Thursday, January 29, 2015

Getting It Right: Official Blurb!

I'm sure some of you have been waiting impatiently for more details about James "Tag" McTaggert's upcoming book, and the wait is finally over! I have the finalized cover copy for GETTING IT RIGHT, which kicks off the Restoration trilogy with Carina Press.

I really loved discovering the man behind the Tag persona, and what a journey it was. Two very alpha men butting heads, a murder mystery, and some serious sexy times. What more could you want?

Enjoy!


Detective Nathan Wolf might just be a junior detective, but he tackles every case with the passion that he lacks in his personal life. A series of failed relationships with women has left him still single at thirty-four—because he's too scared to admit to his longtime crush on his best friend James.

Dr. James Taggert likes to keep his profession as a psychiatrist separate from his party-animal persona. Known around the gay clubs as “Tag”, he’s the guy who screws them, leaves them, and never looks back. But James’s drinking is getting heavier, and when bad memories from the past resurface, he’s close to becoming the worst version of himself.


After a drunken blackout ends in a hot and heavy make-out session with his very straight best friend, James has no memory of the steamy affair. But Nathan isn't sorry for the kisses that James can't remember. Nathan finally musters the courage to tell James how he really feels, but a life-altering event might force them apart before they can ever be together.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Excerpt: Getting It Right (Restoration #1)

I've spent so much time chatting up THE TRUTH AS HE KNOWS IT, I almost forgot about the deliciousness that is Tag's book. GETTING IT RIGHT (Restoration #1) spins off from the Belonging series, with a new set of characters and some familiar locations. 

GIR very fittingly opens on the very same night as MAYBE THIS TIME, with the infamous encounter between Ezra and James "Tag" McTaggert at Pot O Gold. We get to see James's side of the story, as well as watch him eventually find his own HEA.

This excerpt is from chapter two. Nate is James's best friend since college (and maybe his future love interest....).




The toast popped. Nate munched on one piece dry while he set the coffee pot with water and ground beans. The toast stuck in his throat, so he helped himself to a swing of orange juice from the jar.
            
A loud groan from the living room reminded him that his guest was still there, probably waking up with his hangover. Nate grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and padded into the living room. James was sprawled on his back in the middle of the sofa bed, one arm across his eyes, the other flung off to the side. The sheet was rucked up around his armpits with his bare feet sticking out the bottom.
            
"Don't you have to be at work?" Nate asked, mostly to be an ass.
            
And it worked. James sat up straight, hands flailing, mouth open. "Shit, I'm late, aren't I? Do I have patients? Fuck, my stomach." He flopped back down, hands flying to his middle. "Jesus Christ."
            
"Sorry, Jay." Nate pressed the cold bottle against James's cheek, earning a sharp yelp.
            
"Fuck you." James snatched the bottle but didn't drink. He blinked up at the ceiling. "I think I took the morning off. Rescheduled an appointment to this afternoon. Pretty sure."
            
"That sounds like you." As emotional as he could get, James was also one of the most organized people he'd ever met. After he got the news about Price, James had probably planned on getting wasted and adjusted his work schedule accordingly.
            
"What about you? What time is it?"
            
"I already called in and took the morning off."
            
"You did?" James frowned. "Why?"
            
Nate arched an eyebrow at him. "You're sleeping one off on my couch. I needed to be here in case you started barfing on my furniture."
            
"So considerate."
            
"I really like this furniture."
            
"Like every other guy who catalogue shops from Lay-Z-Boy."
            
"Oh fuck you." Nate snorted, no ire in his voice or heart. James was forever ribbing him about his lack of decorating skills. "I'm not a shrink who makes enough money to buy furniture from Restoration Hardware."
            
James eyes sparkled with amusement and some of the old him. The old him who'd been completely hidden last night, trampled down by alcohol and rage. "I always knew you were jealous of my craftsman table."
            
"Whatever, man. You want toast or something?"
            
"No, just coffee."
            
Nate pivoted, intent on the kitchen and the sputtering coffee machine.
            
"Hey Nate?"
            
He glanced over his shoulder. "Yeah?"
            
"Is my car here?"
            
Nate allowed the rest of his body to turn around. "Last night a little fuzzy?"
            
"A lot fuzzy." James rubbed his palms over his eyelids. "I remember leaving the Pot and being pissed at how I acted inside. I remember having some smokes. I called you, right?"
            
"Yeah, you asked me to pick you up."
            
"Okay." The question in his eyes said he didn't remember anything else. At least not clearly.
            
Nate didn't know if he should cheer or be angry. "I picked you up, brought you back here. You told me what was happening over a few shots of whiskey, got it out of your system, and then we went to bed."
            
James puzzled over the words, probably testing them, making sure he didn't recall anything differently. Finally he shrugged. "Okay. Thanks."
            
"Not a problem. The department's been at me to use my earned sick time, so you did me a favor by tying one on."
            
James flipped him off. Nate laughed, then went to fetch the coffee. He poured two mugs with shaking hands, angry with himself for being disappointed that James had blacked out the kiss. Things were better this way. James had a life he liked where he fucked whoever he wanted, when he wanted, then moved on. Nate was finally in a good place professionally, he loved his job, and he didn't know if admitting his feelings would wreck his life.
            
He didn't understand his feelings, so how could he explain them to anyone else? He had never been attracted to another man in his life, but he wanted James to take him to bed. He didn't check out other guys, but he caught himself staring at James's ass, legs, face, any part of him because all of him was amazing. What was he supposed to do with that?
            
Nothing, that was what. Life would go on like usual, while he helped James deal with the new reality of Stephen Price on the streets.
            
Nate drizzled some half-and-half into his coffee, then carried the pair of mugs into the living room. James had managed to sit up, the sheet bunched around his waist, leaving his chest bare. Nate pointedly ignored the expanse of tanned, hairless skin, and handed James his coffee, black.
            
James sipped at the steaming liquid. Grimaced. "I am such a douche."
            
Nate almost snarfed his coffee. "How come this time?"
            
"Hardy-har, funny guy. Last night. With Ezra? I told you about that, right?"
            
"Yeah, you did. And yes, it was kind of douchey, but you were drunk and in a bad place, and you stopped. No more beating yourself up over it."
            
"I should apologize."
            
"So apologize and then move on." And because he couldn't help ragging on his best friend, Nate stroked his chin with his free hand. "Although, if Ezra pursued this, I would have to arrest you for assault."
            
James eyes went comically wide. "Are you serious?"
            
"Well, I guess not me personally."
            
"Fuck."
            
He looked genuinely stricken, and Nate felt like an asshole. Maybe today wasn't the day for their usual banter. "Don't worry, Jay, it won't happen. Sounds like this Ezra was as drunk as you were if he was barfing into the toilet."
            
"I guess."
            
"Drink your coffee, then go take a shower. I have to be in by noon."

           
"Yes dear."


(c) A.M. Arthur
Please do not redistribute, but feel free to share the link.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in Perspective

A lot of folks are doing a look back at 2014 and chronicling the ups and downs. I will admit, I've had a lot of ups and very few downs. I had five books release this year (and at least four releasing in 2015). I set a writing record for myself (84k words in 23 days). I published an entire trilogy, and I saw the temporary end of two series. I talked to a lot of fantastic people on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. Some of my books ended up on Best Of lists, and a few were even up for some awards.

I am so grateful for the amazing support I get from my two fantastic editors, Alissa and Christa. My books are as good as they are because of their editing and direction. And I love, love, love all of my loyal readers.

To say good-bye to 2014, I'm going to let my characters who got their own books this year tell you the best part of their year.


Jaime -- "I had sex! Finally!"
Alessandro -- "Jaime had sex. With me. A lot. And I shed my old image so people in town don't still look at me like I'm a thug. Win?"


Ezra -- "I finally stopped wanting approval from my parents, and I learned to love myself."
Donner -- "I learned to love Ezra."
Ezra -- "Learned? It was easy and you know it."
Donner -- "Yeah, you and easy are not all that familiar."
Ezra -- "Depends on the definition of easy."


Romy -- "I took control of my life, and I found Brendan."
Brendan -- "I admitted who I am, and now I've got my Romy."


Jeremy -- "I learned something new about how Cole thinks, and together we figured out how to be an us."
Cole -- "Jeremy told me he loves me, and I believe him. I love him, too. I think this can work."


Owen -- "I got David and Michael back."
David -- "I got Michael and Owen back, and I made peace with the past."
Owen -- "Your past, or my past?"
David -- "All of our pasts. And it's all in the past."

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
BRING IT, 2015!!!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

First Chapter: The Truth As He Knows It

Merry Christmas to all! It's been such a wonderful year, and I can't thank you, my loyal readers, enough for making me feel so joyous and blessed.

As my gift to you, here's the full first chapter of my next release, THE TRUTH AS HE KNOWS IT (Perspectives #1). It kicks off a new series, with a new cast (plus a few familiar faces along the way).

Enjoy!

###

Officer Noel Carlson followed his partner down the breezeway toward apartment 303 and the source of their disturbance call. Even without the apartment number Noel would have been able to peg this place. A deep bass thrummed through the door, right into his chest, reminding him of late nights in hot, sweaty dance clubs. The neighbor who’d reported the party said the music had been going like that for over an hour, and it was already after one in the morning.

Officer Wade Benedict paused to adjust his hat before he hit the bell, then banged a meaty fist on the door for good measure. Noel flanked him, the junior officer in their partnership, allowing Benedict to take point.

The music continued, so Benedict bell-banged again. “Stratton Police Department!”

Noel glanced at the other three apartment doors on  this floor, curious if anyone was watching through their peep holes. Enjoying the floor show. Cedar Hills was one of the nicest, newest complexes around Stratton, and far beyond Noel’s budget without at least two roommates. But his privacy was worth more than extra space and a pool, so he was happy enough renting a room above a church-run thrift store downtown.

Benedict pounded the door. “Police! Open up!”

Someone must have finally paid attention to his bellowing, because the music went down to a bearable volume. The front door opened, still on its chain. A sliver of a female face popped into view. “Show me your badge.”

Noel and Benedict took turns stepping into her line of sight so she could see the badges on their uniform shirts. The door shut, a chain slid, and they were allowed into a blast of air conditioning. Not unwelcome after walking through the late-May humidity.

The open floor plan gave Noel a clear view of the party still in progress. Pink and white streamers and balloons. A banner that said Happy Thirtieth, Sandy! . The remains of a demolished birthday cake on the kitchen island. Liquor bottles strewn about on various surfaces. Five women—two on the sofa, two in the kitchen, one by the door.

The woman who’d let them in was listing a bit, cheeks flushed, obviously intoxicated. “What’s the problem, Officer?”

Benedict grunted. “Are you the current tenant?”

“Yep, that’s me.”

“What’s your name?”

“Olivia Presnell. Who’re you?”

“I’m Officer Benedict, this is Officer Carlson.”

Olivia smiled at Noel, practically batting her eyes. “You wear that big gun in the bedroom, Officer?”

Noel almost laughed at the awful attempt at flirting. “Ma’am, we received a noise nuisance call this evening.”

“Who was being noisy?” Olivia asked.

“You were,” Benedict said. He had a gruff, angry bear way about him that made everything he said sound like he was snarling. And it worked on Olivia, who slinked  into the kitchen.

“I think it’s time you broke up the party and called cabs for your friends,” Noel said.

A grumble of protest came out of the living room. One of the women on the sofa cast a forlorn look at a closed door at the back of the apartment. Probably the bedroom. Something about it pinged Noel’s curiosity.

“Is this everyone who’s in the apartment?” Noel asked. “Or are there others?”

Sofa Lady glanced sharply at Olivia, who was frowning.

Unease rolled through Noel’s gut. “Is there someone in the bedroom?”

“Just the stripper,” Olivia replied, clipped. Annoyed. More sober than a moment ago, possibly from adrenaline.

Odd.

Hiring strippers wasn’t illegal, as long as the transaction didn’t cross the line into prostitution. He glanced at Benedict, who tilted his head at the bedroom door. Clearly not volunteering to go get the guy.

Noel crossed the room and paused in front of the door. To Olivia, he said, “Will you please open the door?”

She heaved a put-upon sigh, then stalked over and twisted the knob. Noel nudged the door open with his foot, unsure exactly what to expect. The light was off, and a thick beam from the living room cut across the foot of a bed. Noel slid his hand along the wall until he could flip a light switch. A floor lamp in the corner flared to life.

A man sat in the middle of the bed, propped up with pillows, tied to the headboard by his wrists. He was mostly naked, except for a red thong and a pair of laced-up work boots, and goddamn, Noel had to work hard not to appreciate the long, lean expanse of male body on display. Or stare at the unusual monarch butterfly tattoo on his left hip. The stripper was gagged by a piece of cloth that did nothing to hide his pretty face, all sharp planes and high cheekbones. He kept blinking at Noel like he wasn’t quite awake. Everything about the scene felt off. Wrong.

“We were just playing,” Olivia said behind him.

Noel ignored her. He approached the figure on the bed slowly. Dark brown eyes focused on him, really seemed to see him, then went wide. He jerked against the cloth binding his wrists. Muffled words didn’t quite make it around the gag, but Noel would be damned if they didn’t sound like “Help me ”.

He undid the gag, which appeared to be someone’s scarf.

The stripper licked his lips, fear settling into his dark eyes. “This isn’t what it looks like,” he said.

“What does it look like?” Noel undid the knot on the guy’s right hand.

“I’m not a prostitute, I swear. She paid me to strip for her friends, but nothing else. I’m not into this.”

Noel let the guy undo his other wrist for himself. “Not into what? Getting tied up with silk scarves?”

“No, I’m not.” He got loose, then slid to the other side of the bed.

“Then why were you?”

“Misunderstanding.”

Noel glanced at the door where Olivia was watching, her expression hawkish. This entire scenario felt wrong to Noel, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. The stripper seemed genuinely scared of something—getting caught taking money for sex, probably. But Noel hadn’t seen any money exchange hands, so he had no evidence of prostitution. And what a stripper did when he was off the clock was not Noel’s business.

So why did he want to know why the dark-haired man hunched over on the bed looked so haunted?
“What’s your name?” Noel asked.

“Shane.”

“Are you impaired, Shane?”

“I didn’t drink tonight.”

“What about drugs?”

“No, sir.”

“Anything you’d like to report about the party tonight?”

“No. I’d really like to go home now, if I’m not under arrest.”

“You aren’t under arrest.” Noel pulled out a notepad and pen. “But I do need some information for my report.”

“Shane Joseph, twenty-four, I live at 240 Naylor Street.” Shane rattled off a phone number. “Would you like my social security number too?”

The initial fear was sloughing off, leaving a lot of attitude in its place. Attitude that sharpened handsome features into something fierce. Almost feral. And the fact that Shane was still only wearing that thong made the whole shift sexier than it had any right to be, and Noel had to quit thinking like that. He was on the clock, damn it.

“No, that’ll do it,” Noel replied.

Shane fetched a patched backpack from the floor by the dresser, then disappeared into the master bathroom. Noel returned to the outer room, where Benedict was taking down personal information while the party attendees called for rides. A minute later, Shane stormed past and out the front door.
It slammed shut and Olivia jumped.

“Next time you want to throw a party,” Noel said, “watch your volume. And maybe skip the stripper.”

Olivia rolled her eyes. “Believe me, I will not be referring him to my girlfriends.”

He curbed the urge to ask why. Shane had a body he looked like he knew how to use— Quit it. Just quit. No sexy thoughts about strippers he’d ousted from a birthday party gone wild.

Noel took a bit of perverse joy in writing the noise citation. He handed it over to Olivia. “I hope the party was worth the cost. Good night, ma’am.”

If she could afford this place, she could probably afford a seventy-five dollar ticket. But the glare she leveled at him was worth it, because he’d gotten under her skin. Maybe she’d think twice before she blasted her stereo that loud again.



Fuck. Fuck. Fuck it all and then some.

Shane had to drive super slow and super careful because he’d lied to the cop when he said he didn’t have any drugs in his system. Or was it really a lie, when Shane had been drugged without his consent? Didn’t matter. All he’d wanted was to get out. Out of that fucking apartment, away from those obnoxious women, and out from under the curious, concerned gaze of the golden-haired cop who’d freed him.

Two years of stripping and he’d never landed in such a fucked-up situation, and thank Christ someone finally called the cops on those crazy bitches. He was tempted to change his online ad to male-only parties, but right now he couldn’t afford the potential income loss. He’d learn from this fuckup, like he learned from all of his many, many mistakes.

New rule: no more breaking your old rule about not drinking anything at a gig that isn’t a brand-new, sealed bottle of water.

A glass of cold root beer—weakness though it might be—wasn’t worth it.

Shane finally made it to the far side of town. The poor side. Parsons Square wasn’t a square so much as a long dirt road with a lot of rundown trailers dropped every twenty feet or so. Postage-stamp yards with too many weeds. Small parking areas often full of cars on concrete  blocks, or no vehicle at all. Sometimes Shane left his rusty hatchback unlocked on purpose, hoping someone would steal it. No one ever did.

Probably because they knew his brother, and no one wanted to be on Jason McShane’s shit list. His reputation spoke for itself.

He pulled into his half of the gravel lot next to the trailer he shared with Jason. Jason’s own ancient pickup wasn’t there. Shane shut off his engine and stared at the empty spot, trying to remember which job Jason had tonight.

Wake up, shithead. Warrick’s.

Jason had taken on an off-the-books security guard gig at a local junkyard not too long ago. Friday through Tuesday, ten at night to six in the morning. Monday through Friday he worked eight to five at East Street Pets & Feed, making Friday, Monday and Tuesday super long days. Only for another year or so. Two max. They were almost out from under Shane’s medical bills.

Shane let himself inside, then went straight into the bathroom to shower. While he waited for the hot water to start, he stuffed his clothes into the bottom of the hamper. Even though he’d only worn the jeans and T-shirt for thirty minutes, they still felt dirty. He kind of wanted to burn the thong, but he couldn’t waste money buying a new one, and women liked the red thong.

Cold fingers raked down his spine. He climbed into the stall shower while the warming water was still searching for hot, but he didn’t care. He grabbed the bar of soap and lathered it up as best he could. The cheap stuff from the dollar store didn’t make great suds, but it did its job in terms of cleaning, so he rubbed it all over. Through his hair, across his neck, abs, his junk. Legs. Knees. Not an inch of skin went unwashed, and he still couldn’t shake the feeling of being touched.

Shane had three rules when it came to this job: no photos, no videos, no touching.

At least two of the three had been violated tonight. He couldn’t be as sure about anyone videoing him. Not after the roofie kicked in.

He stayed in the shower until the hot water ran out, which was really stupid because the water heater cost them on the electric bill. The trailer was stuffy and hot, because they only used the two window units when it got humid and unbearable, and even though it was late May, the weather had been unseasonably warm. Didn’t stop him from throwing on a pair of light cotton sleep pants and a long-sleeved tee. He wanted to be covered up, damn it.

Exhaustion settled in around the edges. Shane flopped down on his narrow single bed, which took up half the space in his tiny bedroom. Turned on the paper lantern that hung over his bed. He wanted to sleep, but he had “homework” first. Supposedly every night, because he’d promised, but sometimes life got in the way. He hadn’t done his homework in over week, but he had to get this shit out before it ate him up.

He tugged the tattered spiral notebook out from beneath his bed, where it resided with dozens of others, all filled. Edge to edge, both sides of each page. This one was getting full. He’d have to buy another soon.

Tonight sucked. Really sucked. Like for the first time since I started stripping I want to stop but I know I can’t. We need the money, and it’s my fault we need the money, so it’s like my penance. Is that the word? Penance? I think that’s the word. I’m not telling Jason about it because he’ll get upset. He doesn’t like me doing this anyway, even though it’s only a few times a month and it pays good. Better than the deli, if you break it down by the hour, plus I don’t have to claim it on my taxes. But it really sucked. It’s like my rules didn’t matter, because some spoiled bitch had a birthday, and some people don’t know stripper =/= hooker. Fuck. Fuck them. They don’t get to control my life. I’m in control.

Shane shoved the notebook under his pillow. He didn’t feel in control. He stared at the pair of pill bottles on the shelf next to his bed. He didn’t have to work at the deli until midafternoon. Maybe something to take the edge off and help him sleep. Sleep and not dream about the hot cop who’d rescued him.

A hot cop whose name he didn’t know. He hadn’t even had the sense to look at the nametag in his mad dash out of the apartment.

Didn’t fucking matter. He wasn’t about to call the guy up and thank him for the save, then offer a blowjob as a reward. As much as he’d like to—no. Hot cops didn’t grow on trees in small towns like Stratton, and Stratton had its quota filled in Officer Briggs. He’d seen the man both on-duty and off-duty with his partner and their little girl. Sometimes the family ate at the deli.

Shane would kill for the simplicity of that kind of life—a pipe dream, for him. He came with too much baggage for most guys to handle, and rehashing it hurt too much to bother. Guys like Shane got casual fucks, dead-end jobs and rusty old trailers. They didn’t get hot, put-together cops like his mystery savior.

He popped the cap on his prescription Rozerem—a lucky script from a doctor he’d neglected to inform of his full medical history, and that had come in handy these last few months. He washed a pill down with stale water from the glass he kept on the shelf, then spread out on top of his covers. He closed his eyes and thought about Hot Cop until the drug eased him into darkness.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

New Contract! More Books!

I have this weird thing about not announcing books until all parties have their signed contracts, so I've been sitting (not very well) on this for a while now, but I can speak!

I've signed my third contract with Carina Press! I'm so excited to be working with my fantastic editor Alissa again. The two-book contract is for Restoration #2 (working title, Finding Their Way) and Untitled Restoration #3. This rounds out the Restoration trilogy.

The first Restoration book, Getting It Right, releases March 16, 2015, and I do know that Finding Their Way will release in July, so yay! Not a long wait!

Restoration is a spin-off from the Belonging trilogy, featuring a more adult cast. The first book is James "Tag" McTaggert's book, and I love it so much because Tag was never meant to be more than a walk-on role in Ezra's book. But he wouldn't go away, and now he has a personal life and his own romance. With a cop (yes, I love me some cop heroes). Books two and three will feature Tag's two best friends, Boxer and Elliott, and oh those two. 

Elliott is one of those characters who, like Romy, you want to bundle up in a blanket, put them on your couch, and feed them cocoa and cookies until they cheer up.

Boxer is the star of book two, along with a familiar face from Belonging (yes, I'm teasing you), and this is the photo that inspired his character:


Although more bald, and minus the beard. But don't worry, he's a teddy bear.

Right now I'm working on Elliott's book, which is due May 1, and having a great time with it. His hero is not who you'd expect, and it's going to be an interesting challenge finding their HEA.

So yay for more books!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Truth As He Knows It: Snippet #2

I've got a new snippet for you from THE TRUTH AS HE KNOWS IT (Perspectives #1). It's from the start of Chapter Three. Noel is out for lunch with his best friend Tristan, and he runs into a familiar face.



Mineo's had been busy every time Noel stopped in, and today was no different. A line of at least six people stood between them and the cash register. You placed your order, paid, took a number, then waited for it to be called, because everything was assembled to order. Besides deli sandwiches and hoagies, they also offered wraps, soups, a variety of personal sized pizzas, and six different kinds of wings.

Noel perused the vast menu board of options, unsure what he was in the mood for. "What are you feeling?"
            
"I don't know. You decide."
            
Tristan seemed genuinely perplexed, and it struck Noel that for the last few years, Tristan ate the food that was put in front of him. He didn't have to make a choice. Noel thought back to college and the things Tristan liked to eat.
           
"How about the turkey club?" Noel said. "You like mayo, right?"
           
"Yes. Okay, that sounds good."
           
"Excellent."
            
By the time they reached the register, Noel had decided on corned beef on rye with mustard. A classic combination. He gave their orders to the girl at the register, plus two large sodas they could fill at the dispenser. She slid his debit card through the machine.
            
A dark head of hair slipped past behind the counter, the owner wearing a blue Mineo's apron. He sidled up to a sandwich station, then grabbed two red baskets. Lined them with waxed paper. Noel stared, willing the man to turn around. He took his debit card by rote, then his order number the same way.
            
Reaching for a bag of rye bread, the man in the apron showed his profile, and surprise sent Noel's heart racing. Shane. The stripper from the party. Shane turned back to his sandwich making quickly, but Noel had seen him.
            
Tristan touched his elbow, cluing Noel into his holding up the line. They filled their soda cups, then found a table as close to the service counter as possible. Noel sat facing it. He couldn't explain his newfound fascination with Shane. He hadn't honestly expected to see the man again, assuming that no one would strip at a party in a town they lived in. Assuming, again, that Shane lived in Stratton. Which was a logical assumption, since he worked at Mineo's.
            
So many assumptions when the object of his interest was assembling his lunch less than ten feet away.
            
And Tristan, bless him, noticed. "Do you know him? Do I know him?"
           
"No, you don't know him." Noel tried not to stare. "I barely know him. We crossed paths the other night."
            
"He's cute."
            
"And probably taken by an equally cute girl."
            
Tristan angled himself to study Shane, his sharp gaze so like his old self when they'd go out looking for action. "Dunno about that. I'd lay odds he swings our way."
            
"Based on what?"
            
"Instinct." He leaned forward and pitched his voice low. "You know my gaydar has always been better than yours."
            
True.
            
"Number four-oh-six!" Shane's shouting voice made Noel jump. He glanced down at their order number: 406.
            
Noel stood to fetch their order. Shane had the tray in his hands. His eyes widened briefly when he saw Noel, startled. Trapped. He blushed, then dropped his gaze to the tray. The two feet between them suddenly felt like a chasm. Noel took their food without a word, unwilling to speak up and embarrass Shane further.
            
"Okay, I don't know how you know him, but that was kind of awkward," Tristan said when Noel sat back down. "You two hook up or something?"
            
"No, nothing like that." He couldn't make himself tell Tristan about Shane. The entire situation was too personal—not for himself, so much as it was for Shane. Noel could read people pretty well, and he'd seen the shame in Shane's eyes. The fear of people knowing too much.
            
Lunch passed pleasantly enough with inane chatter. Noel didn't see anyone he really knew. He'd lived in Stratton for about two years, but his overnight shifts left little actual interaction with the town, and he wasn't a social butterfly. The few friends he had were fellow officers, including his weekly workout buddy, and that was okay with Noel.
            
He couldn't help a few more glances at Shane. Even though he'd seen the man practically naked, he was just as stunningly handsome in a polo and khakis. He worked with the precision of someone with years of practice, reaching for ingredients almost blindly. Noel found himself insanely curious why Shane made sandwiches by day and played stripper by night.

            
It wasn't the time or place to ask.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Dreamspinner Sale

All three of my contemporary titles with Dreamspinner Press are on sale now through December 25. If you haven't tried them, now's the time! Give yourself a Christmas gift.