FIGHTING SILENCE by Aly Martinez #TopReads2015 Interview




Sound is an abstract concept for most people. We spend our lives blocking out the static in order to focus on what we believe is important. But what if, when the clarity fades into silence, it’s the obscure background noise that you would give anything to hold on to?

I’ve always been a fighter. With parents who barely managed to stay out of jail and two little brothers who narrowly avoided foster care, I became skilled at dodging the punches life threw at me. Growing up, I didn’t have anything I could call my own, but from the moment I met Eliza Reynolds, she was always mine. I became utterly addicted to her and the escape from reality we provided each other. Throughout the years, she had boyfriends and I had girlfriends, but there wasn’t a single night that I didn’t hear her voice.

You see, meeting the love of my life at age thirteen was never part of my plan. However, neither was gradually going deaf at the age of twenty-one.

They both happened anyway.

Now, I’m on the ropes during the toughest battles of my life.
Fighting for my career.
Fighting the impending silence.
Fighting for her.

Every night, just before falling asleep, she sighs as a final conscious breath leaves her.


I think that’s the sound I’ll miss the most.


Each book in this series can be read as a standalone.



INTERVIEW


Which Page brother has given you the most trouble while writing?
Oh, this is easy. Flint. That man killed me. He was so cranky and crotchety all the time. It’s funny, every book, one of the characters is difficult. In Fighting Shadows, Ash was super simple, but Flint was a huge challenge. He was a judgmental asshole in the beginning…how do you make that endearing? HAHA!
Did the plot go exactly as planned or did you make some big changes while writing this series?  Anything that would shock us readers?
Ha! Nothing ever goes as planned. When I first plotted this series, Till wasn’t deaf. And up until the end of Fighting Silence, Flint wasn’t in a wheelchair. Yep. That totally came out once I started writing. At first they were just three poor kids trying to make it in an unforgiving world.
My plots change significantly as I write. I’m not a big outliner. And because of this, sometimes the characters do and say crazy stuff. I’ve given up trying to force them to bend to my will.

This series deals with MMA and disabilities.  What type of research did you do on both?

I had to do significant research on Till’s hearing loss. Honestly, when I’m writing, I do my best not to get into too many details when it comes to the medical stuff. Why? Because I’m not a doctor. I’m a romance author, and regardless of how much research I do, it would be impossible to get it 100% accurate. I try to be mindful of that.
As for the boxing element, the research was easy. I grew up on boxing. My father is a professional boxing trainer. I called dear old dad and got all the answers I needed. He even helped create some of the storyline for Fighting Silence to make it more accurate to professional boxing.
You mentioned awhile back that you have plans to write a couple of M/M books.  Can us gives us an update? 
Mmm, M/M! I am currently working on The Spiral Down. It is a M/M spin off of The Fall Up, based on Levee’s best friend Henry Alexander. I can’t wait to dip my toes into the incredible world of gay romance. Assuming all goes well with Henry, I have a few more up my sleeve.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
Names are hard for me. Most of the time, I pick the names first and then build the character’s appearance around it. For the Wrecked and Ruined series, I went pretty tame with names. However, with On The Ropes, I wanted something different and I wanted to stick with the stone theme of Slate’s name. So we got Till, Flint, and Quarry.
What projects are you working on for 2016?
Next up for me is The Spiral Down. (My first M/M!)
After that I’m working on a book called, What If She Does. The guy in this book is a very different kind of hero for me. It should be interesting HAHA!


Favorites

Food-Japanese. And I’m dieting right now so just thinking about this deliciousness is making my mouth water.
Exercise-If I exercise do I get Japanese food? HAHA!
Time of Year- Spring! I live in South Carolina so I love the warm weather before it become sweltering.
Color-It used to be orange when I was growing up. But I think that was just because it was different. I’ve always loved to stand out. Now that I’m older…I’d have to say blue.
Ice Cream flavor and topping- OMG. Of course you had to ask this question. I’m probably going to lose readers because of my answer. But I have to be honest, right?
I actually don’t like ice cream at all. HAHA! I’m more of a brownies, cake, and cookies kind of girl.

The Guys
Food

“Too easy. Twice baked cheese potatoes,” Till said with a grin.
“Yes! Mine too. Shit, now I’m starving.” Quarry said, rubbing his stomach. “You think you can get Eliza to cook some tonight?”
“Not likely. We had ‘em last night.” Till’s grin grew. 
Quarry arched his eyebrow incredulously. “Seriously? I live ten minutes away. You couldn’t even give me a heads up she was cooking them? Asshole,” he mumbled under his breath.
Flint shook his head at his brothers. “You know he’s only giving you shit because you didn’t save him any of Liv’s brownies.”
Quarry crossed his arms over his chest, “Yeah well, I won’t be saving him any of the chocolate cake she was making when I left, either.”
Till’s jaw fell open as he gasped in shock. “The one she made for Blakely’s birthday?”
“Yep. That’s the one.” Quarry shrugged.
Flint smirked. “You two should really just work out a trade—Eliza’s cheese potatoes for Liv’s chocolate cake. And while I’m at it, I’d like to offer Ash’s rainbow cupcakes into the mix. I need some damn cheese potatoes too.”
Till leaned forward to catch Flint’s gaze. “Oh, that reminds me, I bought you a case of Ramen noodles at Costco last night.”
Flint curled his lip. “I’m gonna be sick.”
Exercise
“I’ve taken up running since I retired. It’s miserable, but,” Till patted his stomach, “with all those cheese potatoes Eliza makes me, I have to do something to stay in shape.” He laughed.
Flint and Quarry glared.
“I’m more of a weights kind of guy,” Flint said. “Actually, I lifted an entire tray of Ash’s cupcakes a few days ago.” He shrugged innocently.
Till and Quarry glared.
“I hate exercise almost as much as I do both of these dickheads. But it’s a bit of a requirement for a boxer. It also means I can eat an extra piece of cake tonight so…whatever.” The corner of Quarry’s lips lifted, popping his dimple.
Till and Flint glared.
Time of Year

All three of the guys blinked blankly.
“Time of the year? Like season?” Till clarified.
“Yeah, I’m gonna need to skip this question, ya know…cause I’m not a bitch and all,” Quarry said crossing his arms over his wide chest.
Flint rolled his eyes. “You’ll have to excuse them. Summer. I love being outside.”
Quarry smirked and turned to face him. “Because it’s warm enough to get it on in the weeds with Ash?”
Flint punched him hard on the shoulder.
“Son of a bitch!”
Color

“Red,” Till answered quickly.
“Neon green,” Flint said with a wide shit-eating grin.
“Oh sweet baby Jesus,” Quarry groaned at Flint’s answer. “I’d have to say pink.”
“Pink?” Flint and Till asked in unison.
“Well, maybe it’s only my favorite color after last night. Little surprise from Liv.” Quarry flashed a mischievous grin and then winked.
“Jesus,” Till breathed, shaking his head.
Ice Cream flavor and topping  
“Funny, I had a little chocolate syrup last night, too.” Quarry barked a laugh.
“Please ignore him. And publish nothing he says. Nothing. He likes chocolate. We all do.” Flint said with a charming smile before once again punching Quarry.
Till cleared his throat. “Not me. I like vanilla. With a little whipped cream.” He waggled his eyebrows and inched toward the door. “And so does Eliza.”
“Dude, she’s like my mom!” Quarry cried.
“Oh gross.” Flint grumbled.

Till laughed loudly as he rushed from the room.






aly martinez.jpg

Born and raised in Savannah, Georgia, Aly Martinez is a stay-at-home mom to four crazy kids under the age of five, including a set of twins. Currently living in South Carolina, she passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a glass of wine at her side.
After some encouragement from her friends, Aly decided to add “Author” to her ever-growing list of job titles. Five books later, she shows no signs of slowing. So grab a glass of Chardonnay, or a bottle if you’re hanging out with Aly, and join her aboard the crazy train she calls life.




MORE BOOKS FROM THIS AUTHOR


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FGMAMTC 

Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents 

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KAGE by Maris Black #TopReads2015 Interview

KAGE is one of my top reads for 2015.  Author Maris Black agreed to an interview.  Kage even stopped by for a bit!  Also keep reading for a preview of the upcoming SSU Boys novel Dual Threat.
My name is Jamie Atwood, and I’m an addict. I never thought I’d say such a thing. Never had a problem being overly-attached to anything in my life. I came from a perfectly middle-class family, made good grades, and had a hot cheerleader girlfriend… but the truth is, nothing ever really moved me. So how did a guy like me become an addict? 

I met Michael Kage. 

Kage is an MMA fighter. A famous one. I like to think I helped him get that way. 

He’s charming as hell, with looks to rival any movie star and talent to back it up. So why did he need to hire me as an intern Publicist? Simple. He has a darkness in him– like a black hole so deep it could swallow him, and me, and everyone we know– and that’s not good for business. 

The first time I met him, I felt the pull. I think the addiction began at that very moment. And even if I’d known then what I know now, I would have fallen for him. How could I not? 

For me, Kage is everything.



INTERVIEW

When you started Kage, did you already know how sexual the storyline would get or did it evolve over time?

I planned a very sexual storyline from the start, and I knew Kage would be a kinky bastard with deep-seated issues revolving around his dark past. I knew there would be hot, rough sex, and a strong element of obsession, and I knew book one would be an excruciating slow burn with lots of sexual tension.

Like all of my novels, most of the plot points and several complete scenes of the story were already solidified in my head before I ever started typing. However, each story does morph over time as the characters take on a life of their own. For instance, I never envisioned Kage and Jamie making out in the condom aisle of a drugstore, and the hot scene in Jamie’s mom’s pantry was a big surprise. Conversely, the first scenes I wrote in the entire trilogy were the weight cutting scene from book 2, the final scene from book 2, and the final scene from book 3, and those survived largely intact until the very end.


When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?

Honestly, I haven’t set foot in one in ages, but if I were to visit one, I would first try to find a M/M section. Then I’d search in vain for the out-of-print eighties novel Dearest, which at the time was the creepiest book I ever read. It was about a dude who mummifies his girlfriend. I’m 99% certain this book was not a figment of my imagination.

If you could choose one superpower, what would it be and why?

I think I would have to go with time travel. Who wouldn’t like to be able to right past mistakes, or win the lottery by devious means? I would drink more water, finish college a lot faster, and refuse to let my granny fix my hair in Shirley Temple ringlets the night I met the cutest boy in the county. Gah! Couldn’t I have at least looked in a mirror before I left?


How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?

I spend a lot of time choosing the main characters’ names. Occasionally I will choose a name specifically for meaning, but often I’m just looking for a name that fits the character. In the case of Michael Kage, I dreamed his name and woke up with it on my tongue. I’m sure it was a subconscious nod to Johnny Cage and Mortal Kombat. Even the initials — MK. Crazy, huh?


What are some day jobs that you have held? Did any impact your writing? If so, how?

Well, after graduating college with an English degree, my first day job was doing literally everything at a small newspaper: articles, photography, obituaries, layout. Hell, I even delivered the damn things.

Then I was a respiratory therapist. My first novel, Owning Corey, is set in the small town hospital where I worked, though the names of the places are changed. The locals could probably recognize things in that book if they read it— which I’m sure they would never do.

I also trained and worked as a graphic artist for several years, which makes me just audacious enough to design my own book covers.


What projects are you working on for 2016? Do you have an excerpt from an upcoming book you can share please?

My next release is the Kage Trilogy audiobooks on January 26th, through Audible Studios. Works in progress are book 4 of the SSU series, a follow-up to the Kage Trilogy, and an unrelated story about young love and second chances that I’m really excited about. Then at least two more SSU books, spinoffs from Kage, and a music related series that’s been in the works for a long time. Some of these projects may never see the light of day, as I am criminally vulnerable to impulse.

Favorites


Movie Villain-
Maris: Alex De Large from Clockwork Orange is one sexy sociopath, and so timelessly cool.

Kage: Johnny Lawrence from The Karate Kid (1984). “No mercy!” Fuck yeah. I don’t know if I’d beat him or sleep with him. Probably both. At the same time.


Type of Music-

Maris: I have obsessed over songs in almost every genre, but nineties alternative will always make me FEEL more than anything else— think Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins, Type O Negative, Soundgarden. I think whatever is playing during those borderline teenage-adult years sort of brands itself onto our souls, or at least in my case it did. Right now I like a lot of moody pop, hybrid stuff, some rap.


Kage: Anything that gets me pumped. That one time I used Teleport 2 Me Jamie by Kid Cudi as my walkout song. Not my usual style, but damn it said exactly what I wanted to say to my baby. I knew he’d be listening.


Fast Food Restaurant-

Maris: I really don’t eat fast food that much. If they had Indian fast food, I’d be all over it. Or Iranian. Yum.

Kage: I don’t put that shit in my body, and you shouldn’t either. Mike Dolce is the best dietitian in MMA. If you want to straighten out your diet, he’s a good place to start.


Cleaning Product-

Maris: Clorox wipes. I keep them in every room in my home.

Kage: I use Classic Erotica’s Before & After, because a clean toy is a happy toy.


Phrase/Saying-

Maris: I write by this: “You do not have to explain every single drop of water contained in a rain barrel. You have to explain one drop—H2O. The reader will get it.” —George Singleton
But I should live by this: “Write while the heat is in you. … The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.” —Henry David Thoreau

Kage: “Show no mercy!” —Johnny Lawrence, The Karate Kid
I know I used that already, but it’s so me. Except when it comes to Jamie. He’s my weakness.






EXCERPT

DUAL THREAT (SSU BOYS 4)
TEASER

SOMEONE once said, As soon as you stop wanting something, you get it. Or at least I think somebody said that. Maybe that mop-haired blond guy from the sixties who made the obnoxious pictures of tomato soup cans? Anyway it sounds familiar, and lord knows it’s true. It’s exactly the philosophy I’ve decided to employ to lure Emilio Madero back into my bed.

Our short but tumultuous relationship has stalled, and I’m at a loss as to how to get it going again. I already made the first move, took him home to meet my family, and even lost my virginity to him, which was a huge deal for me. A lot of guys would probably laugh at me for being so old fashioned, but I don’t live my life to please anyone else. If I make bad choices, the only one who’s going to regret it is me— Andrew Dalton— and as anyone who knows me will attest, I don’t do regret. That attitude, along with my borderline irrational aversion to guns and the unshakable belief that I can do most anything I put my mind to, can be blamed on my parents. They have always made sure I had everything I needed, and pretty much everything I wanted as well, but they made me earn it with good grades, impeccable manners, and a solid work ethic.

But this boyfriend thing has me floundering like hell. The tools I’ve used to get everything in my life so far aren’t working. Grades and manners mean nothing to Emilio. He doesn’t care that I haven’t made below a B on an Algebra test, or that I aced my essay on The Swimmer by John Cheever. He also doesn’t care that I helped my mom bake cookies last Sunday for the residents of my great-grandmother’s nursing home. Apparently, he also doesn’t care that my family has money. I don’t know what Emilio does care about, or what could possibly make him want me like I want him. The only thing that’s gotten his attention so far is spreading my legs for him, and even that hasn’t been enough to keep him from losing interest.

Right now he’s standing across the gym, cutting up with a few of the senior football players and looking totally lickable as he strips off his sweaty t-shirt. Powerful muscles ripple beneath his brown skin as he balances first on one foot then the other to remove his socks. After slinging them into his locker, he starts to unlace his pants. I’ve never had a particular affinity for Latino guys, but something about him makes me want to go ass-up every time I see him. He’s so powerful, so masculine, and so rough.

“Coach was being a dick today,” one of the guys comments, earning an animated reply from Emilio.

“I know, right? He definitely had a bug up his ass. I think it’s that time of the month.”

Emilio’s fingers loosen the pants laces enough to reveal a distracting amount of skin below the belt, and I may as well have stars for eyes and a cartoon heart pulsing out of my chest. Subtlety is beyond my grasp when I look at him, and that’s a really bad thing considering he’s in the closet. I need to be careful not to give him away against his will. I mean, I’m not stupid. I know that his reluctance to let anyone know he’s gay is the reason he’s been ignoring me for weeks. Ever since we had makeup sex on an empty football field in a strange town the night before our first football game, he’s been a ghost. It hurts, but only an asshole of the highest magnitude would out someone who didn’t want to be outed. Even if that someone is okay with using me to get off in private and then acting like we’ve never met in public.

I slam my locker door and turn to head into the shower room to wash the sweat and grime of practice from my skin, but just as I spin around, I catch Emilio looking at me. His liquid brown eyes hang on me for a suspended second, and the raw longing I see in his gaze gets that cartoon heart of mine going even faster than before. Emilio blinks in slow motion, and his tongue slips out to wet his full bottom lip, giving it a tantalizing sheen. Then one corner of his mouth tips up into a teasing almost-smile.

He’s actually acknowledging me?

Just as I open my mouth to say something— please let it be something cool— Emilio turns back to the other guys and laughs. His little smile wasn’t meant for me after all, and now he’s back to ignoring me again, as if we’ve never touched, or kissed, or made love like we were the only two people in the world.

Which brings me back to my new motto. Obviously wanting the guy is not working, so I’m officially putting Operation: Fuck You into effect. Starting today, Emilio Madero is going to learn just how ruthless I can be when I don’t want something.






AUTHOR BIO
My name is Maris Black (sort of), and I’m a Southern Girl through and through.
In college, I majored in English and discovered the joys of creative writing and literary interpretation. After honing my skills discovering hidden meanings authors probably never intended, I collected my near-worthless English degree and got a job at a newspaper making minimum wage. But I soon had to admit that small town reporting was not going to pay the bills, so I went back to school and joined the medical field. Logical progression, right? But no matter what I did, my school notebooks and journals would not stop filling up with fiction. I was constantly plotting, constantly jotting prose, constantly casting the people I met as characters in the secret novels in my head.
Yep. I can blame my creative mother for that one!
When I finally started writing fiction for a living, I surprised myself with my choice of genre. I’d always known I wanted to write romance, but the first story that popped out was about a couple of guys finding love during a threesome with a woman. Then I wrote about more guys, and more guys, and more guys. I was never a reader of gay fiction, and I’d never planned to write it. The only excuse I have for myself is: Hey, it’s just what comes out!

I adore the M/M genre, though, with all my heart. It feels sort of like coming home. I can’t quite explain it. I’ve always had openly gay and bisexual friends and relatives, the rights and acceptance of whom are very important to me, so it feels great to celebrate that. But there’s also something so pure and honest about the love between two men that appeals to me on a romantic level and inspires me to write.
Thank you, men. :-)
I currently live in Nashville, TN with my devoted husband (who just happens to be my biggest fan), my three eccentric children, and a hairless cat named BLU. Life is good.

AUTHOR CONTACT LINKS:

Facebook Profile: http://facebook.com/maris.black.7

Facebook Fan Page: http://facebook.com/marisblackbooks

Twitter: http://twitter.com/marisblackbooks

Website: http://marisblack.com




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FGMAMTC 

Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents 

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The Slayer by Kele Moon #TopReads2015 Interview

THE SLAYER is one of my top reads of 2015.  The amazing Kele Moon agreed to an interview and Chuito even stopped by.  Keep reading for an excerpt from the upcoming THE ENFORCER (Tino’s story).
To Chuito the apartment was a self-imposed prison for a lifetime of sins. To Alaine, the girl next door, it was salvation from her overbearing, religious father.

He was a devil.

She was an angel.


Two people who should’ve never met, let alone become friends, but it’s not until they give into the dangerous passion that’s been simmering under the surface for five years that things go to hell. 

On the outside, Chuito ‘The Slayer’ Garcia is on top of the world. He’s successful. He’s wealthy. He’s a champion MMA fighter surrounded by friends who support him, but they don’t know what he was before he came to Garnet.

A gangster.

A thief.

An addict.

A murderer.


Now his past is churning up demons he can’t ignore. Chuito knows he needs to go back to Miami to end it, but there’s something holding him back, a single temptation he can’t resist before leaving.

Alaine. 

She’s the one drug he can’t give up…even if it destroys them both.

“To me you’re coke. Fine. Smooth. Perfectly white. Very bad for me, but so fucking sexy I don’t give a shit. It’s worth going down for.” – Chuito Garcia

INTERVIEW

Your men consistently make it onto my top book boyfriends lists.  How do you continue to make them the perfect amount of hot?  They aren’t too lacking or too over the top.  They’re perfect.  Is it hard to find that special line?  Do you find yourself editing a lot to get it right?


First! YAY! So glad they’re the perfect amount of hot. . . Though usually, they just write themselves. Sometimes they do things that I want to smack my forehead over. . . Like, oh, Chuito, don’t say that. . . And. . . you said it. . . Especially if it’s something politically incorrect, which he is known to do!


I don’t edit them or curb them too much. . . If that’s how they come out, that’s how I try to keep it.


You mix in a lot of Spanish, Italian and other non-English phrases in your books.  Did you already know these words or did you get help?


A lot of the Spanish swear words and endearments I knew. . . Thanks to my husband’s family. I did need help with anything outside the Spanish basics, and the Italian took some work.


I have people who help me with all the other languages. Italian, Spanish, Russian, etc. . . Also locations and cultural things, like readers from New York City, Miami, Puerto Rico, Italy, etc. . .


Would people in your personal life categorize you as fiery or laid back?  Or some other way?


Both, actually. . . I’m very laid back. I’m originally from Hawaii, so I’m on Hawaiian time most days.  However, if someone does manage to make me mad, I can be VERY fiery. Particularly if someone does something to one of my friends or family.


What is the craziest thing you’ve researched for a book?  Come on spill it.
wink emoticon


OMG! LOL! Well, I did a LOT of crazy research for Claiming Eden, which was a BDSM book. Including, but not limited to figging and foot whipping. (If you look up figging, um. . . be warned.)


I spend lots of time studying mafia culture, terminology, etc. . . I used to think when I started writing I’d be a horrible researcher, but it’s something I enjoy. Or rather, I’m not sure if I enjoy it, but I enjoy writing the books that require LOTS OF RESEARCH and I like learning new things.


You write M/F and M/M books.  Is one harder than the other?  Do you approach writing them differently?


I don’t think one is harder than the other. It’s sort of a mindset to me. Sometimes I’m in a MM mood, sometimes I’m in a MF mood. . . I like things rough. I like things sweet. I like things optimistic. I like things very dark. . .My muse has more facets than most and I’m not always sure that’s a good thing!


I found that I prefer a more rough and tumble D/s vibe in my MM. . . Where as I believe that would be almost impossible for me in M/F. I did write Danny dominate Eve in Beyond Eden, which was a MMF, but that was NOT easy for me.
So I usually let my kinkster out with my MM a little. . .


What type of environment do you like to write in?  (music on, tv on, total silence, outside, inside, alone, with a writing partner, etc)


I enjoy being alone when I’m power writing and trying to finish a book. So I usually run off and finish alone, but that’s not always easy with kids. Even if I have a husband who supports me as much as he does. . . So I’ll write in the morning before they get up and will get usually 75% of a book done that way before I go away for a writing week and finish.


I’m very into my music lists on Spotify. It’s a serious part of the process for me, finding the right music for each book and some songs will forever be dedicated to certain characters or books after I’m done.  They’ll come on the radio and I’ll tell my husband, “OH! This is a Wyatt song!” –or– “Oh! This is Viper’s theme song!”
HEH! He’s usually like, “Yeah, I know. You told me a 100 times.”



What projects are you working on for 2016?


2016 is SOOOOO busy!
Claiming Eden (Eden Book 3) releases Jan. 26th
The Enforcer (Untamed Hearts 2) should release early in 2016 as well since it’s done and in edits with the publisher.
The Enforcers Revenge is in the works and with luck won’t be TOO long after Enforcer.
I’m also re-releasing Defying the Odds, the first Battered Hearts book. . .
There’s just lots and lots. . .It’s my busiest writing year of my career, but I’m excited to be so busy! I just need to take my vitamins!



Favorites:


Song-


Kele–My favorite song changes by the week. Currently, I’d say Fight Song by Rachel Platten


Chuito—Travesuras Remix by Nicky Jam


Restaurant-


Kele–Um, I’m starting to feel indecisive. I don’t have a favorite. I love so many, but if I had to narrow it down, I’d say Seito Sushi in Orlando. I have spent many hours in there and I never get tired of it. When they closed for lunch it ended my world!


Chuito—Usually, I’d say none, but if I had to pick one…I guess Hal’s Diner since that’s the only one I eat at on a regular basis.


Color-


Kele–Rainbow! I love all colors (I’m definitely indecisive.)


Chuito—Red.


Piece of Clothing-


Kele–I have these little slip on thin sweaters that tie or hang open. I must have 10 of them. I love them. I’ll usually always wear one over a v-neck shirt with jeans when I go out. That’s my uniform.


Chuito—Hoodie. ‘Cause—fuck you.


Time of Day-


Kele–Early morning.


Chuito –After midnight, but before the sun rises.




EXCERPT


Clip from soon to be released–The Enforcer, Untamed Hearts Book 3


Brianna stepped back when she saw Tino staring at her.


Her cheeks flamed with embarrassment.


She glanced away from Tino still spread out on the couch, thighs apart, cock straining against his jeans, with his washboard abs, broad chest, and thick biceps all on display. His full lips were illuminated in the moonlight from the glass windows showing off the six million dollar Mid-town view Moretti money afforded Carina.
He was a fantasy come to life, and she would have to be dead not to look, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t mortified to be caught.


“Y-you were talking in your sleep,” she lied. “I was checking to see if you were okay.”


“I wasn’t sleeping.”


His voice had a rough edge to it that gave Brianna goose bumps. Still she avoided looking at him as she argued, “You made a sound. You were dreaming.”


Tino quirked an eyebrow at her. “I knew you were watching.”


“Oh.” She closed her eyes when she realized that low groan, and the arch of his hips was for her benefit. “You wanted to embarrass me. You succeeded. So congratulations.” She didn’t know if she was angrier with Tino or herself. “I’m going back to bed.”


She turned to leave, but he called out, “I’ll let you watch. If that’s your thing…I’ll do it.”


Brianna turned back to him with wide eyes, because she really couldn’t believe he meant what it sounded like he meant.


Who would do that?


Tino stared at her, unblinking, bedroom eyes hooded and dark in the moonlight. “Is it your thing?”


“Is what my thing?” Her voice was raspy with fear and desire. Her heartbeat was thundering and the ache between her thighs was overwhelming. “Watch what exactly?”


“Watch me jerk off thinking about you,” he said without even flinching. Then he cupped himself through his jeans like he had before when she thought he was sleeping and arched his hips up. “Want it?”


She felt hypnotized by him and the raw sexuality that was choking the air out of the living room. She nodded silently, her gaze on his hand and the way he grabbed himself.


“Yeah,” she said, not sure if she shocked him more or herself when she admitted, “I want it.”


He raised his eyebrows skeptically, making it obvious she surprised him, but he pulled at the button to his jeans anyway. “You sure?”


Brianna looked to the opened fly, the zipper sliding down from the strain of his cock pressing against it. She nodded again. “I’m sure.”


Maybe she just wanted to know she could meet him halfway.


There was such a hard, deadly air to Tino now. Life made him feral, and no matter how beautiful he was, touching him now was dangerous, but she still wanted it…desperately.


He forced the zipper the rest of the way down, still watching her intently, making Brianna very aware of the spaghetti strap nightgown she wore. The way his gaze ran over her body made her realize the city lights behind her caused the thin blue material to be see-through.


He stopped and stared at the V of her nightgown, unapologetically eyeing her tits. “Scared?”
Brianna’s nipples had tightened, and Tino noticed because he missed nothing. She folded her arms over her chest and shifted where she stood.


“Yes. A little,” she admitted and looked toward the closed door to Carina’s room. “Aren’t you?”


“Nope.” Tino pushed his jeans down to prove his point, exposing a pair of tight, blue designer briefs that made him look like an underwear model.


Brianna knew he was big, but seeing the way his cock filled out those briefs, curving to the left, and nearly pushing past the waistband had her gripping at her grandmother’s cross around her neck simply because she needed to do something with her hands.


He actually went so far as to kick off his jeans and push the blanket to the ground, leaving himself vulnerable to Carina or Paco walking out. More so, putting himself completely on display for Brianna and she couldn’t help but ask, “Aren’t you embarrassed?”


He cupped himself again. “Do I look like I have something to be embarrassed about?”


“No.” Brianna shook her head.

A freckle faced, redhead born and raised in Hawaii, Kele Moon has always been a bit of a sore thumb and has come to enjoy the novelty of it. She thrives off pushing the envelope and finding ways to make the impossible work in her story telling. With a mad passion for romance, she adores the art of falling in love. The only rules she believes in is that, in love there are no rules and true love knows no bounds.

So obsessed is she with the beauty of romance and the novelty of creating it she’s lost in her own wonder world most of the time. Thankfully she married her own dark, handsome, brooding hero who had infinite patience for her airy ways and attempts to keep her grounded. When she leaves her keys in the refrigerator or her cell phone in the oven he’s usually there to save her from herself. The two of them now reside in Florida with their three beautiful children who make their lives both fun and challenging in equal parts–They wouldn’t have it any other way.

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FGMAMTC 

Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents 

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Almost Alive by Daryl Banner #TopReads2015 Interview

Almost Alive by Daryl Banner is one of my top reads of 2015.  Daryl Banner, author of The Beautiful Dead, stopped by to answer a few questions about this series and more.
*BOOK #3 IN THE BEAUTIFUL DEAD TRILOGY*
*It is recommended to read this series in order*
THE BEAUTIFUL DEAD (#1)
DEAD OF WINTER (#2)
ALMOST ALIVE (#3)

Twelve years have passed since the devastation.

The world is changed. What once was a planet struggling to survive is now a planet bursting to life. The humans are thriving. Gardens are growing. Trees are reaching up to the sky and the Undeadly clutch on the planet is slowly letting go.

But what does that mean for Winter and her friends?

In the wake of spring, the last of the desperate Undead gather, fighting to maintain their place in a world that no longer wants them. Mother Nature slowly but certainly works to purge the planet of the Dead, just when Winter thought she had finally embraced this Second Life.

Her new friends are back and old nemeses return for the final chapter in Winter’s Undead journey.

INTERVIEW

Your undead are not like traditional zombies.  Was that your plan from the beginning or did the story change?

It was sort of both. I didn’t have a plan at all when I wrote the first pair of chapters. I think that’s where most of my inspiration came from, because I was just surprising myself as I wrote. I started with a very simple idea: an undead society that very much mirrors our own, a female main character who is undead herself, and a living man she meets who, despite his repulsion of her, desperately needs her help.
Explain how you came up with the idea of the world from the Outlier series.
OUTLIER spent a very, very long time in development. It came from an idea I had back in college around 2005. It originally had a modern/contemporary setting, and only some people had special abilities (they were called the Outliers), but soon the show Heroes aired on TV, and I frustratedly couldn’t stop seeing the similarities between my story that I’d already developed and the new TV show, so I abandoned and changed my track.

Over the course of 9 years, I set up the rules of the world of Outlier. I knew that the world needed to be harsh, but also feel like “home”, despite its volatile nature. Centering many of the characters within one family gave me that feeling of home, because I liked checking in with the other brothers and the parents to get a sense of where everyone was at, especially while the world falls apart around them. I loved giving them senses of personal triumph and showing how even the unlikeliest of a “special ability” can save one’s life in a moment of need.
Do you plan your storyline before writing or do you write it as it comes to you?

It really depends on the series. The Brazen Boys – due to their being standalone novellas – are started with a basic idea and (in the case of most of them) an ending, and then I just write them. The Beautiful Dead I “loosely” planned and then wrote it with the intention of surprising myself, as the main character Winter was somewhat hard to control; she had such a mind of her own. OUTLIER, due to its extreme complexity and magnitude of characters (both POV and non-POV characters), I had to plan it out chapter-to-chapter, but still reserved the right to make a split decision and surprise myself. There’s nothing more thrilling than breaking my own carefully-laid-out outlines mid-story.
You have written soundtracks to some of your books.  Do you think of the music as your writing a scene, or does that come later?

I wrote The Beautiful Dead soundtrack after the first novel, then wrote the second and third soundtracks before I wrote the second and third books as a means to keep myself focused and inspired. The music definitely helped me keep consistent with the mood and the flow of the books.
Do you plan to make your works available in audiobook?  What about graphic novels?

I think I’d definitely like to explore audiobooks at some point, as I know it’s quite popular to listen to books on the way to work, or on a jog, or so on. I never considered graphic novels before, though I think that’d be quite a nice avenue to try, should I find the perfect illustrator to team up with!
You’ve written several genres.  Do you enjoy some more than others?  Is there anything that you haven’t tried yet but are looking forward to doing?

My favorite genre to write tends to be the one I’m writing at that moment. Haha. My heart is all over the place and I have to chase the inspiration wherever it takes me. I’d really like to try a pure fantasy novel at some point this year. I do already have a story and idea in mind and I’m already thrilled at the prospect of some day writing it.

What projects are you working on for 2016?

The aforementioned fantasy book is something I’d love to try this year, though it depends if I have the time. So far, I plan to write a brand new M/M novel that may begin a new series, as well as a maybe-standalone M/F romance set in college. I’m also working on a Beautiful Dead novella, and soon will face my biggest project of the year: the third Outlier novel, Outlier: Madness. I’m in the planning stages of that beast.

I’m currently working on a brand new Beautiful Dead novella which, though it follows the third book, CAN be read as a standalone even if you haven’t read the rest of the trilogy. I’ve released the prologue for the new novella as part of the Beautiful Dead Box Set, which includes all 3 full length novels in the series.

Favorites

Dessert – My mom’s triple chocolate pie! (she’d kill me if I said anything else)

Song – I primarily listen to video game music, and that includes thousands of tracks from various games! I couldn’t dare pick a favorite, but my latest soundtrack discoveries have been: Ori and the Blind Forest, Hyper Light Drifter, and Project S-11.

Movie – Inception, because I’m still convinced that I’m stuck inside my own dream and just haven’t woken up yet.

Place to write – My room with the blinds torn open and sunlight painting the walls – or in the dark of my room with my favorite glowy lamps turned on and a nice game soundtrack playing.

Game – Lately, it’s been Ori and the Blind Forest. Usually, I favor World of Warcraft, any Final Fantasy, and any Metroid, Zelda, or Castlevania game. I’m also a huge fan of simulation/sandbox games like Sim City or Rollercoaster Tycoon.




Daryl Banner is a writer and composer who graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in Theatre and Psychology.

He does not write in any single genre, as his stories tend to span several. He is most inspired by the smart and unlikely hero, but urges you (the reader) not to fall in love with them; they may deceive you with their innocence. He is thrilled by putting his characters in terrible situations where they must face choices and challenges that seem impossible to overcome.

Daryl Banner writes science fiction / urban fantasy, M/M romance, and post-apocalyptic fantasy. He cannot wait to hear what you think about his stories and welcomes (and responds to!) all feedback.

Interesting tidbits: Daryl is also an obsessive piano player, video game enthusiast, and occasional actor. He’s been remixing video game music for over fifteen years, and is a passionate Final Fantasy fan. You can feed your ears with many of his remixes (as well as his original music) on his YouTube page “http://www.youtube.com/DarylBanner”. He also composes original soundtracks that accompany some of his books. You can listen to and download them here: “http://darylbanner.bandcamp.com”


       




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End of Day by Jewel E. Ann #TopReads2015 Interview

Signed Paperback Giveaway

End of Day by Jewel E. Ann is one of my top reads of 2015.  Jewel E. Ann agreed to do an interview and offered up an excerpt from Dawn of Forever!  Jillian even stopped by for a bit.

Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life.

Four caskets. Two bodies.

Jessica and Jude Day witness their funeral and that of their parents a few yards away from mourning family and friends. Stripped of the only life they’ve ever known, the Days say goodbye to San Francisco forever.

Six months later, two thirty-year-old misfits with elite self-defense skills and penchants for alcohol, sex, and trouble arrive like an earthquake to Peaceful Woods, a retirement community in Omaha, Nebraska, that thrives on rules and gossip. Welcome home, Jackson and Jillian Knight.

Jackson celebrates his new beginning by embracing his job and wiping his cavalier past clean with a temporary oath of celibacy. But Jillian’s past is branded into her soul—the deaths, the insanity, Dr. Luke Jones, and the need to make her lovers bleed. Her chance for redemption comes in the form of a next door neighbor, one Senior Master Sergeant Monaghan. He’s sexy, dangerously alluring, and riddled with emotional issues from years of service. He’s also … So. Damn. Grumpy. 

Their mission is simple: Let go, start over, don’t kill anyone, and pray that nobody wakes the dead.

**THIS BOOK CONTAINS EXPLICIT LANGUAGE AND SEXUAL CONTENT 18+


INTERVIEW

Did you know how the Jack & Jill series would end when you wrote the first book or has it been freely changing as it’s written?
I knew how it would end, but not much in the middle. I don’t take notes or make outlines. My words come from inspiration in the moment. 


If this series was made into a movie, which actors would you like to see playing the twins? Other characters?
Evangeline Lilly for Jessica/Jillian. The other actors are harder. Maybe Henry Cavill with Adam Levine’s tattoos for Jude/Jackson. Henry could be Luke too. I like Armie Hammer – with those blue eyes you could darken the hair had he’d easily be Luke. Ryn Middleton … maybe Amy Smart. Gerard Butler for AJ. 

If you had to write a book totally different from anything you’ve done so far, what genre would it be and why? 
I’d write humor/comedy in a family relationship genre much like Erma Bombeck’s books. I have to force myself to show a serious side in my books. 


Do you get terribly nervous each time you publish or are you pretty chill about the whole being an author thing? Has it changed over time?
I still get nervous as a publish date draws near, but it no longer feels like a make-or-break career moment. I’ve settled into the reality that this is what I love. It’s what I do, and I’ll always write first and foremost for myself. 


Have you ever been a fan of soap operas? If so which ones, and how long did you watch them?
Many years ago I watched The Young and the Restless, Guiding Light, and The Bold and the Beautiful. It’s been probably 20+ yrs since I’ve watched them. 


What do you do when you aren’t writing?
Read, read, read. 🙂 Actually I love watching movies and Netflix series with my husband and 3 boys. I enjoy cooking healthy meals and acting like a teenager with my BFF of over 30 yrs. 


What projects are you working on for 2016?
I’m writing a second edition to The Holding You Series which will release in March. Beyond that, my goal is two standalone books, both romantic comedies. 


Favorites

Animal- 
Me: Koala bear
Jillian – Tiger
Sport-
Me: Rock Climbing
Jillian: Football
Store-
Me: Prana 
Jillian: Harley Davidson
Superhero-
Me: Arrow 
Jillian: Superwomen 
Board Game-
Me: Apples to Apples 
Jillian: Crimes Against Humanity





Excerpt

“Tell me I’ve been a bad girl, daddy.”   
Luke froze, lips still pressed to her neck. “What did you just say?”   
“I’ve been a really naughty girl, big daddy, you need to spank me.”   
He released his grip on her ass so fast she could barely remember the feel of it.  The elevator doors opened. His long strides took him to the door twice as fast as hers did.   
 “You’ve ruined the moment. We may never have sex again.” 
~Dawn of Forever, Jack & Jill Book 3






Jewel is a free-spirited romance junkie with a quirky sense of humor.
With 10 years of flossing lectures under her belt, she took early retirement from her dental hygiene career to stay home with her three awesome boys and manage the family business. 
After her best friend of nearly 30 years suggested a few books from the Contemporary Romance genre, Jewel was hooked. Devouring two and three books a week but still craving more, she decided to practice sustainable reading, AKA writing. 
When she’s not donning her cape and saving the planet one tree at a time, she enjoys yoga with friends, good food with family, rock climbing with her kids, watching How I Met Your Mother reruns, and of course…heart-wrenching, tear-jerking, panty-scorching novels.

jewel e ann.jpg

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Poughkeepsie Begins by Debra Anastasia #TopReads2015 Interview


Poughkeepsie Begins is one of my top reads for 2015. Author Debra Anastasia agreed to an interview. She answered all my questions (Blake, Cole & Beckett even stopped by for a bit!) and gave an excerpt for her upcoming PNR The Revenger!


It ends with the beginning. This legendary, indie, cult-favorite series ends its tale with the story of the Poughkeepsie brotherhood before the tattoo. Before the train station, before the church, before a criminal empire there was a foster home and three teen boys who chose each other as family, because the ones they were born into didn’t exist

Still in high school, Beckett is already laying the groundwork for a grander life ahead, one where his brothers want for nothing and get some respect for once. But even as he plans, Beckett must decide if he’s ready to make that choice—diving in to a life that trades his chance at a future, his chance at something as simple as first love with a girl named Candy Cox, for their chance to find happiness.

Blake, Beckett, and Cole’s devotion to each other is forged by fists and the driving need to belong somewhere, to do more than just survive this life. Readers of the series know they each get there in the end, but before we count smiles, we must first shed tears. These early days of the Poughkeepsie brotherhood will play on your heartstrings before serrating them with a knife; they’ll lift your soul with music, only to leave you with nothing but a desperate prayer for hope.

And when you reach the end of the beginning, you’ll be ready to start the series all over again.




INTERVIEW

You have an app for this series and lots of extras correct? Please explain some of what you available.  
Yes! The Enhanced Poughkeepsie app is a beautiful reading experience that I hoped would take the reader on an adventure with videos, music and so much more. The information on how to get that in your life is here:http://www.debraanastasia.com/2015/11/free-world-class-poughkeepsie-app-on.html

What made you decide to write a prequel? 

My readers told me that they wanted more of the boys. I really wanted to see what made their bond so strong, so I went back to the beginning. 

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

I think all of my books should hopefully be a fun way to pass time. Getting to share head space with a reader and play with their imagination is a tremendous honor. 

Are you superstitious? If so, what are you most superstitious about? 

No! I’m not superstitious at all. I once broke a mirror like ten times in a row as a teenager because a camper in my group (I was a CIT) broke her mirror and was despondent. So at like 13 I broke a mirror so many times in a row she was laughing by the time I was done. I told her, if you have bad luck I have it a lot worse. 

Which emoji would best capture your essence? 

The poop one. 😦

If you needed one, what would your DJ name be? 

H. B. Vagina. (Hairy Bushy)

What projects are you working on for 2016? 

I have so much coming up in 2016 I should just sit down and drink wine I think. Next up for me is a dark paranormal about a female superhero, titled The Revenger. I have a middle grade with my daughter coming out this year, a true life Disney trip report series, an anthology and another romance. 

Who are your cast picks?
I like Jesse Williams for Cole, Kellan Lutz for Beckett, Emma Stone for Livia, Olly Alexander for Blake, the blonde from Vampire Diaries for Eve and Kyle could be Chole (Girl in the 5th wave).




Favorites


Potato Chips- Lays
Animal- My cat
Card Game – Exploding kittens
Fandom- Twilight 
Movie- Fifty Shades of Grey

Blake
Potato Chips- Homemade
Animal- Squirrels 
Card Game- Poker
Fandom- Bob Ross
Movie- Clerks

Cole

Potato Chips- Organic 
Animal- Dog
Card Game- Uno
Fandom- Catholic

Movie- Gone With the Wind

Beckett
Potato Chips- Stolen

Animal- A Goddamn Tiger
Card Game- Winning
Fandom- My own

Movie- The Godfather


Excerpt

The Revenger
The screams led her to a terrace, and she busted through the glass doors to stand on a balcony. The ocean crashed against the shore below her, in motion and alive. From the roof she heard a helicopter’s blades pounding the air. She tilted her face to see it rise above the house. The man who made her daughter scream sat in the passenger seat looking right at her.
Right into her.
He was devastatingly handsome, and he offered her a bit of a smirk as he realized he would succeed in getting away. Behind her, she could hear the army level all types of weapons. She paid them no mind; she was trapped in the eyes of the evil man above her. He waved at her now as the helicopter began to rise. She pointed at him from where she stood. She mouthed her next words so only he would get her message.
“Run. Run far. I’ll find you. I’ll always find you.” She smiled as his triumphant demeanor fell like a leaf from a tree. In heartbeat he was gone from her sight.
She turned to face the angry mob. There was so much red she couldn’t even make out their faces.
She gave them the finger and did a perfect backflip off the fourth-story balcony.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

There are a lot of eyes in Debra Anastasia’s house in Maryland. First, her own creepy peepers are there, staring at her computer screen. She’s made two more sets of eyes with her body, and the kids they belong to are amazing. The poor husband is still looking at her after 17 years of marriage. At least he likes to laugh. Then the freaking dogs are looking at her—six eyeballs altogether, though the old dog is blind. And the cat watches her too, mostly while knocking stuff off the counter and doing that internal kitty laugh when Deb can’t catch the items fast enough. 
           Debra has a smattering of books in a few genres. There are two in the Seraphim Series and three in the Poughkeepsie Brotherhood Series with a prequel, Poughkeepsie Begins in the near future. Fire Down Below is the first in the comedic Gynzaule Series. The second, Fire in the Hole, will be published in late 2015. The Revenger, a dark paranormal romance will debut this summer. And last, a novella called Late Night with Andres is special because 100% of the proceeds go to breast cancer research. (So go get it right now, please!) You can find her at DebraAnastasia.com and on Twitter @Debra_Anastasia. But be prepared…



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Dirty Ties by Pam Godwin #TopReads2015 Interview

Dirty Ties is one of my top reads for 2015.  The author, Pam Godwin, agreed to an interview.  She answered all my questions and gave an excerpt as well as teasers for her upcoming release Dark Notes!
Revenge. 
I race to finance it. 
I evade to protect it. 
I kill to attain it. 
I planned everything. 

Except her. 
The alluring, curvaceous blonde at the finish line. 
With sapphire eyes that cheat and lie. 
Whose powerful family murdered mine. 

I hate her. 
I want her. 

I know she’s hiding something. 
But so am I.


Dirty Ties has a bit of M/M action in it?  Can we expect more M/M from you in future books?
Blood of Eve (book 2 in Trilogy of Eve) has some M/M in it. You can certainly expect more of that in my writing.
Which of your books was the most difficult to write?  Do you know why?
Hands down, my Trilogy of Eve books. Complicated plots, massive research, huge cast of characters, and not just one but three heroes to develop individually and romantically. These books took me years to write.
If you could marry a fictional character, who would it be and why?
Joscelin Verreuil from Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series. He’s spectacularly loyal to his faith/discipline as well as to the woman he loves. He’s painfully-passionate in bed, badass in battle, sexy, intelligent, and even his flaws add to his charm. I love him hard. 
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Anne Rice. I began reading her books in my early teens. The emotion, characters, and sexuality in her stories opened my eyes and shaped the person I am today.
What would the title of your memoir be?
Forever Young
Are you usually late, early or right on time?
Right on time
What projects are you working on for 2016?
Dark Notes – stand-alone, dark student/teacher romance
Untitled – book 3 in Deliver series, dark romance
Dawn of Eve – book 3 in Trilogy of Eve, dark dystopian romance
Favorites 
Outdoor activity: Does writing on my deck count?
Meal: Grilled cheese, french fries, and Guinness
Phone app: Kindle App! 
Store: Amazon online (I hate shopping)
Pet: My retired greyhound, Goliath




Dark Notes by Pam Godwin Excerpt

I follow Mr. Marceaux out of the classroom, my mouth dry and hands damp. As the door clicks shut behind him, my insides writhe under the barrage of a thousand fists.
He’s not a huge man, but he seems gigantic in the empty hall, a towering pissed-off mountain of repercussion.
If my future depends on his first impression of me, I’ve fucked my life to hell.

He rubs a hand down his face, over his mouth, and glares at me for an eternity. “You come to my class unprepared and—”
“I cleared the text book issue with the front office. They always give me the first week to—”
“Do not interrupt me,” he says harshly and leans in, bracing a hand on the wall beside my head.
A rush of blood heats my cheeks beneath the intimidating blue of his gaze. His mouth is so close I can smell the lingering scent of mouthwash on his breath, and my stomach turns with unease.
“Are you deliberately trying to waste my time?” His jaw hardens. “No sniveling excuses or lies. You have five words to explain why you don’t have your supplies.”
Five words? Is this guy serious? He can eat a dick, because I’m only giving him four.
“I live in Treme.”
“Treme,” he echoes, deadpanned.
I hate how stiff and uncomfortable I feel in the confines of his glare. I want him to look away, because I hate his eyes, hate the vivid facets of crystal blues and the way the icy specks sharpen under the fluorescent lights. Nothing could ever be gentle or safe in that gaze.
His throat moves in the deep pocket of shadow above his tie. “Why?”
“Why what?”
“Why do you live in Treme?”
He doesn’t just ask the question. He snaps it like a whip. Like a punishment I didn’t earn.
I’m only inches away from him, my back against the wall, and I feel defensive, cornered, my hackles bristling with vindication. “Oh, right. I forgot you have a big fancy degree, so I’ll dumb it down for you.”
“Watch your fucking tone.”
It’s barely a whisper, caught and held in the small space between us, but I feel it vibrate through me like a thunderous roar.
He said no sniveling excuses or lies? Fine.
I wipe the attitude from my voice and give him raw, unpolished honesty. “I live in Treme because my family can’t afford a mansion in the Garden District, Mr. Marceaux. I can’t afford a cell phone or any kind of phone. I can’t afford running shoes or food for my cat. And those…those electronic bracelets all my classmates wear when they work out? I don’t know what they do, but I can’t afford one of those either. And right now, I don’t have the money for school supplies. But I will. I’ll have it by the end of the week.”
Straightening, he steps back and lowers his head. Is that a fucking smile he’s hiding? I swear to God I glimpsed one. Is he actually enjoying the pathetic appraisal of my life? What a horrible fucking person! This is the teacher I’m supposed to look up to? The one who will make me or break me? My lungs heave and slam together.
When he lifts his head, his mouth is a flat line, and the frigid depths of his eyes seem to manipulate his entire expression, twisting it into a collage of other faces that haunt me when I sleep. “Am I supposed to feel sorry for you?”
“Never,” I seethe through grinding teeth. “I never want that.”
“No? Then what? Seems you expect me to make exceptions for you?”
“No. Just—” I’ve never met a more callous, self-righteous dick. “Just write me up or whatever you’re going to do.”
I know something isn’t right the moment he looks down the hall and checks to make sure we’re alone. I know this entire confrontation is inappropriate when he bends toward me and places his hands on the wall, bracketing my head and trapping me in. And I know there isn’t a goddamned thing I can do about it as he whispers through the pounding in my ears.
“Don’t worry about your punishment.” His attention falls to my lips, returns to my eyes. “I’ll take care of that later.”
Just like that, my strength, my bravery, all the things I wish I had right now abandon me in the heavy arms of fear. I’ve been in this position countless times. This is a first with a teacher, but he’s no different than the other takers. I could report him, but who are they going to believe? The girl with a slutty reputation or the former dean of Shreveport? And while I can’t overpower him, I know I’ll survive it. I might even master my emotions while it’s happening, like a Chopin nocturne in D-flat major.
I’m startled when his hand lifts, not to grab my breast but to pinch my chin so he can see my lip. “You need to go to the nurse and have her put something on this cut.”
It’s not until he releases me and slides his hands into his pockets that I realize I’m shaking. He steps back, elbows wide, shoulders back, and a heavy chill spreads through my body. He watches me with those icy blue eyes, and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to head toward the nurse’s office or wait to be dismissed. For some reason, it matters. Like he’s testing me. So I wait.
He’s a mercurial, heartless asshole, but he also surprised me. He didn’t force his mouth against mine, didn’t dig his fingers between my legs. He…stepped back?
Maybe I still have a chance to prove I’m not just a poor girl or a five-minute grope in a hallway.

A recurrent of sharp clicking sounds fills the silence between us. I follow the noise with my gaze, trailing over his tie and waistcoat, visually tracing along the dark dusting of hair on his exposed forearm, and pause on the mechanical watch on his wrist.

Moving wheels with tooth-like points whirl inside the enormous face, ticking, measuring the rhythm of time, like a metronome. Will each ticking moment I spend with him be an irreversible succession into the future? Or will he hold me here, stuck in the present, in this life?
“Miss Westbrook.”
I snap my attention to his face, the angled lines of his jaw, the darker shades of his cheeks where stubble will grow in, and the curve of lips that haven’t been injured by circumstance. He seems untouchable. Maybe his fists are as brutal as his beauty. Just looking at him feels like I’m inhaling a lungful of fire.
Because he’s dangerous, and he seems to know this, too, as he thrusts an impatient finger in the direction of the nurse’s office, his voice fueled with urgency. “Go.”
I turn and hurry down the hall, with the weight of his gaze pressing against my back.





New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author, Pam Godwin, lives in the Midwest with her husband, their two children, and a foulmouthed parrot. When she ran away, she traveled fourteen countries across five continents, attended three universities, and married the vocalist of her favorite rock band.
Java, tobacco, and dark romance novels are her favorite indulgences, and might be considered more unhealthy than her aversion to sleeping, eating meat, and dolls with blinking eyes.

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