SLAVE is now a full time reviewer for Guys Like Romance, Too!

Please note that SLAVE's Erotic Review is on hiatus to catch up on reviews.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Prince + fire mage = sparks? You betcha!

Playing with Fire by Sean Michael

This is an oldie, but a goodie. While I write predominantly contemporaries, I love reading fantasy and science fiction. Playing with Fire came out of me wanting to do a fantasy book myself.

Zujan is a fire mage. He's indulged, spoiled, bored. He's got everyone eating out of the palm of his hand (or he's eating out of theirs...)

Enter Wintras, the son of a king of a neighboring land. Wintras is arrogant, cocky, defiant even, despite the fact that everyone else, including his father, is paying homage and bowing and scraping to Zujan. Suddenly, Zujan isn't so bored anymore and he has Wintras thrown into his dungeons.

The fun is bringing these two characters who seem so different together, (it always comes back to character for me,) and in finding out what it will take to make Wintras change his mind about Zujan.

What happens when an uppity fire mage takes the son of a neighboring kingdom prisoner to teach him a lesson? Sparks, of course. Only in this case, where there’s smoke, there’s more than just fire. The Prince and the Mage both have their secrets to hide, leading the reader through an intricate dance of war, deception, and smoldering sexuality.



Chapter One

The hands dressing him were careful, only the most perfect of his pets allowed so close. The fiery silks were carefully draped against his skin --the deepest reds closest to him, the colors slowly growing lighter in weight and shade.

One soft hand was in his hair, carefully arranging the ebony curls into the illusion of effortless muss, another rubbed a lotion containing crushed pearls into his fingers and wrists. Fire rubies were added to his throat, ears, carefully hung in his hair.
Honestly, the trials and tribulations of having to entertain where quite exhausting. Still, it was time that lordlings that he allowed to live on his lands paid him tribute and for that, he would appear in the salle and... mingle.

"Lord Zujan?" His current favorite, a sweet boy with a quick mind and an eager mouth, appeared, dressed in a short, white tunic, legs bare for his touch, his brand just visible on the soft inner thigh.

"Yes, Rall?" He sent a single firefaery over to flit about, just tease Rall with its heat.

"The ballrooms are prepared, as you've requested. The tables are laid. Shall I have the harem prepared and presented?"

He tilted his head, considering. "Have the harem decorated and bound and mounted on the walls as art in the dining room."

There were the handiest crystalline phalluses mounted randomly, jewel-studded chains above to stretch the lovely bodies out. One must impress the gentry, after all.

"All of them, Lord Zujan?" Rall asked softly.

"You will serve me, Pet. And have a few scattered about as side tables, benches." With a click of his fingers, the firefaery dissipated, energy flowing back into him.

Rall's eyes showed both disappointment and relief as the firefaery disappeared, his pet nodded though. "I will take care of everything, my Lord."

"Excellent." He met the soft green eyes with his own. "Do not disappoint me, Pet."

Fear flashed through Rall's eyes, but his Pet boldly promised that he would not be disappointed.

"Is there anything else, my Lord?"

"Mmm... have the kitchen send up something sweet, something to sate my hunger."

"The kitchen, my lord? Or the harem?"

He chuckled. "Cheeky. The kitchen. I will feed my other hungers from you."

Rall bowed to him, eyes alight. "Yes, sir."

Another bow and his pet left to do his bidding.

Such a good boy. It would be a shame to lose him back into his father's arms.

His other pets continued to fuss over him, pressing close, adoring him. He allowed it for a few moments, allowed the touches and soft kisses, the need and want pouring over him, warming him. Soon enough the snack was brought by a sweet little thing and he dismissed them all, allowing himself the luxury of solitude.

There wouldn't be much solitude once he began to welcome his guests, each one would demand his time and attention. There would be gifts and simpering and fawning and as he'd invited them, he'd have to keep from frying too many of them.

A few here and there served as a lovely reminder. Too many and one got a bad reputation.

The firefaeries began to appear -- violet and blue, ruby and orange, dancing together, drawn to him, their laughter silent, their heat fierce as they stole bits and bites of pastry, tiny feet leaving smoldering marks on the dough.

"My lovely ones." Zujan laughed with them, entranced, overjoyed as he always was at their flame, their beauty.

The door opened, sending the firefaeries scattering.

Rall came to him. "My lord, your guests are arriving."

He sighed dramatically and stood, looking up into Rall's eyes. "Am I beautiful, Pet. Will I stun all I see?"

"Yes, my Lord. There has never been anyone as beautiful as you."

"Excellent answer, Pet." He nodded toward the door. "Come, let us make an entrance and I will fascinate the commoners."

"You would fascinate them no matter how you entered, my Lord." Rall held out his arm.

He slid his hand over Rall's skin, sending a frisson of heat into his Pet. "Of course I would."

"Yes, my Lord." He got a smile from Rall and then they were through the door and he was being announced, Rall standing proudly next to him.

The palace was beautifully decorated, his harem well-bound and mounted upon the blood-red covered walls, the chandeliers all lit, flames everywhere.

Perfectly lovely.

The low chatter stopped, dozens upon dozens of eyes staring at him. "Good evening. Welcome to my home."

There was silence for a very long moment and then someone, a Duke he thought, from just west of his demesne bowed low. "Thank you, Lord Zujan."

He dipped his head, moving gracefully down the long staircase and down along the hallway to take his seat in the well-padded chair at the head of the hall. It rested on a pedestal, allowing him to meet every man's eyes.

Rall sat at his feet, his pet obedient and sweet.

The guests milled around, some of them looking with open amazement at the live decorations, others looking upon them in revulsion or horror. One by one, in no apparent order, they came to pay their respects. The smart ones offered gifts in an attempt to curry his favour.

His fingers tangled in Rall's hair as he listened to the bevy of idiots drone on and on. Would the torture never end?

King Blethin was announced. *King* Blethin. The man had a nerve. He was an older man, with a round wife and a princeling in tow.

A young, strapping princeling who was entirely not his type. Tall. Muscled. Golden skin. Long hair the colour of wheat with shots of flame. And eyes like a midnight sky. Luscious. He needed another princeling. Honestly.

He purred, the sound familiar enough to make Rall tense.

"My Lord," murmured the king, bowing. His wife curtseyed, but the prince just stood there, watching him, defiant, head held high.

"We have brought you the finest furs of our lands as a very small token of our friendship." A cloak was handed to him, black and soft, warm. "The rest of the furs were left with your staff."

The fur was lovely, and he nodded happily. "You are a generous man. How kind of you to attend." And to bring your prince to me.

"We are neighbors, my Lord. It was an honor to be invited." The king all but tripped over his own tongue to lick Zujan's boots. The prince however stood behind his father, still straight and proud, those blue eyes almost looking through him.

This was a prond one. A strong one.

"And will your companion introduce himself?" Come, lovely one. Speak to me.

"This is my son, Wintras." The king made a hand gesture to his son, head jerking. "Bow to his Lordship," the man hissed.

Wintras stood for a long time and then gave him a half bow, eyes never leaving his.

He heard the shock ripple through his audience as one of his eyebrows arched and he tilted his head. "Wintras."

"That's what my father said."

Blethin's gasp was audible, the man going red at his son's words.

"Attractive and observant. How very lucky you are, Blethin." His voice was cool, clipped. "Perhaps he is simply overtaken by my beauty."

"Maybe I just don't like having to give up our best furs to you on top of everything else you've stolen."

The room went silent and he hid his smile as he stood, firefaeries appearing upon command.

Poor stupid little fool. "You misspeak, boy. All I have is mine to take."

The prince stood his ground, cocky and confident, arrogant. "I stand by my words."


An older man, an Earl hurried over. "Please, your majesty, my lord. The boy is young..."

"I am the Prince of the Western Lands. When I take my father's place I will end your terror of my people."

Zujan held out one hand, a flame appearing, the air in the ballroom going cold. "You have not yet learned terror, young one."

Heavens and skies, he was having fun.

"You think a few party tricks are going to teach me terror?" Those amazing blue eyes were steady, watching him, challenging him.

"No." He turned to the Queen, smiling into her tear-filled eyes. "I will offer you the choice, Lady. Give your son to me or I will roast him where he stands."

She fell to her knees, her husband joining her. "Please, your lordship, please spare his life!"

"Get up," growled the boy. "Stop debasing yourselves."

"Excellent." He snapped his fingers, his guards appearing immediately. "Take the Prince down to the dungeons and get him well-settled."

"You can't just take me prisoner!"

"Of course, not. Your family just offered you to me, in front of all my company." He waved his hand, idly. "Take him away."

"You intimidated them!" The Prince didn't fight his captors, glaring at him instead.

Blethin had joined his wife in mewling. They? Were getting boring.

He allowed the firefaeries their own will, watching as they moved in, swirling and heating until attacked by worried nobles, at which point they attacked, stroking with their burning touch.

He sat, enjoying the chaos, fingers returning to Rall's hair. "Are you enjoying yourself, Pet?"

"Y...yes, my Lord."

"Excellent. I am as well."

"Stop this! You are a madman!" Wintras shouted at him from across the room as the guards dragged him away. "Rush him! There are many of you and only one of him! He's insane!"

"They're so entertaining those first few days, don't you agree?" He smiled coldly at the king and his wife. "It is by his own lack of self-control that he goes. He will not be permanently harmed --assuming he learns, of course."

"Thank you for sparing him, your majesty," whimpered the queen.

"You are merciful," added the king, jeweled fingers shaking.

He nodded, in total agreement. Indeed. Most merciful.

Amused and merciful.

And the owner of some lovely furs.

Buy at Torquere

Sean Michael

Friday, March 30, 2012

Magic, betrayal, second chances and hot sex! What's not to like?

Greetings Lovers of M/M Romance,
Jaxx Steele here once again to share. This time I come with Cam’s Best Friend in hand. I have always liked magic induced stores, but one never came to mind. When the idea finally did, my first fantasy the story came together pretty fast, but getting it from my head to the computer was a challenge. Bottom line, my typing skills pretty much suck. I type with four fingers and my brain moves way faster than my fingers can keep up with.

The characters spoke continuously, screaming at me to get their story, but I couldn’t get it out fast enough. It drove me crazy! Once it was finally complete, it moved swiftly to the top five of my “favorite babies” list along with Papa Knows Best, Indian Blood Moon and Christmas Nick for Everyone.

This book has magic, betrayal, destined love, an awesome fight scene and hot sex…what’s not to love? Seriously speaking, this was my first fantasy and it has sparked something in me. I now have 2 more fantasies on my WIP.
A little about Cam’s Best Friend…

Cameron Gamble was a simple man who ran away from an awkward life. He found a new city to start over in, a new job and the perfect best friend in Mel, a large chocolate lab. It wasn't long before they were inseparable and Mel had a permanent place in Cameron's heart.
One night, as Cameron recovered from a nightmare the bright light of the moon reveals Mel's true nature. All was well from that day forth until his ex-lover showed up with the intention of bringing him home.

And here is a peek inside…Enjoy!

"His eyes were bulging so much it was easy to keep eye contact," Baptiste continued aloud, severing the connection to Reynaud's mind. "The second the light of life left his gaze, the magic in his soul transferred to me. It was such a rush!" Baptiste shook the bars. "I had no more use of him afterward so I returned him to you," he added with a dismissive wave in calmer tones.

Baptiste's treachery horrified Reynaud. Such a deed had never been done intentionally. The forbidden act of taking another's magic remained the highest undocumented law. Everyone generally assumed no one would ever do such a cruel, cold-blooded and evil thing to another Creolyte. The transfer itself had been discovered by accident many years ago when a Creolyte woman embraced her dying lover. He held her gaze, whispering his love and with his final breath his magic transferred to her.

Reynaud closed his eyes tight, pushing away the dreadful feelings Baptiste's words created inside of him. But he could not remove the scene forced into his mind. He saw Baptiste carrying his beloved Angele's lifeless body back into the bedroom, returning him to Reynaud's side as clearly as if it were happening at that moment. Reynaud's heart pounded behind his chest and tears welled behind his lids. He took a deep breath and swallowed his pain before opening his eyes. The smug grin on Baptiste's face inflamed Reynaud's anger.

"You have shown me your treachery, and I am about to pay the price for it, Baptiste. Now tell me why. Why would you kill Angele if he posed no threat to you?" Reynaud asked through gritted teeth.

Baptiste's smirk turned into a sinister smile. "Angele's death was essential to my plan, my good man."

Reynaud's confusion continued. Baptiste chuckled.

"You have held your station long enough, Reynaud Leduc. It was only because you caught Madame Cousteau's eye as a child that you became her favorite. It was her favor that elevated you to your post. I think it is time someone else had it… namely me."

Reynaud scoffed. "That's what this is about…jealously?"

"I am not jealous!" Baptiste snapped then quickly cleared his throat. "This is not about jealously, Reynaud," he amended in a calmer tone. "This is about due process. It is simply my time. My magic is strong, but was never as strong as yours. However, with Angele's magic added to my own, it is just as powerful. They will give me a mate and I will finally have the prestige I deserve."

"What you did was unspeakably heinous! Why attack an innocent? If you wanted to take my place, why not just come after me?" he asked incredulously.

"Oh no, Reynaud. It was not that simple," Baptiste explained, shifting his position against the bars. "You are Madame Cousteau's favorite… well you were, anyway. I
could not openly attack you without reprimand. I had to make it so even she could not help you." He paused, pressing his face between the thin iron poles. "I had to
destroy you," he emphasized, his voice dripping with ice.

Abruptly Baptiste's head jerked to look over his shoulder. The sneer on his face had disappeared when he turned back to Reynaud. In its place was an almost pleasant smile.
"I can hear your welcoming committee coming, Reynaud. Good luck in your next life as a beast," Baptiste said lightly.
Baptiste left Reynaud sitting on the bench filled with bewilderment and anger. He leaned his head back against the wall and listened. The clumping of the shoes the
guards wore came closer and Baptiste's satisfied laughter moved farther away.

"The council is ready, Reynaud."

A man appeared before the cell. Reynaud rose and went to the door with his hands before him. The magical binding took place, pressing his wrists together and suppressing his magic as soon as he stepped out of the confined space. The guards returned him to the room where the elders sat, but no one else remained. Once again, Madame Cousteau came to her feet to address him.

"We wish you luck, Reynaud and hope you find love with a human so you may return to your Creolyte body someday."

Reynaud thought for a moment about telling them what Baptiste had confessed, but decided against it. He had no proof to exonerate himself and the sentence would be carried out anyway. Accepting his punishment with his head high, Reynaud held his tongue. The other elders joined Madame Cousteau, forming a circle around him. They muttered the incantation in unison. He closed his eyes, feeling the change come over his body, and vowed to be more diligent in his mission in the future.

Does Reynaud complete his mission? Are we talking sequel? Hmmm... :)

available now at Silver Publishing

Jaxx Steele...has left the building!

Jaxx's house has free reads. 
Stop by and grab one anytime!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Flavor of Magic!

A man rose from the smoldering fire as they came up, slim and dark, his skin the color of cream and chocolate. Taden stopped, pinned in place by the man’s rich brown eyes, snared. He clenched his hands as something crawled across him mind, seeking entrance to his thoughts. But then Corin blinked and a mocking smile fleeted across the handsome face.
“I see my cousin’s put his mark on you,” the man drawled and Taden flushed at his derisive eyes. “He protects your mind from…well, men like me. Pity. They must be interesting thoughts to have captured his interest so quickly. Usually Nathaniel’s far more circumspect.”                                                                                      -Nathaniel

Magic. It comes in all shapes and sizes. Wizards, dragons, shifters, magic rings. But what if magic is far more subtle? What if the magic user looks like the beautiful, sensual man of your dreams, and his magic fulfills all your fantasies?

The prisoner lifted his head and Taden was caught in the gaze of the most beautiful eyes he’d ever seen, clear green with a starburst of gold at the pupils, amazing eyes that held him confused and thrilling. The look brushed against the lonely spot in his heart he kept deeply buried. Then the man blinked and Taden felt released, as if he’d been spellbound.                                                                                          –Nathaniel

How do you protect yourself from such a man? Would you even want to? Image a man who can slip into your mind and probe your dreams. Slide down your nerves. Should I touch you there? Would you like my tongue here? What tickles? Titillates? Arouses?

Taden dropped his head on Nathaniel’s chest. “Give me a moment,” he whispered hoarsely, concentrating on control. He wanted their joining to be perfect. It was hard when Nathaniel continued to thread his hands through his hair. With a growl, Taden straddled him, pinning the wandering hands over his head. “Careful, or I can’t promise to be gentle.”
Nathaniel’s eyes were hooded and Taden watched, enchanted, as the tip of his pink tongue slid across pale lips. “Do anything you like,” Nathaniel invited.

Taden’s enchanted. How can you resist a man who knows exactly how you need to be loved? He doesn’t hold out long!
But, even though Nathaniel’s a gentle man, what about the other side of the coin? What if this power that can bring such pleasure, is used by a cruel man, to cause pain?

Corin pushed away from the wall, the glint of anger in his eyes. “Like it or not, lord, Nathaniel is unstable and dangerous.” His voice softened to a caress, “He killed a man. Did he tell you that? In a jealous rage, and fled across the sea from those who would restrain him. But he made the mistake of bringing Miranda with him. And that’s why I’m here.”
“Why, if Miranda prefers your cousin?”
Taden had the bitter satisfaction of seeing pain in Corin’s dark eyes.
“She doesn’t love him. And he needs to answer for his lover’s death.”
Taden studied Corin’s expression. He’d heard a trace of doubt in his arrogant voice. The man was lying. “They weren’t lovers. What are you holding back?”
He flinched in pain at the illusion of sharp needles piercing his skin. The false impression was gone instantly as Corin visible controlled his temper, but Taden knew he’d been near death at that moment.
“He loved you?” he asked carefully.                                                   -Nathaniel

To me, the paranormal adds that spice of the unknown and thrill of danger to life. And really, who can resist those romantic as hell vampires, werewolves and shifters? Not me! In and out of a book, I like to think they roam the darker edges of the world.
            But more than these, I’m fascinated by psychic phenomenon. The thought of telekinesis and mind reading, the power of the mind over matter, fills my world with wonder. What if it is true? What if there are people whose visions are real and dreams foretell the future? It’s this feeling of amazing possibility I try to capture in my writing. 


The prisoner lifts his head and Taden is caught in the gaze of the most beautiful eyes he’s ever seen; amazing eyes that hold him confused and thrilling. From the moment Taden rescues Nathaniel from the Sutherlin soldiers’ torture, he feels responsible for the youth. The Sutherlins have invaded the beautiful Tahon Valley, and as Taden secrets Nathaniel from their reach, he finds himself drawn inexplicably to the young man. He protects Nathaniel not only from the Sutherlins but from his own mistrustful people, who don’t understand Nathaniel’s powers and believe him to be a witch. Will Taden convince Nathaniel to stay with him and live under his protection, or will the youth sail home and leave Taden in loneliness?


Taden slowly stretched, testing his bones. His shoulders and back were sore, and he felt bruised, but nothing serious. He lifted his arms over his head, arching his back to ease the discomfort, and caught Nathanial’s enraptured gaze on his movements. He slowly lowered his arms, heated by the smoldering desire in Nathaniel’s green eyes. The young man blinked and the color deepened under his fair complexion.
Taden didn’t have to follow Nathaniel’s glance down his body. There was nothing wrong with that part of his anatomy. His erection pressed against his pants. Feeling the fool, Taden took a few steps away from Nathaniel along a path leading to a rocky ledge. “Where are we?” He stopped at the edge and a delighted sound escaped his lips. “This is my land!”
“Yes, my lord.” Nathaniel stood at his elbow, a note of approval in his voice for the green and gold fields spread out below them. The stronghold was set on the knoll across the valley, its white stonework glittering in the sun.
“The captain brought us here. Corin bandaged your wound. He has some skill with healing, but Bryce insists that you be placed under the care of your own physician. I agree.”
Taden looked at Nathaniel and anticipation raced through him. “Will you come to my home?” he asked with controlled excitement. A vision of his wide bed filled his sight, feather soft, with Nathaniel’s sleek limbs twined with his in the sheets. He shivered pleasantly as desire heated his blood.
Nathaniel lowered his eyes, nibbling a lip as he stared at something on the rocky path. Taden’s heart smote him. Maybe Nathaniel had meant to go on his way without stopping. But then the green gaze swept up to meet his, dark with passion.
“I want nothing more,” Nathaniel assured him, his tone a caress. Taden reached for him, but Nathaniel slipped away from his grasp and started down the trail into the pines. Taden followed, impatient for the evening when the others were settled into the rooms he provided far from his own.
Lost in amorous dreams, he nearly collided with Nathaniel who’d come to a stop at the bottom of the path. Captain Bryce sat with Miranda on a log near the grazing horses, but Nathaniel’s eyes were fixed on Corin. His cousin stood several steps away, his rapt attention on the couple. Taden winced at the longing and despair betrayed in his dark features as Corin gazed on Miranda’s fair head.
Nathaniel coughed slightly and Corin’s brown eyes swiveled to them. They narrowed in anger and Taden braced, expecting pain, but Nathaniel stepped between them. “Leave him be, Corin. You’ve had your fun at his expense, and mine. Peace.”
Taden’s hand dropped to his sword hilt at the unpleasant smile that twisted Corin’s mouth. The man stepped closer to Nathaniel. For the first time, Taden noticed they were of the same height, though that’s where the similarity ended. Corin stood dark and proud, a lift to the arrogant chin, while Nathaniel shown fair and golden, his beauty catching Taden’s breath.
Corin unexpectedly turned his gaze on him and Taden’s mind flashed on a scene of the three of them together in some lavishly furnished room. Taden’s wrists were bound with silk to a bedpost. Strong hands gripped his naked hips as Corin pushed into his body from behind, hot, mind-blowing thrusts, while Nathaniel knelt in front and sucked and licked his balls before taking Taden’s aching cock into his mouth. He’d never experienced such pleasure…
On the verge of coming, Taden shoved the image away, fighting the burn in his scrotum screaming for release. With a tremendous effort, he covered the distance between them and grabbed Corin’s arm, his hold tightening as the focus return to the rich brown eyes.
“Do that one more time and I swear I’ll find a way to kill you,” Taden hissed, beset with anger and seething desires.
“I might kill him now.”
Nathaniel’s cold tones sent a shiver through Taden. For once, Corin looked equally shaken and faced his cousin with a grim expression. “I’m sorry—” he began to say, but fell silent at Nathaniel’s guttered oath.
“You’re cruel, Corin. You ran me to the ground and caught me. Isn’t that enough? No. You don’t care who you hurt, so long as you aren’t thwarted.” Nathaniel’s voice turned to silk. “Could this be why Miranda runs from you?”
Corin’s face turned white and his slim hands clenched into fists as his eyes flashed in warning. Nathaniel laughed, a fey sound on air suddenly crackling with energy. Taden’s scalp prickled. His hair lifted slightly with the kinetic energy gathering around them as the cousins faced each other, both breathing hard. Fear was a lump in his stomach. He believed that something terrible approached; a peril that couldn’t be recalled once unleashed.

Dianne Hartsock

Monday, March 26, 2012

If you dream it it will come.

A Token of Time came to me partially via a daydream one rainy afternoon and is my first attempt at a non-romantic comedy.  It’s been something I picked up and worked on a little at a time over the years, until an injury a year ago left me dealing with pain and unable to sleep. It was a bit of a dark period for me personally and laughs were in short supply. Ethan without sleep isn’t very funny. Since I was unable to work on my usual shtick yet still had a desire to write, Token became a bit of a savior for me. I was grateful for the much needed distraction.
 The book is first and foremost a fantasy with contemporary, paranormal and historical aspects. I’d probably call it suspenseful before labeling it a mystery, but at the heart of the book, is a story about fate and love and perhaps even redemption. It’s a love story that challenges the constructs of time but my favorite message or theme within its pages is that even after you’ve lost everything, life will find a way to make you whole again.

A Token of Time
Ethan Day

Promotional Blurb:

On the run from his family, Zachary Hamilton was cursed with a gift he neither wanted nor asked for. The recent murder of his lover unleashed a chain of events revealing Zachary's connection to the recently deceased legendary matinee idol, Marc Castle. Attempting to unravel the mystery behind the movie star, Zachary encountered an ancient relic shrouded in history and folklore, leading to a discovery so shocking it altered his very existence – challenging everything Zachary knew to be true – to believe that the impossible, was possible.

The coffee table was cluttered with empty bottles of liquor, an ashtray overflowing with cigarette butts, crumpled fast food bags, wadded up wrappers, and week-old cartons filled with half eaten food that had begun to stink. Zachary rubbed his itchy nose before picking up a cigarette and lighting the tip. Fumbling, he dropped the lighter, watching as it bounced across the hardwood floor.
“Fuck,” he muttered, the cigarette dangling from between his lips.
Listening to the sizzle of burning tobacco as he inhaled, Zachary emptied the last of the liquor into his glass before leaning back into the leather sofa.
The apartment felt as empty as he did. Nick was gone and wouldn’t be coming back. Taking in a sharp breath, the pain cut through his chest and he wiped away the tear running down his cheek.
He flicked the ashes onto the floor.
It is my fault.
Rebecca was right about that. Had Zachary known it would lead to this, he would’ve left Nick behind and never allowed him to become entangled in his family’s twisted bullshit. Nick’s mother, Janet had worked for Zachary’s family so they’d known one another their entire lives – had grown up together.
Nick was a year older and had been straight from the time he’d hit puberty, or so Zachary believed. He’d bedded multiple girls from school and acted as though he’d loved every minute of it. Then Zachary turned sixteen and everything changed.
His life, their lives, hadn’t been the same since.
Zachary stared at his hands, convinced what he could do with them wasn’t worth the price he’d been forced to pay. His gift, this curse which Zachary had never wanted was ironically now the only way for them to be together. Nick could only be found by searching through the past and Zachary’s memories were all that remained.
Zachary pulled himself off the sofa, pausing momentarily until the dizziness subsided. Stumbling over to the fireplace mantle, he grabbed the large manila envelope they’d handed him after being released from the hospital. It held Nick’s personal effects from the day he’d died. Zachary had refused to open it before, but its contents were the things Nick used every day and therefore held the most energy. Zachary needed to see him – to be with him again – if only for a little while.
Ripping open the envelope as he made his way back to the sofa, Zachary removed Nick’s watch from the bag. The glass was scratched and the black leather wrist band was worn in one spot from the buckle. It held no value to anyone other than the sentimental, but for Zachary, it was much more – a gateway to their past.
He shoved some trash out of the way, clearing a spot before placing it gently onto the tabletop, and then reached into the bag, listening to the keys clinking before pulling out the brown wallet. The leather along the sides was worn smooth from the distress achieved by daily, long term use. It was the only one Nick had ever owned.
Zachary held it under his nose and breathed in the scent.
The pain of loss was only manageable because of the booze.
He could feel the tears welling up, placing the wallet next to the watch, followed by Nick’s keys and cell phone. He took one last drag off the cigarette before snuffing it out by jamming it into the overflowing ashtray.
 It wasn’t fair. People shouldn’t be taken away like this.
Nick was only twenty-one, far too young and his life had never really been his own.
Zachary dropped the envelope onto the floor after removing the final item. He rolled the ring between his fingers, thinking it was priceless. Silly considering it was made from some sort of plastic polymer and molded into the shape of a coyote. The animal’s body created the circle, its head resting on the tail.
Glancing at the ring on his finger, which was similar aside from being green and shaped like a lizard, Zachary took another deep breath. He rubbed the tips of his fingers over the textured, rounded surface of Nick’s ring and closed his eyes.
Normally he would concentrate on a specific question that required answering, something which would steer his vision toward a specific time or event in the past. It was the best way to control his psychic ability. This time he didn’t do that – willing to see whatever came to him.
He rid his mind of all other thoughts and concentrated on Nick as the light began to flicker behind his eyes. A blinding stark white light flashed and the vision came slowly into focus. Zachary could feel the smile stretching across his face watching his memories of the past play out like a film inside his head – a movie that only he could see.
He watched silently, transported back in time to the day he and Nick walked through the aisles of the outdoor market – could almost feel it as the backs of their hands brushed together, as if it had only just occurred. They smiled at one another and Zachary was now able to experience how badly Nick had wanted to hold hands in that moment.
Zachary remembered the day – their trek through the desert several months after arriving in New Mexico. Zachary missed living there – they’d been happy for a while, before he’d opened his mouth and ruined everything. He was like a plague on the people who loved him, innocent of any wrong doing yet somehow to blame nevertheless.
Reliving the day from a fly-on-the-wall perspective, Zachary looked on as he and Nick meandered through the market, which had been awful. One of those tourist traps filled with cheap southwestern tchotchkes – the type grandparents enjoyed perusing when purchasing mementos of their vacation or gifts for their grandchildren.
They were both laughing after Nick put on a garish Indian headdress that looked less than authentic with its neon colored dyed feathers.
Nick winked. “Wanna play cowboys and Indians?”
The owner of the store and the other shoppers had begun to watch them as Nick was creating quite a scene – mainly due to the fact Zachary had been unable to stop laughing.
It was the first time they’d been comfortable letting their guard down long enough to simply have fun. They’d been living in New Mexico for almost nine months without incident and had begun to believe themselves safe.
Nick removed the headdress and placed it back on the hook, before moving further down the aisle where he began digging through a plastic bin. He pulled something out of it and smiled,   watching Zachary out of the corner of his eye.
Without warning, Nick thrust his hand in Zachary’s face, smiling like a little boy while proudly displaying his offering.
It intensified Zachary’s sadness, experiencing what Nick had been feeling back then – so light and carefree – the depth of his feelings for Zachary.
“Would you marry me if I spent a whole four dollars and ninety-nine cents on this ring for you?” Nick asked, looking quite serious.
Zachary watched himself grin while staring at the cheesy lizard ring. “How could I say no? Of course, you’d have to wear one as well.”
“I think I’m good without,” Nick said, trying to keep a straight face.
“Well I’m not tainting my hand with this cheese while you get off scot-free.”
He watched himself digging through the same bin, retrieving the coyote ring.
“I’ll wear the coyote ring and you can keep that snazzy lizard for yourself.” Zachary smiled, deciding the brown one wasn’t as noticeable as the lime green colored lizard. He nudged his head down toward Nick’s crotch. “Your lizard’s bigger than mine, so it suits you.”
Nick fell to his knees dramatically, taking Zachary’s hand. “But I picked this out specially for you!”
Zachary was attempting to shush the man who was now yelling loud enough for everyone to overhear, looking on in horror, despite his uncontrollable laughter.
He’d forgotten how big of a ham Nick could be, like the boy had seen one too many Adam Sandler movies and couldn’t resist the occasional juvenile outburst.
“Consider it my lizard’s way of marking its territory.” Nick slipped the hideous thing onto Zachary’s finger before bellowing out in a deep, horribly executed southern accent, “Would you do me the honor of becoming my betrothed?”
Zachary could feel the tears funning down his face witnessing his reaction, doubled over in laughter, attempting to cover Nick’s mouth since he wouldn’t stop yelling out ridiculously corny declarations of love. He wasn’t sure what had gotten into the boy, but everyone was staring at them and looking mostly un-amused.
He’d gotten used to never seeing that side of Nick’s personality after their lives became one long nightmare. It made that particular day seem all the more special to him in retrospect.
Zachary began to distance himself from the vision, unable to handle any more. The happiness he’d experienced at the time brought nothing but pain to him now, knowing they’d never have moments like that again. The picture faded into a flicker and Zachary forced his eyes open, sniffling as his sight turned from the vibrant color of his past to the darkened reality of his present.
Zachary’s lip quivered, trying to hold it all in. He wanted another drink and a cigarette with equal voracity, but remembered he was out of vodka. He then saw the lighter laying well out of reach where he’d dropped it earlier and cursed.
Sinking back into the cushions, he stared off into space realizing this was all that was left. There was no point going on, aside from making sure Rebecca never got what she wanted. Even that couldn’t spark much of a fire in him now.
Zachary slumped over onto his side and curled up into a ball, making himself as small as possible. It was all he could handle, to hide away and attempt to forget he’d once had something special. Nothing could right that wrong and he’d suffer the guilt with every breath for as long as he lived.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cursed balls? *scratching head* Huh?

I think that the funnest part about being an author is that random ideas can be explored to the maximum. That's where The Curse of the Magical Balls comes in. There is nothing quite like walking with your family down the street and laying eyes on a shop that sticks out above the rest. That is what gave me the idea for this book—one flaming pink sign that read Psychic Readings, and underneath that, a magical ball displayed in blue. It's not quite the same as what the sign in my book reads (Magical Balls), but it most certainly caught my attention.

I'm Penelope Rivers and I am the queen of random ideas—at least, I'd like to think so. That's where I came up with the naughty fortune teller that puts curses on people that make them hornier than a bunch of rabbits. My sexy main character, Derrick, is the victim of this curse. There is only one way to quench his desire and that is to have naughty, sexy fun all over again. But that's not all. There must be a dreamy love interest, right?

Peter is his best friend, and a very sexy one at that. When Derrick needs an extra “helping hand,” Peter proves his loyalty by being steadfast at anytime and anywhere: on the beach, in an alley, in the water, on the table, in the kitchen. What a best friend, eh? Together, they must stop the fortune teller who put the curse on Derrick—and have far too much fun in the process.

So that's The Curse of the Magical Balls in a nutshell! As my parting gift—and hopefully you'll consider it a gift and not torture—I've included an excerpt. I hope your days are filled with hot, sexy men, great books, and plenty of dessert!

Thank you, Carson, for letting me be apart of March Magic here at Guys Like Romance too! 


Derrick shuddered and picked at his tomato ravioli. Peter watched him and made a sound out of his throat. Derrick wondered why Peter had his underwear in a twist. He wasn't the one that had been having a problem with his cock. Already, Derrick was so horny again that his body was beginning to hurt.

As the waiter came to deliver water, Derrick noted how fine the waiter's ass was, like two plump cantaloupes squeezing together. Just as he was examining the man's tight ass, Derrick made a sound out of the back of his throat and realized that he was being ridiculous. He was going to have to jack off for the fourth time tonight.

"Again?" one of his friendssaid, as he stood up and shielded himself with his hands. "How much water did you drink today?"

He scowled and then walked away.

When he reached the bathroom, he was relieved that nobody was in there. Last time, a man had been at the urinal, and he had had to stifle his groans as he jacked-off in the stall. It had been embarrassing as hell, especially when he had come with such overwhelming force that he had splattered white ribbons all over the bathroom wall. That was something that he had never done before.

He locked himself inside the only available stall and started to undo his pants. Already, his erection was full mast and was red, swollen, and dripping with pre-cum. He cursed Lucas and then ran his hand down his cock from top to bottom, imaging the way it would feel to fuck the waiter who was probably delivering the table breadsticks. He thought, I wish that he would deliver me his breadstick.

As he ran his hands from base to balls, he moaned. He couldn't help it. He imagined the way the waiter's fine ass looked as he bent over, the way it would feel to watch that waiter's mouth move over his cock, and he started to lose control. Cum spilled from his body, and he could not contain a yelp.This orgasm was much stronger than the last one.

He cleaned his dripping cock and shuddered. This has to do with exploring a new side to your sexuality, he thought. You didn't realize that you were into guys…until now. Unfortunately, he didn't have time to digest this new information. He was too busy getting horny.

A moment later, he stumbled from the bathroom stall and nearly ran straight into Peter, who was standing outside of it with his arms crossed.

"Have fun?" Peter asked, smirking. "And I wondered why the hell you kept disappearing."

Derrick’s face filled with heat. This was more embarrassing than the time that Peter had pulled down his pants in the middle of his seventh grade pool party. On top of that, he knew that Peter was the type of guy who would never let him live this down. He was the class clown, the famous football running back, the guy that everybody knew and talked to. There was no way that he could keep his mouth shut.

"Shut up," Derrick said, still flustered.

"So do you normally jack-off for dessert?" Peter asked. "Or was this a special occasion?"

Derrick was silent for a moment and then said, "Why do you care so much anyway, Peter? Is it normal for you to question a guy about his masturbation habits, or were you just disappointed that I didn't let you watch?"

Instead of retaliating with a jibe, he saw Peter's face grow stony. This was unusual for Peter, Mr. I-can-take-any-joke-and-throw-it-back-in-your-face. Derrick went very still and wondered what he had said wrong. Peter was Mr. Popularity and had had a different girlfriend every day of the week his junior year of high school. There was no way that his comment could have hit too close to home.

"Peter," Derrick said gently, "I'm sorry."

"I have no idea what you're talking about. Why are you apologizing?" Peter said stiffly.

For the first time in his life, Derrick realized something about Peter: the way he looked disappointed and stuck out his bottom lip was positively sexy. His eyes were a dark brown and smoldered without even trying, and he had a pronounced chin and a light beard. He was very masculine and had nice shoulders and a great body from years of athletics.

Wow, thought Derrick, staring at him. Wait. No! No! No! Not Peter. I have no idea what the hell is wrong with me! Why am I thinking like this? But it was too late. The idea of Peter naked, his muscles glistening and gorgeous and tight, caused Derrick’s body to strain at his pants yet again. He felt hot in the face because he saw Peter's eyes drop low as he became engorged.

"Uh," Peter said. "Holy shit. I thought I had problems. How the hell did you not manage to get it up before?”

"It's because – because—" Derrick took a shuddering breath. "I'm going to tell you this because I don't know what else to do, okay? Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I mean that – nothing."

Peter nodded.

"I swear to God, Peter," Derrick said, "tell anybody else, and I will cut off your balls."
Peter grimaced. "Seriously, I won't tell. What's going on?"

Derrick took a deep breath and then released. He let his words out in a hasty sentence. "Earlier with Lucas I discovered that I was actually attracted to men, and he did something to me that is making me horny every five seconds."

After that, he expelled air. Peter stared at him. Derrick half expected him to laugh out-right, but he didn't. Peter didn't look horrified by his words, either. He had half expected Peter to be freaked out by the "I discovered that I was attracted to men" part of his statement. After all, the two of them had slept together in the same bed during slumber parties as children, and they had showered and dressed in front of each other later.

"I knew you were," Peter said after a moment. "Attracted to men, I mean."

"What the hell? No, you didn't. I didn't know. How could you have known?"

Peter shook his head. "The number of times you made comments, how could I have not known? You even had celebrity male crushes. That's why I was giving you so much shit for going out with that bitch."

That chased his breath away. He felt insulted. He wasn't even sure if he was fully gay.Maybe he was bi. He crossed his arms, and visions of sexy naked men danced in his head. His cock went from half-mast to full-salute, and he swore loudly.

Peter was examining him. "Shit."

"Yeah, shit," Derrick said. "I'll be back."

Once again, he retreated back into the toilet stall and tried to calm himself down by reading the writing on the wall. Clark is a bastard, one person had written. Tina is a nosy bitch, wrote someone else. It wasn't working. He could here Peter moving around outside of his stall, and it was making him hornier.

Peter, he thought. Peter with me. He could imagine the way Peter looked without his clothes on because he had seen the image so many times. The two of them had swum together in Peter's pool bare-naked the majority of their lives because that was the way that Peter liked it. He had refused to let Derrick swim in his boxers.

He imagined Peter dripping with water, his cock erect and pointed right at him like the world's sexiest come-hither sign. In response, he shuddered and groaned. Now he was aching again, and he had to reach down and finish himself off. He came on top of the toilet seat, and his cock had barely been flaccid for a moment before it already had the makings of another erection.

This isn't humanly possible, he thought. Outwardly, he groaned.

"You done?" Peter asked him, sounding worried.

"For now, yes," Derrick said.

"There is no way that you can get hard again," Peter said. "That would be an inhuman possibility. Ever heard of sexual exhaustion?"

"I told you," Derrick yelled, whipping around and banging the door open. He left the bathroom stall.

"That guy, Lucas, did something to me. It was like some sort of sex curse or something. I keep getting horny, especially when I see a sexy guy around."

"That is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," Peter said, starting to laugh. "Sorry to break it to you, Derrick, but getting horny doesn't count as a curse. It's just what happens when you find somebody that you think is attractive."

"I've been horny before!" Derrick said. "Just not like this."

Peter continued to laugh, and Derrick crossed his arms, waiting for his next "big adventure." Already, he was getting an erection. He could feel it tickling the inside of his pants. Heat filled his face as he got embarrassed.

Peter laughed as Derrick continued to fantasize about him. At least now that Peter was being a total ass, he could feel less guilty about using him as fodder. He imagined Peter touching himself, Peter getting pouty, Peter being glassy-eyed. He was just getting to the finer points when Peter suddenly discovered something that he thought wasn't all that funny.

"Wait a second. You just said, 'when I see a sexy guy around’," Peter said.

Derrick's eyes widened in horror. He had said that. Peter was putting two and two together.

"When I came in, you went in the stall and jacked off, right?"

Derrick paled and prepared to get punched. "It's not my fault, okay? I'm not in control. Look at me! Look!"

Peter looked down. His erection was raging again, full-mast. Peter's face paled now, too.

"Okay, he did something to you. You just beat my masturbation record. There is no way in hell that you could beat me on a normal day."

Derrick turned red. Before this, he had never masturbated more than twice in a row.

To contact Penelope Rivers

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