Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Tuesday Teaser is All About Hearsay

I know most of you are waiting for the next installment in the "By Degrees" series, but I wanted to give you guys something else before "Six Degrees of Agony" comes out.

"Hearsay" is the first installment in "Bylaws," my new series about attorneys working for Acosta, Bradford & Chadwick, LLP, a fictional lawfirm located in NYC. It is also part of a trilogy within the series, soon to be followed by "Daresay" and "Gainsay." All three titles will feature the same couple, Roman Bradford and Derrick Swain, and will follow their journey as they deal with damaging rumors, the judicial system, and life's curveballs while they make their way toward coupledom.

Here's a little excerpt for you. Enjoy!

Le excerpt:

Prologue

Roman Bradford had heard the rumors more times than he cared to remember in the past month. He’d heard them from his partners, close friends, a few acquaintances, his accountant, and even from the attendants at his gym. 

He had ignored them every single time. He’d refused to believe. He’d been eager to move forward. His future was looking promising again. He hadn’t wanted anything to get between him and Derrick, the man who had captivated his attention from the moment they met. 

For a little over four years Roman had admired him from afar. He’d watched Derrick become comfortable in his recently acquired attorney’s skin. He’d watched him grow confident, earn promotions, and win impossible cases while Roman’s personal life fell apart.

He’d collected the pieces.

He was ready to start again. 

It wasn’t until very recently that he’d acted on his attraction for Derrick. Even though he was free to do so, he forced himself to consider carefully the possible ramifications of getting involved with one of his employees. If things went sour between them and Derrick turned out to be vindictive, Roman could get sued for sexual harassment or misconduct at the very least. He knew this, and after the debacle of the past few months and consequent distress, the last thing he wanted was to risk a similar mess. Yet he’d been unable to resist going after him.

Roman was rather subtle in his pursuit of Derrick. The lingering, veiled glances during the two hour monthly meeting with the firm’s associates and the coincidental encounters in the building’s lobby, the cafeteria, and court, had progressed to casually running into him in Central Park during their lunch break for the past eight days. They’d gotten to know each other better during their conversations. The attraction was mutual and almost palpable, and Roman didn’t doubt for a second they were compatible in every important way. Things were going so well between them that he’d decided the previous night it was time to take the next step and ask Derrick out to dinner and maybe the ballet. Hell. He even wanted Derrick to be his date to his parents’ dinner party in three days. 

But those damn rumors had been waiting for him when he got to his office in the morning. They’d been louder than ever, too… so loud it was impossible to ignore them anymore.

Roman shook off his preoccupied thoughts and glanced around him. The Pond was one of his favorite places in the city. A little piece of heaven smack in the middle of his demanding world. It never ceased to amaze him how easily he could find solitude here despite the hundreds of people that walked by the water’s edge every day.

He watched the ducks in the water and regarded the trees that would soon start changing colors. Once again he marveled at the beauty and simplicity of the Gapstow Bridge, then closed his eyes and blocked everything. He was a bundle of nerves. Today, more than ever, he needed to soak in the peacefulness that surrounded him.  

“Have you decided on a present for your parents’ wedding anniversary yet?”

Roman shifted his body toward the man who had managed to make him feel so much in such a short amount of time and tried to give him his undivided attention. Talking to Derrick was an absolute pleasure, and in addition to being physically perfect in Roman’s eyes, he was also sensible and genuine.

“I’m going to take your advice and give them a vacation to some exotic destination.” He brushed off a few crumbs from Derrick’s tie and smiled when he noticed him shudder.

“Asia? Somewhere in Europe?”

“My mother goes shopping in Paris once a month,” Roman said with a fond smile. “She still tries to drag me along with her to carry her bags whenever my dad refuses to follow her around.”

“It won’t be easy to surprise her and your father, then.”

“I think the Machu Picchu ruins in Peru would be nice.”

“Have you been there?”

“I went with Alan and Sergio when we were still in law school.” He took his glasses off and put them in the pocket of his suit jacket. “Mom loved the pictures we took. That’s why I think she’d enjoy it.”

“From what you’ve told me I get the impression she’d enjoy a week in the jungle with no plumbing, as long as she’s with your father.”

“They’re inseparable.”   

“Forty-five years together,” Derrick said wistfully. “Almost a lifetime spent with the one person they promised to love forever.” He sighed deeply. “Your parents are very lucky, Roman.”

“What about your parents?” Roman asked. “Are they still together?”

“No. They weren’t as fortunate.” He shook his head slowly. “Not like they didn’t want to. I mean, they loved each other so much… My mom chose my dad over her own family, a career, and a very comfortable life. Like your parents, they wanted to die together, but it wasn’t meant to happen that way.”

Derrick glanced at him shyly from under thick, long lashes, probably thinking it was too soon to be sharing such personal details. He smiled at the guy, encouraging him to continue. Derrick’s candor was one of his most endearing personality traits, and Roman would hate it if all of a sudden he started feeling self-conscious. 

“Papa didn’t have an education, you know? He worked as a janitor at Columbia University. That’s where they met, when Mama was a freshman. She wanted to be a lawyer, but my grandparents cut her off when she refused to end their relationship. She moved with Papa to his tiny apartment and never looked back. Papa worked so hard to provide for us… We didn’t have money, but we were happy.” He blinked rapidly, but his tears didn’t disappear. “Mama got very sick with lupus when I was a twelve. She didn’t make it.”

Roman resisted the urge to reach out and hug Derrick. It was too soon for that kind of gesture. “I’m sorry to hear that,” was all he said. 

“They had a good run, but instead of enjoying his marriage, Papa had to be strong for us kids and watch the woman he loved die slowly.” Derrick grabbed a napkin from his lunch bag and wiped the few tears that were now spiking up his lashes. “I respect him so much for it. I don’t know if I could do the same if I were in his position. I don’t know that I could deal with watching the love of my life waste away. Christ, I’m a terribly selfish person, aren’t I?”

Roman’s heart dropped to his stomach when he heard those words, but his voice sounded normal when he tried to re-assure Derrick. He might not like the guy’s reluctance to be with someone who was sick, but he understood it.

“It wasn’t only your father watching a loved one die. She was your mother, too, and you were a kid. That had to be a very traumatic, painful experience for you and your siblings.”

“It was.” He smiled a little. “Thank you for listening to me blab.”

“I always look forward to hearing you talk about whatever you want.” Roman caressed Derrick’s cheek softly with the back of his hand. “So blab away. I don’t mind.”

“You sure about that?” Derrick’s flirty smile made Roman’s heart skip a few beats. “Because I think I’d like to talk your pretty ears off every chance I get.”

“Sounds like a great plan,” Roman admitted, returning the smile.

“Yeah?”

That seemingly innocent question almost knocked Roman flat on his back. So much desire was packed in it; so much expectation and hope. His feelings weren’t one-sided. Derrick was along for the ride, and Roman was so happy he could’ve jumped up and down, if only his mind wasn’t plagued by doubts.

It can’t be true It can’t be true It can’t be true…

Roman put his almost untouched grilled chicken wrap inside the bag. “I need to get back to the office,” he said quietly. 

Derrick frowned. “Is there something wrong?”

A hysterical chuckle almost escaped Roman.

Where to begin…

Apprehension had him by the balls. He also had a sore throat, a headache, and swollen lymph nodes. He felt like crap.

“Roman?” Derrick’s beautiful amber eyes were clouded with uneasiness and concern. “Did I say something wrong?”

“No!” he rushed to say. “Of course you didn’t.”

“Then what is it?

Roman looked away and cursed under his breath. “I might be getting a cold,” he said in a louder tone.

“I can get you some tea if you want.”

“No, no… It’s fine… I’m fine… Look, I need to go now. There’s something I have to do.” 

Derrick grabbed Roman’s hand to stop him from getting up and he obliged, hoping this wouldn’t be the last time he was so close to the other man.

“Can you please tell me what’s going on?” Derrick almost begged.

Roman couldn’t say a word. Uncertainty had gotten a hold of him and it was making him sick to his stomach. He wished he didn’t have to go, but as much as he liked the guy, Roman knew he wouldn’t be able to even look at Derrick again until he’d found out whether the rumors he’d been hearing were true.

Don’t let it be true, please… Don’t let it be true…

He pulled his hand from that soft, firm grip he wanted to feel all over his body, and took several steps back. “I need to go.”

“Will you be back tomorrow?”  

Derrick was trying not to sound hurt, but Roman heard it in his voice anyway. He saw it in his eyes. And because he couldn’t offer an honest answer, he chose to not say anything at all. He just turned around and walked away from what he knew was his second chance at love, hopefully not forever.

Please God… Please. Don’t let this be the last time I talk to him.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

From Six Degrees of Agony, Here's a Little Taste of Christmas

*Re-post from Live Your Life, Buy The Book.




Hello everyone!

When Barb asked if I’d like to participate in Live Your Life Buy the Book’s Advent Calendar Event I immediately said yes. Christmas is my favorite time of the year and I always want to celebrate. I didn’t write a Christmas story though, so I wasn’t quite sure what to present to you all. At the end I decided on a little snippet from the third installment in my “By Degrees” series. What you’re about to read takes place in the timeline of “Six Degrees of Agony” a few days before Christmas. Hope you enjoy it, and Happy Holidays!



December, 2009
Houston, Texas

“I think me and the twins went overboard decoratin’ the tree.”
Sam glanced at the gigantic Christmas tree in the corner of Mac’s family room. He made an honest effort to assess the amount of angels, stars and Santa Clauses before his attention was diverted by the sight of his boyfriend’s naked back. “Looks great to me,” he declared, not sure if he was referring to the Christmas tree or the play of muscles in motion as Mac repositioned the satin red bow topper.
“It has too many ornaments.”
Sam grabbed a can of whipped cream from the fridge and two saucers from the cupboard. After three months of hanging out at Mac’s place whenever possible he knew where Mac kept his stuff and never had trouble finding anything. He felt as much at home in Mac’s house in Houston as he did in the New York apartment and his own house, and he liked it.
“So?”
“So it looks like… I don’t know... It’s probably too much.”
Sam rested his elbows on the granite countertop and watched Mac take out a few ornaments.
“You’re right. There are too many ornaments. But the twins were over the moon with excitement, and you had a blast fondling and hanging those balls,” Sam quipped. “Who gives a shit if the thing would never win a Best Christmas Tree contest?”
Mac shot him a playful glare over his shoulder. “Why didn’t you say anythin’?”
Because Mac in dad mode was a thing of beauty, and Sam had been too busy enjoying his first full night with Mac, Austin, and Emma Rose to notice. Besides, the sense of rightness and belonging was so overwhelming that for a minute there—or an hour—Sam had been afraid of turning into a maudlin idiot if he dared open his mouth to say something ,even if he had noticed the ornament vomit.
“I thought excess was the order of the day,” he told Mac in a teasing tone, looking pointedly at the cookie sheets on the other side of the counter. “How many of those we baked and decorated again?”
Mac grinned. “You ate an entire batch by yourself.”
“That’s so not the point.” Sam opened a bag or marshmallows and rolled his shoulders. “My back still hurts from spending the afternoon helping you wrap a thousand presents. I could use a body rub.”
“I didn’t buy that many things and you don’t have to pretend you aren’t feelin’ emotional. It is a big day.”  
“Okay, so maybe it was five hundred boxes that we wrapped.” Sam wiggled his eyebrows and ignored Mac’s remark. He wasn’t surprised by it, though. He had never been able to hide his feelings from Mac. “Can I still get a body rub?”
And a body rub was all it would be, regardless of how badly Sam wanted to bury himself in Mac’s tightness and drive his crazy with pleasure for the rest of the night. Austin and Emma Rose were sleeping upstairs and there was no way in hell Sam would engage in any kind of sexual activity while he, Mac, and the kids were under the same roof.
Not when Mac was taking a huge risk by having a family night with his kids and boyfriend when he was still married to his kids’ mom.
Not when Amy could—and would—use anything at her disposal to drag things in Court.    
Mac chuckled, snapping Sam out of his thoughts, but he was frowning when he turned
to look at the boxes underneath the tree. “Do you think it’s too much?”
Sam’s voice was gentle when he said, “I counted fifteen presents per kid before giving up.” There was no denying Mac knew no limits when it came to giving stuff to his kids.
“That’s not too much,” Mac said with a shrug.
“That’s entirely too much,” Sam disagreed, and even though he didn’t want to open that particular can of worms, he found himself asking, “Are you trying to overcompensate for something?”
“No.”
“Liar.”
“I think you’re right.” Mac took one of the ornaments and put it back on the tree. “We had a great time decoratin’ it, and that’s the only thing that counts.”
Sam sighed at Mac’s blatant attempt to change the subject.
Mac walked over to the kitchen, pecked Sam on the lips, put several cookies on a plate, and kissed him again, this time on the back of his neck. “Is that cocoa about ready?”
Sam sighed again, but decided to let the subject go for the time being.
Not that he had an option.
“What’s your favorite Christmas memory?” Mac asked the second Sam entered the family room carrying two mugs of homemade cocoa topped with marshmallows and whipped cream.
He handed Mac one of the mugs and lowered himself slowly onto the extremely comfortable sofa before answering the question.
“The yearly four-hour roundtrip from Brooklyn to a farm tree in Monticello to cut our own Christmas tree,” he said, eyes fixed on the multi-colored twinkling lights of Mac’s tree.
No.
Their tree.
Mac had told him it was their tree; his, Sam’s, and the kids’.
“Family tradition?” Mac sat next to him and hooked one leg over Sam’s before taking a sip from his mug.
“I remember Dad would say to me and my sister, “It’s time to go get our Christmas tree,” year after year on the same date. December 1st.” He smiled and looked at Mac. “You know he was a cop and worked pretty irregular hours, so we hardly ever got to go on December 1st, but Sandy and I knew we wouldn’t have a long wait. Dad always cleared the first Saturday after December 1st to drive us to Monticello, come hell or high water, or even a blizzard, and we’d help choose and cut the biggest tree in the farm.”
“Sounds like lots of fun,” Mac said with a sweet smile.
“It was.” Sam returned the smile and rested his head on Mac’s shoulder. “They had a petting zoo and even sleighs for rides when the weather cooperated, then we’d drive back home and stay up until the tree was fully decorated.” He drank some of his hot cocoa before setting the mug on the coffee table. “By the end Dad couldn’t help much,” Sam added in a somber tone. “He was only in his sixties when he passed, but his arthritis had gotten so bad he couldn’t lift any weight in the warmest of days, let alone in the freezing cold, but we still went to Monticello every year to get our tree.” He sniffled and traced Mac’s thigh with his fingertips. “He passed away in May of 2004. I haven’t been back to the farm since December of 2003.”
“That’s a beautiful memory...” Mac sat his mug on the coffee table, took Sam’s hand in his, and kissed it tenderly. “My family never did anything so special... Hell, we never did anything at all. Christmas was all about entertaining influential acquaintances and talking them into donating money to Dad’s political campaigns. I was often left to the care of the maids.”
“I’m sorry, kitten.” Sam ran his fingers through Mac’s hair and pressed their foreheads together. “That must’ve sucked.”
“It doesn’t matter anymore.” Mac caressed Sam’s T-shirt covered chest as he added, “Next year I’d like you to drive us to that farm in Monticello to get our tree. It’s a beautiful tradition, and I want to revive it as soon as we can. We’ll ask Margaret if she’d like to come with us... and maybe Sandy, too.” He kissed Sam, then leaned back and looked him in the eye. “Sounds good?”
“Sounds wonderful,” Sam said with a huge smile.


   
   




Thursday, December 12, 2013

M/M Romance Group 2013 Member Choice Awards

Is that time of the year when the members of the MM Romance Group over at Goodreads vote for their favorite stories and I am thrilled to announce my work was nominated in a few categories. Here's the breakdown:


DISASTEROLOGY 101












SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION


















BY DEGREES





SAM and MAC





Thank you guys for reading my stories and if you feel like showing your love here's the link to vote!

<3 





Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rainbow Awards 2013



More than 150 judges read 400 books, give or take a few, and the Rainbow Award Winners are in.

I am thrilled to announce "Disasterology 101" took Third Place in the Best Contemporary Romance category and Seventh Place in the Best Gay Novel category.

This story means the world to me. It wasn't easy to write and it most certainly isn't an easy story to read. The message is not "all you need is love", or "love fixes everything", but one of courage and perseverance, and how sometimes it is worth it to bend over backwards for the person we love, even if others can't understand what we see in them or why would we bother.

Thanks to my friends (you know who you are) for holding my hand throughout research and development and thank you for the pep talks once the manuscript was out of my hands. Thanks to the reviewers for your encouraging first reactions and thoughts on the story. Thanks to all the readers that took a chance on Cedric and shared his journey. And thanks to Elisa Reviews and the Rainbow Awards team. This is awesome!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Atlanta Bound!

As you all know, I'm attending Gay Rom Lit once again. I am so excited to see all my friends and meet new ones that I can barely contain myself from jumping up and down. Also I am looking forward to the themed parties, as this is the first time we'll have a Black-Lit event, and a Masquerade Ball. I'm sure it'll rock!

Fun times aside, I'll also be doing some
author work. Look me up at the Rainbow Romance Writers Scrap-booking event, and the Featured Authors Book Signing Saturday afternoon. But Friday, bright and shiny, drink lots of coffee and come join me at my Q&A at nine in the morning.

If you have questions about my stories, my WIPs, or want to let me know how much you hate me for __________ (insert your biggest gripe related to any of my books), here's your chance! I can't wait to spend a little time with you all.  :-)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Heatstroke... Expanded

Hey guys,

As some of you know, Heatstroke is a story I wrote inspired by a picture and a prompt. Many of you love the story, as I do, and two years after releasing the original version I've added several scenes and commissioned a new cover for it. Wanted to know how Manny and Richard got back together? Wanted to see how it all played out with the family? Then you'll get your chance in a few more weeks, and the best part, it'll also be available in print. :-)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Capital Loss


Hey all!

As some of you may already know, I wrote a short story for the Love Has No Boundaries event held by the MM Romance Group over at Goodreads. I've been extremely busy, so I wasn't really planning on participating, but then I saw this letter:

Dear Author,
How did things get so bad? I thought I had it all, a great job that I loved, a wonderful home by the beach and you. All of that is gone now. I found out the hard way all you wanted from me was my money. You left me the minute you found out I lost my job and lost the money when the financial bubble burst. Now I have nothing, I feel like I’m nowhere, no one. I don’t feel like living anymore. Will anyone save me?


What can I say? It spoke to me, and I couldn't stop myself. 

Capital Loss, available as a free download, is my take on the prompt; a short story featuring Eduardo Acosta, a rather ambitious Wall Street investment banker, and Cole Miller, the man he loves.

Hope you enjoy it! 



 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

"By Degrees" Giveaway

Hey, all!

Six Degrees of Separation got Five Sweet Peas and Recommended Read badge from Jules Lovestoread at Mrs Condit & Friends. Woot!! Stop by and leave a comment for a chance to win all the books in the series to date (if you've never read it) or a copy of Six Degrees of Separation if you have. :-)

Go. Now!

:-)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Drum Roll, Please!!

Six Degrees of Separation, the long anticipated sequel to Six Degrees of Lust,  had an early release. It is available at Amazon and All Romance Ebooks, and coming soon to Barnes & Noble.

Thank you so much to all my readers for supporting “By Degrees” and waiting oh-so-patiently for this new installment. It took a while, but I know you’ll like it. :-)

Happy Reading, SMac’ers!


Monday, August 26, 2013