Saturday, October 31, 2015

Into the Spider's Web (Halloween Rose and Thorne) Part IV

Happy Halloween everyone! As promised, I have the next part of Rose and Thorne, but as it turns out, it isn't the last! Come back tomorrow to find out what happens! I hope you're enjoying my little tale! Have a wonderful Halloween!

Into the Spider's Web Part IV

If I’d had a fan, I would have giggled girlishly behind it and tossed out a quick “Fiddle-dee-dee”, but I didn’t. Not like it would have gone with the costume anyway. That would be Scarlett O’Hara, not Cleopatra. So I did the next best thing. Staying in character, I gave the object of our surveillance a regal smile, and managed a breathy, “I’ll get back to you on that, sir.”

Well, didn’t my offhand remark have an immediate effect? I was surprised to feel Ethan stiffen beside me—and not in a good way—and for once he didn’t make a smart-ass reply.

 Well, well, well, Mr. Thorne does have a jealous bone, doesn’t he?

Meanwhile, the wife’s face had become mottled with very unbecoming red blotches, and she seemed in imminent danger of blowing a head gasket.

I wondered if she’d be angrier or relieved if she knew her husband was actually hitting on a guy wearing a dress?

Ethan, in the meantime, had managed to recover his equilibrium and turned back into his normal charming self. “Thank you so much for inviting my fiancé and me, Mr. and Mrs. Geist. You have a very lovely home.”

If looks could kill, I think Ethan would be dead, judging by the expression on Spider’s face. So would I, for that matter, considering the lasers that beamed at me from Mrs. G’s eyes. I quickly averted my gaze.

Two cauldrons filled with gift bags sat beside Spider. I’d noticed that he’d given something to everyone who’d been ahead of us in line, either from one cauldron or the other. We each received a small novelty bag. I wondered what was the difference between the two? Maybe one was for preferred guests and held a better class of gifts, while the other was for B-listers like us.
Time to blend into the woodwork and take stock of the situation.

“We’re very glad you could attend,” Mrs. Spider was saying in a voice so sharp you could cut yourself on it. We quickly made our excuses and hurried away, allowing other guests to run the gauntlet.

The main event was taking place in a room that could have passed as an airplane hangar. It contained a variety of seating for those guests who preferred not to stand, as well as plenty of room for everyone else to mingle and tangle or whatever you might choose to do in such a crowd. There was even a decent-sized dance floor, and a live, honest-to-goodness band and not a DJ. When these people threw a party, they went all out, apparently. When you lived in La La Land, I guess you had to keep up appearances.

Tables filled with refreshments took up one side of the room, and a bar was set up in the corner. I half expected to see liveried footman in powdered wigs making their appointed rounds. Maybe they had the night off.

Ethan and I stood together, away from everyone. Not that I thought we could be overheard over the music, or the general hubbub of conversation.

A couple passed by us, fluted champagne glasses in hand.  I took a second look. There was something very familiar about the guy. I frowned as I tried to think where I might know him from.

“Hey, Wolfy.” I lightly nudged Ethan’s side.

“Yes, Lotta?” he quipped.

“That guy who just walked by us, do you recognize him from anywhere?”

Ethan gave a subtle glance toward the man in question. Luckily, he’d stopped not far away to speak to someone and his profile was turned in our direction.

“You mean the guy with the winning smile talking to the short bald guy?”

I tried not to scowl too much at Ethan’s description. “Yeah, him.”

“Of course I recognize him. His face is all over the tabloids, every time we go to the store. Plus we saw his last movie. You know, the one about the CIA?”

Oh yeah and duh. Damn, I should have realized. It suddenly dawned on me there were a lot of people from the film industry here. Not surprising, considering where we were and who Spider was. Movie stars and criminals seemed to go hand in hand.

“Think any of them are part of what’s going on?”

“Naw, I doubt it. I think they’re just here to hobnob with the criminal element, you know?”

Yeah, I knew what he meant.

Some of Tinseltown’s most famous faces were represented. I tried not to stare. Pretend I wasn’t as impressed as I was. Resist the urge to ask for someone’s autograph.

“Want a drink?” Ethan asked.

I wrinkled my nose. “Probably not a good idea.”

“Afraid Spider might start looking good to you?”

I rolled my eyes and didn’t deign to answer his ridiculous question. “I don’t think it’s likely we’ll see him again, anyway. Not with all the guests he has, and considering we’re the least among them.”

“Oh yeah? Then why is he headed in this direction with that I-want-to-dance look in his eyes.”

“Oh hell and shitfire!” I swore. “Ethan, quick, take me out on the dance floor. Right now!”

“Yes, my queen,” he intoned and I had to refrain from kicking him in the shins—if not a higher location—as that would entirely defeat my purpose.  He took me by the hand and we almost raced toward where the other couples were moving and grooving to the beat of the music the band was producing, losing ourselves in their midst. I breathed more easily as we fell into step together.

“You know what I’m thinking? Maybe you should cozy up to Spider a little bit?” Ethan suggested.

I gave him a horrified look. We were doing a two-step to something slow and romantic, and I gazed up into his eyes.

“Maybe he has loose lips? Just a thought, baby.”

Damn, he had a point. “Let’s look around first, see what we can see,” I said, wanting to postpone what appeared to be the inevitable.

“Good idea.” He pulled me closer, our thighs meeting harmoniously as we swayed back and forth. His hands caressed my lower back, and his touch felt so good I had to remind myself we were working.

“Dance over this way a little bit.” Ethan nodded toward one side of the dance floor, the side which was closest to where we’d come in.


“I want to see something. I have a theory.”

I had no choice but to acquiesce to his request, and we two-stepped our way through the rest of the dancers, keeping a wary eye out for Spider, before taking up our new position.

“What are you thinking?” I asked.

“I just want to see if I can tell any difference between who gets which cauldron.”

“You don’t think it’s a matter of importance? Famous people versus nobodies?”

“I don’t think so. I think there’s more method than that to this madness.”

Since I couldn’t see out of the back of my head, I let Ethan play observer, and I just melted into his arms and enjoyed the dance. All too soon, of course, it ended.

“C’mon, something’s really fishy,” he said. “Let’s head toward the refreshment table, and maybe we can see more from there.” He took my arm in his and escorted me across the floor. I gawked about me as we dove through the throng.  Wow, Spider sure knew a whole lot of celebrities.

The refreshment table was stocked with enough food to feed a starving nation. Hot food, cold food, finger food, forked food… Caviar and canapés, an array of different kinds of meat and fish, as well as a wide assortment of fruits and vegetables, pastas and soufflés, and things I couldn’t even begin to identify. I debated whether I should get something to eat just to fit in then decided I didn’t really want anything. I was too keyed up with the adrenaline of being on the job to consider eating.

“Mind if I leave you here for a minute?” Ethan asked. “I think I’ll be less conspicuous by myself. You can distract people with your great beauty from over here.”

Such a smooth talker. “Go ahead,” I encouraged him. “See what you can see.”

He kissed me softly. “My pretty queen,” he murmured, and before I could say anything about not being a queen, he’d already gone.

I continued to scan the selection of foods on the table nearest to where I stood. I didn’t want to stare after Ethan, and maybe draw attention to him, and there was really nothing else to do. Lost in contemplation of the cornucopia before me, I was surprised by a voice that came from beside me. I knew it wasn’t Ethan—this voice was feminine.

“I love your costume. Doesn’t that wig weigh a ton? I know mine usually do.”

I glanced at the speaker. She stood a little shorter than me and had the most gorgeous red hair with golden highlights which glittered in the light from the ginormous chandeliers which hung above us. She had beautiful emerald eyes, which sparkled with humor, and well-sculpted ruby lips, which were smiling at me.

Sudden recognition washed over me. This was Caroline St. Clair. The Caroline St. Clair. Ethan and I were huge fans of her work. And here she was standing right next to me.

It took me a minute to process what she’d said. My brain just wasn’t cooperating. Neither was my tongue. I imagined she was used to such a reaction when she went out in public. I tried to remove the deer-in-the-headlights look from my eyes and manage something at least halfway intelligible. Plus I needed to remember I was supposed to be a lady, so I had to try and keep my voice from dropping into more masculine registers.

“Thank you,” I managed, finally. “It is pretty heavy, I admit. But it came with the costume.” I shrugged, as if to say what could I do? “Your costume is beautiful,” I added, actually looking at it for the first time.

The actress was dressed in a sexy green outfit which clung to her curves like a second skin. It was covered in matching leaves, and had a corset top which overflowed with her half-bared bosom. Green satin gloves ran from her fingers to her upper arm, and her thigh-high boots would have been the envy of any dominatrix. I was drawing blanks as to whom she was meant to be, sadly.

“Poison Ivy,” she supplied the name. Duh. I should have known. “And thank you. Are you enjoying yourself?”

“Oh yes, very much,” I lied through my teeth. “You?”

She shrugged. For just a moment, the corner of her mouth went down, and I saw an expression of sadness in her eyes. But then it was gone. I must have imagined it. I tried to remember what I’d read about her recently, something about an engagement? A quick glance at her hand confirmed this in the form of a large diamond ring. The kind I’d probably never be able to afford in this lifetime or the next.

She must have noticed I’d spotted her ring. “My fiancé couldn’t come,” she explained. “What about you? Are you stag tonight too?”

I was surprised her studio hadn’t supplied her with an escort. I was about to respond to her question when her gaze went past me. “Wow, that Marc Antony is very sexy. By any chance, does he belong to you?”

I turned to look behind me. “Oh yes, he’s mine,” I informed her, hoping I didn’t come off as possessive as I thought I did. He was headed our way, and I could just tell he had information to share. He had that certain gleam in his eye which I was more than familiar with.

“You’re so lucky,” Miss St. Clair said, and I knew I wasn’t imagining it this time—there was a wistful quality in her voice.

“I know it,” I said, honestly.

As Ethan approached and recognized who I was talking to, I saw his eyes grow a little wide, but he had the couth to hide it better than I had. “Well, well, the two loveliest ladies at the party, how lucky can a guy get?”

Miss St. Clair giggled, and I refrained from rolling my eyes as he dropped to his knees at my feet. “My queen,” he said, in a voice that was too reminiscent of Spider’s. I stamped my foot, and he wisely took that as a sign to rise.

“Good evening,” he greeted my companion. “That’s a very lovely costume. Almost as lovely as the lady wearing it.”

O good Lord…

 to be continued

Virtual Book Tour: The Devil's in the Details

Please welcome my good friend and fellow author, Avery Dawes, here to discuss his newest release - and how fitting it is that today is Halloween - The Devil's Media! I have to say that I've read Avery's story in this volume, and it is so awesome!

Haunted Hotties Volume II
Genre:  An LGBT Halloween Anthology (includes 10 stories)
Publisher:  Torquere Press
Length:  198 pages
The Devil’s in the Details by Avery Dawes
October 31st is a special night for Civil War soldiers Oliver Greer and Francis Kirby. Courtesy of a deal with Lucifer, on that night, they rise from their graves not as ghosts, but as men with form and substance.

Psychic Annabelle McPherson runs the most successful ghost tour company in all of Gettysburg. With her ability to interact with ghosts, her tours are far from dull. Of course, Oliver and Francis are ready and willing to give her patrons a show -- and a scare they'll not soon forget.   

This Halloween is one to be remembered. When stopping by to see Annabelle, the guys interrupt a violent robbery. One of the caveats of having human form is that if they are mortally wounded, they die.   

In their zeal to save Annabelle, Oliver is shot. Will the three survive the night? Will Francis be stuck on Earth while Oliver's soul labors in Hell?

Buy Links

Avery’s Bio:
The secret is out! Avery Dawes is Denise Wyant's naughty alter ego! Two minds in one body!
While the devil-may-care Avery enjoys the thrill of writing about the passion between two hunky—and sometimes geeky—men, the more traditional Denise favors the alpha male who can sweep an intelligent and sassy lady off her feet. Regardless of which genre they're writing, they both believe in love and happiness, and in happily ever after—even if their characters have to run the gauntlet to achieve it.

Whether relaxing with a cup of coffee just south of the Mason-Dixon Line, or staying fit by running, lifting, or cycling—these two always make time to write and blog. You can find them at Rantings of a Closet Vamp Princess (

Social Media Links:


"Well, just wait until Halloween. I'll give you the biggest hug and kiss--"

Francis' eyes brightened. "You'd better be giving me more than that!" He attempted to swat Oliver on the shoulder, but his hand passed right through. Damn ghost form.

"Mmm... you know I will. In fact, I'm picturing all the naughty fun we can get into!" Oliver waggled his eyebrows.

Finally pulled out of his funk, Francis laughed. "You're such a mess!" He paused, his forehead furrowed. "Isn't that the saying now? Well, anyway, let's go find some tourists to scare!"

"Now that's the best idea I've heard all night. After all, we can't let Annabelle down." It hadn't taken the guys long to decide that creating chaos wasn't much fun. They preferred having fun and getting laughs at the expense of others. So far, they hadn't had a visit from Luc, so either he wasn't paying attention too closely or he was busy sowing his seeds of distrust elsewhere.

With that thought, they floated toward downtown and some of the famous historic buildings they knew Annabelle liked to frequent on her tours. She always enjoyed "seeing them"--her tips almost doubled on the nights the soldier-ghosts made a surprise appearance.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Into the Spider's Web (Halloween Rose and Thorne) Part III

As promised, here is the next part of my Halloween tale. Look for the end tomorrow, as well as a giveaway!

Into the Spider's Web Part III

Nothing to be done but grin and bear it. While bitching and whining might have been more psychologically satisfying, it would have got me nowhere and would only have delayed the inevitable. And there really was no sense in arguing with Ethan, since he really was a silver-tongued devil, so I decided to just go with it.

Ethan volunteered to shave my legs, so I peevishly agreed to let him. I decided that for what he’d done,  I deserved to be pampered and he deserved to be punished, although I suspected he didn’t view it as punishment. Especially since it was his idea in the first place. How could I really object, though, since he had a very gentle touch? And he kissed my legs as he worked. Bet that’s something I wouldn’t get in any fancy salon, even out here in the Land of Weirdness.

Once that was out of the way, I shaved my face and showered, being careful not to get my hair wet. Then I pulled it back into a bun on top of my head, flattening it as much as possible so it wouldn’t poof up the wig. “You know how much fucking trouble I’m going to for you?” I practically shouted from the bathroom. By now, Ethan was probably already dressed in all his glorious Roman-ness. “Do you have any idea how horrid this lighting is? Don’t complain to me if I botch this make-up.”

“Baby, you’re always beautiful, no matter what.”

Ethan stood in the doorway, striking a pose. Damn, that costume looked good on him. Made his legs look even sexier. I eyed the skirt critically. “Are you going commando under that?”

“That’s for me to know and you to find out.” He grinned and I scowled.

“For your sake, you better hope you’re not, because if I have to focus on you and keep an eye out for Hollywood wolves trying to cop a feel, I might miss something important going on around us, if you know what I mean.”

“I know just what you mean. Don’t worry. I’m not,” he assured me. He took a step into the room, and I felt my temperature begin to rise. And other things.

He kissed me sweetly, glanced south, and smirked. “Good thing that dress isn’t completely sheer. That won’t show as much.”

“Yeah, real lucky,” I muttered. “I feel like I won the lottery. Now shoo while I put on my face.”

He obediently left the room and I turned my attention to my face in the mirror once more, going extra heavy on the coal black liner, and adding gold shadow that made my blue eyes practically pop. A touch of blush on my cheeks, and the barest hint of lipstick completed my look.

“Ethan, hand me the costume, will you?”

He stood in the doorway and watched as I shimmied into the too-sheer gown. Luckily there was an under layer of skirt that was a little darker and didn’t reveal the silhouette of my gun in its holster. I had nowhere else to carry it, and I wasn’t about to go unarmed.

Finally, I added the wig. It fell in a sheer black fall down my back, and was as heavy as I’d dreaded. I’d probably have a headache by the end of the night. I set the crown on my head, and slid the arm bands into place, followed by the bracelets.

“Come, my queen, and I’ll help lace your sandals,” Ethan offered.

I placed my fingers lightly atop his palm and he led me regally into the bedroom. I gingerly sat on the edge of the bed while he placed each sandal on my foot and laced it up my calf.

“I think you’re the one who’s going to be fighting off wolves tonight. I think I just might have to kick a little Hollywood ass in order to defend your honor.”

I flushed and rolled my eyes. “Did anyone ever tell you you’re full of it?”

“You do, all the time.” Nothing ever fazed that boy. He had a comeback for everything.

I had a thought. “So, if you’re Wolfgang, who am I? I should have a name in case someone asks me what the hell it is.”

“Of course you have a name. How about Brunhilda?”

“Are you fucking kidding me?” One look in his eyes and I knew he was.

“How about Carlotta?” he suggested. Much better. I could handle that one. Even if it did mean manly. It seemed appropriate, under the circumstances.

“Are we married?” I wanted to know. “We should get our stories straight in case we get separated and someone tries to grill us.”

“If we were married, the invitation would say Mr. and Mrs.,” Ethan pointed out. “How about engaged and very much in love?”

“I can live with that. We can go over details on the way there.”

“Absolutely,” he said. “You ready to go?”

“Ready as I’ll ever be.”

As we headed out the door, I hoped tonight would not provide any actual scares. For us, anyway.
* * * *
Spider’s estate sat on the top of a steep hill which offered a breathtaking view of nighttime L.A. It was lit up brighter than the Vegas Strip. He had several valets parking the guests’ cars. Where they were parking them, I had no idea. I hoped that wouldn’t come back to bite us in the ass. We turned over our car at the foot of the hill and walked up the winding driveway.

The house looked like something straight out of Gone with the Wind, only Hollywood style, with a Halloween theme added for good measure. The lawn, which resembled an airplane runway, was littered with headstones, and what seemed to be freshly dug earth. I half wondered if maybe these graves were occupied by actual victims,  and I had to resist the urge to dig one up to find out.  Maybe later.

Zombies walked through the graveyard, scaring guests at random, eliciting screams of excitement. Nothing terrifying. Just good clean Halloween fun. Witches on broomsticks flew through the sky, so real you could almost forget you saw the wires they hung from. Vampires and ghosts and goblins, oh my. No stone had gone unturned in the search for the proverbial thrills.

We reached the doorway, where we presented our invitation to the bouncer at the door, who bore an uncanny resemblance to Frankenstein’s monster. I wasn’t going to be the one who asked him where he got his costume, only to learn he wasn’t wearing one.

He looked from the invitation to me. “How does the lady wish to be announced?”

Well, knock me down with a feather. The monster had manners. I told him and listened with satisfaction as he announced, “Wolfgang Meier and Miss Carlotta.”

We stood in the middle of a huge foyer. A chandelier the size of the State of Liberty’s torch hung above us, its prisms sending rainbows of color cascading about the room, painting the guests in their myriad costumes. We joined what was obviously a reception line. Playing my part to the hilt, I laid my hand on Ethan’s arm as we approached the couple who were undoubtedly the host and hostess.

Spider was surprisingly short, not at all spidery, as I’d imagined. He had dark hair, carefully groomed, and fleshy cheeks, and under his rather large nose a caterpillar had taken up residence, perhaps in search of shade. When he smiled, I could see that he’d made some orthodontist a very happy man—a perfect smile, gleaming to the best polished perfection money could buy.

In contrast, his wife was thin and tall and blond, standing a good head above her husband. She didn’t smile, so maybe she hadn’t received the same great dental care her husband her, or maybe she was unhappy about something.  There was no warmth in her eyes at all. Which just goes to show money can’t buy happiness, ‘cause she sure had the money, but no sign of the happiness.

Of course, that was just a quick assessment based on zero acquaintance. But hey, it’s what I was trained to do.

He seemed to be dressed as an undertaker, while I think she was supposed to be a shepherdess, judging by the crook in her hand, and the sheep at her feet. Not a stuffed animal, mind you, but an honest-to-goodness baa baa black sheep. With honest-to-goodness black sheep droppings on the floor.

Now that’s something you don’t expect to see at a swanky Halloween party.

As we approached them, I saw Spider’s eyes light up, and for a moment I was afraid we’d been made somehow. But then he made a low, sweeping bow before me. “My queen,” he intoned like he’d seen too many old mummy movies, “my beautiful Queen of the Nile, I am yours to command.”

Oh, brother…

 to be continued

Virtual Book Tour: Fury of a Highland Dragon

Please welcome author Coreene Callahan who is here to discuss her new release, Fury of a Highland Dragon.  Coreene will be giving  $10 Amazon or 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!

Fury of a Highland Dragon
by Coreene Callahan


GENRE: Paranormal Romance



Trapped by a future she refuses to face…

Accused of cyber espionage by the United States government, ethical hacker Ivy Macpherson is now on the FBI’s most wanted list. Out of options, she runs, desperate for time to prove her innocence. When fate takes an unexpected turn, bringing her face-to-face with Tydrin, she must decide—trust a man more dangerous than the hunters on her trail to keep her safe. Or risk capture by a covert agency well known for ruthlessness.

Condemned by a past he doesn’t want to remember…

Cursed with a terrible temper, Scottish dragon-warrior Tydrin struggles to atone for a mistake that took innocent lives. Unable to forgive himself, he returns to the scene of his crime in hopes of finding absolution, but discovers a woman in need of his help instead. Intervening in the nick of time, he whisks Ivy to safety, only to realize the daughter of the family he wronged is the one destined to steal his heart.



Feet rooted to the ground, Tydrin stared at the female. He blinked to clear his vision. Nothing. No change in his visual field and—bloody hell. It couldn’t be. He must be seeing things. Must be imagining the impossible. But no matter how many times he forced himself to refocus, nothing changed. She remained front and center, kneeling in the dirt, head bowed, hands resting on her thighs. The submissive position drew him tight, messing with his ability to think for a second.

Tydrin shook his head.

The movement knocked brain cells into motion and…Good Christ. Unbelievable. She was real. He wasn’t imagining her. Or the radiating warmth frothing around her like sea foam. Glowing bright blue, the female’s aura lit up the space around her. Her bio-energy hummed and his dragon half woke, setting off a dangerous chain reaction. Bone-deep hunger punched through. His body came alive. His mind dulled, blocking out everything but her. Long red hair pulled into a messy bun, she shuffled closer to the headstone. Mumbling another apology, she cleared debris away from the granite base. The task was one he usually preformed. On this date, every year when he visited. Right now, though, he didn’t care about his mission.

Or about paying his respects.

Struck stupid by her, only one thought registered—a high-energy female here…in middle the of Aberdeen.

Tydrin frowned. Holy shite. He was in trouble. Neck deep and sinking fast without any idea how to control his reaction to her.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Growing up as the only girl on all-male hockey team, Coreene Callahan knows a thing or two about tough guys and loves to write characters inspired by them. Call it kismet. Call it payback after years of locker room talk and ice rink antics, but whatever you call it, the action better be heart stopping, the magic electric, and the story wicked, good fun.

After graduating with honors in psychology and working as an interior designer, she finally gave in and returned to her first love: writing. Her debut novel, Fury of Fire, was a finalist in the New Jersey Romance Writers Golden Leaf Contest in two categories: Best First Book and Best Paranormal. She combines her love of romance, adventure and writing with her passion for history in her novels. She lives in Canada with her family, a fun-loving golden retriever, and her wild imaginary world.


  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Into the Spider's Web (Halloween Rose and Thorne) Part II

As promised, here is the next part of the Halloween Rose and Thorne. Enjoy! Third part tomorrow!

Into the Spider's Web Part II

Halloween arrived but the costumes hadn’t. That was a definite problem.

“We could always cut some holes in sheets and go as ghosts,” Ethan joked.

 I gave him a withering look. “Not funny,” I said. I wasn’t about to tell him I’d been there, done that, and still had the scars to show for it.  One year, when Mom couldn’t afford anything else, she took one of our old sheets and told me I’d be the Spirit of Halloween Past, sort of a twist on the ghosts in A Christmas Carol.  I proudly wore my costume to school, so I could participate in the annual Halloween parade around the school grounds. The other kids quickly let me know just how ridiculous I really looked. Never going there again.

He gave me a discerning look that cut straight to my soul and I quickly looked away, lest he read the secrets written there. We’d been together for almost four years then, but there were things I’d never gotten around to telling him. Someday, I promised myself, I would tell him everything, but someday wasn’t now.

The invitation sat on our bed. It was obviously custom printed. Hell, for all I knew, Spider owned an interest in some printing company.  Why not, he had a finger in a lot of other pies. Gilt lettering on stiff parchment paper in the shades of Halloween.  Wolfgang Meier and Guest. I assumed I was the guest. A name like Wolfgang could only belong to Ethan. I didn’t exactly look Germanic, but Ethan was both blond-haired and blue-eyed. I didn’t care. Whatever it took to get us in the door.

To get this bust, I’d be Guest, I’d be the Butler. Hell, I’d even be the Maid, if that’s what did it. Not that I thought it would come to that, but I’d been required to wear a dress before, on more than one occasion. Funny how Ethan always managed to dodge that particular bullet.

“Vinnie…” he said, and I knew without looking he was drawing closer, and if he touched me the right way, or just looked into my eyes, I’d be lost. I felt my heart skip a beat and I tensed for his question…

But a knock at the door ended that. And when I dared to look up at him, he’d gone to get it, and I was able to release the breath I’d been holding.

He thanked the driver and carried a good-sized package into our motel room and set it on the bed. Last minute, maybe, but the costumes had arrived. We were saved.

Now to see what we were going as.

I assumed our costumes would be matched in some way. Cowboys would be practical. Who would suspect our weapons were real?

We stared at the box for a long minute. I was suddenly apprehensive, for no reason I could think of.

“You know it won’t open itself, right? Want me to get it?” I offered.

“No, thanks, I have it.”             

Ethan pulled out his pocket knife and slid it along the seams of the package. The sides popped up, blocking my view of what was inside. I refrained from tapping my foot—seeing as the motel room was carpeted, the effect would have been diluted anyway— and waited impatiently for him to pull something out.

He lifted out the first costume and held it up against him. It seemed like a military type uniform, and was obviously meant to resemble a breastplate except it was made from cloth.  Looked Roman, judging by the skirt, which came down to Ethan’s knees. As I watched, he dug out a laurel leaf and matching sandals. Not a soldier, then, someone with status. Apparently this was Ethan’s costume. If it came down to his knees, it would be too long on me.

That wasn’t too bad. I could live with that. I’d had to wear a lot worse.

“You got one of those in my size too?” I asked.

“No, I got you something different.”

Apprehension was knotting my stomach. “Who exactly are you supposed to be?” I asked, feeling sure that held the key to everything.

“ Marc Anthony. You know, the guy who said friends, Romans, countrymen, blah blah blah—”

“I know who he was,” I interrupted. “Is it too much to hope I’m dressing as dead Caesar?” I didn’t think so, but I had to ask.

“No, we’ll be a much more compatible couple.”

No more questions. Now was the moment of truth, no matter what is was. I pulled the box closer and peered inside, then lifted out what I saw. It was gauzy and filmy, and even kind of pretty, but it was definitely a gown. As in women’s wear. As in…

“Cleopatra?” I gave him my best are-you-kidding look? “You want me to go dressed as Cleopatra?”

“The queen of the Nile herself.” He nodded. “It has a wig and sandals, and a little jewelry.”

Oh, lucky me. Matching accessories.

“What’s wrong with you?” I blurted out.

“Nothing. I just figured we’d be less conspicuous if we posed as a man and a woman. No one would suspect us of being feds.”

“You mean as opposed to us showing up as a gay couple?” I asked sarcastically.

“Exactly! I’m glad you understand—”

“I don’t understand your incessant need to put me in a dress!”

“Vinnie,” he began in a voice calculated to soothe. It wasn’t working.

I reached into the box and pulled out a long black wig that would surely reach down to my ass, and would be fucking heavy.  There was also a crown, fronted by a cobra, bracelets, a necklace, and sandals that would tie up my leg.

“Where the hell am I supposed to pack in this getup?” I demanded. “I’m not going in there without my gun, and this leaves nothing to the imagination.”

“You can use a thigh holster.”

Seems like he had an answer for everything.

to be continued

Virtual Book Tour: Enigma

Author Name: Nephy Hart

Book Name: Enigma

Release Date: Re-release with new cover and general cleaning up
Troubled residents come and go at the Care House where River Caulfield is a caregiver, working towards fulfilling his dream of becoming a nurse. When Silver arrives, a patient found on a roadside near death after suffering terrible abuse, River finds his previous personal detachment is compromised. Seeking to help the mysterious and enigmatic young man locked inside his own mind and memories, River finds his professionalism slipping as Silver begins to open up and live again. 

But as their relationship begins to blossom, the roots of Silver's past abuse and the abuser who forced him into such a mental state sends forth new shoots of darkness enveloping them in dangers threatening not only Silver's sanity, but their very lives. With River's devotion and help, will Silver finally be able to break away from his past? The answer lies in the words of a priest, a painting and a long walk through a churchyard harbouring the secrets of the enigma that is Silver.

Pages or Words: 98,000 words

Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance

Feeling more confident and realising that I have to ‘project a confident and professional air to reassure the resident and help to ease them into the new surrounding and routine that mark their transition from the institutional environment and the radically different routine and environment of a residential setting’, I compose myself.  Yeah, I know, I’m a geek with a photographic memory, although knowing the rules doesn’t necessarily mean I always follow them.
“Silver,” I say softly as I shake him gently by the shoulder.  I wonder how many times he has heard a smirk in the voice that calls him by name.  I know that I have, often enough.
With a sigh the figure in the bed turns over, flinging out an arm with a soft moan.  I freeze.  Fucking hell... I mean what the fuck.... fucking HELL.
He is nothing like I had expected, not that I had really been expecting anything, but with a name like Silver I had kind of expected him to be fair; ash blonde or something.  But he isn’t.  He’s dark, very dark.  His hair is jet black and long, and even tangled and dry as it is; it makes me want to run my fingers through it.  I can imagine myself gently tugging out the knots and running conditioner down the length of it, strand by strand.  It would be soft and silky and....
Shit! And that’s just his hair.  The things I want to do with those lips. Fuck.  Never in my wildest dreams had I ever imagined.... Gods he is beautiful; not just cute like Max, not handsome or pretty or any of the other words used to describe how someone looks; he isn’t even drop dead gorgeous: he is beautiful, simple as.  Lying there with his hair all over the place, his long coal black lashes trembling on his milk white cheeks, one arm thrown out revealing the creamy skin and well defined muscles of his bare shoulders and chest he is a fucking angel... a real, living, breathing, flesh and blood angel.
Gods damn them; they knew.  The bastards knew the effect he would have on me and all the giggling and snickering now make sense.  Shit, I am practically creaming my pants just looking at him.  I shake my head and laugh at myself.  Get a grip, River.  Just keep your mind above your waist and remember that this is a resident, a patient, a sick person who needs you to be strictly professional and... Ah fuck, why did he have to stir right at this moment?  Why did he have to let out that cute little sigh that parts his lips and makes me want to... to...  Shit!!!!
Moving his head from side to side drowsily on the pillow, Silver gives a sleepy little grunty moan thing and yawns showing absolutely perfect white teeth... of course, although I notice that there is a gap right at the back on the bottom.  I don’t know why but that makes me smile; somehow, something that mars that perfection, even to such a slight degree, is a huge relief.
Just when I am managing to get myself under control and have a goofy smile on my face, Silver opens his eyes.  If I had thought that Silver with his eyes closed was beautiful, Silver with his eyes open is... unreal.  At least now I understand why he is called Silver.  His eyes are grey, a strange pale silvery grey with an almost metallic sheen, like mercury.  For a full minute I just stare at him and he stares back.  There is no curiosity in his eyes, no fear, no challenge; no anything.  I have never seen eyes that are so blank.
Quite suddenly it occurs to me that I am staring and really not being very professional at all. I force myself to smile, a tight professional smile and not the goofy grin that is threatening to break out at any moment.
“Hello Silver, my name is River, did you sleep well?”
The silver grey eyes regard me steadily but there is no indication that he has even heard me let alone understood me.  I broaden my smile and try again.
“It’s morning, Silver, time to get up.  Do you need me to help you with that?”
At last there is a reaction, just a tiny shake of the head.  The silver eyes flicker and with a sigh he throws back the quilt and I am blinded.  At least I wish I had gone blind because if I had I wouldn’t have been staring at that body with quite so much raw hunger.  Fuck he is beautiful all over.
Turning away I walk to the chest of drawers, hoping that he had brought some clothes with him.  The first drawer contains pyjamas and I wonder why the hell they hadn’t put any on him last night, although a moment’s reflection supplies the answer: bastard.
Trying to keep my face turned and my eyes well above the waist I hand Silver the pyjamas.
“Can you put these on?”
Without making a sound he takes the clothes from my hands and slips them on.  I have to watch, I just can’t help it.  I don’t know what kind of condition he was in before whatever happened, happened, or when he woke up out of the coma but those physiotherapists have sure done one amazing job over the past six months.  He is slender, even thin, but so well defined that, even through the cotton pyjamas it is possible to see that he is toned to perfection, every muscle group well defined.
Shit, he’s fucking perfect in every way.  And when he starts to walk...
My great grandmother used to be a dancer, way back in the twenties. She was something of a celebrity back then, and I can remember my grandfather talking about her with fierce pride on his face.  When he was a child he used to go to the theatre to watch her practice and perform and he would say that even when she was not on the stage, even when she was just walking down the street, across a room, getting on a train; she was always dancing.  He used to say she ‘walked lightly on the earth’. I have always remembered that phrase - walked lightly on the earth - and I thought I knew what he meant... until now.
Damn those physiotherapists have done a good job, a great job, there isn’t so much as a hint of a limp and he stands very erect with his head up and... walks lightly on the earth. It’s hard to describe, but he flows, hardly making a sound, so lightly that it makes you feel that he wouldn’t make a footprint in snow.
He pauses in the doorway, waiting.  I am staring again.  “Do you dance Silver?” The words just slip out.  I forget that he doesn’t know, that he doesn’t want to know; it’s just that the way he walks makes me think so much of my great grandmother that I am suddenly sure that he must be a dancer too.
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Meet the author:
Nephy Hart was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.
Nephy has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.
Later in life, Nephy became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.
It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.
In present times, Nephy lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son, dog, hamster and two cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. She’s never been happier since she was made redundant and is able to devote herself entirely to her twin loves of writing and art.

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Publisher: Flying with Red Haircrow
Cover Artist: Red Haircrow

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