Thursday, December 1, 2016

Virtual Book Tour: Bounty's Song

Please welcome author Mandy Colton, who is here to tell us about her new release, Bounty's Song. Mandy will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN GC to one randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. To find the other stops on her tour, go here. Don't forget to look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post!

Bounty’s Song
by Mandy Colton


GENRE: Contemporary  Romance



Gage Knight is a Texas bounty hunter and just doing a tough job when he’s sent to Nashville to pick up a grifting high-dollar fugitive. He arrives at the right place at almost the right time, but he makes a big mistake when he leaves.

Once a debutante, Danica Chastain is now a struggling songwriter with a dream of landing a job in the music business. On the day when her hard work seems to be heading in the right direction, a gruff man with a dark presence and wolfish eyes arrives at her door.

Although their immediate chemistry is off the charts, the two clash—for good reason. Danica is not who he thinks she is, and he’s not listening...



“Open the damn door, Gage, or I’m walking in whether you are flagrante delicto or not!”

Groaning, he rolled out of bed, holding his aching head, shuffled to the door, and wrenched it open. “What the hell, Cheryl? And speak English!”

She snickered, reaching up and stuck her pointer finger to the tip of his nose. “Right back atcha, big boy. You’re gettin’ the Tara Morgan file back. Get it together, and get your primo ass moving.” She wrinkled her nose and backed up a step, waving her hand. “Dude, you are ripe. Are you drunk?”

“Yes! And I would like to sleep it off in peace. I just delivered Morgan.”

“No. You delivered one Danica Chastain, and the boss ain’t happy. You would not believe the God-awful twist he’s got his boxers in over this one. He’s embarrassed, all kinds of pissed, and was holding a nut cracker in one hand when I left. You know what that means.”

Fuck. The woman had been telling the truth. “I have no idea where to find the real Tara Morgan. She evidently left Nashville before I picked up the Chastain girl. Their IDs must have been switched.”

“Gage, this kind of shoddy work is not like you. What the hell happened?”

He ran his hand through his hair, and it hurt. “Where is she? Danica?”

“Dad compensated her, which will come out of your next check, and bought her a bus ticket back to Nashville.”

Shit! He should be taking her home. He owed her that much, and he needed to talk to her. He wanted to...

“Gage?” She snapped her fingers in his face. “Gage!”

“Will you stop yelling, girly? My head is already pounding like a bass drum and ready to explode.”

Cheryl was just staring at him now with her head cocked. “How come you got drunk?”

He ignored her.

She pulled a wry grin. “I saw that girl... She was pretty. You sweet on her? Huh? Is that what happened? She get under your skin and twist your gonads all up into a love knot?”

This girl and the boss both had an obsession with balls. The wile little snippet of a girl swung a set of truck nuts off the front of her little Jeep. Big black ones. Gage just stared at her a minute and continued his shuffle to the medicine cabinet for some aspirin.

Cheryl followed, hot on his heels. “Oh my freakin’ gawd, I’m right. A woman finally got to you. Gage, the eternal bachelor. Did you do the taboo and pork a skip?”

He stopped and turned. Cheryl was Gavin’s daughter, a professional meddler. Gavin was one of his bosses, a bail bondsman. He worked for a couple of guys who kept him plenty busy. Cheryl just happened to be the go-to girl if you needed information. She could find a third of their skips just through her own contact mill. Everybody liked her, including cops, lawyers, judges, and even some political types. She knew somebody in every neighborhood and precinct in Houston and then a bunch of key people across the state. Shit. Across at least three states. A perpetual-talking, networking, goldmine she was. Friendly as hell, instantly likable, cute as a button with her short-spiky hair like his own, and a cute little pixie face. She was the closest thing to an annoying little sister he’d ever had and currently working up to being a pain in his ass today.

“Girl, will you please stop talkin’. I need to take an aspirin and a piss,” he grumbled.

She leaned against the doorframe, shit-grinning from ear to ear. “I don’t mind. It’s been a while since I saw it. If you’re too weak this mornin’, I could hold it for ya.”

He shook his head and shut the door. Little shit.

He had just started to trickle when Cheryl started talking again through the door and his stream halted. “You know, chances are, that Morgan girl didn’t go far. We got lucky findin’ her in Tennessee, and I don’t think she ever planned to stay long. I think she was just unloading stolen goods and holing up for a while. She likes casinos but not the boats so much that are around there. They’re mainly hangouts for the senior citizens and tourist crowd. Only good for a little pickpocket action. Not her usual gig. She mostly hangs out where she can latch on to somebody, likes the horse and dog tracks. The big question is, which way did she go? I already marked the tracks around Nashville on a map for you. Kentucky, Florida, Louisiana, or Texas, baby. I think the last two. I betcha dollars ta donuts, she didn’t go to Louisville and is probably in Bossier City, Louisiana, right now. More racetracks comin’ back this way toward Texas.”

Gage washed his hands while looking in the mirror. Man, he looked like shit. After downing two aspirin, he opened the door and headed to the kitchen to put some coffee on. Again, with Cheryl following close behind.

“Dad gave me another file. Said to pick this guy up before you leave. He said some other stuff too, but I...uh...don’t need to repeat the rest.”

No doubt. “Your dad is not the only guy I work for. I gotta check in with Tanner too.”

“News travels fast. Tanner called to rub in your mistake just before Dad said all that other stuff I didn’t repeat.” She then quipped, “What you gotta do is fix this Morgan thing. Dad’ll be really pissed at you if this bond runs out and he takes a really embarrassing double hit. He’s out a groveling apology, a chunk of spare change, bus ticket, and some reputation skin off his ass. And you’re out plenty of dough too, aren’t ya?”

He closed his eyes and rolled his neck to get the kinks out. He could give a fuck less about the money. What he needed to do was fix his wrong with Danica. He loaded the coffee pot and flicked it on, then headed to the shower with Cheryl chattering right behind.

“I gotta go. I’ll put the files on the table along with the map I marked. I’ll even call security at the race tracks in Bossier City and Vinton and ask about any reports of theft.”

He turned and kissed her on the cheek. “Appreciate it.”

She smiled and gave him a wink. “I do what I can. After you find that Morgan chick, you can go do your own groveling to that Danica girl.”

“Good-bye, Cheryl. Unless you want to shower with me?” He ended with a mischievous grin.

“Yikes! With you and that big snake? I’m outta here, pal.” She said as she went, throwing an eyebrow waggle back at him, “You’re pretty hot and all, but I don’t think Dad would appreciate me boinkin’ the help. I could hurt ya.”


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Mandy Colton is from Louisville, KY, and lives a very quiet life with her husband and teenage son. A fan of romance, fun adventure, drama, humor, and on occasion, sci-fi stories. Her first book, Way to Go, and the continuing series came from her years, own adventures and experiences working in the travel industry.
Although she’s a great fan of the human imagination, she is also of the opinion that there are just no better stories than those that involve a bit of true life.
If you like my books, please review on Amazon or Goodreads. Subscribe for notifications on future new releases!

The book is Free on Kindle and Nook During the Tour

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday Briefs: Moving Forward #61 (15.2)

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, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

As the cruise draws to an end, plans are being made which will effect Marshall and Lee's entire future. How will Roy react to their announcement? Find out in this week's Moving Forward. Don't forget to see what the other Briefers are up to. Their links follow my tale!  Enjoy!

Moving Forward #61 (15.2)

“I think we should tell Roy first,” Lee said once they’d gotten their fill of the hot tub and gone back inside their cabin. “I think he deserves to know before anyone else, what do you think?”

They’d dried themselves off with the generous towels the cruise line provided and sat together on the bed, sipping more Prosecco.

“I think you’re right,” Marshall agreed.

 Lee reached for his hand and squeezed it. “No time like the present. Assuming we can get a signal.”  He released Marshall’s hand and reached for his phone on the bedside table.  “He’s two hours behind us, timewise. I’m sure he’s still up.” He placed the call on speaker and punched in Roy’s number. 

Marshall was relieved to hear it ring. That was a start, anyway.

Roy picked up quickly. “Lee? Everything all right?”

Lee chuckled. “Everything’s perfect, Roy. Just perfect.”

“Glad to hear it.”

Marshall could hear relief in the sheriff’s voice.

“I didn’t expect to hear from you while you’re on vacation. You’re headed back right about now, aren’t you?”

“We are,” Lee confirmed. “I have you on speakerphone, Roy, and I have Marshall right here.”

“Hey Marshall.”

“Hi Roy.”

“You guys having a good time?”

“Everything is so perfect… you have to try it sometime,” Marshall said with enthusiasm. “Come with us next time.”

“I think I just might, if I find someone I want to go with. You know the old adage. Two’s company…” 
He didn’t finish the thought, but Marshall understood what he meant.

“I want what you guys have,” Roy said frankly. “You’re like the most perfect couple I know. Seriously.”

“Appreciate you saying that, Roy.” Lee smiled at Marshall, instilling him with even greater confidence. “How’s everything at home?”

“Same old same old. Nothing new. Been to Partners once or twice. The guys said to say hello if I talked to you.”

“That’s nice of them.” Lee cleared his throat. “The reason we called… well, other than to say hello and see how you’re doing… is to give you some news. Are you sitting down?”

“Uh oh, this sounds serious. Yeah, sitting down now. What’s up? Is something wrong?”

“Not at all, in fact the opposite. We wanted you to be the first to know… I asked Marshall to marry me.”

A moment of silence followed Lee’s statement. Marshall could imagine what thoughts were flying through Roy’s mind. Probably many of the same ones he’d had initially when Lee had popped the question.

“Is that possible… I mean….” Roy seemed at a loss for words. Lee quickly jumped in to fill in the gaps.

“It won’t be official, no, but it’ll be for us. We want a ceremony with our friends, exchange rings and vows, and make our commitment to each other.”

“I think that’s a great idea, congratulations to you both,” Roy said sincerely. Marshall breathed a soft sigh of relief. He hadn’t realized how worried he’d been about Roy’s reaction to their news. He should have known better.

“Do you have a date in mind?” Roy asked.

Lee and Marshall exchanged glances. They hadn’t exactly gotten that far.

“Not really. I thought we’d stop in Galveston and look for rings. Probably the sooner the better, don’t you think?” He looked to Marshall for confirmation, and Marshall nodded his agreement.

“Yeah,” Lee repeated, “the sooner the better.”

“All right then. You’ll be back tomorrow, right? Late morning, early afternoon?”

“Something like that.”

“Guess I’ll see you both then. I have to let you go, got a few things to do. Congratulations again, I’ll talk at you when you get here.” He hung up before either Marshall or Lee could get out a good-bye.

“What’s he up to?” Marshall wondered.

Lee shrugged. “Maybe he’s got a hot date? Or maybe someone in the town needs him for something?”

Marshall hoped that was all it was. Guess he’d find out the next day when they returned to Burnham.

to be continued

Now see what the other Briefers are up to!

Virtual Book Tour: Spooning Daisy

Please welcome author Maggie McConnell, here to tell us about her new release, Spooning Daisy. Maggie will be awarding a Marc Jacobs "Daisy" fragrance spray pen - purse size - to one randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter. To find the other stops on her tour, go here. Don't forget to look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.

by Maggie McConnell


GENRE:  contemporary romance (romantic comedy)



Her mango chutney is exquisite; her blueberry sauce to die for. But Chef de Cuisine Daisy Moon is a woman without a kitchen after a "bit of trouble" at her last job. Now blacklisted from Seattle to San Francisco, Daisy's sole job offer is from Wild Man Lodge in Otter Bite, Alaska, where the end of the road is just the beginning.



   His laugh was immediate. Daisy realized how ridiculous her allegation was. Max Kendall's particular brand of woman didn't need lies to motivate her into his bed. His women were fun and adventurous and, unlike Daisy, didn't have impossible expectations.
"I thought we were talking about you," he said with a dying chuckle. "But if you think you're helping the enemy..." With his good leg bearing the brunt of his weight, he rose from the bed. Grabbing the handles on his duffle bag, he slowly stepped toward the bathroom.
"If the lights were dim and the music soft and the wine expensive." 
Max turned at the door. "And?"
"And what?"
"I don't believe for one second that you, Daisy, would be undermined by lights, music, and wine."
"And… if I thought you were...special."
"And what makes a man special?"
Daisy hesitated at the fork in her road. She could give Max an honest answer or… "Well, for one thing, he's very forgiving--"
His eyes crinkled as his grin returned.
"--And he would never use all the hot water just to prove some ridiculous point."
"I guess I'm not the only one who has trouble giving a straight answer. See you when the water runs cold." The bathroom door clicked shut.
"And he makes me smile," Daisy murmured, smiling.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Golden Heart nominee Maggie McConnell spent her childhood overseas as the daughter of US diplomats. Attending college in Illinois, she earned a BA in Art and an MBA while working at the local humane shelter. At 26, she packed her dog and cat into a Ford truck and drove the Alcan Highway to Alaska, where she spent 23 years exploring The Last Frontier in a single-engine Cessna. A vegan and animal rights advocate, Maggie provides a sanctuary on her Arizona ranch for all creatures great and small, but her immediate family includes dog Molly, cat Sara, horses Quinn and Teena, and an ever-growing dynasty of chipmunks. Every year, like the Gray Whale, Maggie returns to Alaska.


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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Virtual Book Tour: Revenge

Please welcome author J.A. Jackson, who is here to tell us about her new release, Revenge. J.A. is awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to one randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. To find the other stops on her tour, go here. Don't forget to look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post!

by J.A. Jackson


GENRE: Romantic Suspense



Last time, in J. A. Jackson’s steamy, romantic thriller Lovers, Players and The Seducer, the storm came…and went.

Back then, Nicholas La Cour played a very dangerous game of cat and mouse; one in which he involved his childhood friends, Kienan Egan and Quinn Rolandis. Even worse, he put his own sister, Lacey La Cour, right in the middle of that storm.

Everyone got swept away in the torrent of greed, lust and ruthless ambition. All except two ratchet lovers…

Another storm is coming, but the two ratchet lovers survive it? Find out in Jackson’s anticipated sequel, Lovers, Players The Seducer, Book II The Revenge Game. Winner takes all.



A half hour later Maëlle squatted at a swarm of mosquitoes and shifted the fishing pole case from one shoulder to the other.  The bag was light and didn’t smell as bad or feel as slimy as the dead fish Paul and Bruno were carrying. She turned and headed between the trees that laid just behind the cabin.

Maëlle stopped abruptly and Paul almost ran into her.

“What’s wrong Maëlle? Why did you stop?”

Paul’s eyes followed hers and noticed the Mercedes parked in the driveway.

Bruno quickly caught up with them. “Looks like we have company. Were you two expecting company?”
“No,” Paul and Maëlle said together.

“Well, that’s an awfully expensive car. Whoever it is has a few dollars to rub together,” Bruno said.

“Or a great expense account,” Maëlle added.

Bruno took the lead. “Come on, you two, let’s go over and say howdy,” he said, carrying a load of fish. “Maybe the sight of all these dead fish will frighten them away.”

Paul playfully gave Maëlle’s shoulder a nudge as they walked over together.

All at once Bruno yelled.  “Good evening, you in the car. Can I help you?”

The car door opened.

“Hey Bruno?”

“Hamelin?” Bruno laughed out. “Boy, I haven’t seen you in ages.”

Maëlle looked up at Paul. “Who’s Hamelin?”

 “I guess you’re about to meet my dad’s nephew Hamelin Scott,” Paul said bluntly almost sharply.

For a moment Maëlle could have sworn she saw a flash of something pass across Paul’s face.  She didn’t have long to ponder it as Hamelin closed the distance between them.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

J.A. Jackson is the pseudonym for an author, who loves to write deliciously sultry adult romantic, suspenseful, entertaining novels with a unique twist. She lives in an enchanted little house she calls home in the Northern California foothills.
She spent over ten years working in the non-profit sector where she wrote grants, press releases and contributed many stories to their newsletter. She was their Newsletter editor for over ten years. She loves growing roses, a good pot of hot tea, chocolate, magical stories, suspense stories, ghost stories, and reading Jane Austen again and again in her past time.

Lovers, Players & The Seducer   -
When a Taker Dreams
Mistress of Desire & The Orchid Lover
Grand Hotel
A Geek, an Angel & the Deceiver
The Proposition (A Geek, An Angel)


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Monday, November 28, 2016

Virtual Book Tour: Angles

Please welcome author Erin Lockwood, here to tell us about her new release, Angles. Erin will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to one randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. To find the other stops on her tour, go here. Don't forget to look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post!

Angles – Part 1
by Erin Lockwood


GENRE: Contemporary Romance



This story is about friendship and relationship triangles, love and protection, love and understanding, and love and true love.



By the time I get back to dancing with Dean, I feel something, someone, watching me. The feeling I felt before my speech is stronger now. There’s something consuming my surroundings—an invisible, sweltering blanket over me. As soon as I have the chance, I look around and try to find the source of this feeling—the burning eyes I can’t see, yet, but I sense are focused on me.

I casually scan the room between dips and twirls.

My breath catches. There they are—the eyes I’ve been searching for. A man, a gorgeous man, in a perfectly tailored suit is staring at me. It’s no mistake. Now that I see him, I know his eyes are the source of this feeling I’ve been having.

There are worse people to have stare at you. He might be a little older, but he’s very attractive. He wears his dark brown hair slicked and styled up and back. It looks soft enough to run my fingers through and short enough to create a little edge to it. His blackish gray suit blends in with his olive, tan skin. Every part of him is dark and smoky, except his eyes. His turquoise-blue eyes are so bright; they’re like headlights shining at me. A lighthouse warning me not to come too close or my boat will crash. 


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Erin Lockwood grew up in Castro Valley, California, and attended the University of Oregon where she graduated with a degree in journalism in 2003. From there, she moved to Denver, Colorado, and spent the next seven years searching for the love of her life and building the family of her dreams.

It wasn’t long until, with children starting preschool and more time on her hands, Erin refocused on her career, beginning with a successful entry into the world of residential real estate as a realtor. Free time was spent reading book after book—and binge-watching the subsequent films—in the New Adult genre. Hopelessly in love with her husband, she wrote him a short story for their fifth wedding anniversary. That’s when she discovered her tireless passion to share her experience of falling in love through fictional characters. That story evolved into the first novel in the Angles Trilogy.

Erin still lives in Denver with her husband, Phil, and their three children. They spend most of their summers and holidays on the beautiful island of Coronado where Erin and Phil wish to retire someday.

Learn more about Erin and the Angles Trilogy at, Facebook, and Twitter.

Buy Link:


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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wednesday Briefs: Moving Forward #60 (15.1)

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 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

In last week's episode of Moving Forward, Lee asked Marshall a surprising question. Find out what his response this week! And don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they've been up to! Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Moving Forward #60 (15.1)

Marshall was sure he could not have heard Lee correctly.

Marry him? How? They both knew their union would never be permitted by any government anywhere. Attempting to take out a marriage license would probably only get them both in trouble. Marshall might wish it to be otherwise—with all his heart, he wanted to be out and proud with Lee—but he knew that could never be.

Could it?

His heart was pounding, and for a moment, he couldn’t speak, too choked up for words. Finally, he managed to get out, “Lee… how?”

“It won’t be anything official,” Lee said softly. He cradled Marshall’s hand between both of us, looking deep into his eyes. “But we can have a private ceremony, just us and a few of our friends. We can exchange vows… and rings.”

Rings. Suddenly Lee’s suggestion began to make more sense as Marshall considered the ramifications of the rings. They would be visible proof of their union, something that bound them in the eyes of the people around them. Something that said they weren’t available to anyone else better than mere words could.

Most importantly, they’d be as close as they could ever get to being truly married. At least in the US. Marshall was sure their union was illegal everywhere, to be honest. Everywhere but their own hearts.

“But only if you want to,” Lee added, and Marshall realized he hadn’t actually answered the question. How could Lee doubt his answer, though?

“I would love to marry you, Lee,” Marshall said. “I want to be with you for the rest of our lives. You and me, always.”

“That’s what I want too.” Lee’s smile was radiant. “When we get home we can look for rings. We’ll be in Galveston anyway, want to look there? I bet we’ll get a better selection there in Tucker Falls, much less Burnham.”

Marshall suspected that was quite true. Especially since he didn’t think anyone in Burnham sold wedding rings.

“I’m sure Denver and Dustin won’t mind,” Lee said.

“Nah, I’m sure they’ll be cool with it. Especially once we invite them to the wedding.”

Lee’s brow arched. “Are you sure? I mean, you sure you’re comfortable with that?”

Marshall nodded. “I am. Plus I think it’ll help resolve everything once and for all with him.” 

Although Marshall didn’t mention him by name, he knew Lee would know whom he referred to. 

“Not that I think there’d be a problem anyway. Plus I figured you meant the guys from Partners, right? And Roy, naturally.”

“Naturally Roy,” Lee responded. That one was a given. Roy was their very best friend, their trusted companion. Of course they couldn’t get married without him being there.

“We should drink another toast,” Marshall said.

“Agreed.” Lee poured more of the Prosecco, then set the bottle down.  He raised his glass toward Marshall. “Here’s to our future union, and to many years of wedded bliss,” he said solemnly.

“And here’s to marrying the sexiest damn man in the state of Texas,” Marshall said as he clinked his glass against Lee’s.

“That would be you,” Lee said with a grin.

“Not arguing with you, old man,” Marshall said, returning the grin, “even though I’m right.” He linked his arm through Lee’s, careful not to spill anything into the hot tub. “You’re so sexy you make me hard just looking at you.” He was gratified to see a faint blush come to Lee’s cheeks.

“Then let me return the compliment and, at the risk of giving you a swelled head, I’ll just say you star in some damn sexy dreams.”

They both smiled contentedly as they raised their glasses and drank.

to be continued

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Wednesday Briefs: Moving Forward #59 (14.3)

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, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Moving Forward is drawing to a close, as Marshall and Lee celebrate their last night aboard the Wandering Star. Hot tub and Prosecco... what else might be in store for them? Find out in this week's episode. Don't forget to see what the other Briefers are up to. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Moving Forward #59 (14.3)

When they returned to their room, Lee called Room Service and ordered a bottle of Prosecco. “Want anything to eat with that?” he asked Marshall.

Marshall considered for a moment. He wasn’t really hungry now, but he might be later.
“Maybe some of that lava cake we had before?” Something sweet would hit the spot after making love.

“Sounds good to me.” Lee relayed the order, then hung up.

“What’s Prosecco?” Marshall asked.

“It’s like champagne, but sweeter,” Lee replied. “A little something special for our last night here.”

Lee pulled Marshall closer to him, circling his waist. “A special night for a special guy.”

Marshall warmed at Lee’s words. “Being with you is what makes everything special,” he said sincerely.

Lee kissed him softly, then with a growing fervor as they pressed together, losing themselves in one another. Only a knock at the door kept them from escalating their kisses to the next step. They drew apart reluctantly. Lee answered the knock and admitted a steward with their order.

“Good evening, sirs,” the steward greeted them as he rolled a cart into their suite. “Celebrating our last night on board, are we?”

“We are indeed,” Lee replied. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a few bills which he handed to the man. “Thank you very much, we can take it from here.”

“Very good, sir. Enjoy your evening.” He nodded at each of them then discreetly withdrew.

Lee verified that the door was locked behind him, then turned to Marshall, a wicked gleam in his eyes. “Alone at last,” he said with a grin. “Still want to drink this in the hot tub?”

“You know it.”

“No time like the present then. Grab the glasses.”

Marshall quickly obeyed, as Lee picked up the ice-filled bucket containing the Prosecco. They carried everything out to the deck and left it on the table beside the hot tub, then returned to their room and stripped before returning to the hot tub.

The night was balmy, with just the hint of a spice-laden breeze. They could hear music from one of the other decks, some kind of jazz. Just loud enough to be heard without being intrusive.

Lee popped the cork on the Prosecco and poured it into two glasses before they climbed into the warm water, sitting across from one another.  He handed one of the glasses to Marshall and took the other.

“What shall we toast to?” Lee asked.

“To the best time of our lives,” Marshall promptly replied, clinking his glass against Lee’s.

“To the best time,” Lee repeated. They each drank.

“I think I like this even better than the champagne,” Marshall commented. “It does tickle a mite, though.”

“As I recall, the champagne did that too,” Lee drawled, and Marshall had to laugh at that.

“Yeah, I guess it did.” He took another sip. “It’s really good. I’m glad you thought of it.”

“I am too.”

Nothing more was said for a moment. Then Lee cleared his throat, and shifted his position. Marshall wondered if he was making room for him to come over, and he began to move toward him, but Lee held up one hand.

“Not yet. I want to talk to you first.”

That sounded ominous.

“Did I do something wrong?”Marshall asked anxiously.

“What? Oh God no, don’t think that,” Lee hastened to assure him. “Nothing like that. Just have something on my mind, and I want to say it to you, but I want it to come out right, that’s all.” He reached for Marshall’s hand and when he received it, he squeezed it.

“Marshall, you know you mean the world to me, right?”

Marshall nodded.

“And you know I’d do anything for you, don’t  you?”

Marshall nodded again.

“This trip… it’s been more than a great time. I think I’ve had my eyes opened to something I probably should have realized sooner.”

Marshall couldn’t help but feel anxious again. This sounded so ominous. Surely he wasn’t going to start that stuff about Marshall needing or wanting someone closer to his own age, someone who wasn’t Lee.

“Lee, you know I want you and only you, forever.” Marshall tried to control his quivering lip. Damned if he was going to cry. No way.

“I know that,” Lee said solemnly. “That’s why I’m asking you this… will you marry me?”

to be continued

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