Storming Love – Bradley & Mike Out Now!

SLS4_Bradley_and_Mike_Hecht Storming Love – Bradley & Mike

Bradley is just a normal, unassuming man. He works as a banker during the day, then goes home to his dogs and his grandfather. There may be the occasional speed bump since Gramps has several medical conditions that keep him home bound, but that nothing that Bradley can’t manage. It’s not like he even has a social life. Not so soon after breaking up with Mike, the man who Bradley had thought would be the ‘one’. Only to find out that Mike was a jerk.

 

When ex-PJ, Mike finds out that his ex is planning to ride out the upcoming hurricane, he doesn’t know whether to strangle the man or to go help him. In the end, love prevails and Mike rushes to Bradley’s side. Will they survive the hurricane? Or are they doomed?

 

Exerpt:

Chapter One

“Damn it!” Bradley exclaimed, as he hit his finger with the hammer for what had to be the umpteenth time.

Taking off his heavy work gloves, he glanced down to see the damage he’d caused this time. When he saw that it was just a minor injury, he let out a sigh of relief. As it was, he’d already broken one finger and two others were bruised and swollen. Okay, maybe he was exaggerating a bit about the one being broken, but it was a real pretty shade of purple. At least he hadn’t done too much harm to them that he couldn’t use them. He was behind as it was. The hurricane was about to hit within hours and Bradley had a ton left to do.

He still had more than half of the house to finish, too. As such, Bradley needed every bit of his body functional. So, he would have to be more careful with the hammer. The last thing he needed was to hit one of his fingers and really break it. Bradley knew he had to keep moving, hurt or not. Even if he did want to run inside, jump under his blankets and hide for the next day or so. But, as always, that just wasn’t possible.

He, fool that he was, had to step forward and be the only responsible one in their large family. So, while they all ran for the hills whenever there was any sign of trouble, they left Bradley behind to clean up the mess. Which at that moment really sucked since a huge-ass hurricane was coming their way and Bradley felt as if he had a giant bull’s-eye stamped on his back. He just knew it was going to hit them hard and there was little he could do to stop it.

To add even more crap to the pile, Bradley also was the only one who stood up and took care of their sick grandfather. So, while the rest of the family was going to be nice, dry, and comfy, Bradley had no choice but to ride out the storm.

If Bradley didn’t get things prepared he, Gramps, and Snoopy would be flying through the air Dorothy-style. That was something that Bradley didn’t want to happen. Not only was Snoopy too fat to fit into a little basket, but Bradley would never be able to pull off the ruby slippers. Red had never been his color.

“We’re getting ready to go to the shelter. You sure you don’t want to go with us?” his neighbor, Trent, asked, as he walked out of his own house.

Trent was as white-bread as they came. He was married to a beautiful wife, had two kids: one girl, one boy. They went to church every Sunday. Hell, Trent and his son even threw the baseball to each other in the front yard. They were like a Norman Rockwell picture come to life. Only his neighbors were a bit more annoying, because they were perfection come alive and they talked.

If Trent only knew how much that Bradley would love to go to the shelter and ride out the storm there. Not only would it be much safer, but Bradley wouldn’t be alone and have to be in charge of other’s lives. As it stood, he was going to have to face the hurricane in his house that had been built years ago. Plus, he had to take care of his ailing grandfather, who could be as mean as a one-eyed rattlesnake, and Bradley’s dog Snoopy. While Snoopy may be big, fat, and ugly, Bradley loved that thing and he couldn’t bear to leave him behind. If there was any flooding, there was no way Snoopy could swim to safety. He would just sink to the bottom, with that same dumb look that was on his face. The one that was a combination of “feed me” mixed in with “I love my human.”

“The shelter said no pets allowed. I don’t want to leave Snoopy,” Bradley said, before he took off his hat and wiped the sweat away with the back of his hand.

“It’s stupid to die, just because of a dog,” Trent pointed out.

“Not to me. I love that guy too much.”

Trent let out a sigh. “He’s a dog, not your lover.”

Bradley barely refrained from gasping. How could Trent be so cruel? Didn’t he understand how much somebody could love their pets? Probably not. He was too busy trying to project the image of the perfect husband and father to worry about that. Bradley could just imagine Trent standing in front of the mirror, perfecting his facial expression, to see what would make the best impression.

“Well, I’m still staying with Snoopy,” Bradley replied calmly, trying really hard not to let his anger show.

“Fine, but you do know that if you run into trouble that police and fire have said that they aren’t sending out anybody until the storm is over? So, you’ll be on your own. Once that hurricane hits us, there’s no changing your mind,” Trent said.

Bradley let out a sigh. “It’s just not Snoopy; I can’t move my grandfather, either.”

“Why don’t you just toss him in a wheelchair and go?” Trent asked.

Yeah, Trent was just a treasure’s trove of compassion. Maybe they weren’t as Norman Rockwell as Bradley had previously thought. The more Trent talked the more he was beginning to sound like a would-be serial killer. All that was missing was Trent wetting the bed and starting fires and then the trifecta would be there. Of course, Trent could be peeing the bed and his wife just hiding the sheets, so nobody ever found out.

Bradley ran his hand through his hair as he tried to think of a good answer. One that wouldn’t get him killed and buried in a shallow grave. “I wish I could, but with all the chemo, his immune system is so weak that he can’t be around that many people. If he gets any bug or virus, it could kill him.”

“Shit, I guess you are stuck. I’m sorry there, buddy. I’d stay behind and help you, but I’ve got my wife and kids that I have to look out for. The weather station said that this is going to be one hell of a hurricane, so I don’t know how crazy things are going to get.”

Bradley was touched by his neighbor’s concern; maybe the guy did have some empathy after all and Bradley had jumped to the wrong conclusion about his neighbor. But Trent was right; he did have his own family to consider. “Go ahead. We’ll be fine. Even if my grandfather wasn’t senile, he would still insist on riding this one out.”

“Even though this is supposed to be a category four hurricane? This isn’t your everyday normal storm.”

“That would make him all the more eager. He used to always love to do crazy stuff like that. Do you know he bungee jumped and parachuted out of an airplane? For fun. Not because he had to. Hell, he even paid them for the honor. Before he got cancer he was planning on trying to climb Everest.”

That made it even harder to see his grandfather in the condition that he was currently in. Nothing was sadder than having to see a loved one fade away and become a shadow of what they used to be. It was a million times harder to handle, watching them die, only the death was stretched out over years.

“I wish you luck. I would stay and help you out some, but I have to go and pick up my family,” Trent said. “I hope you make it out of this okay. If you don’t, can I have your car?”

Okay, so maybe Trent was a little off after all. Bradley made a note to have a very good security system installed in their home when the hurricane was over.

“We’ll be fine. My grandfather is too grumpy to die just yet.”

At least Bradley hoped they would be okay. As it was, it was beginning to rain and the winds were picking up. Bradley knew he didn’t have much time to finish prepping the house. Trent drove off, then Bradley got back to work. It seemed to take forever, plus he had push back his fear of heights, but he managed to get all the windows covered.

Bradley was climbing down the ladder, when he saw a truck pulling into his driveway. As soon as he saw the familiar red vehicle, Bradley let out a curse. Of course, Mike would have to pick this moment to show up. As if Bradley didn’t have enough on his plate as it was. Now he was going to have to deal with his ex, too. Damn, damn, damn! With the way things were going Bradley wouldn’t be surprised if a zap of lighting came down from the sky and hit his ass. But, then again that may be a good thing, because then he wouldn’t have to deal with Mike.

Try as he may, Bradley still had strong emotions for Mike. The pain of Mike turning his back on Bradley was still raw and fresh. So much so that Bradley could barely look at the other man, for fear of breaking down. Even though they had been apart for just over a year.

Mike climbed out of truck. Damn it, why did he have to still look so good? It would have been such poetic justice if Mike had gotten fat with a face covered with pimples. But Bradley knew that would never happen and he was right, Mike still looked as good as ever. With a muscular body that just begged to be licked, dark hair, and piercing blue eyes, he still made Bradley’s breath quicken. Even though Bradley wanted to hate Mike, he couldn’t stop himself from getting hard from just looking at the man.

“What are you doing here?” Bradley snapped as he went to the garage and put the tools up. Just because his dick could be forgiving didn’t mean the rest of him followed along with that plan.

“I wanted to check on you and make sure that you got to a shelter.”

“Why would you care?”

“Because I’ve heard some crazy rumor that you actually are thinking about trying to ride out this storm.”

Bradley whipped off his gloves and instantly winced when pain shot through his injured fingers.Nice move, dumbass. Why don’t you just get the hammer out and have a go at all of them right in front of Mike. That way your humiliation could be complete. Bradley wondered to himself why he was always making himself look like a fool in front of Mike. It had been that way when they’d been dating, too. If there had been a crack in the sidewalk, Bradley would find it and trip over it. If somebody accidentally knocked over their drinking glass while at a restaurant, it was always him. Bradley also had the uncanny ability to call others by the wrong name. He tried as hard as he could, but he couldn’t seem to keep track of all of Mike’s friends. No doubt Mike had been so relieved when they had parted, he’d probably been glad to wash himself clean of Bradley and his clumsy ways.

Mike’s gaze honed in on Bradley’s bandaged fingers. “You used a hammer didn’t you?”

“Well, I had no choice. Somebody had to cover all the windows. So, if something hit them during the hurricane we didn’t have all kinds of crap flying into our living room.”

“How are your grandfather and Snoopy doing?”

Funny how it touched Bradley so much that somebody actually showed that they cared a damn about him, even if it was his ex. The ex who had broken Bradley’s heart just a year ago.

“Snoopy is great. It’s my grandfather that I’m worried about. He’s so bad that he’s bedridden now and has to have his meds at certain times around the clock. To make matters worse, I think he may be starting to developing Alzheimer’s. He likes to wander at night. It’s gotten to the point to where I have to use restraints, so he doesn’t go outside and get lost. Do you have any idea how hard it is to do that night after night? I can’t get any sleep because I’m afraid that he’ll manage to get free and I can’t sleep during the day, because I have to work and take care of him, because the day nurse just isn’t doing enough.”

Bradley realized that he’d just admitted to somebody all that was going on in his life. And that somebody just happened to be his ex whom Bradley hated and was angry with, too. But, it had felt so cathartic to unload on somebody. Bradley even felt some of the weight lift off his shoulders.

“Fine, but I’m staying with you,” Mike said.

“What?” Bradley was tempted to rattle his head around to make sure that nothing was blocking his ears.

“I’m not letting you do this by yourself. You’re going to need all the help you can get, so you better take it, even if it’s from me.”

“I’d rather die than spend ten minutes in your company,” Bradley said with a growl.

“That’s about how long you’re going to live if you don’t let me stay,” Mike shot back.

“Since when have you given two shits about me?”

Bradley glanced down at the ground, so Mike wouldn’t see all the emotions that were playing out on his face. Out of all the men…all right, make it a few… men that Bradley had ever dated, none of them had the power to play with Bradley’s feelings like Mike did.

“That’s not fair,” Mike countered. “I had my reasons for letting you move on.”

“You mean the reasons that you refused to share with me?”

Mike kicked at a rock on the ground. “Look, we’re going to have plenty of time to talk about that, later. Let’s just finish getting your house as ready as it can be. As it is, we’ll be lucky if the old thing doesn’t fall down around us as soon as the hurricane hits.”

Since Bradley knew that Mike was right, he gave him a curt nod and got back to work. Most of which consisted of Mike redoing the wood that covered the windows. Okay, Bradley wasn’t exactly a carpenter, kill him. Still, Bradley hadn’t done that bad of a job that Mike had to redo it all…had he?

Bradley looked down on the ground to see the comically small amount of sandbags he’d surrounded the house with. He had wanted to put up a ton more, but that had been all he’d been able to find. The entire town had been stripped clean of hurricane survival items. As it was, Bradley had to get into a tug-of-war for one bag with an elderly lady. Bradley had eventually won that battle, but not before she’d gave him a good dozen wallops with her purse. They had hurt, too.

“How was your last deployment?” Bradley asked.

Mike was a Pararescuer for the Air Force, or a PJ as they were more commonly known as. Since they were among the first on the ground after an attack, their job was very dangerous and they suffered both higher losses and injuries in their own ranks. As such, the training was as rigorous as any Green Beret or SEAL. The bad thing is there were only so many PJs to go around, so they were deployed more often than most units.

“It sucked. I took a bullet to the leg,” Mike said.

A wave of worry went through Bradley. “Oh my God, that must have hurt like a bitch. Are you going to be okay?”

“Yeah, they had to reconstruct the whole thing, but at least I didn’t lose it. But it was bad enough to make it so that I’m unfit to ever serve again.”

Bradley felt as if somebody had come over then punched him in the gut. Which was odd since he was supposed to hate Mike. “I’m so sorry. I know how much being a PJ meant to you.”

“Yeah, I’ll just have to find a new job. Maybe one of the EMT crews needs another man. Hopefully they’ll still take me, even with my leg issue. I only have a small limp from it. It’s at night when it’s a bitch. Then it hurts like hell. My doctor says it’s because I don’t rest it enough, but you know me. I’m not the sit around and watch the world go by kind of guy.”

“No, that’s never been you and I don’t think that this wound will ever slow you down,” Bradley said.

The entire time Mike was talking he was rubbing at his right leg. He was doing it in such an absent manner that it made Bradley wonder if Mike was aware of the fact that he was doing it at all. It could, also, just be that Mike still had lingering pain there and was rubbing out the hurt.

“You’d make a great paramedic. I know that I’d feel a lot better if I knew that you were out there protecting me,” Bradley said.

The wind began to pick up more, blowing their hair and bits of debris into their faces. When part of a bush nearly decapitated Bradley, he knew that they had to get inside, quick. He, also, knew that the elderly woman who lived across the street was going to be good and pissed. She’d always babied that thing, pruning it every day. There were times when Bradley swore he even heard her talking to it.

“Thanks for the words of reassurance.” Mike looked up and squinted into the light. “I guess it was only a matter of time before they got me. I was on my fifth deployment. If you stop to think about it, I was lucky that I made it out alive. The odds weren’t exactly stacked in my favor.”

“Still, I know it’s been your dream since you’ve been a kid.”

Mike gave Bradley a jaded look. “I learned a long time ago that we always don’t get what we want out of life.”

Another gust of wind blew. This one was so hard that Bradley was almost knocked off his feet. He must have slipped a couple of inches, because Mike reached out and grabbed Bradley’s shoulder to steady him. Great! Not only did Mike have to redo all of Bradley’s work on the windows, but he had to save Bradley from blowing away. Bradley was beginning to think that he was playing the damsel in distress role, which pissed him off. He may be tall and skinny, but he was still a man and he could take care of himself, damn it!

“Well, at least it looks like you’re going to get one of your classic order-Bradley-around anyway. There is no way you can drive in these conditions,” Bradley said, having to raise his voice to be heard. “We better get inside and get everything ready there.”

They both ran up the stairs of the porch then went inside the house. As soon as he shut the door, the first thing Bradley realized was how quiet it was. Without the wind whirling around him, the inside seemed almost deafening. It had such an eerie effect on Bradley that a shiver ran up his spine.

“Brady boy, is that you? I need you to come help me. I need to change the channel off this woman talk show crap and put the game on instead,” his grandpa yelled. “If I have to watch one more commercial about feminine protection, I’m going to throw something at the TV.”

Well the silence was over. It had been so nice while it lasted. Bradley let out a sigh. He knew that he was going to have to move his grandfather upstairs soon and the old man was going to be a terror the entire time. If there was one thing his grandpa didn’t like was to be carried. Most likely because it reminded him of how sick he was.

“Come with me. You can be a witness to my grandfather’s joy when he finds out that we’re going to have to move him,” Bradley said with a falsely sweet voice.

“Why don’t I trust you? This reeks of a setup,” Mike counted as he narrowed his eyes.

“Probably because it is.”

Bradley decided it would give Mike a little taste of what he’d had put off for the past year. While Mike may have been doing a noble job and fighting for his county, Bradley had been alone had been fighting a battle of his own back home. Both jobs were terrible in different ways and they left scars, be it on the outside or on the inside.

“You do have to admit, I owe you one. You broke up with me via text. That was a low blow there.”

“I just couldn’t say it to your face,” Mike said as he ducked his head and looked down at his boots.

“Yeah, well we’re going to be together for several hours. That will leave you plenty of time to explain everything to me,” Bradley warned.

Bradley meant it, too. Before the hurricane was over, he would finally have all the answers that he deserved.

 

Kiplin’s Coming Out out now!

Kiplins coming outKiplin’s Coming Out

Lost Shifter Series #31

Blurb:

Sometimes what we present to the world is an illusion. That is until everything around you comes crashing down and the real you is revealed. Then, all you have is love to protect you.

After years of being raised by a strict, by-the-law aunt, Kiplin is now free, and he’s ready to let his Cougar out to party. That is until he finds out that he has a brother that was one of the Lost Shifters and the guy is as straitlaced as they come.

After finding out a troubling secret about his own pack, Panther shifter Brody runs to his cousin North for help. Not only does North give him sanctuary, but he also finds him a place to work within the new coalition in the IT department. Then one day, Brody sees Kiplin, and there is an instant connection between the two, which is crazy, because the two of them couldn’t be more different. Brody likes to play it safe, whereas Kiplin likes to live things fast and crazy.

Will the two of them be able to overcome their differences? Or are they too different to find true love?

 

Excerpt: Kiplin was relaxing on his couch, watching his favorite show, Steve Wilkos—not that anybody needed to know that—when there was a knock on his door. Kiplin let out an aggravated sigh. Just when they were about to get to the lie detector test results, too. Now, he was never going to know who the baby’s daddy was or if either of the guys had been cheating on his girlfriend. Turning off the television, Kiplin growled in frustration then went to the door.

Upon ripping it open, he found himself face to face with one of Mitchell’s secretaries. Great! Things just kept getting better and better. As usual, the secretary looked Kiplin up and down before giving a frown. Kiplin just rolled his eyes in response. He’d long ago gotten used to the disapproving stares. In fact, if a day went by where he didn’t get a sideways glance from somebody, Kiplin was surprised. Kiplin knew he was the square penny in the coin collection, and he wore it proudly.

So what if Kiplin preferred not to wear his hair in a crew cut like most of the other soldiers? He preferred to style his blond hair in a faux-hawk. As for the numerous piercings on Kiplin, they weren’t hurting anybody but Kiplin. Plus, if Mr.-Stick-Up-the-Ass really wanted a show, then Kiplin would strip down and show him all of his hardware. If there was a part of Kiplin that was piercable, then Kiplin had pierced it. The poor stiff would probably pass out from shock if he knew of it all.

“Mitchell…wants…wants to see you,” the uptight stiff stammered.

Shit! This cannot be good. Kiplin went through his mind, trying to figure out what he could have done to get him in the hot seat this time. He came up with a ton of reasons. Most of which would end up with him doing extra guard duty. In fact, if Mitchell wanted to, he could sentence Kiplin to the guard shack for the rest of Kiplin’s life.

Kiplin didn’t do well when he had nothing but idle time to occupy him. The last time he was put on guard duty, he ended up blowing up the shack and killing two Mouse shifters in the process. But the latter wasn’t really his fault. How was he to know that they had built a nest under one of the coalition buildings? As far as Kiplin knew, cats and mice never got along, so they had no business being there anyway.

As for blowing up the shack, Kiplin had been amping up some fireworks for last year’s Fourth of July. Things just happened to get away from him, and he lost control of the situation. Something that seemed to happen a lot with him.

Knowing that there was no way of putting off the inevitable, Kiplin started out the door. Just for shits and giggles, he made sure to get into the secretary’s personal space. Kiplin might be following orders, but he wasn’t about to make it easy for anyone. The secretary backed up so fast it was a wonder that he didn’t leave a crack in the wall.

Kiplin paused and put on an exaggerated, shocked expression. “You’re not afraid of me? Are you?”

“Well, you have to admit, you have a bit of a reputation.”

That was something that Kiplin couldn’t even begin to argue with. Not only did he have a penchant for pissing people off with his fuck-you attitude, but he also was a bit of a dirty fighter. Okay, he was a full-out dirty fighter. Whenever his team went out on a mission, Kiplin would do anything to take an enemy down—spit in their face, head butt them, attack them from behind…nothing was off limits as far as Kiplin was concerned.

What confused him was why more of the soldiers didn’t have his attitude. They were in a fucking war, and all they cared about was battle etiquette? In the beginning, Kiplin felt for sure that they would eventually see the writing on the wall and come around to his way of thinking. But to his surprise, they never did.

Kiplin gave a slight shake of his head as he began to lead the way to Mitchell’s office. The secretary tried to scurry ahead of Kiplin to lead the way. That just made Kiplin laugh. “Don’t worry. I know my way there. This isn’t my first trip to the boss’ cave. In fact, you could say it’s a weekly tradition. Which reminds me, he’s never sent you to get me, so you must be new. What’s your name?”

“Alman,” the secretary said in a low voice.

“How did you come to be at this coalition?”

The secretary was obviously a runt. He was so small and thin that it looked as if Kiplin could blow him over with one huff of his breath. He had blond hair that was styled a la Richie Cunningham style. Shit, the guy was even dressed like a dork; he had a solid red button-up shirt with a pair of dress pants. Dear God, the guy even wore loafers.

“I was one of the Lost Shifters. They just found me when I transformed during school and freaked everyone out,” Alman said.

“Let me guess, the class was accounting?”

Alman’s eyes grew wide. “How did you know about that?”

Kiplin sighed. “Just a lucky guess.”

Note to Readers

Dear Readers:

I am sorry that I haven’t had a new release lately. I had the best intentions of keeping my regular deadlines, as I treasure each and every one of you. However, I was ordered by several doctors and practitioners that I need to slow down for a while. That doesn’t mean you won’t be seeing any books in the near future. It just mean, that for a while, the pace will slow down a bit.

With all my love,
Stephani

Warlock Unbound Out Now!

warlock unbound Warlock Unbound

Detroit City Warlocks #2

Can one Andor help his mate embrace the future or will Lucas be forever trapped by his past?

 

While Andor loves working for the Warlock resistance as a doctor, he always felt that there has been something missing in his life. Then as he watch his brother and his mate, Andor realizes what it is, he’s missing his other half. But, when and where will he find him?

 

Lucas has been locked up in the Warlock rehabilitation camps since he was fifteen. That was the age when he lost control of his magic and accidently killed his own family. Ever since then he’s been a pariah in his own community and feared by humans. Finally, after seven years, Lucas has enough of the hate and he manages to escape and is rescued by members of the resistance.

 

Andor has heard of Lucas’ past. Yet, he can’t help but feel an attraction to the other Warlock. Will Lucas finally be able to open himself enough to embrace the future? Or will Lucas continue to let his past haunt him, thus taking away any chance of a HEA?

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Pain or hunger-which one was worse? Lucas often asked himself that question as he lay rotting away in the Warlock Internment Camp. Not that the answer mattered anyway, because he didn’t see himself getting any relief from either any time soon.

He’d been there since he was fifteen. Ten whole years of hell and yet he had been denied the welcoming hands of death. After all, he knew he deserved it. In fact, when they had first captured him, they should have offed him right on the spot. It would have made things easier on him. Then he wouldn’t have to live with the relentless guilt.

Lucas was slouched against a rusted out toolshed, although the building didn’t hold any tools. He gazed out at the camp. It was overcrowded with warlocks and witches, all wearing the same kinds of ragged clothing as Lucas wore. Luckily, Lucas’ garment covered all his private parts and he still had shoes. That was because the others were afraid to get too close to him.

The ground at the camp didn’t boast a speck of grass. All there was to be seen was mud, sand and waste. The smell was bad, or rather Lucas assumed it was. After being there so long, he’d become accustomed to the scent.

His friend, Charlie, shuffled over and slid down so he was sitting next to Lucas. As Lucas gazed at Charlie, the warlock’s heart broke. He and Charlie had been friends from birth. Charlie was the only one who had not turned his back on him, so it hurt to see him in such a sad state.

Charlie’s short, beautiful, golden hair was now a gray matted mess that went past his shoulders. His sparking blue eyes were dull and full of hopelessness. The only clothing he wore was a pair of stained jeans so thin that they were literally falling apart and the red t-shirt he had on was in no better condition.

That wasn’t the worst thing, though. That prize went to how emaciated Charlie was. He was so thin that it was a wonder he could even stand, much less walk. Charlie had a large tear in one side of his shirt, and Lucas could see every bone on Charlie’s ribcage. The warlock’s face had sunken in so much that his eyes looked overlarge and his teeth seemed to be protruding from his face.

“How are you feeling?” Charlie inquired, his voice coming out raspy and wheezy.

“I should be the one asking you that question,” Lucas replied. He reached over and felt Charlie’s forehead. “You’re burning up.”

“Yeah, I feel like shit. I don’t think that I’ll be here on Earth much longer. Hopefully, the Mother Goddess hasn’t completely forgotten us and she’ll still accept my soul and not leave me in limbo.”

Lucas had stopped believing in the Goddess the day his parents had died. What had happened that night defied all common sense and should have never gone down. He didn’t say anything, for he’d long come to the conclusion that the Goddess had forsaken him. Otherwise, why would she have stripped the witches of all their powers and let all of them who came from a magical family be rounded up? No, not rounded up, but thrown in these pits where they were slowly starved to death. No so-called Goddess that Lucas was raised to believe in would ever do that.

“Have you gone to the infirmary yet?” Lucas asked.

Charlie gave him a droll stare. “We both know that wouldn’t work. Not only do they not have any medicine anymore, but if the guards were to find out I was sick, they would just shoot me on the spot.”

Lucas had a sick feeling in his stomach. He hated to admit it, but Charlie was right. The guards claimed it was to prevent disease from running through the camp. Lucas didn’t believe it for one damn minute. It was just an excuse for them to rid themselves of a few more warlocks or witches.

“Okay, no infirmary, but I want you to stick as close as you can to me. Something big is about to happen,” Lucas said.

“What?”

“I don’t know for certain. The bands on my wrists still block my magic enough so I can’t get a clear grasp on it. I just know that it’s going to happen soon and it’s going to change both of our lives.”

Charlie sat up a bit straighter. “Will the change be for the better or worse?”

“I could be wrong, but something tells me that it will good for us, but like I said, things are a bit hazy.”

Charlie let out a frustrated grunt. “I wish I still had my powers like you do.”

“No, you don’t. It’s because of my strong powers that I lost my parents. It’s more of a curse than a gift. People stare at me like I’m a monster. Do you know that you’re the only one who will even come near me? Everybody else treats me like I have the plague or something.”

“It could be because you stink so much. After all, you haven’t taken a shower in ten years.”

Lucas gave a shrug. “That could be true. You’ve only been here for two years, so you must smell like roses compared to me.”

“I hate to break it to you, but we all smell the same-like death, B.O., pus and mud. I don’t think we can get any lower.”

Lucas struggled to his feet. “Well, you better get ready, because my premonition is about to go down, now!”

“How do you know?” Charlie asked, struggling to stand as well.

“I just do.”

Lucas grabbed Charlie by the cuff of his shirt and dragged him in the tool shed. It wasn’t the most ideal place for cover, but it was something. No sooner had they jumped inside than a blast of magic hit the area they had been sitting, leaving behind a large, dark spot.

“Fuck,” Charlie whispered quietly.

The fact that he didn’t cry out was a telling point of Charlie’s ability to survive. After all, it had taken them a lot longer to catch Charlie than it had Lucas. It was a joke between Lucas and Charlie that the warlock had the survival skills of a cockroach. Nothing could take him down. Or rather, Lucas hoped so.

There were several large explosions, then the whistling sound of exchanging fires of magic filled the air. Lucas could hear the screams of both men and woman as they died or were injured. Tendrils of smoke began to fill the shed, letting Lucas know that there was at least one huge fire somewhere in the camp.

“What’s going on?” Charlie asked.

Wanting to know the answer to that question himself, Lucas peeked out of the shed. What he saw nearly drove him to the knees. Other warlocks were there, but they weren’t in chains and they obviously didn’t work for the government, either. They wore a uniform of sorts, but Lucas had never seen it before.

Lucas told Charlie what he saw, and Charlie gasped. “That’s the resistance. They’ve come here to free us.”

“Why would they do that?” Lucas asked bitterly. “It’s not like any of us are in any condition to fight for them.”

“Has it every occurred to you that they might be doing it because they don’t want to do nothing while their fellow warlocks suffer?”

“And when is it going to occur to you that nobody cares for us. We’ve been sent here to die, and that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”

“I hate to break it to you, but that’s exactly what they’re doing,” Charlie retorted.

No more words were exchanged as they continued to hide out in their ragtag shelter. A few times, there were some close calls as magic flashes zapped through their shed; they made sure to keep their heads low. But even doing that didn’t make Lucas feel safe by any means.

Lucas felt a moment of joy when he realized that the resistance was winning. Slowly but surely, they had picked off the guards until there were only a few left. Then Lucas’ happiness turned to horror when the handful of guards who remained began to shoot at the prisoners! They didn’t care that the resistance was still coming for them, and they were going to die. They were determined that the prisoners were going to go down with them.

When Grandmother Lynn was hit by one of those bullets, Lucas had to put a hand over his own mouth to hold in the cries of despair. Not that she was his grandmother or anybody else’s for that matter. She had always been so kind and loving. There were many times when she had shared her meager food with somebody who would have died otherwise. Now she was lying on the filthy ground, a large burn hole in her stomach, wearing nothing but rags, her long gray hair fluttering in the smoke-filled air.

“Who is it? Who just got killed?” Charlie asked in a low whisper.

“Grandmother Lynn,” Lucas replied in like tone.

“No.” Charlie let out a soft moan.

Lucas wanted to bang against the walls. To go out there, rip off his cuffs and show those cowardly warlock guards what pain really was. No, better yet, he didn’t want to use magic at all because they didn’t deserve to go out that way. Lucas would kill them with his bare hands. He would pin them to the ground and strangle the bastards, for Grandmother Lynn, for his parents, for the family members that he’d lost.

For the first time in his life, Lucas didn’t fear. He only felt anger or despair. He felt downright rage. Most of all, he wanted vengeance. He wanted it so bad that he was willing to do anything to get it. Even if that meant that he had to die in the process, those that oppressed warlocks and witches would feel the price of pain.

Charlie grabbed Lucas by the front of his shirt and then rolled back to the ground. To Lucas’ horror, there was a huge scorch mark where he’d just been standing. Damn! Lucas should have been paying more attention. Now that Charlie had saved his life, Lucas would never hear the end of it.

“You need to be more careful,” Charlie warned. “The resistance is going to want you more than all of us put together.”

Lucas made a raspberry sound at his friend. Charlie rolled his eyes.

“Very mature of you,” Charlie snapped. “But we both know I’m right. The resistance will be happy to have you on their side. You and I both know it.”

“Yeah, right, and one day Mathias will be able to conduct a successful spell.”

Charlie put his hands on his hips. “That’s not even fair. Mathias hasn’t been able to do any training for a year because he’s in here. Now, stop trying to dodge the question and tell me what your problem is really. What is it that you don’t want the resistance to know about you?”

Lucas turned on Charlie. “You know well and good why they don’t want me. In fact, I’ll be lucky if they don’t kill me on the spot.”

“But it was an accident. Surely, they’ll believe that.”

Lucas gave Charlie a jaded look. “It’s pretty hard to explain why you exploded your own home while your parents were in it.”

“Your powers manifested too early, and they were huge. Nobody could have planned for, or expected, that.”

Lucas closed his eyes as he recalled that night. How he’d just stood there in the rubble, shocked, scared and amazed at what he’d just done. No warlock should have been capable of pulling off the trick he’d done. Yet he had, and he’d killed his parents in the process.

Before Lucas had known it, he was captured by the humans. They had thrown a pair of shackles on him to suppress his magic and then thrown him in the camp, where he still lived today.

But as always, word traveled fast amongst the magic community, and soon everybody had known what Lucas did. They called him all kinds of names-monster, murderer, evil, wicked, or crazy. It was the last one that really got to him, because Lucas was as sane as any one of them. He was just a poor sap who had gained his full magical abilities too soon and didn’t know how to control them.

Silence now fell over the camp. Being the nosey posey that he was, Lucas peered out of the side of the shed. He was relieved to see that all the guards were dead and the only people standing were from the resistance. Now, all Lucas had to do was hope that the rumors were true and the resistance was really made up of the good guys.

A tall, muscular man with short dark hair and brown eyes was walking toward their hiding spot. Lucas wanted to call out a warning, but for some reason, he found that he couldn’t speak anymore. He was too mesmerized with the warlock in front of him to do anything but stand and stare.

Warlock-Ha! The man looked more like a warrior or a gladiator or something. He had perfect pecs, tight abs, and his arms were so large that they could easily break Lucas in two if the he had a mind to.

Finally, the warlock approached Lucas, and there was no more chance to run away. Although, Lucas doubted they would have gotten far had they tried to in the first place.

“I’m Andor, and we’re here to rescue you,” the warlock said in a warm voice.

“I’m Lucas, but if you’re taking people out, I’d much rather you take my friend Charlie first. He’s way worse off than I am.”

Andor smiled. “There aren’t too many left that would give up their well-being for another. I think we’re going to get along just fine.”

Taming an Owl Out Now!

Taming an Owl

Taming an Owl

Flushing Owl Book 2

Sometimes your past has a way of catching up with you, even if you don’t know what said past may be.
When Gene was freed from prison, he was more than happy to join Austin’s Owl Parliament. After all, Gene’s childhood family had exiled him and turned their backs, leaving Gene nowhere to go. He was a nobody. A floater. Just a whisper in the wind.
Ever since Gene joined the  Parliament, Leon finds he is drawn to the newcomer. But there are just a few problems, as Gene is smart-mouthed, snarky, cocky, never listens to orders, and has more attitude than a four-year-old who has been denied his candy.
Then an unexpected threat comes from Gene’s past and threatens his life. Will Leon be able to save him? If so, will he be able to overcome all his fears in order to claim Gene as his?

Excerpt:

Gene went into the bathroom, then came out a few moments later. While he appeared to be wearing the same clothing, Gene knew that damn green thong was on underneath it all. It both turned Leon on and angered him at the same time. For some reason, he felt that he should be the only one to see Gene’s body, not a bunch of nameless, horny men who were waving dollar bills around.

Gene grabbed his backpack and stuffed his book in it. “That should about do it. They said I get a free lunch and that they’ll grease me up once I’m there.”

Leon balled his hands into tight fists. He. Would. Not. Kill. He’d promised Austin that he’d keep hold of his temper after the last incident, when some jerk frat boy had dared to mouth off to Leon. Leon still didn’t know what the big deal was. All he’d done was taken out his knife and slash all the guy’s tires. The asshole hadn’t even gotten out of his car, so there wasn’t any real confrontation. So, in Leon’s opinion, the whole thing had been way overblown.

Besides, he reminded himself once again, it wasn’t as if Gene was his. That meant that Leon didn’t own him or anything. So Gene could run naked through the streets and Leon would have no say in it.

“Okay then. Let’s go,” Leon said.

Gene gaped at him. “You were actually serious when you said you were going to come and watch over me?”

“You bet.”

“Why? I’m going to be in the cage the entire time. How much safer can I be?”

“You still have to walk to and from there. I’m pretty sure this bar isn’t in the best of neighborhoods.”

Gene crossed his arms over his chest. “I can take care of myself.”

“Sure, that’s why you were captured and kept in a cell for five years.”

That comment got Leon a dirty look.

“Low blow,” Gene snapped. “Besides, when they caught me, I was way outnumbered. There was no way I could have fought them all off. Not even you would have been capable, and you fight like a fricking superhero.”

Leon couldn’t help but smile at the comment. “You think that much about my fighting skills?”

Gene let out a huff. “Come on. Like you don’t know you fight better than Arnold, Seagal, and Van Damme combined. You just want to hear me say it, so I can inflate that already mega ego of yours.”

Now it was Leon’s turn to gape. “I don’t have an ego.”

“Please, your ego is so huge I’m surprised there’s room for the rest of us in the house.”

And that was the crux of Leon’s problem. He didn’t know whether to strangle Gene or kiss him. He did know one thing, he’d better figure it out fast, or he was going to go crazy. This little menace was beginning to occupy all of Leon’s thoughts. Since Leon was the head of the Parliament’s security, that was not a good thing. If Leon had one little slip up, it could affect the whole group.

Letting out a small growl, Leon said, “Let’s just get going.”