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Posts Tagged ‘Landscapes’

A Free Snog in the Snow

 

 

 

It’s a double whammy today here on a Hopeless Romantic. It’s not only the last day of Blissemas and another chance to win the fab Blisemas grand prize with a Snog in the Snow, but this sizzling, snowy snog is from my MM paranormal, novella, Landscapes, which is free at the moment along with a lot of other fab MM reads for the Love Under the Mistletoe MM Christmas Frolic. Follow either of the above links for your copy.

 

Comment on any of the Snog in the Snow blog posts offered up today for another chance to win a fully-loaded Kindle Fire 7! 

Landscapes Blurb:

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 Snog in the Snow Excerpt — Heart’s Blood:

‘You could have told me.’ The sound of his voice clenched my heart. For a moment I was certain I was dreaming. Reese constantly tortured me from the dream world. But I was awake, wide awake, and as the breeze shifted I could smell his sweet blood. ‘You could have come to me in the beginning. I’m not that unapproachable.’

With difficulty I found my voice, as though it were something long lost from me. ‘Perhaps you were too approachable.’ I gathered my wits, what little were left to me, and turned to face him. His hair was a bit longer, blown by the wind, and the stubble of a long day caressed his cheeks, and God, he was as beautiful as I remembered. Then I smelled Talia on him, felt her magic tingling over his skin. ‘She shouldn’t have come to you. If you’re back here because you feel sorry for the poor vampire, then maybe I’ll rip your throat out and drain you and you can see where your sympathy gets you.’

He moved to stand next to me, knee-deep in the snow that buried the half-finished garden. ‘You won’t get any sympathy from me. You were a complete twat. You should be damn glad I’m not wearing garlic and sporting a stake. You didn’t ask for what happened to you, Alonso. I get that. And even if you did, we play with the hand we’re dealt. All of us.’

There was a hitch in his breath and I could almost taste the heat of his blood in the soft spot at his throat. In a wave of dizziness I stepped away. ‘Afraid I’m not very good at cards. What did you come for Reese?’

‘I came to say I’m sorry, to say that I forgive you and to ask your forgivness.’

I dropped onto the bench as though I were suddenly boneless. To my distress, he sat down next to me and pulled the wool scarf away from his exquisitely tender throat. His pulse was rapid with excitement. With fear. ‘You need to feed, Alonso, you look like hell.’ He pulled open the collar of his shirt. ‘Take from me.’

‘Christ, Reese,’ I shoved off the bench, back-pedaling until I nearly tripped over a pile of stones buried under the snow. ‘You can’t make that offer, not now.’

‘I … I don’t understand. You still want me. I saw that. Talia showed me, and God knows I want you.’

‘Of course I want you. Like I’ve never wanted anything in my life, but I’m not safe Reese. I haven’t fed in … too long. The very scent of you is driving me mad. If I take from you, I won’t be able to stop.’

‘I don’t believe that,’ he said. ‘I’m willing to risk it.’

‘Well I’m not. Your death may mean nothing to you, but it’s not a risk I’m willing to take, and believe me the risk is very real.’

I smelled the sharpening of fear, as he scrambled off the bench. The night was icy cold and heavy with the threat of snow. I could sense him shivering even through his coat. He squared his shoulders and spoke between chattering teeth. ‘What do you want me to do, Alonso. Tell me, and I’ll do it.’

I took a deep breath, struggling to clear my head. ‘Go to the house – to the kitchen. Cook is asleep but there’ll be food. Eat.’

‘I already ate, Talia insisted.’

‘Eat again,’ I commanded, turning to face him just to make sure he was really there and not something my desperate imagination had conjured. ‘Because when I return,’ I held his gaze ‘you’ll need all of your strength. We both will. Go! Now!’

 

Reese paced Alonso’s study while Talia sat on the Cordovan leather sofa pretending to read a novel. ‘It’s almost dawn,’ he said, for the third time in ten minutes. ‘Where the hell is he?’ The snow had set in soon after Alonso had left. How well a vampire could cope with a blizzard, Reece didn’t know.

‘It’s not like going down to the pub.’ Talia sat the book down and gazed up at the monitor above his desk, the one that showed what Alonso would see if there had been a window there. ‘He’s careful when he feeds, never leaving any trace. Besides, he knows the Lakes like the back of his hand. He won’t get caught out. High View is honeycombed with caves. There are also a few old slate quarries, as you know.’ She motioned him into the rough stone corridor and led him down to the Day Room. There, the only space that wasn’t filled with monitors and controls was a worktable to one side spread with a large, laminated map of the area. She ran her finger along a bright red line leading from the house out to the backside of the fell. ‘There.’ She circled a spot on the map with a grease marker. ‘Pull up camera eight.’

At first the display on the big monitor looked blank, then the night cameras kicked in and they could see the rocky walls in monotone shades of green and gray. Reese recognized the cave he’d discovered Alonso in with the walker. At first they could see nothing, but suddenly there was a flash of movement across the screen, and then it was gone.

‘There,’ they both said at the same time.

‘Is there any way of adjusting that camera?’ Reese asked.

‘Not from here, but that cave opens into a tunnel that leads to the wine cellar. It’s wired to send a signal if anyone but Alonso or a designated person is there.’

‘Show me where it’s at. It could be that he’s in there and he’s hurt. Look,’ he said when she raised a skeptical eyebrow, ‘I can’t lose him before I get the chance to properly make things right between us, so where’s the damned wine cellar?’

She gave him directions, then stayed near the monitors to watch. The fell tops were already tinged with gray from the coming sunrise, and Reese could barely keep back his rising panic.

He was down the steps and halfway across the cavernous wine cellar, when a door at the back burst open, and Alonso pushed his way in, dark hair glistening beneath the bare light bulb with a generous dusting of snow. For a moment neither man spoke, but only stood gazing at the other. And then Reese found his voice. ‘I was worried. The sun’s coming up.’

‘It was the sheep,’ Alonso said. ‘They slowed me down a bit.’

‘Sheep?’

He brushed snow from the shoulders of his black wool coat, then offered Reese an embarrassed grin. ‘If I’d gone straight for the shepherd without an appetizer, I’m afraid he wouldn’t be home shagging his wife senseless right now.’

‘You had … sheep … for an appetizer?’

‘Well their blood at least. It’s a poor substitute, but it was necessary this time.’ The shepherd had managed to get all but three into the barn against the weather, which was bad enough that he had to hole up there until it passed. Good thing for me.’ He’ll think the sheep were lost in the storm, and when the weather clears enough that I can arrange it, he’ll find a nice fat wad of £20 notes stuffed in the seat of his Land Rover.’

‘You’re OK, then?’ Reese stepped closer, relief flooding his senses and making him weak.

Alonso held his ground. ‘That depends on you.’

The next step forward was uncertain. The one after that wasn’t, as Reese moved into Alonso’s arms, feeling the chill of the wet snow, smelling the scent of Cumbrian winter and beneath that the spicy, earthy scent of the man. For a long time they stood in each other’s arms, until Reese began to shiver, and Alonso opened his coat and pulled him in to his body, warm from feeding.

‘You’re well fed then?

He lowered his mouth to Reese’s throat and kissed the shudder of his pulse. ‘I am. Now all I’m hungry for is you.’ The rocking of his hips alerted Reese to the erection nestled in his trousers. That and the careful rake of his canines against Reese’ throat made his own cock rise to attention.

Much later, Alonso lay with Reese pulled into a spoon position in his big four-poster bed, his hand absently cupping first Reese’s cock, then his sac until, in spite of the whirlwind of sex they’d already had, Reese rocked his hips slowly back and forth into his grip. ‘I know you have questions,’ Alonso said. He rose up on one elbow and kissed Reese’ ear. ‘Don’t be afraid to ask. I’ll try very hard to give you answers. But there may be times when I won’t be able to. There may be times when I’ll have to work on it. But know this,’ he said,’ moving his hand over Reese’s hips to cup his arse and stroke the cleft in between. ‘I won’t lie to you, even though there’ll be answers you won’t like, answers that may shock you.’

‘I was with the succubus, remember? You’ll find I’m not so easy to shock anymore.’ With a contortionist twist of his upper body, he curled his fingers in Alonso’s mussed hair and guided his mouth down to meet his, kissing him hard leaving them both breathless as he pulled away. ‘I know your heart, Alonso. That’s why I came back. That’s what will hold me here.’

 

 

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

 

 

Shameless Selfie Sunday from Lyme Regis

lyme-2015landscapes-oct1img_3470

 

Hi my Lovelies! I’m away from the blog and away from my usual haunts for my annual writing retreat in Lyme Regis. Every year I look forward to this one precious week in early autumn passionately, always wishing there was a way to make it longer. For this one week, I totally clear my decks of all PR, all ironing, all correspondence, all social media commitments, all everything that doesn’t involve writing, and by writing, I mean working on a novel! OMG! I’m all a quiver!

This year I’ll be working on the sequel to In The Flesh Blind-Sided — and what a romp it will be! SOOO … in honour of an entirely fabulous week of writing dark, sexy paranormal cool stuff, this Shameless Selfie will be a little bit different. For those of you who have purchased your copy of In the Flesh, you’ll know that at the end you’ll find the teasingly tense first chapter of Blind-Sided. And no! I’m not going to give you a spoiler, BUT what I will do is give you a sexy little snippet from Landscapes because Alonso Darlington and his friends are figuring majorly, not only in In The Flesh but also in Blind-Sided, so here’s a tasty teaser of a shameless selfie for you. Oh, and yes, the selfie is from Lyme Regis. But this one is from last year, and as you can see from the background, it’s all about inspiration. Hold on to your hats and let Alonso take you away. I promise I’ll be spending a lot more time with him and Reese this week. Colour me excited!

 

Landscapes Blurb:

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’ life?

 

landscapes-cover-12654238_1515192535449022_5292046566866535088_nLandscapes Excerpt: Sex Vicariously:

 

It was nearing dawn when Talia returned to our accommodations smelling of sex, as I knew she would if she were to obtain for me what I wanted. By then my blood burned in my veins, and my body felt too close to me, as though the flesh that I dwelt in suddenly conspired to crush me with its demands. And though I knew that Reese Chambers could not have refused her even if she had come to him as a toothless, foul-smelling hag, I hated her that he had poured himself into her body while I had been left with only my fantasies kindling my lust to an inferno.

Though my need was such that my flesh was fevered and my cock an insistent throb, until she returned, I held myself contained within skin that felt too thin. When she saw the state that I was in, she pulled the heavy drapes with an efficient tug, then with a nod of her head, motioned me to follow her down into the basement room that had been prepared for me. When she turned to me at the foot of the bed, before she could opened her kiss-bruised lips to speak, I took her mouth, starving for the first taste of him, the taste of his saliva, the taste of his blood, mixed with hers. She’d bitten him; he’d bitten her back. He was rough, and he liked to be treated rough, but he kept that to himself. He was embarrassed by it. His lips were slightly chapped from so much time in the sun and wind, and they’d slid against hers, suckling and stroking and pressing until her mouth opened to his. With ravenous laps of my tongue, I tasted him in her mouth, and she held back the moan of response, so I could hear the echoes of his groans, heavy with need he’d not satisfied in awhile, and I felt kinship in my own unsatisfied needs. Images of him flashed through my head. Christ, his eyes were green, dark green like the evergreen forests of the north, and he kept them open when he kissed her, taking her in with his eyes.

I shoved aside the silk of her low bodice exposing her breasts, breasts that his hands had cupped. My nipples peeked to sharp aching points at the feel of his calloused thumbs raking, pressing and releasing. I breathed in his scent on her breasts, burying my face in her cleavage, licking the taste of salty, slightly picante maleness, sniffing and tasting until I could stand it no more. In one violent jerk, I tore the dress all the way down and shoved it off her shoulders, away from the flesh he had licked and kissed and mounted. I cried out at the feel of him, weight on one elbow, knee spreading her thighs, fingers opening her heaviness, anxious to penetrate, anxious to relieve his need. And then, with Talia free of clothing, Reese Chambers’ essence filled the room. Talia’s panties were still wet with his semen mixed with her humid desire, and I tore them from her and forced her onto her stomach, onto her hands and knees, so that it was not her face I saw, but his that I imagined. With hands on her hips, I raised her bottom in the air and spread her still swollen, still slippery folds with fingers made awkward by my arousal, letting the scent of his hot bread and honey release intoxicate me. Then I buried my face in her snatch and, as I ate his lust from her, I knew him.

He was Cumbrian born and bred, and his accent was the soft lilting sound of the fells. He was a landscaper and a gardener by trade. His hands held the magic of the earth and his mind conceived ideas for beautiful outdoor spaces; those he liked best were patterned after Renaissance and medieval gardens. He was homesick and heartsick. He’d gone to Surrey to work with his father because the money was good. But his father had died recently and he had returned home to Cumbria. He didn’t care if he had to work in a pub or muck stables. He wanted to be home. He missed the people and he missed the fells. He missed the simpler, more honest rhythms of life. He was shy, even a bit reclusive. He read voraciously and widely, he liked astronomy and he was afraid of snakes, though it embarrassed him to admit it. He hadn’t had sex in a long time, and found it better to have a wank session than a meaningless encounter. The facts of him, the details of his life raced at me in a flood I consumed ravenously with each lap of my tongue.

As I ate Talia I felt the shape of his face, the curve of his chin, the rise and fall of his chest as he had done the same. I felt the soft tuft of bronze curls nestled between the hard rise of his pecs and the courser, deeper curls that caressed his testicles and his cock when it was at rest, but it hadn’t been at rest. How many times had he taken her? He was thick enough to fill her and the friction of him inside was delicious and maddening. The shape of him – I wanted to caress the shape of him, with my hands, with my mouth, and the taking of his essence from Talia was an act of ripping away something that should have been mine. As I bruised her arse with kneading fingers and, as I licked the last of his release from her, she managed a breathless moan. ‘Take the rest. God, Alnso, take the rest, and release me.’

 

itf_teaser01

 

You can buy my new release, In The Flesh by following the link. 

You can also buy the prequel novella, Landscapes.

Both are on my Books Page. 

 

 

LANDSCAPES Launch Day: Brimming with Firsts

Landscapes cover 12654238_1515192535449022_5292046566866535088_nI’m so excited! It’s launch day for my MM novella, Landscapes! If you’ve been keeping up with recent posts then you know that Alonso Darlington is none too happy about me re-launching the story of his private life. He figures it’s none of my business and, as a vampire, he likes to keep a very low profile. I figure if he hasn’t ripped my throat out yet, I just might be good to go and, honestly, I just couldn’t resist sharing his story. For those of you who have read my online serial, In The Flesh, you know that Alonso’s life is already seriously complicated. He’s a reluctantly willing member of Magda Gardener’s Consortium, and a relationship with a mortal on top of that dubious membership is one more complication he doesn’t need. BUT the heart wants what the heart wants no matter the price.

 

Most of you also know that Alonso and Reese’s story first appeared in the wonderful MM collection, Brit Boys on Boys. Not only was Landscapes my first foray into writing MM erotic romance, but it was my first ever vampire story, and definitely one of the most fun novellas I’ve ever written. Alonso would not be pleased at me saying that, but it’s true.

 

Landscapes is a novella of firsts in so many ways for me. I’m very excited to be re-launching it today as my very first foray into self-publishing. It’s also my chance to give you all another sneak peek at the dark and delicious world of The Medusa Consortium Series, of which In The Flesh is the first full-length novel, but only the beginning of Magda Gardener’s story and the story of the fabulous mismatched misfit members of her Collection. I hope you enjoy the excerpt from Landscapes. If you do, be sure to pick yourself up a copy for your reading chills and thrills.

 

 

Landscapes Blurb:

 

Vampire, 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? And if Reese finds out the truth, will there be any relationship left to risk?

 

Landscapes Excerpt:

 

It wasn’t that Reese Chambers made my cock hard – though he did. It wasn’t that he was beautiful in a rugged, leather and stone sort of way – though he was. It was that Reese Chambers moved me in ways I had not been moved in a very long time, in ways that I, who never lacked just the right words to express myself, found my vocabulary inadequate to the task. Talia would call it an obsession, and maybe it was; from my first sight of him mantling his sketchpad like a bird of prey over a fresh kill, alone in the midst of the crowded pub, I could think of nothing else. It was my first night back on British soil. It is said that you can never go back home, and it had been a very long time for me. But the need to come home was in my blood like fever these past years, as were so many needs that never left me, but only sharpened with the passing of time.

Next to me, Talia droned on about suitable residences in Cumbria, about the leasing of a car and the making of necessary renovations. The Twa Dogs was busy for a Monday night with tourist season past, but being invisible was sometimes easier in a crowd.

***

‘Find out who he is.’ I nodded in Reese’s direction. Before Talia could protest, I continued. ‘I have a roof over my head, and I’ve fed. There’s nothing that can’t wait until tomorrow.’

Talia’s cheekbones flushed with the rush of blood, and heaven knew how beautiful she was in such a state, porcelain pale skin, midnight blue eyes and hair, which was so close to black that no one but I would have noticed all of the other colours in her silken tresses. She knew what it was I asked of her, and she knew the delicate line she tread on the rare occasion when I did ask. A tremor passed up her long, straight spine, and a bloom of tiny goose bumps textured her bare arms. It would not be painless, what I asked, and I knew she feared it as much as she longed for it. I could hear the thud thud of her pulse in the thin, silken skin of her throat as she swallowed the sudden dryness of fear. ‘What do you want to know?’

I leaned forward to rake the tip of my thumb against the pulse point in her temple. ‘Everything, Talia. I want to know all of it. And when you know, come directly to me. I don’t care what time it is when you return.’

*****

It was nearing dawn when Talia returned to our accommodations smelling of sex, as I knew she would if she were to castlerigg3obtain for me what I wanted. By then my blood burned in my veins, and my body felt too close to me, as though the flesh that I dwelt in suddenly conspired to crush me with its demands. And though I knew that Reese Chambers could not have refused her even if she had come to him as a toothless, foul-smelling hag, I hated her that he had poured himself into her body while I had been left with only my fantasies kindling my lust to an inferno.

Though my need was such that my flesh was fevered and my cock an insistent throb, until she returned, I held myself contained within skin that felt too thin. When she saw the state that I was in, she pulled the heavy drapes with an efficient tug, then with a nod of her head, motioned me to follow her down into the basement room that had been prepared for me. When she turned to me at the foot of the bed, before she could opened her kiss-bruised lips to speak, I took her mouth, starving for the first taste of him, the taste of his saliva, the taste of his blood, mixed with hers. She’d bitten him; he’d bitten her back. He was rough, and he liked to be treated rough, but he kept that to himself. He was embarrassed by it. His lips were slightly chapped from so much time in the sun and wind, and they’d slid against hers, suckling and stroking and pressing until her mouth opened to his. With ravenous laps of my tongue, I tasted him in her mouth, and she held back the moan of response, so I could hear the echoes of his groans, heavy with need he’d not satisfied in awhile, and I felt kinship in my own unsatisfied needs. Images of him flashed through my head. Christ, his eyes were green, dark green like the evergreen forests of the north, and he kept them open when he kissed her, taking her in with his eyes.

I shoved aside the silk of her low bodice exposing her breasts, breasts that his hands had cupped. My nipples peeked to sharp aching points at the feel of his calloused thumbs raking, pressing and releasing. I breathed in his scent on her breasts, burying my face in her cleavage, licking the taste of salty, slightly picante maleness, sniffing and tasting until I could stand it no more. In one violent jerk, I tore the dress all the way down and shoved it off her shoulders, away from the flesh he had licked and kissed and mounted. I cried out at the feel of him, weight on one elbow, knee spreading her thighs, fingers opening her heaviness, anxious to penetrate, anxious to relieve his need. And then, with Talia free of clothing, Reese Chambers’ essence filled the room. Talia’s panties were still wet with his semen mixed with her humid desire, and I tore them from her and forced her onto her stomach, onto her hands and knees, so that it was not her face I saw, but his that I imagined. With hands on her hips, I raised her bottom in the air and spread her still swollen, still slippery folds with fingers made awkward by my arousal, letting the scent of his hot bread and honey release intoxicate me. Then I buried my face in her snatch and, as I ate his lust from her, I knew him.

He was Cumbrian born and bred, and his accent was the soft lilting sound of the fells. He was a landscaper and a britboysonboys cover imagegardener by trade. His hands held the magic of the earth and his mind conceived ideas for beautiful outdoor spaces; those he liked best were patterned after Renaissance and medieval gardens. He was homesick and heartsick. He’d gone to Surrey to work with his father because the money was good. But his father had died recently and he had returned home to Cumbria. He didn’t care if he had to work in a pub or muck stables. He wanted to be home. He missed the people and he missed the fells. He missed the simpler, more honest rhythms of life. He was shy, even a bit reclusive. He read voraciously and widely, he liked astronomy and he was afraid of snakes, though it embarrassed him to admit it. He hadn’t had sex in a long time, and found it better to have a wank session than a meaningless encounter. The facts of him, the details of his life raced at me in a flood I consumed ravenously with each lap of my tongue.

As I ate Talia I felt the shape of his face, the curve of his chin, the rise and fall of his chest as he had done the same. I felt the soft tuft of bronze curls nestled between the hard rise of his pecs and the courser, deeper curls that caressed his testicles and his cock when it was at rest, but it hadn’t been at rest. How many times had he taken her? He was thick enough to fill her and the friction of him inside was delicious and maddening. The shape of him – I wanted to caress the shape of him, with my hands, with my mouth, and the taking of his essence from Talia was an act of ripping away something that should have been mine. As I bruised her arse with kneading fingers and, as I licked the last of his release from her, she managed a breathless moan. ‘Take the rest. God, Alonso, take the rest, and release me.’

 

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An Unexpected Encounter with Alonso Darlington: 3rd Entry

I first shared my little encounter with Alonso Darlington when the novella, Landscapes was published as a part of the wonderful m/m Brit Boys: On Boys boxed set. For those of you who’ve read my online serial, In The Flesh, Alonso is a familiar character, but his story starts long before In The Flesh. and Landscapes is his first public appearance and, one — as you’ll see from the tale I began to share with you two weeks ago, he isn’t overly happy about. I felt with the release of Landscapes as a stand-alone novella coming up very shortly, it might serve as a warning to all of you  who choose to delve into the private life of a vampire. I’m risking Alonso’s displeasure again by sharing the conclusion of this little encounter with the release of Landscapes, the novella, only days away on May 24.

 

Read and be warned

 

An Unexpected Encounter with Alonso Darlington: Entry 3

 

Landscapes The room was as silent as a tomb after Talia left. God, I didn’t want to think of that analogy, but there it was, popping up in my head, and me alone with the vampire I thought I’d created, but wasn’t at all sure I could trust. Ha! Me being Alonso’s maker! The humour was almost, but not quiet lost on me.

 

I could feel his gaze rather than see it. But then Alonso’s gaze was nearly as physical as his touch. When it moved over me, I felt as though every part of me had not only been touched, but completely left naked and exposed. I kept my eyes focused on my hands folded in my lap as though I were offering up a white-knuckled prayer. Maybe I was. I honestly don’t know. I do know that I was scared witless. I had absolutely no clue what was going on or what was the significance of the conversation that had passed between Talia and Alonso. I was still struggling to get my head round what had happened and the fact that something so brutal could have been arousing as well as terrifying.

 

After what seemed like ages, Alonso released a heavy breath and came around the desk. He leaned back on it looking down at me where I sat, still avoiding his gaze. ‘Are you a fan of mythology?’

 

His question startled me, and I looked up. ‘Yes, why?’

 

In a move so fast I missed it until I felt the electricity of his touch shoot down my spine, he knelt in front of me and took my face in his hands so that I couldn’t look away. ‘You often write … stories that involve mythology, witches, demons, things that can’t be easily explained.’

 

I struggled to catch my breath enough to reply. ‘I write all sorts of things. I have an active imagination, like you said.’

 

He made a sound at the back of his throat that was enough like a growl to make the hair on my neck rise. ‘Your active imagination conjures a lot of very dangerous people.’

 

My laugh sounded high pitched and thin, bouncing off the stone walls. ‘You make me sound like a witch or something.’

 

He didn’t smile. ‘Not a witch. Not exactly.’

 

I couldn’t hold back a shiver, but I caught myself quickly. ‘I write fiction. That’s all.’

 

He said nothing, only studied me until I closed my eyes to get away from his intense gaze. It was the warmth of his lips on mine that caused me to start, his electric touch playing over me like ripples on a pond. The room suddenly seemed tight, airless. I tried to get away from him, but he held me tight. ‘Perhaps she’ll allow you to believe that, but I doubt it.’

 

Before I could either panic or throw myself into his arms and offer up my neck, he stood and moved back behind the desk. ‘You’re free to go, K D. Talia will take you back to your room, and you have free run of the house for now.’ He gave a huff of a laugh. ‘There isn’t much you’ve not already seen, I suppose.’

 

He was right. It was an intuitive experience, finding my way around High View Manor. And it was uncanny that I should know the place so well, that it was the place I had created in my imagination for a story I’d written, and yet my creation was stone and wood all around me. I wandered the grounds when I felt claustrophobic inside the stone walls designed to keep a vampire safe from the northern sun – anemic in the winter and tireless in the summer. I wandered the grounds wrapped in the heavy jacket, which I found returned and hanging next to the wardrobe in my room, as if by magic.

 

S6300754I felt as though I’d fallen off the edge of the earth and ‘here be monsters.’ This was the Lake District! I loved the Lake District. My heart felt like it was home the first time I came here. But Lakeland is also a place full of magic and mystery. That the creations of my imagination should take shape in the reality of the waking world made me feel wrong-footed and not quite at home in my own skin. It was unsettling enough to see the world I had created in my head solid and stable all around me, but it was much more so to feel threatened by the flesh and blood people that until now I thought to be only characters in my imagination.

 

The sun was setting and I had just returned from a wander in Alonso’s garden, shivering from the cold wind that had gotten up some time in the afternoon, and had just been joined by gravy-thick mist. I heard voices in the day room, heard the mention of my name, and stopped short to listen.

 

‘If Talia didn’t put the story of our relationship in Ms. Grace’s head then who the hell did?’ I recognized Reese’s voice and stepped closer on tiptoes.

 

‘It’s better that you don’t know,’ came Alonso’s reply. ‘Our cat’s out of the bag, so to speak. That means she should have no further interest in us.’ Then he added as an afterthought. ‘Though I honestly don’t know why she would want our story shared. I’ve kept my distance from her, respected her boundaries, kept her secrets – what few I know of them. I’m no threat to her.’

 

‘You’re recently returned to Lakeland,’ Talia said. ‘Granted High View and the surrounding fells is all your land, and you keep a low profile, but you’re here, and she’ll want to know exactly why you’re here and what your plans are.’

 

‘If she’s told my story to the writer, then she already knows my motives and that I’m no threat to her.’

 

No threat to who? Who the hell was he talking about? I felt like little ant feet were crawling up my spine. Christ! If there were someone out there who Alonso feared, someone whose attention he wanted to avoid, what the hell would they want with me? I was scared enough of him. Whoever she was, I was pretty damned sure I wanted nothing do to with her. I was so lost in my thoughts that I nearly missed Alonso’s next statement with all its implications.

 

‘Anyone else who she brings to Ms Grace’s attention, well that’s not our problem, is it? And the less we know the better.’

 

Anyone she brings to my attention? They thought this she, whoever she was, had made me write Alonso’s story? I was beginning to get seriously creeped out.

 

‘She was in Vegas last spring, our dear Ms Grace. You know that, right?’ It was Talia’s voice I heard now, and I inched still closer to the open door holding my breath. ‘More jet-lagged than usual from what I understand. I wasn’t so concerned when she was there the year before. But last spring, Mr. Graves had … company.’

 

‘It’s not our concern, Talia.’ Alonso’s voice was tight and irritable. ‘Mr. Graves has nothing to do with us, and if the woman writes his story, if that’s why she was so jet lagged, then better Graves than us. And he can certainly take care of himself.’

 

‘That’s easy for you to say.’ Talia’s voice, though low and controlled, made gooseflesh prickle up my arm. ‘But Ms Grace is here in the Lakes often, and you’re not the only one who has secrets, Alonso.’

 

‘What do you want me to do, Talia? Hmm?’ If she’s chosen Ms Grace to write the stories then there’s nothing any of us can do about it, and though Graves might be angry, he won’t take her on, not directly anyway. There’s too much between them.’

 

‘Who’s she? Who the hell are you talking about?’ Reese asked, his voice raised in exasperation.

 

Alonso’s reply was curt, sharp edged with warning. ‘We’ll discuss this later, after our guest leaves.’

 

Between Maiden Moor and High Spy, where Marie loses her way.Talia spoke over a loud clearing of throat. ‘And just how long do you plan to keep our guest listening at the door, Alonso?’

 

Before I could turn to flee, Alonso was at my side and with speed matched only by grace, he slid an arm around me and guided me into the day room where I was suddenly the center of attention.

 

‘I’m sorry. I was just coming in and I heard my name and … well what you were saying was …’

 

‘Frightening?’ Talia came to my side and smoothed my wind-blown hair away from my face, and the feather touch of her fingers sent the feeling of champagne bubbles bursting all over my body. ‘You have good reason to be frightened, scribe.’ Before I could step away from her, she pulled me into her arms and kissed me.

 

From somewhere a long way off I could hear Alonso and Reese, voices raised in alarm, but after that everything happened so quickly, I can only guess at events. They came to me like scenes lit by a strobe light, fast, frantic, and disjointed. There was a woman. I can’t recall how she looked, and yet I know if I ever see her, I’ll know instantly that it was her. She was achingly beautiful and yet something about that beauty terrified me. I tried to run from her, through an overgrown garden, dark and wild and more alive than it should have been. And there were stones, all around me stones some sculpted, some grotesque, some worn away until I couldn’t tell if they were ever more than just the rock on the fells.

 

Then someone carrying a flaming torch walked inside me like I were the garden, ignoring all the places that I chose to share with the world and seeking out the darkness in me, the shame in me, the places I never visited myself, let alone invited company in for a look. I cried out, I screamed, I tried to chase the torch bearer away, but the more I tried, the more my darkness was illuminated.

 

And then I was falling down underground, at first into the ruins of a slate quarry, and then there were bright lights above me, but I walked in caves, through endless tunnels and caverns, and I walked among the dead, all the while knowing that the bright lights were above me and that above me people celebrated, people danced and drank and partied. Yet they were oblivious to the dead just below them, the dead I walked among as I followed the torchbearer through the darkness. I followed until we came to the edge of an abyss, and there, the torchbearer turned to me and spoke against my ear. ‘Write it. Write what I tell you.’ Then with the flat of her hand in the middle of my back, she gave a gentle push, and I fell over the edge.

 

I woke with a start, gasping for breath. I’m embarrassed to say that I might have actually been screaming. It was Reese who held me, and soothed me back into the waking world.

 

‘Goddamn it, Talia!’ Alonso was saying. ‘Why the hell did you do that?’

 

I was lying flat out on the leather sofa with Reese kneeling at my side. But Talia was kneeling next to him.

 

As I fought to sit up, Talia glided across the floor to Alonso, took his face in her hands and kissed him hard. He gasped as though she had gut-punched him, grabbed at her as though to keep from falling and then stopped trying as his legs gave and he dropped onto the love seat across from me where he sat breathing like he’d just ran a marathon.

 

Dale Head Pivotal location for Elemental FireTalia pulled herself up to her full height, squared her shoulders and spoke in a quiet voice. ‘Now you know. Now we all know. And there’s nothing we can do about it.’ Then she turned and walked out of the room.

 

‘Do about it? What did she just do? What did she see?’ Reese sounded as though he wasn’t all that far from the panic I felt it knowing that whatever had happened inside me, Talia had just conveyed to Alonso, and I was pretty sure they both understood it a helluva lot better than I did.

 

If Alonso wasn’t already dead, I’d have said he looked like death warmed over, and his gaze was locked on me as though I’d just sprouted horns and a tail. Then he pulled his cell phone from his jacket pocket still holding me in a cast-iron gaze. ‘Stephen, see that Ms Grace’s clothes are packed and the car is brought around for her. She’ll be leaving immediately. Oh, and see that the jet is prepped to fly her to Heathrow.’

 

It was full dark when Alonso walked me to the waiting SUV. Up until that time no one had spoken to me, though I had been well-fed, which was good because after whatever had happened to me in the day room, I was ravenous. The driver got out to take my bag and Alonso took my hands in his.

 

‘It isn’t over, K D.’ Before I could ask, he raised his hand to stop me. ‘I wish that I could tell you more, wish that I could help you, but I can’t. I know little more than to tell you that you need to be prepared because mine won’t be the last story you’ll be compelled to write.’ He shrugged. ‘I’m overstepping my boundaries by even telling you that, but perhaps she’ll forgive me. Perhaps not. Still you should be warned. You should be ready for what’ll be asked of you. At least as ready as it’s possible to be. I am sorry, K D. Truly I am.’ He kissed me on the cheek, then nodded to the driver.

 

I slept most of the way home, dreaming of things too disturbing and too erotic for me to share outright with you. Most of them involving Alonso and Talia, but during those dreams, I always knew that she was watching. There were moments when I could almost figure out who she was, but then like most dreams, what I struggled to hold on to vanished into mist before I woke up.

 

Once at home, I fell into my own bed without even undressing and slept a deep, dream-filled sleep, often feeling as though Alonso or Talia, sometimes both, were there in the bed with me, and always she watched just beyond the edge of my consciousness. I woke half-convinced that I’d dreamed the whole experience, but for the still-packed bag sitting on the floor in the hall. Even then, I thought perhaps I could have packed it in my sleep. Denial is a powerful thing. It was only after I’d gotten out of the shower and was drying myself that I noticed two tiny puncture wounds above my left breast. But even that I tried to justify as some sort of skin irritation or maybe an insect bite.

 

In the days that followed, I developed no aversion to sunlight, no desire to drink blood, no powerful urge to return to Alonso. Neither did Talia visit my dreams again. In the days that followed, I constantly questioned myself, tested myself, trying to discover exactly what it was about me that had changed. Something had, and yet I still can’t put my finger on what it was or why or how, but something is different.

 

Alonso’s parting conversation keeps coming back to me, and I wonder just what I aught to be prepared for, and who the hell she is. I keep trying to make sense out of whatever it was that happened between Talia and me, whatever it was that happened in my head, or in my imagination, or wherever it was. None of it makes any sense. But what I do feel is a sense of heightened expectation, as though something important, something that I need to do or know, is about to happen. But then again, perhaps it is nothing more than my overactive imagination exerting itself a little more than usual.

 

 

Addendum:

 

I now know who she is. I wouldn’t say that Magda Gardener has exactly become my friend. No one would say that about britboysonboys cover imageMagda Gardener, but I would say that as she guides me to the stories I’m compelled to tell – the story of Susan and Michael, the story of Mr. Graves and Samantha, she gives me little glimpses of herself – I don’t know if that is on purpose or inadvertent, but it doesn’t matter. What I have learned is that Alonso and Talia were right to fear her. Why I don’t know is why, in all the world, she chose me to write the stories of her Consortium. As those stories unfold, I’m not sure whether to be excited and flattered that I have been chosen, or to be terrified as each story reveals more of her own darkness. You, dear readers, will have to be the judge, and Alonso and Reese’s story is just the beginning.

 

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Landscapes available for Download 24 May

 
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