Thursday, July 23, 2015

New Release: Arcadian Nights (Olympians 3)


Hermes has been given one task by Aphrodite—keep an eye on Eris at her son’s wedding. The last time the beautiful goddess of discord attended a wedding, the Trojan War was the result. Hermes doesn’t think he has much to worry about until she takes offense at being watched and decides to teach him a lesson with a lust spell in the middle of the reception. Convinced she is not as cold and aloof as she pretends to be, he sets out to seduce her instead, starting them both on an erotic path of discovery that will teach them both lessons they won’t soon forget.


After taking a walk and a quick dip in the stream, Hermes decided to chance returning to the wedding reception. At least he could say good-bye to his fellow messenger.
Iris stood watching Eros wipe cake off his jacket. She smiled at Hermes as he approached.
“Having even the slightest bit of fun yet?” she asked playfully.
Since the couple seemed oblivious to the commotion, he decided not to say anything. “It’s been the most interesting day in a very long time, I can assure you.”
Iris narrowed her eyes, but before she could say anything, Hera came bounding up to them.
“You naughty boy!” She slapped Hermes on the ass.
He tried to maintain his composure, but didn’t pull it off. “You have something to say, my queen?”
Hera convulsed with laughter. “I knew you had it in you. Did the nuptial blessings bring it out or what?”
Eros and Iris stood looking back and forth between the two of them.
“Did you have sex at my reception? Seriously?” Eros asked, on the verge of joining in with Hera’s laughter. “Can’t say I object, but I thought you came out of social obligation, not to get laid.”
Hermes sighed. “Who told you and why?”
“Ares stormed off. He bumped into me and told me I better find a new messenger for Zeus because he was going to have your head on a pike.”
Iris’ eyes went wide. “You and Aphrodite? So that’s why she hasn’t been bothering us the last twenty minutes!”
Hermes looked at Hera. “This is serious. Eris put a spell on me.” He showed the three of them his arm.
They leaned forward and unison. Iris and Hera both said, “Oh.”
Eros groaned. “That conniving bitch!”
“So she turned you into a stud or what?” Hera looked him over. “You do look a bit spent.”
“This isn’t the best place to discuss this.”
Eros nodded. “You two go on. No one seems to be taking notice of us. I don’t think anyone else saw anything. Just go. You can tell us later.”
Hermes and Hera glanced around, and then began walking toward the woods.
“So, tell me what she said to you,” Hera said.
“She was offended because I was keeping an eye on her. Aphrodite didn’t dare not invite her, so she needed someone to watch her. Eris kept commenting on my lack of emotion and said she wanted to see me riled up. Then she touched me, and from that moment all I wanted to do was—”
“Shag her silly! Oh my gods! I’m sorry, but you have to admit it’s funny.”
Hermes sighed. “Nothing really happened, but it did disrupt the wedding. Aphrodite stormed off and left, and Ares is angry with both of us. It’s not a war, but it’s not something to be laughed at.”
She stopped laughing. “I’m sorry. You have to admit she’s right though. You don’t let anyone get close to you. Don’t you think you’ll tire of being alone someday?”
“I’m not alone.”
“You know what I mean, you stubborn mule. Maybe another romp with Aphrodite was what you needed. Something to loosen you up.”
“I don’t think that was her intention, though it certainly has her mark to it. I think she just wanted to get to me and see what happened.”
“Something definitely happened. How was it?”
Hermes sighed.
“Come on! I know it was great. Aphrodite always gives marvelous details.”
“Yes, it was great, but it was very confusing. Are you going to take this seriously and help me or not? I’m sure Zeus is going to think it’s a riot too, but that can’t be helped.”
She patted his arm. “Once we recover ourselves, I promise we will take it seriously. Don’t worry. I suppose the concern now is keeping you away from her.”
“I can’t even get her out of my head.”
“Well, I’m also concerned about you two getting it on. We don’t need a little hell-raiser who can outrun us all.”
Hermes shook his head. That would be a nightmare.
Hera went on. “Aphrodite gave birth so quickly, and Eris might be the same. You never know.”
He stopped, wondering if his queen had just let a secret slip. “Hera, are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
“Hmmm? Oh goodness, no! Sorry. I meant because she wasn’t born. She and Eris were both created, called into being, whatever. They weren’t born to two parents.” She giggled. “None of you are going to catch me out that easily. Eros keeps trying though.”
“You love doing that, don’t you?”
“I didn’t do it on purpose. I was thinking out loud.”
Hermes never knew whether to believe her or not. Her ramblings often seemed a little too convenient. He’d suspected for some time that she wanted to push him and Aphrodite together, but he couldn’t be sure if she only wanted to make a match or if she didn’t want her son with the love goddess for some reason.
“If you say so.” Her thinking out loud made him wonder though. “Could Eris want something like that? To have a child? What if sleeping with her is the only way to break this spell?”
“She could enchant anyone she wanted. She’s slept with Zeus before.”
“But no child. The Fates hadn’t willed it. Could she be trying to get her way on her own?”
“Who’s to say? The Fates grow more cryptic with each passing year. How do we even know their powers still affect us?”
“I’m sure they do. All things have a reason.”
She smiled. “You’ve always believed that more than any of us. Why?”
He didn’t know how to answer her question. “I don’t know. Things make more sense that way.”
“So if the Fates determine everything, they made you walk away from Aphrodite. It was them, not you. They are the ones who decree you should be alone. It’s destiny, not choice.”
“I never said that. We all exercise free will. I do believe in that as well, though I still think the Fates make plans for us.”
“Then where do the Fates come in exactly? A plan here, a scheme there for the good of humanity?”
“We’re talking in circles. Can’t we have both? Destiny and choice?”
She nodded. “I think we do. I think we all need both. I was only trying to understand you. It’s hard at times.”
“Help me and maybe I’ll oblige you.”
She kissed him on the cheek. “You know we’ll help you, Hermes. How can you doubt it?”
“I’m only making sure you feel the urgency here.”
She smiled and ran her hand over his chest. “How urgent is it?”
He stepped away. “Don’t do that. I’m not sure what might get me in that state again.”
“Fine. Zeus wouldn’t like it anyway.”
“No, he would not. Crazed hormones or not, I still have that much sense.”
Hera walked a few feet away, watching the water flow past them. “I don’t think she means real harm, not like the kind she’s caused before, but I don’t want to take the chance. I’m going to go explain things to Zeus. The sooner I do, the sooner he’ll stop laughing.”
Hermes put his hand on her shoulder. “Thank you.”
She smiled. “Don’t mention it.” She snapped her fingers and disappeared.
Hermes walked down the stream, heading for home and hoping he could avoid running into anyone else.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

New Release: His Beast (Scarred Hearts 2)

His Beast is the story of Stephen, the estranged brother from His Beauty (formerly published as Bringing Out the Beast). I thought this story would never be written because in the previously published version, Stephen showed little hope for redemption. Now that I have republished that original story with two previously deleted scenes restored, I'm excited to give Stephen a happy ending at last.
To read about the first book in the series, click here. They are stand-alones and do not have to be read together.


Stephen has spent years being someone he isn’t, out of guilt and a desperate need for acceptance. Getting away from everything and everyone seems like the solution until he meets someone who makes him forget about his own problems. Gregory lives with burns and scars from a car accident, just like Stephen’s twin brother, and he hides away in the woods to protect himself. Stephen only wants to be his friend, but the more time they spend together, the more he longs to explore the feelings this damaged man inspires.


Stephen spotted Gregory walking through the woods and hurried to catch up with him. He hadn’t seen him at all the day before and wanted to invite him to dinner. He’d brought way more food than he would need, and he had two steaks thawing in the fridge.
“Hey, Gregory?” Stephen called.
Gregory looked up and paused. He waved and began walking over. “Hi,” he said. “Are you enjoying your stay?”
Stephen nodded. “Yeah. I was wondering if you’d like to have dinner with me. I’ve got a couple of steaks thawing. I’m here to get away from stuff, but I’m used to being around people and all. The quiet’s great, but…” He trailed off, pressing his lips together. “Rambling again.”
“No, you’re fine.” Gregory shifted his weight. “Sure. I’d love to. Can I bring anything?”
“Nah, just you. I’ll do some potatoes and green beans as well.”
“That sounds good.”
Stephen noticed that Gregory didn’t maintain eye contact long. “It’s nice out today. Seems odd snow was predicted. I saw a few flakes the day I got here, but it didn’t seem to stick at all.”
Gregory looked up at the clouds. “The sun’s warming everything up, but once it goes down, I think the temp will drop pretty rapidly.” He shrugged. “I love the cold. Always have.”
“It was nice and brisk this morning. The trees seem to keep the wind from biting too much.” We’re talking about the weather! This is ridiculous. You can do better than this. He cleared his throat. “You headin’ down to the pond?”
“Yeah. There was a fox cub there yesterday. It was hurt, but I couldn’t get it to come out of the log it had climbed into. If the mother didn’t come for it, I’m gonna call animal services.”
“Aw, poor thing. You want some help?”
Gregory’s eyebrows went up. “Would you mind? That’d be great.”
“Not at all.”
They walked down, and Gregory approached a big log. He looked inside, but then he shook his head. “It’s gone.” He scanned the area. “Hopefully it made it to safety.”
“Is there lots of wildlife roaming around in the winter? I saw a rabbit the day I got here.”
“Yeah, there are lots of rabbits. They don’t hibernate. The foxes don’t either. They all just stay close to home and try to conserve energy. When it snows excessively, I spread some feed a local vet recommended.”
“That’s nice,” Stephen said, smiling. “You’re such a sweet guy.”
Gregory stared a moment, and Stephen bit his lower lip. “I can explain why I said that.”
Gregory shook his head. “I’m not going to object to being called sweet.”
“No, it’s just, well, my brother … we’ve had our problems. He really sort of went to the dark side, so to speak, after his accident.”
“You were assuming I’d be more prickly?”
Shoving his hands in his pockets, Gregory shrugged. “I don’t blame you. I was a bit defensive when we met. I’m sensitive at times, but I don’t take it out on others. My dad did that. I promised myself I never would.”
“What did he do?” Then he realized what he’d asked. “Whoa, sorry. That’s so nosy. You don’t have to tell me.”
“It’s no big secret to me. He worked in construction, and he lost a leg. He’d dropped out of school real young, so he had nothing to fall back on. He became very bitter. Drank himself to death. He was good man, but he handled his problems poorly. Very poorly.”
“Oh my god, I’m so sorry.” Stephen moved closer. “Really I am.”
Gregory looked into his eyes a few seconds, and Stephen again noted how bright they were. “Thanks.” The side of his mouth lifted, just a little. “At least you don’t dump sad stories on people. Rambling’s better any day.”
“It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”
Gregory sat down on the log. “So, how old was your brother when all this happened?”
“We’d just turned seventeen. Senior year of high school. He finished up through some homeschool program. Had lots of surgeries. Then buried himself in first college and then work.” Stephen took a deep breath and sat down before letting it out slowly. Sound familiar? He tried to ignore the voice nagging him in his head. “Our mom died in the accident. It fucked us all up.”
“Really? That’s awful.”
Stephen almost spilled his guts about how his mistakes had caused the accident, but he held his tongue. Dominic no longer blamed him, but he still blamed himself. He liked this guy a lot and didn’t want to air all of his dirty laundry just yet. He paused, mulling over his realization. It had been a really long time since he’d liked someone right off the bat, and he wondered for a moment. You’ve spent an awful lot of time thinking about this guy’s eyes the last two days. He shook himself and said, “Yeah. But it was a long time ago.”
“My accident was four years ago. I woke up in the hospital, and the first thing I saw was a pile of suitcases. My boyfriend had dropped them off. We’d just moved in together, but he changed his mind once he saw me. So I moved back here. It’s easier to have me close anyway, so—”
“What a shit! He just kicked you out? Didn’t even break up with you? Or offer to help? He could’ve broken things off but still been a decent enough fucking person to try to help you through something like this.” He shook his head, fuming. “God damn it, I hate people. This is why I’m single and fucking alone and don’t do anything but work. Why try to be good with people? Hardly anyone’s worth it!”
Gregory touched his hand. “Hey, don’t say that. Lots of people are worth it.”
The warm hand rubbing his really got Stephen’s attention. He placed his other one on top of it. “That was so rude. I’m sorry.”
Gregory gave him a full smile this time. “Don’t be sorry. It was kind of…” He trailed off this time, pulling his hand away.
“Kind of what?”
Gregory looked down at the ground. “I was gonna say, uh … sexy.”
“Can’t say anyone has ever called one of my outbursts sexy.”
Gregory slowly turned his gaze back up. “I’m assuming you’re straight, though? I hate it when people assume, but…” He shrugged again.
Stephen opened his mouth, but then he closed it.
“Is the question hard?” Gregory blinked at him.
“I’m thinking.”
Laughing, Gregory asked, “Why do you need to think?”
Stephen swallowed. “Because you have really nice eyes, and I was disappointed I didn’t see you yesterday.”
“You were?”
Stephen nodded.
“I stayed in yesterday. Felt like I’d been kind of rude to you.”
“You weren’t. I was staring, and I know how people can be.” He dug out his cell phone. “I know I was kind of awkward the day I got here, but really, here’s a picture of my brother Dominic.” He found the photo and showed it to Gregory.
Gregory took the phone and studied the picture of Dominic and Sophia. “The car exploded. Right?”
“Yeah. He was trying to save our mom.”
“You’re right. Our scars are really similar. The flames … they kind of blew right across my face as they exploded out.” He handed the phone back. “He’s still pretty hot, though, for an old guy.”
Stephen caught a light twinkle in Gregory’s eyes. He felt grateful the guy was trying to lighten the mood. “Old, huh? How old are you?”
Gregory linked his hands across his knees. “Thirty-four.”
“That’s nine years. It’s nothing.”
After a long pause, Gregory said, “You think my eyes are nice, huh?”
Stephen wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans. “Yeah.”
“But now you’re getting freaked out because you told me that.”
“No, no, not at all.”
Gregory shook his head. “It’s okay. If you’re gonna be curious, you at least want to do it with a cute little twink.” He stood up. “I need to go check in with the office. But what time for dinner?”
Stephen felt lost. How could Gregory segue so casually? He didn’t know what to say or do. “About six, I guess.” He stood up as well. “I feel like I’ve offended you. I like you. A lot.”
“I like you, too.”
“But yeah, I’m not gay.”
Gregory studied him a moment and nodded. “I get it. Liking my eyes doesn’t make you gay any more than me thinking a girl is pretty makes me straight. Don’t worry about it.” He walked off, waving over his shoulder. “See ya at six.”
“Yeah. See ya.” Under his breath, he said, “Don’t worry about it? You don’t know me that well yet.” He sank back down to the log, feeling even more lost, especially since now he found himself thinking about that genuine smile Gregory had given him a few moments ago. Before he’d stuck his foot in his mouth yet again. It had made his eyes even more striking, and now Stephen really couldn’t stop thinking about them.