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?

Buy the Book: Amazon

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

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Mergers & Acquisitions

Contributors: Jodi Payne
Genre: , , , ,
Release Date: April 13, 2021
Pages: 212

 

New York attorney Teague Whitaker is so close to making equity partnership he can taste it. He’s spent two years cultivating a relationship with the Avenstone Group and he’s finally landed them, bringing in a big-money deal in a big-money industry.

Jason Kovacs is…from Jersey. He’s been a barista, a bike messenger, a third-shift stocker at D’Agostino. He tries out new jobs and quits them all the time, not because he hates them, but because he doesn’t love them. But that changes when he lands a job dancing at The Wiggle Room.

When Teague bellies up to the bar, Jason can tell he’s had a bad, bad day. Jason also knows money when he sees it, so he swoops in on the polished hottie, hoping to make bank. Stunned by the unexpected loss of his career-making deal, Teague is there to drink. He’s looking for a distraction, and chatting up the buff and pretty boy that just swiped the cherry from his whiskey sour is a damn good start.

Neither expects sparks to fly with one unplanned kiss, but that’s just the beginning of the unexpected for Teague and Jason. They’re from the same city, but they’re living in two different worlds. Their relationship may be unconventional, but if they can meet in the middle—halfway between Wall Street and Jersey—they just might make it work.

Buy the Book: Amazon~~Universal eBook Links

 

EXCERPT:

Chapter One

 

Jason stood at the bottom of the stairwell at the 49th Street subway station, psyching himself up for a four-block slog in the pouring rain. Not north and south blocks, of course, but four long-ass avenue blocks. What the hell was going on? It hadn’t been raining this hard when he left Brooklyn.

Seriously? This was so gonna suck.

Finally accepting that the rain wasn’t going let up anytime soon, he pulled his hood tighter around his face, shrugged his backpack onto both shoulders, and took off at a jog. The deeper he went into Hell’s Kitchen, though, the more the wind blew the rain into his face until he found himself trudging along and leaning into it, forehead low, hands stuffed into his pockets for warmth.

He didn’t have the cash for the cab ride across the bridge and into the city, but maybe he could find someone who would be into sharing a ride back to Brooklyn once he had some tip money in his pocket.

Assuming he made some money tonight. This crappy weather might keep people away. Maybe not the tourists, but the locals would probably say to hell with it, stay home and watch porn instead. That was totally what he would do if he wasn’t working.

He crossed against the light at Ninth, sprinting the last few feet to get out of the way of a big black SUV with Jersey plates that was honking at him. The asshole was probably headed for the Lincoln Tunnel.

“Screw you, Jersey!” he shouted and flipped the driver off. Wasn’t likely they’d see it, but whatever. It made him feel better.

“Jason!”

That had to be Danny. Who else would be running in platform boots and a bright-yellow rain slicker? “Danny! You’re ruining those heels in this weather.”

“What, these? These are my rain boots, baby.” Danny laughed and took his arm.

Jason pulled Danny under the awning of a dry cleaner and smiled. “It’s Dallas, by the way.”

“Dallas? Are you going away?” Danny looked confused.

“No, my stage name. It’s Dallas.”

“Really?”

“Or maybe Austin? No, I think it was Dallas.” Texan, in any case.

“You’re gonna be a cowboy?”

He nodded. “That’s what Aaron said he wanted when he hired me.”

Danny leaned close, shivering a little even as he giggled. “Well, you’ve got the guns for it, sweetheart, that’s for sure.”

“Ha ha.” He did, though. The guns, the quads, the abs…he was proud of his body. His rent might be late, but he was always paid up at the gym.

“Let’s hear your accent.”

Jason laughed. “Okay. Can ah git you a draink, sugar?”

Danny wrinkled his nose. “Oh, baby. That’s…wow.”

Bad. He knew. “Shut up.” They both started laughing. What was he gonna do? The owner wanted a cowboy, and he wanted a job. He’d get better.

“Thanks for getting me the interview.” Maybe it wasn’t a classy job, but man, did he need the money. Plus, whatever gene it was that kept normal people from being completely shameless? He just wasn’t born with it. This could actually turn out to be the perfect job for him.

“I hope it works out for you, baby. I think you’re going to do great. Lord knows you can dance.”

“Let’s hope. We better get moving before we’re late.”

“Ugh.” Danny sighed dramatically. “This fucking weather is murder on my hair.” Danny’s long, dark hair, which he usually tamed and styled with product, had that beautiful, naturally wavy thing going on. But yeah, the humidity was hell on Jason’s short, dirty-blond curls, so he could only imagine the time it took Danny to compensate.

The two of them ran the last half block together arm in arm. They ran right past the main club entrance and stopped by a completely unmarked metal door with no handle on the outside.

Jason squinted up at the marquee through the raindrops. On top of it were the words “The Wiggle Room” in neon pink and green, surrounded by blue chasing lights. He shook his head at himself. Yep. This was for real. He was an entertainer now.

Danny banged on the door with the side of his fist, protecting his bright-yellow nail polish, and one of the biggest men Jason had ever seen opened the door for them. A barrel chest and tree-trunk arms filled the doorway, completely blocking the view of whatever was inside.

“Come on in, ladies.” The guy stepped out of their way.

Jason winked. “That’s ‘cowboy,’ actually.”

“Oh, yeah? Yeehaw, then.” The security guy didn’t even crack a smile.

“Oh, Jackson.” Danny gave the man a poke in the chest and looked at Jason. “He’s a big softie, baby, don’t let him fool you.”

“Yippee ki-yay.” Jason smiled at Jackson and tipped an imaginary hat. Still not one hint of a smile. Wow.

Jackson blinked at him slowly. He’d have bet the man was stoned. “Bruce Willis.”

“What?”

“That’s not cowboy, that’s Bruce Willis.”

“Oh. Right.” Shit, I’m too Brooklyn to be a fucking cowboy. “Thanks.”

Danny took his arm. “Come on, baby, let’s get you settled.”

“Later, cowboy. Welcome to the club.”

“Thank you, Jackson.” Jason laughed and followed Danny down a narrow hall. Just beyond the entryway was the dressing room he’d seen during his interview. It had rows of lighted mirrors along one wall and several garment racks along another, and men were in various stages of undress as they got ready for work.

“There you are.” Aaron’s deep voice vibrated in his ears as the club owner crossed the room to him. “Are you ready?”

Jason nodded. “Born ready.”

“Yeah?” Aaron seemed happy with that answer. “Guess we’ll see, won’t we? Come on.”

Danny gave Jason a kiss on the cheek. “See you out there, doll.”

Title: Mergers & Acquisitions
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B08ZMDJZ9Z
ISBN13: 978-1-951011-15-4

Roadside Assistance

Contributors: Jodi Payne
Genre: , , , ,
Release Date: January 1, 2022
Pages: 76

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Drew Sadler is the single dad of a ten-year-old, and he’s got more than enough on his plate. He had a bad day at work, he’s in the doghouse with Evan again for being late to pick him up at school, and his car has broken down in the parking lot. Now he’s got to figure out how to deal with a tow and car repairs too.

This isn’t Nick MacPherson’s first breakdown call in the pouring rain, and the tow-truck operator doesn’t have good news for Drew. The soft-spoken, overwhelmed father is clearly at his wit’s end, and Nick finds he is drawn to the man and wants to help. He entertains Evan on the ride to the garage to give the guy a second to breathe.

Evan warms up to Nick right away, but Drew obviously has bigger issues on his mind. A late-night emergency isn’t the right time to ask Drew out, so Nick finds a subtle way to put the ball in Drew’s court.

Their first date goes well—really well—and the spark between them is undeniable. But if they move too fast, will they be headed for a different kind of breakdown?

Title: Roadside Assistance
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ISBN13: 978-1-951011-65-9

Roped In

Contributors: Jodi Payne, BA Tortuga
Series: Lone Star Series #2
Genre: , , , ,
Release Date: May 10, 2022

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but sometimes distance makes people drift apart.

Rope Canutt has announced his retirement from bull riding and is making the most of his final year on the circuit, riding the big shows and resting in between so he can finish the season on a high note. He isn’t sure what’s next for him. He has no plan yet and nowhere to go, especially since his family sold their ranch a few years back.

Jude Sharpe remembers Rope fondly from their younger days in Austin. Mostly he remembers how hot the rodeo cowboy was and how much fun they had hooking up every time their paths crossed. That was a long time ago, and Jude’s been married and lost his husband to cancer in the years since they’ve seen each other. Now he’s raising a son alone.

When bull riding comes to New York City, Jude’s consulting firm uses their private box to entertain clients from Houston, and Jude brings his son Silas along to see the show. Rope is riding and Jude hopes to introduce Silas to a real bull rider. They’ve each lived a whole lifetime apart, and Jude and Rope aren’t sure how much they have in common anymore. So will they be drawn to each other when their paths cross again?

The books in this series are standalones and can be read in any order.

Buy the Book: Amazon

Also in this series:
Title: Roped In
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B09VD8LB9T
ISBN13: 978-1-951011-72-7

Wholly Trinity

Contributors: Jodi Payne, BA Tortuga
Series: Les's Bar #3
Genre: , , , , , ,
Release Date: January 31, 2023

Dr. Isaac Daniels and Detective Neil Thrope have been on and off Dom and sub since they met a few years ago. Isaac is all in but he’s not everything switch Neil needs, so good as things are between them, they both know it’s not enough.

Being in the BDSM community, Isaac and Neil were there to help when sub Alain Remy Broussard was assaulted by a pair of Doms who didn’t ascribe to the notion of safe, sane, and consensual. Their friend, Dom and therapist Cyrus Hughes offered Alain a place to stay, and has been working with the boy to help him regain trust. When Cyrus is called out of town suddenly, he calls on Isaac, who agrees to take Alain in while he’s away.

Isaac feels instantly protective of Alain, but it’s Neil who quickly bonds with the sub. With Alain in the house, Neil might have found the balance he craves but thought was too much to ask for. Isaac, though, has only ever had that kind of connection with Neil. Will the Dom be able to get on board and love both men as they, and he, deserve?

Buy the Book: Amazon

Also in this series:
Title: Wholly Trinity
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B09RLMLV4G

Home Free

Contributors: Jodi Payne, BA Tortuga
Series: Higher Elevation #5
Genre: , , , ,
Release Date: July 18, 2023
Pages: 234

Connor Westin and Early Jericho have a comfortable, busy life in Denver. Connor is a lawyer who brings home the bacon and Early is a stay at home dad to their two young boys.

Sure, Early is a cowboy at heart, but he loves their kids and as far as Connor is concerned they’re happy in their suburban home.

When Early inherits a ranch on the Western Slope of Colorado, neither is sure what they should do about it. That is until they visit, and Connor sees just how much it all means to his husband.

Both men agree to uproot their family and take a shot at running the ranch together, but it takes time to shut down one life and start another. Early takes the boys to the ranch while Connor spends the summer in Denver to handle all the details of moving on.

Between the long distance, the new responsibilities, and interference from a not so well meaning employee, Connor and Early have trouble staying connected. Will the ranch become the home they need it to be, or will it tear their family apart?

Buy the Book: Amazon

Also in this series:
Title: Home Free
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B0C9XDL3QT

Heart of a Cowboy

Contributors: Jodi Payne, B.A. Tortuga
Series: Higher Elevation #1
Genre: , , , ,
Release Date: October 29, 2019
Pages: 240

Heart of a Redneck

An East Meets Western M/M Romance

Colby McBride is a blue-collar cowboy trying to make ends meet laying tile in Colorado. A loner by choice, Colby works hard with his hands and finds his peace camping in the mountains outside Boulder. Gordon James is a white-collar restaurateur who owns not one, but two successful establishments in downtown Boulder. He’s a sophisticated urbanite who is devoted to his work and is accustomed to getting what he wants.

The men are friends, but sparks fly when Colby falls in love and decides to show Gordon how much fun a good old boy can be. They’re just beginning to explore their relationship when Gordon’s sister’s suicide leaves him with custody of his five-year-old niece.

Colby comes from a huge family and is eager to help with the girl and to prove his worth to Gordon. But neither of them is ready for the tremendous changes to their already busy lives, or for how this new relationship with Olivia challenges them, complicating the way they interact with each other. They say opposites attract, but can these two very different men work together to join their disparate lives and form a strong, if highly unlikely, family?

Available for purchase or to borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Buy the Book: Amazon

Also in this series:

 

EXCERPT

Chapter One

IT WAS a beautiful day. The sun was bright, and a light breeze ruffled Gordon’s hair as he got out of his Jeep Wrangler. He opened up the back, pulled out a heavy, square cardboard box and a bag with two bottles of wine, and then headed into the restaurant.

He stopped and set the two bottles of wine on the bar next to a man bent over some paperwork. “Hey, Oscar.”

“Hey, boss.” Oscar was the manager at Delmara. Gordon had hired him many years ago, not long after he opened the place. It had been Oscar’s brilliant idea to add tapas to the menu, and look where they were now. Oscar was constantly proving himself more valuable.

Gordon had asked Oscar if he’d be interested in running his new farm-to-table place, Gaia, when it opened a year ago, but Oscar had turned the job down. He said he knew what he was good at and it wasn’t yuppie tomatoes. Gotta love him.

“Oscar, these two bottles are for Mr. White. He has a reservation tonight and requested them specifically. The first one is on the house because I want him to sponsor part of the spring mentoring fundraiser. Make sure he gets his usual table and Becky as his server.”

“Got it. And is he bringing his… er….”

“Date. Call her his date. Remind Becky.” Becky had a few other choice words for her, he knew. He understood; after all, the woman, drunk at the time, had loudly accused Becky of flirting with White the last time they were in. But Becky would be fine. White liked her and tipped well, and she liked her bread buttered.

Oscar laughed. “I’ll do that. Oh, boss? Don’t forget that the ladies’ room has a….”

“Got the tile.” He pointed to the box under his arm. “But I need to make that call. I’ll go do that right now. Thanks, Oscar.”

Gordon hurried back to his office. The fucking special-order tile in that bathroom was costing him a fortune, but scheduling the work would be easy at least. His tile guy was also a buddy, and always easy to bribe with good beer. He closed his office door and dialed.

“Yo, sugarbutt. How goes it?” Colby answered him with a low drawl that reminded him of incredible whiskey poured over sugar cubes.

He put the box down on his desk and collapsed into his desk chair, grinning. “Hey, Colby. Listen, I need you to come by and install that replacement tile I ordered for the ladies’ room at Delmara. You got time this afternoon? I have a beer with your name on it.”

“For you? I’ll make time.” Colby laughed, utterly unashamed about wanting his beer. “You might have to have me dirty, though. I’ve been loading my truck with tile boxes all morning, and I’m covered in ceramic dust.”

That was Colby, always coming off a hard day’s work somewhere. “Please. Do you ever show up clean? What time will I see you?”

“Is four too late? Then I won’t have to run off.”

“Four it is. The bathroom stall has been taped off for a week. It can go one more day.” He still needed to head upstairs and change. He spent nearly every evening front of house, and he had a VIP coming in tonight, so he needed to be on time. Oh shit, he needed to pick up his suit at the cleaners. Okay, that errand was next.

“You’ll have to let it cure twenty-four hours anyway.” Something crashed, and he heard, “I swear to God, y’all. You break those tiles and I will personally rip off your heads and shit down your neck.”

“Oh, listen to you go all boss. Should I let you go?”

“Yeah, yeah. I got a reputation to uphold and shit. See you at four, man.”

Gordon laughed. Colby’s voice had dropped a whole octave. “Your secret is safe with me. See you at four.”

A raspberry sounded, and then Colby hung up on him. There was something about Colby—this genuine joy when it came to anything from working to shooting pool to watching a movie—it made the guy fun to hang out with. And Gordon needed some fun once in a while. He loved his job, but it could really eat up his personal time.

Still grinning, he put his phone back in his pocket. He cut open the box to check out the tile he’d ordered. It was the right stuff. He’d just leave it on his desk for Colby. He took a second to look through the mail Oscar had left for him. Bills, bills, and more bills as usual, but also the package he’d been expecting—the newest addition to his porn collection. He left that on his desk unopened and headed out to the bar.

“Hey, Oscar, I have to run out and get my suit, and I’m going to stop by Gaia and make sure they’re good for the weekend. I’ll be back by three. Colby McBride will be by around four to see about the tile. Send him to my office when he gets here?”

“Oh, great. Will do.”

“What do the reservations look like?”

“We’re packed, boss. Tonight and tomorrow, both.”

“Nice.”

“He’ll be out by six, right?”

“I’ll make sure he is.” It wasn’t a lot of work; it’d be okay. They could hang out and have that beer after Colby was done. Damn priorities.

“All right, I’m off.” Gordon brushed the wrinkles out of his shirt and headed out the door.

God, this gorgeous day. No wonder they were expecting a packed house. People were out everywhere. Nothing was as good for business as the promise of springtime.

After a long winter, there was nothing quite like coming alive again.

  

Chapter Two

“MCBRIDE? YOU get that utility room floor done?”

“Would I be out here looking for my draw if I didn’t, man? Y’all know I do good work.” Come on, motherfucker. Pay me. I got to tile a bathroom and see my man. He reckoned it didn’t matter a bit whether Gordon knew he was Colby’s. That was just details. Eventually he would make Gordon see him as more than a beer buddy.

If he could start his weekend with a check in one hand and a beer in the other, he would be a happy little cowboy. He’d started one job, picked up supplies for another, and trimmed out the third. He was a busy man.

Thank God for that.

“You’re the best guy out there,” Lou admitted grudgingly, handing over his draw. “And I gotta say, you will work for money.”

“I’m good that way.” He pocketed the check after peeking to make sure all the numbers were there. “Thank you, sir. I will be on the Williams’s job come Monday. Should take me a day and a half, give or take.”

“Then you’ll work that Best Western?”

“Just the lobby fireplace, man. You can get any asshole to slap down twelve-bys on the rooms.” He knew what his happy ass was worth, and it was worth more than mindless tile work. He liked to be pushed some.

“Just the lobby.” Lou rolled his eyes like dice. “The owner’s wife has ideas.”

“Faboo.” Something else he was pretty good at was talking to folks. He liked people, so for the most part, people liked him. “I can talk to her Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday, huh? Let her show me what all she wants.”

Lou snorted. “Oh, I’m sure she’ll love whatever you have to offer. Try for Tuesday, yeah? I want you done over there by Friday. I’ve got a couple of big jobs I’ve bid on for the week after, and there might be some design work on one of them. I could use you.”

“Just call.” Lou paid on time and, so far, didn’t seem to be too much of a dick, so Colby gave the big man priority. “Have a good weekend, sir.”

“You too, cowboy.”

He tipped his gimme cap and headed out to his F-250, then hauled his butt up into the cab. “Okay. Let’s get this show on the road.”

Colby cracked his window, turned Luke Bryan up loud, and put on his sunglasses. Damn, he did love to have him some springtime, even if it came later up here than it did back home. The snow was gone, the trees were budding, and the sun was making promises that it might be time to grill out wearing nothing but his cutoffs.

Between the weather and his music, the forty-minute drive from the worksite just flew on by. Traffic into town was pretty heavy but moving, and it wasn’t long before he was pulling into the lot at Delmara. He saw Gordy’s Wrangler, looking a damn sight cleaner than any Jeep he’d ever seen back home. Figured. That Wrangler probably hadn’t seen a dirt road in its life. He parked right next to the shiny Jeep, tossed his sunglasses on the seat, grabbed his tool belt, and headed inside.

“Ah, Mr. McBride.” Gordy’s manager waved him over to the bar. Hell if he could remember the guy’s name.

“Yes, sir. Mr. James called. Says he got a job for me?”

“Yes, but he wants you to stop by his office first. You remember where you’re going?”

“Think so.”

“I’ll buzz him. You can head on back.”

He headed through the restaurant to the office, thinking that the tile floor in the hall probably ought to be replaced. It was pretty beat-up.

Gordy’s office door opened before he even had a chance to knock. “Hey, man. Come on in.”

“Hey, honey. You wanting me to get to work on that bathroom, huh?” Look at that hot motherfucker. Colby did like him some stud.

Gordy closed the office door. He turned around, and Colby got a good view of his five-o’clock shadow and his crazy green eyes. “I’d really like to take a break now, but we open in two hours, and those ladies aren’t going to like you in their bathroom much.”

“I live to serve, honey, and your fancy-assed customers might be took aback by my Wrangler butt.”

“They’re not that fancy. You’re just that cowboy.” Gordy laughed, blond bangs falling in his eyes. He swept them away the way he did, one hand carding through them and then that little toss of his head. Gordy gave him one of them weird-assed man-hug deals, bicep popping through his shirt like some high-dollar Popeye. “Thanks for coming by. Now get to work.”

“Bossy old man,” he teased and opened the office door real quick before Gordy could react. “You put the tiles in the bathroom?”

“Oh shit. No, they’re on my desk.” Gordy picked up the box and handed it over. “Here. And don’t make me hound you for an invoice like last time.”

“Yeah, yeah. I’m on it.” He grabbed the box, nodded, then made his way to the bathroom. He was going to have to set up his wet saw to trim around the toilet….

Before long he was lost in the steadiness of the work, setting the tile, making sure everything was just so, and the time just flew by.

“Hey, looking good in here. Not that I would expect anything less.” Gordy set a cold bottle of beer down on the floor next to Colby. “We open in a half an hour, you close?”

“You know it. I’ll pop in tomorrow afternoon and grout it before y’all open.” He grabbed the bottle and downed half the brew. Oh, hoppy goodness. One thing about hanging with a restaurant guy? You didn’t have to drink so much Coors Light.

“That would be great. Really appreciate it. Come on up when you’re done if you want. I need a shower, and I have to put on a tie for a VIP tonight, but I’ve got some time to hang out. Back elevator’s running again.” Pretty neat that Gordy owned the building and lived two floors above the restaurant.

“Spiffy! Sure.” Man in a suit. Yay. “I got to go load my truck. You got a sign for this stall? Someone steps in here on this thin-set and they’ll slide and hurt themselves and ruin my tile job.”

“Can’t have that.” Gordy winked at him and then looked around. “Oh. I thought there was a rope and… yeah. I’ll get Oscar to set something up in here. Do your thing and then come on up. Door’ll be open.”

“Yessir. I’m on it.” It took him two trips to load up the truck and get his shit locked in his toolbox. He finished his beer on the way and took a second to wipe his face off.

Lord have mercy, he was filthy. Good thing he’d warned Mr. Fancy Tie before he showed.

He headed around to the back of the building and took the stairs instead of the elevator. The stairs were more convenient anyway; the fire door on the third floor opened up right next to Gordy’s front door.

He let himself in, as he had done many times before, and was overwhelmed as usual by the size of the damn TV in the front room. He kept telling Gordy to move it to the back wall, but the guy was as stubborn as a hog on ice. Otherwise, though, the apartment was comfortable and not nearly as showy as Gordy could probably afford to be if he wanted. Everything was new and shiny, but the couches were comfy, and the decor was basically gay bachelor pad. Framed Stonewall poster on one wall, rack of DVDs, mostly porn, under the TV, the usual. Broadway soundtracks lined up next to the stereo.

“That you?”

“No, sir!”

Some ancient rock band was on the radio. Gordy always had music going. Colby just shook his head.

Gordy came out of the kitchen still in his jeans but nothing else except the two bottles of beer he was carrying.

“You get mugged on your way up?”

“What?”

“You lost your shirt.”

Gordy laughed, holding out one of the bottles. “Have another beer, cowboy. Your jokes aren’t funny yet.”

“Now, now. Ain’t it you that ought to be having another one so I start getting funnier?” Lord have mercy, he did love to look at that man. He could watch Gordon James wander around his so-fancy condo for days.

Well, maybe not days. That would lead to long-term blue balls.

“Yeah, that’s never worked. There’s no hope for you.” Gordy took a swig of his beer. “Oh!” He pointed to the coffee table. “New porn in the mail.”

“Lord, honey. Don’t you know that’s all on the computer now?”

Gordy shook his head. “That’s vintage, my friend. The early bareback stuff. Low edit, tons of fucking. That’s not your cheap internet thrill. You should borrow it.”

“Low edit—what the fuck does that even mean, man? Seriously.” Tons of fucking he got.

“No cuts? No kissing and then cut to the money shots?” Gordon sounded a little snooty about it. Like this was something everybody knew but Colby. “You know, the whole scene—foreplay to finale.”

“Not all of us are conness… connoisseurs and shit. Me? I like a nice long bout of on-screen fucking. That way if your mind wanders….” He did love to tease.

“Your mind or your hand?” Gordon snorted. “I’m with you, the longer the better.” He drew his words out, and they had a little heat and a little growl in them. “Mm.”

“Listen to you.” He’d like for Gordon to listen to his happy ass, just for a second, just long enough to prove that he was man enough to rock Gordon’s world.

Gordon laughed. “One of these days we should hit the clubs in Denver. You get over there much?”

“Once a month or so. Depends on whether I have to run over for a specialty tile in the afternoon. That makes it easier.” And he got to dance. Damn, he did love to two-step.

“I think it’s been—God, I don’t know—maybe five or six weeks since I’ve been there. I used to go every Sunday. Last few weeks I’ve been watching a game or bad movies with this tile guy on Sundays. Or losing at pool. I’m still waiting for that chance to redeem myself, by the way.”

Few weeks? It had been three months. “Oh, now. I’ll play you any time, but you ain’t got redemption coming.”

“I might if you’d drink anything stronger than beer.”

“Country don’t mean dumb, Gordy.” He winked over. Some things were real important—knowing when to drink and when to make a bet were two of them.

“Nope. And apparently a college degree doesn’t make a man wise either.” Gordy winked right back at him. “Oh, speaking of wise. Have you got a couple of work days open in the next week or two? I’m having a new shower installed in the master bath, and I want to do something kind of modern and flashy in there with the tile after. I told them I knew a guy.”

“Yeah? Sure. We got lots of options. I’ll bring a few things over—wood-grain tile is huge right now. I did a bath the other day with glass pieces in the grout line. It looked like diamonds or some shit. Too fucking cool.”

“Glass? How cool is that? Must take forever to do, though, huh?”

He shrugged, took a long swig of beer. “Depends on what you want. They have some strips you can lay in. You do know a guy, after all.”

“Yep. A very reliable guy that does top-notch work. Thanks. Just let me know when you can show me the samples.” Gordy finished off his beer. “Drinking before work. Good thing it’s not full-on summer yet.” He set his bottle on the coffee table. “I need a shower. You want to hang out and watch the cable or whatever, go ahead. I might even have some food in the fridge.”

“You mean you’re not worried about your virtue?”

Gordon snorted and tossed Colby the remote. “Don’t drink all my beer, cowboy.” He headed down the hall toward his bedroom.

One day, man. One day I will have my shit together enough and I will make my move. Colby watched that tight little ass as Gordon disappeared into his bedroom.

He could be patient. In theory. Really he could.

He hoped.

Title: Heart of a Redneck
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B09Y649SB5
ISBN13: 978-1951011758

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

Be sure to visit BA Tortuga online at batortuga.com

Stable Hill

Contributors: Jodi Payne
Genre: , , , ,
Release Date: September 5, 2019
Pages: 215

Can three men from very different backgrounds find a home and a future together?

After losing his husband to cancer, Oscar Kennedy has his hands full with their four girls, the house, his job, and his mother-in-law. When he loses his father too, keeping Stable Hill, the old horse farm where he grew up, becomes impossible. Oscar hires Jeffrey Stokes, a slick-looking real estate broker with a roll-up-his-sleeves work ethic, to get it on the market.

Russell White manages the day-to-day at Stable Hill. Russ had loved Oscar’s dad like a father, and took on even more responsibility when the old man fell ill. He is shocked and saddened by Oscar’s decision to sell.

All three men have a stake in Stable Hill, and it’s not long before they start to invest in one another too. But their complicated relationship doesn’t make having to sell Stable Hill any easier. Will the fragile triad they’re building last when the farm that brought them together is gone?

Available to purchase, or to borrow with Kindle Unlimited.

Buy the Book: Amazon

 

EXCERPT

Russ coughed, bringing him back to their conversation. “So… we’re meeting a real estate guy?”

“Yeah. His name is Stokes. Jeffrey Stokes. Have you heard of him? Bob Keller, you know him, Dad’s tractor guy? Stokes sold Keller’s farm about six months ago.”

Russ shook his head and squinted down the long driveway. “Nope, don’t know the name. Stokes, I mean. I know Keller, of course.”

“Keller is straight up. Should be a good recommendation.”

“Yeah.”

This time when the silence fell between them, Oscar tried to let it be, but Russ seemed way more comfortable with it than he was. He watched the waves of grass blowing in the hayfield and examined the porch railing, which Russ must have painted recently because it looked great. He did pretty much anything but look at Russ; if he were honest, he was a little intimidated. The guy knew the farm inside and out, as Oscar had once when he’d lived with Dad, but didn’t anymore. Russ also knew damn well that he hadn’t spent any real time out here in, well, years really, the last year especially. Russ and Dad had become friends, and sometimes he worried that Russ was closer to Dad than he was.

“I tried to get the girls to come out here with me today.”

“Yeah? Bet they’re getting big. Been a while since I seen ’em.”

“I know.” The last time they were here, the twins were fascinated by Russ’s tour of the barn, and Russ let them ride Lollipop, Dad’s ancient pony, walking them each around the ring on a lead. That had been a nice day for them.

They’d buried Dad that morning, so it wasn’t his best day, but it was great to see the girls enjoy the property.

“Car.”

He looked up. “Sure is.” It was a hell of a car too. A sleek black Mercedes coup. He’d never seen anything so shiny in his father’s driveway before. Stokes parked it alongside his incredibly not-sexy, seven-year-old minivan, and not far from Russ’s old dusty, rusty, red pickup.

Talk about out of place. And as it turned out, the Mercedes was second only to the man who got out of the car. Jeffrey Stokes was shiny himself—tall, dark-haired, embarrassingly well dressed.

And sexy as hell.

Russ whistled softly. “Oh. Damn.”

“Yeah,” he agreed quietly, just for Russ’s ears, pretending it wasn’t weird that they were both ogling the Realtor. He cleared his throat. “Welcome, Mr. Stokes.”

“Please call me Jeffrey,” Stokes said, climbing the stairs onto the front porch and going right to Russ first with a smile. “Well, hello.”

Russ’s return handshake was curt, and he pointed to Oscar. “Oscar over there is the owner. I’m Russ. I just manage the place.”

“Oh. Of course. I see.” Stokes gave Russ a nod. “Hello, Oscar.” The Realtor turned a breathtaking smile on him, giving him goose bumps and making him swallow.

Down, boy, he told himself, more amused than anything. That hadn’t happened to him in a very long time. Stokes’s hand hung between them for a moment and he blinked at it.

“Oh.” He shook with Stokes, forcing himself to smile back and think clearly. “Hi. Welcome.”

“So, this is a great piece of property you have here. Big, huh?”

Oscar raised an eyebrow. “Thank you.” No, I’m not interested in going commercial.

“You’re looking to sell it as a working farm, right? It’s a little off the beaten path, but it’s so beautifully situated, I don’t think you’ll have much trouble.”

Okay. He relaxed; this guy got it. Thank you, Bob. “It’s a working farm now. I’d like to see it go to someone that will keep it that way.”

“Great. I’m completely on board. I already have some thoughts, and I’m sure you do as well, but I want to work logically here and do a proper evaluation. If it’s all right with you, my preference would be not to discuss anything related to pricing or get too deep into any fix-up costs until I’ve seen the whole property and have a chance to sit down with the numbers.” While he was talking, Stokes took his jacket off, folded it in half and draped it over the back of one of Dad’s old porch rockers. Then he added his tie to it and rolled up his sleeves.

 

Title: Stable Hill
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B07XF83BKP
ISBN13: 978-1-951011-06-2

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

Cryptic: Puzzles, Book One

Contributors: Jodi Payne, BA Tortuga
Series: Puzzles #1
Genre: , , , , ,
Release Date: August 17, 2021
Pages: 190

Derek “Crash” Wheeler never really wanted to make detective. He was a good marine and a great beat cop, but now he has to deal with cases like the one he just got handed. Multiple deaths. Probably a serial killer. That’s all bad enough, but now he has a crazy ex-profiler calling and texting, acting like he knows exactly what’s going on. 

 

Matthew Herrera has more than one clue about Derek’s case. He worked on a serial murder case once that took everything away from him, and while the perpetrator went to jail, Matthew knows the case isn’t over. This murderer likes to play games, and he doesn’t work alone.

 

Racing against time, Derek and Matthew have to learn to work together to solve this case, and they find they have a chemistry they can’t deny, even if it feels selfish to indulge. People are dying out there, and it will take all their skills to work out this puzzle before it’s too late, or before one of them becomes the next victim.

Buy the Book: Amazon
Title: Cryptic, Puzzles Book One
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B09BKB3DX5
ISBN13: 978-1-951011-55-0

Wrecked

Contributors: Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga
Series: East Meets Western #1
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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