In this bridge book to the Archangels Creed series, you will be able to meet and get an up close and personal feel to Zool and Kcearn as they work on their quest. Great read, and free today!! Go get your copy!!
In this bridge book to the Archangels Creed series, you will be able to meet and get an up close and personal feel to Zool and Kcearn as they work on their quest. Great read, and free today!! Go get your copy!!
Azure Boone has put all three of her books in this series into one complete set – this is my favorite series of her books. I would highly recommend getting it – it is an amazing read, with each book having multiple 5 star ratings on Amazon and Goodreads. The story of Sarah and Micah is compelling and uplifting, as they battle their way thru darkness to finally find the good. Azure is a skilled story teller, and that is captured here in the best of ways.
This series by Azure Boone is probably my favorite. I can’t WAIT until book 4 comes out!!!
Micah was enamored. Sarah was as beautiful as he’d expect she’d be in normal clothes. White casual shorts that went to her knees, modest of course, and a lavender silk top with a frilly collar, no cleavage. Her auburn hair was down and tucked behind her ears. It was just past her shoulders, as he’d guessed. She always wore it up at the hospital and he’d hoped, maybe even prayed, that she’d wear it down for him. She had on little makeup, just enough to accentuate her natural beauty and it was all he could do to not sit and stare at her. She was putting on a superb act all for him, despite her clearly being nervous. For him, she could surpass any fear, any inhibition. And that was a total turn on in every possible way.
After dinner, she led him to “the office” which turned out to be her back patio on the third floor, scented candles—cedar and sandalwood, he was sure—a plastic table with a bowl of pinecones and two chairs. White. “I was thinking this would be much less traditional, more comfy?” She stared at him closely for the verdict, fully preparing to meet his preference.
“This is nice.”
“Great. Have a seat my dear sir.”
They sat and she smiled at him like she was just thrilled to have him over, like he were some celebrity all while wondering what approach she needed to take. He recognized that she’d moved their personal space to a three foot distance suddenly. Nice.
“So,” she began, “How do you like the apartments?”
Ice breaker. “I like it well enough.”
“You have a bottom floor, lucky you.”
“Nooo, I’d prefer a third floor like you. I like being on top.”
“Ohhh okay.” She bit her lip and looked down.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.” Though yes, he did.
“Meet any neighbors?”
Sex was definitely not a topic she was going near in any shape or form. Yet. “Yes, I met the woman right next to me.”
“Oh? Tell me about her.”
“There’s not much to tell yet. She’s nice. Helped me organize a few things.” Micah looked at her, wanting to smile at how well she didn’t hide her troubled expression. “Is that…a bad thing?”
“Oh! No, not at all. Just be careful, okay? The world is full of…danger.”
He looked down, smiling. “Yes.”
“Did you catch her name? I mean I may know her. Been here…quite a while.” She laughed a little, still not hiding her disapproval very well.
“I probably shouldn’t have opened myself up to strangers so soon.”
“Absolutely not. You did well, don’t be ridiculous.”
“Her name was…I’m bad with names. I think Tammy.”
“Ah. Hm. Can’t say I know a Tammy. So you got settled in okay? When do I get a tour?”
He shrugged. “Never maybe.”
“Okay, that’s fine.”
He was amazed to hear it hurt her feelings. That he let a perfect stranger over and not her. “I was joking. You can come over whenever you want. Maybe call first so I can at least pretend I’m not a slob.”
She smiled knowing he was as OCD as they came, but he noticed it lacked the bubbly warmth. Would she ever fully recover from the other woman announcement? He also wondered why exactly that bothered her so much. He was almost sorry he’d told her but at the same time, desperate to know every reason for this reaction. Possessive he hoped. Fixated even better.
She angled her head, a question on her beautiful face. “You know, somebody forgot to enter your date of birth into the files and I’m trying to recall how old you are exactly.”
He studied her a bit, wondering. “I’m thirty-two. And you are?” He shook his head. “Sorry, I suppose that’s not my business.”
Her face scrunched with cute indifference, “No, it’s fine, it’s just age, not a huge deal.” And yet she bit her lip and wagged her foot rapidly. “I’m thirty-five.”
His cock twitched at this discovery. Another vulnerability. She could never have too many with him. She clearly saw herself as beyond the dating age. A true blue spinster woman. A comical concept with her rare beauty.
“You don’t look thirty-five.”
She laughed a bit louder than normal. “Well…thank you. You certainly don’t look your age either. You mentioned once you had a brother, I believe.”
“Yes.” She knew he didn’t want to talk about it. But the therapist in her insisted.
“Is he older than you? Younger?”
“He’s younger. And dead.”
Brief silence and then a silky, “I’m sorry.”
His cock jerked again. It did that a lot with her. The depth of emotion he heard in those words was erotic for him, fascinating even. “It’s been a very long time. He died when he was four.”
She was silent but he knew she wanted details. She’d have to work harder for those.
“You have siblings?” he asked.
She cleared her throat a little. “I have four. I’m the youngest.”
“Wow. That’s a lot. I was an only child after my brother.” He hoped she got the hint that he’d like an information exchange. Patience was definitely one of her virtues. But then it was one of his as well.
“How about I tell you a little about myself?”
Micah smiled at the unexpected treasure. He turned in his chair and scooted to the table, mostly to hide his hard on. “I would love that.” Utterly true. She had taken his information exchange bait, and was being honorable by going first. He already knew what he’d tell her when it came time to sharing.
“Well, I had a normal life, maybe even boring by some standards. My mom was a regular Betty Crocker…too bad it didn’t rub off on me. My dad was a philosopher and doctor. He loved William James.” She smiled fondly.
“I see who you took after.” He felt like a young boy at an amusement park for the first time.
“Yes.” She bit her lip, still grinning while delving into her beautiful shoe box of innocent memories. “I loved playing in my dad’s office. The smell of books was just…wow, I still love the smell.”
“So do I.”
She bit her lip again, flashing a look his way. His arousal had colored the words and she’d caught it. So perceptive. He wondered why she looked at him though. To see him in that emotion?
“My mom was forever chasing after me to be girly and I hated it. We were three boys and two girls, and apparently my sister just before me stole all the girly genetics from my mom and she had none left to give me.”
Micah laughed out right at that. “You seem to have grown into your girlie, I think.”
The surprise on her face, or adamant disbelief, crimped her forehead. “I’m so not girlie.”
He chuckled and lowered his head a bit. “Okay. You’re not girlie.”
“I’m not! I’m not into fancy clothes or make up, or jewelry. I even hate shopping!” She seemed desperate to prove her delusion.
“Well, if that is your definition of girlie, then you’re right. You’re not girlie. I thought you meant something else.”
She seemed to relax a little. “I mean I know I look like a girl,” she muttered, fishing for him to elaborate.
“You’re free to believe what you want about yourself,” he said.
“Fine, tell me.”
“Tell you what?”
“What is your definition of girlie.”
He shrugged a shoulder. “I said you grew into your girlie. And I meant you became a beautiful woman.”
Her reaction was one for the books. He’d never seen her look so shocked. “Please doc, you’re far too intelligent and perceptive to not be aware that you’re beautiful.”
“You’re right,” she conceded too casually. “It is rather thick of me to not be aware of my beauty. I can’t tell you how often I’ve been called the blind professor. And with all the guys knocking down my door, how could I miss it? And me being single, well, that sort of just slaps me in the face with it, just amazing that I’ve managed to miss your delusion.”
Micah had to laugh. “So, because I think you’re beautiful, I’m delusional?” He loved being able to say I think you’re beautiful to her face and yet not.
“Oh, stop, enough. And I guess you know how gorgeous you are.”
Micah shifted in his seat readjusting his hard on. Was she playing? Did she really think that?
“I assure you, in a matter of days, you will have every woman knocking at your door,”
she knocked on the table for emphasis. “I, on the other hand, have been living here for seven years and have had zero men, aside from maintenance, knock on my door.”
He was shocked and thrilled. “It’s not my fault they’re blind.”
She became animated in her frustration. “Oh hell, forget it, I’m glad you’re blind to whatever it is they apparently see or don’t see.”
“As in, for your sake, I could care less if you think I’m beautiful or hideous, that is hardly the point of our relationship.”
“Ah. Yes, you’re right.”
“Would you like some coffee? I’d like a cup, I’ll bring you some.”
Micah watched her hurry off, unable to contain his grin. He’d never seen her so flustered. What he’d give to feel what was going through her head in that moment.
I absolutely love this book. I just finished it the other day. She does have a way with words!! LOL!!!!
I smiled nervously back then watched him move with causal ease toward the kitchen. Never saw such a white man before. Not around here. I stared at the deep dimples on his lower back near his waist band. Heat pooled in my stomach and I real-ized I should follow him. Halfway there, I stopped. “You mind if I take my shoes off? Kinda sounds like I’m calling possums or somethin’.”
Before I could regret the stupid comment, his deep laughter strummed through me.
“You call possums?” He shot a glance at me with that sexy half grin.
Heat flooded my face. “Nah, not really.” I slid off my sneakers and scooted them to the side with a foot then entered the shoebox-sized kitchen, shaped like a U.
“I mean, no, of course not.” I waved a hand, coming to stand at the island for two in the center.
“It would totally be okay with me.” He set two red mugs on the island’s butcher block top and hit me with those eyes.
“Totally?” I managed to tease back. “Where you from anyway? You’re obviously not from around these parts.”
“Eh,” he shrugged, “here and there.”
I tore my eyes from his broad glowing chest and ran into his direct gaze. I quick-ly looked around the small kitchen. “Can’t believe what you’ve done to this place. Re-ally nice.”
He turned to the sink and my eyes swerved back to his body. I watched the beautiful phenomena of rippling muscles in his arms and back as he got the pot ready for fresh coffee. I forced my attention to the pot. “I love those aluminum drip pots.” I managed to keep my voice between high and low but I couldn’t manage keeping my eyes off his body.
He glanced over his shoulder and my cheeks burned at being caught gawking. Again.
Good grief. I scratched my cheek and stared at the copper pots hanging above the tiny island. “You got yourself some nice cookware there.” I nodded at them. “Do they actually work?”
He set the pot on the stove, turned on a low flame then headed toward me with that smile that could possibly mean he thought I was a fantastic idiot. But at least a fun one. My body gradually tensed as he drew closer, already resisting that gravitational pull he had about him. Lord, standing there like he didn’t affect me one bit was like holding up a mountain.
“I should get a shirt on.”
I choked out a gasp, horrified. Horrified that it was quite obvious to him how much he affected me. “Oh, pffft, not at all, you’re fine,” I said, making it clear that it was utterly unnecessary.
He grinned. “Well thank you.”
“I meant, I’m fine, as in, not bothered, it doesn’t bother me, I see men all the time like that around here, everybody goes around in the summer time without shirts.” I capped the lie with an overly exuberant laugh.
I met his teasing gaze and half grin. “You know what I mean.” My voice dropped to its usual low tenor, aka my strong voice.
“I’m Johnny.” He reached a hand out to me.
I tore my eyes from his and stared at his hand. I was suddenly very concerned over what touching this man would do to me. “Jewel.” I placed my hand in his.
My heart raced as he lifted it and pressed my knuckles to his soft, full lips. “Per-fect name.”
His hot breath and lips on my fingers went straight to all those womanly places that I’d barred every man from. I gripped his fingers, needing something to hold on to.
He eyed me with wonder.
I forced a disconnection, trying to appear unburned by his touch. But I failed miserably as I pulled back my hand with a series of embarrassing jerky hesitations. My lord, I’d said more without words than I could or wanted to explain, and yet felt the need to.
“Johnny, huh?” It came on a squeaky whisper.
“Yeah.” He lowered his head, and I glanced at him, trying to read his mind. He looked troubled, but about what and why, lord I wanted to know.
“Do you have a middle name, Jewel?”
He spot-lighted me with liquid sapphire and my mouth opened without speech. “Uh, well, yeah, everybody has a middle name.” I stroked my ponytail several times and tried to smile. “Pearl is mine. Jewel Pearl Harbor.” I gave a light laugh. “Momma and daddy never lacked a sense of humor.” I realized I cared way too much about what he thought about my stupid name. Of course his face would grow so darn serious again. And mysterious. “It’s uh, a family joke.” I took a deep breath, feeling the need to level this playing field. “What about you? What’s your middle name?”
He turned from the island and answered me with his delicious backside. “No middle name. Just Johnny Blue.”
I averted my gaze as he turned with the coffee pot, barely managing to not get caught lusting. I watched the coppery liquid pour into the red ceramic. “Johnny Blue? Well I think that’s a very nice name. Is that why your favorite color is blue?”
He only gave a soft smile, keeping his attention on the cups. “How do you know that?”
I tossed a glance at the art studio. “Well it’s pretty obvious in those pictures over there, I think. I love them—the colors I mean. And the pictures too, of course.”
He assaulted me with one of those electrical smiles while I’d bumbled out the words, turning up the voltage as each word passed my lips. Whether he liked what I said, or thought I was hilarious, I wasn’t sure, but more inclined to believe the worst.
He slowly slid my cup of coffee to me then went to the counter behind him and returned with a tray. I smiled at the two white glass canisters with tiny green dragons painted on them. Adorable. He set them on the island between us. “Cream and sugar?”
“I uh- yeah, why not.” I pulled the tray carefully toward me.
“Are you trying to quit?” His soft tone held humor.
I glanced from him to the canisters, picking up the tiny silver spoon that went with it. “Nah, I just…” I removed the lid to the sugar and scooped two in my cup, try-ing to think. “I normally drink it black, but, with dishes like this, I can’t resist.” I cleared my throat and picked up the creamer then promptly over-flowed my cup with it. “Oh lordy,” I whispered.
I looked around for a cloth and Johnny tossed me a napkin. I wiped it up, feeling like this whole thing was a long and painful audition that I was ruining. I gave a light laugh, bringing the mug of coffee to my lips. “I’ve always been a goofball.” And to prove my point, I dribbled coffee down my chin.
Johnny was just a watchin’ the whole damn show and tossed me another napkin.
I forced out more light laughter. “Might as well give me the whole stack, I’m likely to need it.”
He slid the wrought iron napkin holder closer and I shot a glance at him. “Just as you’re likely to not get many visitors like me, I’m likely to burn the place down.” Like-ly, likely, don’t you know any other words? I dabbed coffee off my chin and white t-shirt, then wiped the counter for extra measure all the while feeling the burn of those blue orbs on me.
“It ain’t nice to stare at the company, Johnny B.” I took another sip of coffee, be-ing extra careful while avoiding his gaze.
“You’re nice to stare at.”
The compliment undid the little composure I pretended to have and coffee sloshed out of my cup when I set it down too fast. “Might as well dump the whole cup on the counter and get it over with,” I mumbled, grabbing another napkin and shaking my head.
“Can I paint you?”
“Ohhhh my lord,” I breathed, fanning my face a little. “Paint me? Like with paint?” For some reason I thought he meant on my body, then it dawned on me he meant paint a picture of me. “Oh, I—I’ve never done anything like that.”
I looked at him, surprised.
“Well, I mean…” he looked down. “I haven’t’ in a very long time.”
That pressed my puzzle button. “Well why start now?”
His brows drew together briefly. “Yeah, you’re probably right, stupid idea.”
I immediately regretted my words. “Well, I mean, I wouldn’t call it stupid, I just ain’t never had nobody want to paint me, it’s kinda… I don’t know, embarrassing, I guess.” I stirred the little spoon in my cup loudly.
“Embarrassing?” Like he’d thought it was something else and had never considered that.
“Well yeah, I’m not used to people…you know…” I tapped the spoon rapidly on the edge of my cup then returned it to the tray, “staring at me.”
I lifted my cup and took a sip in the fat silence.
I was pretty sure that was relief I heard in that velvety voice of his. The idea that he might have his own inhibitions made me want to encourage him. “I ain’t never had nobody ask to paint me. But… if I was to be painted, I think you’d be a… I mean, you’re very nice and… it’s just a picture for crying out loud.” I laughed a little. “I’d love it if you painted me, why not. Only if you still want to, though.”
I worked up the nerve to look at him after several seconds of silence. Made no sense that I suddenly wanted to beg him to. But I did. Cause it felt like he’d offered me a ride and I’d turned it down, not realizing he was offering a ride to the moon.
He suddenly walked toward me and as the distance closed between us, my heart sped up. He stood at my left shoulder and all I could do was keep my palms firmly on the counter, waiting, holding my breath, wondering what on earth he might say or do.
My body tingled when he slid a finger along my face. Then spoke words that went further into my bones than words had a right to go. “I do want to paint you. You’re different.”
There was a raw need in his voice that lit a flame in me. A flame I had no idea how to control, didn’t want to. I couldn’t turn to him cause I could feel it. The insane urge to consume his lips right where he stood. Lord. How did this happen?
“Can I start tomorrow?” His voice was so damn calm! It was unfair.
My heart hammered my chest. Start? How long did it take? I nodded, only able to glance toward him, surely not at him. What must he be thinking? What a prude to be so undone over something so silly. It’s not like I was stripping naked.
My stomach jolted as naked bodies flashed in my mind, making lava leak from that volcano in my center. “I’d… I’d really like that.” And there it was, years of unmet need right there in my quiet answer. But all regret was erased when he whispered that thank you, next to my ear. I’d never heard such emotions mixed in a tone. Joy—mystery—passion—it was enough to make me swoon.
I suddenly knew right then and there. I would let that man paint me however he wanted or needed. Clothed, nude, standing on my head, it didn’t matter, the only thing that mattered was answering that need I’d heard in “I do want to paint you.” Because really, to my ears, it sounded like, I do need to paint you.
I followed his beautiful form as he went to the sink, turned, and placed both palms on the counter behind him. “What time would you like to come?”
I tucked hair behind my ear wondering why the word come suddenly took on an erotic meaning. “I get off work after supper time—eight o-clock. If you don’t mind workin’ evenin’s then…that works for me.”
He stirred his coffee then put his spoon in the sink next to him. “I love painting in the evening.”
I swallowed as every letter in his soft words slid through me and tickled places that had never been touched. Not like that.
“So it’s a date.” He gave me a sexy half smile before sipping his coffee, all while masturbating my soul with those clear blue eyes.
I focused on sipping my own coffee, wanting to vomit with excitement. “Yes, it sure is.”
I admit, I was skeptical at first – here is an author who is writing 188 short stories – maybe just “shorts” with 188 words in each. I was intrigued by the “catch”, and I got the book. How he managed to do what he did is almost mind-boggling, but I shan’t give anything away, other than to say READ THIS – you will be glad you did. It is truly amazing!!
Love me some Azure Boone books!! This one is free today – I have read it and it is hot!!
I read a lot. Like a book a day, especially now since I am trying really hard not to kill myself, because the doctor thinks it would be a bad idea. I beg to differ. However, the books are SOOOOOO amazingly awesome, you will become lost in their own world, and you will devour them, one by one until you get to the last one and scream “where’s the next fucking book????” like most of us have.
Azure and Kenra have set us up for an onslaught of some serious writing combined with enough sexiness to make even me blush and that it really hard to do.
LOST & FOUND
Ringo had knocked on Gavin’s door plenty of times. This time he had his heart in his throat. He could feel the cold chill of trouble coming same as he could feel the thunderheads that gathered out over the ocean, ready to pound the Newport Sands Resort with relentless rain.
Strings of Christmas icicles fluttered in the breeze along the edge of the RV’s awning. At night, they were pretty, but right now, in the weak afternoon light, they were cheap bits of dirty plastic Gavin kept up all year round.
He knocked again. “Gavin, it’s me, Ringo. Open up.”
After a minute or so, the flimsy metal door opened a crack. “What do you want?”
“Bird? He’s inside.” Gavin opened the door the rest of the way, but didn’t come down the steps.
“He wasn’t inside an hour ago when he ran into someone’s RV after their cat.” Ringo shook his head. “Goddamn it, how many times do I have to tell you? You can’t just let that dog out to wander around.”
Irritation played over Gavin’s features. “What’s your damage, Ringo? So he pees on the grass. If he shits, I’m sorry. I’ll pick up some other dog’s shit sometime, as penance.”
Ringo folded his arms across his chest. “Some lady from the As said Bird scared her grandkids. She was hysterical.”
“Oh, well. If she’s from the As then—”
“Aw, Gav. Cut me some slack here, will you?” Ringo leaned in. He wasn’t above pleading a little. Gavin had more than once insinuated that the resort had different rules for people with better rigs or bigger wallets, which was bullshit. Everyone had to behave like they paid for a spot in the As. Ringo didn’t ride Gavin for half the shit Bird got up to, but he was forced to respond when Bird caused a mess. “This isn’t a trailer park, it’s the Newport Sands Resort. These RVs are multimillion-dollar land yachts and the people expect to be able to open their doors without your dog charging inside. If Bird leaves this rig, you have to go with him. You take him out on his leash from now on, or you keep him in.”
“Sir. Yes, sir.” Gavin saluted smartly. “No letting Bird out off leash.”
“It’s nothing personal. Management gets on me if they think I’m not doing my job—and they won’t hesitate to have your ass and your rig hauled out of here.”
“You couldn’t just leave the form letter I normally get when someone from your security team sees Bird off leash?”
Ringo was too embarrassed to meet Gavin’s eyes. “Don’t you just throw those away?”
“But nothing personal, right?”
Christ, there was everything personal between them. Ringo felt it in his gut and his heart and his empty goddamn bed. They hadn’t spoken in over a month and he’d missed Gavin every single day. But that’s not why he was here today. “No. Nothing personal.”
“If that’s all then, I’ll just haul my ass into my rig and—”
“Look.” Ringo raked a hand over his buzzed hair. “I don’t know why you gotta be like this. You never heard anyone say, ‘You can’t fight city hall’?”
“I hardly ever let Bird run, only when it’s absolutely necessary. And with it being Christmas, the park is half-empty anyway. You know people only say that city hall shit when the government is taking advantage.”
“You signed the lease. You know the rules. How is asking you to walk your own dog taking advantage?”
“Never mind. Message received and noted.”
Ringo sighed. “Why should the rest of us deal with Bird if you’re too fucking lazy to do it? While you’re wallowing, he’s scaring off the tourists.”
“Is that what you think?” Gavin eyed him sourly. “I’m wallowing?”
“I think you need to walk your dog on a leash, like everyone else around here. What if you let Bird out and he eats something bad? Even a lick of antifreeze could kill him. What if he gets into a fight with another dog? You need to think what your neglect could cost Bird, too.”
Ringo was about to turn away and leave when Gavin reached out and caught his arm. “Wait.”
“What?” Ringo took a step up toward Gavin. Even with another step between them, he was taller, especially since Gavin had a way of slouching lazily against his doorframe. His posture now was relaxed, and yet closed off. Typical.
Gavin sighed. “I did let him go out alone this morning. I couldn’t take him, so—”
“What do you mean, you couldn’t take him?” Ringo looked Gavin over closely and realized he didn’t just look tired, he appeared to be in pain.
Gavin grimaced. “Look, it’s nothing. Right now, I can’t take him out, is all.”
“Wait. What?” Ringo asked. “Did something happen? Are you sick?”
“No, I’m not sick. I finally had to have my knee repaired. I stepped in a hole on the beach the other day and tore it again. The doc said I didn’t have a choice anymore.” Gavin looked anywhere except into Ringo’s eyes. “I figured I had some time off between Christmas and New Year’s, might as well get it taken care of. But I just got home, and it’s been tougher than I thought, and I—”
“Jeez.” That’s why Ringo had seen Gavin come home in a cab the day before. Christ. Alone and hurting and you still won’t ask anyone for shit. “You couldn’t have told me that?”
“Why should I?”
“Because I’d have helped you. I’d have taken Bird out for you, for one. At least I can ask one of the interns—”
“I had that Jules kid take care of Bird yesterday, but I thought—” Gavin chewed his lower lip “—I don’t know what I thought.”
“Jules is a good kid, but he’s gone home until after New Year’s. Do you want me to see if I can get a couple of the other kids to take shifts? They can walk Bird until you’re well enough to do it yourself.”
Gavin gave a reluctant nod. “I’d appreciate that.”
Ringo sighed. “Goddamn it, Gavin. I’m only a phone call away. We’re not seeing each other anymore, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask me for help if you need it.”
“I don’t know why you’re surprised I didn’t. We didn’t work out because you always tell me I don’t ask for enough.”
Ringo frowned at him. “I thought it was because I wanted to give you too much.”
They stood nearly nose to nose. Ringo could smell the warm, smoky campfire scent of Gavin’s skin, could feel desire building between them, even from that brief contact. But he couldn’t make Gavin meet his gaze.
He sighed. “I didn’t come here to autopsy us.”
“Not much left to dissect, is there?” Gavin wrapped his arms around himself. Maybe he was cold, and maybe he needed holding. Ringo had a lousy habit of wondering what Gavin needed, as opposed to just giving him what he asked for, and Gavin hated it.
God, Ringo wanted to hold him. He wanted to wrap himself around Gavin and never let go. How did everything between them always go to shit?
Instead, Ringo said, “Go back inside, you look like hell. I’ll ask around, or I’ll come back and walk Bird myself.”
“Don’t get your panties in a wad. Everybody has to learn to ask for help, just like every so often people ought to seek out someone who needs help and give it. It takes your mind off shit to look outside yourself for a change.”
Gavin snorted. “The Gospel According to St. Ringo.”
“Right.” A gentle tease, instead of Gavin’s customary porcupine spines. That was better. “Yeah. Well. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.”
“I’ve tried it.”
Ringo ignored that. “I’ll be back later. I’m assuming you have pain meds. What about food?”
“I’m going to infuriate you by checking on you every so often, and I’m going to do it with hot meals. Just warning you ahead of time.”
“Ringo, don’t make this a big deal.” Gavin started back inside.
“Gav—” Ringo reached for him, but he jerked away. “Don’t make me pull information out of you like this. I need to know. Please, if you need me, call me.”
“And then what?”
Ringo shifted his weight from his right leg to his left. “What do you mean, and then what?”
“What would happen if I needed something?”
“I’d get you what you need. What do you mean what would happen?”
“What if I need to be left alone?”
“Do you really need to be left alone?” Ringo asked. “’Cause the Gavin who plays his sax at midnight because he knows I’ll have to come and tell him to knock it off loves my company. It’s the Gavin who pushes me out of his bed before dawn the next morning and tells me I’m—”
“Smothering,” Gavin snapped. “Hovering. Blocking the exits and taking up all my space.”
God, Ringo’s shoulders ached. “Just tell me what you need, Gav. What can I do for you?”
“Nothing. I’ll be fine.”
“Sure you will.” Ringo sighed. “I’ll see you later.”
Gavin lobbed him his slow-pitch softball smile, round and a little wobbly. Ringo guessed that was the best he was going to get. “See you.”
“Yeah.” Ringo nodded.
Ringo wished Gavin would say more, like he was looking forward to it, or he’d be glad for the company—something Ringo knew was true, even if Gavin would rather die than admit it—but if he waited for that, he’d stand there forever.
Instead, Ringo got in his golf cart and took off because it never paid to give Gavin even the gentlest squeeze. If Ringo squeezed, Gavin would slip through his fingers like a bar of soap, and they’d end up back at square one.
What do they mean by square one, anyway? Was that a reference to a game or the first stone on a path? The first bubble on the SATs or the first letter they turn on Wheel of Fortune?
Ringo’s square one was the very first time he’d seen Gavin playing saxophone for the summer crowd at the picnic tables. He’d looked like a young Carlos Santana in shades, with a mustache and a highly kissable soul patch. He’d worn a weathered fedora.
Gavin always wore a hat, but that was mostly because his hairline was receding. Ringo went along when Gavin pretended his hats were some kind of fashion statement. They were that too, from skull caps to stingy-brimmed straw fedoras to out-and-out wool felt mafioso lids, but Gavin kept his hair buzzed short and his head covered because he was vain about going bald.
The first time Ringo had seen him, he’d thought Gavin had stepped right out of the movies.
Central casting, get me a Latino street musician.
Ringo drove back toward his office, five miles per hour, waving at the tourists. Trying to look strong and silent. Reassuring, as if he were “the law” in this here town.
As if he were doing something besides pining for a guy who didn’t want him around.
His sister had warned him musicians were dogs, but Ringo had never listened.
God knew, Gavin was a musician. To paraphrase Ringo’s mother’s favorite poem, music was the thing with strings that perched in Gavin’s soul. Wherever Gavin went, he had to blow his horn or pick at his guitar or drum on the park benches and the trashcans with chopsticks. He bought instruments whenever he could, and he always had a half a dozen or so on his patio undergoing repairs. He was constantly tinkering with some broken guitar or refurbishing a brass instrument that needed a little TLC. He sold some on eBay, and some he got attached to.
What he couldn’t live without one day, he gave away the next.
Ringo stopped to bag up some garbage that had blown off a picnic table, and even that reminded him of Gavin: give Gavin a milk carton, a plastic fork, and a couple of rubber bands, and you’d get an entire symphony orchestra.
Gavin had warm golden skin and cold brown eyes, and he lived in a crappy camper because it made him feel free. He didn’t have to live like that; he liked it.
He drank too much, and he laughed too loud, and when Ringo got near the cracks in the shell Gavin had built around himself, Gavin chased him away like a junkyard dog. Gavin had a miserable fucking temper. He could lash out.
It hurt a lot to love a man like that.
Especially when Gavin was always the center of attention and could pick and choose from any man around. He never kept any of his lovers for long; he didn’t know how. He always seemed lonely to Ringo, even if he was rarely alone.
Ringo had pried his way into Gavin’s life through persistence and the judicious application of alcohol, and although they’d washed out, they still kept company sometimes. Lots of times.
Ringo always said that if he had it to do over again, he’d do it over again.
He pitched the trash he’d policed into the Dumpster as he rode by. Hole in one.
That was probably his entire quota of “win” for the day, the rest of which would be spent filing incident reports and making sense of client complaints. He was responsible for lost or stolens, and there was one case of employee pilfering at the snack bar to deal with.
When he got back to the office, he shut himself inside for the better part of the morning, until a knock sounded at his door.
Jurgen, one of the interns, a college kid from Germany, entered and stood nervously in front of Ringo’s desk.
“You wanted to see me, sir?”
Ringo took off his reading glasses and rubbed his eyes. He was only thirty, but he couldn’t read without glasses for shit. It made him wonder if he was going to be like his nana, with her bottle-bottom trifocals, when he got old.
“You know the guy who lives in the Cs over by the laundry room, Gavin Lopez?”
“The musician?” Jurgen nodded. “Is there a problem?”
“Little bit. He’s out of commission for a few days because he had to have some knee surgery. Would you mind walking his dog? I’ll pay you, but don’t tell him I said anything about money.”
“I can do that.” The kid spoke English well, with little to no accent, and he was respectful and polite. The smile he gave Ringo was unforced.
“Maybe if you went first thing when you get to work, at lunch, and before you leave?”
“Sure.” Jurgen gave another bob of his head.
“The dog’s name is Bird. Let him run in the fenced off-leash area by the volleyball courts while you’re at lunch. Otherwise keep him on a leash at all times. Give him some exercise; he’s an energetic, curious pooch, so if he gets loose he’s likely to wander into people’s rigs.”
Jurgen smiled wryly. “I can see how that might create concerns.”
“I’ll let you know when to stop—just a few days probably. You’ll be here over the holidays, right?”
“Yes, I’ll be here. Is that all?”
“Yes, thank you.”
Once dismissed, Jurgen left. Ringo wondered what his story was, if he was studying for a career in hospitality, or if he just wanted to work in America for a while. The resort always had foreign interns as part of an exchange program with the local university. Whether they had aspirations to stay in the States, or just wanted a chance to work where they could surf and go to Disneyland and tour the beaches where Baywatch had been filmed, they came and went.
Jurgen seemed like a nice kid. He’d be good for Bird, and maybe Bird would be good for him.
When Ringo made his rounds later, he saw Jurgen and Bird on the beach together, Jurgen running along the water and Bird bounding happily along beside him in puppylike high spirits when he wasn’t busy chasing after sea birds. The sight warmed Ringo’s heart. A boy and a dog could be a beautiful thing.
He watched Jurgen play tug of war with Bird for a while, and then he continued on his rounds, making sure everyone was in their proper space. He liked to greet the campers and check in with the groundskeepers. He needed to make sure the empty cabins were locked up tight.
Since the economy was still in the shitter and the price of gas was at an all-time high, some of the resorts streets echoed with emptiness. The holidays hadn’t brought crowds to the resort the way they usually did, but they still had the die-hard snowbirds.
The size of the population didn’t matter, though. He had to keep security tight, and his crew had to stay dialed in to any potential problems so they could prevent mishaps or react quickly if they were needed.
A case of illegally dumped trash was the most he had to deal with before he sat down at his desk again after lunch to write up incident reports. His security detail for the day, Gunn and Frisbo, patrolled the grounds together while he caught up on paperwork.
Most days, their lives revolved around a series of small, inconsequential matters and the paperwork that went with them.
Most days were dead boring, but it went with the job.
Yessir, I am the sheriff in this here town. Evildoers, beware.
Release Date: December 20, 2013
Author’s Bio & Picture:
This is the segment where you learn a little more about who I am, so here’s what I can tell you: I drink copious amounts of vitamin water placed precariously close to my laptop while writing. These are two healthy habits I have no intention of breaking. I’m a transplant living in the south, but I was born in the 70’s to a military dad who moved us around the world.
When I’m not writing (which is all the time), I’m hunting down Indie music, watching movies, reading, eating Tex-Mex, discovering new ways to humiliate myself bowling, and burning up my laptop battery on the Internet. I have a relaxed, easy-going personality and don’t like drama. I live with a cat who thinks she is a dog, or a goat (she eats plastic, so I’m not sure which).
Throughout my life, I’ve had insomnia. Counting sheep never worked and eventually I would imagine those sheep were the sole source of food after an apocalyptic battle where only thousands survived. I made up stories in a futile attempt to bore myself to sleep. The problem was, I got so wrapped up in my “head stories” that I would continue them through the following nights, changing it up each time to make it more exciting. Eventually, I started writing my ideas down – creating short stories, and then I discovered my love for poetry.
It’s almost embarrassing how many spiral notebooks and stacks of paper I have of poetry and lyrics.
Another passion: digital art. I design all my book covers, marketing, and series art. I’m a very visual person and pursued photography as an avid hobby for many years.
I am not a YA author (I feel like I have to state this only because I’ve had a few people ask), but I think it’s wonderful there are so many books available to teens in Urban Fantasy and Paranormal.
I am finally doing what I have always wanted to do: giving my characters a pulse through writing full time. I focus on adult urban fantasy romance, but I don’t like labels and I enjoy blending genres to break out of the confines of predictability.
But it’s what I love to do.
“The Isles of Mozambique”
By Mila Ballentine
December 4, 2013
She heard keys rattling and the front door opened. Samira poked her head out in the hallway.
“Hi.” Amy closed the door, walked to the kitchen, and poured herself a glass of water.
“I was starting to think that I’d be eating dinner alone,” Samira said smiling.
“I went by Eric’s place to get the rest of my things.” Amy left the kitchen and went into the living room.
“How did it go?”
“Not good.” She shrugged. “But I got my stuff. That’s all that matters.” Amy slouched on the sofa, kicked off her heels and folded her feet on the sofa. Samira sat down next to her.
“He seemed nice when I met him.”
Amy huffed. “They’re always nice when you introduce them to your friends and family, but ‘come see me, and come live with me’ are two different things. We could’ve worked it out if he was less attentive, more considerate and polished up on his communication skills.”
Samira snickered, “You know most woman would kill to have a man who’s attentive.”
“Good for them! They can have him. Eric wants to know where I am and who I’m with at all times. I can’t live like that. I had a father who already raised me and I’m not looking for another one.”
Samira chuckled. “I bet you wished that fairytales would have warned you about guys like that.”
“Yes, it would’ve been nice. While you’re in Africa, bring back a tall, tanned, muscle-bound hunk for me.”
“I’ll see what I can do.”
Amy laughed and hit her with a throw pillow she grabbed from the sofa. “I’m just glad the other person you were going to have as a roommate changed her mind. I needed to get away from him.”
“I’m glad too. The last thing I need is some random person going through my stuff while I’m not around.”
“Dido, if I had to spend another day at Eric’s place, I would’ve lost my mind. He’s too into me.” Amy took a sip of her drink and put it on the accent table beside the sofa.
“You don’t have to worry about me in regards to that. At least here, you’ll get to keep your sanity.” Samira eased back on the sofa.