Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Virtual Book Tour: When a Marquis Chooses a Bride

Please welcome author Ella Quinn, here to discuss her new release, When a Marquis Chooses a Bride. Ella will be awarding a signed ARC of her book (US only) to five randomly drawn commenters via Rafflecopter. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. To see where the rest of the stops on her tour are, go here. Don't forget to look for the Rafflecopter at the end of his post.



When a Marquis Chooses a Bride
by Ella Quinn

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GENRE: Historical Romance

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BLURB:


Thanks to their large extended family and unconventional courtship, the Worthingtons have seen their share of scandal and excitement. But nothing has prepared them for this...

The Dowager Lady Worthington isn’t quite sure what to make of country-girl Dorothea Stern. As the granddaughter of the Duke of Bristol, Dotty is schooled in the ways and means of the nobility. But her sharp wit and outspoken nature has everyone in a tizzy. Especially their cousin, Dominic, the Marquis of Merton.

Prematurely stuffy, Dom was raised by his cheerless uncle to be wary of a host of things, including innovation, waltzing, and most perilous of all: true love. Still, there’s something about Dotty, beyond her beauty, that Dom cannot resist. But the odds are against him if he intends to win her as his bride. Will he choose loyalty to his family—or risk everything for the one woman he believes is his perfect match…

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EXCERPT:



“Kimbal,” Dom called to his valet.

“Yes, my lord.”

“I shall be dining at White’s.”

“Yes, my lord.”

Dom scribbled a note to his friend Viscount Fotherby asking if he would like to join Dom for dinner. By the time he was dressed and had donned his hat, Fotherby’s answer affirming the invitation had arrived.

A short while later, just as a light sprinkle turned into a persistent rain, Dom handed his hat and cane to the footman at White’s and found his friend lounging in the room that held the club’s famous betting book. William Alvanley, another of Dom’s friends, was seated next to the window with another man staring intently at the rain.

He turned to Fotherby. “What are they doing?”

“Five thousand quid on which raindrop will reach the bottom of the sill first.”

Despite being close with many of the Prince Regent’s circle, Dom could not abide the excessive wagers his friends made. Alvanley would end up ruining himself and his estates at the rate he was going. “Are you ready to dine, or are you waiting the outcome?”

“Famished.” Fotherby tossed off his glass of wine. “Thought you weren’t coming to Town this year.”

“My plans changed.” Dom and Fotherby entered the dining room. “I have decided to take a wife.”

“Wife?” Fotherby choked. “Any idea who?”

“Not yet, but I have a list of qualifications. She must be well-bred, not given to fits of temper or strange starts, quiet, biddable, easy to look at—I must get an heir on her after all—know what is expected of a marchioness. And not prone to scandals. You know how my uncle hated them. I think that about covers it.”

“A paragon, in other words.”

Dom gave a cut nod. “Indeed. I could wed no one less.”


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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Bestselling author Ella Quinn’s studies and other jobs have always been on the serious side. Reading historical romances, especially Regencies, were her escape. Eventually her love of historical novels led her to start writing them. She has just finished her first series, The Marriage Game, and her new series, The Worthingtons, began in April 2016.

She is married to her wonderful husband of over thirty years. They have a son and two beautiful granddaughters, and a dog. After living in the South Pacific, Central America, North Africa, England and Europe, she and her husband decided to make their dreams come true and are now living on a sailboat cruising the Caribbean and North America. Europe is next!
    
Website: www.ellaquinnauthor.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/EllaQuinnAuthor
Twitter www.twitter.com/ellaquinnauthor
Blog http://ellaquinnauthor.wordpresscom

Buy Links:








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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wednesday Briefs: Moving Forward #49 (12.1)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, from 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts!

Time for more fun in the sun for Marshall and Lee! Join them as they head to the second island on their cruise, St. John... did someone say nude beach? Find out in this week's episode of Moving Forward! Don't forget to see what the other Briefers are up to! Their links follow my tale!

Moving Forward #49 (12.1)



Despite his excitement at going to a nude beach, Marshall was concerned that there might be too many people to actually take their clothes off comfortably. But once they arrived at Salomon Bay Beach, Marshall realized they’d gotten lucky—the beach was almost deserted. Just one other couple, and they were already packing up to leave. Most tourists were probably discouraged by the mile long hike to reach the beach, along the Lind Point Trail, which began at the Visitor’s Center. Marshall hadn’t been exactly enamored of it himself, but it was worth it to have this measure of privacy in such a beautiful setting.

Lee had tendered an invitation to Denver and Dustin that morning, and both men had accepted, once Lee assured Denver that everything was cool, and they were willing to let bygones be bygones. Assuming Dustin stayed on his best behavior, of course. Denver said that wouldn’t be a problem, and he’d make sure his cousin toed the line.

Roger and Kenny had come along with them as well. Kenny had laughingly commented that maybe it was time for them to come out of the cabin and mingle a little bit. Marshall wasn’t fooled one bit. He suspected their motives were similar to his and Lee’s—lovemaking in a different venue.

This beach was even more beautiful than the last one they’d gone to, on St. Thomas. The sand was like white sugar, warm beneath their toes. They set up their stuff and shucked off their shoes. The water was a clear aqua gently rippling against the beach, which was dotted with graceful palm trees.
For now, they would hang together and relax—drink a little, talk a little, soaking up the breeze while sitting in the shade before each couple dispersed for more intimate activities. They’d brought a good-sized cooler which they’d stocked with bottles of cold beer . They took turns carrying it on the long hike to the beach. They’d debated bringing chairs and had decided towels would do just fine, and they’d be a lot lighter.

Now they were all sitting together beneath a large palm tree, enjoying the cold brew and the warm sun.

“So, where you from?” Kenny asked. “I know Roger’s from Texas and I’m from New Orleans.” Except it came out N’awlins when he said it.

The other men exchanged glances. “We’re all from Texas,” Lee answered.  “Marshall and I are more toward the southern part, and Denver and Dustin are a bit north of us. But we’re all good old Texas boys, aren’t we, fellas?”

“You know we are,” Denver said. “And proud of it.”

“Well hell, let’s drink to Texas,” Kenny suggested, lifting his bottle. “That state sure produces some mighty fine men!”

“To Texas!” each of the others repeated, and everyone took a drink.

“And to New Orleans, which is obviously no slouch in that department either!” Roger toasted. Agreeing,  they all clinked their bottles and drank to Kenny’s home town.

“You ever been to Texas, Kenny?” Marshall couldn’t help the looks that were being exchanged between him and Roger. He had a feeling these two were going to take this shipboard romance ashore when the cruise was through, maybe develop it into something more.

“No, but I’m going to,” Kenny replied, confirming Marshall’s thoughts. “New Orleans is only a few hours away from Amarillo, by plane.”

Lee said, “If y’all ever get down to our neck of the woods, look us up. We’ll take you to our favorite club, Partners, over in Tucker Falls. We’ve had some damn good times there.”

“Yeah, you should join us,” Denver agreed. “We’ll have a blast.”

“And you guys can come to New Orleans some time, and I’ll show you some Louisiana hospitality.”

Marshall thought going to Louisiana might be a lot of fun. Maybe not during Mardi Gras, though. He wasn’t overly fond of big crowds. San Antonio was crowded enough for him; he suspected New Orleans would be worse.

They sat together in a comfortable silence for a few minutes, drinking their beer and soaking up sun. Dustin was the first to rise. He pulled his shirt over his head, stripping down to his swim suit.

“I think I’m going to take a swim, anyone else game?”

The other men looked at one another.

“Sounds good to me,” Roger said, a sentiment echoed by the rest, and soon all six men were cooling off in the beautiful water.

to be continued

Now see what the other Briefers are up to!




Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Virtual Book Tour: N'awlins series

Please welcome my good friend and fellow author Sharita Lira, aka Michael Mandrake, who is going to tell us about her N'awlins series! Also, she has a little something to say about plot bunnies!


The Dangerous Plot Bunny
Sharita Lira

Greetings! It’s September already? Good grief. Most of the year is gone, quite unbelievable that 2015 is flying by, but we say that every year. And here I sit at my computer with rewrites, edits, new stories, but then the plot bunnies pop in my brain.

Doesn’t matter to the plot bunny what you have to do. Edits? So. New stories waiting to be write? Who cares. Here’s another 10! They come when I write, sleep, sometimes while driving and I have to ignore them or I might have an accident.

What the hell? Do they plan these attacks? I certainly think they do. When I least expect it, I’ve got ideas from a photograph, a song, scenario, a sentence or word, and if it’s really good it’s ready to be written in synopsis form with a couple of pictures for inspiration. If not, the thoughts are scribbled in my notebook or in my new story folder until they become complete thoughts.

Do those ever develop into stories? Yeah they do. One started out as a very small idea I wrote in my notes; an interracial couple meets when one man notices the other’s apartment getting burglarized. That turned into 3 books which I’m downsizing into one. When will I have time for this? Dunno!


The things multiply and can become vicious, but tell me, where would authors be without them? When in a slump, some call it writer’s block, other’s call it, well, a slump, they need these to jumpstart their writing. If you’ve been devoid of ideas, then they’re good to look back on. Mind you, this rarely happens to me. I think I have enough stories to last quite a while, but if it does, I’ll look in the book and my ever growing synopsis folder which is currently full of half done ideas. Oh and don’t even mention the ones that are started and unfinished. Those just need serious edits and would probably be ready if I took the time, but again, when will this be?

Hopefully soon, but don’t quote me on that. Seemingly, everyday a new plot bunny attacks with a new idea for me to ponder over.


What about the rest of you? Authors, what do you think about the plot bunnies? Do you hold on to them? Have little scraps of paper waiting to be read? Tell me. Thanks for listening.



Overall Series Blurb
The N’awlins Exotica/Paranormal series
The city of New Orleans is rich in tradition, diverse, and known for the inspiration it provides. In the “Big Easy” there lies the hunger for the erotic as well as the unknown. The residents here feel that sexual energy and it reveals itself through their various creative activities.
Join the characters as they take a wild ride on the edge, enjoying their town for all it has to offer. There’s a certain magic in the air, an erotic magic that cannot be ignored.

Books 1-3 On Sale 99 Cents


Book 1
Blurb: New Orleans is supposed to be the big easy. One night changes everything for Frankie Choteau. 
New Orleans. A city rich in tradition, diversity, and on the comeback trail from hurricane Katrina. Francois “Frankie” Choteau, a resident of this town, a cop with a hot temper and low tolerance for bs. Kajika Fortier, a transplant from Oklahoma came here looking for a dream and unfortunately it’s turned into a nightmare. On a hot summer night, they meet and cross paths during a very difficult situation. Despite this, the attraction between them is evident and loneliness for both men is a fate worse than death. They’d both like a chance at happiness but will the circumstances and Frankie’s uneasiness prevent their happy ever after?
Amazon    
Read the first chapter here



Book 2



Blurb: Livin’ in N’awlins ain’t all that easy…

Kajika Fortier loves his job, the attention he gets from onlookers, and Frankie Choteau. However, his new partner’s jealousy, mood swings, and over protectiveness drives Kajika to the brink but at the same time, excites him to no end. 

To complicate things further, a murderer is on the loose looking for blood. All three of the killer’s victims are strippers which not only makes Frankie nervous about Kajika’s safety but leaves him questioning his love for being a homicide detective. Coupled with the stresses of cold cases as well as some fellow officers shunning him for coming out, Frankie is having second thoughts about staying in New Orleans. Despite the encouragement from Vance, Kenina, and Orrin as well as new chief Quinn Murray, Frankie is wondering if his life’s passion really is to catch the killers. 

Will the new couple survive these new issues that impede their nearly perfect union? Or will the relationship fail, thus leaving Kajika alone and a target for New Orleans latest serial killer? Detective Choteau and Kajika’s commitment to one another is being tested in more ways than one and they only have one another to lean on.

Amazon 







Book 3

Blurb: Living in the Big Easy is downright deadly especially if you’re a stripper. When another exotic dancer is found dead in her apartment, the heat mounts on Frankie and his fellow detectives to find the killer. Due to the magnitude of this unsolved mystery along with the LaBoy murders, tension runs high at Nineteen making it hard for all to breathe around the police station and sending everyone into a frenzy.
There’s no denying Frankie’s love for Kajika but in the back of his mind, hot thoughts of the mutual jerk off with Orrin Daugherty loom over his head. Though the feelings are mutual, Orrin wants nothing to do with this and pushes Frankie away. Add in to the mix his fascination with partner Vance Morain along with his severe case of blue balls and you got one hell of a predicament for these for complex and volatile men.
The men at Nineteen are burning with desire for one another and pleasure is beginning to be almost as important as business.
Will the sinful disruptions stop them from finding the killer roaming the streets of the Big Easy?
WARNING: Lots of lewd dialogue and smoldering sex between males.




Author Sharita Lira: In one word, crazy. Just crazy enough to have 3 different muses running around in her head, driving her to sheer exhaustion with new plot bunnies and complex characters.

This happily married mother of two beautiful children loves music, computers, reading, and still enjoys reading and writing fanfiction. She’s a proud member of the Erotica Readers & Writers Association, as well as an advocate for rights of LGBT citizens.  She’s also a contributor to the heavy metal ezine Fourteeng.net.

For more information, please visit http://www.thelitriad.com as well as her Facebook fanpage, The Literary Triad.


The Literary Triad - http://www.thelitriad.com/#!

Michael Mandrake – http://tabooindeed.blogspot.com









Saturday, August 20, 2016

My Sexy Saturday #30: Civil War and Broken Hearts



I know I haven't done this in a while, but I decided to join My Sexy Saturday today so I could show off a little bit of my upcoming release, Civil War and Broken Hearts, which comes out on August 24th, from Dreamspinner, and is the second book in my Rose and Thorne series.


This week's theme is reunion, so I chose a scene in which Vinnie and Ethan have been separated but find a way to come together. Enjoy!


Realizing I was risking exposure, I darted inside the room and closed the door, suddenly nervous for no reason I could think of. It was Ethan I was expecting, the man I’d been with for almost five years. So why was my heart beating like conga drums on steroids?
The door opened suddenly, and for one horrible moment, I thought maybe I should have locked it in case the maid came by. But then I realized it was Ethan, and he was running toward me, and I was running toward him, and his lips met mine as he lifted me from my feet and kissed me like there was no tomorrow, and in that moment nothing else mattered.
I wrapped my legs about him as he carried me farther into the room, never breaking our kiss. By the time we reached the sofa and parked our asses on it, we were forced to come up for air. But it was a happy breathlessness. We sat facing one another, our hands joined.
“I was worried about you,” Ethan admitted. “I almost came running after you when you left….”
“Well, I’m glad you didn’t. That wouldn’t have been the best idea.” Surprise, surprise, I was being the practical one for a change.
“But you don’t deserve suspension,” he protested, and I kissed him again just to calm him down. And because I wanted to.

“I’m not really suspended, it’s okay,” I assured him, pushing a stray lock of blond hair back behind his ear.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Virtual Book Tour: The Scorpion's Empress

Please welcome author Yoshiyuki Ly who is here to tell us about her new release, The Scorpion's Empress. The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to one randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. To see the other stops on her tour, go here. Don't forget to look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.



The Scorpion’s Empress
by Yoshiyuki Ly

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GENRE: Erotic Romance

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BLURB:

After years of serving a corrupt government, Ser Videl, an idealistic paladin, learns that her younger sister is tangled in a dark scheme against Raj Mangala, the compassionate yet troubled Empress of the city's oppressed lowtown; the two women meet and are deeply drawn to one another, finding a shared sanctuary in their violently-divided city. The Scorpion's Empress is intimately written through the eyes of both twenty-seven year old women.

Videl's loving devotion is just what Raj craves, but Raj is wary of letting her guard down while protecting her throne. Determined to prove her worth, Videl chases after Raj and works to unravel the mystery of the plots against the Empress. Raj wants Videl to serve her emotional and sexual needs, and the two explore a meaningful relationship of dominance and submission that delves fully into their deepest wants. When the conspiracy against Raj comes to a head, Videl's loyalties are tested when she is forced to choose between her past and her Empress.

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EXCERPT:



I stood up and slowly walked to one of the torches along the wall. That fire festival where we'd had our first time together… I took the torch and went back to her. Videl stared at me—expectant, anxious. I moved the fire closer to her face. She steeled her eyes and waited. She didn't protest. She didn't shirk away from me.

“Ain't you scared?” I wondered. Videl shook her head. “It's fire for fuck's sake! Any normal person would've told me to cut it out by now.”

“You wouldn't burn me with it. I know you like my face too much to do that.”

I laughed and said, “Oh, so it's all logic with you? Your imagination must be full of rocks.”

“This might have played out differently if I were in subspace,” she pointed out. “But, right now, I'm not bothered by it. I can reason myself out of most situations. It's hard to suspend my disbelief. I trust you to be logical, too. If you burned me, you wouldn't get to show me off to Nyte later on.”

“Show you off, huh?” I asked, putting the torch back. “You think that's what I wanna do?”

“I have a feeling you'll want to when the time comes.”

“We'll see about that. For now I wanna see more about suspendin' your disbelief.”

Videl was about to ask me what I meant—until I picked her up and threw her down onto the polished wood of the table. I straddled her, watching her pulse pick up along her neck. She bit down on her lip to keep from making a sound.


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INTERVIEW 
What are four things you can’t live without?
My laptop, my TV, my PlayStation 4 and the internet.
What is your favorite television show?
Damages.
If you could be any character, from any literary work, who would you choose to be? Why?
Penleigh from Consider What Becomes of the Ashes by Pixelnyx. He grows and sacrifices everything for Noah throughout the story. I admire that.
What have you got coming soon for us to look out for?
Not soon, but I am working on a spiritual successor to The Scorpion’s Empress. It features new characters and it’s set over 250 years after this book. We get to find out the consequences of Raj and Videl’s actions.
What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
Pixelnyx’s work—both fanfiction and original.




AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Yoshiyuki Ly was born in San Diego, CA. She lived there until moving away to college. In high school, she began writing fanfiction as a serious hobby. Her pen name is representative of her multiracial heritage and a unique, diverse outlook that is reflective in her work. While pursuing an undergraduate degree in philosophy, she spent her free time reading the works of Virginia Woolf, Soren Kierkegaard and Simone de Beauvoir. She then spent the next years honing her craft to become a published author.

Links –




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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Wednesday Briefs: Moving Forward #48 (11.3)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, it must be time for some flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, from 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Lee and Marshall have had an eventful day, it's time to relax in the hot tub! Join them in this next episode of Moving Forward! And don't forget to check out the other Briefers to see what they're up to. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Moving Forward #48 (11.3)


The hot tub was warm and soothing to Marshall’s aching muscles. He relaxed against Lee, watching the sun set below the horizon, fiery reds turning to purple and blue stripes. He’d never seen anything so lovely in his life.

The Wandering Star was due to set sail soon for the next stop, the island of St. John. Once there, they’d be able to go to the nude beach Lee had spoken of.

“What’s the name of that beach again?” Marshall asked.

“Salomon,” Lee replied. “There’s a couple ways to get there. Both involve walking, though. Are you sure you’re up to it?”

Marshall tilted his head and cast Lee an indignant look. “Do I look like an invalid to you? I’d be more worried about you than me.”

“You mean because of my advanced age?” Lee teased as he arched a brow.

“I wasn’t going to say that, but if the shoe fits…” Marshall couldn’t suppress his grin.

“Keep that up and I’ll show you where my shoe fits.” Despite his words, Lee couldn’t keep from smiling himself. “Good thing we brought extra sun block. Don’t want your dainties to burn, do we?”

Marshall snorted. “Aren’t you worried about yours?”

“Nope. I intend to put mine where the sun don’t shine.” He gave Marshall a knowing look, and Marshall turned hot and cold all over, knowing exactly what Lee meant. The idea of being fucked by Lee on a nude beach was intoxicating.

“I suggest you remember towels if you don’t want sand in your ass.” Lee grinned widely.

That was painful to even think about.  “Towels it is,” Marshall agreed. “Want me to bring your rubber ducky too?”

“You’re very funny. I guess you’ll need your water wings, won’t you?”        
 
“You know damn well I can swim, old man,” Marshall retorted. “You taught me yourself.”

“Did I?” Lee feigned surprise. “Huh, I guess I did at that.” He placed a gentle kiss at the base of Marshall’s neck, then a few more along his shoulder.

Marshall closed his eyes and relaxed into Lee’s touch. “Lee?”

“Mmmm?’

“I just want to say thank you again, for bringing me on this cruise. This has been amazing.”

“It has been, hasn’t it?” Lee said. “I couldn’t imagine being here with anyone but you. You make it perfect.”

Marshall warmed at Lee’s words. He pulled Lee’s arm across his chest and held it close to his heart.

“I meant what I said,” Lee continued. “We’re going to take more trips, see more places. We can afford it, we’re doing well.  Why have money if you don’t use it, right?“

“I like that idea. Very much.” They snuggled together in the warm water, as the night settled warmly around them, and the sounds of the other decks floated on the breeze.

“Mind if we eat in tonight?” Marshall asked. “I think I’d like to keep you all to myself, if you don’t mind. Maybe tomorrow we can see if Denver and Dustin want to go with us to the beach. What do you think? Would you mind?”

“Eating in? Not at all. I like the idea of being alone with you quite a bit,” Lee said.

“What about the rest of it? If not, that’s cool too.”

“I have no problem with that,” Lee replied without hesitation. “I never expected us to be alone on this trip, and we certainly knew they were coming. We’ve always liked Denver. And if Dustin means what he said about turning over a new life, then why not?”

“Sounds like a plan,” Marshall murmured contentedly. “You know what sounds good for dinner?”

“What’s that?”

“A great big thick steak with grilled onions and a big baked potato along with it. Maybe a hot fudge sundae for dessert.”

“I like the way you think. We can order in a little bit.”

There was no rush, Marshall knew. Room service ran twenty-four hours. He just wanted to enjoy this moment with Lee right now.

to be continued

Now go see what the other Briefers are up to!






Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wednesday Briefs: Moving Forward #47 (11.2)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for some flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, from 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts!

Things have gotten bumpy on the cruise for Marshall and Lee, but maybe they'll get better, now that the real culprit has been apprehended. Find out in this week's episode of Moving Forward. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they've been up to. Their links follow my tale!  Enjoy!

Moving Forward #47 (11.2)

Marshall ached all over. His head hurt from where Cody’d pounded it against the floor, but the pain had been reduced to a dull throb thanks to the ship’s doctor, who’d given him something to take the edge off. Other than that, he’d been declared fit and free to go, so Lee took him back to their cabin.

The security officer had handcuffed Cody and taken him away as he disbursed the curious onlookers. He said he’d get their statements later. Now Lee and Marshall were sitting on their deck, along with Denver and Dustin. Roger and Kenny had made sure everyone was good before returning to Roger’s cabin across the hall.

Marshall wanted a drink, but Lee said not with the pills he’d taken. Weighing his desire for alcohol against losing his headache, Marshall was forced to agree with him. He settled for sitting on Lee’s lap, allowing Lee to baby him. He relaxed in Lee’s loving embrace. Everything was over. Nothing to worry about anymore. Closing his eyes for just a second, he felt himself begin to doze off. He roused himself  enough to pay attention to the conversation at hand.

“I want to apologize for how I’ve been acting,” Dustin was saying. “I know I was an asshole, and I don’t have any excuse for it. It’s my fault Marshall got hurt, although I never meant for that to happen, I swear. I didn’t know Cody was like that. But if you want me to go, I’ll understand. I won’t bother you ever again.”

 Marshall turned enough to be able to see Dustin. His eyes were fixed on the floor and he seemed rather weary himself.

“I’ll agree you’ve been acting like a dick,” Lee replied, “even though Marshall told you no, more than once.  And we had to have that little talk. Even so, you stepped up for him when it counted, when you could have just walked away, and I appreciate that. So I’m going to leave it up to Marshall whether he wants you to leave or not. He’s the one you’ve done wrong, it’s his decision.”
Marshall shifted slightly on Lee’s lap, facing Dustin. Dustin darted a quick glance at Marshall, then glanced away, as if afraid to meet his gaze.

“Dustin,” Marshall said, and Dustin reluctantly looked back at him. “I was pissed at you, I’ll admit, because you wouldn’t take no for an answer. I appreciated your help at Partners, but I didn’t like the way you kept coming on to me, even though I made it clear I’m with Lee and always will be. Why you thought that would change is beyond me. But when it counted, you stood up for me against that jerk Cody and I’m grateful to you for that. I think you finally got it through your thick noggin that I’m not available.” Marshall managed a small smile, to take the sting out of his words, and Dustin even chuckled. “We’ll be good if you really understand that, and if you agree to treat Lee with the respect he deserves as my partner. If you can do that, you’re welcome to stay.”

Marshall hoped this wouldn’t come back to bite him in the ass, but he wasn’t a vindictive person. He didn’t hate Dustin, just the way he’d been acting. And if he was truly sorry, then maybe they could all get along again.

Dustin nodded. Rising from his chair, he approached Marshall and held out his hand toward him. “I’d like to start over, if I could,” he said.

Marshall didn’t hesitate to extend his hand and they shook. Then Dustin turned to Lee, and they also shook hands. 

“Thank you both,” he said. “I’m not sure I deserve a second chance, but I’m grateful to have one. I hope that someday I’ll find something even half as good as what you two have. I mean it.”

Marshall thought he sounded sincere. He leaned back against Lee, who wrapped his arms about him, carefully.

“I hope you do too, Dustin,” Lee said.

Denver got up and joined his cousin. “I appreciate you guys giving Dustin another chance. I think we should be going, though. Marshall looks tuckered out, and I think Dustin looks worn out himself. I guess swimming can wait.”

Marshall had forgotten all about swimming. Right now, the idea of being in the pool didn’t even sound good. However, the warmth of the hot tub was another matter altogether.

Lee seemed to read his mind. “I think you’re right. We’ll catch up with you later. I think we’re going to stay in tonight. How do you feel about that, Marshall?”

“I think that’s a great idea,” he agreed.

Denver and Dustin made their farewells, and then Marshall and Lee were alone at last. Marshall didn’t move right away. He laid his head against Lee’s chest and felt the even rise and fall of his chest.

“You doing okay?” Lee asked.

“Yeah, all things considered,” Marshall replied honestly. “Sorry about the swimming.”

“I don’t care about that. We have time for that stuff,” Lee said. “What I care about is you. I hope you realize that. You’re more important to me than anything else in the world.”

“I know, and I feel the same way ‘bout you. Just remember that, okay?”

“Why would I forget that?” Lee asked.

Marshall turned his head, meeting Lee’s eyes. “I remember you trying to tell me Dustin was more my age, do you recall?”

“I was only suggesting—”

Marshall stemmed his words with a kiss. “Don’t,” he said. “Just never think that way again. You’re stuck with me, old man. Through thick and thin.”

“Sickness and in health?” Lee quipped.

“You know it.” Marshall nodded. “How about we get in the hot tub?”

“Sounds like a plan,” Lee agreed.

to be continued

Now go see what the other Briefers are doing!