Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Useful Things #14

Welcome back to Wednesday Briefs, in which writers post a 1000 word flash story—or episode, in my case—based on the weekly prompts. I’ve opted to continue my science fiction M/M story, “Useful Things.” As you may recall, alien Majak has just made a most ominous statement to his human pet, Rasvim. Why? For this chapter, I went with the prompt: “May I ask what you think…”

You’ll find links to the other Wednesday Briefs bloggers at the end of this post. Enjoy!

[I just added links to the end of each post that will take you to the next chapter. So if you're new to the story and want to start from the beginning, just click here to start with Chapter 1 of Useful Things.]

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Useful Things #14


Rasvim flicked another look at Majak as the bi-pad landed. They had left behind the razed city and its bones, and were safely within the perimeter of an Aeth base protected by sub-orbital gunships and shimmering particle shields. Surrounded again by his race’s architecture and technology, Majak’s alien features appeared stronger and more predatory. Or maybe it was just tension because he must soon assume his role of command. Majak had not explained the comment he had made as they stood above the field of skulls.

He wanted Rasvim to ask him. Rasvim had noticed Majak kept making statements that simply dropped between them like precious stones, or weapons. He was waiting for Rasvim to pick one up and use it. Rasvim fretted over what to do. Majak’s opportunities for questions could be peace offerings, or bait for a trap.

The oval cockpit covers broke seal and lifted. Majak smoothly activated the force field on his personal armor before leaving the aircraft, lightly jumping down onto the landing surface. Rasvim moved quickly to join him after tapping the control on his own shield and detecting the faint distortion. That Majak had outfitted him with armor was the greatest approval he had received thus far.

Several Aeth wearing military skins advanced to greet them. The two who stepped nearest were male and female.

“Ver Majak,” the female said. “I am Sab Ninmu Alm Tibira, Primary of the outpost. Your visit honors us. We have prepared accommodation suitable for your needs.”

“My needs are few. I wish to occupy a shield hut.” Majak squinted past the squat buildings. “Place it to the north. Darkness is falling and I want the blast wall to block out the compound’s lights.”

Ninmu stiffened. Aeth did that when they were confused. “You wish to stay in the field? It’s too unprotected!”

“Then protect it. We will spend the night beneath the stars.”

Rasvim froze as the gazes of not just Ninmu but the other Aeth fell upon him. The word ‘we’ as used by Majak—intimate—pointed to inclusion of his companion.

“Ver Majak, forgive me if I presume, but may I ask what you think…”

“No, Sab Alm, you may not ask.” Majak’s response quietly confirmed their respective ranks. “My answer would not serve any purpose. I would, however, appreciate a briefing on your operations here.”

Ninmu’s upper lip tensed. Rasvim fought an urge to drop to his knees at the signal of Aeth displeasure. His instinct was to defuse her—all of them—show himself harmless. Submissive. But Majak had told him to display submission to none but him and Rasvim remained standing. Only his gaze dropped to the surface of the landing pad to study the pattern there.

“With the human present?”

“Yes.”

* * * *

The tone of the closure sealing on the shield hut prompted Rasvim to relax. Tension drained from his shoulders and spine. He had been hyper-vigilant every moment of the briefing, though he had found refuge by kneeling submissively on the floor beside Majak’s couch, a posture the other Aeth had found acceptable. Majak's hand petting him from time to time had made him feel safe. Rasvim now wondered if Majak would have asked it of him. If he had not lifted his gaze so beseechingly to his master, begging to be removed from scrutiny, would Majak have told him to assume that posture?

He waited until Majak claimed one of the two bunks, reclining upon it, before taking a seat on the other. Majak had stated, several times now, that Rasvim was to share his lodging. The shield hut’s wall struts crisscrossed to form a dome that was transparent to every side. Outside their shelter, Aeth gunships in stationary orbit shone like small moons.

“Remove your shoes.” Majak’s order was neither stern nor indifferent. Rasvim looked up into an intense purple gaze. “You have been concealing your discomfort.”

Moved by relief, Rasvim lifted one leg and tugged the alien shoe off his foot. He winced as the material glided over his blisters.

“Why did you not say something?” Majak asked.

Rasvim shot him another glance. “Show no weakness.” It was an answer, a true one, though he said it softly.

“‘Show weakness to neither enemy nor friend.’” Was that anger behind Majak’s words, or regret? Rasvim couldn’t tell. He worked at removing the other shoe. “Did Osvith teach you that?”

Osvith had. So had his every encounter with the Aeth. Rasvim nodded. He looked at the reddened sores on his toes and was surprised when Majak left the bed to kneel on the floor before him. The alien took Rasvim’s right foot in his hand and examined it closely. Afraid to move, Rasvim tried not to quiver. Hoof pads of thin, sensitive skin traced the wounds, the shape of his foot and arch. The touch thrilled him. It was gentle, tender. Possessive.

Majak frowned. “I will order new footwear made for you. Tonight. Walking beside me should not require you to be in pain.” Both hands now caressed Rasvim’s foot, exploring the shape, apologizing for the damage.

“Majak—” A question had formed on his lips before he even realized what he was doing. What looked back at him, though alien, was patient and wanted him to continue, so he did. “What you said… about destroying humans”— he forced the rest —“is that why you don’t want to use me?”

He had not looked away from Majak’s penetrating eyes and watched in wonder the way heat turned them bright with an answer he had not expected. “You are mistaken, Rasvim. I do want to use you. I want to use you for my pleasure in ways you may not want, and which I will not attempt while I am uncertain about whether my uses will harm you.”

Harm him? Being used had never harmed him. Hurt him on occasion. But he was unharmed because he had been useful…and used.

Majak had never been more confusing.

(Continue to next chapter...)

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Thanks for reading! I really appreciate the comments and feedback I’ve been getting on this story. Also, please take a few minutes to visit each of the other Wednesday Briefers below and sample their wonderful stories.

Victoria Adams
      m/f
Chris T. Kat   m/m
Lily Sawyer      m/m 
MA Church    m/m
Nephylim     m/m
Cia Nordwell     m/m
Julie Hayes m/m
MC Houle     m/m

Monday, January 28, 2013

Dangerous Beauty Giveaway Winners

It's snowing outside and I have a poodle fresh in from chasing bunnies to help me pick the winners of my weekend giveaway for 2 copies of Dangerous Beauty. The book is a bestseller in ARe's Science Fiction and Fantasy category, so thank you everyone for helping get the word out. You guys rock!

My pretty poodle thumps her tail and the first winner is: ~Ley!

Another thump of the tail and the poodle picks the second winner: Gigi!

Congratulations, you two. I'll be sending an email to ~Ley right away. Gigi said she wanted a book but forgot to leave her email (oops), so I'll wait until Wednesday (the original release day) and hope she contacts me. If she doesn't, I will pick another winner.

Thanks to everyone who took part in this release celebration!

I'm going to be appearing around the blogsphere with a series of promotional posts and I hope you stop by to read whenever you get the chance. Each post will be unique and some are crazy fun. Thursday, for example, I'll be visiting Nephylim with a post on fan art. What does that have to do with my book? Not much, but it sure was fun to write!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Guest Blog: J.R. Loveless on His Salvation


Enjoy stories about supernatural or extraordinary humans banding together to fight their oppressors? So do I. So it's a pleasure to welcome author J.R. Loveless and have her talk about her thought-provoking paranormal novel, His Salvation. Not only that, but comments mean a chance to win an autographed paperback copy of the book. Now I'll turn the blog over to J.R..


Hi, everyone, and I want to say thank you to Tali Spencer for having me today as well as everyone joining in on today's guest post and contest. I've put together kind of an impromptu book blog tour where I will be posting at several blogs over the next few weeks. Today is my first stop! I am here to introduce His Salvation and to talk about the characters, inspiration, and general idea of the story. Many who have read the book already would tell you it has a twist of X-Men and although it does have that feel to it, the story and characters were not inspired by X-Men. I am going to be going for an entirely different origin of these amazingly extraordinary humans and what they are capable of. Of course, that's my little secret for now. :) You'll have to keep an eye out for the next books to garner that knowledge.

In His Salvation, Gabriel Romero is a man haunted by his past and the things he had to do to survive. To try and atone for his sins, he commits his life to working for an agency that helps rescue and protect other Deviants such as himself. This agency, known as the Agency for Deviant Assistance (ADA), is founded and run by Bryan Sorensen, a man who recognizes Gabriel's pain as he carries his own deep seated anguish. When Bryan sends Gabriel on a mission to rescue twin brothers, Alex and Jason Ryker, Gabriel has no idea he's about to meet the one man who can distract him from the only purpose he's set for his future.

Alex Ryker, innocent but also intelligent, immediately sees the weight Gabriel carries on his shoulders. He is instantly drawn to the troubled man and does everything in his power to show Gabriel that he deserves to live, to do more than punish himself for the things he's done. Alex makes a vow to improve his own skills as a telepath and learn to protect himself instead of leaning on Gabriel like so many others have.
I had a lot of fun writing this book and fashioning the world they live in, their history and their present. I've always loved paranormal and fantasy romances. Even though I can read and enjoy a contemporary romance, there is still something so much more unique about stories that contain an element of mystery or fantastical essence. I'm sure others can agree with me as I know shifter stories are a huge draw in any genre.

I am having a contest for an autographed paperback copy of His Salvation! I will send anywhere in the world, so don't be afraid to enter. All you have to do to qualify for an entry into the contest is to enter a comment below with your favorite Paranormal or Fantasy M/M Romance novel, please include Title and Author Name. I will enter all names into a spreadsheet in the order they commented and run a random number generator to pull the winner. Also keep an eye out for upcoming blog posts as I will be offering more prizes and even a grand prize at the end of the blog tour! :)  Read on below for an excerpt and to post your comment to enter today's contest. The winner will be notified by email, so be sure to leave your email address in the post.

Also, post a comment on my blog post each week [http://jrloveless.blogspot.com/] to enter for the Grand Prize package. (That means you have to post as the posts are live, not to go back and post after the next week's post is up. :p ) The Grand Prize package will include a signed paperback copy of His Salvation and Chasing Seth, a tote bag with one or the other's cover on it, one of each charm I have made for my previous books and short stories, and a major surprise to be announced at a later date! But remember, you have to post each week the guest spots go up. Once the next week's post is up, the opportunity to enter is gone! Follow me on Facebook or Twitter to receive weekly updates on posts and where they'll be! Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/authorjrloveless or Twitter - https://twitter.com/jrloveless


Buy Links:

Also available at other online ebook retailers!

Blurb: In an attempt to atone for his sins and find some solace, ADA Agent Gabriel Romero helps other Deviants in need. But with threats from both sides—Normals and the Deviants who despise them—he finds it harder and harder to outrun his ghosts, especially after a difficult mission to rescue twin brothers held at an enemy compound, where Gabriel meets Alexander Ryker. Gabriel finds his new charge unexpectedly attractive, and that’s a complication he does not want—one he thinks he doesn't deserve.

Despite the frosty reception from the stubborn agent who rescued him, sheltered telepath Alex feels an instant connection through the pain he sees in Gabriel's eyes, and he does everything he can to gain his attention. The realities he must face while mastering his ability are hard, but failing to learn to defend himself is not an option. Soon he'll need his newfound strength to convince Gabriel he deserves to live and love again.

Excerpt:

One

Gabriel

A FILE landed with a small slap on the desk in front of Gabriel Romero. He picked it up and flipped the cover open while his boss, Bryan Sorensen, gave him the lowdown on his newest assignment. “Twin brothers, Alexander and Jason Ryker. Nineteen years old and very powerful, telepathic and telekinetic. They were abducted forty-eight hours ago before we could get to them.”

Gabriel stared down into the greenest eyes he’d ever seen. His chest tightened at the innocence shining up at him from the young man in the photograph.

“Gabe… Vincetti has them.”

He whipped his head up at Bryan’s words. “Vincetti? Are you sure?”

“Yes. Our inside intel tells us they were taken to a secret compound in Vermont. I need you to assemble your team and get them out of there.” Bryan grimaced. Gabriel could tell Bryan felt guilty asking him, due to the events five years ago. “You’re the only one I trust with this, Gabe.”

Gabriel didn’t say anything for several moments as he sifted through the file on the two teenagers. The boy who’d captivated him immediately was Alexander Ryker. The dossier stated that he stood at six foot even, with short dark-brown hair and green eyes. What it didn’t state was how flawlessly smooth the man’s face looked or how sexy the small dimple was that appeared in the corner of his mouth when he smiled. Gabriel forced himself to look at the next photograph of Jason Ryker. Jason had the same green eyes as his brother, but with a more worldly depth to them. His dark-brown hair hung to his shoulders, and a small silver hoop pierced the lower right corner of his mouth. The agency had been aware of them for a little over a year, and had been tracking them up until two days ago, when they’d been forced into a nondescript white van outside a convenience store.

“Level five?” Gabriel sucked in a sharp breath when he saw the number.

Bryan nodded. “Yes. Alex and Jason are both level fives.”

Alex was the telepath, and at that level, he could project his thoughts into another’s mind as well if he wished it, though the file held no mention of the young man doing so. Gabriel jolted in remembrance. There had only been one other person that he’d ever known who could do more than just listen. He shoved those thoughts away, refusing to think of the worst moments of his life. All that mattered was getting the boys back.

Jason, the telekinetic, appeared to be as strong as his brother, if not stronger. There were several eyewitness accounts of Jason practically lifting a car by himself to save a little girl who’d been struck by the vehicle and pinned beneath the wheel. He’d brushed it off as an adrenaline rush, but the agency knew better.

Gabriel looked back up at his boss and said, “We’ll leave in three hours.”

“Good. Contact me the instant they are in your custody. Use the safe house in Mineral Point. Lay low until we contact you.” Bryan looked at his best agent. “Be careful, Gabe.”

Standing, Gabriel nodded abruptly. He spun on his heel and strode out of his boss’s office. The Agency for Deviant Assistance offered guidance and help to gifted humans such as the twins. It was the only safe haven for anyone with special abilities. No one understood how the abilities developed, but the tension grew thick between the humans without gifts and the humans who possessed them. Ten years ago, a third of the population on Earth began to exhibit signs of strange behavior. The first incident pertained to a man who could levitate things around him when upset or angry. Within a month’s time, there were over five hundred documented cases of similar events happening all over the United States. Eventually it became known as a worldwide epidemic.

Normal human beings grew afraid of what these gifts could do to them or their families. Angry mobs broke out a year after the first occurrence. Gabriel had been twenty-two by the time the first Deviant murders occurred. They were dragged out of their homes, butchered, shot, or hung. At first, the police attempted to stop the incidents, but as the population of Deviants rose, they too grew afraid of what could happen to their families and loved ones. Soon it was an all-out war between Deviants and Normals. Deviants were forced into hiding, living in underground tunnels or abandoned homes. Fear of discovery and the knowledge that they were one misstep away from death left any Deviant shivering in the cold nights.

Gabriel remembered being one of those people. He’d been twenty-three when his own abilities surfaced. There’d been another murder of a Deviant, Paul, a friend of Gabriel’s from college. He’d been forced to watch as they brought him to the ground, strung the rope around his neck, and tied it to the back of a car. They had driven around and around the block, dragging Paul behind. Gabriel could still see the bloody mess Paul was by the time the bastards stopped. He would never forget the nightmare that time became, or the rage he’d felt for an innocent life lost, which caused his own abilities to manifest. He hadn’t been able to stop what happened next. It sent him running for his life as he tried to stay one step ahead of the humans who’d murdered his friend.

Five years of brutal slayings and destruction took place before the government stepped in and stopped the fighting. Known Deviants were sent to concentration camps in unpopulated rural areas, but it didn’t stop the Normals from trying to destroy them. In Gabriel’s opinion, it just made it all the easier for them to find the Deviants. Rogue groups of raiders hit the camps every chance they had.
A couple of months before the government tried to restrain the ever-heightening situation, Bryan Sorensen created the Agency for Deviant Assistance in memory of his child. Bryan’s son, Jamie, had exhibited signs of being a strong level five telekinetic. He attempted to keep Jamie’s abilities hidden, but a neighbor witnessed the child levitating his toys and, out of fear, turned the information over to a group of known Deviant hunters. At the time, Bryan was a successful attorney and a clear advocate for Deviants. He’d returned home from his office one day to find his wife and son dead on the kitchen floor. They’d shot his wife in the head when she tried to protect Jamie. To honor his family’s memory, he’d created the agency to assist any Deviant who needed a place to stay or to learn how to control their abilities enough to prevent discovery.

Bryan inherited an old farmhouse when his grandfather passed away, and after it sat empty for two years, he’d decided to put it to good use by making it the headquarters of the agency. Investing thousands, he’d renovated the farmhouse and added on additional rooms, as well as converting the run-down barn into a training facility. He’d also had the same private construction company build a garage big enough to house the agency SUVs, and eventually the helicopter they used for their missions. The agency, Gabriel’s home for five years, now accommodated up to thirty-five Deviants at a time, including the three five-member teams. Most of the Deviants were only there a matter of a month or two before being ensconced in a new life with a new identity.

Gabriel’s hands clenched into fists as he strode into the common room. Jackal lounged on the couch with his girl, Teresa, while arguing with Lizard and Tank about the greatest football player of all time. Chris, the resident computer techie and genius, sat surfing the Internet, and looked up at him as he entered the room. He saw the serious intent on Gabriel’s face and sat straighter in his chair. “What’s going on, Gabe?”

“Jackal, find Bear,” he ordered. Jackal was on his feet and out the door before he’d even finished speaking. Gabriel’s usual team consisted of the four Deviants, and Chris, a Normal, was the pillar of support they relied on heavily. They were the only people Gabriel would trust with his life and the life of any Deviant on the planet, aside from Bryan. In their past four years together, Gabriel had never run a mission without them.

Chris Reed, a clear advocate for Deviants, provided the gear needed to complete a mission. He usually stayed at the farmhouse, the ADA headquarters, directing them via radio with the blueprints of whatever building or compound their targets were being held in. Gabriel depended heavily on his intel and trusted his knowledge without question. Despite his supergenius status, Chris didn’t give off the “nerd” vibe most people associated with computer wizards and Internet geeks. Six foot one, he had a stocky build with well-defined muscles, blue eyes, and his head was almost completely shaved.
Bailey “Jackal” Ferris was a level four Deviant. Nicknamed the Jackal due to his cunning and speed, he had the ability to outrun just about anything and the strength to match. Jackal had been the only survivor of one of the concentration camps attacked in the middle of the night. He’d barely survived the blast that left him in a coma for two months. Bryan offered him a position at the ADA when he woke up, and Jackal had been there ever since. Jackal topped off at five foot nine with dark-green eyes, shoulder-length brown hair that he kept tied back, and a lean physique, which Gabriel supposed added to his speed and agility.

Vinnie “Lizard” Thomas, another level four, had also been in one of the concentration camps the Normals had raided. His ability to camouflage himself within his surroundings was the only thing that kept him alive. He’d seen his mother and father shot to death right in front of him. When he’d learned of Bryan’s agency, he’d sought him out and offered his services. Lizard despised Normals with every breath he drew. Six foot two, shockingly white blonde hair, eyes as blue as the sky, and around two hundred pounds of toned muscle made an impressive package. One ear was lined with multiple piercings, while several tattoos littered his body, the most obvious one a lizard.

Jorge “Bear” Vallejo, a massive mountain of a man at six foot eight, earned his nickname due to his impressive size and his strength. Bear was able to lift a car with one hand while shooting a gun with the other. His mother tried to smother him in his sleep at the age of twelve. His strength saved his life. The silent type, he barely strung more than two words together at a time. When he wasn’t running missions with Gabriel, he spent his time lifting weights and working on cars. Of Hispanic lineage, obvious in the dark olive-toned skin, black hair, and dark brown eyes, Bear had a temper that simmered to a boil before it exploded. Raised in Spain, he spoke Spanish fluently, but when he’d arrived in America, he’d made it a personal challenge to learn English just as completely. Bear tested at a level three, although many believed he should have qualified as a four.

Last but not least in Gabriel’s lineup was Jackson “Tank” Beauvard, also a level four. Tank did exactly what his name signified. A solid wall of muscle that could tear through buildings like they were paper, he was practically indestructible. Not even bullets could penetrate his skin. He’d come to Bryan a few years back, when his sister had been kidnapped by a group of Deviants known for their hatred of Normals. Tank stood at six foot six, dark-skinned with short black hair and dark-brown eyes. He’d been the last Deviant to join Gabriel’s team two years ago. They were still searching for his sister.

As soon as Bear entered the room, Gabriel launched into their newest mission. He handed the folder containing the information about the Ryker twins to Chris. “Twin brothers, Alexander and Jason Ryker, were abducted forty-eight hours ago and taken to a compound in Vermont. Both of them are level fives. We’ll be staying at the safe house in Mineral Point for a while. Be prepared to move out in three hours. We’re going in under the cover of darkness. Chris, we need a layout of the compound and where the boys are possibly being held. Tank, I’m going to need you as lead on this mission.” The others looked at Gabriel in surprise. “It’s Vincetti.”

If a pin had hit the floor at that very moment, it would have been heard for miles. Tank’s eyes grew hard, and his jaw clenched. Lizard growled low in his throat, and Teresa let out a small squeak when Jackal’s hands tightened on her arms. “Sorry, baby,” Jackal murmured, immediately letting her go and massaging the bruised flesh.

Gabriel knew every person in the room had a reason to hate Vincetti and the monsters who worked under him. He gave a grim smile. “Let’s move, people.”

The next three hours passed in a flurry of activity. Tank prepared the helicopter, while Lizard and Jackal loaded up the weapons they would need. Bear gathered together everything necessary for their time at the safe house. A heavy tension hung over the occupants of the farmhouse as the hours ticked by like mere minutes. The usual chatter and joking around was absent from the five men getting ready to enter the compound of their strongest enemy.

Gabriel headed up to his room in the agency to change and fortify himself for what was to come. He pulled a pair of black jeans up over his muscular legs, buttoning them before tugging on a black T-shirt with a black nylon weapons vest over it. Picking up two matching daggers, Gabriel slipped them into two of the slots in the vest before grabbing his gun and ensuring it was loaded. The noise of the gun cocking echoed in the silence of his suite. He shoved it into the holster and snatched up a black duffel bag sitting in the bottom of his closet to stuff a few changes of clothing into.

When he realized his hands were shaking, Gabriel gripped the edge of the dresser tightly and looked into the mirror. Haunted amber eyes gazed back at him from his reflection. A tension around his mouth turned the skin white, no matter how hard he tried to force it away. Memories bombarded him, as fresh as the day they’d happened, and he breathed deeply, repressing them as fast as they came. He could do this. He had to do this. Those boys’ lives depended on it. Shoving away from the cabinet, Gabriel seized his bag and stalked out of his suite. Nothing would stop him this time.
Exactly three hours after Bryan had given him the assignment, the team headed out. It would take them a few hours to arrive in Vermont, and Gabriel sat tensely in the passenger seat of the black SUV with Lizard at the wheel and Bear in the backseat. “You okay, Gabe?” Lizard glanced over at him in concern.

Gabriel could only offer a hard smile in answer to Lizard’s question. With his jaw clenched so tightly, he’d be surprised if he didn’t crack a tooth. Tank and Jackal followed behind in a similar black SUV towing a trailer transporting the chopper. They would stash the trucks and take the helicopter within a few miles from the compound. From there they would approach on foot. Getting into the compound would be the easiest part. Gabriel worried about getting out.

The six hours it took to get to Vermont were the longest Gabriel had ever felt. His mind kept returning to the image of the two boys, and knowing anything could be happening to them right at that very moment. His fingers dug into his thigh in frustration. He hated feeling helpless. It reminded him too much of the day Paul was killed and he’d been unable to stop those men. Just inside the Vermont state border, Chris’s voice came over the bud in Gabriel’s ear, disrupting his thoughts. “The targets are most likely being held in the back of the compound, boss. It appears that the place was originally a prison, shut down about twenty years ago.”

“Good work,” Gabriel barked. “Is there a way in?”

“There’s a section on the east side of the complex that shows a storm drain leading into the compound. Not sure if they’ve blocked it off or not, but that’s the best place to start.” Static crackled over the speaker for a split second before Chris continued, “If you go in on the east side, head north about half a click and you’ll see an entrance into the building. Inside, there is another access door to the old jail cells.”

Gabriel looked down at the small gadget in his hands as Chris transmitted the blueprints with the details he’d just given. He studied the layout, memorizing every building and room shown on the screen. It looked like there was every possibility of getting back out the way they came in if they could shut down the camp surveillance and alarms. “Is there a way to deactivate the security systems on your end?” he asked in a flat tone.

“Already on it, boss. Just give me the word, and with the press of a button you’re good to go,” Chris replied with confidence ringing clearly in his voice. He’d already thought that far ahead, and, after getting the blueprints, he’d started hacking into the system.

“Almost there, Gabe,” Lizard stated quietly. His hands tightened on the wheel as they approached the target zone for stashing the trucks. The helicopter would draw too much attention if they took off inside a town or city, so the vehicles would need to be stashed as far into the trees as possible.
In a matter of thirty minutes, the team was in the air and on their way to the compound. Gabriel’s face became grimmer the closer they got to their destination. Tank took lead the moment they were on the ground, and Gabriel followed closely behind. Lights shone from the compound, and they could see several guards patrolling the yard. They observed radio silence when they were two clicks from the fence. Gabriel sent the single beep over the radio to let Chris know to disable the systems. They would have to move quickly, because it wouldn’t take long for the guards to realize something was up.

The storm drain had a padlocked grate over it, but otherwise the drain remained intact. Bear reached out with one hand and crushed the lock, tossing the pieces to the ground. The gate swung open with a small squeal, and Gabriel’s eyes darted to the guards, holding his breath as he waited to see if they’d heard the noise. He carefully released it when they continued on their paths. He pointed at Lizard and Jackal before motioning for them to stay put. Lizard scowled but nodded.

Tank hunched over and stepped inside the drain, almost having to bend in half due to his height. Gabriel followed, with Bear taking up the rear. They stopped just inside the entrance to wait for the spotlight to sweep past their hiding place. The moment it passed, the three figures stealthily raced across the yard and flattened against the side of the building. Making their way north, they located the door Chris directed them to, and Bear made short work of the door handle, twisting it harshly.
Sweat built up on their skin, and Gabriel felt as though the tension would send him to his knees. They’d made it this far without a problem, but they still had to locate the boys. The dim hallway they entered beyond the door made Gabriel wary of whom they might run into. The three could see the other door just ahead of them, and they crept forward, all senses on alert. When they reached it, Gabriel motioned for Bear to wait. He closed his eyes and pushed outward, “feeling” for any presence of life on the other side.

Gabriel flicked his gaze toward Bear, tipping his head to indicate for him to open the door. The cells that lined the hallway had been modified from the original wrought iron bars to what looked like reinforced plexiglass. Horror slammed into Gabriel as he saw several cells were already occupied. Tank looked at him, a pleading expression in his dark eyes, but Gabriel shook his head. They couldn’t take them all. A low growl rumbled in Tank’s throat, and he swung back around to continue down the corridor. Gabriel knew how Tank felt. His jaw was a rigid line as he ignored the Deviants they passed.

The twins were in the second to last cell they reached. Gabriel could see one boy sitting with his brother’s head in his lap. More than likely they were keeping Jason sedated until they had a firm hold on him being able to use his abilities against them. Alexander looked up at them in surprise as they approached the cell, and fear shimmered in his eyes when he saw it wasn’t their usual guards. Gabriel saw Alexander clutch his brother tighter, and tried to reassure the teenager with a tight smile and a tip of his head. They were there to rescue them, not hurt them. Understanding dawned in those bright green eyes Gabriel couldn’t look away from. The boy was, no doubt, reading his mind, and their intentions were evident to him.

He finally managed to tear his gaze away from that intent stare and looked for an access panel. There was a keycard slot and pad on the wall. Gabriel pulled a small device from one of the pockets on his vest which contained a keycard. Punching in a couple of sequences, Gabriel slid the card through the slot decisively. The light stayed red, and he almost punched the wall in frustration. Tapping the piece in his ear, Gabriel fairly snarled over the radio, “Need a little help.”

Chris sounded surprised when he responded, “Problem, boss?”

“The keycard didn’t work.” Gabriel motioned for the other two to keep a lookout while he stared intently at the device on the wall. “It requires a code. Find it.”

The radio fell silent as Chris zipped through program after program, hacking into the security system at the jail until he located the necessary information. “Cell number?”

Gabriel glanced around the cell walls but didn’t see any identifying numbers. Agitation glittered in his gaze, and he looked at Tank and Bear. They’d been in there too long. The longer they remained in the compound, the more likely they would be discovered and possibly captured. “Be ready for anything.”

Bear’s eyes widened a fraction at the realization that Gabriel intended to use his abilities. In four years, the team had only seen him use them a handful of times. The three of them stepped back from the cell. Taking a deep breath, Gabriel concentrated on the plexiglass door. The glass shuddered before a powerful boom reverberated against the cement walls and it fairly exploded into pieces that scattered across the corridor floor. Gabriel pushed inside the cell in the breath of a second. He hauled Jason up into his arms, tossing him across his shoulder. “Let’s go,” he commanded quietly.

The moment Alexander stood from the bed, a piercing alarm sounded throughout the complex and red lights started flashing everywhere. Gabriel swore profusely. “Go, go, go!”

Tank started at a fast clip down the corridor while Gabriel shoved Alexander in front of him, followed by Bear at the rear. Several of the Deviants were pounding on the glass, begging them to release them. His stomach clenched as he swallowed the bile rising in his throat. There was no way to save them all.Gun shots rang out across the yard when they broke out of the building. Lizard and Jackal were keeping them busy, firing as they ran to cover the four of them. Gabriel felt a bullet slam into his shoulder and suppressed a loud roar at the pain tearing through him. “Jackal, Lizard! Let’s go!” he shouted through clenched teeth.

It felt like they were miles from where they had entered the compound. He was only able to take a deep breath when the drain appeared up ahead. Gabriel sheltered Alexander with his body as he practically pushed the boy into the storm drain. The others raced behind them, firing on the guards chasing after. Bullets thudded into the tree trunks a hairsbreadth from hitting their targets as they raced into the cover of the trees. The sound of the alarm echoed through the forest. Gabriel stumbled briefly under the weight of the boy across his shoulder. He could feel the warm, sticky blood flowing down his free arm. Tank stopped Gabriel briefly, yanking Jason from him. “I’ve got him, boss.”

He grabbed at his shoulder, trying to stem the flow of blood as best he could. Shouts could be heard behind the team, but farther back now. It wouldn’t be long before they reached the helicopter. Jackal had raced ahead of the group to start the engine, and they could hear the blades long before they saw the chopper. Lizard jumped inside, reaching out and pulling Alexander into the seat next to him. Bear slipped into the passenger side as Tank hefted Jason in and turned back to Gabriel, offering his hand to him. “Come on!” 

A bullet pinged into the metal side of the helicopter, and Gabriel whipped around, holding up his hand. The gun exploded in the guard’s grip, and he screamed as the shrapnel dug into his skin. Gabriel clasped Tank’s wrist, allowing the man to tug him into the chopper. Jackal took off as fast as safely possible. Gabriel watched the field flood with men below them. They were still firing at them, but they were too far out of reach for the bullets to hit anything with accuracy.

When they were finally heading toward the safe house, Gabriel slumped back and sighed, still holding his shoulder tightly. He felt eyes on him and rolled his head against the seat to see the boy staring at him. Unable to take the strong emotions ripping through him as he gazed at the teenager, Gabriel closed his eyes and attempted to ignore him. He’d learned a long time ago how to block out a telepath, and closed his mind to the boy.Lizard let out a profane word when he finally saw the blood covering Gabriel’s shirt. He shifted into the seat next to his friend and shouted, “Why didn’t you say you were hit?”

Gabriel felt pretty certain his face was pale from the pain and loss of blood, but he managed a cocky, though somewhat shaky, grin. “You know me, Lizard. I can take a hit and keep on trucking.”

Glaring at the stubborn bastard, Lizard reached out and stripped the weapons vest from Gabriel’s chest before ripping the shirt down the middle. He worked carefully to pull Gabriel’s arm from the short sleeve, but Gabriel still let out a hiss as the fabric pulled at the bullet hole. Lizard popped the end of a flashlight in his mouth as he examined the wound. Gabriel knew the bullet had gone all the way through, but figured it would need stitches. Lizard tore open the first aid kit from under the seat and wrapped the wound up as best as he could. “You’re going to need stitches,” Lizard yelled to be heard over the loud blades.

Gabriel grimaced but nodded, tipping his head back into the headrest. God, he hated needles.

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Thanks for making this blog one of the stops on your tour, J.R.. 

Just leave a comment telling J.R. your favorite Paranormal or Fantasy M/M Romance novel, and please include both the Title and Author Name. Not only will you be entered into the drawing for prizes, but all of us get to learn about some must-read books. :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dangerous Beauty Release and Giveaway

Guess what? My publisher pulled a fast one and released Dangerous Beauty a week early! I had meant to announce next week's giveaway today anyway... so I might as well jump into it right now.

Dangerous Beauty is a M/M sequel to Captive Heart, my bestselling M/F romance in the Pride of Uttor series. The fantasy romance series follows the Kordeun royal family into captivity after they lose a disastrous war... a war they started. Each book in the series tells the story of one of the Kordeun or Leonnte siblings as she or he discovers love, fate, and family secrets.

To celebrate the book's release, I'll be contributing several unique guest posts to other blogs about Uttor, fanart, religion, signs you might have a psychotic father, and other subjects related to the writing of this book.

And of course I will be giving away copies of the ebook, starting here on my own blog. If you would like a chance to win a free copy, all you have to do is comment and post your email address (so I can contact you and send the book) at the end of this post. I will be giving away two copies of the book, with the winners to be drawn and announced on Monday morning, January 28th.


Blurb


Once the Kordeun family ruled Sebboy…now they are imperial captives of the Uttoran Emperor. Devout and studious, Endre Kordeun loves his family and will do anything to free them, even if that means pretending he’s gay so he can pass messages to his father’s shady allies. With his golden good looks and a beautiful male courtesan posing as his lover, Endre finds Uttor’s decadent society more than willing to believe his ruse.

But when a passionate kiss from a dark, gorgeous man unlocks feelings Endre had been hiding even from himself, lies start to unravel. Arshad, prince of Tabar, is Endre’s match in every way…including a shared love for science and celestial mechanics. Going forward with his charade will be dangerous, and not only because he might be discovered. In that event, even his own father would kill him. How much is Endre willing to risk for love?

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And of course, there's a juicy EXCERPT from the first chapter (want the full first chapter? Read THIS first on Facebook and just jump right into mine). The excerpt has now joined the samples from my other books on the sidebar, over there.   ---->

Dangerous Beauty can be purchased at Resplendence Publishing and AllRomanceEbooks, and will be released soon on Amazon.
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Remember, leave a comment and an email address if you'd like a chance to win one of the free copies. If you can't comment for any reason, you can email me and I will add a comment on your behalf. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Useful Things #13

Welcome back to Wednesday Briefs, in which writers post a 1000 word flash story—or episode, in my case—based on the weekly prompts. I’ve opted to continue my science fiction M/M story, “Useful Things.” As you may recall, alien Majak is taking his human pet Rasvim to Kansas. Why? For this chapter, I chose one of the visual prompts that spoke to me.
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Useful Things #13


The bi-pad flyer seated two. Rasvim sat uneasily beside Majak, unsure whether he should be watching the undulating, sparsely wooded ground toward which they were sinking or Majak’s expert manipulation of the controls. He somehow managed to do both. 

He and the Aeth had spoken little after a single question had confirmed Rasvim didn’t know what his planet looked like from the sky. The maps he’d seen as a child didn’t perfectly match what he saw from the air. He only ventured that he thought the big river they crossed might be called “Mississippi,” a word Majak found interesting enough to repeat.

A word like Kansas. A word for a river that now bore another name.

The bi-pad braked and drifted down onto a stretch of flat land, raising tiny swirls of dust and debris as its landing gear found solid footing. The flyer’s jointed legs bent like those of a grasshopper. Three larger aircraft landed behind them as the canopy raised. Rasvim followed Majak’s example in climbing out of their craft.

The land was not flat, as he had thought the west would be. Neither was it mountainous. Hills rolled gently nearby, but there were few trees.

“I want to show you something,” Majak said.

Aethi from the other vehicles, Urhal and his soldiers, followed as Majak led the way and Rasvim followed. Urhal grumbled something about an unplanned stop. When they climbed a steep rise, Rasvim stumbled because the shoes Alaksu had given him were adapted from Aeth footwear and fit poorly. Majak’s three long fingers grasped him by the arm and helped him stay upright. When Rasvim glanced up with surprise and gratitude, he saw only concern looking back. The way the Aethnot just Majak but all of themmoved with such ease in natural surroundings alarmed him. He remembered being hunted.

“What did I tell you?” Urhal grunted. “They are dull and clumsy.”

Rasvim flushed. He wasn’t clumsy, just badly shod. That and being among so many of the aliens spooked him. He was glad when the Aethi running up from the rear spread out in defensive formations and left only Majak at his side. When they topped the rise, the land fell away again toward a place where two rivers met, rivers much smaller than the Mississippi—smaller even than the Ohio, the big river Rasvim had sometimes watched as a child on the lookout for poachers. But there were no boats or poachers to be seen here.

There was a burn. A burn that stretched as far as he could see.

Reaching into his jacket, Majak pulled out a map—a human map, yellowed and fragile, printed on paper.

“This is Kansas,” Majak said, indicating where the map, indeed, said exactly that. Kansas City. He pointed to the rivers and the burn. “The criminals who found your planet first targeted your cities. They harvested what they wanted quickly. First they used sonic displacers to drive humans out, those who would leave. Those were enough. The rest died when a particle net was cast over the city and detonated by plasma cannon.”

The city had been vaporized, along with all the humans left in it. Rasvim tried to imagine the event. When he was seven, his father had brought home a visitor, an old woman who had seen Pittsburgh dissolve before her very eyes. The sky, she said, had screamed for three days until the Aeth had finally turned the city to foundations and ash.

“And there,” said Majak, his voice softening as he pointed to the bottom of the hill, “was their killing ground.”

Skulls lay everywhere like pebbles. Aeth had no use for brains or viscera. They craved meat and blood. The usual process for preparing a human carcass was to remove the head and discard it. How long had a processing unit sat on that ground, rendering meat and spitting out heads?

Something fluttered in one of the low-growing trees and Rasvim moved toward it. He had to edge down the hill partway, but when he reached the tree and looked back, he saw Majak doing nothing more than watching him. No orders for him to return or for some other of the aliens to get him. Just watching and maybe thinking, his large eyes filled with what might be empathy.

For humans? Or for him? Rasvim tore his attention away and reached for the faded cloth he had seen from the rise. The fabric was tattered and burned. There might have been a fire here once. Even nature lit fires where there were things to burn. He lifted the cloth and turned it over in his hands. Demin. Maybe the back pocket of a pair of jeans. He opened the button flap and pulled out slim metal card case holding what was left of a deck that had burned mostly to ash. He took one and shook loose black flakes as he climbed back up the hill to where Majak stood waiting.

“Did you find something?”

Rasvim showed him. “A card. An ace of spades.” Realizing he had spoken human words, he stopped.

“A card,” Majak said. He lifted an eyebrow at the word Rasvim had chosen. The Aeth played card games, though their cards looked very different.

Rasvim took a breath, then continued. “We… humans, we play games too.”

Majak’s sigh blended with the land’s quiet desolation. “When I look at this”—he gazed again upon the burned place where a city had stood—“I am reminded that opportunity is fragile and easily ruined. I will never countenance what was done here. And I will strive never to do what those criminals did.”

“You haven’t destroyed humans.” From what Enir had said and he had seen himself, Rasvim believed this.

The alien’s nostrils flared. “I haven’t,” he said. Then he glanced down at Rasvim. “And I don’t want to start with you.”

(Continue to next chapter...)

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Thanks for reading! In the mood for more stories? Look no further than the list below. This week the Briefers have outdone themselves writing fun, sexy, and free tales.

Nephylim
    m/m
Elyzabeth VaLey      m/f
Chris T. Kat   m/m
Victoria Adams      m/f
Lily Sawyer      m/m 
MA Church    m/m
MC Houle      m/m

Monday, January 21, 2013

Perfect--A Guest Blog by M.A. Church

Here is where I offer a disclaimer: I love this book. When M.A. first wrote this sequel to Priceless, I was one of her beta readers. I read it again when she buffed it up for publication. And I love it to pieces. It's flirty and fun and... well, vintage M.A.! Not only that, but it has perfect cover art. Yes, I said that. Perfect. :D 
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Sequel to Priceless
The Gods: Book Two

http://youtu.be/q50GEjdliWo book trailer for Perfect

Blurb:

Jaded billionaire Jeff Mayfield loves only what his money and power can buy, but the Fates have plans for him. First a player in Jeff’s casino hits a huge jackpot and things turn hectic. Then, in the middle of the chaos, Jeff lays eyes on the unbelievably sexy Cam Smith—Cupid in his human form.
Seized by lust, Jeff makes a move, only to find himself on the receiving end of a blistering wave of sexual intent. Cam disassembles Jeff’s self-image and puts it back together upside down. But Jeff isn’t the only one struggling with control. Cam’s alter ego is Jealousy, and if he loses his composure, the consequences will be deadly.

Excerpt:

The arid, hot air of the desert swept across Cupid’s body and sucked the breath from his lungs as he stepped off the shuttle bus in front of The Palms casino in Las Vegas. Running his fingers through his short, curly blond hair, Cupid walked into the coolness of the lobby. He scanned the area, hoping to see the owner of the place—a certain gentleman named Jeff Mayfield—and resisted the urge to rub his hands together gleefully; he had big plans for Jeff.
“Ah, it’s good to be back,” Cupid said quietly. He was disappointed he didn’t see the one he wanted, but a small smirk lifted his lips. “Lay a monster challenge on me, will you? Claim you don’t believe love is for you? By Zeus, I’m going to have such fun proving you wrong. Jeff, you poor human, you don’t stand a chance when the god of erotic love is involved.”
Four months had passed since Garrett and Randy, his most recent targets, had confessed their love to one another. A pleased smile crossed Cupid’s face as he thought of the night he had spotted those two. He’d had every intention of planting one of his golden arrows into Garrett or Randy while they were at the craps table, but the oddest thing had happened.
His bowstring broke each time he lined up a shot. This had never happened to him before. He was known by many names, but he preferred Cupid, the name his mother had given him. Greek mythology, Roman mythology… he shrugged. Little did the humans know just how badly they had messed up the pantheon, not that it mattered. He knew the truth, as did others of his kind. Later, while he and his sister, Psyche, watched the light go out in the window of the Peabody Hotel, he had idly wondered if the Moirai, also known as the Fates, had intervened. As curious as Cupid was, it was in his best interest not to question why. Those three gave new meaning to the words hazardous to your health. Thanks to them, the most widely-known image of him included a diaper.
“Well, let’s get this show on the road.” Cupid strolled across the lobby to the check-in desk, getting his license out of his billfold. He knew Reception would card him because he looked so young.
After a long debate with the girl behind the counter on whether or not he was old enough to rent a room at The Palms, much less use the casino—and the fact he had such a common last name like Smith—he stood in front of his room. It was one of the casino’s standard hotel rooms, nothing special, but it had what he needed: privacy. He dropped his suitcases near the door and walked into the bathroom. Taking a deep breath, he gazed in the bathroom mirror at his reflection.
He planned to do something that defied logic and would make his dear sister laugh hysterically. Cupid had debated doing this on Mount Olympus, but Zeus would’ve noticed the surge of energy, and the last thing he wanted was interference from the god of all gods. As it was, when Zeus figured out what he planned, the big man wasn’t going to be happy. If this worked, he would be weak and need to rest where he’d be safe. There was those on Mount Olympus that would take advantage of his weaken state, so this was the best place to attempt what he planned.



Hey everyone! My name is M.A. Church. Instead of me going on, lol, I thought I’d have Cupid and Jeff tell us some about their story, Perfect. And oh look, there they are now! *waves* Hey guys, over here. Thanks for letting us do this at your casino, Jeff.

Jeff: Not a problem. Glad you could make it.

Cupid: *shakes head* M, you know I go by Cam when in this form.

M: Oh Lord, don’t you start with me, you little imp—

Cupid: Hey! I may be a lot of things, but I am not an imp.

M: Don’t give me that innocent look, Cam, it won’t work, especially in this form. You tend to forget I know what you look like in your god form too, even though Jeff hasn’t seen that form… yet.

Jeff: *rolls eyes* What’s the big deal about his other form?

M and Cam together: You’ll see!

Jeff: Huh. Well, it can’t be any worse than his other other form.

M: There is that. Anyway, back to the point I was making: You about drove me nuts while I was writing Priceless. That was supposed to be a standalone story, and you just went on and on about how you wanted a mate.

Jeff: *grabs Cam’s hand* You did give her lots of trouble, babe. And you certainly turned my world upside down. There I was minding my own business, then you showed up and knocked me on my ass. You took a top and helped him become a bottom.

Cam: Speaking of your ass… *leers* I loved every minute of it too. I knew you were the one for me the moment I heard the challenge you issued. *sigh* I just wish you hadn’t had to meet… my other side.

Jeff: We’ve been through this. I love you and I love him, even if Jealousy does scares the living daylights out of the other gods.

Cam: Well, you certainly tamed the beast, that’s for sure.

M: Want to tell us a bit about Jealousy?

Cam: Simply put, he’s the other side of love—the dark, dangerous, obsessive side. Wars have been started when Jealousy makes an appearance. He shows up in the story because something happened with Jeff.

Jeff: And you know now that what you saw was all a set up.

Cam: *frowns* Yeah, and I know who set it up too. Don’t think that this deal with me and the big cheese is over, not by any means.

M: Um, you’re talking about the God of all Gods, right? If I remember correctly, that termed confused Mo too, so you might want to clarify.

Cam: Oh good grief, everything confuses Mo, but you have a point. Yup, I’m talking about Zeus, and his no-good side kick. Who also makes an appearance in the Mo’s book, Pure.

M: Why don’t you tell everyone who Mo is.

Cam: *grin* He’s Morpheus, God of Dreams, and a good friend to me… a cute, sweet, shy little guy. He’s in Perfect quite a bit. And hey! He wanted a mate too, so why aren’t you on his ass? Hmm?

M: Well jeez, Cam, by then it was a moot point! I’d already decided to do all three books. But yeah, Mo is really something sweet. Quite the opposite of you.

Jeff: Oh, there are parts of him that’s very sweet. Want to talk about the pineapple incident? *laughs*

Cam: *blushes* Thank the gods for google, that’s all I’m going to say. I mean, really, I couldn’t tell you that what I ate at Mt. Olympus affected how my—

M: Ah yeah, how about we save that, hmm?

Cam: *grins* That might be a good idea. We’ve got to get going anyway. We have a lunch date with Mo and Zygi. *stands up* Thanks for letting us stop by and talk though!

M: Take care, guys. We’ll be seeing y’all again soon. ;)

Jeff: Yeah, Pure comes out in the summer, right? Bye, everyone.
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M.A. Church
M.A. Church lives in the southern United States and spent many years in the elementary education sector. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they have two children. Her hobbies are gardening, walking, attending flea markets, watching professional football, racing, and spending time with her family on the lake.

But her most beloved hobby is reading. From an early age, she can remember hunting for books at the library. Later nonhuman and science fiction genres captured her attention and drew her into the worlds the authors had created. But always at the back of her mind was the thought that one day, when the kids were older and she had more time, she would write a book.

By sheer chance she stumbled across a gay male romance story on the web and was hooked. A new world opened up and she fell in love. Thus the journey started. When not writing or researching, she enjoys reading the latest erotic and mainstream romance novels.

My Links:
Twitter @nomoretears00

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Thanks for stopping by, M. And you, too, guys! See you again when the book comes out on January 23rd. :)