Flash Fic Friday, Serial

Flash Fic Friday

**Here it is! Episode 9 and the conclusion for Rowan and Luca. It’s been a ride, and went places I didn’t expect, but now they’re settled. Or at least getting there! We’ll start a new one soon, but in the meantime, enjoy!**

I closed the door behind Agent Willis and let out a sigh, leaning against the cool wood for a moment. It didn’t take a whole second before Luca was behind me, gathering me into his arms and holding me tightly. I turned in his arms and rested my head in the crook of his neck. It was as though the spot had been made for me since my forehead fit there perfectly.

Luca rubbed my back but didn’t say a word, just held me and let me breathe. It was what I needed. The interview had lasted hours, Agent Willis had done his best to be kind and gentle with his questions. His partner hadn’t shown up with him, and I’d let him record everything. Before he turned on the device, he implied his partner wasn’t as compassionate as he was. Or maybe empathetic was a better word. Either way, I appreciated that he took care to ask me what he needed to but had been kind about it.

“You okay?” Luca’s voice rumbled through his chest, and it comforted me even more. I snuggled in closer, though it wasn’t really possible, and then squeaked when he picked me up. It startled a laugh out of me and I clung on while he walked the few yards to the couch and sat, settling me half across his lap. 

“Eh. I don’t know.” I took a few moments to really take stock of my emotions, then pursed my lips. “Is it weird that I feel kind of, I dunno, relieved?”

“No.” The firmness in his tone made me smile. “It’s not weird at all. You’ve been in fight or flight for most of your life. It has to be a relief to know your abusers can no longer hurt you. Or anyone else, for that matter.”

I squinted one eye at him. “You’ve been talking to Tenley, haven’t you?”

He shrugged one shoulder, not the least bit ashamed. Not that he should be. Our pack counselor was as wise as she was fair, and had a way being blunt without being harsh. Without her, I wouldn’t have made the progress I had.

“She’s going to not so gently insist I see her regularly again for a while.” I sighed, but I wasn’t upset. Right this moment, I was okay. But I was sure that wouldn’t last. I licked my lips. “I might, uh, have a little bit of a setback. So just, you know, you need to be—”

Luca stopped me with a quick kiss. “Sidestep, not setback. Healing isn’t a linear process. See her as much as you need to.”

I smiled then. He was so supportive, and I appreciated it so much. But then a thought struck, and I sat up straighter, grabbing his biceps.

“Luca, you have to…I mean…” I stopped and took a breath. “Yes, this brought up a lot for me. And it’s going to be rough for a bit.” I paused again, squinting as I thought. “Though probably not as bad as before, since I’ve come along way. But what I’m trying to say is that if you need some time for yourself, or a break or—”

“We aren’t breaking up!” It wasn’t a roar, exactly, and time was even that much would have made me flinched. But it was Luca, and I trusted him, so I didn’t.

“No, no,” I soothed. I loosened my hold and started petting. “That’s not what I mean. But your mental health is as important as mine, and even though I’m a little broken—”

“You aren’t broken!”

I continued like he hadn’t interrupted. “Doesn’t mean that I take priority. Remember? So if you need some time for yourself, I want you to take it, okay?”

He made some grumbling noises but didn’t say anything as he gathered me in close again. He stuck his nose against my neck, rubbing and scenting me. I just smiled and held on, let him do his thing, because I knew there was a comfort in that for him. When he was done, he adjusted our positions until he was lying down and I was lying on top of him.

For a few minutes, we just stayed like that, breathing in sync and listening to the ambient noises. Luca hand creeped in my hair and started rubbing my scalp. It was so soothing that I almost nodded off. I knew that was part of the stress of the day, the high emotions crashing down, but the rest was all him and the contentment I felt in his presence. A couple of months ago, I wouldn’t have expected that. Wouldn’t have believed it even. But the time spent with Luca had changed it all.

“Rowan?” his voice was barely above a whisper. 

“Hm?” I stretched a little, then snuggled into a more comfortable position.

“I love you,” he murmured, tone sure. “Just want you to know.”

“Mmm. That’s good.” 

“Yeah?”

“Mhmm.” I kissed his collar bone. “Because I love you. And it would suck if it was just me.”

Too quick to track, Luca flipped us over, so I was on bottom, and he was crouched over me, staring into my eyes. I smiled and reached for him, putting my hands on his face just so I could touch him. When he bent to kiss me, it was sweet and loving, with just a hint of the passion he’d shown me before. I was ready to take it there, but he pulled back before I could. I wasn’t worried. I knew we’d get there soon enough.

Then he settled his body weight on me, and the deep pressure relaxed me even further. It was like my own personal weighted blanket, but with the exact right amount of pressure, and I sighed happily.

This was just the start of us, and it wasn’t always going to be easy. But I knew it would be good and exactly what we both needed.

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Looking Back: Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love

**Looking back is a series here where I take a meander down memory lane and talk about my past books. I’ll bring insight to the inspiration behind the story and what the writing process was like. Hope you enjoy!**

This book. This is one of those books that stemmed from my own life in a lot of ways. It’s full of little easter eggs meant just for me and for my friend living all the way across the country. I was in a rut, to be sure, but there was a sub call (see, I told you there would be a pattern) for a story with an older MC. But I was stumped.

Until I almost fell down the stairs and busted my noggin.

From there, a story was born. Of Josie falling down the stairs and getting concussed. Of Ben, her friend across the country who gets an email in the middle of the night that his friend is hurt. And of Zack, Josie’s younger brother who contacts Ben. Of Ben getting a flight across the country to be with the sister of his heart, even though they’d never met in person.

Of Ben and Zack falling in love. Which is the most important part. Of course, it’s not easy. There’s an age gap to content with. The distance poses a problem. Ben hasn’t been in a serious relationship in a while and has resigned himself to the fact that it’s just not going to be an option for him. And of course, there’s Josie, who Ben would do anything for, and perhaps falling in love with her brother isn’t the best idea.

Zack, on the other hand, sees all that he wants in Ben. He’s the driving force for them to try, and he’s the one that brings them back together after they have to say goodbye. Zack is a ray of sunshine and optimism. He knows he’s what Ben needs.

And those Easter eggs I mentioned? Well they’re maybe not as amusing to the average reader as they are to me. There’s the title, for one, which comes for the song by The Outfield. (And happens to be a song that stalks both me and my friend.) It’s where Josie’s name came from as well. Josie is a knitter. Those emails Ben and Josie exchange, and how they met? Copying real life.

Needless to say, this one has a special place in my heart. I needed to get out of a writing slump and I needed something I adored. This story was exactly that in my time of need. For most readers, it’s just a cute little story about two men falling in love and overcoming obstacles. For me, it’s little pieces of my life put into a story because it amused me so.

You can read the blurb and find by links here. You can also find some additional flash fics I wrote there too. Just scroll down 🙂

Flash Fic Friday, Serial

Flash Fic Friday

**Episode 8 for Rowan and Luca. It’s been a journey, and I’ve missed a week here and there, but here you go. There’s one more episode after this. Enjoy!**

It wasn’t exactly surprising that Luca’s Jeep was in my driveway. Over the past few months, he’d been here more often than not. He claimed he liked my house better than his, but I just thought he liked to spend time with me and knew I was more comfortable in my own space. He didn’t seem to care where we were though, so I didn’t worry about it. It had taken time, but we were pretty good at communicating, and I trusted him to tell me if that change.

That being said, I wasn’t sure why his Jeep was in my driveway now. I’d been out running errands, but Luca was working today. Or at least I thought he had been. If his grumbles this morning as he forced himself out of my bed were anything to go by, then he and his crew had a lot of work to do on the house they were renovating, and I hadn’t expected him to be back until early evening.

The timing of his return was suspicious.

It could be that they’d actually finished early. Or run into a problem that stopped their work for the day until it got resolved. Hell, it could be that he just decided to cut out early to spend some time with me. Except he’d never done that before because Luca was too dedicated to his work. So it probably wasn’t that, no matter how much I wanted it to be.

Even though the logical part of my brain tried to tell me that it was most likely one of the former reasons—since odds were it wasn’t the latter—my rising anxiety immediately jumped to worse case scenario. Panic burbled in my gut, making my stomach ache in that way it did. I had to swallow hard just to keep myself breathing normally.

I had groceries in the car, but I was too anxious to bring them all in, so I just grabbed the cold bag that contained the refrigerated and frozen items from the seat beside me and rushed into the house. The front door was open, but the screen door had a tendency to stick, so I fought with it for a second before I managed to yank it open.

“Luca!” I dropped the bag and headed toward the living room

“In here.”

“What’re you do—” I sucked in a breath as I rounded the corner and saw not only Luca sitting in his favorite recliner but my alpha perched on the edge of the couch. Both men held themselves stiffly, concern etched into ever line of their body. My heart went wild, adrenaline bursting through my veins. “What’s happened?”

Luca tried for a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. He held out a hand. “Come here. It’s okay, baby.”

My legs shook but I managed to make it across the room and take his hand. When he tugged me right down onto his lap, I went, even though I didn’t really fit. I wasn’t worried about being too heavy for him. It took a little finagling before we were comfortable.

“What’s going on?” I asked and my voice shook but I didn’t care. Luca’s arms tightened almost to the point of pain, but the deep pressure helped to settled me. I had a feeling, just from the look on Tom’s fac, that I was going to be needing a lot of that.

“I hope I didn’t overstep by calling Luca and asking him to be here. But I felt you’d want the support.” Tom’s voice was gentle. “I received a visit from the MBI. A Special Agent Willis. He came to speak to me about your former pack.”

For a second, I couldn’t breathe, but then Luca nuzzled my neck and held me even tighter, and air moved through my lungs again. I nodded, a jerk of my head, and Tom let out a breath.

“He would like to speak with you, but he allowed me to talk to you first. Not that he had a choice. I’m your alpha.” The possessive and protective growl in his tone helped me relax even further. I tried for a smile.

“What happened?” I’d asked it before, and I appreciated Tom’s attempt to ease me into things, but it was making my anxiety worse. Luca lifted his head, and I felt more than heard the growl, but Tom put him in his place with a look.

“He and his partner were investigating your old pack due to a death—”

I let out a mirthless snort. Tom quirked an eyebrow. I gave as much as a shrug as I was able due to Luca’s tight hold.

“Death is nothing new in that pack.” My voice wasn’t as strong as I wanted it to be, but it was no longer shaking, and I called that a win.

“Perhaps.” Tom let out a sigh and clenched his hands together. “The death was a daughter of another pack, though. She was kidnapped and tortured before being beaten to death and left in a field. She was found two days later, and an investigation was immediately launched. It didn’t take long to find the culprits. Or to have them remanded to custody.”

None of that surprised me, exactly, even though it was horrible. I always knew my former alpha and his cronies were capable of such things. I just didn’t think they’d be so stupid as to do it to someone who wasn’t pack. If it was a wolf under the alpha’s control, he could almost always explain away the damage. But a wolf belonging to a different pack? That was another matter entirely.

“Who?” I had to clear my throat. “Uh, did they tell you who was arrested?”

“The alpha, two betas, and several other pack members.” Tom’s voice was low. He looked me straight in the eye. “Including your mother.”

I sucked in a breath as emotions warred within me. Most of me was fiercely glad they’d been arrested. Since the MBI was involved, chances were good that they’d not only be held accountable but that they’d get the harsh punishment they deserved. But there was also a part of me that was sad the woman who gave birth to me had been involved in it.

“Baby?”

I gripped Luca’s hands tightly where they were crossed over my chest but didn’t take my gaze off Tom. “Good.”

Tom studied me for a long moment, and then some of the tension left his body. “You don’t seem surprised.”

It wasn’t a question. I answered it anyway. “I’m not. Or rather, I can’t believe that they took the violence to an outside pack like that. But that they were capable of it? That’s not a shock.”

“Even your mom?” Luca’s voice was soft and his breath tickled the skin of my neck. I shivered but shook it off.

“The woman who birthed me was indifferent at best and cruel at worst. She allowed this to happen to me and others without doing anything to stop it. She didn’t even try. And it’s not because she was controlled like the rest of us.” I breathed deeply, using my coping techniques. I consciously let some of the tension go. I wasn’t in that place anymore, hadn’t been for years, and I was safe and secure now. Especially with Luca’s arms around me. “You said the agent wanted to talk to me?”

Tom took a moment to make sure I was actually okay. Then he nodded. “He’s willing to wait until you’re ready. He understands the trauma you’ve experienced.”

“Can, um, can Luca be there with me when I talk to him?” I gulped. “Or you?”

“He can just try and stop me,” Luca growled and then bit my neck. Not hard, it was just a nip. Just letting me feel him so I knew he was there. As if I could miss it. I turned my head to nuzzle his cheek.

“Are you up to speaking with him?”

I nodded, squeezed my eyes shut, and took a breath. “Yeah, okay.”

“All right.” Tom stood. He walked right over and cupped the back of my neck, rubbing his fingers and leaving his scent. “I’ll let him know.”

“He’s still around?”

Tom nodded. “He is. I’ll give you some time then send him over.”

With another squeeze to my neck, he left. Luca didn’t even wait until the door shut behind Tom before he turned me around and cuddled me in close. For a long moment, he didn’t say anything.

“Tighter,” I whispered and Luca squeezed so hard I could barely breathe. It was perfect.

“You okay?” He murmured into my ear.

“No.” I made it a point never to lie to him and I wasn’t going to start now. “But as long as you stay with me, I will be. Eventually.”

“Not going anywhere.” Luca’s voice was quiet but full of conviction.

Flash Fic Friday, Serial

Flash Fic Friday

**Episode 7 is finally here. Sorry for the delay. Sometimes the boys just don’t want to talk to me, or other things get in the way. But our wolves are back and they have one more episode after this. Enjoy!**

I was out watering the garden when I heard him. I kept my gaze focused on my task, but I dialed up my hearing, tracking his movements. Luca wasn’t trying to be quiet, and I smiled even though I didn’t turn in his direction. He was so good about letting me know exactly where he was at all times, so he never snuck up on me. And that took effort, because as wolves, we were naturally stealthy.

He came up alongside me, and I still didn’t turn, but I knew he could smell how happy and content I was. I wanted to see what he would do.

“Hey.” Luca’s voice was soft and low. He stepped closer, then behind me, and wrapped his arms around me, hugging me. I tilted my head, exposing my neck, and I shivered when he bents and kissed my skin. “Whatcha doing?”

I snorted a laugh and lifted the nozzle of the hose high, because I thought it was pretty obvious what I was doing. Luca playfully nipped my skin, a reprimand for my cheek that he wasn’t serious about. His amusement came through clearly in his scent.

“I meant when you were done.” Another nip to my neck, this one lower down, right at the juncture of my shoulder. A frisson of arousal shot through me, and I let out a little gasp that made Luca chuckle wickedly. I dropped the hose and turned in his arms, wrapping my own around his neck and pushing against him. 

Luca rumbled out his approval, pulling me even closer, so our bodies fit together perfectly. He pushed my hair back with one hand, then settled that same hand on the back of my neck. The arousal was still simmering, but it was pushed back but the happy hum of contentment at just being held. At being looked at like I was important and special. And as much as I wanted to jump his bones—especially because we hadn’t gotten that far yet—I was just as happy to stand there and let him hug me.

“I can be done,” I murmured, pushing up on my toes so I could reach his jaw. I kissed him there, lingering a little, and then settled back down and tucked myself tighter against him. He pushed his face against my hair at my temple, scenting me. 

“Wanna shift and run with me?” He grinned, then waggled his eyebrows, making me laugh. He kissed the smile off my face. He pulled away gently, adding a few quick pecks, and then lifted a brow as he stared down at me.

I was breathless when I answered. “Yes, please.”

He released me so fast I almost stumbled, but he was there to steady me. then he started stripping, dropping his clothes where he stood. I rushed to catch up, but stopped in the process of unbuttoning my jeans when he whipped off his boxers, whirled them in a circle and tossed them away. I didn’t know whether to laugh or moan, and in the end, the sound I made was a mixture of both.

Luca took a step toward me. I couldn’t tear my gaze from his body, all sleek muscle, toned and cut, and golden skin. He was simply breathtaking, and my libido reminded me that it did, in fact, exist. And was very healthy. I licked my lips, Luca’s expression turned heated, and he stalked closer a few more steps before freezing. I jerked my gaze to his, but he just smirked, shook his head, and dropped to one knee to let the shift overtake him.

Ah well. He was probably right. If he came closer, we’d never get to run in our fur, and we both needed it. Besides, I loved running with Luca. He made it fun and joyful, while also making me feel wholly safe and protected. I quickly got rid of the rest of my clothes, a little less carelessly than Luca had, then shifted. It took me longer than him, and by the time I was shaking my fur to settle it, he was sitting next to me. I approached, head lowered, and he licked my muzzle then rubbed against my face and neck, leaving his scent all over me.

I loved it.

He yipped and took off, and I raced after him. Wherever he went, I followed. Any time he stopped to scent the air or investigate an interesting smell, I did the same. He lead, and I was only to happy to follow.

Eventually we made it to a clearing on the far side of pack territory. I wasn’t tired, exactly, but we’d come a long way and I was pleasantly fatigued. I sat on my haunches and panted as Luca inspected the the entire space. Then he found a shady spot under a maple, laid down and yowled out a sound that I clearly understood.

Come here.

I obeyed, eager and happy, and pushed against him. Luca didn’t move, but he did give me the side-eye. I huffed out a wolf-version of a laugh, and he grumbled, so I pushed against him, tucked myself into the curve of his body, and laid down as well.

There was no denying his contented sigh. I echoed the sound.

Behind me, Luca adjusted until he could get one paw over my shoulders. I pushed in tighter. Only when we finally settled did a realize that we were cuddling there on the ground. Wolf cuddling. I’d never done it before. Not like this. I’d settled into a wolf pile before, of course. Wolves were tactile in any form. But this, with Luca, was something else entirely. It was intimate and comfortable, and meant more to me than I even could words to.

I breathed out, Luca set his bit head on top of mine, and cuddled together, content and happy, I fell asleep.

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Looking Back: Requiem Inc.

**Looking back is a series here where I take a meander down memory lane and talk about my past books. I’ll bring insight to the inspiration behind the story and what the writing process was like. Hope you enjoy!**

Today I’m revisiting the Requiem Inc. series! This is one of my most popular series, and the one I get asked about the most. Not only has it been well received, but readers want to know if Tyler will get his own story.

But first, we need to start at the beginning.

Years before I wrote Ghost of a Chance, my brother told me a story he imagined in his brain. Of a man who went to work everyday, was stabbed through the chest and “died” in order to do his job. My brother’s details were slightly different from mine, but the story he told me stuck with me. For years, I would randomly think about that scene as I imagined it while he was telling me. It came back to me again and again.

So I asked him if I could use it. And he said yes.

Which is how I came up with ghostwalking, and Requiem Inc, a company that, through private and government funding, has operatives who find lost souls and help them pass on. Blake and Derek were not the first iteration I came up with. In fact, it took a few tries to get their story, and their characters, right. But when I hit on this combination, the story bloomed before me. Not only were they a ghostwalker and anchor pair, but there was an anchor bond as well. Of course, their relationship isn’t always easy. Blake, in particular, has baggage he needs to unpack before he can move forward. Which, with Derek’s help, he is able to do.

Derek is a big sweetheart. Like, he’s almost too good to be true. And I wanted him to be that way. I wanted him to be perfect in every way for Blake, and to have a huge heart, and be an outstanding cook, and absolutely love taking care of Blake. Blake needed the care taking, for sure, but I leaned hard into just how good and perfect Derek was, because he was an utter joy to write that way.

This series isn’t heavy on the angst, but there is a bit. There’s also a wonderful mix of science and paranormal in the world building. And from Blake and Derek’s story, other stories arose. Sam, Blake’s brother, was pining for Michael King, their boss. It was originally meant as a throwaway side plot moment. It grew into more. And then I had to write their story, and all that entailed. Their problems were different than Blake and Derek’s, of course, even more so compounded by King being a Guardian and Sam being a little reckless. I faced new challenges with Lost Souls Found as I had to walk a fine line between being too cliched while also telling their story. And of course, they had their own sort of bond, but I had to figure out what that looked like as their roles were hugely different.  

Avery made an appearance in book 1, and then a cameo in book 2, and he deserved a new love and a new life as well. Somebody to Die For was more of a challenge to write as Avery was still grieving the loss of his husband and anchor, but was also healing from that. There was a heaviness to that I wanted to do justice. But Jameson was a light not only for Avery, but for me as well. Far from perfect, but also so giving and open to learning. In a lot of ways, I had the most fun writing this third book in the series, because even though the subject matter was, at times, heavier, the world was well established and it was great to see all our boys, as well as other secondary characters again.

The other thing of note, here, was that I was laid off in 2017, and though Ghost of a Chance had already been written at that point and was in the works to be published, the other two were on spec with the publisher. And because I’d gotten laid off, I had plenty of time on my hands. I was able to write them back to back, pounding out the words. I managed to write the 100+k words between both books in a shorter amount of time than I’d ever been able to write that many words before. And I was thrilled with their releases, and the overwhelmingly positive response I got to the world building and the characters and their stories.

(And yes, for those of you who know, I still feel bad Tyler hasn’t gotten his story and yes, every once in a while he pokes me and reminds me that he deserves his story told. I haven’t said it’ll never happen for a reason.)

I love this series for a lot of reasons. Mostly because I think it showcases my world building skills the best, and is something different. Not wholly unique, to be sure, but interesting and creative certainly. I love stories with bonds as well, both to read and to write, and while not every story has an actual bond, the MCs are all incredibly connected.

This series is one that originally was a part of a particular line, and I was exceedingly proud to be pat of it at the time. This series also kicked off my foray into writing with paranormal elements in my stories, which is something I’ve always loved to read and couldn’t quite solidify in my mind to write. So this was the first, and it’s only grown from there, as a lot of my recent releases have been PNR.

All in all, this series has been a roller coaster to write, is one of the series I’m exceptionally proud of, and one that just might not be finished yet. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, you can find blurbs and buy links here.

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Looking Back: Hero Worship

**Looking back is a series here where I take a meander down memory lane and talk about my past books. I’ll bring insight to the inspiration behind the story and what the writing process was like. Hope you enjoy!**

Today we’re talking about Hero Worship and not just because it was the second title I published. Alex was my first bisexual MC, so he has a special place in my heart. I wrote him before I even admitted to anyone out loud that I, too, was bisexual. In fact, I was still thinking of myself as mostly straight at that point, not really giving myself the room to accept my own identity.

This story came from a sub call (you’ll notice a pattern as we go through the series, and if you’ve followed along for any length of time, you know how much I love submission calls) for an anthology featuring medical professionals. I remember thinking I definitely didn’t want to write a doctor, because so many romance heroes are doctors. I contemplated a nurse, because they don’t get enough credit. But then, thinking about who didn’t get enough credit, I landed on paramedic. I wanted something a little different, especially because I didn’t think there’d be many submissions with paramdeics for the call.

With this story, the first thing that came to mind was the opening scene. More specifically, that Alex’s name would be screamed by the bride, and Alex would, in fact, rush to the rescue to help someone going into anaphylaxis. That his calmness and competency would save the day. From there I had to flesh out the characters. Who was Alex Sullivan? Who was the bride to him? And who was Matthew Carter?

It became apparent very quickly to me what Alex’s hang-ups were going to be. Matt was nine years younger than he was, but more than that, Matt has always had an apparent case of hero worship when it came to Alex. Alex is determined not to take advantage of that. To keep Matt at arm’s length and to keep things platonic.

Matt, of course, has other things in mind. Namely that he knows Alex’s heart is a good one, and that he wants nothing more than to be Alex’s forever. Their story is not without bumps, and has the traditional romance story beats—including the big miscommunication that I actively avoid in most stories these days—but in the end, they get their happily ever after.

This book required very little research on my part, as the medical part was the only part not made up by me, and I have a ridiculous knowledge of medical things. (Someday, I should do a post about how and why I know so much medical stuff.) But I did need to ask a few questions of a paramedic I know, and read an article or two on epinephrine, just to make sure I had my facts straight. But since I love the research part of writing, none of that was a hardship.

This was another book where the words flowed rather easily. My beta at the time had some good suggestions to help, and one of my favorite scenes toward the end was also their favorite scene. In fact, the one thing that was the most important to me in that scene was the thing they picked up on and loved too, so that made me extra happy. It was important to me, and the story, that Matt didn’t forgive Alex too easily for running. At least, not until he was sure that Alex had really learned from it. In the end, I was super happy with this story and Alex and Matt’s journey.

In fact, these two left such an impression on me that they ended up getting 5 flash fics here on the blog continuing their story. Which you can also get as a downloadable PDF. It was also one of the first stories I republished when the press that shall not be named took their fuckery to a new level and I got all my titles back. Because I love these guys so much, and I love the love they’ve gotten from readers. As I said, Alex has a special place in my heart as the first bi MC I wrote, and he was the one that gave me courage to not only express myself but to continue to write bi guys. Nowadays, almost always at least one of my MCs is bi.

You can find buy links here, as well as links to the free shorts. Just scroll down to the title. And if you want your own copy of the companion shorts, click here.

Flash Fic Friday, Serial

Flash Fic Friday

**Episode 6! Rowan and Luca are back again! Things are moving in the right direction for these two, but we’re not done with the heavy emotion yet. Make sure you click on the tags if you need to catch up. Enjoy!**

Dinner had been good, filled with nice conversation and comfortable silences. I liked that neither of us felt we had to fill silences, and that we were able to just sit in each other’s company. Ireally liked the way Luca looked at me. Like I was something precious. Now that I new what to watch for, it was plain as day. The soft affection in Luca’s expression, in his eyes, warmed my insides. Made me feel good. Special.

After Luca paid the bill—he’d insisted, but I hadn’t fought too hard—we decided to take the long route back to my house in order to further enjoy the weather. I didn’t hesitate to slip my hand into his, and I loved that his big, warm, calloused palm felt so good against mine. 

The sun was creeping below the horizon, washing the sky in dusky purples and pinks and warm gold. With that came a chill in the air, and I absolutely used the opportunity to snuggle closer and steal his warmth. Shifters in general ran hot, and I wasn’t exactly cold myself, but Luca was emitting heat like a furnace and I loved that.

Luca let out a contented growl and wrapped his arm around me. I stumbled, but he held me up, and it only took two steps for us to fall into sync again. I couldn’t stop the happy little hum, and didn’t even try. I wanted him to know just how much I was enjoying this.

“Rowan, let me ask you something.” Luca blew out a breath. “And you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to or you’re not ready, okay?”

I squeezed my eyes shut for a moment. I had a feeling I knew where this was going, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to talk about it. But Luca had a right to know, because this thing between us wasn’t casual and if my baggage was going to be too heavy for him, then I needed to know now. I didn’t think that would happen, but you never knew.

“Okay.” My tentative tone couldn’t be helped. 

“Okay.” It took him a second to continue on, and he held me a little tighter before he spoke. “I know your previous pack was…not good. But will you tell me what happened? Just as much as you’re comfortable.”

I snorted out a small laugh. Not good was an understatement. And he’d put the qualifier on there. He was such a sweetheart, and for just a second, I had a pang in my heart that I hadn’t realized that before. I mean, I hadn’t been ready for anything before, but I still felt like we’d wasted time. 

I didn’t say anything for a long moment, trying to sort out how I was feeling. I caught sight of the park ahead and I gave him a gentle nudge in that direction. It had some pretty paths to walk along, but really, I was aiming for the bench next to the willow. It was one of my favorite places in the world, so peaceful and calming, and I needed that right now.

Once we were settled, I snuggled back in. Luca let out that happy grumble again, and I threw one leg over his knee just so I could get closer. Luca seemed perfectly happy with that, placing his warm hand on my thigh.

“So, I was born into that pack, you know that right?” I peeked up at him and saw his nod, so I fixed my gaze on the middle distance so I could tell this story. I couldn’t get the words out if I was looking at him. “The alpha was a tyrant, to put it bluntly. He was mean and abusive. He ruled by force, physical I mean, and he didn’t hesitate to beat us whenever he wanted. For any infraction, real or perceived.”

This time, Luca’s growl was decidedly not happy, and even though I still couldn’t look him in the eye, I patted his chest to try and soothe him. He tugged me in even tighter, and it was as though he was using his very body to protect me.

“I learned early on to make myself small, to be as unobtrusive and unseen as possible. It didn’t always work, and we never knew what would set him off. I never knew.” I had to work to not get lost in the memories, to not let the emotions overwhelm me and pull me back. Taking a few seconds to just breathe helped. The way Luca’s scent filled my nostrils helped even more. Deciding that was enough information for now, I settled my forehead against his neck. “But I got out. I ran when the opportunity presented itself, and ended up finding a bear shifter that helped. She contacted Tom and…”

Luca slid a hand up into my hair, rubbing my scalp at the back of my head. It was so soothing I had no trouble breathing, and I made a mental note if I needed to talk about this in the future, that snuggled up and half in Luca’s lap was the best way to do it. He kept me calm and grounded.

“Anyway, lots of therapy and the support of a good alpha, and I’m okay now.” I huffed out a breath and made myself look up, so I could see his eyes. “I’m still a work in progress. PTSD and trauma response don’t just go away. But I’m better.”

Luca moved slowly, telegraphing his motion, but I wasn’t scared of him and didn’t pull away. He cupped my cheek with his other hand. His thumb made soothing circles against my skin.

“Thank you for sharing that with me.” His voice was a low rumble that made me want to crawl into his chest and live there. “I know it wasn’t easy. And I promise you right now, I’ll do everything I can to help you.”

I smiled. “I know. You’re actions have shown that.” I leaned forward, bringing our lips closer. My body was warm, and not just because of the heat he was putting off. The more I got to know him, the more I wanted him. I licked my lips and watched his expression turn wicked.

“Kiss?” His breath was a hot wash against my skin.

“Please.” It was almost a whimper.

Luca kept control, keeping the kiss sweet and easy. Gentle, but deep, making sure I felt all of it. He tasted like steak and beer and him, and I wanted to roll around in it. It was everything a first kiss should be, and set my soul on fire.

We pulled apart just as the sun set completely, disappearing completely. I was breathing hard, more from the emotions than the kiss itself. Luca didn’t say a word, just tucked me back against him. And we sat there cuddled up as the world went dark and the stars came out.

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Looking Back: Worth It

**Looking Back is a new series here where I take a jaunt down memory lane and revisit my past stories. I’ll talk about what inspired me and some of the process while writing it. Hope you enjoy!**

Let’s start at the beginning. I’ve been writing since I was about ten years old. Mostly romantic fiction, even at that age. It waned some in middle school, and then there was a resurgence in high school and college. And beyond. I had stories in my head all the time. Mostly influenced by what I was reading at the time. Harlequin romances? I had sweet with heat in my head. Paranormal? PNR abounds. And then in 2009, I found MM romance and my fate was sealed.

I started thinking about men falling in love with men, and the stories in my head were only those. I’d always wanted to be an author, ever since I first started writing, but up until that point most of what I wrote I just didn’t deem good enough to even try. Until started thinking gay romance. Until I read and read and read and actually thought “I can do this.”

My first published story was Worth It. Though it’s no longer available, it was the first story I completed and actually thought was good enough to be published. That I was actually ready for other people to read. It came from a sub call, and was part of a collection. I was so unbelievably nervous to submit it, on tenterhooks in the months following, waiting for a response. I nearly threw up when I got the email accepting it and offering me a contract.

Worth It came about slowly, but when I actually started putting words on paper, they flowed easily. The prompt was “heartwarming” and it was to be a holiday story. Right there, I was already getting one of my favorite tropes, as holiday romances are my crack. I also knew I wanted a grumpy MC, not only because I love that in an MC, but because I knew I also wanted a reunion romance, and so he would have reason to be grumpy.

Jackson was born pretty easily, and he told me he ran his family’s Christmas tree farm. I dove into research about that, and fell in love. Ryan was a little harder, because he had to have a reason to leave. But his ambition caught me, and I sent him to college. But I knew he would be pining for Jackson, just as hard as Jackson was pining for him. I knew they would end up together—it is a romance after all—but I had to figure out how to get them back together. So it made sense to me that they would make a pact, to come back together after five years, when Ryan was done with his extended program. Jackson had lost all hope that Ryan would come back though. He was convinced Ryan would have moved on with his life by then. Especially because Jackson was a few years older, and he expected for Ryan to find someone else once he was out in the big world, away from their small town and the farm.

As I said, when I actually started writing, the words flowed easily. I think I wrote the first draft in about three days. Granted, it was only 8k words when I was done, but for the first time, I was actually really proud of what I wrote. Jackson was my POV character, I found my groove in writing, and he spoke to me with a clear voice. Scenes came to me as if I were watching a movie. Especially the scene where Jackson and his pregnant sister are riding on a tractor and talking about Ryan, and how it’s been five years. The reunion scene between Jackson and Ryan at their favorite spot. There’s even a line I wrote that I still think about to this day.

The story is outdated now, and I’m a far better writer than I was way back then. It was nine years ago, after all. In fact, I wrote it in March and April of 2013. Though I would probably handle the story and characters differently today as I’ve grown a lot in the intervening years, I can’t help but be proud of this short story. It will always have a special place in my heart.

It all began with Jackson and Ryan, Christmas trees and a reunion, and two men who were meant to to have their happily ever after.

Flash Fic Friday, Serial

Flash Fic Friday

**Saturday Edition! Sometimes, the words just aren’t there when it’s time for an update, but I didn’t want to leave y’all hanging, and my mind was occupied yesterday. So! Here’s episode 5 for Rowan and Luca. As per usual, I’m not sure how long this is going to be. Enjoy!**

I wasn’t nervous. I had been earlier, when I thought about a date with Luca. But now? Now I was just excited. Okay, so there were still a little bit of nerves fluttering in my belly, but they were the regular kind. The nerves that went along with excitement, of not knowing exactly what would happen, and wanting it to go well.

Because now I knew that Luca’s interest wasn’t new. That he’d been watching out for me for years. And that might have been creepy, except he’d never pushed, never demanded. Just quietly took care of things, and me, without ever expecting anything in return. Hell, he hadn’t even let me know how he felt, because he didn’t want to put any pressure on me.

He’d said as much, back on the porch, but until my conversation with Tom earlier today, I hadn’t really understood. Hadn’t really believed it, I guess. For most of my life, I’d been conditioned to think and feel a certain way about myself and the people around me. And it had taken long years and a lot of hard work to get past that. I still wasn’t completely there, but trust came easier these days. As did healthy ways to process and cope. I still had set backs. Yesterday’s panic attack was proof of that. But I was okay today because of all the work I’d done.

I was able to go to dinner with Luca today, and trust that he had my best interest in mind, because of that too.

So when the knock sounded, I all but raced to the door to answer it. And when Luca smiled at me, I grinned back. I didn’t hesitate to give him a once over—head to toe—taking in his big, muscled glory and his nice clothes and his styled hair. I didn’t even try to hide the big inhale as I took in his scent. And I didn’t question the happiness and excitement I caught from him.

“Hi.” My voice was a little breathy, but I didn’t care. “You look amazing.”

Luca preened a little, and by the glint in his eye, I knew he was showing off  just to get me to laugh. But then his smile turned soft, and he took a step closer.

“Thanks. But it’s you who looks great. Damn, but you’re beautiful.”

With how soft his voice was, I wasn’t sure he meant to say that out loud. But he didn’t seem embarrassed, and even though my first instinct was to dismiss the compliment, I checked that impulse and thanked him instead.

“Where are we going?” I asked, as I stepped out onto my tiny porch and pulled the door shut behind me. I’d already triple checked that I had my wallet, keys, and phone. But I couldn’t help patting my pockets one more time just to make sure.

“I thought Michelle’s.” Luca turned so we could stand beside each other. “It’s a nice night, and it’s only a few blocks over. I thought we could walk, enjoy the weather.”

I nodded my agreement and followed him off the porch. I liked that he stopped when he hit the sidewalk and waited for me to step up even to him. Then he fidgeted for just a second before holding out his hand. I appreciated that he hadn’t just reached for me, that he was giving me the option. And I only hesitated a second before sliding my fingers along his. His skin was so warm, and there were calluses on his palm, but there was a strength there I enjoyed. And I knew he’d never use that power against me. I felt it down to my bones.

We walked for a moment in silence. It wasn’t exactly awkward, but I could sense that there was something he wanted to say. Those previous nerves fluttered and grew just a bit. But I waited to see what it was, and hoped he’d get to it soon.

It was only another minute before Luca sucked in a breath. “I’m really glad we’re doing this, Rowan.”

Uh oh. “But?”

Luca shot me a look that lasted only a second before he faced forward again. He squeezed my hand. “No but. Well, a sorta but.”

I laughed, sure he was trying for amusing. “Okay. What’s the ‘sorta but’?”

“I’m nervous.” He gave a embarrassed kind of chuckle as he glanced at me again.

“Me too,” I admitted, keeping my tone soft. “Why’re you nervous?”

Luca shrugged one massive shoulder. “Because I’ve wanted this for a while, and I really want it to go well. Because I don’t know how to navigate your trauma to make you feel safe and comfortable, and I don’t want to do anything to upset you or trigger you. Because you’re beautiful and kind, and I’m just me.”

“Hey.” I stopped, and so did he. But he wouldn’t look at me. So I tugged gently on our still joined hands so he would face me. It took him a second, but then he met my gaze. Steady and strong, but I definitely saw the apprehension lurking there. “I appreciate the honesty. And I appreciate that you want to take care of me and make me feel safe. But here’s the thing. A relationship is two people, right?”

“Or more.” He gave me a wink which made me laugh. Then he got serious again. “But right. You and I are both in this.”

“Right. So I want you to remember two things. Are you listening?”

Luca’s lips twitched like he wanted to smile, but he kept his face very serious. “Yes.”

“Good. Thing one is that your feelings are just as valid as mine, and you have to be honest and open about them. You do not get to bend over backward or mask your own emotions just because you want me to be happy. That’s not fair to either of us.”

For a long moment, Luca didn’t say anything. And though his expression didn’t change, I could see the reeling of his mind in his eyes. So expressive. I’d have to remember that, now that I knew to look. I could clearly see that he didn’t want to agree, that he thought his own feelings should take a backseat to mine. He was a caretaker at heart, so I understood it, but it wasn’t something I would allow.

“Okay,” Luca finally said, his tone not quite solid. We’d have to work on it, but I’d take his agreement for now.

“And the second thing is, I’m going to get trigger.” I said it quietly, and I stepped in closer to him as I spoke. When I reached with my other hand, Luca was quick to take it. “Whether by you or something else, it’s going to happen. Yesterday proved that. I’ve done a lot of work, but there’s still more to do. But I know you’ll be there to support me, and help me out of a panic attack if that happens again.”

His eyes blazed with conviction as he said, “Damn right I will.”

I held his gaze as I lifted one hand, kissed his wrist, and then settled his hand against my neck. Luca’s breath caught when I tilted my head, giving him access, and though it took him thirty seconds, he finally cupped my skin, rubbing gently, scent marking me.

We both released a gusty sigh, and all I wanted to do in that moment was cuddle into him and let him hold me. The thought took my by surprise. Because even though I mentally trusted him, I hadn’t been sure the rest of me was on board. Clearly, I was all in. for a moment, I contemplated voicing that, but then realized I wasn’t quite ready to do that. So we stood there on the sidewalk for a long few minutes, just breathing the same air, his hand warm on my neck.

“All right,” Luca whispered, and he reluctantly pulled away. With our hands still joined, he gave me a tiny tug and we started walking again. “We both promise to be honest with each other then.”

It wasn’t a question, but I answered anyway. “That’s the only way this works.”

“I agree.” He tucked me in against him, and I loved the warmth and the closeness.

“So tell me,” I said, trying to keep the happy sigh out of my voice, and going for conversational instead. “Just how long have you been pining for me?”

He groaned, but it was playful, so I let my cackle loose. Luca shook his head, but when I peered up at him, he was grinning. I laughed harder when I saw his cheeks color.

Yeah, we were going to be just fine.

Flash Fic Friday, Serial

Flash Fic Friday

**Episode four of Rowan and Luca. Late again, but I had to sort out what was going on with Rowan. Enjoy!**

I wasn’t surprised that Tom came by to check on me. He was the best kind of alpha, the kind that took care of his pack, so when he showed up at my door, I released a breath and leaned into his touch. The scent marking soothed my soul, and when he pulled me into a quick, tight hug, the last of the tension left me. 

was surprised that the first thing out of his mouth was, “We need to talk.”

Just that fast, panic started to coil in my gut. But Tom knew me well by now, and he slid his hand to the back of my neck and squeezed tightly, holding on, which steadied me. He ducked his head so he was staring into my eyes.

“Nothing bad. Breathe, Rowan. I’m sorry my choice of words was triggering.”

I tried to wave it away. “It’s fine.”

He shook his head, a little frown marring his face. “It’s not fine. I need to be more careful with my words with you.”

“You shouldn’t have to walk on word-eggshells with me.”

Tom’s smile was kind. “No, but because I care about your well-being, it’s important that I be conscious of my words and actions.” Another pointed look. “We should all have those considerations for each other, yeah?”

He was right, of course. And that’s was yet another reason he made a good alpha. Another reason I was glad that I’d gotten out of my old pack and that Tom had taken me in. Taken care of me until I was on my feet again, and made sure I had the time and therapy to heal. 

I took a few breaths, using my coping techniques until I felt steady again. Then I was able to pull away and offer him a genuine smile and something to drink. He declined but headed for my living room. By the time I followed him in, he was already making himself comfortable on my couch. Oh. So this was going to be one of those kinds of talks.

I reminded myself, yet again, that I was safe with him. Usually, it wasn’t a challenge. But since the panic attack yesterday and the ensuing feelings, everything was closer to the surface than usual. The run had helped. Luca’s attention had helped.

“I wanted to check in with you, see how you’re doing.” Tom’s tone was conversational, and I was adept enough at reading people to know it was deliberate. It came from a lifetime of figuring out people’s tones on the fly, needing to know how I had to react to them in order to keep myself safe. 

I appreciated his effort nonetheless. “I’m fine.”

He quirked a brow. “Really?”

I almost chuckled at the disbelief in his tone. “Really.” I shook my head and blew out a breath. “I’m not back to baseline yet, but I’m getting there. Fine is an apt descriptor.”

Tom laughed then, and he relaxed even more. “Good. I’m glad to hear it. Now. You okay about Luca?”

I froze for a second, not sure how to respond, but then decided I would go with politely puzzled. “What about him?

Tom just stared at me. Just stared, no expression, blue eyes piercing me from where I sat across the room. I knew he wasn’t disappointed, just waiting me out, but I didn’t squirm and I didn’t break. I had far too much practice at being still and quiet, going unnoticed and unseen. 

“Rowan.”

Oh right. Tom always saw me. No matter what. He saw everyone in the pack, all the time. He knew us inside and out, because it was the only way he could see to our needs. I’d…not forgotten, because I could never forget, but falling into old patterns was easy when I was coming back from trauma response.

I cleared my throat. “Yeah, I’m okay.” I couldn’t look Tom in the eye, but I knew I didn’t have to. “He was really good to me and he said some…stuff. But I’m okay.”

“What stuff?”

“About his….feelings.”

Tom was so quiet for so long that I eventually looked up. Tom’s lips were quirked up in a small, and he had his hands clasped over his stomach. He held my gaze for a moment, making sure he had my attention, before he spoke.

“And what are your feelings about his feelings?”

“I don’t know yet. I don’t know him well enough,” I said, because I could be nothing but honest with my alpha. “But we’re going to dinner tonight to get to know each other better.”

“Good.” Tom’s satisfied tone made my eyes widen. I opened my mouth to ask what that meant but before I could get the words out, he spoke. “Luca is a good man, with a good heart. And he’s been pining for you. I’m glad you’re taking the time. And you can trust that he’ll respect any boundaries you set, all right?”

Pining? Really? Luca had been pining? How had I not seen that? Not noticed? I mean, granted, I hadn’t always paid attention to Luca. But Tom had clearly seen it. Was it because he was that in tune with his packmembers? Or had Luca been obvious and I’d just been freaking oblivious?

I nodded in response to my alpha’s question, but I couldn’t wrap my brain around words, so I didn’t say anything. Instead, my mind raced back, trying to think of all the interactions I’d had with Luca over the past few years. There hadn’t been many, really. We’d always been in the same room when the pack gathered, but direct interactions? There’d only been a handful of times, really.

Like about a year ago when the door had slammed, and I startled and nearly fell off the front stoop and Luca had been there to steady me. Or when I’d been sick with Lycan influenza six months ago and he’d dropped off soup and drinks a few times. Or both times a group of us had gone into the city to hit up the clubs and he’d put himself between me and rowdy, handsy patrons. Or the time the storm tore the shutters off the front of my cottage and they magically replaced themselves, fixed and repainted, before I could even think to fix them, and I’d seen Luca later with a smear of the same pale blue paint on his hands.

Oh. Oh.

I smiled then, warmth filling my belly. It helped, too, that my alpha approved.

But yes, I definitely had to get to know Luca better.