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Wrecked

Contributors: Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga
Series: Standalone #BA Tortuga
Genre: , , , ,
Release Date: July 23, 2019
Pages: 276

Wrecked

An East Meets Western M/M Romance

The call comes when Beckett Adler least expects it. He’s made a new life for himself in Vermont and has a law practice of his own. After four years he’s even stopped wearing his wedding ring. So when he finds out his husband, bull rider Skyler Paulson, has been seriously injured at an event, he isn’t sure what he wants to do. He knows what’s right though, so he heads down to Baltimore to bring his man home. 

Sky knows his injuries are a career-ender, and he can’t believe Beck has come for him after all this time. He’s not a hundred percent sure what went wrong with their marriage and he has no idea how to be anything but a bull rider. But he wants this second chance, so he grabs at it with both hands. 

There’s a lot Sky has to learn, from how to walk again to how to settle down with the man he loves. Beck needs to learn to open up and how to be more trusting. For their marriage to work again, both men will have to find a way to meet in the middle. Because neither of them wants to be wrecked anymore.

Buy the Book: Amazon

Also in this series:

Chapter One 

The offices of Walker and Adler, LLP closed closed early on Fridays. That was one of the perks of practicing law in Vermont; weekends were sacred. There were other perks--it was perfectly acceptable to show up late because there was fresh powder on the mountain, you could bring your dog to the office, and you only had to wear a suit on court days.

Of course, the rules, such as they were, didn’t concern Beckett Adler too much since he was the boss.

Beckett locked up and stepped out into the brisk afternoon, but the chill in the air didn’t keep him from stopping by the hardware store for varnish and a couple of foam brushes. In a month or so he’d get his boat back to Lake Champlain. His weekend plans included refinishing the tiller and the cleats, and maybe starting on the companionway.

He stopped by the co-op and picked up a few groceries to make his Friday night pizza, and he was nearly home when the rain started.

Rain was good. He liked snow, he loved to ski, but his mind was on the lake now; the water, the sunshine and the wind.

His phone buzzed, but the number that came up on the console was nothing he recognized, so he ignored it. He wasn’t at work; he didn’t have to answer.

He turned off Route 7 and onto Church Hill, stopping by the post office for his mail before heading home. He pulled his Jeep Wrangler into the garage and parked it next to his ancient pickup just as it started to really pour. Good timing.

The house was cold, so he stoked up the wood stove before starting dinner.

His phone rang again -- same number of course, damn telemarketers -- and he ignored it, but this time someone left a voicemail at least.

It made him nuts to have that stupid little red notification badge sitting there, like it was one more thing on his to-do list. He stuck his pizza in the oven, then listened to the voicemail on speaker.

“Uh. Hey. Hi. This is Parker Stephens. You probably don’t remember, but...shit. Shit, can you call me back on this number, man? I don’t know how to say on the phone, but I need to you call. Soon. I’ll call back in ten. It’s important, about Sky.”

He dropped the phone on the kitchen counter like it had burned him.

Sky.

He definitely remembered Parker. Parker was Skyler’s rodeo buddy. Rodeo buddy, best friend, fuck buddy. Whatever. If Parker was calling him in a panic, if the guy couldn’t just leave a message, it sure wasn’t good news.

Beckett didn’t even wear his wedding ring anymore. Did he really need to know? Did he want to?

He paced the kitchen, eyes still glued to his phone. What would happen if he called? What did that mean for tomorrow?

What would it say about him if he didn’t?

He scooped up the phone and dialed before he lost his nerve.

“Dude. Beckett, that you?” That lazy drawl was anything but. No, this was total panic. Fuck.

He closed his eyes and took a breath. “What is it, Parker?”

Is he dead? just tell me.

“Sky’s been hurt, buddy. Bad. He’s in a medically induced coma, but the docs don’t think-- I mean, if you want to say goodbye, you should come. Now.”

If I want to…?

He braced a hand on the sink and swallowed hard, working to keep it to together. He’d known in his heart he’d get this call one day. Now he needed to get through it.

Godammit, Sky. Four years since you left, and this is still harder than I thought.

He steadied his voice and focused on Parker. “Where are you? Where is he?”

“Mercy Medical in Baltimore. He was riding good, but…” Always the riding. Always.

Baltimore. Same time zone. Maybe even a direct flight. Might be faster to drive. But first he had to get Parker off the phone.

“You listen to me Parker. No decisions get made until I get there, am I clear? Unless it’s something life-saving it can wait. I’m coming.”

“You’re his next of kin and his medical power of attorney. I got no choice.”

Good.

This was Parker’s fault anyway. At least partly.

“If I can’t find a flight I’ll drive. I’ll be there as soon as I can.” He hung up the phone.

He didn’t want to know what had happened; that wasn’t important right now. And whatever was going on, he didn’t want to hear another word from that guy about it.

Jesus, Sky.

He pushed away from the counter surprised to find that despite the aching dread in his chest his knees were managing to hold him up. He rushed up the stairs to pack a bag. Jeans, a couple of shirts. He didn’t need much.

As soon as he’d closed his laptop and given up on flights, the smoke alarm went off downstairs. He raced back down with the laptop and his duffel in his arms, dropped everything and opened the sliding back doors to clear the smoke from the kitchen.

“Shit.”

He was able to yank his charred pizza out, toss it in the sink, and turn on the tap before his vision clouded.

Jesus Fucking Christ, Skyler. I swear to God if you don’t die I might wring your neck myself.

He hurried around the downstairs and muted the smoke alarm, then shut the dampers to cut off oxygen to the fire in the wood stove, closed and locked the sliding doors, and grabbed his keys.

He’d get dinner on the road.

And a huge coffee.

Title: Wrecked
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B07TWK3Y8C
ISBN13: 978-1-733076-0-3

 

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Flying Blind

Contributors: Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga
Series: Standalone #with BA Tortuga
Genre: , , , ,
Release Date: July 28, 2020
Pages: 427

Flying Blind

An East Meets Western M/M Romance

Sometimes the best thing about living in New York is leaving it.

When January Bell takes a risk on a business trip to Denver and introduces himself to the hot as fire rodeo cowboy across the bar, he has no idea what he’s in for. Hawk is like nobody he’s ever met, and Jan finds he is intrigued enough to want more than just one night with the deceptively complex man.

Hawk Destry is working hard to wring every moment he can out of his bull riding career. He’s used to beating the eight second clock, but he is slowly losing his eyesight and he doesn’t have a lot of years left in the sport.

None of that seems to matter, though, when Hawk meets January, who treats him like he’s worth more off a bull than on one, and who’s willing to work just as hard to be with him.

The two men have to deal with distance and traveling, unexpected challenges when Hawk visits New York, family on both sides, and neither of them saw any of it coming. Eventually even Hawk’s dangerous job is thrown into sharp relief when tragedy strikes. How will January and Hawk find their way if they’re flying blind?

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Also in this series:

 

Chapter One

Sometimes the best thing about living in New York City was leaving it.

“What can I get you?” The hotel bartender was burly and handsome, with deep-set dark eyes under a heavy brow and an easy smile framed by a carefully trimmed beard.

January smiled at the man and slid a credit card across the bar. “Do you have Glenlivet?”

“Yessir, twelve okay?”

“That’s fine. A double.”

The bartender picked up his card and glanced at it. “Running a tab, Mister Bell?”

“Yes, thank you, uh…”

He got a friendly smile. “Alex.”

January nodded. “Good to meet you, Alex.”

“What brings you to Denver?” Alex pulled the bottle down from a high shelf and set a glass on the bar in front of him. “Business? A wedding?”

He grinned and shook his head. It was a hotel bar and he was wearing one of his favorite suits. Either one of those things was a good bet. “Just a couple of business meetings.” He wasn’t going to say much more, he didn’t like to talk about his philanthropy. But his foundation was always searching for new opportunities and sometimes he had to travel to find them.

Alex poured him a generous double, put the cap on the bottle and left it within easy reach. Good call.

A pair of women waved to get Alex’s attention and the bartender inclined his head. “Excuse me. We’ll get busy here in a bit. Wave when you need me.”

“Will do. Thank you.” He swirled his whiskey and sniffed it, sighing as the rich, warm scent filled his nostrils, making his mouth water. The weather report was on the TV over the bar and he was surprised that despite the altitude, it wasn’t much cooler in Denver than it was back home. Even so, the Mile High City was much more pleasant than the Big Apple tonight.

January touched the glass to his lips, savoring the burn as that first jarring sip soaked into his tongue and slid down his throat, setting him tingling. They’d split up months ago, but this was only his second trip without Lucas and, although the bar was lively, he still felt lonely.

Or no.

Not so much lonely as alone.

He was bad at alone. He’d been both blessed and cursed with a strong, extroverted personality. He could talk to anyone, but he really did need someone to talk to, and his first glass of whiskey was always too quiet.

A raucous band pushed and bounced through the door—cowboy hats and jeans and an amazing array of sports tape and IcyHot and bruises.

“Yo, Alex!”

“Guys, Coors Light all around?”

“All but for Charlie here, man. He lost his fight with Railrunner.” One of the cowboys bellied up to the bar, damn near blinding him with a wild, excited shit-eating grin. “Let’s make him a virgin something frozen.”

Cowboys. One more reason to love Denver.

“You got it.” Alex set four silver cans on the bar. “One fakey Pina Colada, coming up.”

January glanced at the cowboy over his glass. “Somebody is on the good drugs, huh?” This cowboy seemed pretty beat up too.

“Got his ass trampled in the dirt, yessir. Made his ride, though.” God, that smile—part Dennis the Menace, part Mathew McConaughey.

Made his ride? Come on, Jan. You’re a smart guy. The pieces were floating around but he wasn’t putting them together. Injured cowboy, summertime, Denver.

Trampled. Did cowboys do MMA? January tilted his head, failing to get a look at the eyes shadowed by the man’s hat, though he caught the bright blond hair well enough.

“Railrunner, huh? Son of a bitch.” Alex peered over his shoulder at the group of men in hats as the blender whirred. “Is Charlie still on the roster for tomorrow? My girl got tickets for the show. I might have a little money on him.” Alex grinned at the cowboy sheepishly. “Sorry.”

Tickets.

“Sure he is, but you wasted your money. I’m in a solid third, and I’m taking the short-go and the event, you watch.” The guy didn’t seem to be worried in the least, or offended.

“It’s no fun to go after the easy money.” That was an obvious tease. “I guess I’ll see how you do tomorrow, won’t I?” Alex shut the blender off, poured the frozen mixture into a glass and set it on the bar. A couple of arms reached between January and the cowboy and pulled all the drinks off the bar, leaving one beer behind.

I’ll take rodeo for five-hundred, Alex. “Bulls?”

“Oh, these crazy bastards are bull riders. Good guys, great tippers, but rowdy? Wow.”

Wow was right. But they were just having fun, which was good by him. “I can’t say I’ve ever met a bull rider.”

“You want me to introduce you to Hawk there? He’s hilarious. He’s like talking to someone from a movie or something.”

He did like the accent. The shoulders too, if he was honest. And the cowboy’s ass, if he let himself go there.

And why not go there?

“Sure. I’d love that.” He’d talked to celebrities before, even straight ones.

“I’ll make the intros when he comes to grab his beer.” Alex nodded to him, like he did this every day, which January supposed he did.

“Cool. Thanks.” Well, that would never happen in New York. He sipped his drink, enjoying the warmth and watched the group of men out of the corner of his eye. So much testosterone standing in those boots. It was hot as hell.

Hawk did, in fact, come for his beer, nodding to Alex as his hand wrapped around it. “Charlie says you did good, man. Thanks.”

“No problem. Hey, you met Mr. Bell here? He’s in on business.”

“I haven’t.” Hawk turned to him, eyes hidden behind thick, little round glasses, and held out one square, scarred up hand. “Hawk Destry, pleased to meet you.”

It only took him a second to decide it wasn’t worth the risk of getting his ass kicked, so when he shook Hawk’s hand he was careful to keep it all business, despite the allure of that stubborn chin. “January Bell. Good to meet you too. Alex says you’re a bull rider?”

“That’s the rumor.” Hawk climbed up on the barstool next to him, the man laughing at himself. “Some days I do better than others.”

January grinned. “Didn’t you say you had this one in the bag?”

“I sure did, and I stand by that. Assuming I get a good draw, my bull rope doesn’t pop on me, and I keep riding like I have, I’m golden.” Hawk chuckled and rolled his eyes dramatically. “Good thing I tend to ride good late in the season, huh?”

He wasn’t sure how Hawk managed to pull off arrogance and self-awareness at the same time. It was fascinating. Maybe the smile kind of smoothed out the edges. Whatever it was, January liked it. “Your draw is what? The order you ride in?”

“The bull you ride. The order goes by ranking. Right now I’m sitting in third. We’ll see if I can’t improve it.”

He’d love to have this cowboy in the bag. “Are any of these guys ahead of you right now?” He knew he was wasting his time, but January dared to lean in a little anyway and took a sip of his whiskey.

He swore he saw Hawk’s nostrils flare, the man tuning into him. “Charlie is, but he’s hurting bad.” The words were a fascinating mixture of sympathy and complete lack of care. “Tell me about you, now. Here on business?”

“Yes. I’ve got a couple of meetings, then I head back to New York.” He tossed out a bone. “Just three nights.”

“New York, huh? I been there a couple times for events. It’s huge and shiny. Lots of folks.”

“It’s both of those things. I love it, though the hustle and the crowds can get a little much sometimes.” Thankfully he had a little sanctuary on the Upper West Side with a view of the park. He spoiled himself, he knew. Even his suite at the hotel was a splurge. “Did you like it when you visited?”

“Sure did. I like seeing new stuff. My job keeps me on the road a lot, so it’s a good thing.” Was Hawk checking him out? Surely not. They didn’t make gay cowboys, did they?

“I get away once a month or so. More in the summer if I can find an excuse. It’s hot in the city. I like the mountains, even if I don’t get there as often as I’d like. I have a great view from my suite though.” He turned on his stool and swept the hem of his suit jacket off his hip to give Hawk more to glance at, if in fact the cowboy was looking. “Do you drink scotch? This is a nice one.”

“Is it?” That smile flashed again. “Let me buy us a round, then. See if our tastes mesh.”

Oh ho. So cowboys do come in gay. Sweet.

January caught Hawk’s arm as the man reached for his wallet, trying again to get a peek at Hawk’s eyes. The glasses were adorably geeky, incongruous under the hat. “Let me, please.”

There was a sizzling moment where the air between them burned, and it was blistering, dangerous, and sexual as hell. “Sounds like a plan.”

“It does, doesn’t it?” He let go of Hawk’s arm and waved the bartender over. There was no reason to play games with the pull so strong and clear between them. “Alex? I’ll take the bottle, and I’d like to close out my tab please.”

Alex seemed a little confused but nodded and punched something into the register. “You got it.”

January dipped his fingers into his inside jacket pocket, pulled out a business card and a pen, and wrote his suite number on the back.

“Sign here, Mr. Bell. I hope everything is all right?”

“Just fine, thank you.” He wrote in a generous tip and signed his name, then lifted the half-full bottle of whiskey off the bar and handed the business card to Hawk. “I look forward to seeing you again soon.”

“Give me two shakes to finish my beer.” Hawk lifted the bottle and saluted him before he headed over to his friends, moving slow and giving him a chance to see.

“Making new friends with a sh-uit, Hawk?” Charlie was slurring a bit, but between the bruised jaw and the drugs that wasn’t surprising. “What is he, a sh-ponsor?”

Hawk looked back at him, winked, then turned back to the group, giving him a nice view at a tiny, perfectly framed ass. “He ain’t with the tour, man. I thought maybe he was a fan. Y’all going to get Charlie here up to his bed?”

He was definitely a fan. Just not of the rodeo.

He left Hawk to finish his beer and make whatever exit he needed to make and took his bottle of scotch upstairs to his top-floor suite, where he poured himself another shot of liquid courage. He didn’t feel guilty or awkward; those weren’t things he had time for. But it had been a while since he’d quite so obviously let his dick do the thinking.

It wasn’t long before a knock sounded on the door, shave and a haircut. Hell, even the knock was brash, bold. He set two glasses next to the bottle on the dresser and went to answer the door.

There was a cowboy at his door all right. Boots, hat, jeans, square shoulders, bravado and all. Something about the way Hawk was standing felt a little like a challenge.

“Hey. Come on in.”

“Thanks for the invite. I appreciate it.”

“It’s… good to be appreciated.” He’d heard a lot of pick-up lines, but that was a new one. He stepped aside to let Hawk enter, laughing gently as he closed and locked the door behind them. “Do you not get many invitations?”

“I’ve had a couple three. Just needed to make sure we understood what I came up for.” Suddenly Hawk was right there, solid as a rock, one hand on his hip.

“Scotch?” January teased.

Jesus. Hawk was giving off more heat than the sun. And with that touch on his hip, whatever electricity had passed between them at the bar was back, only this time without the restraint of public eyes on them, January could do what he’d wanted to do then. He reached for Hawk’s shirt and tugged it out of the well-worn wranglers, slipping a hand under the hem to rest on warm skin and the hardest set of abs he’d ever felt. “Damn, cowboy.”

“I live and die on core strength.” Hawk found one of his nipples through his dress shirt, thumb dragging over his skin.

Nothing like finding one of his hottest hot spots on the first try. January hissed and leaned into the touch, fingers going to work on Hawk’s shirt, buttons sliding open one by one from the bottom up. He inhaled deeply, the scent of hungry man making his balls ache. He reached up with both hands and touched the frame of Hawk’s glasses, raising an eyebrow. “May I?”

“Sure. Put them somewhere safe.” The stroking turned into a firm pinch.

His toes curled. That was fucking right. “Easy, I don’t want to drop them.” He took Hawk’s glasses, folded them carefully and set them behind him on the dresser, right next to the bottle of scotch. Didn’t get much safer than that. He bent a little, but he still couldn’t get a look at those eyes, hiding under the brim of Hawk’s hat.

He shrugged his jacket off catching it with one hand and tossing it over a chair.

“Where was I? Oh right. Here.” He fanned his fingers out across those abs again. “Living and dying.”

“Mmhmm.” Hawk put his hat, brim up, on the end table, exposing a short-cropped mass of white curls, and light blue eyes that were almost crystalline. Impressive. And lovely.

He pushed the shirt off Hawk’s shoulders and took a light, tentative kiss, wondering, asking. Not every man he’d known was into kissing a one-night stand. The answer was straightforward and direct—Hawk kissed him like he was storming a beach at Normandy.

Oh. Fuck yeah. It was so on.

He helped Hawk get the shirt off while they fought for tongue positions and with each other’s buttons and zippers. He got his fingers under Hawk’s waistband and cupped a smooth, hot ass cheek that was nearly as muscled as the cowboy’s abs. Fuck, that was hot. He worked out, but January felt like a marshmallow next to this guy.

Hawk was like a marble statue come to life—chiseled and hard, but still burning with his need. Burning he understood. He shouldered Hawk toward the bed. “Sit.” He gave Hawk a light shove to make his point and tugged the man’s jean’s over his hips.

“Let me get my boots, or I’ll be caught at the ankle.”

“Boots? Oh.” He stepped out of the way and watched as Hawk wrestled with the boots and the denim. Huh. He’d file that under things to know before fucking a cowboy.

He kicked off his own shoes while Hawk dealt with footwear drama and tossed his shirt aside with them.

Hawk stripped down, showing off a heavy cock, icy pubes, and a set of feathers inked over his collarbones.

“I hadn’t planned on bringing a stacked, sexy cowboy to my suite tonight, you know. I thought I’d be finishing another glass or two and watching a game on TV.” He kicked everything aside and stood at a short distance, letting Hawk have an eyeful too. Hawk seemed so young, naked and blue eyed and without that hat. He felt a little old.

“Mmm, that would be a waste. Look at you. I could eat your happy ass alive.”

He was a little more interested in Hawk’s happy ass, frankly. He moved forward, the proximity making him burn and his fingers long to touch. Hawk’s blond curls were baby soft as he ran his fingers through them and long enough to tug.

So he did. “How about my cock instead?”

“Oh, I do like a man that knows what he wants.” Those icy eyes flashed up at him. “You going to get it up again and fuck me like I need?”

Wow. Those eyes. And talk about knowing what you wanted. “Not to worry. I’m only offering you a taste, cowboy. We had an understanding, I think.”

“Only a taste, hmm? We’ll see about that. I’m pretty damn good at what I do.” Hawk cupped his balls, squeezing enough to bring him up on his toes.

Okay sure good whatever you want. He leaned into the touch. Something about this guy made him so ready to let go. But he had plans too.

“Humble. I’ve heard that about cowboys.”

“Meek. Mild. Salt of the earth.” Hawk understood how to unfasten another man’s slacks.

“Four for four.” He watched Hawk’s scarred fingers work, thinking they were surprisingly delicate for someone that spent most of their time with thousand-pound animals.

“You forgot hard as nails and twice as tough.”

He sucked in a breath as his cock and the air-conditioned room met. “Oh, now you’re talking about me.”

“Mmm, look at this fine bit of rope.” Hawk measured him, base to tip, then did it again, lips opening to take his tip in.

January sighed and reminded himself to be patient, but his fingers made a fist in the cowboy’s hair anyway, blond curls popping up between his knuckles. He knew without asking that Hawk would be more than ready for whatever he wanted to dish out, but he was still a gentleman despite all appearances at the moment.

First times and all, right?

Hawk cupped his balls, rolling them and making him gasp, even as Hawk’s mouth dropped down and down, the blistering suction surrounding his prick.

“Mmm.” All right, it seemed like Hawk did have something to brag about. January spread his feet wider and arched his hips forward, his eyes glued to that hungry mouth. Hawk went down on him like a Hoover, taking him in to the root and swallowing hard before moving back up to work his tip.

He closed his eyes to feel for a minute, enjoy Hawk’s heat. Hawk’s mouth was heaven, he could let the cowboy take him all the way like this for sure. Sometime, when he was with a lover he knew he’d see more than once, he would let himself indulge again. But he wanted Hawk. He wanted that strong, muscled body underneath him.

Soon. January shivered and groaned as Hawk swallowed, throat going tight around his prick. Maybe soon-ish.

In a minute.

First, he needed to enjoy what this cowboy could teach him about flying.

“Jesus.” He opened his eyes again. “I’m going to fuck you so hard you’ll still feel me when you win tomorrow night.”

“Mmhmm…” The hum sent vibrations all the way through to his bones. Fuck, Hawk was too good at this.

Too Goddamn good, and he’d had a little scotch. “Enough.” The word came out softer than he’d intended, raspy in his dry throat. He tried again, with more conviction. “I said a taste, cowboy. That’s enough.”

He tugged on Hawk’s hair, and his cock popped out of Hawk’s lips. They both groaned at the loss, with Hawk swaying on the mattress.

“That’s it.” He did appreciate a man that enjoyed giving head. “Crawl on up there and let me see that ass.” It was a thing of beauty in blue jeans, and Hawk obviously knew it. January was looking forward to what the denim had been hiding.

Hawk crawled up to the head of the bed, pretty little ass swaying back and forth to tease the fuck out of him.

“Mm-mm.” He reached across the bed to give one round cheek a love-tap, then slid out of his trousers. “Has anyone ever told you that you have a perfect ass?”

“Oh, flattery will so get you laid.” Hawk knelt up tall, ass cheeks clenched tight.

“Proud of it, are you?” He knelt right behind Hawk, coaxing Hawk’s knees open a little wider with his own, and slid his hands along the line of Hawk’s hips until they met, stretching wide again across those killer abs.

“You know it.” He could feel the way those muscles worked to keep them both upright.

He pressed close to Hawk’s back, letting his cock nestle into the warm cleft of that fine ass, and tasted a scarred shoulder with his tongue. That earned him a soft moan, and Hawk rocked back, ass teasing the hell out of him.

“There’s a little black bag next to your hat on the nightstand. Can you reach it?” So, he hadn’t made plans, but he was prepared anyway. Nothing put a damper on a spontaneous tryst like stopping in the hotel gift shop for a rubber, or worse, discovering it was closed.

“You got it.” Hawk settled deeper, thighs parted as he balanced and reached. Oh. Oh, that was the promise of pure sex. He slipped a hand through that inviting gap and cupped Hawk’s balls. They were silky and heavy and filled his whole hand.

Even better, they were shaved, smooth as silk, making all sorts of promises, each one better than another. Something told him waxing wasn’t cowboy standard issue. So intriguing, this man. A tangle of stereotypes and contradictions that Hawk simply owned, without shame or apology. It was sexy as hell.

“Tada!” Hawk straightened up, chuckling as he did. “That’s a right obliques workout. I’ll have to remember that.”

“I know I won’t forget it any time soon,” he teased and unzipped the little pouch pulling out what he needed. “That was a truly memorable view.”

Hawk put his hands on the wall behind the bed and arched, showing off shamelessly.

He swallowed hard. “Damn, Hawk.” January slicked a couple of fingers and touched the cool lube to the cowboy’s beautifully presented hole.

“Guy’s got to know how to get what he needs.”

“You don’t have to beg me, cowboy. I’m all in.” He slipped one finger inside, twisting it and circling the rim before adding a second.

Tight. He could only imagine that heat around his cock, working him. Milking him.

And Hawk was definitely focused and clear about what he needed. Jan was looking forward to blowing the cowboy’s mind a little. “I’m so ready for you.”

“Bring it on.” Hawk was so fierce, so in control of what he wanted.

January moved in close and lined up, wondering for a second if it would be rude to remind the man to breathe. “We’ll start easy.” He hooked one hand around Hawk’s hip and used his body weight to start to push inside, groaning as he met the natural resistance of Hawk’s body.

He heard the soft, shaky exhale, the first hint of any vulnerability at all. The truth of it was beautiful though and it made him shiver, the chance to own a piece of the cowboy’s swagger, even for an hour, giving him a thrill.

“I’ve got you.” He bent over Hawk’s back and rocked forward, sinking deeper into that incredibly tight heat. “Breathe. It’s good.”

“Yeah. Fucking A it is.” Hawk leaned toward him, hips moving in a steady rhythm that threatened to steal his breath.

He worked with Hawk, picking up the cowboy’s rhythm and taking it deeper, stronger. The way it built up on its own was so sweet, made him ache just right.

“Oh honey, like that. Just like that.”

That was better. That sounded like need.

“Yeah.” January focused on Hawk, his own need slowly building. “You’re going to lose your mind before I’m done with you.”

“Promises, promises.” Hawk gripped him, squeezing hard enough to steal his breath.

“Fuck,” he managed to bite out, followed by a deep grunt. Hawk was way too fucking together. He reached under and caught the cowboy’s thick prick in one hand, gripping it tight.

January felt that response, all around his cock, and the soft grunt that he got from Hawk proved that he had the cowboy’s attention.

“Hot.” He stroked hard several times before letting go and taking hold of Hawk’s narrow hips with both hands instead. He picked up the pace and drove in deep, moving beyond Hawk’s direction and taking them where he wanted to be.

Hawk reached down with one hand, pumping himself hard. With the couple of brain cells not busy, January managed to be impressed with Hawk’s balance.

That was the end of rational. He hauled back on Hawk’s hips. The sound of their bodies coming together over and over filled the room along with their rough breathing. He was determined to hold out for Hawk, but that sweet ass clung to him, hot and tight, and it took all his concentration.

“Come on. Harder. So fucking close.” The words weren’t a plea; they were a demand.

“Pushy fucking cowboy.”

He set his jaw, stared down the back of Hawk’s damp, blond head and thrust hard enough to send both of them rocking toward the headboard.

That was it. That earned him a cry, but nothing coherent at all.

So there.

January took a breath and focused on Hawk, dishing out more of the same until Hawk gave up trying to counter him. The cowboy melted around him, the heat increasing as Hawk gave in.

It was hard to resist the draw of Hawk’s shining skin and tired muscle; he could lick the man all over. And he might, later. At the moment his body was screaming to let go, and it was all he could do to keep up his nearly savage pace.

Hawk’s shout echoed as he shot, every pulse of pleasure echoing around his prick.

“Yes!” Oh sweet fuck yes. He fought through the tight grip around his hungry prick and took the last of what he needed—a handful of quick, shallow thrusts—and followed the cowboy over with a long, relieved groan.

Hawk slumped toward the wall, panting hard under him. It felt good, knowing he gave Hawk what he needed.

He shivered as he pulled away to ditch the condom, then he got a little of that taste he wanted, dropping kisses across the cowboy’s back. “Lie down with me. Stay a while.” He’d never kicked anyone out. People left and he got that, but he liked it if they stayed.

“Yeah? I can do that.” Hawk exhaled, settling down, turning toward him.

Score. He was happy to hold that body for a while. He extended an arm, inviting Hawk to move in closer. “You good? Okay?”

“Better than. I may have lost a few brain cells with that orgasm.”

He huffed, a weak laugh about all he could manage. “Well, they’re happily somewhere with mine. That was great.” He inhaled as Hawk settled in, more intrigued by the cowboy’s scent than he should be. He was truthfully more intrigued by Hawk in general than he should be.

Cowboy. Seriously, he’d had the orgasm of the year with a rodeo cowboy in Denver.

“Nap? Stay as long as you want. The suite comes with a killer breakfast.” He wanted Hawk to stay, and not because it was more food than he could possibly eat alone.

“Does it come with a round two?”

Oh. Heck, yeah. He wanted that too. “Are you kidding? That’s hours from now. We’ll be on three by then at least, don’t you think? Four?”

“Oh, I do like how you think.” Hawk snuggled right in with a moan.

He circled his arm over Hawk’s shoulders. “I’m told I snore a little,” he teased, talking through a huge yawn.

“I’ve been rooming with cowboys for fifteen years, honey. You could be the Latvian chain saw drill team and I could rest.”

He laughed, or thought he did. He tried anyway. And January fell asleep with an arm full of studly, irresistible cowboy.

 

Title: Flying Blind
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B08CL2H4MR
ISBN13: 978-1-951011-34-5

Find Jodi's full catalog with links to all your favorite formats at Queeromance Ink!

 

Sapphic Planet

Contributors: Jodi Payne, Beth Wylde, Meg Leigh, Ann Cory, Allison Wonderland, Adriana Kraft, Kissa Starling, Nan Andrews
Genre: ,
Release Date: February 19, 2012

Welcome to Sapphic Planet, a literary realm where women are free to love one another without fear of prejudice or reprisal. Inside these pages you’ll discover nineteen stories written specifically to tease and titillate your senses.

From a frolic in the rain with a Bathing Beauty, to a concerned sibling showing his sister some Brotherly Love, and everything in between. Whether you’re in the mood for steamy romance or unrequited lust, we’ve got a story guaranteed to satisfy your cravings.

This anthology showcases just a fraction of the talent from the writers of Sapphic Planet, a group specifically created for authors and aspiring authors of quality lesbian literature.

Buy the Book: Amazon

Title: Sapphic Planet
Published by: Sapphic Planet

Syncopation: A Collaborations Novel

Contributors: Jodi Payne, BA Tortuga
Series: Collaborations #2
Genre: , , ,
Release Date: January 6, 2020
Pages: 204

Colt Boudreaux was raised in the Louisiana bayou and is gifted with a talent steeped in the rich and soulful New Orleans blues tradition. He makes a living as a session musician, playing guitar for anyone who needs him. When his manager sends him to New York, the Cajun is as beguiled as he is baffled by the energy of the city—and just as charmed by Kyle Alexander.

Kyle is a successful classically trained ballet dancer, choreographer, and native New Yorker whose unbridled talent defies convention, and whose rebel spirit favors ink, shuns the orchestra, and is every bit as unique as Kyle himself.

They find a connection right away that inspires rhythm and movement, mood and music, both in and out of the bedroom. It’s not long before they’re as obsessed with each other as they are with their art, and they decide to work together on an improvisational piece for Kyle’s upcoming solo exhibition.

But Kyle is focused, and Colt is free-spirited. Colt’s work ebbs and flows with inspiration, and Kyle’s is rehearsed. Kyle is social and sophisticated, and Colt… isn’t. When their talents weave together, it’s magical, but will their differences destroy it all?


Also in this series:

EXCERPT:

Chapter One

“OO-EEE!” OH praise Jesus, that felt like motherfucking heaven. Colt let the guitar rest, dangle from his fingers, the burning of the skin under his calluses promising to make tomorrow earned hell. It was worth it. Every fucking second of it. The music had poured through them all like they was all Robert Johnson hisself.

“Damn. Damn, that was fine, Boudreaux. You can play with us anytime, right boys?” Little Mel was sweating like a whore in church, her braids and mandolin dark with their good work. Hank Bennett and Mr. Bill were in the same boat. They’d laid down their tracks, wrote some, and then started jamming again. That last piece?

Lord, Lord.

Babies would be made under that song.

“I ’preciate it. For reals.” Colt didn’t know no one here, but he knew music, and he knew jamming, and he knew when it was right.

“You want to go get some food? You have to be starving, boy.” Mr. Bill grinned at him, gold tooth shining, and Colt nodded.

“Yessir. I got a hollow leg, me. I could eat.” He couldn’t believe he was here, not really. Not here starving, either, but here making music because someone wanted to pay his happy ass to do it.

Him.

“Come to New York, Colt. You’ll play some studio gigs, write some songs. It’ll be fun.”

What? He was gonna say no? What else did he do? He picked and played.

So here he was, ’til Nathan said to do something else. This place was like a dream, and he found himself going from little room to studio to little room, over and over. He’d traveled some—Dallas, New Orleans, Houston, San Antonio—but this place was… different. Cool and exciting, but he’d never felt so small.

He pulled his gimme cap on and put his guitar away with a smile. He’d reckon it. He’d managed fine so far, hadn’t he? Yessir. And he was loving all the different folks, all the different styles. All the music.

No wonder men sold their souls for this.

“Great work, guys!” The guy who worked the booth bebopped in, grinning like a gator. “The sound rocked.”

Little Mel grabbed the guy up in an embrace, and, damn, he sorta disappeared into her.

Whoa.

“Dang, Mellons. You gotta give a brother a chance to bail out before he suffocates in there.”

Little Mel laughed, the sound rich. “You’re on the wrong team, Timmy, honey. You’re the only one that complains.”

Timmy grinned at her and winked. “Hey, I totally got that whole last track even though you were just jamming. It was pretty sweet.” The guy started cleaning up, pulling mics and dressing cables.

“Boudreaux can find one hell of a hook.”

Colt bowed at her words, making a show of it. “La, it’s a good job.”

“Timothy Webb. Timmy.” Timmy stuck his hand out for a fist bump. “You can’t fake it and keep up with this crew. That was pretty boss, dude.”

“Colt. Pleased and thank you.” He didn’t have an ounce of fake in him. Just music and a little bit of wild child.

“Now, if you’re eating with them, you might find it harder to keep up. Especially with Mr. Bill. He can totally put it away.” Timmy packed the mics into a crate and put the cables on top. “You guys using this kit tomorrow, or should I break it down?”

“Can you jam tomorrow, Cajun?”

“Surely do. Just point and shoot my happy ass, Mr. Bill.” He didn’t have any other reason to be here, and no one had said he was going anywhere else.

“Right on. I’ll leave it, then. Just need the pickups.” Timmy crawled all over the drum kit, pulling the electrics to lock them up. “Colt, just leave your cables be. You want to lock up your instrument with everybody else’s babies, that’s okay by me. So you don’t have to carry it around? I keep the key, and I’m first in, last out of here.”

“Yeah?” He looked to Little Mel, because this one wasn’t his acoustic, but she was special. She was his, and she spoke to his heart. The acoustic spoke to his soul.

“It’s cool, man. Seriously. It’s safer here than sitting by your feet at a diner.”

“Right. Thanks, boo. I appreciate it for true.” He shot Timmy a grin. “You want food too?”

“You know it. I’ll join you guys in a few. Just gotta wrap up here. Hank, you want to show the newbie where you keep your toys on the way out?”

“Oh, I suppose I can handle that. C’mon, Colt, I’ll show you the locker.” Hank hauled his ass off the chair like he was made of stone. Had to be seventy if he was a day.

“I’ll catch up, dude. Shake Shack?”

Little Mel nodded. “I’m in, honey. We’ll see you there.”

He followed Hank, a melody tickling around behind his eyes, something happy and old, something his granny had sang to him, once upon a time.

“There’s some sweet stuff in here. Trust me, your guitar will be in good company.” Hank opened a door, which looked like any other door, but the door behind that one had a handle crank like a bank vault. The old man gave it a shove, and it swung open the rest of the way by itself, opening into a large, brightly lit room. There was a double row of guitar hangers on the far wall, and shelves with just about everything else imaginable on each side. Percussion instruments, strings, drum kits, a couple of leather jackets, a pair of cowboy boots. “This whole place could burn down and this thing would still be standing. I keep a bunch of my gear in here. I don’t know who half this shit belongs to, but Timmy does.”

“Merci, Vieux. This is sweet. Never seen nothing like this.” They weren’t near so fancy, back home.

“Welcome to the Big Apple, friend. Check out the pictures on the way out, get a little perspective. This isn’t exactly a small operation.”

“Big, small—whatever. I just want to pick.” The Big Apple. Why an apple? Huh.

Hank waited for him to hang up his guitar and then followed him out. “You will, if you keep up like you did today. Something you may or may not already know? Make friends with Timmy. He makes it easy, so it’s not like you have to try very hard. But he sits at that console every day whether you’re here or not. And if you’re not but someone that needs someone like you is? Timmy’s your best friend.”

They met up with the rest of the band in the lobby.

He filed that away. Friends he could do. Shit, he liked folks. He loved music. He loved folks that loved to play. All good, so far as he went.

The Shake Shack was crazy as all get-out. Loud and busy, burgers and dogs, and since this was Times Square, everyone was there. Suits, little kids, hipsters, uniforms, you name it. Sorta felt like New Orleans, but with less blues.

They’d only just sat down when Timmy arrived. He gave everyone a wave and got in line to order, head down and texting.

“So your manager sent you up here to us?” Hank asked, pulling at his cheese fries.

“Yessir. I come up from Houston, last, laying down gospel tracks. Good work, that.” It soothed the soul, even if they’d all spent the late nights so fucked-up on grain alcohol that he swore he was gonna go blind.

Hank nodded and looked at Little Mel. “He’s working for me. You?” Colt reckoned this was Mel’s band, best he could tell. And he was pretty clear that today’s session was an audition of sorts. That’s how things usually worked out.

“You know it. We can finish this album out, if you’re willing.”

“Yes, ma’am. As you want. I’m easy, me.”

“He’s easy, him.” Mr. Bill laughed, poked Colt with his elbow. “Just playin’ with you, son. You can pick with me any day.”

“Hank, you remember that dancer we did a mix for a couple of months ago?” Timmy worked his way into the table between Mel and Hank.

“The bad-boy ballet kid?”

“Yeah, dude. Him. Kyle? He just texted me. I cut him a couple more CDs from the master. He’s coming to pick them up.”

“He was a trip and a half. I guess it did okay?”

“I think he’s going to let us know.” Timmy picked up a hot dog covered in vegetables. Something about that didn’t make no sense. “I guess they’re keeping you, dude? If not, you’d have totally split by now. This crew is pretty straight shooting.”

“I guess so. I like being kept okay.” He was easy that way.

Hank laughed, elbowed Little Mel. “He’s just like Timmy, all laid-back and whatever, dude.”

“Hey! Timmy!” A guy in a big sweater and a mop of dark hair waved from the doorway.

“Kyle. Dude.” Timmy waved his friend over.

“Duuuude.” Kyle grinned, teasing. “Good to see you.” They exchanged some complicated handshake and ended with a bro hug. “What the hell are you eating?”

“It’s that veggie dog thing.”

“Really, Timmy? Go with a cheeseburger next time. Hey, Hank.” They shook hands.

“Kyle. This is Little Mel, Mr. Bill, and over there is our new picker, Colt Boudreaux.”

Kyle shook hands and grabbed for Colt’s last. “Pleasure.”

Strong and warm and Colt’s body tightened, the sudden rush of want surprising the shit out of him. Huh. Pretty. “Pleased.”

Sit, boo, and watch you. Folks is folks and no one might want to know you swing the rainbow way.

Then again, he kind of thought Kyle held his hand, and eyes, just a little too long.

“I got your CDs, man.” Timmy dug around in his messenger bag.

“Oh, great. Thanks.” Kyle gave his hand an extra squeeze before letting go and taking the CDs from Timmy.

He set to his french fries, letting the greasy saltiness soothe his belly.

“So, Timmy, I’ve got another project to talk to you about. Do you have some time?”

“Um. Well, I’m in the studio with these guys for at least the next few days. Why don’t you come by?”

“Yeah? Okay, cool.”

“What kind of project is it?”

“I need something simple. Like really simple. Maybe just a guitar even. I’ll tell you all about it, and you can help me decide.”

“Yeah, sure, dude. No sweat.”

“Thanks, sweetheart. Nice meeting you all. I’m headed to rehearsal. Gotta run.” Kyle kissed Timmy smack on the lips.

“Later, twinkle toes.”

“Oh! Timmy! Roulette. Tomorrow night, karaoke and crazy shit. You should come.”

“Sounds great, dude.”

Kyle disappeared onto the street.

Lord have mercy, that was hot. He knew a few places in the Crescent he could do that, but here? Good to know.

Timmy laughed. “That guy is insane, dude. ‘Karaoke and crazy shit’ could literally mean anything. Oh. Colt. I meant to ask—you good with a place to stay? I know the studio is putting you up for a couple of days in a hotel, but after that? I got a room if you need one.”

“Yeah? I—I gotta call Nathan and find out what happens, but I might could use a real place. Somewhere I can cook.” He could spend him a few days in a place not a hotel room.

“Sure. Offer stands, kitchen isn’t big, but it’s got all the… kitchen stuff. I don’t cook.”

Mr. Bill and Hank gave them all a shake. “I’m gonna get Hank into a cab and head home. We’ll catch y’all tomorrow morning, yeah?”

“I’ll be in by eight. Studio is yours whenever you show, bro.”

Little Mel was looking at her phone. “No later than nine, boys. I want the full day we’re paying for.”

He nodded, nibbling on his fries. “I’ll be there, ma’am. No worries.”

He didn’t want to go back to his room and sit.

Timmy patted the table. “How about a drink and a little New York style jazz, dude?”

“Yeah? I’m in, boo.” Oh, he liked this guy. He wanted to go and see, hear. Do.

“Birdland, Mellons. You coming?”

“Timothy, if you call me ‘Mellons’ again….”

“If the shoe fits, sister.”

Little Mel grinned at him. “Get out of here before I squash you flat.”

Timmy leaned in and kissed her cheek. “Yes, ma’am. I’ll see you at eight, I know. Come on, Colt. Mellons means business.”

“Timothy!”

Timmy laughed himself silly all the way to the sidewalk.

He followed along, bebopping to the music that seemed to be everywhere. “Thanks for the invite, boo.”

“Oh, yeah. Dude, I’m up for music any night, and you don’t want to hang out in a stale hotel room when you have this city at your feet, right? Oh, and by the way? Don’t change a thing, but up here when someone says boo, they mean honey. Like ‘that’s my boo.’” Timmy grinned at him.

“Yeah? ’Kay. Good to know.” He knew that it would pop out anyway. He was all about the habits, from chewing toothpicks to falling asleep to Abbey Road.

“So I saw the CV Nathan sent, dude. You get around, huh?” Timmy turned a corner, and they headed down a long block.

“I go where the music takes me.” It was the best life. His daddy would be damn proud. Prob’ly was looking down and grinning right now.

“You’ve got sick fingers, dude. I’m glad it brought you around here. You play anything else?”

“Anything you can pick, boo.”

He could see the flag that hung outside the club down the block, and the neon in the window drew his eye a second later. There was a line—not a long one; he’d seen worse—but still a line.

“This isn’t too bad. We should be golden, dude. Hey, stand with the neon; I’ll get a picture for you.” Timmy pulled out a phone.

He went to stand, posing like the littlest Cajun dork in history, hooting as he boogied and Timmy laughed.

“That’s rad. You got AirDrop? I’ll… send it… huh.” Timmy glanced up at him and then back at the screen.

“What? My hair weird?”

“No, dude. Kyle is asking about you.” Timmy laughed. “He thinks the whole world wants him.” Timmy started texting.

“The pretty one?” For true? He liked the thought of that, yes he did.

Timmy glanced up at him again and nodded. “The super pretty one. I was about to…. It’s cool, I wasn’t trying to freak you out, dude. I can tell him to simmer down… unless…?”

“You into him? I ain’t no poacher.”

“Aw.” Timmy laughed, a little embarrassed. “No. I thought maybe I was at first a while back, but no. He’s a lot of fun, but he’s a buddy, that’s all.”

“Bon amis are good, yeah? Better than lovers sometimes.” He got that. Your friends didn’t fall out of your life near as much.

“A lot of times, dude. Totally. So, what do you want me to say? You want me to tell him to chill, or are you interested?”

“I could be interested.” His cheeks burned some, but that was okay. A guy needed a little fun in between gigs.

Timmy elbowed him and grinned. “Yeeeeah, dude. That’s the way to be. He’s a party and a half.” He watched Timmy text and speak everything out loud. “Colt… is totally… into hanging out, dude. Yeah? That work?”

When he nodded, Timmy hit Send and waited for a reply.

“Kyle says, ‘Great. Bring him to karaoke tomorrow night.’” Timmy looked at him. “Cool? This karaoke thing he does? It’s more like open mic night. It’s all theater peeps, and it’s total talent.”

He nodded. Open mic night he understood. He’d spent most his life picking for anyone who would listen. He sang, wrote, played—if it was music, he was there.

“I’m telling him you’re in.” Timmy texted, grinned at something that popped up on the screen, and put the phone away. “You have a date, boo.” Timmy winked at him.

“Lookit me!” He gave a holler, and all the folks stared.

Timmy gave him a fist bump and took his arm, steering him into the club.

Title: Syncopation
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B083L9X81S

Find Jodi's full catalog with links to all your favorite formats at Queeromance Ink!

Land of Enchantment

Contributors: Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga
Series: Standalone #with BA Tortuga
Genre: , , , , ,
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Pages: 330

Land of Enchantment

An East Meets Western M/M Romance

East meets west. City meets country. Though there’s no denying opposites attract, can a college kid from New Jersey and a New Mexican cowboy learn to speak the same language, let alone trust each other?

When Mason Wild heads west to escape his past, he doesn’t have a plan or a penny to his name. Luckily he finds a job with a roofing company run by a rodeo cowboy who’s kind, easy to work for, and even with his jaw wired shut, hotter than July in the high desert.

Bull rider Levi Yost knows what it’s like to be down on his luck. He’s not much older than Mason, but he’s been around the block a few times, or at least around the rodeo arena. He takes a chance on the kid, giving him a job and a place to live on his ranch. The two of them discover a surprising amount of common ground, but trouble has a way of finding each of them. Mason has to learn to be fully honest with Levi, who in turn has to realize he’s not just riding out for himself anymore. 

Available to purchase, or to borrow with Kindle Unlimited.

Buy the Book: Amazon

Also in this series:

Chapter One

MASON WILD’S first stop after leaving New Jersey was a rest area west of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he met a truck driver in the men’s room who was headed down Interstate 81 toward Roanoke. It was the farthest away from home he’d ever been.

He had a little money on him but not much, and he had to stretch it pretty far because it was slow going finding rides after that until he’d passed through Knoxville and Nashville and landed in Jackson, Tennessee. By then he was a kind of hungry he’d never been in his whole life. He asked around, found some day work, and stayed there two days, keeping his head down and moving rocks around. It was shit money, but it was better than nothing, and nobody cared what his name was.

From Jackson he hitched a ride to Memphis. He was doing his best to be a good passenger, be polite like his mom taught him and just keep his stupid mouth shut. That was hard. He usually liked people and could talk about whatever when he wanted to, but right now he didn’t want to be too memorable.

Outside Memphis, he finally found a truck driver who was on a long haul. The guy was headed all the way to El Paso, and Mason figured what the hell, that was pretty damn far away, right? On the way, while the driver talked on and on for hours, he looked out the window as everything he understood disappeared in the rearview mirror and the world around him got flatter and drier. It felt like he spent weeks in that truck.

When he got to El Paso, he lucked into a stretch of work gutting some houses in town, but man, that was a long week. It was hot out and not only did the guys he was working with all seem to know each other, but they all knew what they were doing too. He knew some Spanish—you didn’t grow up in North Jersey and not know some Spanish—but apparently only enough local slang to figure out when he was being made fun of. Still, he was pretty much the biggest guy on the job, and he managed to hold his own even if they didn’t like his sneakers.

Mason hated them lately too. Everybody he knew wore sneakers at home, but out here, not only did he stand out as a city kid, but they were totally useless. He demolished a kitchen with a couple of guys one morning and stepped on a screw sticking up out of a cabinet door. It went right through his sole but luckily not into his foot. After that he spent half his time making sure he didn’t step on anything else or drop anything on his toes either. He couldn’t afford to do the hospital thing.

He was pretty sure he had enough money for some decent boots now, though, and he decided he’d buy some at his next stop—not that he knew where that was yet. But he was running out of real estate and he’d better figure something out soon. He couldn’t travel much farther away than he already had.

From El Paso the interstate only went north. He found a guy headed up 25 through Albuquerque, and hitched a ride, hoping he could bail somewhere near civilization.

It was an amazing drive—the grays and the tans and pinks seemed to be everywhere, the mountains and mesas like a whole foreign landscape.

“You know where you’re headed, kid?” The old cowboy didn’t look the slightest bit worried about picking him up. In fact, “Almon Ryder from right outside Dallas, pleased to meetcha, I do have my conceal carry permit,” looked like he might enjoy a bit of a fight.

“No.” Mason glanced over at him, wondering how polite the old guy expected him to be. He wasn’t planning on fighting anyone again. Ever. “Uh… no, sir. I’m just looking for work. You know.” Not too friendly, keep it to small talk. He’d gotten pretty good at riding in the passenger side of a semi and mostly pretending he wasn’t there, but a pickup was closer quarters.

“I do. There’s always work for guys that are willing. I’m going to see my son at UNM. He plays baseball there.”

Mason had no idea where that was. Baseball was awesome, though. “Yeah? That’s cool. Is he on a scholarship?”

“Yeah. He’s a good kid. My youngest. I have eight.”

“Sons?”

“Children. Seven of them are girls.”

“Holy crap!” He winced. “Uh. I mean, wow. That’s great. You’re totally outnumbered. And lucky. You’re very lucky.” He rolled his eyes. He should be keeping his stupid mouth shut. “Sorry.”

“I am totally outnumbered, kid. I lost my wife to breast cancer five years ago, with three still in school. Thank God for the oldest girls or the youngest might have starved.” The huge laugh boomed out, filling the cab.

Whoa. Small world. “I’m sorry, man. I lost my mom two years ago, same thing.” What a horrible time that had been. His whole senior year. “What was your wife’s name?”

“Sueann. She was a good woman. I’m sorry about your momma. It ain’t right.”

“Sueann. That’s a pretty name.” Nope. It wasn’t right. He used to think there was a bigger plan, but he wasn’t so sure anymore. He was just glad he didn’t have to break Mom’s heart when he left home. “So your youngest is in college. Where’s your oldest?”

“Married with four babies in Dallas. She’s an ER nurse. Her husband does something on the computer for work. He’s good to her and loves those babies, so I suppose I won’t have to kill him.”

“Uh. Well, that’s good, I guess?” Jesus. Everything he’d ever heard about Texans was true. Other things were true too, like this guy was super friendly and kind, but the whole gun-toting, bigger-than-life, major-accent thing? Totally true. And awesome. He’d never met anyone from Texas before now. Or wait, one of the truck drivers? The guy who’d driven him from Harrisburg to Roanoke… no wait, he was from Georgia.

His stomach growled. Loud. He looked out the window and pretended like he didn’t notice.

Almon grinned over at him. “You too, huh? There’s a McD’s up here. I’ll buy you a burger. You ain’t a vegetabletarian, right?”

He cheeks got hot. He hated handouts, but he wasn’t exactly flush at the moment. “Not me. If it’s food, I’ll eat it. That’s really nice of you. Thanks.” Vegetabletarian. Awesome.

“I hate eating alone, and I been down on my luck once or twice.”

“I’ll figure it out. I can work. I don’t know how to do much, but I’m big enough and I learn fast.” He had no choice, right? Thank God he didn’t have eight kids to feed. Whoa.

“Then you’ll be fine.” Almon pulled off and parked. “Let’s go in. Christ, my ass is too old to make this drive for a ball game.”

He got out of the truck. Almon was paying; he’d eat wherever the guy wanted to. He stretched, still a little sore from the last day of work and all the heavy lifting the smaller, older guys seemed happy to let him do. “Did you drive all the way from Dallas?”

“No, sir. I had been in Austin, seeing my four girls there; then I headed this direction.” He loved the way Almon said, “die-rection.”

“That’s a long drive. Geez. For a baseball game? He must be really good.” He followed Almon inside, getting blasted by the cool air as he held the door. The smell of the burgers and fries made his stomach growl again and his mouth water.

“Well, I haven’t seen my boy in a few months. What’s your poison?”

“Uh. The Buttermilk Crispy Chicken thing. Sandwich. Please.” And a ton of fries and a vanilla milkshake, but he wasn’t going to get greedy. Son in college in New Mexico, daughter in Dallas, four girls in Austin… he was missing one.

“Where’s your other daughter?” he asked as they headed over to a table with their food. He knew he probably shouldn’t be so chatty, but it felt good to have a real conversation with someone after almost a month of mostly keeping to himself. No one back home would believe he managed to keep quiet for this long.

“Two others.” Almon laughed happily. “Missy is in nursing school in Arlington, and Bessa’s in a band on the road. Last time I talked to her, she was in Oklahoma City, but I think she’s heading to Kansas City next. She’s hard to keep track of, that girl.”

“Two! Geez, that’s right. I’m glad you can keep track of them all.” He laughed. He’d have left one somewhere by mistake.

They sat, and the table got quiet as Mason sucked down his chicken. God, he could eat four of these things, easy. His sister had just… well, before he left, Izzy had told him she thought maybe he was still growing. He figured he just had a big appetite.

“They gave me an extra set of fries by mistake, kid. You want?”

“You don’t want ’em? Sure. Thanks.” Almon slid them over his direction, and he snarfed those down too. He had a feeling they weren’t there by mistake. He’d lucked out big-time on his ride. Back East he’d be wondering what the guy wanted from him, but Almon seemed like the legit dad type. Mason liked him.

“No problem. Doc doesn’t want me having too many, you know? I ain’t getting any younger.”

He nodded and grinned at Almon. “Better listen to the doc. If you need help with the rest of those, just ask.”

“Fair enough. I tell you what, this getting old shit is for the birds.”

“You’re not old, man. You just did a ton of driving today. Gotta be eight or nine hours to Austin maybe?”

“Thirteen by the time we get to the Duke City. We’re right outside of T or C right now.”

What? “I have no idea what you just said.” He laughed pretty hard. “I don’t know if it was the words or the accent. Sometimes I feel like I’m on another planet out here.”

“Albuquerque is the Duke City. T or C? That’s the town out here. Good camping.” Almon winked. “You’ll figure it out. New Mexico is a lot like Texas light.”

Like that was helpful. The only thing he knew about Texas was that it was huge, took forever and ever to drive across, and he didn’t really want to go back to El Paso.

“So you know where to find work in the city? If not, you might try starting down near the farms in Corrales. My son and his roommates do some odd jobs for beer money, and they always talk about driving up the hill to Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, Corrales. That direction. I will holler at him and ask, if you want.”

“Yeah? That would be awesome. I figured I was going to have to ask around, you know? But if they could maybe hook me up with a place to start, that would rock so hard.” He repeated the names in his head. Rio Rancho, Bernalillo, Corrales. He didn’t need beer money, and he wasn’t old enough to buy it yet anyway. But beer money could buy him some real food instead. He had enough in his pocket from El Paso for a couple of nights in a cheap place and a pair of decent boots. That was a start. If he could find work fast, he’d be golden.

“Can’t hurt to ask. Troy knows a shit-ton of folks.” Obviously Troy got that from his father.

“I really appreciate it, man. Thanks.” He hopped up. “Not rushing you, I just need to stretch my legs.” They were long—they got tired of being folded up under a dashboard after a while.

“Stretch away.” Almon pulled out his phone and started typing.

Mason looked at Almon’s phone, feeling kind of jealous. He missed his phone. He missed texting his crew and his sister, and Snapchat and iTunes. He even missed that stupid foulmouthed weather app. Not that he needed a weather app out here. The weather was the same every day. Hot.

He shook his legs out and scanned the other booths. People even looked different out here. More relaxed maybe. Tan too. There was an awful lot of good-looking skin out here.

The wind was blowing when he went outside, the black clouds covering the mountains like a blanket. Did black clouds mean rain? Down here or just up there? He knew he’d have a lot to learn out here, but he hadn’t expected understanding the weather to be on that list.

Mason stuck his hands in his pockets and breathed in the air. It did seem a little cooler. Sticky. And it was definitely cleaner than the city. He didn’t recognize the scent on the breeze at first, but it finally hit him about a half second before the wall of water started moving across the parking lot.

Jesus. Jesus, look at that.

He stepped back under the awning by the door and watched it march toward him. Where the hell had that come from? He got a little spray as the rain hit the sidewalk and drenched the building, but not enough to drive him back inside. This was way too cool.

The rain came down in waves, the parking lot turning to standing water in seconds. This was a deluge, and it had hit so fast.

If he were home, he’d be snapping pictures. Instead he just tried to memorize the way the water dumped from the sky and how he could just barely make out Almon’s truck at the end of the parking lot, so maybe he could tell Izzy about it one day.

“Look at that, huh? I ain’t never seen rain come down so fast and hard like here.” Almon grinned from the open door. “It won’t last.”

“I’ve never seen anything like this at all. I looked up and it was just coming at me. Like this crazy wall just cruising across the parking lot.” He shook his head. “Insane.”

“Rain in the desert. Talked to Troy, and he says he’ll make up a list of places that have steady work.”

“No way, really? That’s… wow. Thank you so much. Tell Troy I owe him a solid.” Steady work. Maybe this could be his last stop for a while. He could handle that. It was beautiful out here even if was hot and poured buckets sometimes.

“He’s a good kid. I think I’ll….” Just like that, the rain stopped like someone turning off a faucet.

He stuck a hand out from under the awning, then stepped out as well and looked up at the sky. “Huh. That’s it?” The clouds just rolled away the way they’d rolled in.

“That’s it. You ready to go?”

“Yeah. Sure.” He stared at the sky as he headed over to the truck, though, like maybe it might change its mind and start pouring again. He hopped up into the passenger side and stretched his neck as he pulled on his seat belt, feeling a little stiff and headachey. Probably that storm rolling through so fast. His mom used to get weather headaches. Or maybe like a blood sugar thing. “Thanks again for the food, man.” He was going to have to buy some Advil or something wherever Almon dropped him off.

“No problem. Thanks for the company.”

He leaned his head back on the headrest and stretched his legs out as far as he could manage, which wasn’t really far enough. “What do you do for work?”

“I own a cattle ranch, raise cuttin’ horses, and I run futurity bulls. Little bit of everything, I guess.”

Language barrier again. Some days he felt dumber and dumber by the minute out here. “You lost me again. What’s a futurity bull?”

“It’s a baby bucking bull, for all intents and purposes. You know, for the rodeo?”

“Oh yeah, I’ve heard of a rodeo. Guys have to ride crazy bulls and they win all kinds of money if they stay on long enough.” Why anybody would do that, he had no idea. He’d never seen anyone ride, but he kind of thought the guys were crazier than the bulls.

“If they’re on the big show, yeah. The steadier money is in the ropers.”

As they drove on, Mason had a bunch of questions, and Almon answered them patiently and told him about all the different rodeo events. It passed the time for one thing, but he kind of thought Almon enjoyed teaching him.

The mountains just kept getting bigger and closer. There weren’t any trees, really, just these huge rocky things. He wasn’t sure he’d ever get used to so much open space.

Things got quiet, and Almon turned on the radio. He closed his eyes after a while, not feeling all that great. Carsick maybe. It didn’t feel like a lot of time had passed, but when he opened his eyes again, it was almost dark out. He must have fallen asleep.

“Grab you some water, kid. You look green.” Almon pulled into the city, the trails of light flashing madly.

“Huh? I’m good.” He wasn’t good. The streetlights made him squint, and his brain was trying to escape out the top of his head. He’d sell his soul for some Advil. He reached over the seat and grabbed a bottle of water. “Is this Albuquerque? You can let me off anywhere, man. I really appreciate everything. I know you have people to see.”

“This is Albuquerque. Do you have somewhere to go?”

He shrugged. “I’ll find something.” All he needed was that list. He could find somewhere to crash for tonight, head right out in the morning to get work, and then—oh, shit. “You’re gonna want to pull over, man.” Seriously? He was gonna hurl.

Almon didn’t say a thing. The truck just swerved right off to the curb and Mason jumped out and brought up his lunch. After that, his head really started to pound. He rinsed his mouth and spat, then leaned back against the side of the truck with a groan. “Fuckin’ A.”

“Water, kid. Pound water. You got altitude sickness.” Almon handed him another bottle.

He took the bottle and swallowed back a huge gulp, but it didn’t sit right in his stomach. “I’ve got what?” He wasn’t sure that water wasn’t going to come back up too, but he kept drinking. Almon seemed to know what he was talking about. “There’s a little alien in my head, and the bastard is going to town with a jackhammer, I swear to God.”

“Water will fix it. Keep it down, and then we’ll try Tylenol. Do you have somewhere to go?”

“Not yet. I’ll find some… something. Shit.” He turned around and braced a hand on the truck, sure he was going to puke again, but he didn’t quite. His guts just felt punky.

“No. I’ll get you a room at the Motel 6. Just for a night until Troy can get you some information. Drink your water.”

He leaned on the truck again and finished off the bottle in his hand. “Thanks. It would be great if you could drop me at the Motel 6. I can get myself a room.” He felt like he was dying. He needed a room tonight; he’d figure it out. He could let his boots wait another week.

“I’ve got a room too. No stress.” Almon grinned, the look a little wry. “Troy’s got five roommates. Male ones. I’m not staying there.”

He snorted. He tried for some sort of grin but wasn’t sure he managed it. “Oh. Gross. I hear that. Can I get another water?”

“Absolutely. Keep drinking, have a nap and a shower. You’ll be okay.”

He climbed back into the truck and pulled out another bottle of water. “I guess you’re used to this altitude thing?” He sipped the water and sank back into the seat.

“Not everyone has a problem. I have a daughter that just has to fight it with all she is.” Almon gave him a half grin. “You ready for me to move again?”

“I guess I can relate to her, huh? Yeah, I’m good. Just gonna keep my eyes closed.” He’d like to look around, get his bearings, but that was going to have to wait for tomorrow.

“We ain’t got far.”

Almon was telling the truth—they pulled into a Motel 6 a minute later, and then Almon handed him a key card for a room, just like that. “I got to go grab my boy and take him to supper. You get some rest, and if you want, I’ll introduce y’all in the morning over breakfast.”

He looked at the key card and then back at Almon, trying hard to just accept help gracefully. It wasn’t easy. “Thanks. I owe you. Have a good dinner. I’d love to meet Troy tomorrow.” Hopefully he’d feel better by morning. Right now, he was going to fight back the frustration he was feeling and try to be grateful, crawl into bed, and die for a while.

“Drink your water. It will help, huh? Even if it makes you feel like your back teeth are floating.”

“Totally, man. I’m on it.” He stuck out his hand to shake, looking Almon right in the eye like Mom taught him to. She said nobody trusted a man that couldn’t look them in the eye. “Thanks again.

“You’re welcome. Get some good rest, and I’ll knock in the morning, okay?”

“Will do. Night.” He gave Almon a nod, backed up a few steps, and then set off to find his room.

He sucked down the rest of his water as soon as he got inside. He wanted to shower. He knew he should. He probably smelled like a… huh. Like a homeless guy, which he pretty much was right now. But that bed was calling his name, and that’s as far as he got. He’d clean up in the morning.

Title: Land of Enchantment
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ISBN13: 978-1-7330076-8-9

 

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Deviations: Submission

Contributors: Jodi Payne and Chris Owen
Series: Deviations #1
Genre: , , , , ,
Release Date: December 30, 2019 (Third Edition)
Pages: 338

Tobias Vincent is a big animal vet, and also skilled and seasoned Dom. City beat cop, and sub Noah desperately needs to find a man to help him work through a block but has yet to find someone who can take him where he needs to go.

Through a series of encounters in the world of bondage and discipline, Noah reveals why he has trouble trusting, and why he needs such a firm, steady hand. Tobias is confident he can help Noah, but he has trouble letting himself love. Still, Tobias can't resist Noah's charms, and the two of them set about making a scene for themselves, one that works for them and their unique set of challenges.

They learn to love, but how will they stay together while they explore each other’s secrets, in an environment where all is laid bare and emotions run high?

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EXCERPT FROM SUBMISSION

There were many truths in this life, Tobias decided as he knotted his tie for the evening. Death comes to all, taxes must be paid, and fortieth birthdays were a reason for one's friends to buy nice wine, make lavish cakes, and throw dinner parties. Forty-first birthdays, on the other hand, went unremarked upon by all but one's nearest and dearest. As he had cards from a few friends and a message from Phan, he thought he'd just about exhausted the expected well wishes.

But turning forty-one did not mean he was dead or unable to make his own fun. He'd made his arrangements for the evening, planning with as much detail as he could—which, admittedly, wasn't much. He knew what to wear for his mood; he knew where he'd go and what he'd eat; he knew what he wanted. But there were an amazing number of variables at play, more than he usually allowed.

He was thinking about that as he straightened his dinner jacket and pocketed his keys. It was a highly planned evening of spontaneity that lay ahead of him, the novelty of which made him smile. Perhaps letting the fates blow once in a while was a good thing. In any case, he'd find out shortly; the worst he could do was have an evening of fine dining and a bottle of wine. The best would be far, far better, but it was rare to find exactly what he sought.

Tobias ran a comb through his hair one last time as he waited for his car, the light in the entry to his condo making the few stray silver hairs shine among the darker brown. Forty-one wasn't too old, he decided. It was a fine age to be, the height of his success and skill. He lacked for nothing, really.

Only someone to share his birthday with.

The phone rang and he pushed the thought away, startled to realize it wasn't the house phone signaling his car, but his landline. ''Dr. Vincent,'' he said as he answered. God, he hoped it wasn't an emergency—he really wasn't dressed to have a lamb be born, or to nurse a horse through colic.

''Good evening, Doctor, I'm sorry to call like this. I'm sure you have plans,'' came the smooth and cheerful voice of his elderly housekeeper.

''Oh, Mrs. Miller, hello. I do, yes—I'm just on my way out, but I have a few minutes.'' He smiled to himself ruefully; he would talk for as long as the lady decided, and he knew it. No matter how successful he got or how many birthdays he had, there would always be Mrs. Miller to defer to.

''I'm merely calling to wish you a happy birthday,'' she said, ''and to ask if you'll be out to the farm this weekend.''

Tobias’ smile grew. ''Thank you, Mrs. Miller, that's really very kind of you. And yes, I'm planning to drive out tomorrow afternoon until Monday.''

''Should I tell Peter not to come then, or would you like him to exercise the horses?''

''No, I'll do it,'' he decided. It was one of the best things about going to the country, and he wouldn't happily pay someone to do it for him when he was there. The house phone buzzed at him, two shorts. ''Thank you again, Mrs. Miller.''

''I'll see you tomorrow, Doctor,'' she said, and he could picture her grinning. ''Enjoy your evening.''

''I hope to,'' he said with a smile. He hung up, buzzed the front desk, and headed to his club.

* * *

The car pulled up in front of the building and Tobias lowered his window for the security guard. ''Good evening, Tobias,'' the man said with a smile that was entirely professional, despite his use of Tobias' first name. It was a club rule that all members were to be treated equally until there was an agreement in place between individuals, and as last names were not used at all in order to preserve anonymity, given names were expected.

''Timothy,'' Tobias said with a warm smile. ''When did you start out here?'' The last time Tobias had been to the club Timothy had been inside.

''About five months ago. I like it, though I'm called back inside if needed.'' Timothy made a note of the number on Tobias' membership card and smiled at him again. ''Have a nice evening, Tobias. And welcome back.''

The car moved slowly ahead and stopped at the wide front steps; by the time Tobias had opened his door the driver was there, and the front door was opening.

''Tobias! Timothy said you were here.''

Tobias shook his head and smiled again. ''I trust you don't mind me appearing again after all this time?'' he asked Bradford.

Bradford met him on the steps and shook his hand. Tobias' friendship with Bradford went back far too many years to count anymore, and even after Tobias’ long absence from the club, the man’s firm handshake felt as familiar and comforting as a favorite sweater. ''The day we turn you from here, my friend,'' Bradford told him with a warm smile, ''is the day I close the old place up. Now, come in! Eat. Enjoy your birthday. I have a room reserved for you, as you requested. You're not meeting anyone are you?''

The club had a small, exclusive membership made up of carefully screened Dominant and submissive men. These men had been screened not just for their level of training but also style and personality, thereby keeping the membership diverse and varied. It wasn’t a BDSM club in the common sense; it was more a place for men to meet, socialize and fulfill each others’ needs and fantasies in a safe and monitored environment. Bradford had taken over management of the club a number of years ago, and eventually assumed ownership as well when his mentor, a smooth, confident Dom who had also been a mentor of Tobias’, was ready to retire. Bradford was a natural host; he knew his membership well, and he had a knack for making everyone feel right at home.

Tobias shook his head again and allowed himself to be led inside. The solid doors closed behind him and he took a deep breath, immediately relaxing. There was just something about the dark interior, the plush fabrics and deep wingback chairs that called to him. Or perhaps it was the crossed whips decorating the walls.

''I don't have a guest, if that's what you mean,'' he told Bradford as they made their way to the small bar. ''But I'm open to possibilities.''

''I was hoping you would say that.'' Bradford suddenly looked speculative. ''In which case...''

''Wait,'' Tobias said, laughing. ''I'm not saying I want you to find me a date. I'm just saying I want to have a pleasant evening—a nice meal, people I like around me—''

''And it's been eight months since you've been here, Tobias. I know you spend your weekends on the farm and your weeknights in town. I'd certainly have heard if you had someone new.'' He shook his head sadly, making Tobias grin. ''No, my friend, you deserve to play. And I might just have the right someone for you.''

Tobias tilted his head and considered his friend. Bradford had been running the club for a number of years, had been an integral part of Tobias' own training. There was perhaps no one more capable of knowing the type of partner Tobias needed, liked... desired.

''Tell me,'' Tobias invited, accepting a glass of ice water from the bartender.

Bradford beamed at him, delighted. ''I can, and will do you one better. Come.''

Tobias had little choice but to follow as Bradford crossed the room with purpose to a small table. Tobias, being behind, could see little other than a man sitting alone. He rose quickly as Bradford made a direct path to him.

''Tobias,'' Bradford said grandly, ''I would like you to meet Noah. Noah, this is Tobias. It is my opinion that the two of you are well suited. Of course, you may decide otherwise, but I encourage you to at least discuss the matter.'' He then bowed his head and stepped back, wishing them good evening with a knowing grin before turning and walking away, leaving Tobias to face this stranger alone, knowing no more than his name.

Title: Submission
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B083BKLWDJ
ISBN13: 978-1-951011-17-8

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First Rodeo

Contributors: Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga
Series: The Cowboy and the Dom Trilogy #1
Genre: , , , , ,
Release Date: October 15, 2019
Pages: 303

First Rodeo: The Cowboy and the Dom Trilogy, Book One

When a killer strikes, Texan and former rodeo cowboy, Sam O’Reilly, loses his older brother. Unbeknownst to Sam, James was also the lover and sub of a sophisticated New York City Dom named Thomas Ward. Sam comes to the city determined to stay until he can bring the murderer to his own brand of justice, while Thomas’ more ordered mind is hoping for a legal solution. Neither man expects their connection to the other, but having each lost someone irreplaceable, their hearts are crying out for comfort almost as loudly as their bodies are screaming for each other.

Some yearnings refuse to be ignored, but transcending their differences to explore the fragile connection between them will prove to be a steep a hill to climb--the first of many. As Sam and Thomas take the first tentative steps on the rocky path that might lead to a relationship, the killer steps out of the shadows...

And this time, his sights are set on Sam.

*Note: Each of the books in The Cowboy and the Dom Trilogy have fully realized romantic HEAs. However, the overarching suspense element leaves readers on a cliffhanger after books one and two, to be resolved in book three.

Available to purchase, or to borrow with Kindle Unlimited.

 

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Chapter One

“What the fuck are you going to do, baby brother?” Bowie stood at the gravesite, staring down at him like Bowie always had. Gigantic prick. “Do you think you’re going to fucking fix this? James is dead.”

Like Sam didn’t know that.

Fury flashed inside him, hot and fueled by an agony he’d never expected, and he turned, his fist shooting out and catching Bowie right in the uniformed gut.

Rule number two: never monologue.

That surprised Bowie enough that it doubled him over, and Sam got an uppercut in. He had to get his shots in while he could. His big brother outweighed him by sixty pounds and towered over him by damn near a foot and, he had to be honest, had ten years of being a Ranger behind him.

“Motherfucker!” Bowie reached for him, and he danced out of range.

“You kiss my momma with that mouth, grunt?” He went for Bowie’s trick knee, thankful he had his shitkickers on. That pointed toe was useful, and he had a chance to fell the giant.

Rule number three: once you get them down, keep them down.

Used to be that him and James would work together to take Bowie down. That was never going to happen again.

Never.

The thought of that closed casket, that slashed-up face he’d had the misfortune to identify hidden under the oiled wood, made him gag and stumble, and Bowie took advantage, the fists on the back of his neck enough to face-plant him in grave dirt.

“Rule number one, baby brother. Don’t start shit you don’t have the strength to finish.” The hands around his throat were strong, the tremble in them only noticeable because they were so tight.

The sound of a pistol cocking was sharp and clear, and the fuzzy image of Aunt Linda wavered in his sight. “Boys, if you upset your momma and daddy, I will be put out. Get your skanky asses off the ground. Y’all are in your Sunday clothes.”

“Seriously, Aunt Linda?” Bowie muttered. “Even I didn’t come to the gravesite armed.”

“I know you boys. Can’t trust you as far as I can throw you. Get your asses up. Now.”

Bowie stood up and hauled him alongside, just as easy as pie.

“Now apologize,” she demanded.

“He started it.” Bowie was still a suck-up.

“Jim Bowie O’Reilly! You apologize to your baby brother for putting your hands on him right now!” God, she was a harpy—broad as a barn and fierce as any woman who had raised her own siblings had to have been.

“Sorry, asshole.”

“Yeah. Me too. I just…” Sam waved one hand toward the grave. This wasn’t right. James was supposed to be in New York, living this amazing life with lights and a zillion friends. Bowie had the adventure, James had the city, and he was supposed to stay home here and…hold down the fort or something. He was the baby, and… “It should have been you, Bowie.”

Everyone expected that awful phone call. Every time Bowie was deployed, they lived with that quiet fear.

James was a motherfucking school teacher. An elementary school teacher who didn’t get tattoos or take drugs or—

“Sam!” Aunt Linda sounded horrified.

“What? It’s true!”

“Yeah. Yeah, I know.” Suddenly Bowie looked…diminished. Gray and tired and older than the seven years that separated them. “Fuck you, Sammy. I know. So what the fuck are you going to do about James? I have to report back to work.”

“I’m going to go clean out his place.” He was between jobs. Hell, he was between lives—college was pretty much done with him, he’d educated himself into obscurity in ranching, and God knew, no one needed a broke-dick cowboy with a master’s in art history, a shattered leg from bronc riding, and a temper that tended to flare at inappropriate-at-best times. He would go clean things out and see if he could encourage the detectives to find out…anything.

“You sure you’re not going to short out, Sammy?”

“Fuck you. I’ve been to Dallas, Austin. Hell, I went with James to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I ain’t a kid!”

“You’re my kid brother, Sammy, and I only have one left now.” An expression of pure agony crossed Bowie’s face, and Sam turned his back so he didn’t have to see it.

“I’ll be fine. I’ve got the time, and Momma’s got to take care of Daddy.”

Things hadn’t been good, but the news of James’s murder had made the little baby strokes turn into a real one, and while Daddy wasn’t crippled or nothing, no one was going to let him fly. Not yet.

“Come on. They’re waiting for y’all down to the big house. You know there’s food and all the Ladies Auxiliary waiting to make a fuss.” Aunt Linda didn’t so much as let a tear go, but she did slip her Saturday Night Special into her pocketbook. “Brother Martin will want to bless you both and lay hands.”

“That son of a bitch touches me and I’ll rip out his spleen,” Bowie growled, and Sam had to smile. That was his big brother.

He could hear James, right now, echoing in his head.

Be good, Jim, honey. You’re teaching Sammy bad habits.

God, it was never going to be right. Never.

“Come on. Let’s go.”

He turned and headed for his truck. James wasn’t here. That was a grave, a body, a stone. He was going to go find James where he’d lived.

 

Chapter Two

Thank God this was New York City, the only town he knew of, except maybe LA, where yellow police tape didn’t slow anyone down. Aside from the cops, he was the only one there, the only one who cared. Thomas had about as much privacy as he was going to get.

He leaned against the side of the building as the NYPD took the tape down, balled it up, and stuffed it into a nearby garbage can. The evidence markers had been gone for a couple of days, the chalk lines were gone now too, and even the bloodstains in the concrete were already fading. Another day or two and there wouldn’t be any evidence left that James had died here.

But Thomas wouldn’t forget. He couldn’t get away from it. He lived here, worked here, walked the same goddamn streets as whoever was responsible. He still carried around memories of his time with James that he’d never share with anyone. He carried around the plans they’d made and a future that could never happen now.

He hadn’t received an invitation to James’s funeral. This would have to be his closure, watching the investigation into his lover’s murder become routine, move on to the next “phase.” Watching all the evidence disappear.

That was perhaps the most awful addition to his grief. He understood that James couldn’t be wholly out to his family back home in…well, somewhere in East Texas, but understanding it while James was alive and in his arms was one thing. Coming to grips with his exile now was something else entirely. He was bitter; he was angry. Not at James, not at anyone in particular, just at a world that made them hide. He felt humiliated, and that wasn’t a pill he could swallow without choking on it.

Everything about his life was deliberate, yet at the moment, he was experiencing a lack of control he’d never imagined possible.

One of the cops walked over and offered him a smoke. Colletti was his name. “Wouldn’t you rather be home?”

“This is as close as I want to get right now.” God, listen to him. He refused the cigarette, but just barely. Vices sounded like such a good idea.

“Dobson is going to call you, routine stuff. Did they ask you not to leave town?”

“Yeah. It wasn’t an imperative, but it was strongly suggested.” Insult to injury.

Officer Colletti gave him a nod. “We’re done here. Take care, Mister Ward.”

“Thanks.”

The squad car drove off, and New York seemed impossibly quiet all of a sudden.

A man with a duffel and a cowboy hat walked up to the stoop, and for a second, Thomas’s heart stopped. He closed his eyes until he could breathe again.

Fuck, tourists were everywhere in this city. He just hadn’t been prepared for one in a cowboy hat. He took a breath and headed down the steps. He needed a coffee.

They passed each other, the man meeting his eyes and nodding. “Afternoon.”

“Where are you going?” He knew those eyes intimately. He reached out and grabbed the man by the arm, that hazel making his heart pound. “Who are you?”

“Who the fuck is asking, motherfucker?” The little guy just popped right up into his face, those eyes flashing.

Christ, the cowboy sounded just like James too. Only James would have known better than to meet his eyes.

He stood his ground, inches away, instinct and training helping him stare the kid down. “You’re an O’Reilly. Which one? Sam, right? The bronc rider? You’re too small to be Jim.”

“Bowie,” the kid corrected immediately, even as he nodded. “Who are you?”

Nobody you’d know.

“Right. Bowie.” He let go of Sam’s arm. He knew he should back down, but it took real effort. “I’m Thomas Ward. I…knew your brother.”

Fuck. I loved him.

“Knew him? Y’all worked together?”

What was he going to do? He wasn’t going to out James now. What would be the point? It hurt, though, denying James and jumping back into a closet he’d slammed the door on as soon as he’d stepped foot in this city years ago. “No. We are…were really good friends. He told me all about you guys.”

“Oh. I’m here to…clean up, I guess. Stuff.” Sam tilted his head. “Is this your building too?”

“Uh.” Well, fuck. James had always said Sam was bright. “No.” He’d asked about moving in together. James had been thinking about it. “I was just missing him.”

“Oh. I—come on up, huh?”

 

Title: First Rodeo: The Cowboy and the Dom Trilogy, Book One
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B07YM1QNK4
ISBN13: 978-1-951011-02-4

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A Whole Latke Love

Contributors: Jodi Payne
Genre: , ,
Release Date: November 25, 2019
Pages: 46

A Hanukkah Short Story.

Have you ever been to an office holiday party? Well, Matthew Kaplan has been to plenty, and he’s not impressed. In fact, he hates attending the annual gathering at his office. This year, though, he’s trying to make partner in his small law firm and does his best to look like he’s enjoying himself, even though he knows the event is really a Christmas party with just the barest hint of a nod toward his own winter holiday, Hanukkah.

Ethan Becker works for a busy caterer, and although all the Christmas music at these holiday office parties used to make his head ache, he’s learned to tolerate it so he doesn’t lose his mind. Sometimes he even sings along. There aren’t enough toe-tapping Hanukkah songs for a party anyway, right?

Matthew is pleased to find latkes on the buffet and escapes the crowd to eat them peacefully in the kitchen, where Ethan recognizes his hunky one-night-stand immediately. Matthew remembers their night together fondly, but certainly hadn’t expected to run into the hottie with the sweet blue eyes again. When Ethan offers to make more latkes for Matthew another day, Matthew jumps to accept the invitation. But will their date be delicious or disastrous?

Available to purchase, or to borrow with Kindle Unlimited.

Buy the Book: Amazon
Title: A Whole Latke Love
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B081QN85ZR
ISBN13: 978-1-951011-05-5

Window Dressing

Contributors: Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga
Series: Standalone #with BA Tortuga
Genre: , , , ,
Release Date: December 10, 2019
Pages: 189

Razor blades left by a murderer continue to remind Sam and Thomas of James, the man they lost to violence, whose killer is still out there and seems to be watching them constantly, biding his time.

Their carefully built relationship also teeters on the edge of a knife. Sam tries to be the full-time sub he thinks Thomas wants, but fails miserably, while Thomas tries to understand that Sam is unique and his cowboy’s needs don’t lend themselves to a formal BDSM lifestyle. They work through confusion, arguments, and stress, but when communication starts to break down, they struggle to reconcile their differences to learn what it means to be a “them”.

An emotional misunderstanding might be the last straw, or it might be the opportunity the killer has been waiting for to take Sam out of Thomas’s life once and for all.

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Also in this series:

Prologue

Sterling Kingsolver was fixin’ to ruin his goddamn career for stupid pride, and he gave less than no shits.

He stood there, staring at Clint Masterson, the buzz of fury zipping between his ears like killer bees.

“Listen to me, boy. Cody Ball has been promised this year. You’re a baby. You’re a rookie. You throw this ride and we’ll make it worth your while.”

“I ain’t a cheat.” He might be a piece-of-shit caliche farmer, a desert baby balls to bones, but he wasn’t about to take a dive. He had Rookie of the Year in the bag, sure—but if he rode his last bull? Shit marthy, he would take the event win and the championship.

“We aren’t asking you to cheat, son. I’m telling you to make a smart career move, hmm?” Masterson had been one of the First Five, and he was the face of the league, the big boss. Shit, this man could ruin him. Shit.

“Fine. I think it’s bullshit, man. Total bullshit.” God. God help him. Was he considering this?

“This isn’t some little ranch rodeo, Kingsolver. This is the big time. Sometimes you have to lose a little. You got the Rookie of the Year money. Take it and run. Next year it will be yours.”

Right. Assuming he stayed healthy next year. Assuming he rode. Assuming he had another magic year. “Yessir.”

Fucker.

“Good boy. Go on. You need to strap in. Don’t make it obvious.”

Good boy?

Good fucking boy?

He stormed across the chutes, his boots rattling.

“Bit! Bit, come on! Tie on your damn glove! This is it.” Jack waved and bounced, his eyes as big as saucers. “What did Masterson want?”

“Nothing. Just to keep my ass on the bull.”

“Ah. Okay. Grab your bull rope. I’ll pull. Chance can hold your vest.”

“Right.” He went through the motions, acidic hatred burning in his belly. Motherfuckers, with their politics and shit. He could see Cody Ball and his long-assed ugly nose and sparse pussy-tickler mustache just staring him down with a bullshit smirk, knowing what they’d asked.

Just because Ball hadn’t fucking managed quite to keep himself centered, just because no one had thought Sterling was a goddamn threat until it was too late.

Now he was one ride away from taking the whole thing.

One ride.

His daddy was sitting there in the stands, the day sheet crumpled in his fingers. Daddy would know. He would know and judge, even if he never said a word about it.

“Focus, asshole!” Chance shook him. “Blue Belly isn’t going to thank you for woolgathering.” His old friend leaned close, peppermint on his breath. “Don’t do it. Ride this son of a bitch. Ride him into the motherfucking ground and make them all scream.”

“They said—”

“Don’t. Just hold on, cowboy. You ain’t a rodeo athlete; you’re a goddamn cowboy.”

Sterling nodded and got his legs set, slamming his glove shut over his rope. Blue Belly bucked in the chute, tossing his head, slamming Sterling’s leg against the gate. He didn’t nod, but the gate swung open, and he kept his mind in the middle.

Just hold on. You’re a goddamn cowboy.

That was right. He was. He was a goddamn cowboy, and he didn’t throw rides. This wasn’t a job; this was who he was.

By the time he finished telling himself that, the buzzer sounded, the arena going wild.

Well, okay then.

Time to hit the dirt and take his lumps.

Title: Window Dressing
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B0827D3CM2
ISBN13: 978-1-951011-04-8

 

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Linchpin

Genre: , , , ,
Release Date: May 2, 2017

"This was such an exciting read. It really gets your heart rate up and blood pumping with all the danger, testosterone between these two alpha men, and of course all of the hot sexy scenes... Definitely a book I will recommend to others." -- Gay Book Reviews

He’s sent in to clean up and is left with one very hot mess.

Randall Quinn has been a cleaner for the mob for over ten years, but a particularly violent scene sets him to drinking alone and contemplating his options. At thirty-nine, it’s possible this is just a mid-life crisis so he tries buying himself a flashy car to satisfy the itch, and agrees to take another job to test his conviction. He’s expecting easy money when he arrives at a seedy motel to clean up after what the Boss told him was supposed to have been a simple execution. But what he discovers in that motel room is anything but simple, and from that moment on, every decision he makes for himself makes his life more and more complicated.

Buy the Book: Amazon~~Barnes & Noble~~iBooks~~Publisher

 

EXCERPT

Randall Quinn’s new ride was pretty sweet.

The BMW was fully loaded, including an in-dash navigation system, Bluetooth fucking everything, and a black leather and wood grain interior. She was comfortable and stylish, and her engine vibrated gently but powerfully, like a wild cat getting ready to pounce. Mrowr. Quinn tapped a button on the dashboard display and practically summoned up Zeppelin with the power of his fucking mind. Damn, the technology gods were good. He sped down the rural highway, Black Dog sinking straight into his psyche through the seven-speaker surround sound. Fuck yeah.

His new baby was paid for in full, and in cash. He’d finally laid by enough in savings that he could afford to spend with more freedom. He’d never gone in for such an extravagance before, but he’d been salivating over this baby at the dealership for a month and he’d eventually broken down and done it. She was a hot-red color—well, the dealership called it something stupid like Orange Metallic, but it was basically red—which, admittedly, didn’t fly under the radar the way she probably ought to, but Quinn didn’t care anymore. After over ten years in the biz, he’d fucking earned the right to show off.

He’d pulled in that stack of cash on a high-end hotel assignment he’d had a week ago. Swanky, several-thousand-dollar-a-night hotel suites were always a challenge, but this one was even more so than usual and had definitely warranted the boost in pay. The boys had made a royal mess of the place, so much so that Quinn figured they must have had some seriously specific and scary fucking orders. There’d been blood and fingerprints everywhere and Quinn had had to deal with stains in the carpet, on the wallpaper, and splattered across furniture. Even with a crew, the cleanup had been a pain in the ass and had taken almost two full days. He’d even had to replace the carpet and a fucking couch.

It was damn lucrative as far as such things went, to be sure, but Quinn had sat in a bar for a couple of hours alone afterward, and he and his bourbon had decided it was about time to call it quits. Quinn was coming up on thirty-nine and he was getting a little old for this shit. He’d kind of fallen into this line of work back in his twenties when he’d made his daily bread working for the coroner’s office and cleaned up crime scenes legally. It hadn’t been long before a particularly influential lover had shown him where the real money was, and Quinn had found himself literally seduced into a darker world by the fine art of cleanup to cover up.

“Aaaaaand, here we are.” This job wasn’t going to be as big a payday, but smaller gigs like this were simpler, and made up more of his bread and butter. He pulled into the motel parking lot, waving a hand across the display to mute the radio. So. Fucking. Cool. Slowly, Quinn drove along the length of the building until he found room three-twenty-nine. The location was perfect, way down at one end and on the first floor. Easy in, easy out. Seemed those muscle boys were finally learning. He turned around and headed back to the main entrance.

Quinn touched a button on the display and the sound of a ringing phone filled the interior.

“Found it?” a familiar voice answered—a fucking party in the sack.

“Hey, sweet cheeks.”

“Seriously, Randy? What did I tell you about work, man?”

Quinn laughed. Mikey had a lickable ass, but the rest of him didn’t interest Quinn much. “I’m here.”

“Got it. You’re on the clock.”

“Do I have resources?”

“Boss says he already cut the manager in. The boys told him you wouldn’t need a crew.”

“Did they, now? And what the hell do they know about it?” Seriously, you give someone a few too many steroids and put a gun in their hands, and they suddenly think they know everything. Those muscle boys were big and dangerous, no question, but they were dumber than a sack of hammers. Their combined IQ wouldn’t buy you a cup of coffee. Quinn, on the other hand, was an artist. What the boys did took brawn. His job was far more delicate. It required a keen mind and fastidious attention to detail. What could he say? It was hard to be humble.

“Make sure you talk to Davis. The room’s paid up for two days.”

“Perfect.” Unless those boys chopped their target into little pieces or pulled another Jackson Pollock, two days was more than enough time to set this derelict flophouse to rights. “I’ll check in again in an hour or so.”

“Later.” Mikey hung up.

Surveying the premises from the parking lot didn’t improve Quinn’s assessment one bit. This place was the very definition of shithole. The roof was warped, the siding moldy, and the main office wasn’t really an office at all—it was just a glass window with a fucking pass-through. Chances were good he was looking at bulletproof glass, too. Classy. He took note of the surveillance camera over the window as well.

Erring on the side of caution, Quinn left the car running and the driver’s side door open. He knocked on the thick glass, summoning a small man with greasy hair, dirty fingernails and a cigarette hanging from his mouth.

He squinted at Quinn. “Yeah?”

“I’m here for three-twenty-nine.”

The guy nodded. “Heard you was comin’. I’m Davis.” He slipped a key into the pass-through.

Quinn shook his head. “I’m not touching that. You let me in.”

Davis sighed. “I don’t want nothin’ to do with nothin’.”

“You wanna keep that paycheck?” Quinn asked, pulling his Beretta off his hip and holding it flat against the glass. “Or see what’s behind door number two?”

Davis sighed. “Right.” He took the key and disappeared back into the office, appearing again in the breezeway.

Quinn nodded and got back in his car. He’d be damned if he was going to let his baby out of his sight. He drove her down the length of the building again and parked outside room number three-twenty-nine, then pulled his kit off the front seat and got out of the car. “Don’t go anywhere, beautiful,” he said, polishing a fingerprint off the driver’s side door. Yep. Pretty sweet ride.

While he waited for Davis to catch up, he dropped his kit on the concrete slab outside the motel room door and took out a pair of latex gloves. After pulling them on with practiced ease, he tugged his gun from his belt again.

“I’m coming, I’m coming!” Davis called nervously, picking up his pace. He’d gotten the wrong idea, but Quinn was fine with that if it lit a fire under his ass. Davis put the key in and hastily unlocked the motel room door.

“Thank you,” Quinn said, tapping the gun against his thigh for effect. “Now. The surveillance camera—”

“Hasn’t worked in years. It’s not even hooked up to anything. I just keep it there so people think—”

“Fine. You can go now.”

Davis turned and hurried back into the office.

Quinn chuckled. This really was a great location. If Davis stayed nervously respectful, his motel could see some repeat business. Davis could even make enough money to put some lipstick on this pig.

The metal door to number three-twenty-nine looked as though it had been kicked in more than once in its lifetime. The jamb was bent, the doorknob sat at a bit of an angle and rust had eaten through the olive paint in several places. Quinn gave the knob a turn and it protested weakly, but then the door swung away from him.

He held his gun up near his face, sighting down the barrel as he scanned the room. Satisfied, he put the piece back in his belt and went inside, closing and locking the door behind him. The motel room was a pit. The bed was hollow, the drapes hung unevenly and were a hideous shit brown, and the carpet was industrial, worn with the traffic of many feet, and looked like vomit. He noted the older model TV, a tall lamp in one corner and a ragged-looking lounge chair underneath that. He squinted at what he supposed was meant to be art hanging on the wall over the bed. He sure saw a lot of fucking shit in this room.

What he did not see was a body.

With a shake of his head, he moved to the closet and pulled it open. Nada. He figured that the target must be in the bathroom, which was certainly considerate of the boys, as it was much easier to wash away the evidence in there. He stepped through the bathroom door and turned on the light.

“Mmr!”

Quinn’s eyes flew open wide. “What the fuck?”

Title: Linchpin
Published by: Pride Publishing

Find Jodi's full catalog with links to all your favorite formats at Queeromance Ink!