Hi, everyone. Being a healthcare worker full time and everything going on in the world right now, I almost forgot to let you all know about my newest release coming out Monday, 3/30/20, from NineStar Press. It’s the fourth and final installment of the Chevalier Series where Ean finally nails down Matthias. It takes some underhanded sneakiness, but Ean will do anything to end the pain of being separated from his mate. The pack’s willingness to help Ean achieve that goal, doesn’t hurt. Matthias, however, has secrets he’s always kept and exposing his past mistakes to his mate and the rest of the pack is daunting. The circumstances the Chevalier Pack find themselves facing finally gives Matthias the courage to claim his young wolf mate, and obtain the love and happiness he’s always wanted. Now available at ninestarpress.com and other ebook retailers.
Only You was my second book to be published and saw release day back in 2017 from NineStar Press, and I cannot believe it has been that long. It doesn’t feel like so many years have passed since I started this amazing whirlwind journey that is my writing life. I have enjoyed every second of it. Even through the hard times when resistance was strong and I felt like words were never going to flow from my fingers again. Only You is one of my contemporary romances where the characters really pushed me hard to get their story written. I remember this book being difficult to write because of the emotional load poor Rawley was carrying and the fact that Case was from a different generation than me and his soon-to-be-partner. I love the age-difference trope, though, and I’m sure readers who have been with me through more than one book will have noticed that. I’m excited to announce that for this Throwback Thursday, NineStar Press has placed Only You on sale for $2.99 until the end of February. Just click that lovely word “sale” to get your copy today.
Below you’ll find an excerpt from the book. After reading the book, or if you’ve already read it and would like to read a short epilogue, there is a post in the archives titled Forever You.
Rawley had spent the past four days in his truck with his trusty radar gun, nailing speeders at various points across town. The past two days, he’d been sitting at the railroad crossing at the edge of town; a hot spot for teenagers speeding down the main road and over the tracks without looking. It had been a year since the last death occurred on these tracks and he intended to keep the streak going. He sighed loudly as he tore off the latest ticket and gave the seventeen-year-old boy behind the wheel his usual speech about safety. He’d given out half a dozen the past couple of days, but if it saved a life by making the kids think twice, it was worth the mind-numbing boredom.
Rawley climbed back into his truck, shut off the emergency lights, and drove back to his parking spot partially hidden by the wall of the feed store near the tracks. It had been the usual quiet on the crime front the past several days, which was typically a welcome occurrence for Rawley, but ever since Case Holden’s arrival, Rawley’s thoughts had been plagued by gray-blue eyes, dark hair, and a perfectly toned body. He spent his nights tossing and turning, imagining Case in any number of different scenarios, every one of them sexual. The whole situation was frustrating him. He took the edge off every night with his hand, but it didn’t satisfy the deep need he had for another man’s body—Case’s body in particular.
Rawley shifted on the bench seat and adjusted himself. He seriously needed to get a grip. The moment Case climbed into his truck, drenched from the rain, Rawley had suspected he was gay, but after running into each other several times around town the past few days, Rawley was now certain. The knowledge only worsened his predicament because he knew if he wanted Case badly enough, he could have him. The man didn’t even try to hide his sexuality or his attraction to Rawley. When they’d seen each other the day before at the general store, he’d been wearing a dark-blue T-shirt that had “Out and Proud” stamped across the chest in rainbow lettering.
They’d found themselves face-to-face in front of the dairy display — Rawley in his tan police uniform and Case looking like a model in his skintight T-shirt and painted-on jeans. Conversation had been polite but stilted. Rawley knew it was his fault because he was too busy noticing every little dip and curve of Case’s body to speak coherently.
Knowing Case was gay and that he wouldn’t make a play for the younger man had Rawley short-tempered and sniping at everyone. That was why he was sitting alone on the outskirts of town, doing traffic duty; no one wanted to be around him, including himself. Rawley stared into the distance, wondering what the hell he’d done in this life or a past one to earn him this level of torture, when a vehicle he would’ve been hard-pressed to miss caught his attention. The bright-gold Mustang roared past him, registering ten miles per hour over the speed limit.
“Oh, you’ve got to be shitting me,” Rawley muttered. He turned on the emergency lights and siren as he pulled onto the road.
There was only one person in Clover City who drove a Mustang. He caught up to Case quickly, and they pulled to the side of the road, Rawley coming to a stop a few car lengths behind Case. Rawley exited the truck and walked up to the driver’s side of the car to find Case had rolled down his window and held out his license and insurance card. Rawley took them, willing his body not to react to the beautiful smile Case offered him. Rawley couldn’t help but notice that Case wore a black shirt that made his hair seem even darker and those gray-blue eyes brighter.
“Get pulled over a lot, do you?” Rawley asked, averting his gaze to Case’s papers.
“My car tends to draw attention,” Case answered. Rawley rolled his eyes at Case’s nonchalant shrug.
“Your car draws attention,” Rawley muttered.
Everything about Case drew attention, or at least Rawley’s. He put his mind to the task at hand, making sure Case’s license and insurance were up-to-date before handing them back through the window.
“I didn’t get pulled over driving my aunt’s Jeep.”
“Did you speed in the Jeep?”
Case shrugged. “It was a manual with no oomph.”
“Slow down,” Rawley said as he turned on his heel to return to his truck.
I’m so excited to announce that Only You is out now. Get it at ninestarpress.com or amazon.com. Just in time for Christmas.
Case Holden hates his life. Made rich at a young age, he slipped into a lifestyle of partying with multiple boyfriends who only wanted to be with him for what he could give them. After confiding to his aunt that he’s miserable, she extends an invitation for a visit. Case plans to spend the time in small town Clover City to reprioritize and plant his feet on the road to happiness. He does not expect the Clover City sheriff to step into his world and wreak havoc on his emotions.
Two years ago, after the death of his partner, Rawley Kane moved to Clover City, trading the painful memories and big city madness for a less stressful existence. Even as sheriff, his life is uncomplicated and quiet. That is until Case Holden rolls into town and reminds Rawley just how lonely he is, and of everything he’s been missing.
Case is everything Rawley shouldn’t want. The man has six boyfriends and a life back in Denver, not to mention he’s quite a bit younger than Rawley. No matter what he tells himself, he can’t get enough of the young man. And Case has made it clear Rawley is the only one he wants. Now if they could just get past Rawley’s guilt and Case’s insistent boyfriends, they just might stand a chance.
Mild Spoiler Alert
In Blind Date, Dekker takes Slade on an amazing first date. On a few occasions, I’ve been asked where that “date” came from. The answer is – my own experiences. Everything Dekker and Slade do on their first adventure together are things I’ve done with the love of my life.
For my birthday one year, my husband gave me the gift of indoor skydiving. I imagine this was because he knew I would absolutely never deliberately jump off a plane. For those of you who enjoy a little rush while still feeling relatively safe, indoor skydiving might be for you. We were dressed in flight suits and helmets to protect against bouncing into walls, because we would, and then put us through a class that showed us how to hold our bodies. Even the slightest tilt of a hand would send us spinning in an insane circle that can, and did, make me dizzy. We started in an airlock and they proceed to show all of us “how it’s done.” And it looked so easy. Until it was me.
I could hear the fan, how could you not hear a jet engine right below you, and see those ahead of me being pushed up into the air and spinning uncontrollably, but it wasn’t until I stepped out onto that net and the air flow hit me that I realized just how difficult it is. The instructors make it look simple and amazing and acrobatic, but keeping my body in that odd position so that I floated in a steady position was hard on my muscles. We got two flights that only lasted a few minutes each, which apparently is the equivalent to jumping out of a plane twice. Knowing that it only takes those few short minutes to fall from plane to ground will definitely keep my feet firmly planted on Earth. Having said that, it was a BLAST.
On another occasion, my husband took me to a Tibetan/Nepalese restaurant. The menu was extremely unusual and I ate my first ever yak. Sounds horrible. Tastes delicious. As I was writing the game show for Blind Date, and Dekker was getting the hots for Slade, I realized I had no idea what they would be doing together. I wanted something unique, something that they and my readers would never forget. Once I set the bar with the first date, I had to make sure all subsequent encounters were equally uncommon. I like to think I managed that, and I encourage you to try every single one, whether it be on your first date, or on the 100th while your children stand on the sidelines yelling that you’re crazy. So I say – inject a little adventure, a little adrenaline, a little change, and spice up your everyday.
I know there are several holidays, religions, and traditions in the world, but in my little slice of it we celebrate Christmas. This year I decided to offer a little gift to you, my readers. Below, you’ll find a short unpublished story just for you. I hope you like it. And don’t forget to check out the parent novel, Blind Date.
Josh sat in the oversized armchair nestled between Logan’s muscular thighs, his back to Logan’s chest, one of his hands lazily drawing circles over Josh’s chest and the other holding a beer. They were at Rex’s house, the unofficial meeting place for all things social among their group of friends, having a Christmas horror movie marathon. The movies were more comedic than frightening, and they were all enjoying themselves, sometimes laughing outright. Dekker and Slade sat side by side on the floor, legs outstretched, and holding hands. They were the newest couple to the group, and while Dekker had been around since Josh and his twin, Justin, had come into the picture, Slade still felt short-term.
Dekker was all in, had been from the start, and had stubbornly held onto the dream that he would one day be with Slade permanently. Their little group was even smaller tonight with the absence of Alek and Phil who were spending the Christmas holiday with their respective families and Aaron was at that pivotal moment in his relationship with Tony where he was being introduced to the parents. Josh would love to the see the people who’d raised the big, bad biker.
Josh’s gaze moved from the vengeful, evil Santa on the television screen, over Dekker and Slade’s entwined fingers, to stop on his brother and Rex. Rex sat on the sofa with his back propped in the corner and his legs extended along the seat cushions. Justin was curled into his side, his head resting on Rex’s chest. He smiled at all the right times, made jokes, and hopped onto the gossip mill the second Josh got it started, but something was off. They were identical twins. Josh always knew when something wasn’t quite right with Justin, and Justin was the same way with Josh. If he had to guess, Josh would say that Justin wasn’t happy. Not really. To the depths of Josh’s heart, he hoped the only reason Justin seemed out of sorts was because he was alone, and not because of the man he was snuggled against.
Up until a few months ago, when Josh moved in with Logan, the twins had never been separated. They’d spent their entire lives from the womb to the present at each other’s sides. They’d shared lockers and desks in school, they’d joined the same clubs, and even bounced back and forth between prom dates. People couldn’t tell them apart and often got them confused, so they would play along and have their fun. A few years ago, they had even dated the same man, switching off from one date to the next, taking turns spending the night with him, and the guy had never known the difference. But Logan had, and that had been the kick to the nuts that had almost ended Josh and Logan before they really got started.
The first date Justin had gone on in place of Josh, Logan had known immediately. He had allowed it, but Justin had told Josh later that night that Logan had been standoffish and acted uninterested most of the date. Josh had initially thought it was because Logan’s attraction had waned. It wasn’t until the following evening at the gym when Logan asked him where he’d been the previous night that Josh realized what was going on. It had floored him then and it still floored him now. Because Logan wasn’t the only one who could tell them apart – Rex could, too.
Justin lifted his head to look at Josh and their eyes locked. Josh instantly knew that Justin wanted to talk and with that silent understanding they each disengaged from their prospective bear of a man and walked into the kitchen.
“It still weirds me out when they do that,” Logan muttered and Rex grunted in agreement.
“Aw, what’s wrong, boys? Worried they’re comparing notes, arguing over which of you has the bigger di– Ow! Damn it, Rex, you made me spill my beer.”
Josh grinned at the good-natured ribbing as he followed Justin through the kitchen and out onto the deck. It was cold enough that the snow from a few days before hadn’t melted completely, but not so cold that their conversation would be rushed. The sky was clear with a few stars winking and the dim sliver of moon, and that silence that comes with a chilly winter night surrounded them. When they spoke, they kept their voices low in deference to the quiet.
“It will make gatherings awkward, but I’ll always be here for you,” Josh said.
“I know,” Justin replied.
“When will you tell him?”
Justin sighed and sat on the lounge chair. Josh joined him, sitting beside him, thighs touching. They were both tactile creatures, using touch for everything from expressing themselves to offering comfort. It had been one more thing that Rex and Logan had struggled with in the beginning, because the boys touched everyone, but they seemed to have come to terms with it.
“I don’t know. It’s hard because I love him and I don’t want to leave him, it’s just…”
“Not enough,” Josh finished and Justin nodded.
“Am I expecting too much of him?” Justin asked.
Josh shrugged. “Took Logan nineteen months to ask me to move in with him. You’ve been with Rex how long?”
Justin smiled. “Twenty.”
“But who’s counting,” they said together.
Josh wrapped an arm about Justin’s shoulders and pulled him in for a hug.
Logan closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He’d come into the kitchen for another beer, but noticed the boys out on the deck. They’d left the door open a crack allowing cold air to seep in. He hadn’t meant to eavesdrop, only to close the door, but hearing Justin dejectedly talk about leaving Rex had frozen him to the spot. Logan and Rex had been best friends since high school. They’d joined the Army together the day after graduation, much to the agony of both their mothers. It had resulted in them being separated for years, but when they had both discharged and reconnected, it was like those years had melted away.
While Logan had always known that he was gay, Rex had not. And Logan had stuck by Rex’s side as he had very inelegantly navigated his way through marriage, pregnancy, and early childhood before realizing his life wasn’t what he wanted. That he was more interested in his daughter’s preschool teacher than he was his own wife. Rex had finally found the life he wanted, the man he wanted, when Logan brought the twins to the gym for the first time nearly three years ago.
The boys grew quiet, probably slipping into that silent communication thing they had, and the sudden quiet brought Logan back to the present. Rex was about to lose the only man he truly loved and Logan wasn’t the kind of friend who would let that happen. He pushed off the kitchen counter, walked into the living room, and thumped Rex on the back of the head.
Logan headed down the hall to the office as Rex pushed himself off the sofa to follow.
“Oh, look, we have the room to ourselves,” Dekker said, softly. “Want to make out?”
“Don’t get naked in front of my boy, Dek,” Rex yelled back down the hall.
Logan crossed his arms and blew out a breath as Rex closed the door then turned to face him.
“Ok, what the hell is going on around here? First the twins disappear and now you drag me in here,” Rex said.
Logan hadn’t really thought this whole conversation through, and he had no idea where to begin. Rex crossed his arms and stared at Logan in his I-can-wait-forever pose. There was no way to sugarcoat the situation so Logan treated it like any other obstacle that got in his path, he barreled through it.
“Justin’s thinking about leaving you.”
Rex dropped his arms, took a couple of steps backward, and sat down on the sofa. His facial expression never changed, but Logan knew those words were a harsh blow.
“He said that?” Rex whispered.
Logan shook his head. “No, but… I overheard the boys talking outside. He said he loves you and doesn’t want to lose you, but I got the sense that he was talking about leaving you. You know how it is with them, you don’t always hear everything that’s being said between them because some things aren’t actually said. That whole identical twin psychic thing is freaky. Did you know they’re counting how long they’ve been with us in months?”
It was one word, but it spoke volumes. Logan had delivered a blow that sent Rex reeling and the man was struggling to regain solid footing.
“Look, I’m sorry, man. Christmas Eve is just hours away and I didn’t mean to bring you down, I just panicked a little for you. What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t warn you, especially since you love him so much?”
Logan felt like a shit for saying anything at all. He should have thought it through more before dragging Rex into the office and sucker punching him like this. Rex stared at his hands as he rubbed his palms together, his expression strained and thoughtful.
“It’s fine and I appreciate it. Did you happen to overhear why?” Rex asked, keeping his gaze locked on his hands. Based off appearance and tone, Logan seriously doubted Rex was “fine,” but he chose to remain silent.
“I’m not entirely sure, but maybe moving in together?”
Rex scoffed and shot Logan an irritated glance. “Seriously? Justin would leave me because we’re not living together?” Logan shrugged. “That’s just stupid. He already practically lives here. He spends more nights in my bed than he does his own.” Rex’s volume increased as he spoke, his emotional turmoil finally giving way to temper.
“I told you I didn’t hear everything,” Logan said. “I don’t know what was said, really, and I shouldn’t have mentioned it to you until I knew more. I’m sorry.”
Rex deflated a bit and sank his impressive bulk into the back of the sofa. It was hard for a man his size to look small, but damned if he didn’t pull it off. Logan left the office, pulling the door halfway closed behind him, and went in search of his boyfriend.
Justin followed his brother into the house, rubbing his arms to warm up. The night wasn’t extremely cold, but after sitting outside without a coat for several minutes he was chilled. He and Josh had had quite the heart to the heart about his situation and he now felt better about things. Josh had suggested that perhaps Justin wasn’t expressing his desires well enough to Rex, and Justin agreed. They were identical twins and they were used to the other just knowing what was wanted and needed, but these men couldn’t read their minds. They didn’t know them as well as they knew each other. Justin had been expecting Rex to know things he had no way of knowing, and he was going to fix that right away.
Logan entered the kitchen as Josh locked the patio door. The man’s eyes lit up and he smiled at the sight of Josh, like he’d been doing since the day they’d met. He opened his arms and Josh walked to him, immediately engulfed in thick arms that could so easily hurt him. Justin knew to the depths of his soul no matter how strong Rex and Logan were, no matter the circumstances, that strength would never be used against either Josh or Justin. Logan cast him a look he couldn’t decipher as he left the kitchen in search of his own set of strong arms. All he found in the living room were Dekker and Slade on the floor going at it like teenagers, but his man wasn’t where he’d left him.
“Where did Rex go?” he asked the mass of groaning clothes and limbs.
“Office,” was Dekker’s mumbled answer.
Justin shook his head as he headed down the hall. The office door was open a crack and the light was on, but he didn’t see Rex behind the desk. He eased up to the door and pushed it open enough to poke his head inside. He found Rex sitting on the sofa staring out the darkened window. His posture suggested he was relaxed, but the rigidity of his muscles and the stern look on his face told Justin he was anything but calm. Justin immediately handled the situation the way he’d been handling it for two years; he walked into the office and crawled onto Rex’s lap, wrapping his smaller, leaner frame around the torso of his bigger man. Rex let out a pained moan and encircled Justin’s body in a tight embrace. He could still breathe, but Justin wouldn’t be able to leave until Rex let him. Rex pressed his lips against Justin’s forehead and carded his fingers through Justin’s short, blond hair. Justin was becoming more distressed by his boyfriend’s distraught demeanor by the minute so he decided to kill two birds with one stone. He would voice his desires and distract Rex from whatever was bothering him.
“I want to move in. Tomorrow.” Rex’s breath hitched at Justin’s bold declaration, but he remained silent and still, his embrace never changing, and this gave Justin the courage he needed to continue. “I know it feels sudden to you, but it isn’t for me. I’ve wanted it for a long time and never said anything. I guess I expected you to just know that’s what I wanted, but Josh made me realize there was no way you could unless I said something, so I’m saying something. I want to be here with you forever and I want this Christmas to be our first one under the same roof.”
Rex pulled away and looked down at him with an expression that sent fear slithering through his heart. Justin could only describe it as shock. He’d known that living together might not be what Rex wanted, especially since they’d been together for so long and still lived at separate addresses, but he’d had hopes. Justin tried to sit up straighter, but Rex only tightened his arms and held him in place. Rex wasn’t ready to let go of him and Justin grabbed hold of that knowledge.
“I’m already here most of the time anyway and I don’t have a lot of stuff. Most of it can go to Goodwill or be sold.” Rex stared at him still wearing that same expression and Justin didn’t know what to do. “I won’t take up much space,” he added in a whisper.
Rex closed his eyes and a single tear slid down his cheek. Justin cupped Rex’s cheek and brushed the wetness away with his thumb, enjoying the feel of stubble beneath his smooth palm. He’d always loved Rex with a little hair growth on his face. Justin thought it made him look even more masculine and distinguished. He let his thumb hover over the spot in Rex’s cheek that dimpled every time he smiled. He loved kissing that dimple, did so every chance he was given, and he took the opportunity now. He moved his thumb and kissed Rex’s cheek, smiling at the rough texture against his lips. Rex groaned and shifted on the sofa so that Justin lay beneath him, his bulk pressing down on Justin’s chest. Rex adjusted them until his body rested between Justin’s legs and they were looking directly into each other’s eyes and that dimple made a brief appearance.
“Damn it, boy,” Rex said as he kissed Justin lightly on the lips. Justin opened his mouth to ask Rex what he was upset about, but Rex took advantage of the opening and slipped his tongue into Justin’s mouth for a kiss that had Justin’s dick taking notice. Rex broke the kiss with a loud groan.
“I thought you came in here to break up with me,” he said softly as he rested his forehead on Justin’s.
Justin dragged his hands over muscle-covered ribs to dig his fingers into Rex’s powerful back. “I was thinking about it,” he admitted, because he would never lie to this man. “But Josh and I talked, and – “
“I love you, Justin, and yes, you can move in with me. I’ll help you move in tonight if that’s what you want.”
“It’s almost midnight,” Justin said, laughing at Rex’s suggestion.
“I don’t care if that’s what it takes to keep you. I’ll give you whatever you want to keep you with me.”
Justin wanted to roll his eyes at what sounded to him like absurdity, but looking into Rex’s face he could see Rex was dead serious. He smiled up at his man sweetly and massaged the tense muscles beneath his palms.
“All you have to do to keep me is take care of me. And I promise to tell you how to do that.”
Justin squirmed a bit under Rex’s weight and Rex reacted immediately. He lifted Justin with him as he rose to his knees and then lay on his back with Justin draped over his chest. Justin pillowed his chin on his arms as Rex palmed his butt and squeezed.
“The past few minutes have been a crazy whirlwind and I don’t understand any of it. Logan said you were going to leave me and you even admitted you’d thought about it, but was it really all because you wanted to live with me? I mean, if you’re going to leave me, can’t it be something more serious, like I hit you or degraded you or…something?”
Rex’s brow creased as a myriad of emotions played across his face. Justin reached up and gently smoothed the lines with his fingertips.
“I know it seems petty and small to you, but it’s huge for me. I’m an identical twin. I have always had Josh with me. We haven’t been separated for extended periods of time since birth. That is, until Logan came along and took him away.” Justin tried to keep the bitterness from leaking into his tone, but he must have failed because Rex’s eyes softened and he began rubbing Justin’s back. “I hate being in that apartment by myself, and I will never hold Josh back from living his life. Maybe it would be different if I was single, but I’m not. I have you and I’ve had you for two years.”
“Justin, babe, you were spending more and more time here and I felt like we were just naturally going in that direction. If I’d known you actually needed me to ask you to move in, I would have done it.”
Justin smiled and nodded. “I’ll work on my communication skills.”
This was their first big misunderstanding, but it wouldn’t be their last. Justin wasn’t naïve enough to believe they would never have disagreements or fights, but those moments could be drastically decreased by talking. They had failed in their communication to the point that Justin had felt ignored and unwanted until his ever-perceptive twin had pointed it out.
“Take me to bed?” Justin asked softly.
Rex smiled and rose from the sofa. Justin wrapped his legs around Rex’s waist and his arms around his neck, raining kisses over Rex’s dimples, jaw, and neck as he was carried out of the office and through the living room to the stairs. Rex cupped his ass and lifted him higher so he could ascend the stairs to the bedrooms.
“Hey, we still have movies,” Logan said as they passed.
“Everyone find a bed,” Rex said over his shoulder. “We all need to be up early in the morning to start packing.”
“Packing for what?” Dekker asked from his position on the floor, curled around a sleepy Slade.
“Justin’s moving in tomorrow.”
Josh and Justin responded simultaneously. “It’s going to be an awesome Christmas.”
Thank you for reading. Have a great holiday season.