Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thomas Grant Bruso and A Light in the Dark

Thomas Grant Bruso has debuted a different kind of short story. It's a peek into the lives of two men...A Light in the Dark. He's kindly agreed to answer some questions and give us a snippet.
Name three things you’re scared of. Heights, war, and the loss of a new endangered species every day.

 You’ve been offered a guest spot on your favorite TV show. What is the show, and who is your character?
“How to Get Away With Murder”— One of the accused.

You’ve been commissioned to paint a mural. What do paint, and why did you choose this subject?
I would paint owls and sharks in their natural habitat. They are my favorite wild animals. They are stunning, enigmatic, misunderstood creatures.
Your book is being made into a Broadway play. Who would play the leads?
Rupert Everett and Tom Riley.

Do you plan a sequel for this book? What can readers expect next from you?
I do not like describing the next chapter in my characters’ lives as a sequel, per se, but rather a continuation, which I am in the process of writing as we speak. I have more to say and further plans for all of the players in my short story, A LIGHT IN THE DARK.

At the moment I am juggling a handful of writing projects, which I hope will reach readers sometime in the near future. But publishing is such a mysterious, uncertain industry that authors never know from day to day if their work will ever see the light. Fingers crossed!


Christian Rivers has been single for a year and a half. Emotionally disconnected, he focuses on writing his next bestseller. Unfortunately, his neighbor’s teenage son, Bret Hicks, causes trouble next door when he invites his buddies over to hang out, smoke marijuana, drink, and abuse Bret’s dog, Darth Vader.

Incensed, Christian phones Milestone County’s Sheriff Philip Erickson to lay an animal cruelty charge. When Sheriff Erickson arrives, the two men have coffee, and a spark of attraction that has been developing between them since they met, flickers to life. But Philip is on duty and has to leave.

Later that night Christian wakes up from the sounds of breaking glass as someone forces entry into his house. He calls Philip but before the sheriff arrives, Bret appears in the door of Christian’s bedroom, drunk and wearing a Halloween mask.

In the aftermath of the drama the suppressed attraction between the two men comes to a boil, leading to new hope and mutual satisfaction for Christian and the sheriff.
Buy links: Amazon  JMS Books  Barnes and Noble

Contact links: Facebook   Goodreads

Monday, October 27, 2014

Port in a Storm and Douglas Black

Today Douglas Black is in the hot seat, answering questions about his new erotic romance, Port in a Storm.
Plotter or pantser? I aim to be a plotter and part of me would like to be a pantser, but in reality I’m an – at times unmanageable – combination of the two. Usually, I start out with one character, add in a second, find a place for them to work out whatever it is they need to work out and I try to plot from there. But, my characters have a habit of running away from me. I suppose that’s where the pantser bit comes in, but instead of going with the flow, more often than not, I find myself trying desperately to wrestle back control. Still, good things come from those tangents so I can’t say I’m really complaining!

Tortured hero or tortured villain? Either. Both. Let’s say tortured soul. I don’t believe in black and white characters, in painting anyone as an outright hero or villain, but in life everyone has their scars and I think not including that in writing makes for unrealistic characters. A little bit of angst in a story is never a bad thing!

Easy on your characters or as hard as possible? I write MM erotic romances so obviously I always want my characters to get their happy ending, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to make the ride smooth for them. No one ever said life was easy, and I think fiction needs to reflect that.

What do you consider to be the key elements of a great story? Characters. If you have great characters, if you go right down to the bone and expose their deepest darkest wishes, dreams and desires and you show their fight, tell their story as fully as you can, then I think as an author you deserve a big gold star!

What is the hardest part of writing your books? Avoiding procrastination! I’m terrible for finding something else, anything else to do when I should be writing. That’s not because I don’t enjoy writing. Quite the opposite. I love it. But, it’s a scary job. Committing yourself to the task of making that blank page disappear is, I think, quite a frightening and lonely position to find yourself in. Then again, that could just be me!

How do you develop your plots? Do you use any set formula? Maybe this is where my pantser side starts to show again, because I don’t follow any formula in my writing. I always have an idea of where I want things to go, but beyond that I let my characters tell their story and I think doing that is what develops my plot.

Who has been your favorite character to write? Jake, from Port in a Storm, and I’m not saying that because he’s in my newest release. Port was written for Jake, because he jumped into my head one day and wouldn’t get out. He’s hot, funny, outgoing, brave, completely independent and totally free-spirited, oh, and a little bit damaged so he was all sorts of fun to write!

Favorite line/quote from current work? “I’m not a fucking boat, Alex,” because it always makes me laugh, but you’ll have to read right to the end of Port in a Storm to find out why!

If your book was made into a movie, who would you want to play the leads? Gosh, I don’t know! In my head Jake looks like Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn from LOTR (only in faded blue Levi’s and a tight T-shirt), but as for Alex, I have no idea! Maybe Randy Harrison?

Can you tell me a bit about your most recent release? Port in a Storm is, in many respects, a coming of age story that follows Alex as he meets Jake and finds himself forced to decide what it is he really wants from life.


Alex is stuck in a rut. He’s facing a big decision about his future, namely, what to do with it and so far he hasn’t managed to come up with an answer.

Until he meets Jake.

Jake blows through Alex’s world like a hurricane and Alex falls hard and fast for the perpetual traveler with a penchant for secrets and a perfect smile. Jake wants Alex, but life isn’t as simple as that.

Jake never settles in one place for long and already their long-distance relationship is driving a wedge between Alex and his family. With no compromises on offer, Alex’s decision about his future becomes a decision about Jake.

For Alex, the idea of losing Jake doesn’t bear thinking about, but choosing him looks like it will mean throwing away everything Alex knows, including his relationship with his parents. And so, Alex finds himself with another question to answer.

How much would you be willing to give up, to be happy?


The man walked up to the door of the last pod in the row and produced a swipe key. He opened the door, pulled Alex inside, and resumed their kiss before the door even shut behind them. Only when the man broke away to catch a breath did Alex get a chance to look around.

The space was small, a little carbon-fiber hut with just enough room for a small double bed and cupboard, and a small bathroom hidden from view behind a partition wall.

The man’s duffel bag took up most of the floor space, but there was still more than enough room for what Alex wanted to do. For what he wanted this man, this stranger to do to him. Before the man could kiss him again, though, Alex needed to know one thing.

“What’s your name?”

The man lifted Alex right up into his arms as if Alex weighed no more than a sack of potatoes and carried him to the bed.



“Yeah. Now, get your clothes off.”

BUY:  Loose Id   Amazon
Douglas Black was born and raised in bonnie Scotland. An archaeologist by trade, Douglas started writing MM erotica - as a means of avoiding starvation at university - before returning to the genre in 2012.

Blog ~*~  Amazon author page ~*~ Facebook ~*~ Twitter



Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Sexy Saturday #65: Meet Jeff and Ash from Rabbit Wars

Welcome to the blog of Whitley Gray—cops and doctors in hot water. And My Sexy Saturday! Here are seven paragraphs from the book Rabbit Wars. Jeff has returned home after months overseas as the supervising architect on a construction project…

Jeff could hardly wait to run his fingers through Deak’s auburn hair and watch Deak’s green eyes take on that heavy-lidded look, the one that meant hold on for a wild ride for the rest of the night. The thought made his heart give a happy leap.

Reunions were the best.

The elevator doors opened, and he stepped out, pulling the suitcases behind him. At the door to 3-A, Jeff let himself in. A single light was on in the living room, and the place smelled like home: lemon furniture polish, houseplants, and wet dog. Deak’s Jack Russell terrier, however, was nowhere in sight. That was fine. Sissy despised Jeff, and he didn’t want to start out by asking Deak to put the bitch in the bathroom.

From down the hall came the sound of the treadmill and Lady Gaga. Jeff grinned. Deak was working out. He’d be shirtless and sweaty and shiny, hair shoved off his face, every muscle outlined… Hot. Very hot.

Jeff set the carry-on down, toed off his shoes, and tossed his coat over the suitcases. He ignored the mail; he had something better to do—like get into an intimate tangle with a hot man. He grabbed the champagne and headed toward the music.

As he sneaked down the hall, panting and grunting joined the music. Maybe Deak had the TV on? Jeff paused. Maybe he had porn on. In that case, Jeff wanted to reach him before Deak climaxed. The poor guy had probably jacked off as much as Jeff had over the past four months. He’d start with a kiss, and then strip…

Hefting the champagne, Jeff whipped around the corner. The word “surprise” died in his throat.

It certainly was a surprise. A sweaty, shiny Deak had a dark-haired guy bent over the weight bench, the slap of skin against skin matching the tempo of the music. Jeff couldn’t move, couldn’t peel his gaze from the tableau torturing him. The dog walker? The window reflected Jeff’s shocked expression back at him.

Rabbit Wars is available at Loose Id,   All Romance Ebooks, and Amazon. 

More about Rabbit Wars:

After two months in Dubai supervising a construction project, architect Jefferson Fontaine returns home to find his boyfriend boffing the dog walker. Reeling, Jeff grabs his dignity and departs. The arrival of a mysterious wicker box and a letter requesting Jeff’s presence for the reading of a local entrepreneur’s will sends Jeff to his hometown of Crooked Creek, Colorado. The last thing he expects is to encounter an old flame who disappeared fifteen years ago.

After high school, Ashton Eiker hoped to start a future with the boy he loved, but his world crashed when Jeff refused to bring Ash along with him to college. Ash ran from the rejection, but returned to Crooked Creek a year ago, bringing his confectionary talents and opening a chocolate shop. When the great uncle of a childhood friend names Ash in his will, he could hardly anticipate getting a helping of his past in the mix.

Jeff and Ash jointly inherit the historic Jeremiah Rabbit House, and are forced to work together to meet the terms of the will or neither will have the mansion. It’s a battle of opinions, shared personal history, and present attraction, but the true prize isn’t the Rabbit legacy. It's the chance at something better.

Whitley Gray

LINK BACK to My Sexy Saturday for more great snippets!


My Sexy Saturday



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mystery to Die For: Stacked to Death and the Jamie Brodie Mysteries

Meg Perry, author of the Jamie Brodie Mystery series, is here today answering four questions and treating us to an excerpt from her newest release, Stacked to Death.
If you haven't read any of these, get thee to a book dealer and dig in. They're...well, they're to die for.
Name three things you’re scared of.
Deep water, heights, and fire ants (I’m allergic). The main character in my books, Jamie Brodie, is an excellent swimmer because I wish I was.

You’ve been offered a guest spot on your favorite TV show. What is the show, and who is your character?
Dr. Who – I’d be the Doctor’s new companion.

You are planning a fundraiser for a charity. What is the charity? What does it mean to you?
The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is a charity that I’ve supported for several years now. They provide a home on 20,000 acres for retired, sick, and/or abused zoo and circus elephants. Elephants are such fantastic animals and we shouldn’t use them for our own entertainment. The sanctuary gives them a chance to be elephants again, living in the open and forming their own family groups.

You’ve been tapped to organize a sports team for an LBGTQ youth shelter. What is the name of the team, and what is the sport?
It would be a rugby team called the Rainbow Warriors. I’m much too wimpy to play rugby myself, but I love watching it.


Blurb: Stacked to Death, Jamie Brodie Mystery #7
Library work-study student Austin Sharp upset a lot of people. When Jamie Brodie finds Austin dead, strangled to death in the library stacks, the police have plenty of suspects. When another library work-study student is found strangled, the focus of the investigation shifts – both students were from the same hometown. Then a third student is found dead. A serial killer is on the loose, and the police send in detectives from the elite Homicide Special unit.

And their favorite suspect is Jamie.

I went to circulation for a book cart, wheeled it to the elevator and rode up to the third floor. The books on my list were toward the far corner of the room.

I rounded the corner of the DS shelf and nearly tripped over something.

Someone’s foot.

I jumped back a step, startled, then looked closer. The foot was attached to a body, clothed in tight white pants and a lime green shirt.

Austin Sharp.

He was sprawled on his back, a couple of books scattered at his side. I leaned toward him as far as I could without moving my feet any further. “Austin?” I kicked at his foot a little. “Austin. Wake up.”

He didn’t move. He wasn’t breathing. His face was blue-purple, his eyes were bulging and his tongue, also purple, was poking out between his lips.

He’d been strangled.

Oh God. There was a sound in my head like a distant swarm of bees. Shit. Fainting would be bad.

I heard footsteps behind me and turned to see Andy from circulation coming up behind me. “Jamie? What’s-” He stopped and gasped. “Fuck. Is that Austin?”


“Did you call 911?”

“No.” I patted my pockets. “I don’t have my phone.” Where was my phone? Oh, yeah – it was locked in my office. I never brought it with me into the stacks.

“I’ll do it.” Andy pulled his phone out and dialed.

I backed against the wall for support and thought about not fainting. At one point Andy knelt by Austin’s ankle, touched him, and said, “He’s cool to the touch. I don’t feel a pulse. Okay.” He hung up as the stairwell door banged open and the cops arrived.

They were UCLA police. I’d seen both of them around – Don Greene and Antonio Jenkins, congenial guys retired from municipal departments, not used to finding dead bodies on campus. Jenkins knelt by Austin’s feet and touched him then stood back up. Greene walked up beside me and stared at Austin’s body. “Damn. Do you know who it is?”

Andy said, “His name’s Austin Sharp. He’s one of our work-study students.”

“And this is how you found him?”

I said, “Yeah. I didn’t touch him.”

“Good. I’m going to call LAPD. Tony, you want to clear this floor and call in some reinforcements?”

“Sure.” Jenkins went to round up anyone else in the area.

I was concentrating on breathing slowly and Andy was answering Greene’s questions when I heard a familiar voice. Jon Eckhoff and Tim Garcia turned the corner. They spotted me and Tim said, “You found the body?”

“My lucky day.” The buzzing was louder. I was starting to feel weak in the knees. Don’t faint. Don’t faint.
Twitter: @MegPerry2

Friday, October 17, 2014

Up In Flames--Avery Syracuse Drops In

S.C. Wynne's fireman is here today answering a few questions.

Whitley-I know you’re a transplant from New York. What attracted you to the small town of Skeenville?

Avery-I needed to get as far away from my crackpot family as I could without actually vamoosing out of the country. Skeenville had that unpretentious thing going for it. I love it here. I think this is the kind of place where I could raise a family. A normal family.

Whitley-You had an immediate attraction to Luke. What was it that drew you to him?

Avery-Well, first off, come on. I mean the guy is definitely eye candy. But he had a sadness about him that made me curious. He was guarded, but I could tell he was comfortable around me. I don’t know, we just clicked. Who knows why one person makes you hopeful for the future, and another sucks the life out of you?

Whitley-Trent cheated on you. But it sounds like you put up with a lot of stuff before you finally pulled the plug.

Avery-Trent was a charming bastard. When you couple that with the fact that I was lonely it made for a bad situation. I hung in way longer than I should have because sometimes it’s nice to have anyone rather than no one.

Whitely-But you finally broke it off?

Avery-Yeah. I wised up. Go figure.

Whitley-Were you mad at Luke for coming back into the burning building to rescue you? The Captain was pretty mad about the whole thing.

Avery-Since we made it out alive, I think I’ll forgive the guy. Hell, if it wasn’t for Luke saving my ass I’d be singing with the angels right now. And I’m a horrible singer. But, yeah, I never seen the captain that mad before.

Whitley-Luke tried to stay away from you, but he finally gave into his feelings. Do you trust him?

Avery-After all we’ve been through, hell yeah, I trust the guy with my life. And I know he feels the same. I’d say we’re soul mates, but then the guys at the station would never shut the hell up about it.

Avery Syracuse is a New York transplant with the Skeenville Fire Department. He’s a little rough around the edges, but loveable. Down on his luck in the romance department, he could use some help with the bills and is looking for a roommate when new transfer, Luke Turner arrives.

 Luke is one of the best firemen Avery has ever seen, and it doesn’t make sense for Luke to be wasting his time in Skeenville. The two men have an instant connection, although Luke has never been into guys before. While Avery is very attracted to Luke, he knows there is something the guy is hiding, and he’s worried that if they get involved, this secret may come around and bite him in the ass one day.


I ran a hand across my face, still woozy. “Luke, you didn’t have permission to come back for me?”

“What the hell do I care about permission? You weren’t going to make it if I didn’t get you out, Av.” His voice broke as he said my name.

“Well, of course I’m biased, since it’s my butt you saved.” I tried to smile and failed miserably.

“I don’t see what the big deal is. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Save people?” Luke looked at the captain, his expression confused. “I thought that was the entire point?”

Captain nodded. “It’s a big part of the job. But you have to follow orders. I’m sorry but I’m going to have to write you up for this.”

That reckless thing I’d seen at the bar that night seeped back into Luke’s gaze. “So I save a life and I get written up? If I’d obeyed your orders like a mindless robot, you’d probably give me a medal for good behavior, right?”

“I can’t have my guys going rogue because they feel like it,” Captain said, while jabbing his finger in Luke’s face.

“We should be able to make decisions in extreme cases like this. I knew I had enough time to get him out.”

“It doesn’t work like that. You don’t get to call the shots, kid.”

“So you’re going to write me up?”

“I am.”

Luke put his hands up, agitated. “You know what? Feel free. Only write me up twice, once for going in after Avery, and once for this.” He shoved his index finger in front of the Captain’s nose.

Captain’s expression morphed into fury and he batted Luke’s hand away.

“You better get your buddy under control, Syracuse.” The captain’s face colored dark with anger. “He’s a hair away from suspension.”

Luke curled his lip. “This is bullshit. Bullshit.” He started to walk away and then he swung back around. “What’s the fucking point? You know what, Captain? Just suspend my ass. Go ahead and fucking do it. Because I’m not going to stand by and watch one more person die. I’m not going to do it.” His voice was borderline hysterical, his angular cheekbones painted red.

I grabbed his arm. “Jesus, Luke. Calm the hell down.”

The Captain didn’t look as angry anymore. He seemed more concerned than anything all of a sudden. “Take it easy, son.”

“I should never have come back to the job. This is bullshit. What the fuck are we even doing here? We can’t save everybody, we fucking can’t,” he growled. “And if we try, we get written up? What a crock of shit.”

The captain made a conciliatory gesture toward Luke with his hands. “Son, this has been a stressful night. I realize this might have brought up some…stuff for you.”

“Don’t you bring that crap up right now.” He glared a warning at the captain. “Don’t you God damn dare.”

The two of them stared each other down as if they were gunslingers, and I hugged my pounding skull trying to make sense of why Luke looked ready to murder Captain. “What the fuck is going on?”

Captain sighed and raised his hands in the air in frustration. “Get your boy under control, Syracuse.” He walked away, shaking his head. The captain didn’t back down from nobody. What the hell?

Luke met my gaze, speaking in a whisper. “You know it’s bullshit, right?”

I was afraid to answer.  I might set him off again, but I knew I had to say something. “The Captain doesn’t make the rules. He’s following them just like the rest of us.”

He frowned. “You’re on his side?”

I shook my head, patting my chest. “Obviously I’m glad you ignored him in this instance.”

His stare was cold and hard. “I hate this fucking job right now.”

I swallowed, but it was difficult since my throat was dry as the desert. If he hadn’t come back for me I would be dead. It was that simple. “Don’t, because you’re great at it. You saved my ass.”

“So I broke a stinking rule. So fucking what?” he asked, looking bewildered.

“I understand, but you gotta watch how you talk to the captain.”

“His attitude of follow the rules no matter what bugs the shit out of me.” He hugged his body tight, his eyes glittering.

“He’s been doing this a long time. He deserves respect.”

“It was a snap decision. I didn’t have time to argue the point with him. You’d have been gone.” He snapped his fingers. “Just like that.”

I touched his arm wanting to pull him to me and comfort him. If only I could wipe the crazy expression off his face and reassure him everything was okay. His muscles trembled under my fingers. “I know. But I’m fine.”

He rubbed his face roughly with both hands “Yeah, but if I’d have listened to Captain, you wouldn’t be.”

“Come on, relax.” I gripped his shoulders and shook him with a gentle touch. “You’re worrying me.”

“Why did I return to this dreary cesspool of a job?” he asked, looking around as if there was someone nearby with the answer.

“You love this job.”

He kept talking as if he couldn’t hear me. “Really, what’s the point? One minute you’re here and then poof, you’re not.”

I dragged Luke away from the group of guys nearby, so they couldn’t hear how irrational he sounded. “What’s going on?” He was scaring me. The only other time I’d ever seen him this out of control was when Trent had been bullying that kid in the bar. That same raw pain floated like an oil slick in his gaze tonight.

“I don’t know what I was thinking, getting involved with you.” He squinted at me as if he’d never really seen me before. “I’m seriously fucked up.” He pointed to his head.

“Are you trying to say you regret spending time with me?” Had sleeping with me been too much for him? I didn’t regret one second I’d spent with him. He was wiggling deeper and deeper into my soul every day, but was it possible he didn’t feel the same way about me?

His gaze was bright and he licked his lips. “Not, not exactly.” He closed his eyes and whispered. “God, not at all.”

“Then what is it?”

“I’m starting to feel shit for you, Av.” He opened his eyes, and clawed at his chest.

“And that’s a bad thing?”

“It is. You don’t understand. I’m like some stupid video game and if I take one more hit, I’m going to explode into a million pieces.”

“I…I’m feeling things too. You don’t see me going nuts over it.” The idea that he would pull the plug on us made me nauseous. I’d feared he’d come to his senses one day, but I hadn’t realized how much it would hurt when he did.

“I’m in way over my head with you.” He looked a little shell-shocked as he spoke.      “I’m afraid to get more involved.”

“Must be nice to be able to turn it on and off.”

“I can’t seem to turn it off. That’s the problem. But I’ve got to try.” He grimaced.

“So that’s it? You’re gay experiment is concluded?” I asked keeping my voice hard and emotionless. I didn’t want him to see that he was crushing me, ripping my heart out and stomping on it. If he could actually stop being with me so easily I had obviously fooled myself into thinking I meant more to him than I did.

He chewed his lip for a moment, studying me like a scientist might examine something in a petri dish, then nodded. “Tonight gave me clarity.”

“You’re anything but clear, buddy.” My heart was pounding so hard in my chest I was light headed.

“It’s for the best.” He wouldn’t meet my gaze as he spoke.

I tried one last time to get through to him. He was slipping away from me as surely as warm blood hemorrhaged from the sliced veins of a suicide victim. “Look, I’m the one who almost bought the farm tonight. So why are you the one having the melt down?”

He gazed at me as if I must be the stupidest person on the earth. “Don’t you see, Av? It’s not the one who dies who has the problem.”

“Being dead seems like a big fucking problem to me,” I said.

       “Oh no, Av,” he whispered, his eyes feverish. “It’s much worse to be the one left behind.”

BUY LINKS: Amazon  ARE  Ellora's Cave

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Inimitable Annabeth Albert and Unconditional Surrender

I've got friend and fellow author Annabeth Albert in the hot seat today, answering questions and giving a sneak peek at the new M/M bundle, Unconditional Surrender! Check it out...
Name three things you’re scared of.
a.     Not being able to write!
b.     Not being able to read!
c.      Something happening to one of my kids!

You’ve been offered a guest spot on your favorite TV show. What is the show, and who is your character?
I want to be an extra on Downtown Abbey, and I want to be a fabulously wealthy visiting friend with a great wardrobe.

You are planning a cross-country trek to raise money for a charity. What is the charity? What does it mean to you?
I support a lot of different charities, but as part of my promotion for this anthology, I’ve been talking about the awesome work America’s Vet Dogs does to provide service animals for disabled military personnel.  You can learn more at

Why this particular charity for Xander and Mackey’s story? You’ll have to read to find out how Xander’s opinion on service animals changes!

You’ve been commissioned to paint a mural. What do paint, and why did you choose this subject?
Oh fun! Like my characters in this story, I have a special place in my heart for rural America. I’d love to do a Norman Rockwell/Grandma Moses style scene depicting all the best of the heartland—big pies, drive-in movies, fried chicken. Xander and Mackey would approve.
I’m thrilled to be part of the Unconditional Surrender bundle. My story, Resilient Heart, stars Mackey and Xander.

Army IT specialist Xander keeps his emotions wired as tight as his NETCOM gear, but when he’s seriously injured by an IED, his whole life unravels. Forced to accept help from his ex-friend-with-benefits, Mackey, Xander doesn’t know which is worse: combating his inner demons or dealing with Mackey’s guilty kindnesses. Both men will have to heal their wounded hearts to ensure a future together. 

At the heart of Xander and Mackey’s story is what it means to come back from a war zone. Both men come back changed individuals—Xander has obvious external injuries, but it’s the internal wounds that threaten to tear them apart. What I wanted to explore with Xander was the notion that sometimes the deepest injuries are the ones we can’t see.
Want a sneak peek at Xander and Mackey? This is from the opening chapter where Mackey has come to bring a reluctant Xander back to his apartment:

“Think I pretty much have everything.” Xander gestured at his duffle. A nurse’s aide had helped him pack, a humiliating process. His mom had brought him a bunch of civvies, but otherwise the duffel contained way too many reminders of the Army life he was leaving behind and too few clues about what the heck came next.

“Prosthesis in there?” Mackey asked, body language deceptively relaxed, eyes avoiding Xander’s arm.

“Yeah.” Xander put a heavy dose of “drop it” in his answer. He was supposed to wear his temporary prosthesis at least eight hours a day. He actually had two, but he hated both of them. His residual limb—such a BS term—was short, only three inches below his elbow, which made fitting tricky. The therapists kept telling him how much easier things would get when the last of his swelling went down and he could get a better-fitting myoelectric prosthesis, and how the process of skin desensitization would help him be more comfortable. Fuck that noise. Nothing he tried worked. He kept a padded sleeve on mainly because it hid the stump, but he hated the stupid devices. He was pretty sure his therapist had every synonym for “noncompliant” all over his chart.

“You got all your meds or you need to stop at the pharmacy on the way out?” Mackey dropped the prosthesis questioning, but wandered into the next pile of dog crap Xander wanted to avoid.

“I got them.”

“Including the new one?” Mackey did that thing with his eyebrows again—the thing where he tried to look casual and came off looking like a smart ass.

“Medical information is supposed be confidential.” Xander didn’t know who Mackey was buttering up—nurse, doctor, someone in command—but he clearly had the inside track on all Xander’s shortcomings. “And I don’t need head meds. Doctors want to medicate everyone these days.”

“Oh? You’re not depressed?” Mackey kept that same uber-reasonable tone. Uber-irritating more like it.

“Fuck no.”

“This new propensity of yours for glowering and cursing and scaring nurses, it’s just for giggles and grins? Because I got to tell you man, it’s not working. And it’s not really you.” Mackey hefted the duffel onto his shoulder as easily as if it were one of the bed pillows.

“This is me. You want old me? The nice guy? He’s gone. You’re wasting your time.”

“Oh, he’s in there,” Mackey said lightly. “He’s smothering under that giant chip on your shoulder, but we can knock that sucker off.” And with that, he—and Xander’s bag—headed into the hallway, the sounds of the ward creeping in as soon as the door opened.

Fuck Mackey. Fuck his sudden do-gooder streak and his assumptions. Like Xander wasn’t entitled to be pissed? Like he was supposed to be all Suzy Sunshine about his wrecked life? And Mackey saw him as some of fixer-upper project? Disappointing him was going to be hell, but the old Xander had died in a ditch back in Afghanistan when an IED took everything he knew to be true about himself. He grabbed the pillow and punched it hard with his good hand. Fuck.
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Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter.  In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two toddlers.