pushed the button for the flat intercom.

Yes?” Bear’s voice said almost immediately.

“Nikolas.”

Come on up.”

Book links:

Amazon: http://smarturl.it/IBWTEkindle

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38908122-in-bed-with-the-enemy

 

Author Bio:

Ellie mostly writes short’n’dirty flash fiction and short erotic fiction in any genre going. She prefers vampires over werewolves, and is always hot for a rainy night.

You can find out more about Ellie over at http://elliebarker.co.uk/, or follow her on Twitter as @EllieBa3

Release blitz organized by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Kay Jaybee Releases Knowing Her Place

Knowing Her Place

The Perfect Submissive Trilogy (Book 3)

Kay Jaybee

Miss Jess Sanders has come a long way since she first took the role of admin clerk and book keeper at The Fables Hotel in Oxford.

Her elevation to a position within Mrs Peters adult exclusive adult entertainment team on the fifth floor of the hotel took everyone by surprise- especially Jess herself.

Now, an experienced submissive, Jess has some decisions to make about her future- but first she needs to get home…

***

Kay Jaybee was awarded an Honouree Mention at the 2015 National Leather Association Awards (in the Pauline Reage Novel Category) for “Knowing Her Place”

***

Knowing Her Place Blurb:

Full of unanswered questions after her erotic fairytale experience at The Retreat in Scotland, Jess Sanders is desperate to return to her submissive position at the exclusive Fables Hotel in Oxfordshire.

Having been thwarted in his plans to keep Jess, The Retreat’s owner, David Proctor, isn’t willing to let her go without sending the so-called ‘perfect’ submissive on one final mission. Only if Jess succeeds in the task he sets her, will Proctor remove the collar of servitude he has locked around her neck.

With a list of five unfamiliar addresses to hand, Jess is placed in a car and driven away from The Retreat towards England. With no idea of what, or who, awaits her at the each location, all Jess can hope for is that the journey will eventually take her back to where she belongs.

To the fifth floor of the Fables Hotel, where Miss Jess Sanders truly knows her place.

 

Knowing Her Place Extract:

…Running her little finger along the outer edge of the collar for a second time, Jess fought back the constant reflex to choke. It was so tight. There was no way it could be cut free without damaging her skin.

David Proctor had forced Jess into his collar, declaring her his property unless she proved herself worthy of release. He was the only one with a key to the little silver padlock that held the tight band together at the front of her neck. Even if she did manage to prise the leather free somehow, as the car left the never-ending A9 that tracks the east side of Scotland and joined the motorway, Jess could hear Proctor’s warning words echo in her ears when she’d threatened to call Mrs Peters …

“If you call her, that collar is never coming off. There is only one key and I have it. And before you think it can be cut off, it can’t be done. Not without hurting you. Anyway, if you did get it cut off, you’d have failed, and part of you would always remain mine. I can’t see Mrs Peters liking that very much; can you?”

Jess hated that he was right. Her boss wouldn’t have liked it all. She tried to tell herself that Mrs Peters would come to her rescue – but she physically and mentally shrank back from wondering what the cost of making such a request of the Fables’ mistress would be.

Unbidden, her mind slipped from thoughts of her boss to Miss Sarah. She tried to ignore the increase in her pulse rate, and the automatic swell of her breasts that the image of the tall, slim, demanding dominatrix always caused. For a split second, while they’d been together at The Retreat, Jess had begun to hope Miss Sarah cared for her beyond the requirements of work.

Jess knew, although she would never have been foolish enough to say so out loud, that she had formed a strong emotional attachment to the woman who dominated her body day after day in the pursuit of other people’s pleasure. Sometimes she trusted that her personal feelings towards her mistress were genuine but, on other occasions, logical thought took over. Jess told herself, for the umpteenth time, as she looked out in the night, that she’d probably adopted some sort of warped Stockholm Syndrome feeling to Miss Sarah; like a victim falling for her kidnapper….

It had been Miss Sarah who Mrs Peters had ordered to train Jess when she’d first joined the team at Fables. A training which had included a vigorously kinky, and highly effective, exercise routine that gave Jess immense stamina; teaching her how to remain motionless for prolonged periods of time, and how to delay an orgasm for as long as humanly possible.

At first, Jess had been terrified of Miss Sarah. She’d suspected the dominatrix resented her arrival, especially when Mrs Peters began to refer to Jess as her “perfect submissive.” This was a title Jess now understood had been designed precisely to provoke her, and force her to work even harder for fear of not living up to her requirements. It had nothing to do with Mrs Peters thinking Jess was good at her job –although Jess hoped she did.

But she sent you away … Jess shook her head sharply. Mrs Peters couldn’t have known Proctor had planned to keep her. She couldn’t possibly have been in on this from the start. Her boss hadbeen conned by Proctor. They’d all been conned.

Trying to force away the paranoia that threatened to take hold as she sat, a prisoner in the back of an ostentatiously posh car, Jess attempted to reassure herself by recalling how many times Mrs Peters had stressed prior to their departure from Fables that she and Miss Sarah would be returning.

Only moments before they’d been taken away to Scotland, Jess had taken part in a mock-up of a most unusual version of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. It had been a rehearsal for a very adult birthday party that was to take place in just over a week’s time. The mere memory of what she’d gone through during the rehearsal made Jess’s pussy clench with desire. She longed to get back to Fables in time for the clients’ party – as Mrs Peters had promised she would.

Staring through the car window now, Jess searched her memories of her days at The Retreat for further reassurance that Mrs Peters had not betrayed her. On two separate occasions while they’d been in their bedroom in the castle, Miss Sarah had warned Jess to believe nothingProctor said. She’d told Jess that he would probably tell her Mrs Peters no longer wanted her at Fables; and that he would be lying.

That was exactly what had happened. But was it a lie? Jess couldn’t help letting doubt creep in as the night sky began to give way to the first glimmer of dawn. Why had Miss Sarah been allowed to go home and not her? Proctor had a submissive of his own. A girl called Alisha, who was more than willing to fulfil his every whim. He didn’t need Jess at all. This was pure spite.

Available from:

 

You can find all the buy links for The Fifth Floor (Book 1) and The Retreat (Book 2) here:

The Fifth Floorhttps://wp.me/P75ZDl-u9

The Retreathttps://wp.me/P75ZDl-10E

 

About Kay:

 

 

Kay Jaybee was named Best Erotica Writer of 2015 by the ETO

Kay received an honouree mention at the NLA Awards 2015 for excellence in BDSM
writing.

Kay Jaybee has over 180 erotica publications including, The Retreat- Book2: The Perfect Submissive Trilogy(KJBooks, 2018), Making Him Wait (Sinful Press, 2018), The Fifth Floor- Book1;The Perfect Submissive Trilogy(KJBooks, 2017), Wednesday on Thursday, (KDP, 2017), The Collector(KDP, 2016), A Sticky Situation(Xcite, 2013), Digging Deep, (Xcite 2013), Take Control, (1001 NightsPress, 2014), and Not Her Type(1001 NightsPress), 2013.

Details of all her short stories and other publications can be found at www.kayjaybee.me.uk

You can follow Kay on –

Twitter- https://twitter.com/kay_jaybee

Facebook -http://www.facebook.com/KayJaybeeAuthor

Goodreads- http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/3541958-kay-jaybee

Brit Babes Site- http://thebritbabes.blogspot.co.uk/p/kay-jaybee.html

Kay also writes contemporary romance and children’s picture books as Jenny Kane www.jennykane.co.uk  and historical fiction as Jennifer Ash www.jenniferash.co.uk

 

My Writing Journey – A Guest Post by Tanya Jean Russell (@TanyaJRussell) #giveaway

I have been a bookworm my whole life and can often be found wandering the house, attempting to do my chores without looking away from whatever I’m reading, but I only began writing about five years ago. When I started I honestly thought I could just sit down and bash out the story that was swimming around in my head. Unsurprisingly, it turned out that it wasn’t actually that easy. Apparently writing is a craft and like any craft you need to actually learn what you’re doing.

So I took some courses and joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association (a real must for any budding romance writer – they and their local chapters are amazing). I have also spent the last few years working out where I sit on the planning or writing by the seat of my pants spectrum.

As someone who is notoriously organised (I love a list), I had expected to be a planner. I was wrong, very, very wrong! The one time I tried to plan a full novel, I was so bored with the story when it came to writing it that I totally ran out of steam and it remains unfinished on my computer to this day.

So I then tried to just write without planning. It started off great but I ground to a halt at around 30,000 words and I spent weeks feeling completely stumped as to how to proceed.

It turns out, I like to do a bit of both. When I write now I let the ideas float around in my head for a few weeks before I try putting pen to paper, or more accurately, fingers to keyboard. During that time I make notes in one of the many notebooks I carry everywhere. They are never very coherent but they let me capture the mental images I have of my characters and settings.

When the itch of ideas grows too strong I start writing and keep going until I get stumped, at which point the Post-its and whiteboard come out. I use them to corral my thoughts and spot where more work is needed. It’s the perfect blend of just getting the story out creatively, and planning.

The one thing I’ve really taken away in all of my learning is that I love to get advice and listen to everyone’s ideas and trying them all on for size. You never know which ones might fit!

*****

Shadows of Our PastBlurb

Jackson Halland has spent ten years running from a mistake that cost him everything, including Amory Parker, the woman he loved. With his gut-wrenching response to her reappearance, he realizes that if she will forgive him, then maybe, just maybe, he can forgive himself.

After ten years of working undercover Amory agrees to one final mission. Vowing to get justice for the woman she promised, and failed, to protect, nothing will stand in her way, not the prolific criminal she’s determined to bring down and certainly not coming face to face with the man she fell in love with on her very first undercover assignment, even if he has no idea who she really is, or the part she played in his past.

Buy Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadows-Past-Tanya-Jean-Russell-ebook/dp/B07B9SNHYN/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

https://www.amazon.com/Shadows-Past-Tanya-Jean-Russell-ebook/dp/B07B9SNHYN/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

https://www.evernightpublishing.com/shadows-of-our-past-by-tanya-jean-russell/

*****

Excerpt

Amory was so engrossed in her thoughts she didn’t hear the approaching sound of bare feet, padding on the smooth wooden floor, until a deep groan broke through them and she looked up to see Jackson. His mussed, dark blond hair was shot through with strands of gold in the overhead lighting.

The man was incredibly made. His arms stretching up and behind his head caused the bottom of his t-shirt to lift a few teasing inches, revealing a tantalizing glimpse of a tanned, rock-hard stomach. They weren’t the sculpted lines that came from the gym, but powerful, solid muscles. A fine trail of hair led the way to the top of his loose navy shorts. As he reached the bottom of the stairs, her gaze was transfixed.

His legs were long and thick, every muscle rippling as he moved down the stairs into the hallway. A rush of heat shot through her body, setting every nerve alight. Her stomach rolled as she absorbed the sight while a little lower everything tightened and tingled. She’d hoped that her memory had been flawed, tinted by the rose-colored lenses of what she had long since accepted was her first love. That clearly wasn’t the case. Rather than letting himself go he had become more impressive. The slenderness of youth had filled out, living up to the promise of overwhelming masculinity.

His lean muscles had broadened, and whilst the softness of youth had faded from his features, it had left a strong profile in its wake. Jackson had grown up all man. She gulped, heat flooding her.

The good feeling from her run was replaced by a more base desire to touch every inch of his perfect body. To pull it hard against her own and feel those muscular planes mold against her. She unconsciously licked her lips as she watched him.

As she met his eyes, the feeling of heat evaporated, replaced by a harsh chill of dread that sank through to her toes. His emotions were playing across his face and it was clear that, despite her DCI’s reassurances, Jackson had joined the dots and figured out who she was. The recognition clearly shocked him as his whole body jolted abruptly to a stop.

Unable to move, she stared helplessly as he began to walk toward her, his face a mix of unreadable emotions. As he reached out, her body began to respond to the heat that rolled off of him. The scent of his skin washed over her, but she moved back defensively. It was a tactical mistake, giving away that she knew who he was, that she had known all along.

“Amory?” he whispered, hope shining oddly through that one word.

Almost imperceptibly shaking her head, all her professionalism flew out the window, and with her heart sinking she managed a stuttered whisper, “N-n-no… No, you’re wrong. I’m Olivia.”

No amount of training was going to get her through this. Despite her only half-admitted hope that he’d see who she really was, Amory knew too much was at stake for this to happen, but it had. Now she had to endure the awful consequences of him recognizing her, the hatred that would follow this moment.

*****

Bio:

I live in England and am married to an amazing Elvis & Neil Diamond tribute artist, thanks to whom I have a house full of jumpsuits & trophies. This, of course, is a source of much embarrassment to our two teenage children!

I am a little obsessive about books and have an embarrassingly huge and ever growing pile of things that I just ‘have’ to read next to my bed.

I squeeze my daydreaming … ahem … ‘writing’ around my family and my day job in HR, and am convinced that chocolate & diet coke should be considered a well-balanced diet!

Author Links

https://www.tanyajeanrussell.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TanyaJeanRussellAuthor/

https://twitter.com/TanyaJRussell

*****

GIVEAWAY!

Make sure to follow the whole tour—the more posts you visit throughout, the more chances you’ll get to enter the giveaway. The tour dates are here: http://writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/tanya-jean-russell/

Use the Rafflecopter to enter for your chance to win an eBook copy of Tanya’s previous book, Broken Trust.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Wolf Around the Corner Tour and Giveaway

 

 

Wolf Around The Corner

By Aidee Ladnier

 

 The Giveaway!

Aidee is giving away a $5 Amazon GC, $10 Amazon GC, Ebooks from her backlist, print books from her backlist. The winners will be chosen by Rafflecopter. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Don’t forget you have a chance to enter every day so be sure to visit all the stops on this tour. You may find those locations here.

 

About Wolf Around the Corner:

 

Frank’s family taught him that his wolf was dangerous, unwanted. Now his best friend’s brother wants him in bed and on stage. But giving into his wolf’s need for love could risk the quiet life Frank has created for himself—and his heart.

 

Settled in the small town of Waycroft Falls, Frank is content to be a lone wolf among the white picket fences and dollar book bins until he finds himself sniffing his best friend’s brother. Tom smells like hot apple pie and his Broadway smile has Frank lolling his tongue. But when the visiting actor learns Frank’s secret and plies him with hot kisses to get him to star in his play, Frank can’t help but wonder if Tom is only acting.

 

Tom ran away from family obligations to be a Broadway star. If he could make it there, he could make it anywhere…but he didn’t. Trudging home to Waycroft Falls to open his sister’s new performance space brings him face to face with a werewolf—a werewolf that would be perfect for Tom’s shoestring production of Beauty and the Beast. Staying in Tiny Town USA would be worth it if he can somehow convince the sexy wolf to expose his furry condition on stage and howl privately in Tom’s bed.

 

Wolf Around The Corner, a paranormal semi-finalist in Passionate Ink’s 2017 Sexy Scribbles Contest, is a full-length fairytale romance with a side of wolf shifter. If you like your romance with gorgeous men, humor, and small town magic, you’ll love Wolf Around the Corner! Buy your copy now and settle in to watch the drama unfold!

 

Genre: M/M Paranormal Shifter Contemporary

 

Buy Links:

Amazon  | B&N| iBooks| Kobo| Smashwords| 24Symbols| Indigo| Angus & Robertson| Mondadori

Wolf Around the Corner Excerpt:

 

The first thing he always did was take a large lungful of air. It reoriented him to the outside. His animal cataloged the smells—car exhaust, grass, tree pollen, and wait, a mouse skittering in the Dumpster out back. Frank’s urge to run built. He circled the apartments, looking for the storm drain near the landscaping wall. Inside him, his animal wiggled in excitement at the prospect of being freed. Frank shucked his clothes behind the wall and tucked them into the shelter of the pipe, out of view. Then he shifted, his hands lengthening, hair sprouting, and muzzle growing. His point of view shortened, now three feet from the ground as he blinked through the eyes of his wolflike animal. Frank couldn’t stand still any longer. He sprang into the woods.

 

Frank ran, crashing through the underbrush and into the darkening shelter of the trees. He leaped over a shrub, felt the give of a sapling as he plowed through the brushwood. The animals and birds quieted at his loud, headlong dash, knowing he wasn’t of the forest, only disguised and playing at being a creature of the wood.

 

His paws skidded on a pile of old leaves. Frank almost lost his balance as he skipped up and over a fallen log. Around him, the scents of the forest all pushed in on him. Here a whiff of mold, there an astringent sniff of decay, everywhere the menthol of evergreen sap and wild herbs growing scattered on the forest floor.

 

Dry twigs snapped beneath his paws. His tongue lolled from his mouth, the fresh taste of the woods painting the back of his throat. The sun dipped below the horizon, the sky inking the tops of the trees. And Frank ran on until his limbs stopped, shaky and trembling. He collapsed onto a blanket of pine needles and leaves, moss and fungi cradling him as he panted.

 

As he caught his breath, the sounds of the woods lapped back around him. Insects and birds first. A harsh caw from a crow shrieked a hundred yards to his right. The chirp of a cricket sawed a few feet away. The rat-a-tat of a woodpecker echoed above. And the still of twilight calmed him.

 

When he’d rested enough that his legs would support him again, Frank began the slow jog back to the apartments, letting his nose guide him through the darkening visibility of the woods. He could smell Mrs. Reynolds’s nighttime cocoa, and Mr. Reynolds’s liniment that stank of capsaicin. The lighted windows of the apartment building led him the last few feet, and he scurried up to the storm drain.

 

But his clothes weren’t there.

 

The sky darkened into night.

 

Frank knew Mrs. Anderson was out, but he could try to get the elderly Reynolds couple to buzz him inside. And hope they didn’t ask why he was naked trotting up the stairs.

 

Or he could stay in wolf form without a tag, which meant a night outside running from animal control and/or dodging every human that would mistake him for a stray dog.

 

Or wait, a third option. There was an oak that almost reached the ledge of his apartment window on the second floor. He never bothered to lock the window. Frank shifted back to human and sprinted across the yard.

 

He leaped for the lower boughs of the tree, grunting as the bark dug into the flesh of his palms. Frank swung himself up to straddle a branch, regretting it as the rough wood scraped his thighs. He crouched in the tree, awkwardly trying to shield his more delicate parts from the smaller whiplike twigs. He skirted around the trunk, grimacing as a low branch brushed a little too close to his groin. There. He was now on the side that faced the apartment house.

 

Frank balanced upright, his arms pinwheeling until he caught another branch higher up to steady himself. The leaves around him shivered on their stalks, the rustling loud. Please don’t let Mrs. Reynolds look out her window.

 

Using the taller branch as a guide, Frank placed one bare foot in front of the other and inched away from the security of the trunk. The limb beneath his feet shook as his weight tested its strength. He slid a foot farther out on the branch. It dipped, the leaves at the tip brushing against the side of his window. Just a few feet more.

 

An ominous crack sounded beneath him, and Frank froze. The branch popped again. It wouldn’t hold. He could make a jump for it. Frank swallowed hard. He should make a jump for it.

 

Frank jumped. And missed the house, falling into the azalea bushes.

 

Just as his hunky new neighbor from across the hall walked out of the apartment building and down the front steps.

 

Frank had seen Tom in the hall that morning, carrying boxes. Trying to be neighborly, Frank had introduced himself and offered to help. Tom had turned Frank down but flashed the whitest, most even teeth at him. Frank had seen nothing whiter outside of a movie theater big screen. They’d exchanged pleasantries, commented on the weather, and then gone their separate ways. Or rather, that was what Frank wished had happened. What went down was:

 

“Need help?” Frank barely got the words out when his new neighbor turned in the doorway. Frank froze. God, the man was gorgeous.

 

“Naw, man. I got it.” Tom shifted the box in his arms to hold out his hand. “I’m Tom Davidson.”

 

Frank wiped a clammy hand on his jeans and shook Tom’s hand. “Hot.” And Frank knew his mouth had disclosed the exact thing his brain was thinking. Idiot. Who said that to a guy he’d just met? A guy like Tom already knew he was hot.

 

Tom tilted his head as if he hadn’t heard Frank right. “Yeah. The temperatures are a little warm for this time of year.”

 

Frank didn’t dare correct him and kept his mouth shut, afraid he’d say something worse.

 

“Okay, well then, see you around, Frank.” Tom chuckled and continued into his apartment.

 

Meanwhile Frank beat it down the stairs, unsure how he managed not to walk into traffic as his mind ran over the exchange fail again and again.

 

So yeah. That was the less than stellar first impression he’d given Tom this morning. And now Frank followed that up by hunkering down naked in the azalea bushes.

 

“Are you okay?” The gleam from the safety light caught Tom’s dark gold hair as he tilted his head to peer over the shrubs. The shadows sank into his chiseled cheekbones. He looked like a brooding movie star ready to sweep a celluloid damsel off her feet.

 

Too bad Frank was a naked man trying to keep from exposing himself. Frank crouched down farther, making himself as small as possible, hoping the azalea’s pink blooms would distract Tom from looking at his hairy backside.

 

“I’m fine.”

 

“Are you sure?” Tom leaned closer. “Are you… Do you have any clothes on?”

 

Frank racked his brain for some reason he’d be naked and hiding in the bushes. “Um, I, uh, just got out of the shower, and I leaned too far out my window.”

 

“Oh my God. Did you fall from that height?” Tom glanced up to the second floor, to Frank’s closed window and then back down. “Do you need an ambulance?”

 

Frank sighed. This conversation was only getting worse. Cupping his hands over his privates, Frank rose from behind the bushes.

 

“I’m okay. Just need to get back inside. I have a hidden key if you can get me past the front security door.”

 

Tom’s eyes widened when Frank stood. Frank winced, sure he looked like one long scrape covered in leaves. He blew at the hair in his eyes. A twig dangled, caught in an auburn strand, but Frank was unwilling to expose himself to yank it out.

 

“Sure. Sure.” Tom fumbled for his key and opened the door. Frank half hopped over the acorns and chestnut burrs to slide past Tom. Tom wrinkled his nose as Frank passed. Good old wet dog smell. It always clung to him after a run in the woods.

 

Frank took the stairs two at a time to escape.

 

After a shower and shave—why did going furry always lead to needing a shave? The rest of his hair receded. Why didn’t his beard?—Frank spent thirty minutes in front of his bathroom mirror, trying to psych himself up to knock on Tom’s door and invite him over the next day for coffee or to watch football. He scratched behind an ear, feeling the healing scab from a graze he’d gotten when he’d fallen into the azalea bushes. Staring at his reflection, he tried to look earnest and approachable. He could do this. He had game.

 

“Hey, I know you don’t know many people in town, and I’m a loser, but would you like to spend time with me?” Frank made a face at himself. Probably shouldn’t label yourself as a loser.

 

“Yo, you want to watch football? No, how about basketball? Baseball? No? What about Mexican wrestlers?” Oh God, what if Tom doesn’t like sports?

 

“I ordered two large pizzas by mistake tonight, and I could use some help, or I’ll be gorging on pepperoni for a week.”

 

Lame. Frank’s own gaunt features stared back at him from the mirror. Who was he kidding? He’d always be the guy who lost the genetic lottery and ended up with the family curse.

 

Galen’s syndrome was rare, only affecting about one in 2,000, but well-known enough that most people had at least heard of it. The Greek surgeon Galen had coined the word lycanthropy to explain the shape-shifting curse that traveled down through a family tree. Like most recessive gene disorders, it only manifested when two genes were passed down to a child, leading early scholars to think the afflicted had been re-cursed or spared for a generation due to divine providence. It was only with modern medicine that curses were found to be attached to DNA, breaking and molding chromosomes like magical radiation. But despite better understanding of the disorder, the stigma remained, not helped by the occasional local television feature linking the disorder to werewolf mythology.

 

All Frank knew was the recessive curse gene made him even more different from his family. He’d already been pushing it when he came out as gay. Turning into a wolf at sixteen had been…well, more than his father and stepmother could handle. She wanted to protect the kids, she told him. He loved his half siblings, didn’t he? It wasn’t safe to have a wild animal around children.

 

It had gutted him. They turned him out of his own home. He’d been angry. He’d done something stupid, lashing out, snapping at his sister Robbie. It still hurt, remembering the tears on his baby sister’s face, her eyes wide and scared. Of him. It was then he knew his stepmother had been right. Dangerous animals didn’t belong in a family. So he’d left, traveling all the way across the state until he landed in Waycroft Falls. It had been hard that first year. There were a lot of adult things he still hadn’t figured out.

 

Like how to ask out a guy who he hadn’t known his whole life. Moving from one small town to another had been a bad idea. Frank bonked his head against the mirror, gazing down into the white porcelain sink. He rubbed at a stray hair that clung to the side.

 

But on the plus side, small towns meant he rarely needed a car. And he could shift and run if he needed. He should take his clothes with him

 

About Aidee:

Aidee Ladnier, an award-winning author of speculative fiction, believes that adventure is around every corner. In pursuit of new experiences she’s worked as a magician’s assistant, been a beauty pageant contestant, ridden in hot air balloons, produced independent movies, hiked up a volcano, and is a proud citizen scientist. A lover of genre fiction, Aidee’s perfect romance has a little science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or the paranormal thrown in to add a zing.

 

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The Romance Reviews

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