Thank you, Lisa, for the opportunity to say ‘hi’ to everyone! I’m looking forward to GayRomLit coming up in Atlanta in a matter of days! It’s a great chance to meet readers and hang out with friends, both new and old.
Changing Tides, a New Reality book, is coming out on Wednesday, October 23rd from Resplendence Publishing, and in celebration of my new release, I want to give away two copies of Changing Tides and two books from my backlist (winner’s choice), one each to two winners!
THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED
About Changing Tides –
Growing up in a world where change is feared, life is planned and predictable. The final step into adulthood is celebrated at age 25 with three life-altering choices.
Brett DeMarco is a First Lieutenant in the country’s Security Forces and is pretty sure he knows what his choices will be. When his lover dies, he throws himself into his work until he runs into gorgeous Orion Hellman, a manual laborer on base who never talks and changes everything he thought he knew.
UNEDITED Excerpt –
The gray, early morning sky matched his mood.
First Lieutenant Brett DeMarco pushed himself harder. The same cloying emotions that had motivated him in the field and helped him secure his promotion into the intelligence arena grabbed hold of him, driving him through the base along an increasingly difficult course. Familiar terrain slipped away as images of Teran Prescott’s battered body pushed its way forward. Brett ground his teeth and clenched his fist, his chest tightened and tears fell fast.
No! He chastised himself.
No. He was stronger than this. Stronger than a memory. Stronger than images that would never leave him. Grasping for other emotions and memories, he pushed his body harder, needing to outrun the pain. Brett stumbled and fell. He landed awkwardly, sprawled over the ground and a body. Shaking his head, he tried to make sense of what had happened and where he was.
“What the—” he started to say, pushing himself up. Brett stopped and stared at the man beneath him until he started squirming. Carefully Brett pulled himself to his feet and held his hand out to help the other man up. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t watching where I was going. Are you okay?” Brett asked looking down at the man in the dirty tan coveralls. Shorter than himself, haunted golden brown eyes looked up at him before turning away. His dark brown hair was long enough to be pulled back. Very few men he’d met had hair that long and certainly no one on a military base. “Excuse me, are you okay?” He asked again, laying a hand on the man’s arm.
The man shrugged and tried to turn away.
“I’m Lieutenant Brett DeMarco. Are you hurt anywhere?”
Concern flooded Brett. A head injury maybe. He’d never heard of injuries that rendered a person conscious but speechless. Brett worried the inside of his cheek. He wasn’t a doctor and his knowledge of medicine was limited to little more than what was needed on the battlefield. Medicine had been Taren’s plan. His lover had wanted to be a trauma surgeon, but the state education counselors hadn’t thought his aptitude high enough for that. Two weeks before his twenty-fifth birthday, his fiancée had learned he’d been assigned to general medicine instead. Teran had been irate. Brett pushed the memories aside.
“Are you okay?” Brett asked again, not hiding his concern or softening the demand.
The man shrugged again.
Brett tried again. “What is your name?”
The man frowned and shook his head.
“What is your name?” Brett insisted. Taking a deep breath, he ran his fingers up the other man’s arms, watching for signs of pain or discomfort.
The other man flinched and stepped back.
Brett instinctively tightened his grip on the man’s biceps. “I’m not trying to hurt you. I just want to make sure you’re not injured. I don’t think you’re okay.”
The man frowned again, but stepped forward.
“Do you understand what I’m saying?”
The man nodded.
“At least it’s not a language issue,” Brett muttered. “Where are you hurt? Point to it, if you won’t tell me.”
The man shrugged again.
Frustration welled up. Brett took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “If you don’t answer me, I’ll have to take you into the base hospital.”
The man’s features contorted into fear and he pulled back, struggling to escape.
What the hell was going on? Brett asked himself. “Okay. Okay. Stop. No hospital.” Brett frowned and rubbed the back of his neck with one hand. The man understood him, but refused to answer his questions. “Can you talk?” he asked finally.
The man shook his head no, giving Brett one of the first definitive answers since he’d bumped into him. “Okay, so you can’t talk. Do you have a name?”
A nod this time.
Brett rubbed his neck again and returned his hold on both of the smaller man’s arms. It was a start. It didn’t answer the big questions though. “Can you write your name down? In the dirt maybe.”
A head shake no.
“Do you have anything that tells me who you are?”
The man stepped back, pulling against Brett’s grasp.
Brett blew out a breath. Something was seriously spooking the other man. “You look about my age.” Brett bit his cheek again. “You don’t have to show me your ID.” Muscles flexed under Brett’s fingers. “Since you can’t tell me if anything hurts, I want to check you for injuries. I landed pretty hard on you. Okay?” Brett softened his voice. “I promise, nothing more than that.”
The man hesitated then nodded.
Brett ran his fingers along the other man’s arms and shoulders, down his back, up his neck and over his head. Pushing occasionally, watching him closely for any reaction. It was a technique he’d learned from Taren. The man stiffened, flinching when his fingers traveled to close to the man’s ass. “Does it hurt from the fall?”
The man shook his head.
“Do you hurt anywhere else?” Brett asked, standing in front of him once more, rubbing his thumb over the other man’s hand. “Thank you. I wish I knew your name, you’re cute.”
The man shook his head and opened his eyes wide. Unzipping the coveralls to his waist, he pushed the fabric to one side and pointed to a patch on the right side of the shirt above where a pocket had been at one time.
“Hellman? Your name is Hellman?” Brett asked. “This is your last name?”
The man nodded.
Brett smiled then frowned. The man’s brow furrowed in response. The shirt under the coveralls might have been military issued at one time, but the slight fading and missing pocket meant it should have been thrown away. It wasn’t something security forces personnel would wear. Nor were they ever allowed to have long hair. Most civilian males didn’t even have long hair, the government frowned on it. “You aren’t in the military,” Brett said flatly. “Who are you and why are you here?”
A look passed quickly over Hellman’s face and disappeared before Brett could pinpoint it. Hellman blew out a breath and showed him the other patch. He pointed to himself and the ground, then to Brett and away from them.
Brett hesitated before nodding. Special staff personnel were civilians assigned to the security forces and as far as he knew there were only a handful. It was a special position reserved for certain selected people.
Brett mentally stepped back. The other man was gorgeous. He wasn’t ready for a relationship of any kind. But sex was something he could handle though, if the other man was willing. Sex without a permanent relationship was encouraged by government officials, who in the interest of limiting the number of children people had and the drain on resources, had ruled that anyone not married underwent sterilization the day after they turned twenty-five. Brett ran his thumb across the man’s arm slowly, hoping for a sign of encouragement from him.
Hellman stepped back breaking all contact. He pointed at Brett again, then to the road he must have come down.
Brett looked around. At some point he’d left the main road and had taken a hard dirt-packed trail. “What is it?” Brett asked, reaching for Hellman.
The other man slipped from his grip and pointed from him to the road and stomped his foot. Brett backed away as anger and fear chased each other across Hellman’s face. There was no mistaking what the smaller man was trying to tell say. Brett needed to leave. Now.
“Okay, I’ll leave,” Brett said, raising his hands. “Will you be safe here alone?”
“Can I see you again?”
He shook his head no vehemently and picked up the shovel.
Brett nodded, reached out and cupped Hellman’s cheek, wincing internally at the man’s flinch and weary gaze. Stroking his thumb along Hellman’s face, Brett closed his eyes briefly and memorized the sensations before turning and running back toward the main part of the base. Something was off about the entire situation, Brett knew it in his gut, the same way he knew there was something special about the smaller man.