Rich Girl

Contributors: Jodi Payne
Series:
Genre: , , , , ,
Release Date: January 30, 2024

Scarlett Lennon died in a skiing accident five years ago, leaving behind secrets she’d been keeping to protect herself, her inheritance and her fiancée, Ella.

Single mom Ella Anderson works as a dispatcher for the mountain rescue squad in Summit Springs, Colorado. She is doing her best to make ends meet while she raises her five year old son on her own. She adores little Theo, and although she would never complain, she doesn’t have time for anyone else.

Natalie Lennon, is the youngest daughter of the Lennon family, who owns Pines Peak ski resort, and whose great wealth is well known in town and beyond. She has no career, no girlfriend, and no direction. What she does have is a lot of money. She’s grown up with a silver spoon in her mouth, not understanding at all what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck.

The two meet by coincidence in the Emergency Room late one night, where Natalie uses her clout to get Ella’s feverish and very sick little boy seen quickly, even insisting that Theo be seen ahead of herself.

Ella remembers Natalie, even though Nalatie doesn’t recognize her. The chance meeting touches off something bigger than either woman is ready for. Not just an unexpected relationship, but a dive into the past that shines a light on Natalie’s big sister Scarlett’s secrets, and the truth about Theo.

Rich Girl is a secret heir, opposites attract, millionairess and single mom romance set in the fictional universe of Summit Springs Colorado.

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Title: Rich Girl
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B0CPH5L1XM
ISBN13: 978-1-951011-98-7

Window Dressing

Contributors: Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga
Series: Merry Everything Series #1
Genre: , , , , , ,
Release Date: December 10, 2019
Pages: 189

When bull rider Sterling Kingsolver wins a national rodeo championship in a stunning upset, he becomes the public face of the rodeo league. But the big bosses had other plans, and Sterling knows he’s in trouble. Worst of all, though, he’s headed to New York City to do a publicity junket. Sterling is a quiet cowboy from New Mexico, and all the fancy trappings of his new title don’t sit so well with him.

Jonas Burke is an experienced public relations assistant. He’s been hired by the rodeo league to get a hick cowboy from the middle of nowhere cleaned up and presentable by New York standards, and he’s been told to cancel his week-long Christmas vacation to do it.

The two men square off a couple of times, but as they get to know each other, Jonas begins to understand what makes a real cowboy tick, and Sterling starts to realize there’s more to Jonas than a flashy smile. While taking in the sparkle and joy that is Christmas in New York City, their friendship slowly becomes more. But when trouble catches up with them, Sterling’s days in the city come to an end and Jonas nearly loses his job. Facing that infamous midnight hour, Sterling and Jonas have to decide what their New Year will bring.

Window Dressing is an opposites attract, enemies to lovers romance featuring a rodeo cowboy, a city boy in a suit, and the magic of New York City at the holidays.

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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
Pages: 106

"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

 

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: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B09ZLXQ43R

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Whence He Came

Genre: , ,

CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE

When Elliot Cohen left his small town for college in the big city, he was expecting to do big things. He wanted to pull his feet out of the quicksand he called home and go where everything was bigger, brighter, and just moved faster. He planned to claim a little fame, a lot of money, and a high-powered, influential lover.

Well he found fame, he found money, and he even found a famous lover, but nothing turned out quite as he’d planned. And all the while, no matter how hard he tried, he never forgot Tony, the sweet, closeted boyfriend he left behind. He could even remember Tony's scent seven years later. So when the illusion that was his perfect life unravels and fame slips through his fingers, he knows just where he needs to go. Home.

But he's going to have to untangle the complicated and embarrassing web of lies he's woven and seek forgiveness if he has any hope of winning Tony back.

 

EXCERPT

Jenny laughed, though, saving him from having to reply. "You're embarrassing him, Daddy. Nobody wants to be famous all the time. He's just the same old Elliot here. Right, Elliot?"

"Thanks, Jenny." That's exactly what he wanted.

Mr. Davis snorted. "Well, welcome home, 'same old Elliot'. Glad to see you haven't forgotten the little people," he said, and disappeared back into the kitchen.

"Hungry?"

"My mother stuffed me with pastrami. How about some coffee?"

"You got it." Jenny nodded. "Come on."

He sat on one of the bar stools at the counter and watched Jenny pull a mug from the stack next to the coffee pots. She had always been a pretty girl. Elliot remembered her being shy and sweet, well dressed and friendly. She had been a cheerleader and played the flute in the high school orchestra, and she had always worked weekends for her dad at the diner. Her father had raised her by himself because her mother passed away when she was young. The fact that Jenny's mother had died was never a secret, but to this day Elliot had no idea know how or why, or exactly how old Jenny had been when it happened, despite how close they'd always been. It just wasn't a question he'd ever wanted to ask.

Jenny set a cup of coffee in front of Elliot and leaned across the counter. "So. You see Tony, yet?"

At his age, after everything he'd seen and done in the 'big city', after all the men he'd fucked and been fucked by, he'd have bet real money that he was too jaded ever to blush again. And yet, Elliot felt the heat rise in his cheeks as Jenny said Tony's name, as if she were privy to his private fantasies. A picture of Tony, smiling impishly and looking flushed, flashed through his mind and that only made the moment worse.

He tried to sound casual as he answered, despite the display. "He's still in town?"

"Oh, yeah. He's still in town." Jenny's tone made Elliot look up from his coffee. She was grinning at him in a knowing way.

"What?"

Jenny pushed away from the counter. "You'll see."

Elliot couldn’t imagine what she was up to. "Is he married?"

"No," Jenny laughed. "Oh, no."

"He's single?"

"At the moment."

"Is he still living up on Whitehall?"

"Oh, no." Jenny was slicing something that was half-hidden by the register and he couldn’t see. "No, he's got his own place now, a house over on Mulberry."

"Mulberry? Is that still a nice part of town?"

"Yep. He's got a big old Victorian. It's nice. He's doing well."

"What does he do?"

"He bought the hardware store from Mr. Barrett."

Wow, Elliot mused, Tony owned the hardware store. He had just walked right by there not fifteen minutes ago. "God, Mr. Barrett must be older than dirt now." Mr. Barrett had seemed old seven years ago.

"Ninety-three!" Jenny nodded, sounded awed. "Can you believe that? He still walks down to the store to check on Tony every day." She turned around and held a plate out in front of Elliot at about nose-height. It had an obscenely large piece of pie on it.

"Oh my God." Elliot's eyes went wide.

"Lemon meringue. Your favorite," Jenny sang, setting the plate down in front of him.

"Get a fork. You're sharing."

Title: Whence He Came

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Creative Process

Contributors: Jodi Payne
Genre: , , ,
Release Date: October 22, 2019
Pages: 206

CREATIVE PROCESS WILL RETURN SOON!

Best-selling thriller author Reese Kelsey knows his career isn’t conducive to romance. He doesn’t work the normal nine-to-five, and sometimes his characters take hold and demand all his attention, causing him to neglect important appointments… and lovers. Rather than go through another heartbreak, Reese contents himself with his small circle of friends—fellow gay New York City artists—and his dedicated publicist, Chad.

Until he sees Owen Mercado lugging his cello toward the subway and impulsively offers him a ride.

Owen has worked long and hard for a career in the symphony, and success comes with a demanding schedule—something Reese understands. Their desires and lifestyles are surprisingly compatible, and Reese and Owen certainly set the bedroom on fire. They’re both carrying baggage, but they fit, and it’s hard not to hope for a future that once seemed impossible.

But when Reese’s work inevitably pulls him into its dark world and refuses to let go, Owen draws a hard line, and Reese discovers he can't rely on good intentions alone. He will have to control the obsession that drove his other lovers away or risk losing Owen as well.

Available to purchase, or to borrow with Kindle Unlimited.

 

Buy the Book: Amazon

 

EXCERPT

Chapter I

THERE WAS blood everywhere. It stained the walls, pooled on the floor, soaked into the duvet. Blood splattered violently over the nightstand and the windowpanes and seeped darkly into the curtains. A grisly trail led from the bed, across the rug, and through the door into what was likely a bathroom. The bathroom light was on, and a sliver of bright light sliced through the darkness of the bedroom, cutting past the partially closed bathroom door.

Detective Harris tensed and drew his sidearm. He stood in the entry to the bedroom and turned on his flashlight, aligning it with the barrel of the gun to get a closer look around the room. It was his third gory crime scene investigation in as many weeks and likely to be a vicious, senseless murder like the others. The brutal actions of a madman—a foul, premeditated murder in cold blood.

Harris held his breath as he searched the room for what he knew he was meant to find: the calling card of a psychotic serial killer.

He found it, of course: the photograph. A Polaroid shot of the victim the subject had pinned to the headboard with a scalpel that was stained from end to end, sticky with the woman’s blood. Below the snapshot the pillow was—

Below the snapshot the pillow was… what? The pillow was… well. He’d already used bloodstained, pooled, splattered, and trailed. What was left? Dripping? No, it wouldn’t still be dripping nearly twenty-four hours after it was shed. Tinted, drenched, colored, streaked, splashed?

Reese ran his hands through his hair. “Crap. Splashed, crusted, spattered…. Christ.” He planted both feet on the floor and shoved his chair backward. “Who the hell cares?” He stood up and walked away from his desk.

People cared, he knew. They did. People liked his books for the most part. Chad, his publicist, liked to remind him regularly that he was a “best seller,” a “genius,” and when Chad was feeling particularly cynical, “a cash cow.” The Ledger said his last thriller was “brilliant.” The Times called him “a pretty face with a deviantly twisted mind,” which, Chad assured him, was intended to be a compliment.

Reese paced behind his desk chair, up the length of the hardwood floor to the window that overlooked congested Sixth Avenue and then back again to the bookcase littered with reference materials, assorted jars of hard candy, and a shoebox full of hastily labeled flash drives.

His readers might like his work, but they didn’t sit in that chair day after day dreaming up images meant to make people cringe, to make men psychoanalyze the criminals and women double lock their doors at night. They didn’t go to sleep dreaming of sociopaths and wake up with visions of bloody bathtubs. At least he assumed they didn’t, or he’d be reading their work too.

Sometimes he hated it. Every time he finished a book he swore it would be his last, that he was tired of the twisted, tormented asylum of characters inhabiting his mind, talking to him in his sleep, in the shower, on the subway. But then a month, or six, or even a year later, another would take hold, and ideas would practically fly from him. His fingers would hammer on the keyboard at all hours of the day, words only lingering in Reese’s mind long enough for him to watch them appear on the laptop screen.

And other times, like right now, he would sit there, staring at the screen, trying to come up with a new way to describe insanity, depravity, and complete and utter gore.

Seriously, Reese yammered on in his own mind, how many ways could one describe—

“Congealed. That’s it. Congealed!” Reese scurried back to his chair and rolled toward his keyboard so hard that the armrests wedged themselves under the desktop. Fervently, he began typing.

…and below the snapshot, the pillow was stiff and heavy where the victim’s dripping blood had congealed.

“Or something.” Reese was fairly sure that congealed was the right word, but he flagged the sentence for his first round of edits. His cell phone rang, interrupting his train of thought. He ignored it.

Detective Harris holstered his weapon. The subject wouldn’t be here; that wasn’t his M.O. He’d have left roughly twenty-four hours prior and was, more than likely, already scoping out victim number four.

Harris pulled his cell phone from his pocket and dialed the crime lab.

Reese’s landline started ringing.

“Evelyn, I need you. Again.”

Evelyn sighed heavily. “I’ll call the team.”

“Jesus Christ,” Reese swore. He took a moment to type:

[HARRIS/EVELYN (HILL) DISCUSS KNOWN DETAILS RE KILLER]

and then stood up, covering the expanse between his desk and the telephone in a few long strides.

“Hello?” He hated being interrupted.

“You’re late.”

Reese’s brow furrowed. “Chad?”

“Yes. It is Chad, your underappreciated publicist. Chad, the most handsome appointment book on the planet. Chad, your conscience—”

“Oh shit.” Reese hurried across his living room to the bedroom, where he stepped into a pair of loafers. “Where am I supposed to be?”

“Book signing. Eighty-Second and Broadway.”

“Right! I remember!” He didn’t. “At… that bookstore.”

“Barnes and Noble.”

“Right! I can be there in ten minutes.” It was only a few blocks away, but he’d have to run.

“Do you know where you’re going?”

“Christ, I’m coming, Chad! Stall for me. Be charming.”

“That’s what you pay me for, to be charming while I’m covering for your late ass.”

That wasn’t technically true. To the best of his knowledge, covering for his ass wasn’t in their contract, but if Chad wanted to believe it was, Reese had no plans to disabuse him of the notion. “Thanks,” Reese replied and hung up the phone.

REESE RAN. He ran so fast his loafers pinched him and the heels of his favorite but ancient leather shoes made loud scraping noises on the sidewalk. He ran until he was short of breath, until he got his shaking fingers on the tall, heavy door of the Barnes and Noble.

“Here!” he said to no one in particular, panting hard. “Made it.”

Then he took a couple of deep breaths and let them out slowly in an attempt to regain his composure, straightened himself up, and went inside.

Mother. Of. God.

There were people—most of them women—everywhere. All over. A lot of people. People stood patiently in a seemingly endless line that snaked between rows and rows of books. The line turned a corner here and a corner there through the fiction section, wound around past the coffee bar, continued past the nonfiction and into self-help. There was a long table at one end of the store covered in tall stacks of his newest book, Tuesday, Bloody Tuesday, and next to that was a five-foot-tall rendition of the cover in all its red-and-black glory, the blood-spattered calendar and severed arm larger than life and twice as disgusting. Someday he’d get to have the actual final say on his covers. Chad promised blood sold his books, and his publisher seemed to agree, and since Reese hadn’t worried about a bill or checked to see if he could afford a vacation in over seven years, he had to assume they knew what they were talking about. Still, Reese wasn’t so sure he wanted the images on his covers to look like the stuff of nightmares, even if the writing actually was.

A hand hooked over his shoulder, and Reese turned to look, only to hear Chad’s urgent whisper in his ear. “Over here. Hurry, now, I’ve been able to keep the manager occupied rearranging the book table and planning some publicity shots, but I’m fresh out of small talk, Reese. It’s your turn. Do that voodoo that you do.”

Reese allowed himself to be dragged off to another table not far from the one where his books were stacked. He was maneuvered into a chair and handed a red Sharpie—bloodred, Chad thought it was cute—and then the onslaught began.

“Mr. Kelsey! Mr. Kelsey! Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m first in line. Oh God, I’ve been here since last night. I watched them piling your books on that table at six thirty this morning. I can’t believe I’m first. God, I love your books.”

He forced a smile. “Name?”

“Oh, Linda. Linda Hurley. Oh God. Oh! Wait!” Linda, as she called herself, reached out and stopped his hand before his pen hit the title page. “I brought a pen. A new one, because, well, you know. I hope you don’t think that’s too…. Well, of course you do, but would you anyway? Use mine? Here.” Linda held her own red Sharpie in front of his nose.

“Why, certainly,” Reese said smoothly, taking the pen carefully and ignoring his own little inner psychopath who was sending him images of Linda with the red Sharpie through her eye socket. He put her pen to use. Thank you for being first, and for losing sleep over me. Fondly, Reese Kelsey. His signature, if properly deciphered, actually read something more like Rs Kely, the letters in between scrawled to such a degree as to be completely illegible. Reese handed the book, and the pen, back to the woman called Linda Hurley.

“Oh! Oh. Thank you. Thank you! I just love your books, thank—”

“Next!” Chad bellowed from behind him. Thank goodness for Chad; Reese might have managed to go all afternoon without a headache had it not been for him.

 

AN HOUR or so later, Reese was getting punchy.

“Listen, sweetheart, here’s ten bucks. If you go over to that coffee bar right there and buy me a nonfat caramel macchiato and a big fudge brownie, I’ll make sure you get a poster. I’ll have Chad here sign it too.”

“Reese,” Chad protested weakly.

“Oh, wow. Okay!” The woman nodded and bounded off. He couldn’t remember her name. He’d signed maybe a hundred books or more, and all the women looked the same now. Linda, Susan, Christina, Abigail, Sarah, Margaret, Elizabeth… who knew anymore? As he signed the next few books and listened to his fangirls babble at him, he kept one eye on Errand Girl. She kept glancing over her shoulder and giggling every now and then while she waited for his coffee, and before too long she was making her way back toward him, goodies in hand.

“Pamela,” a woman said, holding her copy of his book out toward him. “If that’s too long you can just say Pam.”

Reese smiled at her. “Nonsense, Pamela,” he replied in a goofy voice. “You paid good money for my book. The least I can do is scrawl three or four extra letters in it for you.”

Pamela smiled back.

“Caramel macchiato!” Errand Girl sang and reached out to set the coffee down on the table in front of Reese just as he was handing the signed book back to Pamela-with-all-six-letters.

“You have a very—Oohhhhhh, shiiiiiit.” Everything suddenly went into slow motion. Reese shoved the book toward Pamela, smacking it squarely into the side of the cardboard cup of hot coffee. The lid popped off, sending caramel macchiato upward and outward away from Reese. Errand Girl’s arms flew into the air, and she screamed. Pamela screamed. Chad, damn him, also screamed. Pamela fumbled with the book but lost her balance, falling away from the table. Reese made a desperate dive for the cup of coffee as if he were trying to save the precious Heart of the Ocean from going overboard. Something, something that Reese later learned to be Errand Girl’s purse, smacked him squarely between the eyes. A flash of white pain hit him, and the world spun. The bookstore’s fluorescent lighting swirled, and then everything went black.

UNIVERSAL BUY LINK

Title: Creative Process
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B07ZHLFWX1

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Breaking the Rules

Contributors: Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga
Series: Triskelion Series #1
Genre: , , , ,
Release Date: September 22, 2020
Pages: 450

Breaking the Rules: The Triskelion Series, Book One

Saul Reynolds manages a busy bicycle shop in downtown Boulder, Colorado. A recent CU graduate, he’s also a Dom, and has many friends his age in the scene. Saul’s an old soul, and even at twenty-five, he’s had enough experience to understand his own desires. He’s had plenty of lovers and he’s played the role of part-time Dom, but he’s never found the perfect combination of lover and sub in one man.

Troy Finch lost his lover in a rodeo accident twenty years ago, moved to Boulder, and has worked as a line cook in his friend Carter’s diner ever since. He’s attended many parties at Carter’s home with couples in the BDSM lifestyle and feels comfortable in a submissive role, but without a Dom of his own, Troy hasn’t explored what that really means to him. He has needs he doesn’t entirely understand and finds his only outlet at the hands of Carter’s husband, Geoff, a tattoo artist who has used Troy’s skin as a canvas for as long as they’ve known each other, covering Troy in colorful, intricate triskelia.

Troy doesn’t know what he was thinking accepting a dinner invitation from a kid half his age, but everything feels right about their evening together, including Saul’s Dominant side. The rules for a twenty-five year old gay cowboy from years ago, though, are totally different than for a twenty-five year old college grad in Boulder now, and despite Saul’s confidence, Troy isn’t sure whether they can make it work.

Saul and Troy manage to bend a good many rules in the name of caring and compromise, but in the name of love, there are some rules they’re just going to have to break.

Buy the Book: Amazon

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Chapter One

 

Saul held the mountain bike like a lover, like it was something precious, babying the new paint job and shiny chrome as he loaded it into the back of the pick-up truck. He wrapped it in a blanket so it would stay spotless on the drive and checked the tires for the third time.

Then he hopped out of the bed and shut the tailgate. All good. That bike was some of his best work. Thank goodness for Emma, he wanted to deliver this one personally and he didn’t have wheels of his own.

You got this.

It was another perfect spring day and downtown Boulder was busy. He drove up Canyon Boulevard and parked near the east end of the Pearl Street Mall, then reversed the process with the bicycle, gingerly lowering it to the ground. He got on it and took a lap of the parking lot, fucking with the gears and brakes. Damn, this was a sweet rebuild.

He walked the bike to Carter Lee’s diner, which of course he’d forgotten the name of, but he knew the one, he’d been there a bunch of times. Best cup of coffee in town, crazy good French toast. Small world, colliding with the man who owned that place.

He’d rebuilt the whole front end, put on new tires, a new chain, a new gear shift, replaced the scuffed-up pedals and the twisted handlebars, and had given the thing a new paint job. It sparkled like new, which was pretty much the least he could do after almost knocking out Carter’s front teeth.

He pulled up outside the diner and peered through the window, trying to see if he could catch Carter’s eye, but the place was hopping, and everyone was busy. He sighed and locked the bike up, making sure it was as far away from other bikes as possible, and headed inside.

“Just one?” The hostess grabbed a menu.

“Oh, I’m just… I was looking for…”

“This way, please.”

He blinked, totally off-guard, and followed her to a small table. “I’m actually just here to see Carter.”

“I’ll let him know you’re looking for him. Coffee?”

“Oh I, uh.” She peered at him expectantly. “Sure. Sounds good.”

“You take cream?” She handed him a menu, sighing as a group of mountain bikers showed up. “Ah, to-go orders. I’ll be right back with your coffee.”

“Yes,” he called after her. He glanced over at the bikers, but he didn’t know any of them. Must not be local. He knew a lot of the real enthusiasts in town from his shop.

He glanced at his watch. It was eleven-thirty and he’d been putting the finishing touches on the bike all morning. He supposed he could eat, but he really didn’t need the menu. He wanted that French toast with the berries and the vanilla-maple syrup. He could almost taste it.

“Troy! Troy, I need seven more turkey sandwiches to go. All chips.”

“On it, honey,” a rough drawl answered her, the John Deere ball cap the only thing visible through the pass-through.

That was one of his favorite things, the way Carter’s cook worked—steady, calm, fast and obviously damn good at his job.

He tried to think how long the guy had been working back there. Had to be forever, and in all that time he’d never heard the cook get ruffled. Just “On it,” or “Yes, ma’am” with that deep tone. He liked the voice, and he was pretty sure he’d have recognized it anywhere.

“Hey, man, how goes it?” Carter came and sat, offering him a smile. “Run anyone over this week?”

He grinned and felt his cheeks burn, totally embarrassed. “Nope. I’m finding you a tough act to follow. I think I’ve hit a dry spell. You?”

“Busy as a one-armed paperhanger.” Carter smiled for him, and, okay, he was totally glad he hadn’t knocked those teeth out.

“I see that. I have to say I’m sorry again. Hopefully your bike will make up for the bruises. It’s all done, I parked it outside. If you have any problems, you just let me know, I’ll get it right for you.” He smiled back, going for charming but not flirty. Carter was a handsome but married man.

“You rock, man. I mean it. Let me grab you a cup of coffee and…you’re the French toast, right?”

“My favorite. Thanks so much.” Carter was the coolest cat on the planet. He wasn’t sure if he could be that chill if someone barreled into his path out of nowhere, sent him flying and mangled his handlebars. He’d like to think he could, he tried to be level-headed, and shit happens, right?

“Right on.” Carter stood and went to pour his coffee. “Troy, I need a French toast with berries and a side of bacon on the fly.”

“On it, boss.”

On it, boss. Saul smiled and leaned back in his chair. That drawl was something. He thanked Carter again for the coffee and his stomach growled as he picked it up to take a sip. Yeah, he could eat.

He drank his coffee and checked his phone while he waited. He answered an email from Emma about the supply order he’d placed the day before. Thank goodness Emma was as much of a workaholic as he was. The shop was demanding and busy.

He also made a cocktail hour appointment with Khloe, who said she needed a hand. He wasn’t her Dom, but she didn’t have one at the moment and she was a friend. If she needed him, he’d be there.

“Excuse me. You’re the French toast?” Shocking green eyes stared at him. They seemed huge when paired with that bald head.

He stared right back and smiled, stunned by the handsome face that went with the drawl. “Actually, I’m Saul. But I’m having the French toast.”

“Good deal.” He got a smile, a nod as the plate was put in front of him. “Enjoy your breakfast, sir.”

“I always do. You make amazing French toast.” He boldly reached out and touched a triskelion tattoo on the cook’s wrist with curious fingers, keeping the man there another second. “Great ink. What’s your name?”

“Finch. Troy Finch. Pleased to meet you.”

As his gaze traveled up, he discovered the triskelions climbing up Troy Finch’s arm, some delicate and lacy, some violent and sharp-edged. It was fascinating, and he had all kinds of questions.

“I think the pleasure is really mine, Troy.” As much as he wanted to keep this lovely man talking, he lifted his fingers away. “I know you’re busy back there. Thank you for taking the time to run this out to me.”

“You’re welcome, sir. Boss is bad about letting his orders die in the window.”

“Get your ass in the kitchen. I hear you, telling lies about me.” Carter was barely holding his laughter back.

Troy snorted, but dropped him a wink. “Yes, sir. No smoke break for me?”

“Nope. Kitchen.”

“Thanks again, Troy.” Saul watched the guy take a few strolling steps toward the kitchen and then head back to work. He glanced up at Carter. “Interesting guy. Lots of pretty specific ink. Nice work.” He picked up the little glass jug of syrup and covered his plate in it.

“It is. My husband, Geoff? He did all the work.”

“Yeah? He must be pretty creative.” Who knew there were so many different ways to draw a triskelion? He’d seen at least ten or twelve and he figured there had to be more going up that arm. He started in on his French toast. “Mm. So good.” Like foodgasm good.

“Enjoy, huh? It’s on the house.” Carter grinned at him, dark eyes wrinkling with the power of his smile. “The bike looks great, man. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I’m glad you’re happy with it. I thought it came out pretty sweet.” Yeah, he could maybe be more humble. But he knew what his strengths were, and custom bikes was one of them. He was good at what he did. He smiled right back at Carter. “Try not to get in my way again, huh?”

“Yeah, yeah. Pay attention, and I’ll do my best.” The wink he got was pure mischief.

He laughed. “You’re on. Listen, what are you doing Sunday? You want to ride? We could have a rematch.”

“Sure. Sunday’s my day off. Let me check with Geoff, but he’ll be asleep. He works late on Saturdays.”

“Perfect.” He swallowed the big bite he had in his mouth. “Don’t let me keep you, I get that it’s busy. Thank you so much for the lunch.”

“You’re welcome. I’ll text you.” Then poof, Carter was off and running, greeting customers and bussing tables.

He knew Carter was going to like how he’d fixed up the bike. He knew it. Just like he was sure Troy’s stunning green eyes had gotten a good look at his ring, the one bearing the symbol that matched the carpet of amazing ink on the cook’s arm.

He finished his food and left a great big tip. Then he pulled out one of his business cards from the shop, flipped it over and wrote a quick note on the back before handing it to the hostess.

“Excuse me. Troy might need to reach me, so can you make sure he gets this?” He held the card out to her.

“Yeah, sure. Have a good day.”

“Thanks much. You too.” As he was leaving, he heard her calling back to Troy for more sandwiches to go.

 

 

Title: Breaking the Rules, The Triskelion Series, Book One
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B08HL47PTT
ISBN13: 978-1-7330076-2-7

 

 

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

Refraction: A Collaborations Novel

Contributors: Jodi Payne, B.A. Tortuga
Series: Collaborations #1
Genre: , , , , ,
Release Date: January 10, 2020
Pages: 260

REFRACTION WILL RETURN SOON!

Texas artist Tucker Williams arrives in New York City for a gallery showing of his work and finds the city blanketed in snow. He meets free-spirited underwear model Calvin McIntire on the steps of the Midtown library and is captivated by a wild beauty that manages to compete with the demons that occupy his soul and fuel his work with their lust for blood and erotic imagery.

Unable to deny a new inspiration, Tucker sublets a studio and finds the city’s energy almost as addictive as Calvin. Tucker is obsessive, barely holding on to sanity as his art consumes him, and Calvin is dealing with demons of his own, trying desperately to protect his soul in a business where only his appearance has value.

They each prove to be the perfect remedy for the other’s personal brand of crazy until, in the midst of stress and exhaustion, they discover that a promise Calvin needs is the one thing Tucker can’t give him, and their heaven turns to purgatory.

Can both men find a path toward wholeness in Tucker’s beautiful but chaotic Texas home? In order for them—and their passionate relationship—to thrive, they’ll need to adapt, share their psychoses, and find a true balance between New York City and rural Texas.

Buy the Book: Amazon

Also in this series:

EXCERPT

Chapter One

Tucker Williams leaned against the steps of the library beside the big stone lion and watched the white stuff fall out of the sky. Colder than he’d ever been in his whole life, he shivered, trying to figure out what the fuck a guy like him was doing all the way up here.

The logical part of his brain, the part not frozen solid, reminded him that he had a gallery opening tomorrow. A major opening. Right.

So he was up here touristing all by himself and freezing his nuts and his toes off and waiting to show up in his best jeans and jacket tomorrow night.

Go him.

Christ on a sparkly pink crutch, everyone here wore black, and no one smiled a bit. Surely there had to be somewhere here with friendly folks and heat.

Right on cue, one of those black-clad Yankees—this one in a black knee-length coat, black earmuffs, and chunky black boots—came trotting down the steps right past him. Like every other guy on the busy street, he was on the phone.

“That spread is mine, Michael. I want it. You make it happen. I’ve got the best ass of the bunch, and you know it.”

The man stopped two steps below Tucker. “I’m easier to work with too. You tell them, okay? I need to get out of the weather. Who ordered this shit? Later.”

Huh. Earmuffs were a thing. Go figure. Tucker had to admit, the whole pseudo-duster thing was pretty hot.

“’Scuse me, sir, but is there a decent place to get a cup of joe around here?” Tucker asked.

The guy turned his head, but Tucker couldn’t get a good look at him behind the collar he’d pulled up against the weather. He was squinting against the snow, and his hair was mostly hidden under a knit hat, but it looked like it might be blond.

“There’s no such thing as a bad cup of coffee in New York. You look like you’re freezing your ass off, man. Come on, I’ll show you.” The guy just took off down the steps, and Tucker didn’t have much choice but to follow.

Good Lord and butter, these folks walked like huge flocks of birds. Great big old flocks of ravens. Oh. Oh, he could—he could paint that, right now.

“Calvin.” He was offered a gloved hand. Black leather, of course.

“Williams. Tucker Williams. Pleased.” He pulled his hand out of his pocket and shook.

“Not from around here, I take it?” Calvin gave him wink and a grin.

Cool. This one smiled. “No, sir. I’m a bit from home, but that’s obvious, I reckon.”

“I’ll say. In here.” Calvin opened a door, and Tucker was hit with the smell of baking bread and a beautiful blast of warm air. “We’re expecting a pretty good hit. How long are you in town?”

“Until Monday.” Then he’d go explore somewhere else for a few days. Although, he loved that bird image….

“Well, if you haven’t been in the city in a snowstorm before, and it looks to me like you haven’t….” Calvin laughed. “You should know that you can’t get a cab in the snow. Ever. Don’t even bother trying. Get some boots and take the subway. Just coffee? I’m gonna hang out for a bit and eat something.” Calvin pulled off his earmuffs and squinted at the menu. “Large almond-milk latte with an extra shot and the vegetarian chili… and…?” He looked at Tucker.

“Triple espresso and whatever y’all have that’s the darkest chocolate.” No way he was going underground to get on a train. No way on earth.

“Mmm, chocolate. That’s one way to warm up.” Calvin pulled off his gloves and then fished a credit card out of his pocket. “On me. Well, on my agent. It’s a work day.” He held his card up to the reader until it beeped, and the card disappeared into his pocket again. “I’m gonna grab a seat. You headed back out there?”

“I think I’ll just sit a minute. Defrost.” Eventually he’d figure out how to get back to his hotel.

“Do that.” Calvin glanced over his shoulder as he headed for a table, and this time Tucker saw a flash of bright green eyes as they caught the light. “Tell me why you’re up here in this shitty weather?”

“I have a thing I have to be at Saturday evening. Everyone told me to come up a few days early and explore. What kind of agent?” He had one too. Her name was Marge. She was something else.

“Oh, Michael. He’s a talent guy.” Calvin stuffed his gloves into his pockets. “So you came out in this weather just to visit the library? Did you get a picture with the lions, because that’s a thing. Patience and Fortitude.”

“No, sir.” It was a cool library, though, and he’d spent a couple of happy hours in the 750s, just looking. Sort of like he was just looking at Mr. Pretty here. “Are you from here?”

Their order arrived, and Calvin waited to answer. “I grew up in Vermont. But I’m from here now. Got here when I was seventeen.”

“Wow. I wasn’t ready for something like this at seventeen.” He wasn’t ready for it now, he didn’t think. Although that motion…. Tucker wondered if a guy could rent a studio space for, like, a week. Just to paint.

Calvin looked at him. “Oh. Did I say I was ready?” He laughed and picked up his latte. “No, I had a job, but I wasn’t anything close to ready for this town. I adapted pretty quick, though. It’s home now.” He sipped his latte and then spooned up some “chili.” Didn’t seem like a great combination.

Shit, he was fairly sure that vegetarian chili was a crime against nature, but he was a stranger in a strange fucking land, so he didn’t remark none on it.

“Where are you staying? Oh—that’s nosy, right? You don’t have to answer that. Sorry. I was just making small talk.” Calvin giggled.

Yeah, Tucker was pretty sure that qualified as a giggle.

“How’s your chocolate?”

“Dark.” He licked his fork and hummed, the bitter and sweet exploding over his tongue. “Possibly the best piece of whatever-the-fuck fancy-assed piece of cake I’ve ever had.”

Calvin put his spoon down. “You’re good at that.”

“At eating?” He’d hope so. Lord knew, he’d done it for years.

“No, the tongue thing. With your fork. Licking.” Calvin braced his elbow on the table and his chin in his palm, eyes narrow and a wicked smile on his lips. “Do that again.”

“Listen to you.” Lord have mercy. That was hotter than the hinges of hell. Damn, how did that… how did something like that even happen?

“Yes, listen to me.” Calvin sounded playful, and he shifted, picked up his latte, and took a sip. “Do it again, Mr. Williams? Please?”

“Well, since you asked so pretty.” Lord, please don’t let me get my ass kicked here. He took another bite, his cheeks lit on fucking fire. He licked his lips clean, then managed to meet Calvin’s eyes. “Ta-da?”

Calvin laughed and applauded, the sound pure happy. “Oh. That was lovely! So hot. You’re a riot, Tucker. I’m glad I pulled you out of the snow.” Didn’t seem like he was too worried about people overhearing, but then he leaned in closer. “Also, I think your cheeks are warm enough to melt that shit right off the sidewalk.”

“Y’think? Shit marthy. I can’t believe this mess.” That he was flirting like he knew this guy, like this feller knew him from Job.

“Wait until tomorrow morning. Might be eight or nine inches.” Calvin leaned back again and dug into his chili. “Might even be a foot. Hard to get around in this weather. Personally, I like to stay in bed all day.”

“Eight or nine inches, huh?” He couldn’t have stopped his expression if he’d tried.

“Mmm. Last I checked.” Calvin’s look was absolutely deadpan. “The weatherman doesn’t always get it right, though. Sometimes it’s a better idea to check out the radar for yourself, you know?” He took another bite and winked. “That might be carrying the metaphor a bit too far.”

He had to laugh, had to, because not only was that true, but he hadn’t expected to meet someone to flirt with shamelessly while on one of his wanders.

Calvin laughed with him. He got up to put his bowl in a rack by the garbage cans, and when he came back, still giggling, he shrugged off his coat and hung it over the back of his chair. “Warm finally.” He had on a tight green sweater that left almost nothing to the imagination. Every ridge and line of his chest was plainly obvious, and the fabric stretched across broad shoulders.

Pretty, pretty. Tucker liked that Calvin wore a color. The green suited him to the bone.

He could eat that fine son of a bitch up, yessir.

“In all seriousness, shit’s gonna close tomorrow. But the Empire State will be open and the World Trade Center, if you’re looking for a view and some local history. I’ve never been up to catch the view in the snow. I bet it’s pretty cool. You won’t have the same pictures as everyone else, anyway.”

Calvin’s phone started ringing. “Excuse me a sec?” He pulled the phone out of his coat pocket. “A-yo. Hey. No, I want the—well, you know my angle, whoever will pay me more. Oh, I’ve never heard that joke before, Michael. Ever. Yes, go with Calvin. Thanks, man.” He hung up. “Sorry.”

“No worries. I don’t mean to be keeping you from anything. Honest.” A man had to work.

“You’re keeping me from going insane in this snow. Keep up the good work.” Calvin sipped his latte again. “My agent thinks Calvin Klein jokes are funny. You can keep me from that any day.”

“Calvin Klein jokes? Like the drawers?” Those were still a thing? Lord have mercy. “Or don’t they do perfume too?”

Calvin laughed. “Cologne. And yes, they do that too, but you don’t get paid as well as you do for the underwear ads. Is that what you mean by drawers? They do jeans too, if that’s what drawers are.”

“Yessir. I mean tighty-whities. Is that what you do? Model?”

“Yeah. Sorry I didn’t say that earlier. Sometimes people get… sometimes they forget they’re talking to a real person when you tell them, so I like to hold off a bit.” Calvin winked.

“No worries. I work with models, every now and again.” For the most part, he found them patient as fuck.

“Yeah?” Calvin was flirting again. “What did you not say you do again?”

“I’m a painter—not houses.”

“Okay, not houses. What do you paint? Landscapes? People? Abstract stuff? I love art that you have to look at and think about.”

“Uh. It’s sorta… it’s a little weird.” He didn’t tell a soul at home about the paintings that he was showing here. Not a soul.

“This is New York, my friend. We make weird an art form all the time. But it’s cool. You don’t have to tell me. I’m nosy. I just ask questions.”

“I sorta make a living painting about horror, sex. Right now, birds. I’m very into birds.” He didn’t know why he did either, but he did, and he was, apparently, damn good at it.

“Horror and sex and birds.” Calvin nodded, looking thoughtful. “Can’t quite picture it. But birds are probably great subjects. They’re so aloof and knowing.”

“Yeah? Cool.” Okay, so Calvin didn’t run screaming or tell him he was going to hell; that was a plus.

“You have a pic on your phone? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

“Fair enough.” Did he? Lord, yes. His phone was his goddamn life. He scrolled through, finding the album of his paintings.

“Deal.” It took Calvin about three seconds to pull up a picture of himself on a rooftop wearing a pair of blue boxer-briefs with DIESEL printed on the wide black waistband and a white tank top that he was lifting up around his ribs with one hand. City office buildings were blurred in the background. “No laughing.”

“Well, look at that. You have a nice heinie.” He could tap that, no question. “Was it hot up there?”

“Fuck, yeah. It was like working in a frying pan. They would spray the roof with a hose to cool it off, and it would dry in three seconds, and then they had about fifteen seconds before I started screaming.” Calvin laughed.

“Lord. You got some balls, I swear. I got nothing but respect for the work y’all do.” He personally thought posing was hell. He didn’t do still. Ever.

“Well, thank you.” Calvin beamed at him. “I had ice cream that day as a reward, so it wasn’t that bad. Okay, your turn.”

He pulled up one of his demon series—a fierce horned beast appearing from between white feathers, the mouth promising pure decadence.

“Oh. Oh my.” Calvin reached out and took the phone from him to get a closer look. “Fuck, man. This is way hotter than ‘horror and sex and birds’ sounded. I mean, Jesus. Look at him. You do this? You look way more… I mean, not like this. I would never have guessed. Wow.”

“No one does. That’s probably good, hmm?”

Calvin flicked his eyes from the phone to Tucker’s face. “Yes and no. I mean, you should look how you want to look, but man, the artist that does this work? With a body like yours? You could seriously rock something… way darker.”

“I tend to work buck naked. Saves clothes.” Wait. Did he say that? Out loud?

Calvin’s eyes popped open wide, and he started to laugh. Hard. Loud enough that people looked over at them, and he had to wave his hand to apologize because he seemed to be having trouble breathing.

He managed to just drink his coffee, keeping a mostly straight face. This guy let folks take his pictures in his skivvies; working naked was nothing.

Calvin silently handed Tucker back the phone, fanning himself with his other hand. He finally got a deep breath and puffed it out, grinning. “Jesus Christ. I don’t know what I was expecting you to say, but it wasn’t that. But that’s cool; I do some of my best work naked too. I just don’t get paid for that.” He winked and picked up his coffee. “Shit, my sides hurt.”

“When you get it from laughing, that’s okay, I think.” He pocketed his phone and finished up his sweet. So rich and good.

Calvin blushed. “I’m sorry. I’m not laughing at you. Honest, I’m not. I’m laughing at how stupid I am for looking at a fairly clean-cut, good-looking Texan, and… I don’t know. I got it all wrong, obviously, and for some reason that makes me absurdly happy.” The blush and a little humility made Calvin look younger, sweeter.

He grinned, that smile charming the hell out of him. “Shit, honey. I’m just tickled you didn’t ask if I was an axe murderer.”

Calvin’s eyebrows twitched. “I figured that would be rude since you hadn’t asked me that question yet.” He finished off the last of his coffee, tipping the cup up high to get the last drop.

“Rumor is you folks have all the axe murderers you need.”

“More muggers and thieves than axe murderers, actually. I don’t think I know anyone that hasn’t been robbed at some point. Especially people who look like tourists.” Calvin laughed. “You better watch your wallet.”

He arched one eyebrow. He didn’t think he’d take real kindly to that. Of course, who the fuck did? Seriously. No one just threw themselves in front of someone and said, “Fuck with me!” right? Right.

“I do, but thank you. I appreciate that warning.”

“For what it’s worth, crime usually goes way down in the snow.” Calvin slid his empty cup a couple of inches away. “I am all out of coffee.”

He leaned around the table and checked out Tucker’s boots. “Are those waterproof?”

“They do okay, yeah.” More waterproof than cold proof, for sure.

“Good. Come on.” Calvin stood up, looking more like a model now that Tucker knew he was one, and pulled on his coat. “Sorry. Unless you have plans, of course.”

“Plans? I have to be at the gallery Saturday night. That’s my plan.”

“That’s it? God, the things I could do with you for two days.” Calvin brushed a little too close as he stepped around Tucker and didn’t even pretend it was an accident.

They headed back out into the snow and retraced their steps to the library. The white stuff was starting to pile up, maybe three or four inches now.

Calvin didn’t say much on the short trip, but as he got close to the library, he poked Tucker with an elbow. “You’re gonna love this.”

He heard voices and laughter as they rounded the corner of the big building and headed into the little park next to it, where a small crowd of people was having one big snowball fight.

“You ready?” Calvin took a few steps backward and then started to run.

It took Tucker a second, but he figured what the hell? He hadn’t wanted to play so bad in a long damn time.

            Tucker gave chase, a redneck yell filling the air.

Title: Refraction
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B083KMZ83B

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

Just Dex, A Les’s Bar Novel

Contributors: Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga
Series: Les's Bar #1
Genre: , , , ,
Release Date: January 19, 2021
Pages: 570

When Dexter Appleton’s best friend Huck commits suicide, it damn near kills Dex too. Huck was a bull rider with a crazy life, and leaves behind a big house, and a ton of unanswered questions. But Dex is just a simple guy, just a Texas redneck trying to scrape together a life, and he can’t handle much more before he breaks.

 

Cyrus Hughes is a professional Dom. He’s shocked to learn that Huck is gone, he’s met with Huck twice a month for years, and didn’t expected to miss a client so much. When he heads to Texas to pay his respects, he instinctively feels protective of Huck’s anxious and unlikely best friend, Dexter.

 

The attraction between them grows, even long distance, until Cyrus insists he needs Dex with him in New York. Clinging to his last bit of hope, Dex takes a leap of faith and moves what little he still owns in with Cyrus, hoping to find his place is in the world, and learn how to love a lifestyle Dom.

 

Their path is full of trial and error, adjusting expectations and discovering how they fit together. Cyrus and Dex try to smooth out the rough edges and create their own family, one where Cyrus hopes to convince Dex that he’s not “just” anything.

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Excerpt:

Dex let himself into Huck’s house, his hand shaking so bad that he missed the lock twice.

Twice.

Huh, you’d think he was a drunk on a three-day binge.

Maybe he would be soon. Who knew? Maybe he’d run away from Salado, drive down to Galveston, up to Beaver’s Bend, away. Maybe he’d just go home and have a long nap. Maybe he’d head to Sixth Street and play with the college kids.

Maybe.

He could hear the alarm deal when he opened the door, distantly, and he wandered to the keypad, turned it off. Huck could do it from his phone—got a kick out of turning it on when he was house sitting, in fact.

Dex stood there in the foyer, the sun pouring into the house, lighting all the wood up, the dust making patterns in the air.

There was an alligator.

A tulip.

A longhorn.

A leaf.

A noose.

His knees buckled and he hit the floor, hands slapping down so hard it hurt.

Suddenly it was like he was Huck, hanging from his bullrope in a hotel bathroom, throat closed, body going heavy and swollen, nasty with gas and bacteria and flies and…

“No.”

The scream that wanted out was just a tiny squeak, but it proved he was here. Here in Huck’s house. Here, waiting for somebody—anybody—to tell him what the fuck to do.

His best friend in all the world—the face he’d known from the nursery at First Baptist, the first guy he’d ever kissed, the person who quit the baseball team when he got thrown out. Huck.

Huck was dead.

Jesus Christ, Huck McNamara was dead, and Dexter was…not.

 

***

 

Tuesdays were quiet enough that Cyrus could sit at the bar. He hauled himself through the front door out of the rain and stomped the water off his boots, shivering for a second as the air conditioning hit him. His iPad was stuffed under his jacket to stay dry and had been tucked against his side so hard he thought maybe he’d bruised something.

Ironic. He’d managed not to pick up any new bruises all day despite his client being particularly needy.

The bartender gave him a wave, and he waved back before hanging up his coat on the pegs by the door.

Tuesdays should be Greg behind the bar, but Greg finally got cast in some new off-Broadway show Cyrus couldn’t remember the name of and might be at rehearsal.

He set his iPad down on the bar at his usual spot with a good view of both the TV and the door.

“Mr. Hughes. Always good to see you.” A mug of hot coffee landed on the bar along with a bowl of pretzels.

Not Greg. Good for him. “Oh, perfect. Thanks, Perry.”

“It’s a fresh pot. I’m mainlining it tonight. I pulled a double yesterday and picked up Greg’s shift tonight. I’m toast.” Perry leaned against the bar, blue eyes shining in the lights. Such a lovely young man.

“Well, I won’t bother you much. I have a little work to do.”

“Bother me when you’re ready for a break. This place is dead with the weather.” Perry winked at him.

“Okay.” Sounded like Perry wanted some company. He’d just get the pressing stuff done, then he could chat awhile.

He took a sip of his coffee and hummed as the warmth chased the last of the damp summer rain away. Then opened up his iPad. His calendar was full. He’d had inquiries from two potential new clients, but fitting them in would be a challenge. He looked his week over and shook his head. The rest of this week was impossible but maybe—

Well, maybe next Thursday if Huck didn’t answer his phone soon. Cyrus had been calling him since he no-showed last week. It was the first time in nearly two years that Huck had missed an appointment; the cowboy was as regular as the sunrise. Twice a month on a Thursday since the very first time they’d met. It was more than a little worrisome.

He pulled out his cell phone and found Huck’s number, trying it one more time.

“McNamara’s phone. What can I do you for?”

Damn, that was…odd. Now he was definitely worried. And curious.

Okay. Discretion. He found his professional voice. He’d done this lots of times. “Hello. I’m looking for Huck. Is he available?”

“Oh hell’s bells, am I talking to his therapist? That’s what comes up on the phone.” So, another Texan—lover? Family?

Therapist was pretty common. He found the different ways people referred to him so interesting. “Yes, it’s Cyrus Hughes. Who am I speaking with?”

“Dex. Dexter Appleton. I—” There was a shaky breath, a pause. “Damn, Sam. This never gets easier. Never. I’m sorry, buddy. Huck hung himself in Nashville. He’s gone.”

“He what?” What? He knew something was wrong, but he was thinking rodeo accident or that Huck was in a wreck. Cy covered his other ear and listened. “I—I’m…sorry for your loss.” Hung himself. Cyrus would never have—he had no idea Huck was— “Shit.”

“Yessir. The funeral’s planned here for Monday. I mean, if you want to come out. You in Austin or Dallas?”

“New York,” he said absently. “I’m in New York.” Huck. Why didn’t you call me?

“New—What? Did you say New York?” The shock on the other end of the line was…huge. Like he’d said he was from the moon.

“Where are you? What was he doing in Nashville? How could he have hung himself?” Right. He needed to stop talking before this Dexter guy hung up on him.

“I’m at Huck’s house. We’re outside Salado. He was at a bull riding, and he used his motherfucking bull rope.” The guy’s voice started to crack, and he heard Dexter take a deep breath. “Sorry. Sorry. You need to know where to send flowers?”

“I think—” I think I need to be there. “When… When did you say the service was? Is it in…you said Salado?”

Perry glanced at him and he shook his head sadly, which made Perry come over and give his shoulder a squeeze. That was kind, but he really had no idea what he was feeling right now. He was in shock, obviously, as Dexter probably was as well. It definitely felt like real grief though.

“Monday afternoon at one. No viewing. Broecker here in town. I’m burying him next to his momma. Hold up.” There was a pause, and then, “Goddamn it, y’all! I am trying to deal with shit. Take that beer outside!”

He typed the date and time right into his calendar and the name of the town and the place into the notes. “Got it. I’m sorry, I won’t keep you. My condolences, I’m really very sorry.” He started to say that Huck was a good man, but what did he know really? He’d learned better than to assume. You’d think after all this time he’d know, but he didn’t.

“Thank you. I’m sure he, uh, he…liked you?” A soft chuckle sounded. “I’m sorry. I don’t know how that works—therapists.”

“He did. He trusted me.” In his world, that was the highest compliment Huck could have given him. “Thank you. Have a good night.”

He hung up and set his phone carefully on the bar.

Perry looked at him seriously. “You okay, Cy?”

Cyrus shrugged reflexively. “I lost a…a client.” It was really strange to think that a man with as much fight in him as Huck would hang himself. Sure, Huck was obviously frustrated, maybe angry, but suicidal? Wouldn’t Cy have seen that?

Should he have?

“Shit. I’m sorry, man.”

He tossed a twenty on bar and pushed off his stool. “I’m going to head home.”

“I get it. Safe home, Cy.”

He scooped up his iPad, tucked it under his arm and stepped out into the rain.

He was nearly home before he realized he’d forgotten his coat.

Fuck.

He’d go back for it tomorrow.

Title: Just Dex
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B08S1R8J3C
ISBN13: 978-1-951011-38-3

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Christmas Bizarre

Contributors: Jodi Payne, BA Tortuga
Series: Sapphic #1
Genre: , , , , , ,
Release Date: December 20, 2022

Charlotte Miller is tired of feeling like a failure. She may have gotten herself fired, her love life has imploded…so when she gets the call that the annual Summit Springs Christmas Bazaar, which helps support her family’s farm, is in trouble, she heads home to try to save the day. Maybe her luck will change and she will be happier for the holidays. Too bad her car decides to break down on the way.

Naomi “Lars” Beckett is too busy with the tree farm she runs and Christmastime to worry about a stranded hottie like Charlotte, but when they get snowed in together at an old cabin, she figures that’s what she gets for trying to help. On the surface these two seem to have nothing in common, but opposites do attract, especially with the magic of the season, and they find they have more in common than they think.

Once they’re back in the crazy mix of family, well-meaning town folk, and trying to make things just right for Christmas though, will they be able to make something together that lasts longer than old wrapping paper and holiday leftovers?

Christmas Bizarre is a small town, opposites attract, lesbian romance set in fictional Summit Springs, Colorado.

Buy the Book: Amazon
Title: Christmas Bizarre
Published by: Tygerseye Publishing, LLC
ASIN: B0B5K7FV9R

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

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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