Saturday, June 15, 2019

NEW RELEASE! Hired by the Single Dad by Whitley Cox #ContemporaryRomance

Title: Hired by the Single Dad
Series: The Single Dads of Seattle
Author: Whitley Cox
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance/Single Dad
Release Date: June 15, 2019 
He needs someone to work with his son, she needs a job. They need to keep their hands to themselves.
Welcome to Seattle, the Emerald City and home to The Single Dads of Seattle. Ten sexy single fathers who play poker every Saturday night, have each other's backs, love their children without quarter, and hope to one day find love again.
This is Mark's story ...
Single Dad of Seattle Dr. Mark Herron can't believe anyone would celebrate their divorce. The dissolution of his marriage left him and his son with a huge hole to fill in their home--and their hearts. So when he overhears a lovely stranger and her friends celebrating the end of her marriage, he's mystified--and then intrigued--by her determination to put the past behind her. But when he learns that Tori Jones needs a job, he knows this can't be a coincidence.
Tori might be telling the world nothing's got her down, but the truth is she's hit rock bottom. Her husband didn't just cheat on her, he took all her money, including her college fund, which means her marriage is over, and so is her dream to go to grad school and help children with special needs. So when a handsome stranger offers her a job caring for his special needs son, she knows she can't turn it down--
Even if what she's feeling for Mark is far from professional.
Now Mark's finding it hard to keep his hands to himself and Tori's struggling to keep her thoughts from straying to dangerous territory. Will they be able to keep their distance from each other or will being hired by the sexy single dad be Tori's biggest problem of all? 
5-star review “There is nothing like a book that sucks you in and doesn't let up until the last page. Whitley Cox knows how to spin a tale with fabulous characters that you can't forget! I loved Tori and Mark's story, I loved how their story played out. Their attraction is so passionate and intense, you can feel the heat between them.” ~ Leslee Nevill (Amazon Reviewer)
5-star review “This author did a great job touching on the subject of autism and how it affects the family. I loved how this series is going to be about each of Mark's buddies and how they navigate their lives as single dads. I really am looking forward to the next book in this series.” ~Kelly Mentzer (Amazon Reviewer)
5-star review “This story could not have been better! I love when an author writes a wonderful storyline for a person with special needs and does it very well. I have a child with special needs so this story grabbed hold of my heart, and so did little Gabe. A fabulous start to what promises to be an amazing series. The connection that Mark and Tori have is blazing hot but of course the whole employee/employer thing creates a conflict. Whitley Cox gave us a well written story, drama, humor, steamy scenes, tons of chemistry and a whole bunch of amazing characters. I can't wait for book 2.” ~Cayson09 (Amazon Reviewer)
5-star review “This was my first time reading a book like this and boy was my heart not ready! Mark is a single dad of a wonderful special needs son named Gabe. Finding someone who is good with Gade and meets all of their needs is a hard job to fill. After meeting Tori one day out of the blue, he knew that she was a perfect fit for his son Gabe. Little did he know that she was also the perfect fit for him! This book takes you on a heartwarming journey of understanding, love, and even loss. I couldn’t put it down. I cannot wait to hear the rest of the single dad’a stories! You get a little taste of each of them as an intro with Mark and Tori’s book and I want more!”~ Danielle (Amazon Reviewer)
“What are your plans this weekend?” she asked, feeling like she needed to keep the conversation flowing. When they grew quiet, her imagination took the reins and drove her train of thought straight into the gutter in Sexyville, USA. And that gutter was filthy!
He lifted one shoulder, passing her the dish towel so she could dry her hands after she removed the drain plug. “Poker night Saturday, then I think I might take Gabe to The Museum of Flight on Sunday. He loves it there.”
Right, his “dads’ club” and their weekly poker night. 
What were they all like? Did they sit around bashing their ex-wives? Bashing women? Or was it more of a support group for the struggles of independent child rearing? Or were they typical men and didn’t talk about their feelings at all and just drank beer, ate junk food, grunted and gambled? 
Probably the latter. 
“Sounds like a good time. Do you really gamble away your money, or is it all for fun?”
He hung up the dish towel, his gaze sliding toward her. “Real money.”
She pursed her lips. “Wow. Maybe when I have two pennies to rub together again, someday I can take a trip to Vegas and sit at a poker table. Take in the action. The excitement. Are you any good?”
His smile was coy. “I win more than I lose.”
“That’s good.”
She needed to get going. She needed to get home, get away from the delicious-smelling single dad standing in front of her wearing a black T-shirt far too tight to leave anything to the imagination, and gray sweatpants she wanted to rip off him with her teeth. 
“Well, I … uh … I guess I should get going. Those fish aren’t going to feed themselves.” She slid her hand along the cool quartz countertop, letting it ground her and bring down her body temperature. She was in a full-on inferno. The way Mark was looking at her … it was giving her false hope. It was giving her the wrong idea. 
The wrong idea to be bad. To do bad, bad things. 
Bad, bad fun things.
But, no she couldn’t go there. 
Nope. 
Not ever. 
Not with her boss. 
Not with the single dad. 
His gaze never left hers as his head bobbed in a nearly indiscernible nod. “I guess so.” 
Was that disappointment on his face? Were his eyes asking her to stay? Were they asking her to strip naked and bend over the counter? 
Oh God … Uncle John eating chicken wings without a shirt on, his enormous, hairy, barrel chest covered in barbecue sauce, sitting in a kiddie pool with water wings and a floaty ring.
Phew. Crisis averted.
Keeping her hand on the counter for balance, because her faculties seemed to have suddenly escaped her, she went to move past him, only her fingers knocked something off the counter onto the tile floor. 
“Shit,” Tori murmured. She glanced down, only to find Mark’s phone, of all possible things, on the floor. “Oh no!”
“It’s okay.” He bent down to get it.
She bent down too.
Just as her hand wrapped around the phone, his hand wrapped around her wrist. Electricity ripped through her the moment his fingers grazed her skin. A pulse so intense, so hot, so charged she felt like she’d stuck a fork into an electrical socket. She leapt back, dropping the phone and pulling her hand free from his grasp. 
“Sorry.” He stood up. 
Tori swallowed the lump in her throat, pushing down the emotions, the arousal, the pure animalistic lust she felt for the man standing in front of her. “I—I’m sorry. I hope I didn’t crack the screen.”
He turned the phone over in his big, sexy palm, a roguish grin pulling at the corners of his delicious-looking lips. “Not a scratch.”
She licked her lips. “That’s good.”
His eyes locked on hers. “Yeah.”
Tori’s mouth parted, little puffs of air coming out as if she’d just run a mile. Her heart beat rapidly in her chest, and her palms grew clammy. 
Mark’s gaze burned into her. “Tori … ”
“Yes?”
“Ah, fuck!”
And then he was on her.

A Canadian West Coast baby born and raised, Whitley is married to her high school sweetheart, and together they have two beautiful daughters and a fluffy dog. She spends her days making food that gets thrown on the floor, vacuuming Cheerios out from under the couch and making sure that the dog food doesn't end up in the air conditioner. But when nap time comes, and it's not quite wine o'clock, Whitley sits down, avoids the pile of laundry on the couch, and writes.
A lover of all things decadent; wine, cheese, chocolate and spicy erotic romance, Whitley brings the humorous side of sex, the ridiculous side of relationships and the suspense of everyday life into her stories. With single dads, firefighters, Navy SEALs, mommy wars, body issues, threesomes, bondage and role-playing, these books have everything we need to satisfy the curious kink in all of us.

Friday, June 14, 2019

#NewRelease: COME PLAY - An #MM Erotica #Charity #Anthology #giveaway

RELEASE BLITZ


Book Title: Come Play - An MM Erotica Charity Anthology

Authors: Quin Perin, A.G. Carothers, E.M. Denning, Emma Jaye, K.C. Wells, 

Lynn Van Dorn, Luna David, Sara Dobie Bauer, T.M. Chris, T.S. McKinney

Cover Artist: Morningstar Ashley

Release Date: June 11, 2019

Genre/s: M/M Erotica, M/M BDSM

Trope/s: Including hurt/comfort, first time, forbidden and others

Themes: Anthology includes BDSM and erotica. 

It has a wide variety of tastes/themes

Heat Rating: A mix of 4 and 5 flames. 

This anthology features a collection of erotic MM short stories. 



Blurb

Watch and Learn if the Coach’s Little Kitten can be Tamed. 

Follow the Doctor’s Orders and read all about Brotherly Love. 

Understand Abstract Love and then take a peek at A Kink Chronicles Short. 

It’s all about Pretty Boys, The Kiss, and Particular Tastes bundled up in this must-have erotic anthology.



Come, play with us.

Abstract Love by Sara Dobie Bauer

A Kink Chronicles Short by Luna David

Brotherly Love by Lynn Van Dorn

Coach’s Little Kitten by Quin Perin

Doctor’s Orders by Emma Jaye

Particular Tastes by T.S. McKinney

Pretty Boy by E.M. Denning

Tamed by T.M. Chris

The Kiss by A.G. Carothers

Watch and Learn by K.C. Wells



All proceeds from this anthology will be donated to 

💜💙💚💙 𝘍𝘰𝘳 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘛𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘰𝘳 𝘗𝘳𝘰𝘫𝘦𝘤𝘵 💙💚💙💜




Buy Links - Available on Kindle Unlimited






Facebook Link for each Author












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Thursday, June 13, 2019

#NewRelease: RISE OF A NOBLEMAN by Valentina C. Brin #Givaway

RELEASE BLITZ


Book Title: Rise of a Nobleman

Author: Valentina C. Brin

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow Design 

Release Date: June 10, 2019

Genre/s: M/M historical, dark

Trope/s: Forbidden love, master and servant

Themes: Heartbreak of betrayal, hurt/comfort, possession, falling in love, 

revenge, trust issues, murderer, ambition, sexual awakening, self-acceptance 

Heat Rating: 4 flames 

Length: 113 800 words/352 pages



Buy Links


Blurb

London, 1680. For the young Charles Rochester, Marquess of Bolton and heir to the Duke of Norfolk, desiring another man is unacceptable. His fierce attraction to the new scullery boy must be suffocated at all cost. But it’s not easy to silence your heart when the people who should understand you end up betraying you, and the only one loyal seems to be the one you’re desperately trying to avoid.

But Dorian Pratt knows he’s hopelessly lost the second he first lays eyes on his new master. As a lowly servant, he understands he can never have him, but he can’t stop his body—and heart—from reacting to the dark, handsome nobleman.

When dangerous secrets hidden within the walls of Norfolk Manor come to light, everything collapses. Charles has only one hope for hanging onto Dorian, but to make it work he must be prepared to sacrifice the most valuable gift God has bestowed upon him: his very humanity.

Sins will not be forgiven and there’s always a price to pay when blood is spilled.

Warning: Due to some raw content of a violent nature which some may find upsetting, as well as the depiction of graphic sex between men, Rise of a Nobleman is recommended only for consenting adults.

 


Excerpt

“If there’s some problem, well, I can—”

“You’re the problem,” he interrupted, looking into those eyes as pure as spring water. Suddenly he found himself unable to hold back. The truth crashed through the barriers Charles had tried to reinforce, taking shape word by word. He spoke with a broken, ravaged voice, his heart on his sleeve for once. “Your presence makes me nervous. You turn me into something I’m not. If you only knew the way I think about you, you’d take off running and never stop instead of hovering around me, robbing me of peace.”

He pulled away from the table, reducing the already minimal distance between them, but the servant stumbled backed in alarm.

“My Lord…”

“May I touch you?”

Stunned, Dorian stared at him. He kept backing up until he bumped into an antique oakwood highboy. He barely suppressed an expletive, but Charles caught the unpronounced word on his lips—lips the boy was biting in an effort to hold back.

God, Charles wanted to bite those lips so badly.

“Say yes. Let me touch you,” he continued, taking advantage of the moment to approach the scullery boy. His enormous limpid eyes filled with panic, but the temptation flickering in them was stronger, making them fluid, honest. Brimming with desire.

A nod of agreement, lips parting as he released a sigh, and there was what Charles had been wanting—his complete surrender. Do what you want.

And he did.

He plunged his fingers into the boy’s thick hair. He took hold of it, running his fingers through it, then grabbed as much as he could in both hands and began slowly pulling to make Dorian look up at him.

He studied everything there was to see: his long lashes, the delicate curve of his nose, his irises behind half-closed lids that couldn’t help but look straight back at him. And those lips that were seemingly designed to drive him mad.

His fingers longed to touch them, but the courage wasn’t there. Instead, he started gradually, from a safe distance—he began stroking his forehead, slowly making his way down, tracing the curve of his cheek until he got to his jaw. He still didn’t have the audacity to actually touch those lips, but he sure as hell looked! His eyes were glued to that half-opened mouth, pink and impertinent, and that tongue hiding behind a row of even teeth.

“My Lord…”

“Quiet,” he mumbled, stomach in knots. “Don’t talk or you’ll spoil everything.”

Mercifully he shut up. He stood there helpless in Charles’s hands as the marquess finally did what he’d been wanting to do ever since that unbearable longing had first reared its ugly head—he brushed his thumb against the boy’s lower lip, then the upper one.

Saliva moistened his fingertip and Charles wiped the excess away on the servant’s skin. But that was only the beginning. His index finger, so close to the target, slipped in between his parted teeth, sliding over his moist tongue, ending up in the torrid embrace of a scorching breath.

And still that wasn’t enough.

His middle and ring fingers slid into Dorian’s mouth. Charles pushed them as deep as he could, imagining he was plunging something entirely different in there.

Dorian accepted his fingers without resistance. Stress and the pain of his hair being pulled were evident on his face, but his eyes… Oh, heaven have mercy—the boy’s eyes were misty with a savage desire, like those of a starving man. Like a man willing and able to do anything.

“If you want me to kiss you, close your eyes,” Charles whispered, choking on the words.



 


About the Author 

Valentina C. Brin is a self-published Italian author who lives in Padua with her partner and their four pudgy cats. She enjoys writing both MM and MF books, especially angsty ones. Powerful, dark, sexy stories are sort of her thing, and her psychology degree comes in handy for crafting twisted characters that never fail to surprise her many readers. Rise of a Nobleman is her debut novel and the first in her dark historical MM series.


Social Media Links








 
 
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Monday, June 10, 2019

#Win a $20 GC: UNDER THE SKIN by Zara West #Romance #Thriller #NewRelease


Under the Skin
Zara West
Publication date: June 6th 2019
Genres: Adult, Romance, Thriller
A billionaire bridge builder
A gifted thief
A ruthless criminal
Can he save her before it’s too late?





EXCERPT:
Sal bounced into the kitchen and put the model bridge on the table and then dumped the plastic bag of toy soldiers on the tabletop.
Her mother gave Lena a hard look. “We will talk later. Right now, I have to get off my feet.” She headed toward her bedroom and then stopped. “Where did you get the pretty bridge, Sal?”
“From sis’s magic pack.”
“Cielos.” She picked it up, rotated in her hands. “Got an inscription on the bottom. Looks like it was an award of some kind.” She handed it to Lena. “See if you can read it.”
Lena tipped the metal plate toward the light. “International Association of Architects, Best Bridge Design. Mircea Vargas.” Her stomach tightened. She hadn’t wanted to know the name of the man who’d saved her on the bridge and seen that her injuries were treated. Now she did.
It made her regret stealing from him even more. She handed it back to Sal.
Her mother tapped the tabletop. “What was that name?”
Lena put the dishes in the sink. “Mircea—I think that’s how you would say it—Vargas.”
“Yes. I remember. Such a weird first name. He was on the news.”
She smiled at her mother. “You watching television on the job, Mama?” It was one of things they razzed each other about.
“It’s one of the few perks I get. But that man. He was attacked this morning. He’s building a bridge across the Hudson and a mob pushed him down and trampled him. Took him away in an ambulance.”
Lena bit her lip. Must have been someone else. She’d left the townhouse mere hours ago. Her rich guy hadn’t looked injured.
Her mama shook her head. “Poor man. You should give it back. Imagine winning a big award like that. And now he’s hurt. It’s bad enough what you do. You shouldn’t take people’s treasures.”
A twinge of guilt ran through her. She clenched her fists and drove her fingernails into her palms until it hurt. That was exactly what she did. Stole people’s treasures.
And she would keep stealing them as long as she had to keep her family safe.


Author Bio:
Zara West loves all things adventurous and heart-stopping as long as they lead to true love. Born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Zara spends winters in New York where the streets hum with life, summers in the Maritimes where the sea can be cruel, and the rest of the year anywhere inspiration for tales of suspense, mystery, and romance are plentiful.
An accomplished artist by training and passion, she brings a love of art to every book she writes. When not marooned on an island or chasing after Greek shepherds, Zara tends her organic herb garden, collects hats and cats, and whips up ethnic dishes for friends and family. Learn more at http://www.zarawestsuspense.com

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Saturday, June 08, 2019

#Win a $25 #Amazon GC: IN THE CROSSFIRE by L.P. Dover #Romance #Suspense #giveaway


In the Crossfire
L.P. Dover
(Circle of Justice, #4)
Publication date: May 28th 2019
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
Secrets.
Lies.
Betrayal.
Murder.
I’ve gotten away with it all, but that won’t last forever.
I’m Bryce Chandler, FBI agent and member of the Circle of Justice, a covert organization that metes out retribution to those who’ve escaped the system without punishment. For the last year I’ve been deep undercover, doing unspeakable things to secure my place in the mafia world. These days I barely recognize the man in the mirror, but Anthony Corsino is finally in my crosshairs.
He’s entrusted me with the one thing he loves most—his daughter, Layla. She was just another detail of the mission, until she was suddenly so much more. I never meant to fall for the enemy, but I couldn’t resist. I’m in too deep. My brothers are determined to get me out, but I can’t let them interfere. It’s my job to put down the target. However, when I do, I’ll lose the only woman I’ve ever loved and the only good thing left in my life. If I don’t, I’ll lose myself.
EXCERPT:
Rushing out of the media room, I ran through the foyer and up the stairs to Layla’s room. I knocked hard on the door and listened. There was no sound or movement that I could hear. “Layla, open the door.” Still, there was nothing. When I opened the door, her closet was open, and it’d been cleaned out, along with her dresser. “Motherfucker,” I huffed. “Layla!”
The sound of a door slammed downstairs, so I took off out of her room. How the hell could I not see her on the cameras? I ran down the stairs and out the patio door. There were a line of trees blocking my sight of the driveway, but I could see the top edge of one of the open garage doors. As I drew closer, I could see her tossing her luggage in the back of a silver SUV. She’d changed out of her green sundress from earlier into a pair of jeans and a black T-shirt.
“Where do you think you’re going?” I called out as I stepped away from the trees. Layla jerked around, eyes blazing like fire as she grabbed the gun at her waistband and pointed it straight at me. I stopped and held up my hands. “Whoa. What the hell are you doing?”
“I’m leaving. And if you try to stop me, I’ll blow off your balls.”
Glancing down at her gun, I couldn’t help but notice how perfect her stance was. She looked like she knew what she was doing. “I don’t doubt it,” I replied cautiously. “Where’d you get the gun?”
Her eyes narrowed, but she kept the gun pointed at me. “My uncle.”
Still holding my hands in the air, I slowly took a step forward. “Did he teach you how to shoot as well?”
The muscles in her jaw tightened. “Yes. Believe it or not, I’m not the helpless princess everyone thinks I am.”
“I never said you were, Layla.” I nodded at the video camera just above the garage door. “How did you get out here without me seeing you?”
She lifted her chin, her lips tilting up in an evil grin. “You’re not the only one who knows how to manipulate a camera. How else was I supposed to sneak out as a teenager?”
Now I was impressed. “Guess we all have our secrets. Can anyone see us right now?”
She shook her head. “No.” I took another step closer, and her body tensed. “Dammit, Bryce, don’t test me. I already know my father told you to stop me. No matter what he says or what you do, I am going to get out of here.”
“And go where?” I asked. “To the city to find out the answers?”
“If that’s what it takes. I’m not returning until he tells me the truth.”
There was nothing but sheer determination in her eyes. The woman was so goddamned stubborn she’d get herself killed in the process. We were only about six feet apart, with the gun still pointed at my chest. There was only one thing left to do. I wasn’t about to underestimate her.
“What if I told you what you want to know?” I said, hoping she could see the truth in my eyes.
Her lips pursed. “Why should I believe you?”
“Because you said it yourself—you’re not going to stop until you find out the answers. This is the only way to keep you safe.” It was also the way to test her. I had to know how far her loyalty went with her father. It might be what I had to do to finish my mission. Anthony would surely try to come after me, but he’d have a hell of a time trying to find me.


Author Bio:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author L. P. Dover is a southern belle living in North Carolina with her husband and two beautiful girls. Before she began her literary journey she worked in periodontics, enjoying the wonderment of dental surgeries.
She loves to write, but she also loves to play golf, go on mountain hikes and white-water rafting, and has a passion for singing. Her two youngest fans expect a concert each and every night before bedtime, usually Christmas carols.
Dover has written countless novels in several different genres, but her favorite to write is romantic suspense. However, she has found a new passion in romantic comedy, especially involving sexy golfers. Who knew the sport could be so dirty and fun to write about.

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Thursday, June 06, 2019

#Giveaway: Third Time’s the Charm by K. Evan Coles #LGBTQ #Romance #gayromance

BLOG TOUR


Book Title: Third Time’s the Charm (Boston Seasons, Book 1)

Author: K. Evan Coles

Publisher: Pride Publishing/Totally Entwined Group

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance, Erotic Romance

Trope/s: Hurt/Comfort, KidFic, True Love, Meet Cute

Themes: Family/Parenting. Friendship, Child Abandonment

Heat Rating: 4 flames 

Length: 68,000 words

Release Date: May 28, 2019 

This is book number one in a series. It can also stand as its own story.


 


Blurb

Luke Ryan’s life is too chaotic for romance, what with running his business and being the legal guardian to his ten-year-old niece, but he’s hopeful he’ll find the right man.

Trauma surgeon Finn Thomason recently relocated from Chicago to Boston, where his focus on medicine leaves him little space for a personal life. Making a commitment to find a better work-life balance, Finn hopes he’ll also find a relationship.

Caught in an evening rainstorm, Luke shelters under a sidewalk awning…and encounters a handsome stranger. The two strike up a conversation and Finn offers to walk Luke under his oversized umbrella. Charmed, Luke accepts and asks Finn out for coffee in thanks.

Luke and Finn quickly grow close, but, as the summer draws to an end, Luke struggles to keep his connection with Finn while Finn tries to come to terms with caring for a man whose attention is pulled in many directions. Both men are scrambling to get it right, but only time will tell if they’ll learn there is more than enough room in their hearts to go around.


Buy Links





Excerpt

“Hey, Luke, I’m going to Starbucks to buy coffee for everyone. You want?”

Luke Ryan stared at the code on his computer monitors and nodded absently. “Sure.”

“Okay. Grab your stuff and come with me.”

Luke blinked. “What do you need me for?” He turned away from the monitors and faced his best friend and business partner, Simon Martin.

Simon stood and eyed Luke across their shared office. “To help me schlep back the orders.”

“Ugh.” It was nearly two p.m. and Luke’s concentration was flagging. As much as he wanted to keep working, fresh coffee sounded wonderful. The idea of going to fetch it, however, not so much. He stood and picked up his wallet and phone from his desk. “We wouldn’t be having this conversation if you’d let me buy a new coffeemaker.”

“I said I’d buy it, didn’t I?”

“Yes, you said that two weeks ago. And here we are, making the trek to Starbucks once again.”

Simon sighed at Luke’s grumbling. “Oh, goodness. I’ll buy one this weekend, I promise. In the meantime, you could stand to go outside for a few minutes. Your ass has been bolted to that chair all day. You didn’t even break for lunch.”

“Yes, I did.”

“You ate a plastic squeeze tube filled with something green.”

“It was yogurt,” Luke said. “I bought a box of mixed flavor tubes but Ella doesn’t like lime, so they’re all mine.”

Simon grimaced. “That sounds appalling. Serves you right for feeding that girl junk.”

Luke chuckled as they started for the door. His niece, Ella, was ten years old and particular about what she ate. Luke had been stuck eating food she’d rejected before, but he didn’t mind—weird foods came with the territory of raising children. Or helping to raise them, anyway, as Luke had been helping his brother, Peter, do for the past several years, ever since Peter’s wife had walked out on her family and Peter had moved Ella from the Marine base in Virginia back to Boston and into Luke’s Back Bay apartment.

Once outside, Luke and Simon walked a block and a half to Winter Street, navigating around shoppers and tourists. The line at Starbucks stretched nearly out of the door, and they stepped up to its end while Luke read over the orders his coworkers had scribbled on a scrap of paper.

“I don’t know what this says.” He pointed at one messy line. “This looks like Klingon.”

Simon squinted. “You would know, I suppose. I’m fairly sure everyone ordered cold brew, by the way. That’s all those hipster punks drink anyway.”

Luke laughed. “Good point. Gillian wants an almond milk Macchiato, though.” Gillian Vasquez was the third partner in their software development business. Petite, red-haired and whip-smart, her easygoing personality provided an excellent foil for Simon’s brashness and Luke’s hyperfocus. Gillian kept Simon and Luke in line and they knew it.

“Is she still doing the dairy-free thing?” Simon asked.

“I’m not sure. I think she just likes almond milk, to be honest. Ella’s the same.”

“That doesn’t make those bowls of sugar cereal you feed her any healthier, you know.”

Luke rolled his eyes. He’d never understood why kids’ cereals got such a bad rap. Beyond the high sugar content and their dubious nutritional value, that was.

“I found a recipe for Cap’n Crunch cookies,” he said. “I was thinking Ella and I could make them over the weekend.” He snorted with laughter at Simon’s obvious disgust.

“Where on earth would you find such a thing?”

“Pinterest. It’s loaded with all kinds of questionable recipes.”

“Oh, Pickle.” Simon made a sympathetic noise. “This only underscores what I’ve been telling you for months—you need to get out more.”

Luke winced. “Please don’t call me Pickle in public.” He glanced around, hoping no one had overheard the ridiculous nickname, and met the gaze of a dark-haired guy standing behind them.

Well, hello there.

Luke flashed a grin and the guy blinked, clearly surprised. He offered Luke a shy half-smile of his own just before the line shifted.

Luke faced forward. “You know I don’t have time to go out,” he said to Simon. “Even if I did, the men I’d meet would take one look at Ella and run for the hills.”

“Surely not every man you meet is averse to the idea of family.” Simon frowned. “I like children. Or Ella, at least.”

“Yes, but you and I are not dating.”

“Not since I kicked you to the curb a decade ago, true.” He smiled at Luke’s laughter. “Still, I can’t imagine anyone you meet not being charmed by Ella. She’s loveable even when she’s being difficult.”

They stepped forward as the line moved again. Luke hazarded another glance back and felt a pang of disappointment to find the cute guy talking on his phone. He met Luke’s eyes again, however, and Luke smothered a curse when Simon nudged him with his elbow.

“Ella likes you, so of course you think she’s fun,” Luke said. “Not everyone thinks the way you do or wants to stick around while I fill in for her dad, though.”

“Are you so sure?” Simon asked.

“I’m still single, am I not?”

“Yes, though I confess I don’t know why. It’s not because you’re lacking in looks and your personality is certainly adequate.”

“Nice.” Luke shrugged off both the compliment and the tease. He knew he was easy to look at. He was tall and fit with a heart-shaped face and gray-green eyes, and his friends joked he couldn’t take a bad photo. Luke didn’t suffer for lack of attention from men. Keepinga man’s interest presented the real challenge these days, and that had a lot to do with the fact that he was taking care of a young child.

“I’m thirty-two years old,” he said. “The men I meet who want children are either already parents or in committed relationships and headed in that direction.”

“This is why you need to meet newmen,” Simon replied. “Ella isn’t your daughter, Luke. Pete’ll be back from deployment in a couple of months and that’ll take some of the pressure off you. There’s no reason for you to be celibate until then, either.”

“I’m hardly celibate,” Luke muttered, his cheeks hot. “And please keep your voice down.”

He paused as they approached the counter. Simon placed the order and Luke glanced at the guy behind them again. Thankfully, he was still on his phone instead of being forced to eavesdrop on the saga of Luke’s sad single life.

“I know I haven’t had a boyfriend since Ella moved in with me,” Luke continued while Simon paid for the order. “Taking care of her complicates my life, but it’s nothing compared to Pete’s wife taking off on them. AndI do go out on occasion, Simon. I date.”

Simon cocked a well-groomed eyebrow at him. “Okay, and when exactly? Because we both know you don’t have time to yourself anymore.”

Despite Simon’s gentle tone, Luke winced. Even with help from his parents and his babysitter, Melissa, he rarely had a minute to himself outside his own bathroom. Even then, odds were Ella would knock on the door and blithely ask questions while Luke showered or shaved.

“In all seriousness, when did you last go out with a man?” Simon asked. They moved aside so the baristas could mix up their magic, and he patted Luke’s arm. “Hell, when did you last pick someone up?”

“I met someone while I was grocery shopping last week, believe it or not,” Luke replied. “We emailed a couple of times, but he dropped off the map. I picked someone up a couple of months ago, the last time Pete came home on leave.” He grinned at Simon. “You and I went out for dinner and drinks, then over to that bar in Back Bay named after Oscar Wilde. Remember?”

“That’s the bar with the boozy milkshakes?”

“Yes! I met Jeremy that night.”

Realization flashed in Simon’s eyes. “I’d forgotten that’s where you met. Where was I?”

“Sucking face with some bartender, I think.” Luke smirked at Simon’s raucous laughter.

“Oh, God, that’s right. Those milkshakes are lethal!”

“Believe me, I remember.” Luke reached up and ruffled Simon’s hair. “Anyway, I didn’t take Jeremy home that night, but we exchanged numbers and spent time together for a couple of weeks.”

“What happened between you two, anyway? I don’t think you ever said.”

“There was nothing to tell. Pete’s leave ended and I canceled a couple of dates because Melissa was busy and I couldn’t find a sitter. Jeremy just faded out.” Despite his careless tone, Luke’s heart twinged a little. He’d enjoyed spending time with Jeremy and watching him withdraw had stung.

Simon clasped Luke’s shoulder with one strong hand. “I’m sorry. It doesn’t have to be that way all the time, you know. I can watch Ella for you if Melissa is busy—I just need some notice. Gillian will, too. Hell, ask around the office if you need someone for a couple of hours. I’m sure at least one of the kids on staff is the babysitting type.”

“I know, and thanks. It doesn’t matter, though. The reality is I’m with Ella a lot because I want to be and guys usually bolt after they figure that out.”

Simon’s gentle scowl warmed Luke’s heart. He loved that his friend cared enough to listen. Then Luke saw the cute guy with the dark hair pay for his single coffee and leave. Damn. Once upon a time, Luke would have struck up a conversation with him instead of watching the opportunity slip away. Maybe Simon had a point.

“It’s fine,” he said. “And you’re right. I should make an effort to get out there and meet new men. Especially since things will go back to normal after Pete gets home. For a while, anyway.”

“That ‘for a while’ is kind of a problem.” Simon’s expression sobered. “Your brother will still be at Quantico more rather than less. I don’t even mean that in a bad way because I know you love having her here.”

Luke nodded. He’d never thought twice about welcoming his niece into his home. “I do. All the more reason to find someone who’s okay with Ella being in my life.”

Is that such a bad thing to want?Luke didn’t think so.

The barista called their order and Luke handed Simon the bags he’d been holding. “At any rate, it’ll be great having Pete back, even if he’s not in Boston. Ella hasn’t been the same since her dad was deployed.” Carefully, he collected the trays of cups.

Simon led the way out, talking over his shoulder as he held the door for Luke. “You think so?”

“Oh, yeah.” Luke sighed. “She really misses him, and it’s not like we can visit. She worries about his safety, just like my parents worry, and I do, too. Life will be a hundred times easier for all of us with Pete on US soil, whether he’s at the Marine base or not.”

“I understand,” Simon replied. “I’m just sorry I can’t do more than listen.”

Luke smiled. “Don’t be. I’d have gone bananas a long time ago without you and Gillian around to listen and keep me sane.”

“Girl, you’ve always been bananas,” Simon said, his tone airy. “But we’re used to it and don’t love you any less.” He shot Luke a wink and they headed for the office.


About the Author

K. Evan Coles is a mother and tech pirate by day and a writer by night. She is a dreamer who, with a little hard work and a lot of good coffee, coaxes words out of her head and onto paper.

K. lives in the northeast United States, where she complains bitterly about the winters, but truly loves the region and its diverse, tenacious and deceptively compassionate people. You’ll usually find K. nerding out over books, movies and television with friends and family. She’s especially proud to be raising her son as part of a new generation of unabashed geeks.

K.’s books explore LGBTQ+ romance in contemporary settings.



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