Back to school takes on new meaning in this collection of
eight mini-stories which run the gamut from sweet to spicy! No children in
these tales, they’re for adults only! And each one features an apple in some
In this mixed bag of apple bites, you’ll find seasoned
authors as well as newcomers. Teachers and students. Both M/M and M/F. There’s
something for everyone’s taste.
Going back to school has never been so naughty!
JC Wallace – An Officer
and a Gentleman (and an Apple)
Holden isn’t sure how much longer he can survive without the
man he loves, whose return from a six-month deployment has been delayed. On the
first day of classes, Professor Holden finds a shiny, red apple on his desk,
mocking him. A cruel joke? Or something much more shocking…
Pedroso – Have a Break, Have a...
Kevin is acting principal of another troubled school filled
with idiotic teachers. His new husband had been sent half way round the world.
Kevin is lonely, hungry, horny, and pissed off at life.
A surprise visitor at lunch time offers Kevin the break he
so desperately needs…
Julie Lynn Hayes – Rivals
and Bryce are heads of competing fraternities at upscale Westover College, as
well as fierce rivals. On rush night, John finds Bryce has crashed his soiree,
seeking recruits. Verbal swords are thrust. When Bryce pushes John’s buttons,
the challenge is on—and winner takes all.
Nephy Hart – Apple for the
Going back to school is difficult for Rage. He has no reason
to think this year won’t be filled with more marginalization and abuse. When
his boyfriend gives him an apple for the teacher, Rage has no idea what
difference an art project will make, or who will get the apple.
Perry’s Cherry – Avery Dawes
unfortunate earthquake shakes Perry from a freshman room to sharing with a
grumpy senior. Too bad Nick is so sexy… and sullen. Labor Day finds them both
on campus. Nick suggests a trip to a private club. Perry is about to get a
college education of another kind…
Elyzabeth M. VaLey – Good
to start the new school year, Anais’ boyfriend and Dom, Ian, plants the seeds
of doubt in her mind. He tells her she’s forgetting something that only the
best teachers receive. Ian gives Anais a lesson and shows her how to earn
herself a juicy treat.
Cynthia Dawn Griffin – Gatekeeper
Kate loves her job as Head Secretary. The students adore
her, calling her Gatekeeper. Kate’s job may be in jeopardy because of her
passionate affair with one of the staff, who acts as though it never happened.
Will she be able to focus on her job and win her man back?
Renee Rose – Hot for Teacher
Lucy's nerves have her wound up for
her first Biochemistry 101 lecture. Fiancé Dr. Todd gives his T.A. a wicked
distraction. While he tortures Lucy with edging and public arousal, she must
somehow get through her class without losing all control.
“Would you like to come with me?” The man asked. His voice
was deep, reverberant in Rowen's chest. Around them, the storm raged, thatch
blowing off of soaking roofs and water pouring from eaves and out of overfull
opened his mouth, but of course he could not speak. He shut it, blinking
slowly. Was this death?
come?” The man moved farther away, hovering, and looked up. “If you don't, the
storm will probably kill you.”
not speak. But he reached out, and the man smiled.
then.” He knelt down, grabbing Rowen and hoisting him like a child. Pain from
the sunburns screamed across his body, but he could not cry out. If this was
death, it was not what he had expected.
have the strength to hold on, but the man gripped him as they hovered higher
into the air, then flew, up above the village and into the storm. Rowen did not
look down, staring at the man's neck, secure in his muscular arms. The sky
around them was gray-black with clouds, but here he felt none of the violence
of the storm that was being wreaked below. Spots flecked through his vision,
but he no longer felt like giving up.
to take you somewhere safe.” The man's voice rumbled. “Don't worry. I will
explain everything to you.”
as though Rowen cared. His village had sacrificed him to die. He was not dead
now, he was flying above the village he had grown up in...The world spun around
him, and for a moment he thought he was falling, or flying faster. Then he
He woke to
a feeling of cold, a slimy surface chill that masked deeper thrums of pain. As
soon as he opened his eyes, a flask was thrust in his face.
move. Just drink.” The cool water was poured into his mouth, spilling over his
chin. He couldn't quite grasp the concept of drinking for a moment, the water
splashing on his dry mouth and chin, but soon he guzzled it greedily, suddenly
so thirsty that he felt as though the water was merely going down his throat
without being touched by his tongue or being absorbed, as though he were
drinking water in a dream. When the flask was taken away he felt no relief,
only more thirst, and he followed it with his eyes, obeying the order not to
The man who
had saved him knelt beside next to his head, the flask in one tanned hand. The
place Rowen lay was dark, cold stone beneath and above him.
you're thirsty, but you can't drink too much too fast. Small sips.” His voice
echoed slightly, and Rowen wished he knew where they were. A year without being
able to speak had taught him patience, however, and he merely accepted the
flask when it was given again, swallowing the precious water.
feel better?” The man asked, and Rowen inwardly cringed. This man didn't know
he couldn't talk. He nodded, unsure of how to communicate the problem. He
wanted to thank him, for taking him away from the village and saving his life,
but there was no way to do it.
Kristoff. What's your name?” The man spoke as though to a wounded animal, and
Rowen realized that's essentially what he was. He lay naked on a stone floor,
covered in caked mud, which he presumed was for the burns. The man looked
concerned, even more so when Rowen wouldn't answer.
understand me?” He asked, brows furrowing. Rowen nodded once, holding his gaze,
hoping Kristoff would understand.
tell me your name?” Kristoff pressed.
dropped his gaze. He moved his arm, the skin shrieking with pain as it left the
cold floor, and pointed to his throat, giving a small shake of his head.
will help.” Kristoff didn't understand, and Rowen drank a bit more, before
shaking his head again and motioning once more to his throat. He drew a small X
in the air above it, his hand shaking just from that small gesture.
eyes widened. “You can't speak at all?”
nodded once, and then felt something, an emotion he couldn't identify. Everyone
in the village had known it, discovering it days after it happened, after his
parents had lain, rotting, in his house until the heat spell broke, Rowen too
weak to report it their deaths and no one concerned enough to check. No one had
spoken to him since except to command, or tease, or sacrifice, not until now.
And now Kristoff, the man who had saved his life, who had flown in a storm,
would know that speaking to him was pointless, and it would begin again. Pain
blossomedin his chest. Whatever the
reason was for saving him didn't matter. He was useless if he couldn't
communicate. He looked away, not wanting to see the disappointment on
write?” Rowen shook his head. Only Alain and Erik had been able to write. Rowen
had been destined to dig wells, as his parents had.
look at me.” He obeyed, finding a strange kindness in the other man's features.
“That doesn't matter for now. I mean, I guess it does matter, your name is
important, but...” He sighed, looking up as though for help. “I'm guessing you
have questions that you can't ask, so I'm going to explain things to you as
best I can. Bear with me. I've never had an apprentice before.” He said the
last almost to himself, and Rowen realized that Kristoff was nervous. “Can you,
uh, answer a few yes or no questions for me first?”
“He will suffer the way his parents did.” The woman said,
and people around her agreed. His neighbors, the ones he had watched bring
their water to the gathering, scowled at him and turned away.
didn't try to fight. There was no point. There were too many, and running
during a heat spell would only bring on his death faster.
Alain protesting, and then he was silenced. Those tying him worked quickly and
quietly, stripping his clothes off and binding his ankles with cord, his wrists
behind his back. For a sacrifice, it was all very civilized. Everyone knew not
to waste energy in this heat.
in the sun,” the man spoke. “One less to take your water, and one more death to
bring the storms faster.”
formed in Rowen's eyes, but he was too old to let himself cry. He hadn't wanted
their water anyway.
dragged him into the sun, and the ground underneath him burned. He shut his
eyes tightly, and the sun baked him. Nobody watched.
that death would come quickly.
sweating had already begun, and his head swam in the heat. He didn't dare open
his eyes, to see the merciless sun beating down on him. His skin was pale, and
if he lasted long enough he would be covered in blisters.
He tried to
think of his parents. He had been close with them, as an only child. His father
had introduced him to village girls, and had not shown disappointment when
Rowen had confessed to feeling nothing for any of them.
of Lucas. Lucas, blacksmith's apprentice, a boy his age with blond hair and an
eager smile, full lips and bright blue eyes. Rowen had never told him how Lucas
had made him feel, quickening his blood and stirring him in his dreams.
died in the same heat spell that had killed his parents. Since then Rowen had
felt nothing. Too much loss, all at once. He groaned on the heated ground, but
it was useless.
survived the heat spell. It should have killed him, like it killed his parents,
but he had lived, eating pit seeds that silenced him forever and leaving him
mute to defend himself to the villagers when they claimed he stole his parents
A wave of
nausea surged through him. Heat sickness was setting in. He rolled over to
vomit, nothing coming up but whitish bile. Rolling made him dizzy, and that
made the sickness worse.
nothing came up at all. Heat surged through him, but he could no longer sweat.
The ground spun.
fitting. He couldn’t survive again.
his eyes, and was greeted with darkness.
not come. He rolled, impossibly slow, to look up. The sun had been covered, a
thick, dark cloud blanketing the village.
almost smiled.He had been sacrificed,
and the storm had come.
to pelt the ground, the drops hitting as hard as thrown stones. Rowen opened
his mouth, instinctively hoping to ease some of his dehydration, before thunder
boomed, a fork of lightning splitting the sky and unleashing torrents.
during the heat spells preceding the storms, but the storms themselves were
deadly too if caught outside. Wind lashed rain into his face, hard enough that
if he were not already prone he would have been knocked over. He could no
longer look up; opening his eyes only invited the rain, the cold drops making
his dry eyes burn.
on his side like sodden rags, listening to the power of the storm. He had not
expected to die this way. Water began to pool around him, the flood coming fast
despite the dry ground underneath absorbing it. Eventually it would absorb it
all, filling the underground wells, but for now the water would run into
Rowen's nose and mouth, drowning him because he was too weak to move. He tried
to drink; it tasted like dust.
wind blew over him, whistling in his ears and hair, and he began to shiver with
cold despite being overheated just a short time ago. The thunder deafened him,
the flashes of lightning only visible as a red sheen behind his eyelids. If one
struck him, at least it would be over quickly.
everything calmed. The darkness was accompanied by silence, the pelting rain
gone, and for a moment Rowen knew he was dead.
voice called, one that he did not recognize. He opened his eyes, watching the
water flow by him.
at me.” The voice called him again. Without the rain hammering him down, Rowen
managed to roll over. If he was dead, why was the weakness, the pain, not gone?
A man stood
over him. No, hovered over him, his feet not touching the ground. He was clad
in dark green, a rare color here in this desert village. His short dark brown
hair was plastered to his head, dripping onto his nose and chin, and he wore a
necklace with a grayish stone around his neck. Rowen focused on the deep blue
eyes, like a clear summer sky, so different from the hazy blue that had
accompanied the heat spell. They promised something.
Hey everyone! For a few weeks or so, I'm going to post the first few chapters of The Stormlords. Eventually it will be its own book, but for a while it will be my weekly Wednesday Brief!
hung over the village like a smothering blanket.
watched his neighbors carry buckets of water out of their hut, the image
dancing in the heat waves that wavered off of the baked clay. The entire
village was preparing for the daily gathering, always necessary during a heat
spell. The gathering was a time for people to spread out precious goods like
water and pit seeds, which would cool down the body and prevent heat death.
times, goods were traded as per their worth. During a heat spell, however,
nothing could match the worth of a simple bucket of water or a single pit seed.
As a result, all shared, carrying the village through the spells that sucked
the life out of the area.
nothing to share. He only benefited, and he knew others resented him for it. He
walked to the gathering with a heavy heart, his scalp burning from the sun as
though his red hair were aflame.
who passed him glared, their eyes full of suspicion. None offered help when he
stumbled in the heat. His store of food, the food he hunted for himself, had
grown small, and the water bucket in his home was mostly dry.
He would never steal water, but
no one would believe him. Not after what happened.
village elder, called the meeting to order, his powerful voice carrying over
the throng.There were fewer people here
today than the day before. A bad sign.
losses.” This was how the meetings always began. Heat spells killed the young
and the old first, and in the first week of this one there had been dozens of
deaths. This heat spell was in its third week, the longest Rowen had ever
up, and Rowen looked down at the shady ground. “Talia.” An eight year old girl
who had loved to play outside in the rain during winter. “Edericks.” An older
man who dyed fabrics. “Abigail.” The seamstress.
died during a normal time, they would be cremated. Fires were too dangerous
during a heat spell, so they would be buried on the edge of town instead.
day 22 of the current heat spell, the second of the warm season.” Alain
intoned. “We have suffered greatly so far.”
A man cried out. Rowen looked up. He had lost his infant daughter in the first
must be done!” A woman cried.
nothing that can be done.” Questions like these always arose. People yearned
for the old times, when belief in mythical rituals that could bring the
breaking storms was rampant. The old beliefs had fallen out of favor, people
realizing that the advent of the storms was unpredictable, but the longer the
heat spells stretched on the more desperate people became.
measured the temperature currently at 134 degrees, dropping to 100 at night.”
Alain continued. “This is unusual, but it should only mean that the storm will
spells are longer and hotter. We should go back to the old ways!” A man on
Rowen's left stood up, redfaced in anger. Andrew, the blacksmith, who's shop
had lain abandoned for the last three weeks. “This would never have happened
when I was a child!”
no point in wasting energy on a ritual that won't work.” Alain didn't bother
raising his voice. “The best thing to do is to wait and keep calm. Exertion
will bring death.”
“We must do
something!” The same woman who had been ignored before yelled again, louder
this time, and people responded, turning to her and some agreeing, whispering
under their breath.
heart picked up speed. The mood of the crowd was turning, from a tired group of
people willing to help each other to get through hard times to something else.
you have us do? The dances will only cause heat death faster.” Alain was trying
to quell the crowd.
no need for dances.” A man spoke up from the back of the throng, an accent
shading his words. Rowen didn't recognize him until he turned to look.
was a man with pale hair and eyes, a traveler who had settled here from the
north only a year ago. The heat had been unkind to him, his skin burned red
from the sun. He always told tales of his travels, and people naturally paid
close attention to him when he spoke.
come from, heat spells never last this long.” He spoke slowly, calmly, with a soft
commanding voice that bade you listen. Rowen immediately didn't trust him.
Andrew asked, some of his belligerence gone.
chose his words carefully. “Where I live, heat spells are...harsher. Everyone
fends for themselves. We are not as quick to share.”
people seemed concerned, and the man quickly picked up his tale. “But we have
found a way to deal with that. Some people are not worth sharing with, after
glanced at Rowen. He swallowed, looking away.
this is not necessary.” Alain spoke up. He too sounded nervous. “We will begin
the dispersal of water and seeds-”
come from, we give up the people who do not deserve resources.” The man
continued, ignoring Alain, and the crowd hung on his words. “Sacrificing them
to the Storm Gods brings the storms faster, and makes those who survive more
a step back. People were nodding, smiling. Someone behind him grabbed Rowen by
killed his parents by stealing their water!” Andrew yelled. Rowen opened his
mouth to deny it, but of course no sound came out. He had never been able to
speak, not since it had happened.
make perfect sacrifices.” The man said, looking at Rowen but not meeting his
eyes. “The Storm Gods are vindictive.”
Kenneth took a breath, stabilizing his magical strength as
he got close enough to feel it double in power. Thorn was nearby, down the hall
and in the small, cramped conference room in the inventor’s college.
The lightbulbs that illuminated the long hallway remained
steady. After their week together, Kenneth had long gained control over his
And, it seemed, Thorn had learned to focus on his work and
his relationship. The past week, a week after their time together, he had
finally finished his new prosthetic. Kenneth didn’t want to distract him, but
he wanted to see it, and show his support. And there was something important
Thorn needed his help with.
The conference room wasn’t too full, but Thorn’s friend Saul
widened his eyes when Kenneth stepped into the room. He took a seat near the
back, but the amount of heads turning made Thorn look up too.
He met Kenneth’s eyes, and Kenneth gave a small smile. Thorn
sighed, obviously nervous, but smiled back.
Mutters bloomed around the room, but when Kenneth did
nothing but sit and wait, they died down. Finally, Thorn cleared his throat
after a stabilizing breath, holding up his project.
It looked different than when he had shown Kenneth weeks ago.
It was sleeker, more refined, and more silvery than before.
“Greetings, everyone,” he began. As he spoke, he settled
into the tone Kenneth was used to hearing from professors and talented students
presenting. “And I’d like to thank Inventor Charles for mentoring me. With our
work, the ultimate test is if we’d use it ourselves. And, today, I intend to
begin doing so, to demonstrate my mastery of prosthetic engineering.”
He placed the new hand on the table.“Of course, I’ll need an assistant’s help. Kenneth?”
More heads turned, more eyes going wide with surprise, as
Kenneth got up and crossed the room. He wouldn’t use magic for this.
Thorn had explained the mechanism several times when Kenneth
kept having trouble with the locking piece. Now, though, he unhooked it deftly,
and the old prosthetic came off.
A brief look flashed over Thorn’s face, something that
wasn’t pain but maybe fear. Kenneth knew why, or at least he could guess. But
he didn’t care about the stump. Without missing a beat, he picked up the new
prosthetic and fitted it, helping attach the small wiry bits that according to
Thorn would sense the muscles and transmit those small twitches into hand
One, two, three. Three locks, and it was secure.
“And now,” Thorn said, stepping back. His hand came to life,
the fingers waving as though they were real. “I can do anything he can do.” He
laughed when one of the people in the room snorted. “Well, almost anything.”
“Thanks,” Thorn said. He sat across the table in the cafeteria
of the inventor’s college, holding a cup of water in his new metal hand. Saul
sat next to him. “It went perfectly. Although with the way the professor
investigated it afterward, I think he thought you had done some magic to it.”
“My magic couldn’t compare,” Kenneth said. “I wouldn’t know
the first thing about making something like that.” No mage had ever had to. It
was something talentless did—something magi could benefit from, and would
benefit from, if one day they worked together.
Once they were Enforcers, they could make that a reality.
Saul sipped his drink. He still sometimes eyed Kenneth as
though he expected the mage to suddenly attack, but those times were getting
farther and farther apart. “It was a good project. And not everyone who makes
prosthetics has the benefit of being able to immediately use it and test for
Thorn laughed and drummed his metal fingers on the table.
The doors to the cafeteria swung open, and Kenneth caught
sight of a familiar face. George, the man who had destroyed his gift to Thorn
and threatened their relationship, strode in. His eyes met Kenneth’s.
Anger flowed through Kenneth, but he forced it away. His
magic stayed under control, and he looked to Thorn, who hadn’t noticed George
and was still tapping the table. He smiled when he saw Kenneth looking at him,
and any residual annoyance flowed away. He ignored George, putting the angry,
bitter man out of his mind.There was
nothing more he could do.
George had made his point about talentless and magi becoming
lovers. And they, by staying together, had made theirs.
Thorn walked with his head held high and his mage lover by
his side. They passed the stables, where they tied up their horses, and then
strode down the hall, Thorn’s body fizzing with excitement and no small amount
George didn’t matter. What other people thought, mage or
talentless, didn’t matter. What mattered was Kenneth, here and now.
The door to his room was still splintered, but it closed,
and Thorn paused once inside, staring at his lover. Kenneth’s face was flushed,
his eyes bright, and he leaned against the wall. The robes he wore were tight
on his shoulders and loose around his slightly spread legs, but they didn’t
hide the bulge that was obvious to Thorn’s trained eye.
“How’s your magic?” Thorn asked, taking a step closer and
trailing his fingers along Kenneth’s sides.
The mage hissed, raising his head and exposing his neck.
Thorn didn’t take the bait, opting to move his hands lower, undoing buttons.
“Well?” Thorn asked again.
“It’s…under control,” Kenneth said. Thorn flicked his gaze
to Kenneth’s hands, which were flat against the wall, but no tell-tale
electricity or heat gathered around them.
“Good,” he said. “You’re doing better.”
Kenneth quirked a smile, his body shuddering as Thorn undid
the final button and put his hands on him. “It’s good to be around you.”
Thorn smirked. “I feel the same.” He loved touching Kenneth
this way, feeling the mage beneath his hands, quivering under Thorn’s power. He
may never understand magic, but he understood this. He knew where to trail his
fingers, where to be firm and grab and where and when to be soft, to tease. His
own cock twitched, thickening painfully, as he grabbed Kenneth’s thigh with his
metal hand, squeezing hard and digging his metal fingers into the muscle to
pull Kenneth’s legs apart.
“Thorn, yes….” Kenneth threw his head back, his eyes shut.
“Please what?” Thorn stood straighter, facing his lover.
“I’m not even undressed.”
Kenneth’s face reddened, his blue eyes opening halfway. “Do
you want me to undress you?”
“That would be nice.”
Thorn stepped back, but Kenneth didn’t move. Instead, he
spoke in that deep, sensuous voice of his, saying words to the aether that
sounded like the burbling of a creek, or maybe the whistling of the wind. But
Thorn’s buttons came undone, his pants loosening, and his coat shrugged itself
off his shoulders.
For a moment it was frightening, Thorn’s heart pounding as
his clothing unfastened itself. But thrill replaced fear, and he let it happen,
letting Kenneth’s controlled magic render him naked for his mage. He used his
metal hand to make Kenneth moan. It was only fair.
Soon enough, cold air washed over Thorn’s naked body, his
erect cock jutting out in front of him. Kenneth stared, hunger in his eyes, and
Thorn had to smile.
“Alright, let’s get you the rest of the way then,” he said,
and grabbed the silk robes his mage loved so much. With a wrench, he tore them
off Kenneth’s shoulders, creamy pale skin revealed. Kenneth moved with him,
falling against Thorn’s chest, and Thorn held him. He relished the mage’s
warmth, and the sensation of the other man’s body against his own aching cock.
“Thorn…” Kenneth turned in his arms, facing him and moving
their bodies closer together. “I love you.”
The words added something, the evening suddenly less about
naked lust and becoming something deeper. Thorn grabbed Kenneth’s arms,
connecting their mouths in a slow kiss, as if trying to communicate everything
he could in one act. He loved Kenneth. In the end, that was what mattered. This
was what mattered.
Kenneth’s mouth opened, letting Thorn inside, and Thorn
relished his taste and the feeling of Kenneth’s slick tongue and soft lips. His
cock ached, and he desperately wanted to push Kenneth down and enter him right
then, but another part of him was happy enough just being with him like this.
His future was with this man, for who knew how long. He
could be an enforcer, and most likely learn skills he had never even imagined
before. As he kissed Kenneth, possibilities flittered through his mind like
shooting stars, possibilities that involved being with Kenneth, like this, over
And to think it had all started with a flash of lust at
seeing a sexy blond man on a nice horse.
“You know what makes the magic easy to manage?” Kenneth
whispered into their kiss, breathless.
“What’s that?” Thorn said.
“When I don’t care about it. I don’t care what you can do
for my magic. I don’t think about it. I just want you.”
Thorn smiled. That was exactly what he wanted to hear.
“Then I’ll have you,” he said. “Get on the bed, because I
want you just as much.”
Kenneth obliged, and as Thorn was lost in the familiar,
wonderful sensations of their lovemaking, all other worries faded from his
mind. Whatever happened, Enforcers or not, mage or talentless, he would fight
to make this relationship work.
I'm sure some people are wondering how sales go for new releases. I don't have all the info, but I have some. This is all since July 3rd, the release day for Freshman Blues, with a smattering of pre-release sales.
On the Dreamspinner website, I've sold 62 copies, all but one of which are Ebook.The majority of these sales took place in the first few days, when I had my little events and the book was on the "New Release" front page.
On Amazon, I've been hovering between the top 30 and top 100 for gay fantasy. In raw sales, though, according to salesrankexpress.com, that's about 20 since release. (That's what happens in a niche market). These are all Ebooks.
The other two major retailers are Barnes and Noble and All Romance. I don't know the numbers for these retailers, though I know I've gotten some sales since I have the "customers who purchased this book also purchased..." thing appear. On average from self-pubbing my cyborg shorts, All Romance sells slightly more than Amazon and Barnes and Noble less, so we can estimate, if we're being super stingy since I like to play it safe, 21 at All Romance and 1 at Barnes and Noble. (I did say I was stingy. I don't like getting my hopes up).
I want to hit 100 sales in the first month, and it seems I'm well on my way!
So, now for the giveaway. I will give away a signed print copy of Freshman Blues once I hit my first 100 sales between Dreamspinner and Amazon (Sorry, but I can't truly count sales from All Romance or Barnes and Nobles since I don't have raw numbers). So, how do you win?
Easy. Comment on the blog about Freshman Blues. Anywhere, really. Tell me about the book. Tell me about your favorite character. If you haven't read it, tell me how you found my blog or why you'd want to read it. From all the people who comment, I will draw names from a hat once I hit 100 sales and that person will be contacted so I can send the signed book.
When Chris is invited to prestigious Creekville
University, he discovers he is part of an experiment by the mysterious
Professor Faran. There’s no other way a C student like him would have
been accepted into a college where academic mastery results in unique
powers like levitation or empathy. But if Faran is right, even
below-average students can get special abilities and a good job after
graduation. Chris just has to work hard.
Chris isn’t the only one, either. Frederick has worked for Faran for
years, and Chris is intrigued by the aloof and sexy older student. But
Frederick is too terrified of life after graduation to pursue romance.
As they work together, Chris tries to help Frederick out of his
depression, all while juggling friendship, classwork, dating, and trying
to carve out a place he can belong.
But funding for the experiment is running out, and Chris has to
acquire an ability—any ability—soon, or he’ll lose his opportunity at
Creekville, and any chance with Frederick, for good.
My print copies arrived! (Try to ignore the cat foot).
Release date for Freshman Blues is on the 3rd! I'll be hosting an event on the Dreamspinner blog on the 3rd, and then on the Dreamspinner FB page on the 7th, so stop by for a chance to win one of these free print copies!
It had been a frantic hour since leaving the slums. He had
run into Saul at the stables, and been told that Thorn had gone looking for
Gone looking for him. The words had warmed the last bits of
worried ice in Kenneth’s heart. Thorn wanted him too.
And when he saw him on the road, he felt the familiar flare
of magic, warming his body and making Jade’s pounding hooves feel like he was gliding
He stopped when he got close, staring at his lover. It had
only been a few hours, but it felt longer. His magic thrummed beneath his skin,
as though it too was glad to see his lifemate again. Thorn was beautiful in the
evening air, his head cocked as though waiting for something, his eyes
sparkling with what Kenneth hoped was happiness.
“You didn’t get very far, did you?” he said with a small
“I…you said you needed time to think.” Kenneth chose his
words carefully. “I wanted to give you time, but I did some thinking of my own.
I know you don’t need me. You’re an independent, wonderful man, and I know that
me being a mage might create problems. But its your independence that makes me
love you.” His cheeks warmed. “You’re my equal, Thorn. You’re any mage’s equal.
Don’t let anyone else make you think differently. Your choices should be made
yourself, just as mine are.”
Thorn twisted the
reins in his hand, his gaze distant for a moment. “It’s good to hear that,” he
said. He patted his horse’s neck, then dismounted, hopping down on the ground.
Kenneth followed suit, very aware of Thorn’s nearness.
“I know you’re
right,” Thorn continued. “I’ve always made my own choices. But I always
think…what would my parents think?” his smile slipped for a moment. “I know its
foolish. So many people who’s parents are alive rebel against them and their
wishes for their children. But I do want to honor the memory of those who’ve
gone before. We talentless don’t get to do that with surnames, so we cling to
memories, I suppose.” He shrugged, Kenneth’s heart going out to him.
“Your parents, I’m sure, would want you to be happy,”
Kenneth said. “I know mine wish that for me, no matter what. Things will work
“I know,” Thorn said. He turned to Kenneth. “It’s just that
fool George put concerns in my head, about my parents and other talentless
and…everything, really. But it was a moment of weakness, that’s all.”
“Not weakness,” Kenneth said. “You could never be weak.”
Thorn was stronger than any mage Kenneth had every known. Most talentless,
Kenneth had to admit, probably were too. All he had learned in this short week
proved that several times over.
“I do love you, Kenneth,” Thorn said. “And I’m glad I get to
make that choice.”
Kenneth’s heart swelled, and he moved forward, going to
envelop Thorn into a hug. Thorn hugged him instead, the inventor’s arms
crushingly strong and his body strong and firm against Kenneth’s.
“I know things won’t always be easy, but love never is,”
Thorn whispered. “Is it?”
Kenneth didn’t answer right away, letting himself be folded
into Thorn’s arms. He knew things would get tougher in the future. He had no
idea what sort of challenges would face them, both as men and then as
Enforcers. But he was sure they could handle it.
“If it were easy, it wouldn’t be as rewarding,” he finally
said, and Thorn laughed before pulling him into a slow, languid kiss, his lips
soft, and then his tongue warm and slick against Kenneth’s.
"C'mon," Thorn said, his voice husky. "Let's go back to my place."
Phillip Jorgensen tried to live the straight life and ended
up divorced. But he wouldn’t trade his two kids, Jacob and Samantha, for the
world. His ex-wife has kidnapped them and he's been searching for them for six
long years. But he’s not giving up—never, not for anything. His twin brother
has encouraged him to start living again, but how is he going to find romance
with all his baggage?
When he meets Vance Pierce at the new gym, Phillip sees a
chance to find some happiness.
Phillip has to explain the whole sordid mess to Vance and
pray that he understands that he’ll never stop looking for his children. That’s
easier said than done. Telling Vance might be risky. Is their connection strong
enough to convince Vance to stay? Or will he think that Phillip is too damaged
to love? This is Phillip's chance at the life he never thought he could have.
But is it possible?
Bree was pulled away from him, and he was doused from head
to toe in ice-cold water. He wiped his face and turned, only to be met by his
brother’s laughing face.
“Hey there, little brother.” Robert smirked and pointed the
hose at him.
“You’re so going to pay for that.” Phillip advanced. He was
already drenched. It wasn’t like Robert could get him any wetter. “And you’re
how much older? That’s right, ten minutes.”
“I’m still older.” Robert grinned evilly. He covered the tip
of the hose with his thumb, and the ensuing spray engulfed Phillip. “Do you
really think you can best me?”
“I think so,” Phillip answered with a mischievous grin as
his gaze settled on movement behind Robert. Bree and Corey had gotten their
hands on the other hose and were sneaking up on their dad. “You are going to
get so wet,” Phillip warned. Seconds later the kids turned the hose on Robert,
causing him to drop his own hose as he yelled in surprise. Phillip dove for it
and proceeded to help them drench their dad. “You give yet?”
“Never.” Robert roared playfully. He launched himself at his
brother, sending them both sprawling in the mud and struggling to gain control
of the hose. Childish laughter reached their ears and water showered down on
them, courtesy of Bree and Corey.
“On the count of three, you get Bree,” Robert whispered to
his brother as they wrestled in the mud.
“Sounds good.” Phillip kept his own voice low enough that he
couldn’t be overheard. They maneuvered until they were in a position where they
could get to their feet quickly.
“One… two… three,” Robert yelled, and Phillip lunged to his
feet next to Robert.
Renee Stevens first started writing in her teens but didn’t
get serious about being an author until her mid-twenties.Since then she’s written a number of
contemporary stories, as well as delved into the paranormal.When not writing, or spending time in the
outdoors, Renee can usually be found working on GayAuthors.org in her capacity
of admin and Anthology Coordinator.
Renee resides in Wyoming with her wonderfully supportive
husband and a menagerie of four-legged critters.Making the most of the nearly constant
negative temperatures and mounds of snow, Renee spends much of the winter
months in hibernation with her laptop, the voices in her head keeping her
company while her husband works. When she needs a break from writing, Renee
takes to the sewing machine to design, and make, beautiful quilts.
When the snow finally disappears, usually around May or
June, Renee can be found in the great-outdoors.She spends her time on the mountain, at the lake, and just anywhere that
she can do some camping, take some photos, and ride the four-wheelers with her
hubby.Once back at home, it’s back to
Thorn’s feet thudded against the floor of the hallway, and
the thuds turned to a steady rap as his path took him outside on the gravel of
the entranceway, and finally to the stone path that led to the stables.
The fresh scent of hay and horses met his nose, and one of
the animals whickered at him as he headed toward the far stalls.
His heart sank. He should have known. Jade's stall was empty. Kenneth was gone.
He whirled at the voice. Saul stood at the entrance, and his
friend beckoned him out of the back of the stables. The day had wound on toward evening,
the sun sending the sky into the red of a furnace with the promise of the purples
of late dusk coming soon. By now Kenneth was probably back at the collegium already.
“Are you alright, Thorn?” Saul asked.
“I…yes. I’m alright.” He couldn’t help but look back at the
empty stall where Jade had once stood.
“Kenneth left.” Saul’s words stung, even if they were
obvious. Thorn looked down at the ground,
at the dust on the floor of the stables that Kenneth must have walked through a
short time ago. He hoped Kenneth wasn’t too angry. Or too sad.
“What happened, exactly, Thorn?” Saul asked.
The words brought back the confusion and uncertainty, but
only for a moment. Thorn sighed, leaning back against the wooden wall of the
stable. “George,” he said after a few moments. “It was a stupid…a stupid thing
he did, and a stupid choice on my part. He broke some stuff in my room.” Saul’s
eyes widened. “A gift Kenneth had gotten me. I got…scared, I guess, or angry. I
told Kenneth to go.” He regretted it even more all of a sudden, the pain a
twist in his shoulders.
“He did leave,” Saul said, and Thorn frowned. “I talked to
him, though.” Thorn looked up. “He didn’t tell me much. But…” Saul rolled his
shoulders, his artificial leg thudding against the floor as he shifted his
weight. “Well, I know you’re hurting, or upset about George. But Kenneth…he only
left because you asked him to, for what that’s worth.” Saul met Thorn’s eyes. “He’s
not afraid of George. He just wants you to be happy. He loves you, you know. He
The words both warmed and stabbed Thorn’s heart. He had sent
him away, stupidly, in shock at something someone else who didn’t even matter
had done. “I know,” he said. And he did love Kenneth. He was certain of it now. Mages, talentless...it didn't matter. It never should have mattered.
He had to go after him. He moved away from his spot against
“What will you do?” Saul asked. “He’s a mage. Your life is
going to change, a lot, if you live with him.”
“I know that too,” Thorn said. But now, it seemed somehow
less important. “But who’s life doesn’t change after they find the person they
Saul smiled. “You’d better go find him, then.”
Thorn nodded. It would be dark soon enough, but he knew the way
to the collegium. Kenneth had wanted to stay with Thorn for a week, and that wouldn’t
He turned back, unlatching a familiar stall. Behind him,
Saul called “Good luck.”
Soon enough, he was mounted up on Chocolate and heading away
from the college, toward the road that would take him back to the magi
collegium. The air had grown unseasonably cool, and beneath the shade of the
buildings that made up the slums of his hometown, he shivered.
Saul supported their relationship, in his own way. Saul, a
man who had every reason to fear mages. The thought made Thorn smile. George
may not be able to see Kenneth’s kindness, his understanding, but Saul could.
If enough talentless could see the good in it, or at least
more than those like George who couldn’t see past the war, then it would be
fine. For a time, he wondered what his parents would have thought of Kenneth,
had they survived.
But that didn’t matter. The past didn’t matter, or at least
Hoofbeats clattered on the road behind him, and he pulled
Chocolate to a stop, craning to look.
The first thing he made out was Jade’s sleek, shiny green
halter in the fading light of the dusk, and then the sight of his lover
galloping towards him filled him with joy.
Kenneth didn’t want to go back to the magi collegium, but he
needed to give Thorn time.
The air outside the inventor’s college was warm and full of
the gritty, smoky scents of the nearby slums. He had learned a lot about the
twisting roads that led between the buildings, and knew enough to not lost or
stumble into an area where a rich-looking mage on a fancy horse would get his
But there was no area in the slums where a mage like him
would actually belong, save for by Thorn’s side.
Kenneth tried not to worry. He loved Thorn. Thorn loved him.
If Saul was right, it would work out.
He clucked his tongue as he led Jade from the stables,
pleased at her glossy coat and finely kept mane. Clearly the students who
worked the stables to earn their keep at the inventor’s college took their work
seriously. The stables themselves were cleaner than the ones at the collegium,
Kenneth had to admit.
Jade swished her tail, and when they set off she pulled at
the reins in the direction of the collegium, eager to run in the rolling hills
that surrounded it. Kenneth clucked his tongue, pulling her back toward the
slums. He supposed she felt out of place too.
Kenneth rode Jade away from the inventor’s college, his mind
full of hope for his time with Thorn and with curiosity. He had learned a lot
from Thorn, had heard the stories about talentless, but knew so little. He rode
further, away from the places he knew, disregarding every bit of advice his
father had given him when he had first begun to attend the collegium with the
knowledge of the slums that lay beyond its grounds.
Wagons pulled by bony horses strolled past on the potted
road, and smoke belched from a contraption that was attached to a house. More
smoke poured from chimneys, from homes too poor to afford the engineer made
heaters for hot water or for furnaces. Few people walked by, the homes boarded
up or surrounded by shoddily constructed wooden fences. Noise, voices and
arguments, streamed from the larger buildings, where cracked windows offered
glimpses into families that were packed into tiny rooms.
Despite it all, a cheery tune played on a violin wound down
the street, one Kenneth didn’t recognize, and the sun illuminated the city.
Someone had painted on a wall, a drawing of a tree and some sort of flying
contraption, or perhaps just a poorly drawn bird.
Kenneth’s father’s voice echoed in his mind. How could the talentless be happy living
But no matter. They had their own lives, and could be happy
despite what had happened during the war. The music continued, the violin
joined by a flute and a drum, and Kenneth found the source in a small inn
called J’s. J for Jaquin, certainly.
He didn’t go inside. It wasn’t his place to be.
Thorn could be happy without him, Kenneth knew. He didn’t
want to believe it, of course. But the talentless didn’t need mages, and Thorn
didn’t need Kenneth. In fact, Kenneth needed Thorn more than Thorn could ever
He twisted the reins in his hand, the sun suddenly too
bright and too hot. He had been foolish. He was convinced he had everything to
offer Thorn, that his power and influence and money was enough, that his
willingness to learn about talentless was enough.
But he had to offer Thorn more than just that. It was
Thorn’s choice, of course. But fires, Kenneth cared about him. He loved him,
and he had to show Thorn that. Kenneth wasn’t going to just give up without a
Putting his back to the music, Kenneth headed back toward
the inventor’s college.