Up Her, Bang Lords No. 1


Chapter 1 Preview



Just one kiss.

It was a soft kiss and a bit wet. Elliot licked his plump lips before he adjusted his glasses and then moved in cautiously to plant a soft smooch on my mouth.

That was twelve years ago and I’m still thinking about it—the one kiss. It was his reward and it was all he got for saving my life.

I sometimes wish I’d given him more. I fantasize about it. I’m fantasizing about it right now as I hustle through city streets to get some coffee before my first day on the job. I’m wondering again what Elliot might’ve looked like under those geeky glasses and preppy clothes. His eyes were pretty enough—a light brown like creamy milk chocolate. I wonder if they sparkled more than most brown eyes because of the glasses. I didn’t wonder much about the rest of him, although I’m sure he would’ve shown it all to me if I’d asked him.

But he was a geek back then so it would not have been cool because that was twelve years ago and that was high school.

I remember the day Elliot saved me like it was yesterday. He and his two geeky friends, along with the rich boy, came busting in through the ceiling of my second story bedroom to help my three friends and me from being burned alive.

My house was on fire. It was my senior year and I decided to throw a party since my parents were out of town. The fire department declared it was the moonshine and burning cigarettes that caused the fire. By the time my girlfriends and I smelled smoke, flames had already come through the hall upstairs and we ran to my bedroom. We were screaming for help with no way out the window, as it was blocked by safety bars my dad installed when I was little to keep me from falling out.

Smoke filled the air and the four of us huddled at the window as heat loomed on our backs. We were screaming, pushing on each other hoping to break free of the imprisoned room when we noticed Elliot and his friends with a jackhammer, a rope, and a ladder. They extended the ladder from Elliot’s house to mine and crawled like firefighters from one attic window to the next.

Elliot was my neighbor. We played together when we were little. He liked to show me his bugs. I liked to show him my braids. But as we grew older, my body matured while Elliot hardly did at all. He grew tall, but he was skinny—skinnier than most boys, even skinnier than me. His thin frame and high, round cheekbones under fair skin made him look like a starved baby and he knew it. So, he never shaved, but he hardly had any hair around his jaw. It was splotchy. I always wished I’d told him he should shave. He probably would’ve looked better and not like he was trying so hard to look manly.

I didn’t have to try hard at all to look womanly. I was lucky to have blonde hair that I could grow long to match my long legs because I developed boobs early—nice ones, too.

When we got to high school we both got a lot of attention. I got popular with the in crowd. Elliot, on the other hand, became a popular pick for being bullied by the in crowd.

I never participated in any of the bullyings, of course, but I did tease him. I liked the way Elliot would glance at me from his bedroom window straight across from mine. Occasionally, I’d walk past my open bedroom window wearing only my underwear and the poor guy would break a pencil or choke on his milk, spitting it out all over himself. Elliot studied a lot at his desk, which was angled in his room so all he had to do was look up to see me.

Interestingly, I’d never seen Elliot without his glasses. I can’t help but think he kept them on—always, just in case I was ever in view.

Looking back, I think I liked Elliot. I liked the way he was always spying to get a glimpse of me. Sometimes, I wished we had stayed friends, but the bugs!

Ugh, the bugs. I could never understand how he never grew out of that interest. Elliot’s predilection for creepy crawlers seemed to impede his chances of ever having friends until…

Nick. Nick was Elliot’s “rich boy” best friend who moved to town during freshman year and became the presumed leader of the geek squad known as NIM.

Nick was hot, smooth, and a definite bad boy, but it was obvious he didn’t fit in with most crowds—too much of a rebel and, like his geeky friends, he was really smart. Not intelligence, but street smarts. Nick plucked each geek like he handpicked them out of Lonerville, and they all became their own little squadron of rebels—avoiding anything that had to do with high school except being present in class.

NIM hung out a lot at Elliot’s house. For the most part, they were curiously quiet except when they were conducting their science experiments and blowing stuff up with a bang.

I always felt they were up to no good. It’s not surprising Nick, Elliot, and the other two geeks now own a billion-dollar drug corporation, which they also named NIM, the Neuro Institute of Medicine.

I heard the geek squad lives lavishly nowadays. Rich Nick invested all his father’s inheritance into furthering the education of his three geeky friends. Elliot became a biologist, Jax, a chemist, and Don—apparently, he’s a sex therapist with multiple degrees in psychology. But it’s my understanding they all have multiple doctorate degrees, although no one from back home has seen them since graduation.

Thinking back to the night of the fire, after four years of those boys being picked on in high school and us girls never stepping in to do anything about it, the last people I ever thought would come and save us from being burned alive would be Elliot and his team of geeks.

But days after graduation, my house and my party went up in flames and just when I thought I was going to die, NIM came. Three geeks and the rich boy rescued me and my girlfriends—Sue, Nancy, and Loulah. Loulah was Nancy’s younger sister. She was a geek herself, but we kept her around kind of like a mascot. She ran our errands, did our hair, performed every dumb dare we nearly forced her to do, and pretty much just took all our shit.

I regret it a little bit. Loulah was a good girl and we treated her like crap. She had an infatuation with Nick. It was fitting for her that it was Nick who pulled her out of the fire, except she became his bitch after that day and no longer ours.

Loulah works for Nick now. She’s always worked for Nick and, according to her sister Nancy, Loulah doesn’t have any time to do anything else. She barely speaks for a minute on the phone—always consumed with the work Nick has for her.

As I walk through the city, I debate if this is really a good idea. Loulah called me. Over the last dozen years, I’ve bounced from job to job—nothing ever serious and most often getting fired for reasons I could never quite figure out. Layoffs. Budget cuts. Whatever. And I could never seem to keep a boyfriend. Anytime I got close to someone and things started going well, the guy would dump me.

It was embarrassing to return home a month ago to my suburban town as the ex-prom queen with no job and no husband at thirty years old. I had to move in with my parents, but that’s not the worst of it. To see all my classmates happily married and with kids? I just feel worthless, like a loser, like high school was the best thing to ever happen to me, even though it was fake. It was all fake because I was a fake back then.

When Loulah called, I assumed her call was also a fake. I thought she was pranking me, trying to get back at me for all the shitty dares I made her do as a teenager. But she was serious. She offered me a job at NIM saying Nick needed more than just one assistant and she thought it would be nice to have a friend to work with. I was surprised Loulah would call me, but then again Loulah never had friends other than us so I guess she didn’t know what a real friend was and, I admit, I was a horrible friend.

I was hesitant at first to accept the job. I wasn’t sure I wanted to face the geek squad knowing they all work there, especially since I didn’t even thank most of them for saving our lives. Plus, the idea I might have to face Elliot, who probably lives in a mansion with his gorgeous wife and beautiful kids, makes me a little ill. But anything is better than living with mom and dad who remind me every day how I cost us our home, not to mention I need to stop making excuses, grow up, and keep a job. I swear it just feels like the world is against me, like something keeps kicking me down on purpose.

As I skip through the crosswalk in my beige heels and a fitted, yet conservative, knee-length navy blue skirt with a cream button-up blouse among masses of other city slickers, I can see NIM.

It’s a rather dark building—all glass with nearly black tinted windows. It reminds me of Nick. He was the one with dark hair and dark eyes—the dark lord of the geek squad; I figure since he was the guy with all the money, it’s no surprise the building would reflect his persona.

My stomach churns as I approach the coffeehouse across the street from NIM. Facing people back home was hard, but I have no doubt facing these people—the people of NIM, the people of my past, will be harder. I tell myself that perhaps this is fate. This is my chance to start over, to be a good friend to Loulah, and to thank the people who saved my friends and me by being of service to them as an efficient office assistant.

As I reach to grip the silver handles to the large glass doors of the coffeehouse, I notice my hands are trembling. Retracting them, I take a look—I’m shaking so badly though I don’t know why I’m so nervous. I stand there for a minute reconsidering whether I should get a coffee and croissant. The coffee might make me jitter more and the croissant could cramp my stomach. On the other hand, if I skip it I might faint later having used all my stored energy due to my anxiety. The last thing I want is to pass out on my first day of work.

“Let me get that for you,” says a man with a nice melody in his voice.

I glance up to see an older gentleman, Asian, with faded jeans and a gray sports coat. He pulls the door open.

“Oh, thank you,” I nod and hop into the coffeehouse, falling to the back of a very long line.

It seems like an eternity by the time I get to the front of the line and I’m about to open my mouth to give the barista my drink order when his attention gets diverted.

“Hey, Mr. Nine! The usual today?” he shouts to the back of the coffeehouse.

I turn to see the dark silhouette of a tall man against the bright morning light beaming in behind him through the glass. As he comes closer, I notice he’s brawny and dressed all in black—a turtleneck with black slacks that is decorated with coordinated leather accessories—shoes and a belt that boasts shiny gold buckles.

The line moves to the side as he enters. They are clearing a path for him like he commanded them to move with the pure will of his presence. I gulp as he comes into view under the coffeehouse lights. His face is strong, tan, and bristled with a trimmed short beard that is as black as the slick side-parted hair on his head and the clothes he is wearing.

He cuts right in front of me; I know I should say something as he starts to place his order, but his smell—expensive and woodsy, makes my tongue hang. Literally, my tongue is hanging out of my mouth as he and the barista inquire about one another until they are joking. I am officially panting when he flashes a brilliant smile.

He glances my way, still smiling, and now I know I need to eat something because I already feel like I could pass out.

“Hi!” he says with unexpected enthusiasm, turning his whole body to me.

“Hi,” I smile and realize I’m slouching so I stand up straight.

He looks me up and down, which is very odd and perhaps rude, but honestly, I don’t mind he’s looking, except I can feel the line of people behind me are gawking at us or maybe him for cutting.

“You know you cut in line, right?” I inquire. Surely, he knows but I just have to ask. I don’t care how gorgeous he thinks he is.

He smiles, but before he can open his mouth, the barista is talking.

“This is one of the Mr. Nine’s coffee shops.”

“Mr. Nine?” I ask.

“What’s the matter?” asks Mr. Nine. “You don’t like the name?” He cocks a brow as he chuckles and I swear to God, the cocky bastard is the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen since…since…ever.

“Hey,” he tells the barista and points his thumb at me, “get her whatever she wants.”

“Oh no, that’s okay,” I fumble to say. “I can pay for myself.”

“I insist,” he says with a low, gruff tone that quickly changes to a higher and strangely familiar pitch. “Do you want to sit down and chat? I don’t know where you’re headed, but—”

My cheeks flush. I drop my hand as I realize I’m fanning my own cheeks to cool off. “I probably shouldn’t. It’s my first day today.”

“New job?”


“At where?”

“At NIM. Do you know of the corporation across the street?”

Mr. Nine’s brows furrow. His demeanor changes as I notice his Adam’s apple bob beneath his turtleneck while he takes a gulp of air. He looks almost angry, angry with the mention of NIM and he turns to take the steaming hot coffee from the barista.

He blows the steam away with softly pursed lips before taking a sip and then turns back to stare wide-eyed at me with stark green eyes and a most serious face. “I work there,” he growls, taking me by the elbow to lead me out of the line. “Who hired you?”

“An old friend of mine works there—Taloulah Berkeley.”

“Hmm,” he growls. “I should escort you.”

It’s unusual—his tone and the way he just handled me, so I grin. “I’m fine.”

He takes another sip before asking, “So, you must know Elliot Crowe as well?”

The mere mention sparks a tingle in my chest and I shudder as I speak. “Yes, I know Elliot. I haven’t seen him in a long time. Does he still work at NIM?”

“Oh yeah, he’s one of the managing partners and a fantastic scientist, quite brilliant actually.”

I can feel the corners of my mouth reach my ears. “I’m sure Elliot, or Mr. Crowe, is an exceptional scientist and probably more. He’s really quite special.”

“Is he now?”

I gulp as I nod.

Mr. Nine’s eyes get beady. “Do you mean that or are you being facetious?”

I take a breath. I have no idea who this man is other than he works at NIM and owns the coffeehouse, but by the look of him, I have no doubt he’s someone important.

I didn’t have an interview and I couldn’t take the time out to research the company. I had one day to pack, fly out here, and find the hotel, which NIM is paying for until I get my own place. So for all I know, this guy could be another one of the managing partners and I’m about to get fired because I’m behaving suspiciously before I even start.

I stand up straight and smile boldly. “Mr. Nine, I don’t mean to be rude, but I really should get going. I don’t want to be late on my first day and please, believe me, I have nothing but the utmost respect for all of the scientists and partners at NIM.”

“Then you should let me escort you there. In fact, I’ll take you exactly where you need to go.”

Mr. Nine takes another sip of his coffee and puts his elbow out to me. When I first took sight of him, I do believe I would’ve dropped my panties if he’d asked me, but right now, I’m reluctant to grab his arm, which I do anyway because he says he knows Elliot.

He leads me out of the coffeehouse, passed the line of gawking women, without responding to the barista who shouts, “Goodbye.”

When we hit the sidewalk, my head tilts back to get a good view of the NIM building across the street and Mr. Nine takes my hand. It’s awkward, but I let him squeeze my palm and lead me to play leapfrog through the street where there’s no crosswalk between vehicles zipping by.

I try not to grip too tightly onto the man I just met, though he’s gripping me like I’m his kid and he doesn’t want me to wander off. I figure maybe it’s a man thing and he keeps holding my hand as we cross the sidewalk to enter the sliding glass doors of NIM.

Inside is as dark as the outside. The décor is smooth, polished black marble. Business people are staring at us—like we are a couple holding hands inappropriately in a place of business and I try to pull my hand free, but Mr. Nine grips tighter.

“This way,” he says and leads us towards the elevators where he finally lets go to click on a few buttons at a small computer kiosk that controls six elevators. One set of doors open and Mr. Nine reaches to take my hand again, but I tuck my arm behind my back.

I don’t mean to be standoffish and I don’t really care he’s being so forward or that anyone notices us holding hands. But I do care that one person might see us. For whatever reason, the last thing I want is to be seen holding another gentleman’s hand if I should run into my old neighbor and friend, Elliot Crowe.

*End of Chapter 1*

by Dani Stowe

Amazon US | UK | AU | CA



The Fourth Knight


Chapter 1 Preview


He’s watching me.

I drop my gaze. I do not want to draw suspicion.

Trailing my fingers along a heavy wooden table, I envy the spread of plump juicy fruit, charred chickens, and dribbling greasy pork ribs, but cringe at the boar’s head—dead on a stick. The swine’s tongue hangs thick and dry between its tusks. I notice a small pitcher filled with red wine nearby. I’d like to sip on it or, better yet, toss it right in the face of His Majesty and the man standing next to him, the man making me feel uneasy.

I lift my chin as the other ladies do, although I’d like nothing better than to stuff some of what’s on this banquet table between my bosoms and legs to carry it out. This is enough food to feed an entire village. Sadly, it will be wasted and left to rot like our kingdom’s people.

My gaze wanders up again.

Damn! The tall, masked man in black standing next to His Royal Highness refuses to deflect his eyes from me. I look down at my golden dress, which matches my golden blonde hair, and my bosoms are heaving out of my chest. I wish Adelard had stolen something a little less revealing.

Slipping between chatty women who have caught the attention of drunken men in fine clothing, the sour smell of aged sweat stings my nostrils. I pinch my nose together at the stinky nobles while chuckling at their conversations.

They are all in a game and behaving like animals. The women bat their eyes and play coy, while the men purse fishy lips hoping to catch more than kiss. I wish they’d just come outright and say what they’re really after—a chase that ends with a doe bucking somewhere in a dark corner of the castle or outside up against a tree.

My blue eyes twitch as the man in black sways noticeably from the corner of my eye. I can’t help but turn my head to him completely. He’s broader in the shoulders than I’d originally noticed. His stance is straight and he holds his head high. He’s overtly confident, even cocky he seems. I believe he’s more than just another one of King Richard’s soldiers. He could be a knight, though he’s not dressed like one. Being in such close proximity to the king, it’s possible he could be something much more.

I wish I could see his face. The thin ribbons wrapped and tied around our heads cut only to show our eyes hardly convey a mask. We all wear masks, except the king, being it’s his party.

I study His Majesty’s surroundings. Soldiers, armed with swords, stand by though I believe it will be easy to get past them simply because I’m a woman. The king will likely expedite my proximity to him when the time is near. The bastard has already allowed at least a dozen women to fall into his lap, including girls that have been forced to take a seat on his knee for entertainment.

But the tall man with short, cropped black hair adjacent to the king worries me. He does not cease to watch me. I suspect he is becoming suspicious, but worse, I suspect he might be my tracker.

I’ve never beheld the man, my tracker, a supposed hunter and, rumored to be, master swordsman. His recent appointment to hunt me, the outlaw, and kill me has been decreed; though he is lucky we have not crossed paths—yet.

Villagers say my tracker is growing increasingly frustrated—threatening to take hostages and throw them into the dungeon where they will be tortured to gain information about my band of skilled bandits. The coarse, trimmed beard bristling along the man in black’s lower jaw certainly fits the description of the man charged to reel me in. If he should find me, I’m sure he would love to gut me—run me through.

I bite my lip to keep myself from laughing aloud.

I’m told if I should ever encounter the man tasked to track me, that I should run. They say he is a knight who wears no armor. His confidence in his skills with a sword proves he doesn’t need the iron shielding. From this distance, I can see a shred of muscle that reaches from behind his ear down down his neck and to the front of his collarbone. I do not doubt, it is the result of wielding a heavy sword.

I clamp down harder on my own mouth to keep ridiculous laughter from escaping. Unfortunately, I’m not a runner. I’m a fighter and no sword can match my bow.

I look to the man’s hip. There dangles a hefty blade of unusual making. The hilt appears to be red, as if the jewels embedded within have been stained with blood. I contemplate how many wives the man in black has left widowed with a slash of that sword.

He will not make a widow out of me, I chuckle to myself. Luckily, I have enough foresight and skill to kill him first, and I’m not married because I don’t have to be!

I look about the room to ensure I have an escape—I spy several. The front door where all the king’s guests have entered is well guarded and another door stands behind the king, although I don’t know where it ends. My final destination may be a window. If need be, I will pull at the banners hanging from each side, toss them over the ledge, and climb down to my good friend, Adelard, waiting with our horse. From there, we will ride back to the safety of the forest.

My eyes gloss over the king again, bringing the man in black to take notice. I gulp. He is quite a specimen. He behaves more like a guardian of sorts. If I should be struck down once I kill the king, at least I will die happily knowing I got the best of both men—one murdered for revenge and the other bested with embarrassment.

Oh no! The man in black bends to his side. He’s whispering in the king’s ear while he continues to keep his eye on me. He points his finger behind his back straight in my direction. Dear Lord, I hope I have not intrigued him.

My stomach churns. I might miss my chance to follow through on this deathly plot. Perhaps I should make my advance now?

Damn it! I knew it! The man in black comes my way.

As he approaches with long, bold strides, I feel for my dagger tucked into the long sleeve of my dress at the wrist. I look past the man coming towards me to the king and my heart sinks. If I cannot assassinate the king, I will at least execute this man. Tracker or not, he is someone of value to the king and once he’s dead, he’ll be of no further threat to the other outlaws.

“Excuse me, my lady,” he says with a smile. He bows and I curtsy as Adelard taught me to. “Forgive me, but I do not seem to know you.”

I feel for the bottom edge of my knife as I examine him from head to toe. He’s much taller than me, but the perfect height to stab! With a simple flick of my right wrist and a hard jab, the handle of my dagger will slip into my palm, allotting me the opportunity to quickly pierce the flesh of his belly. By jerking the sharp tip upward at an angle after penetrating the cavity of his soft torso, my dagger will slice through his bowel and he’ll die a slow, painful death.

The curves of my mouth float upward with such thoughts, though I really wish he’d go away.

His lashes flutter at my smile. Damn! Do not give yourself away.

“Should you know me?” I ask, wickedly.

He huffs and the wrinkle at his brow furrows deeper. “How did you arrive here? You do not sound or look as if you belong amongst this crowd.”

My heart paces and I allow my middle fingertip to trace the handle of the dagger. “I am the cousin… of…” I fumble to speak, completely forgetting whom I’m supposed to be related to. I’m apparently to be an out-of-towner rumored to arrive for an arranged marriage. Adelard forced me to practice this part at least a hundred times because I’ve never been good matching titles and names.

“I am the cousin of… De-el-la… Claaaa—”

The man smiles excitedly. “Lady Claire!”

My knees weaken when he places his hand behind my head, pulling me to him, speaking softly through my hair and into my ear. “I did not think you would be arriving for another week,” he whispers, his warm breath tickling its way into my ear canal.

He’s so close. His body heat is radiating.

So much for the stab to the abdomen. If I have to kill him, I’ll stab him right in the back!

He moves my hair from my ear as he continues whispering. “The king promised me a suitable and fair maiden. Even with that ribbon concealing your eyes, you are lovelier than I anticipated.”

Suitable? Fair? Lovely? I’d like to cut his prick off and see how suitable he’d think I am then. I’m sure he would no longer be suitable to any woman thereafter.

“Would you like to take a stroll outside?” he asks with hope in his voice.

No, I don’t want to take a stroll outside! I’d like for you to piss off so I can kill the king!

I tilt my head sideways to look at him. His brows are raised—weak with anticipation, but the man most certainly looks mischievous and dangerous. Nevertheless, I do believe he thinks I am this woman he’s apparently been waiting for.

I gulp. “I am not—”

“Am I being too forward with my future wife?” he asks.

Future wife?

Fine bristles of his hair lining his chiseled face brush against my cheek as he brings his face directly in front of mine to gaze into my eyes. In my twenty years of life, I don’t think I’ve ever had my face this close to a man’s besides my father’s before he was murdered by the king’s knights years ago.

The man in black dips his chin a little. The pungent smell of fine, fruity wine on his breath is overbearing. He stares blankly at me with deep green eyes that sparkle behind the slits of the black ribbon-turned-mask tied around his head. I am infuriated with the fact his eyes are quite chivalrous.

“Tis okay to be nervous,” he says, gripping my elbow and nudging me to follow him.

I stand my ground, unmoved.

“Come, my lady,” he says. “I will not bite.”

I look around. Guests are staring and beginning to gossip. I was not supposed to bring any attention to myself, thus I take a step in his direction.

As I follow my potential tracker, I look back at the king sitting gleefully on his throne. He’s staring at us. Perhaps, if I endure a few moments with the man in black, he’ll introduce me to His Royal Highness, allotting me the chance to stab the king—dead. As dead as the swine I reluctantly leave behind.

I am led out to a balcony where several people are about. My “suitor” seems disappointed. He rubs my fingers wrapped around his elbow with his palm. “We should go somewhere a bit quieter. I would very much like for us to speak in private. Would you mind accompanying me to the garden?”

He’s raised his hand to present a cobbled path leading towards a landscape filled with botanical life and flower buds glowing under the full moonlight. The garden is pretty, trimmed, and tamed, unlike the forest. If I was not a wanted fugitive with a reward on my head, I might be inclined to think I’m fortunate to be led by such a handsome man with wealth and status to a romantic garden outside of a royal castle.

I nod and his face brightens. The man has a very wide smile that competes with the stark white roses in the background, dazzling like the stars above.

Poor roses. It’s possible they will become stained a blood red should I have to slaughter this man out here, but I’ve always liked red roses better anyway.

The man leads me down the steps to a set of perfectly cut rectangular stones placed in a circular array. He gestures I sit, so I do as he requests. From the corner of my eye, I feel his gaze follow my face as I lower myself to sit on the stone. His gaze shifts towards my breasts and I cover my chest with a palm, feeling naked.

He flinches at my discomfort. “You will have to forgive me.”

I bite my lip. You’re in the king’s service. You don’t deserve forgiveness, I silently think.

“When I first saw you,” he continues, “I could not help but think we have met before. You look strangely familiar. By chance, do you have those same feelings?”

I shake my head, no.

“You do not talk much.” I shake my head again and he chuckles. “Would you prefer I remove my mask?”

I reach forward to stop him, as I don’t want to have to take off my mask, but he’s rather quick and slips the ribbon easily over and off his head.

A tingle runs through my chest like a cool breeze encapsulating me, causing my skin to tickle and gooseflesh to rise. I feel even more naked at the sight of him.

He does look familiar, but I’m not going to admit it.

“Perhaps, we should discard your mask, too,” he says, reaching for my face.

I clutch his fingers. They are long and strong, but I grip them.

“Ah!” he cries out in response to the tight squeeze of his knuckles pressed bone against bone and he cocks his head sideways.

Surprised at my strength? You should be.

I push his fingers back to him where he presses my hands flat and firm into his chest. My cheeks warm as I retract my hands and he smiles once more to reveal deep muscular trenches to the sides of his strong upward smile. I can only imagine the lean cuts of muscle he must have spread across the rest of his body.

I admit it will be a waste to kill such a fine-looking man. I feel worse as he takes my left hand and kisses my knuckles with warm, moist lips. He attempts to pull at my right hand, but I feel the weight of the knife there, so I jerk my hand back.

He sighs. “I am sorry. We are not married yet and, considering your family history, I am sure you are a most restrained and reserved type of lady. I heard you are the only family your father has left, which is why he has allowed you to become as old as you are without being married.”

I roll my eyes.

“I am not stating you are…mm…old,” he stutters. “I just mean most young ladies are already made wives by thirteen or fourteen, some even younger. A few young men are even made husbands by such an age, but my work in service to the king has left me no recourse to take a wife—until now.” He smiles again and I am forced to bite my lip for some strange reason. “I believe King Richard has finally taken pity on me, allowing me to marry. I shall reach my thirtieth year soon. I am glad he has found me a wife that is not so young.”

I huff. I want to kill him. Kill all of them! The thought of girls being plucked so young infuriates me. To avoid such savagery is one of the few benefits of having grown up as an outlaw among orphans.

Oh no, my face has given my thoughts away. He attempts another kiss at my left hand, which I pull back but he will not let go.

“Do not let my commitment to King Richard cause you fear.”

I’m not afraid! Do I look afraid?

He strokes my left hand with his thumb. “In all my years of service to the king, I have won many battles for him, captured and killed many an enemy and saved the king’s life several times over. He is frustrated, for I have not seized the leader of the band of outlaws, but the task will at least keep me home, here, in the kingdom. I am sure you have heard of the resistance residing in the forest?”

A chill runs down my spine—here sits my tracker with my hand in his. I attempt to pull my hand back once more.

“Do not fret,” he continues tugging my fingers into his lap. “I will be a good husband to you. I am close to capturing the leader and the king has promised me a small fortune for all my service.”

I don’t give a crap about fortune. I want my family back, you arse!

He runs the pad of his opposite thumb across my cheek. His finger is warm. My cheeks flush scarlet at his touch.

“I am sorry,” he says bashfully, “I have devoted too much of myself. Perhaps I should not have been so bold to discuss knightly things with such a fair lady. I am certain you are not interested in men’s business and bloody tales.”

I bat my eyes. Regretfully, I admit it’s not likely I will kill the king tonight, but perhaps I can escape with information. “I am interested.”

“Are you?” his face brightens.

I fake a smile back. “Genuinely.”

The man in black cocks his head again. “Lady Claire, I must admit, I am relieved. You are a breath of fresh air. I was hoping to choose a wife of my own, but the king would not have it. Sometimes, I deem he confuses me with being his brother, as we are so close in age, or even sometimes his father, as he has lacked one for most of his life. Arranging our marriage, I believe, was his way of rewarding me for pledging my loyalty to him for so many years.”

Not to mention, you’re also his number one marksman, executioner, and assassin!

“May I please remove your mask?” he inquires, reaching for my face, but I smack his hands. “Forgive me, Lady Claire,” he murmurs as he rubs the sting. I hope it hurts! He scratches his forehead. “My feelings have been in a quandary as of late. I was excited at the thought of taking a wife, then fearful of whom she might be, not having the choice for myself. It has vexed me for some time.” He examines me again with his sparkling green eyes. “Seeing you now, I must say I am most excited. I promise I will be a good husband. Fear not my behavior this evening. I may have appeared as unruly as the outlaws, or worse, untrustworthy. Will you pardon me for making so many untamed advances?”


“Sir Hale,” calls a king’s messenger from the balcony. “Our king has retired to his chambers and wishes to speak with you.”

Sir Hale. I recognize the infamous name.

He nods at the messenger and turns back to me. “This is something that will be commonplace. Tis likely we will live in the castle with the king once we are married. I will be at your beck and call, second only to the king, I promise.” The man is trying to sound cheerful, but it’s obvious he is distraught with the thought. “Will you meet me tomorrow? Meet me at the market after the morning bell tolls. I would love to take you on a tour of our beautiful countryside.”

I wish to laugh. In fact, it’s taking an enormous amount of energy to contain the urge. It’s I who should be giving the tour. No one knows these lands better than my gang of outlaws and me.

I grin, but he doesn’t stand to walk away. He is waiting for definitive confirmation. I believe my chance to assassinate the king, along with the significant time my gang and I have invested on this night, has been wasted. But another plot ruminates in the back of my mind. Perhaps I could get this man to reveal things to me, letting me in on everything he knows.

I force a heavy nod in agreement. Sir Hale kisses my hand again, but as he gets up to peer down at me—my soul ignites!

I don’t just recognize him, I remember him.

My mind shatters. I watch him turn away. He’s still smiling as his right hand caresses the handle of his sword at his hip. I am filled with a rush of emotions. My heart and mind are battling one another with such ferocity, my whole body feels alight and I want to tear off this stupid dress to reveal myself.

I will meet Sir Hale tomorrow and I will make sure I am privy to everything he knows because I know this man and this will not be the first time Sir Hale has aided me.

*End of Chapter 1*

by Dani Stowe

Amazon US | UK | AU | CA

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Lovers Peak, The Sea Men No. 2

Sexy Guy

Chapter 1 Preview


I feel naked. My breath is heavy but it tickles as it flows through the caves and canals of my skull—it almost feels magical. Small waves are unfolding near my feet onshore and my breathing is in sync with the ocean.

I open my eyes, squinting at the cloudless blue sky. Lifting my head slightly to peep down at my skin, I’m flabbergasted. Oh my! I’m fully exposed. I’m naked—mostly. At least, I have my red bikini on.

Rough sand grazes under my back, clings between my fingers, and exfoliates my heels. I know I’m on the beach.

Tilting my chin up, I roll my eyes to glance behind me to a peak, a very tall mountain peak, which seems to touch the sky. I follow the rocky ridgeline to the right extending and ending in a deep blue ocean.

My spine feels too heavy for my abdominal muscles but I force them to contract to help me sit up.

Looking to my left, I see the opposite end of the ridgeline that ends in the ocean as well. I twist around to gaze at the mountain behind me once more.

Following the base from where mounds of tropical foliage meet the sand, my eyes gravitate upward along a flat black massive rock wall, which penetrates the atmosphere, shooting straight up into the sky. Seeing the peak nearly touching the clouds, I realize the small beach I’m on has no exit.

My spine shivers and my teeth chatter. How did I get here?

I check myself, rubbing my hooded brown eyes with my knuckles. I run my hands through my thick, black hair that seems to have more of a frizz than usual despite the damp ends and I look at my tinted pink body that has been crisped by the sun, which I remember I did on purpose.

Okay. I know where I’ve been, but I don’t know where I am now.

I check myself once more. I have nothing on me except my bikini, but at least I know my name.

“Kumiko, what can you remember last?” I ask myself, noticing the irritating tiny hard grains of sand in my mouth; I spit and spit again until my mouth feels less gritty.

You never know where sand has been.

I put my hand to my forehead. Think!

I was on the beach with my best friend, Shelley, when

I’m pretty sure her paraplegic boyfriend turned into a merman and

Tentacles! Something came to collect me on the beach!

I lean forward and put my head between my knees.  This must be a mistake!

Shelley must’ve drugged me. Or maybe her boyfriend drugged me and I passed out. Or maybe this small, rinky-dink, old-fashioned coastal town that was built during the Revolutionary War era has traces of heavy metals in the water, like lead, making people disillusioned and crazy.

Gazing up to the vast ocean before me, the small ripples calm me.

How the hell did I get here?

I think about the tentacles on the beach. They were large—massive enough to encompass an entire ship like something out of a monster movie—the old Asian ones from back before I was born. I know because my Latino dad liked to watch them and I have no doubt they were part of the reason he was so attracted to my Asian mother.

I look around again though all I see and hear is the ocean. I’m trying not to panic, knowing I’m going to have to get myself out of this place, which feels like a trap, but I’m extremely thirsty. I spin my head to the sound of water trickling down out of black rock, seeping through the mountain.

I pull myself up, dust the sand off my butt, and head over to a wall of what appears to be fresh water when I hear a splash. I turn sharply toward the ocean, but I don’t see anything except a small circular rippling. I gulp. I’m sure it’s just a fish.

Walking over to the black rock wall, I rinse my hands in the crystal-clear cool water as it drips from the overhang. I cup my hands under it to catch the flow, but its trickling at such a slow pace I decide to put my head under the rock to allow it to dribble into my open mouth.

Feeling refreshed as I let the clean tasting water fall to the back of my throat, I look back up to the sky, to the peak of the mountain that shoots straight up as I drink.

It’s so high.

I follow the ridgeline again with my eyes as I continue to swallow.

Darn! I’m not sure I’ll be able to climb or hike out of here.

I gloss my eyes back to the wide, open ocean.

There’s no way I’m swimming out of here either.

I hear a splash from the water again and jerk my head to see a small dark creature rising out of the water and then rolling onto the sand. My body tenses at the sight until I realize it’s a seal.

I take a big breath of relief and grab at my chest, which causes the seal to look at me and seemingly yawn. I stop breathing at the sight of its large, pointy, yellow, jagged teeth exposed within an enormous cave of a mouth. I can’t tell if the blubbery creature is smiling or trying to intimidate me. It closes its mouth and I feel like its watching me—wiggling its facial whiskers and turning its head from side to side inspecting me with each large, dark round eye.

Maybe its hungry.

“Shoo!” I say as I step back and cling to the rock.

It barks, not like a dog, but it does seem to be upset; I have no idea what to do. It barks again and all I see are its large yellow teeth once more.

I’m not so sure if I should be scared or not. It’s cute, but it’s twice my size. Not to mention, I’m in the wild and I have no idea how I would defend myself against a seal if it should charge at me.

It barks again.

“Go away!” I flail my arms.

To my surprise, the seal tilts its long head back and rolls its big blubbery body into the water to disappear. Relief washes over me, but something else stirs.

Another sea creature pops its head out of the water and I squint to get a good look. My chest warms from the thrill in my heart at the sight of a dolphin and, like the seal, I feel like it’s looking at me, too, now.

I’m a little more comfortable to see the dolphin than the seal. At least, the dolphin can’t crawl out of the ocean to attack me.

Another head pops up and it’s a younger dolphin. The young one stares at me for a minute before it comes closer to shore. The little thing cocks its head back and forth and the smile on its face makes it look like it wants me to come forward.

Of course, I can’t help myself. It’s a dolphin! A baby dolphin. So, I take a few steps back towards the shore.

The sand is cool under my bare feet and I decide to walk straight to the edge of the shore. The dolphins keep their eyes on me and I feel sea water spread about my toes. As it does, my cheeks lose control and I smile as the smaller, younger dolphin begins to do tricks.

I can’t believe what’s happening! I feel like I’m on some lost magical island.

I watch as the young dolphin speeds around the other larger one in a circle and leaps into the air! He stops to check me out as if to make sure I was watching and I clap my hands and give him a small, “Hurray!”

The little dolphin dives back into the water and begins to race in circles again. It leaps and jumps and splashes over and over again, giving me a performance that almost makes me forget I’m stranded on a secluded beach.

As the small dolphin continues with its impressions of an aquatic acrobat, more dolphins show up. One after another, they pop up and come closer to the shore—to me. I’m inclined to think they are all checking me out—deciding whether I’m friend or foe— because we all know I don’t belong here.

“It’s okay,” I say as I inch my way further into the water.

The gray-blue mammals each project a beautiful big smile, which makes me feel less alone. I almost feel as though some of them are calling to me with their whistles and clicks. Maybe they are trying to help me, so I take a few steps into the ocean until the water’s surface is right at my knees.

The young dolphin swims towards me, but stops a few feet away. As I reach out to it, the little critter swims a few feet back. I walk deeper into the ocean until the chilly water is at my thighs; the younger dolphin distracts me, clicking at me, as if to offer me praise for coming in so deep.

I reach out to it again and it nods at me with its large human-like eyes.

“Come on,” I say and I go further to allow the water to reach to my waist, “I won’t hurt you.”

The small dolphin gets closer and rolls to its side and I can’t believe the joy I feel as I’m able to rub my fingers along the smooth, rubbery body of such an inquisitive, smart, and fantastical creature.

Suddenly, it sinks. The young dolphin disappears into the water and I look up to see the other dolphins also dive away to submerge out of sight.

Fear creeps in and I feel the ocean’s coldness. “Wait! Don’t leave,” I call out to them, reaching to them. They aren’t human, but I don’t want to be alone.

I pull my hand back when I see a man—I think it’s a man, rising from the water. I blink to make sure.

Oh my. It is a man.

His head is covered in long, wet, ash brown hair with ends falling below his mounds of ripped shoulders. His chest and torso—as taut and smooth as the dolphins that preceded him, also rise above the water until I see his naval between chiseled abs.

As he moves closer, I take a step back feeling the sand misplace beneath my foot. I have no idea where he came from, but I realize he might be my only way out of this place.

“Hello,” I beckon, “can you help me? I seem to be stranded.”

The man nods as he continues to approach me. He has a beautiful face with strong, prominent features and I notice how green his emerald eyes are, how bronze his skin is, and how rosy pink his lips are surrounded by short, soft stubble. His lips are still dripping of sea water, trickling down from his hairline to his nose and onto his cupid’s bow as he approaches.

He reaches out to me. It’s peculiar the way he holds his palm out to face me with his fingertips nearly trembling as if I’m a dolphin.

I put his hand down before he can touch my arm but he grips my hand tight. I pull back. “Let go!”

He does, but it’s strange; he looks weakened, like he’s about to cry, as his eyes wander from my hand up to my dragon tattoo. He reaches to touch the intricately detailed blue and green serpent with yellow eyes, a cherry red tongue, long black whiskers, and a scaled body that spreads over my shoulder and spirals around my arm down to my elbow.

I tip my shoulder back, but the man’s fingertips gently skim my skin. It sends a thrill through my body and I cannot escape the fact that I am drawn to this stranger. I don’t feel like he intends to hurt me and, just as the little dolphin did earlier, I lean in to let him touch my tattoo.

He bites his lip as he grazes his hand over my shoulder. “I’ve waited centuries for this moment,” he says.

“Waited for what moment?” I blurt and I’m a bit worried the handsome stranger has been stranded here at this place for a lot longer.

I’ve only been here for a few hours, at most, and I already feel like I’m going crazy. Judging by the length of his hair, it’s possible he’s been stranded here for years and perhaps I should be afraid of him.

But he looks as desperate as I feel. He has a longing in his face and, perhaps, if I just talk to him we can help each other get out of this place.

“Sir,” I say calmly. “Do you know a way to get out of here?”

The man doesn’t answer my question. Instead, he smiles pleasantly while studying me—my hair, face, neck, and, of course, my breasts popping out of the tiny red bikini. He hooks his fingers around my shoulder, which oddly tingles.

I pull his hand away. “Do you know a way out of here?” I ask once more, but again he doesn’t answer. He reaches to run his fingers softly through my hair at the side of my head as he continues to examine me with his eyes.

My breathing picks up. I don’t know what to do. I admit to myself there is something strangely sexy about this situation–including the man, himself. I haven’t seen below his waist yet, but I can only imagine it’s as gorgeous as the top half.

I let him run his fingers to the back of my neck so I can examine him back. I trace the trickle of drops that are falling down his abs, which seem as hard as the rock wall I just drunk from. His hand moves from the back of my neck to the front of my jaw and he rubs his thumb across my lips, making me shudder.

“Can you get us out of here?” I ask through his touch and he nods.

I smile widely. He blushes back and we are caught in a bashful exchange until our eyes lock and he slips his thumb into my mouth to grip my face to bring it closer to his.

“You’ve been gone too long,” he says with a quiver in his voice and the next thing I know I’m being swooped into his arms.

He kisses me so hard and grips me so tight between his strong hands and his biceps that I almost can’t breathe…but I like it.

There is something very wrong with me. I don’t even know this guy, yet I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone kiss me or hold me so passionately before, so I kiss him back.

My mind, of course, is interrupting the whole sexy situation. I’m on this beautiful lost island, on a beautiful beach, but I know I need to get out of here. I guess if I have to screw the guy to have him get me out of this place, so be it. I’ve screwed plenty of men that were definitely not as good looking for much less.

He grabs my head with both hands and he speaks to me between kisses. “I’ve missed you,” he says. “I almost lost hope,” he cries. “You will take my ring and we will be together forever and I’ll be able to walk again.”

Walk? “What do you mean you can’t wa—”

“Oomph,” escapes my throat as he buries his face hard into my neck—licking me and kissing me while he fists my hair, pulling my head back and exposing my neck to him, which he also nibbles and bites.

My whole body is on fire despite the blanket of water that surrounds us. I’m about to screw this stranger and I’m somehow fine with it. He kisses me under my left jaw and traces his tongue down my neck into the cavern above my collarbone. He pulls down my bikini top to expose my breasts and—

Oh God! He latches my nipple between his teeth. He nibbles it lightly as he cups my breast then kneads it like he knows me, knows exactly what I like and what I want. I feel his finger trace along my inner thigh.

“You can get us out of here, right?” I interrupt.

He grabs my face with both palms. “Let me make love to you and I will take you anywhere you want to go.”

I push on his chest and think on it for a second. I have no idea if what I’m doing is safe, but there’s something about him. There’s something that tells me I can I trust him. He looks so eager, like he hasn’t been near another human being in who knows how long, and I almost feel compelled to save him—to make love to him.

I nod and close my eyes just before he plants another slippery salty kiss on my mouth. I’m melting, but I feel safe with my face stuck solid between his two strong hands. I shiver as he makes his way up my thigh towards my center—

Wait a second…

What in the hell?!

I open my eyes, push the man back, and look about. If both of his hands are on my face, then what is about to fondle me between my legs?

I peep down through the water.

“Kumiko,” he says grabbing my shoulders, trying to kiss me again.

I push him off once more. “How do you know my name?”

The sliver of something wraps itself around my thigh and I squeal as I try to jump away, but the stranger grabs me by the wrists. “Kumiko, my dear, don’t be afraid. You’ve loved me as I am once before.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” I snap and try to struggle away from his grip.

Oh no! The grasp of whatever has my leg makes its way up my back.

“Oh my God! What is that? Let me go! Something is on me!”

“My dear, it’s me,” he says. “It’s all me.”

“What’s all you?” I question, feeling my forehead tighten with anticipation, and I wish I hadn’t asked.

From beyond the stranger’s shoulders I see something reach out of the water then another something and another. I close my eyes as I feel the same something reach up my back and over my shoulder. It clings to me, suctioning onto my skin. My body fills with dread.

“Kumiko, look at me,” demands the stranger.

I open my eyes to look at him as large tentacles dance in and out of the water behind him. The little dolphin from earlier has come back, leaping between pieces of the creature that is before me.

“Am I dead?” I ask.

“No, thank the gods,” he sighs relieved, “far from it.”

“Are you controlling these things?”

He fakes a smile. “These things—they are a part of me, but you’ve seen them before. Let me—”

I punch him in the chest. “Show me.”

He tenderly strokes my face with his thumb.

Should I feel aroused? Or disturbed?

He plants his hand flat across my cheek. “Let me make love to you and all will be revealed, I promise you—”

“Show me!” I snap.

He takes a deep breath and the tentacle let’s go of my dragon painted shoulder. His body moves backward through the water like a ghost somehow defying the rules of physics and he slowly comes up.

I struggle to close my mouth because I know I’ve dropped it. As my eyes attempt to trap the massive man or creature in my sight, he rises to the sky lifted by a giant purplish thick body dotted with random white and black spots. It looks like one solid mass of bellying muscle until it branches into thick slick tentacles. I look up—way up—to see where the man and the giant squid merge. It’s like they were glued together right below the waist of this beast, this creature, this…

Sea monster!

I just can’t take it anymore…

I scream!

Small waves gush around me with soft splashes as the monster comes crashing back down, sinking, to allow his human face to meet mine and cover my mouth with a palm.

“Shh,” he says. “Don’t be afraid.”

Don’t be afraid!

I swing at him, but a tentacle grips my wrists. I try to kick him through the heavy water when more tentacles hold my legs. And the rest of him? He uses them to pull me in tight to his upper human body.

I’m screaming! I’m screaming as loud as I can under his hand as he tries to coax me to be calm when his attention is diverted. He looks behind him.

“I can tell you’ve changed,” he turns back to me with an apologetic face. “You’re different, but I still love you,” he says and removes his hand to kiss me hard before falling back quickly into the sea, taking his tentacles with him.

I’m shaking. My teeth chatter so loud it vibrates through my skull and down my spine.

Suddenly, I realize it’s not just teeth chatter vibrating through my bones but the vibration of an engine approaching, which must be…a boat! It shoots into view from beyond the edge of the mountain.

“HEEEEEEELP!” I shout as I wave my arms frantically. The boat slows down.

I believe the driver sees me and my heart leaps! He turns the boat towards me and comes as near as it can get to the shoreline until it stops. The driver waves at me to swim out, but I’m too scared. A large dark shadow lurks beneath the ocean’s surface between the boat and me. The shadow, I know, is that of a sea monster and there’s no way I’m going to swim out.

“Help me,” I mutter, hugging my body with one arm and waving the other. “Please help.”

Amazon US | UK | AU | CA

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Releases 2-8-2018


Lovers Catch, The Sea Men No. 1

Copy of THE SEA MENChapter 1 Preview


There’s a chill in the air. It’s not completely unusual for this time of year, but the wind is making this experience much more uncomfortable than I could’ve anticipated.

The sky is gray and I’m sure Aunt Cora is up there, above the clouds, waving her cosmic energy around making this thousand-foot climb up to the top of Lovers Peak more difficult than it should be.

Not to mention, my backpack is heavy on my shoulders as I climb the peak to engage in another one of her silly ventures. Even in death, I can’t seem to escape the weight of Aunt Cora’s musings.

I don’t know why I’m doing this. I feel guilty, I guess. I missed last year’s hike with her and then she had to go and die on me. The old lady wasn’t really even that old—sixty-five—and she left me without any other family, with the exception of the ones in her head and are now stuck in mine.


For a psychic, Aunt Cora certainly knew how to mess with my head. She messed with everybody’s head. She insisted mermen were real and I’m not sure if I should feel fortunate or not for being the only one who ever believed her.

Men with fishtails—ridiculous!

I remember in high school how I wanted them to be real, to be true. I blurted about the possibility in defense of Aunt Cora when my classmates would say shit about my crazy aunt. That was a dumb move; I never had any friends back then.

Now I’m twenty-four and instead of traveling to Europe with my best friend, I’m hiking up to Lovers Peak on the longest day of the year, which is not just the summer solstice, but the day Aunt Cora insists mermaids, or mermen, might reveal themselves in the bay below.

I look beyond the edge of the sloping trail I’m traveling to the bay; it looks peaceful—no waves or signs of life. Unlike the small town beyond the mountain where I grew up, there’s no chaos out here, except for the chilly wind blowing about me.

I change my mind; this is not usual weather for this time of year. The prickle of the nippy air gives me goosebumps and by this point of my hike, I should be sweating, from what I can remember.

Looking up, I’ll have to use my hands to help me with the incline the rest of the way. I never liked this part of the hike. Aunt Cora used to laugh at me about it because I didn’t like to get my hands dirty. I still don’t, but she insisted I was an “earth child,” like my mother; it vexed Aunt Cora because she could never make sense of it.

Earth, moon, sun, fire, wind, water—I can’t believe I used to buy into all that psychic mumbo-jumbo bullshit. And sex! Oh God, the woman could go on for hours preaching about the unification of sexual bodies and the magical elements they produced. I’m surprised I didn’t end up more messed up in the head than I am now.

Seriously! Who talks to a five-year-old about sex?

“We shouldn’t be ashamed of our sexuality or sex,” she used to say. “That’s how we are made because it’s how two lovers are most deeply connected.”

Bullshit! I connected with a bunch of guys all through college and there was nothing deep about it other than the occasional big guy that could wedge himself too deep to the point it got painful, especially if I turned on my side with one leg over a shoulder.

It’s all proof love is just a pain. I’ve never felt connected to anyone—not in the way Aunt Cora described and, truth be told, I wouldn’t want to connect or fall in love.

Love is what killed my parents, although I’m not a hundred percent sure exactly how they died and no one in this rinky-dink northern coastal American town has any clue either.

Aunt Cora had a few crazy ideas of her own, but she’s gone now, so I’d like to believe she told me stories to comfort me. “They died together,” she said. “One could not go without the other. They were connected and they chose to stay that way for all eternity.”

Connected. What a bunch of crap. I could be wrong though as I feel my butt vibrate. I pull my phone from my back pocket to see who is trying to connect with me right now.

“Hey, what’s up?” I ask.

It’s Kumiko. She’s half Japanese and half Puerto Rican and always seems to be at odds with herself like she’s still trying to figure out her true identity. She blames her mixed heritage by saying there’s always an internal argument going on that makes her crazy, like when she complains rice should not come in so many variations—rolled in seaweed versus soaked in sofrito because it’s too hard to choose between the two. Kumiko says it’s like choosing between her parents, who are divorced. Personally, I’d choose both, but I realize Kumiko just likes to argue as her parents still do, too, despite the fact they don’t live together anymore.

Yep, Kumiko is a firecracker, like me. Her long, silky, thick, black hair, which makes me jealous because she never has to fix it, never hides her prominent cheeks or the stark whites of her brown eyes that flare red whenever she’s angry. When she’s really abashed, you can see her entire body blush under her tan skin.

But I’m white and I’m told my long, wavy, strawberry blonde hair of Celtic origin is what adds to my stubborn temperament. Aunt Cora used to say I had a little fire in me, which I got from my father, and it adds to my occasional sharp tongue. But stabbing people with the snap of nasty words and insults is rare.  I owe Aunt Cora for that. Growing up I called her all kinds of nasty things: fat, ugly, a bitch, a demon. That last one she didn’t like at all, but each time, instead of spanking me, she’d throw water in my face. She claimed it was the only way she knew how to put out my fire.

“How far are you up the trail?” Kumiko asks on the phone.

I look up. “I’m almost near the top,” I say and halt to catch a breath so I can speak.

“When you reach the peak, don’t forget to flip a middle finger up to your Aunt Cora for me.”

I laugh.

“Don’t laugh!” Kumiko flares. “I’m sure the old racist bitch is expecting a little something from me, too.”

“She wasn’t racist, Kumiko. She loved you. She just had a weird way of showing it.”

“I have the only palm in the whole world your Aunt would not touch or read to tell me my future. And I bet I know another reason why. Do you want to know why Shelley?”

I pause my legs to seat my butt on a boulder. “Why?” I ask, although I probably shouldn’t have led her on.

“Because she knew I knew I’d be able to tell if she was a fraud! That’s why.”

I’m afraid to tell Kumiko my aunt taught me to read people’s hands to tell them their fortunes; I wouldn’t read Kumiko either, even if my best friend begged or paid me as some people did for my aunt. I learned fairly quickly people didn’t pay Aunt Cora to learn their fate; they were really after reassurance or hope, which explains why my aunt typically lied. I’m sure Aunt Cora took one look at Kumiko and, without even reading her hands, put her in the hopeless category.

A thunderous boom rattles my bones and I nearly drop the phone.

“Holy crap!” shouts Kumiko as I adjust the phone to my ear. “What the hell was that?!”

“Thunder.” I’m just as surprised as Kumiko. I did not see this coming at all. The weather forecast reported nothing but blue skies.

“Girl, I told you-you should’ve skipped the hike up Lovers Peak and come to Europe with me. I’m not having a good time without you and now you’re going to die of electrocution by lightning.”

“Thanks for the support, Kumiko. As if the thunder wasn’t scary enough while I’m by myself up here—”

“So, get down!” Kumiko whines. “Get off the damn cliff before you fall then get on a plane and explore these dark and dirty streets of Europe with me.”

“Let’s be honest,” I say as I look up towards the peak that is collecting gray clouds above it. “The only thing you’re looking for is foreign European men that might bind you to a dark and dirty hostel bed and screw you. And the only reason you want me there is to make sure they don’t murder you, like in that horror flick we watched.”

I study the trail to the peak and there are only fifty or so more feet to go. The wind blows a single leaf across the rocks; it drifts all alone, like the way I feel right now.

I shout, “And see what you did! I’m by myself and now I’m scaring myself!”

“Oh. C’mon,” pleads Kumiko and I’m shaking my head as I look out towards the bay in hopes of calming my nerves. I see something flip out of the water as she continues, “Just because you’ve never tried a little S&M doesn’t mean you won’t like it.”

“I’m not that kind of girl,” I mutter and stand up from the boulder to get a better look at the splash coming from the center of the bay below.

Another boom of thunder crashes through my bones and echoes through the crescent of the rocky mountain surrounding the bay.

“Get off the trail,” Kumiko says sternly and I see a creature of some sort wading in the water. I swear it looks as though it sees me, too.

“But there’s something out there,” I tell her.

“Something out where?! What are you talking about?” Kumiko sounds worried.

I appreciate having at least one human being still left in this world that cares about me. “There’s something in the bay,” I say as I get up from the boulder and go off the trail into a clearing to get a better look.

“Like what? A boat? I thought you said there are no fish in that bay?”

“No, it’s like an animal of some sort. I can see it jumping in an arch in and out of the water.”

“Like a dolphin? That’s cool, but I can hear the thunder cracking in the background and I can barely hear you through the wind blowing on your phone.”

I pull my hair away from my eyes as the wind blows it into my face. “It’s not a dolphin. I can’t tell what it is, but it has a giant fishtail and what looks like arms. It’s very strange.”

“So, it’s a fucking octopus!” snaps Kumiko. “Get off the fucking mountain, Shelley, before you get trapped up—”

“Whoa!” I can’t help but yelp as I feel my foot slip out from under me and I land on my ass with one leg hanging over the cliff.

“What the hell happened?” shouts Kumiko in my phone, but her voice is starting to break up.

“I slipped,” I admittedly yell and squeeze the phone between my shoulder and ear to dust my hands. I see some dirt mixed with a smear of blood where I scratched my palms.

“See!” Kumiko shouts as another blast of thunder rumbles through the clouds. “You need to get off that trail before it rains.”

“You’re probably right,” I say as I slip my hands behind me to try to get up. I notice the creature is looking at me—right at me, from the center of the bay; it looks a lot more like a human than a creature. “Uh, Kumiko?”

“You okay?” she says, as the connection on the phone line seems to be getting weaker.

“There’s a man staring at me.”

“Is he weird? Does he look like a serial killer?”

“No,” I whisper. “It’s the thing in the water. I’m sure it’s a man and it’s…or he’s looking at me.”

“From down in the bay?” Kumiko asks. “You’re not making any sense.”

She’s right—I’m not making any sense. This doesn’t make sense. I know I saw a fishtail earlier in that same spot and now there’s a man, who’s not wearing a single thing over his torso, sticking halfway out of the water up to his waist.

I watch him dive headfirst into the bay. As his bottom comes over the surface, I notice it looks smoothed over with glimmering blue-green scales and into what I swear looks like an enormous fishtail.

“Holy shit, Kumiko!” I shout and try to grab my phone from my ear, but it slips and falls.

I drop to my belly and quickly try to reach for my phone as I hear Kumiko’s voice shout my name, but all I can do is watch as my only connection slams into rocks and petrified branches before shattering into hundreds of pieces and finally hitting the water. My heart sinks, as my phone does, too, and I feel the cold sting of a wet raindrop fall onto the back of my thigh below my shorts.

Fuck. I look up at the sky; it is now covered in a heavy, dark gray blanket of clouds.

I’ve lost my phone and it’s going to rain.

I look out to the bay below. It scares me to think what might be lurking within the cascade of deepening, dark blue waters. It scares me more to think my Aunt might’ve been telling the truth.

Mermen? Nah. I’m sure it was a dolphin or other sea creature just as Kumiko said…but now I’m freaked out because I’m alone.

The chill of the air gets colder as more drops of rain collide with my skin, hair, and clothing as I get up. I rub my arms, smearing the wet rain over the surface of my skin and curiosity gets the best of me so I scan the surface of the bay for any signs of life.


“Mermen,” I chuckle to myself as more rain begins to fall.

Turning towards the trail, I look up towards the peak. “I’m not going to make this trip today, Aunt Cora,” I say aloud. Just as I take one step off the path, the clouds open the dams, letting rain flood over me and my path.


I start walking and realize I have no idea what Kumiko’s phone number is; her number was programmed into my phone. I start to panic. I also have no idea what my flight number is to get back home because that was programmed into my phone as well. I grab the shoulder pads of my backpack, knowing I still have my wallet and cash, although I’m sure it’s going to be as soaked as I am right now. But at least Aunt Cora is dry. I was right to put her ashes in an airtight urn. There’s no way I better lose thaaaaaa…!

My leg slips out from under me again, but this time I go flying through the air and land on my butt. Mud is all around me and I feel like my body is moving; I’m drifting slightly…no, I’m sliding.

I grip my palms around a twig in the ground, but they sting from the scrapes I suffered earlier, so I let go. Slick mud starts to flow rapidly as the rain continues to fall. I begin to slide along the ground downhill in a mudslide…

I can’t stop!

I try grabbing onto a tree limb and then a rock, anything to slow me down because I’m picking up speed as I go down the side of the mountain like I’m on some splash roller coaster in an amusement park.

Damn, it hurts!

The sensation of every bumpy, jagged rock and splintery twig hits the inner flesh of my thighs or scraps against my shins, hipbones, and elbows. I feel useless against the rocky terrain that was once dusty and dry but has trapped me into a downward, spiraling landslip.

I look ahead and see the edge of the mountain and the bay below. I recall how my phone crashed and crumbled into pieces before it finally sank into the bay and I wonder if I will experience the same fate.

I try harder to grab onto the next tree limb, but it snaps. Reaching out to the next small boulder, my muddy hands slip right over it. Still sliding, I try to aim my body towards the next tree trunk, but mud splashes into my eyes and I miss the tree. I quickly wipe the mud away as I pick up more speed with the edge of the cliff just a few yards away. I quickly panic knowing gravity and velocity are pulling me faster and faster down the mountain.

I finally accept there’s no way I’m going to win against these elements—gravity, the mountain, the mud, so there’s only one thing left to do—


Suddenly, my whole body is hoisted into the air. My stomach wrenches up into my throat as the mountain throws me off its cliff.

The mouth of the bay around me widens and I look down. Below, I see the dark water about to swallow me so I squeeze my eyes shut. Landing hard in the enormous cerulean pool that envelopes me, I immediately try to swim up to the surface, but I can’t, as my nose stings from the impact. I push the thought of pain out of my mind as I realize I’m sinking; my boots feel heavy and so does my backpack.

Reaching to my waist to unfasten the clips that keep my backpack snug on my back, I remember I broke one end this morning and just knotted the straps around me. As I try to unknot the ends underwater, I notice the infinitely black bottom of the bay and feel my heart race. I extend my hand down to my boots, which feel like concrete pulling me deeper, but it’s taking a shit ton of effort to undo the laces. I accidentally open my mouth and swallow some water, which makes my body even heavier. The surface seems farther and farther away as I sink down into the abyss.

I try to swim with every ounce of might I have, but I’m getting tired and not going anywhere. I swallow a little bit more water and notice how the water tastes both clean and dirty at the same time, just like when I played in the bay as a child with my parents, but I don’t care—

I need air!

A rush of adrenaline overcomes me, flooding my body and allowing me to flap my arms and kick my legs as hard as I can to move them as more water enters my open cavities. Choking, I instinctively try to take a breath, but there’s only thick heavy water. It’s so weighty I can’t move my legs anymore, but I can still feel my own skin. And it feels cold. I feel cold and alone.

I look up one last time because I don’t want to see the darkness I’m about to be lost in below. Between my strands of hair floating about my face, I vaguely see the man I’m sure I saw earlier splashing in the bay, who now appears to be circling above me…and he does have a fishtail.

*End of Chapter 1*

Amazon US | UK | AU | CA

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Lovers Catch


How Authors Really Feel About a 5-Star Review System and Ratings

I’m not going to bullshit. This is how authors really feel when we get these ratings:

5 Stars.

God has not forsaken us! Blackholes do not exist; there is no reason to fear the encroaching pull of gravitational forces that might crush you into oblivion. Semicolons are allowed. The cool kids want to invite you to sit at their lunch table and ride home with them at the back of the bus. All Ghostbusters movies are loved equally by everyone just as much as they are loved by you and the high school quarterback, who looks like Chris Hemsworth, wants to ask you to be his date for prom. And don’t worry, your mom did not catch you beating off at the peak of puberty-that was just a nightmare.

4 Stars.

Your book was okay but there were too many farts.

3 Stars.

Those farts were stinky.

2 Stars.

Not only did those farts reek, but there were as many sucks and blows and I’m pretty sure this was not intended to be an erotic book. Was it?

1 Star.

“Oh Zuuly, you nut.” Will you please stop eating so many cruciferous foods. Blackholes do exist and your mom? She totally caught you…be ashamed. Be very ashamed.


Love me some Ghostbusters, especially the last one with a dancing Chris Hemsworth. I am not ashamed.


Hot Rocket: Boom No. 3.


Chapter 1

This story is told in its entirety by


Fuck. I wish I hadn’t lied. I think I’m in love with this woman.

It’s unbelievable. This is the last time I’ll be making love to…K. That’s the only part of her real name she’ll give me—an initial. And, after I make love to her just one more time, we’ll both have to say goodbye.

I let my weight fall heavily on her. I want her to feel like I’m hugging her whole body as tightly as her pussy is hugging me as I enter her.

“I’m going to miss you,” K says softly, her warm breath in my ear. “I know we’ve only known each other a few days, but I’m still going to miss you.”

Ah, fuck. This is supposed to feel good, but it hurts.

“Shh,” I whisper back, “let’s just enjoy this one last time.”

I can’t tell her I’m going to miss her as well. If I do, I might break down and my dick will go limp. It’s never happened before, but I don’t think I’ve felt like this about anyone. The thought of not seeing her ever again weakens me. Goddamn it! I feel like I might cry.

I hook my hands behind her back then over her shoulders and bury my face in her neck. I grind against her hips and into her exactly how she likes it—working my ass and my abs in a controlled slamming but cycling repetitive motion of pound and recede forcing her to feel every stroke of our friction.

K starts moaning and wraps her legs tight around my waist. I love feeling like she’s clinging to me and doesn’t want to let me go. I slip my hands behind her head, gripping her silky thick, straight, black hair. “I need you to come for me, baby,” I tell her.  It’s almost time for me to go.

“I can’t,” she says. “I’m too sad.”

Oh God, I’m glad it’s not just me feeling pitiful.

“Do you want me stop?” I ask, looking into her dark brown eyes, but I thrust in her even harder, making her body jerk in unison with the hotel bed.

“Please don’t stop,” she beckons. “Just come, come inside me.” K laces her fingers behind my head of cropped brown hair and looks into my honey brown eyes. “And kiss me while you come.”

My face feels hot and my eyes feel wet. I don’t want K to see my face so I fist K’s hair and force my tongue into her mouth. The slick wet lips of our mouths and her pussy—Oh fuck! I’m about to erupt.

I come hard and I can’t help but grunt in K’s mouth and she laughs. I love her laugh. It’s the thing I’m going to miss most, and I love the jiggle and tightening of her body as I spill inside her .

I look at the clock. “I have to go.”

I kiss her warm neck one more time because I want to remember her smell. She always smells sweet, like strawberry candy. Even her cunt smells like candy until after we have sex. Then, she smells like sex and candy and I want to lick her all over.

I reluctantly roll off her and reach for my clothes to get dressed. As I throw on my jeans, t-shirt, and covered shoes, I look at the beautiful half-Asian woman lying naked in the bed—smooth fair skin, long black hair, brown eyes, pretty rose-colored lips that match her cheeks, and umber-colored nipples, which I bend down to suck on and feel it tighten in my mouth .

K lifts my chin. “Goodbye,” she says, forcing a grin.

I kiss her soft lips and I feel like I’m pouting. I don’t know how she can be so strong about this. Most girls I’ve had a fling with are usually trying to formulate a plan to stay connected, which never works out when we live so far apart. But not K. We’ve agreed to have our fling and let it go.

“Bye,” I choke.

I walk towards the hotel door where my suitcase is standing and ready. I grab the handle, reach for the doorknob, but I hesitate.

Am I sure I don’t want to get her number? She didn’t ask for my number. Do I really not want to link up with any of her social media profiles to stay in touch? She didn’t request to do that with me and I get the feeling she doesn’t want to.

I am tempted to turn around and ask her if she’s married or some bullshit like that, though I’m also enticed to turn around and tell her the truth—I’m not really a pilot or an officer in the military, but a lower-ranking enlisted mechanic. Although I do fly airplanes, the military wouldn’t allow me to be a pilot for them; apparently, my personality test reported I was “too angry” for such a position.

Of course, she got the glorified version of my status. I wanted to impress her to get under her dress—and it worked. I just didn’t think I’d still be interested after one night, which then led to two nights until we decided to move into one hotel room to share the remainder of our vacation time together.

We met at my brother’s wedding. K is my new sister-in-law’s friend and was invited at the last minute since by chance K was in town. I was one of the groomsmen, also from out-of-town. Neither of us had dates so it was only a matter of a few drinks before we both eventually ended up at the same table to talk. Of course, I wasn’t really listening considering her small tits still had a nice bounce whenever she laughed under her low-cut, shimmery daffodil-colored dress.

K caught me checking her out and I guess, between the champagne and soft glances, we both seemed eager to want to leave the wedding reception and start up a party of our own. It didn’t take but ten minutes for us to find ourselves in her hotel room across the street after we decided to jet.

“Jet. Jet. Jet.” She kept saying my name as I fucked her, like she was obsessed with it as much as she was with my cock. I didn’t fuck her too hard though. She seemed like a nice girl and after I got her off, she wanted to know more about my name—how I got it, whether it was my real name or a nickname. When I told her I got my pilot’s license at fifteen, she seemed more eager to learn my past and we both couldn’t believe the coincidence—she, like me, loves airplanes of all things. K, likewise, impressed me with her intellect; she’s studying engineering.

But more than anything, I was caught up in her eyes always glancing at me with wild excitement. Every glance she made was filled with bewilderment, like she had found something—someone truly special. The thought that I might be that special someone made me want to impress her as well.

When she asked me what I did for a living, I did not want to disappoint, so I said I was a pilot in the military.

Not. True.

I mentioned I didn’t want to discuss it further because I was married to my work, which was “boring and hardly conversational.”

Also. Not. True.

And, I added that as much as I loved my job, I needed a break from talking about flight status, which was just a cover so I wouldn’t dig myself in deeper with fictitious details. But despite the lies, she still seemed a little disappointed.

When I asked K about her life, she said she was focused on her studies. Beyond that, she didn’t want to divulge anything further, either. Like me, she mentioned, she was happy with her life, but didn’t mind taking a break from the expectations of the norm. So, we decided not to talk too much about our personal lives. We spent several days just hanging out around town and in the hotel room—laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

On the first night, I learned K’s college was based somewhere along the East Coast, which is far from where I’m stationed in Hawaii. Plus, K still has two more years before she graduates. So, even if we were both interested in keeping something going on between us, deep down, we knew it would never work out and these five days would inevitably turn into something less memorable. I believe we both felt there was something about our instant attraction that we wanted to preserve, which long distance messaging and phone calls would only destroy.

I look at the handle of the hotel door—I still haven’t gripped it yet.

My flight is taking off soon and I can’t miss it because I have to report for duty tomorrow. I don’t know why I’m struggling with this. It’s not the first time I fucked a girl and had to take off. They all know what they’re getting into. I make it clear I’m not going to hang around but they still want to get in bed with me and they still cry afterwards.

It pains me a little K’s not crying about it. I figure maybe I’m just caught up in the moment, like how women get when they watch romantic movies and don’t want it to end.

Or, for the first time, I’m uneasy because a woman is fine with just letting me go like she has no other option, like she’s not interested in other options.

“Jet,” K calls out from behind me, but I don’t turn to look at her. If I do, I’ll want to crawl back in bed with her. “Jet, you’ll miss your flight,” she says. “You’d better take off.”

I reluctantly grip the handle and roll my suitcase out the door. I pull the door shut until I hear the lock click and I look across the hall. It seems much longer and narrower than I recall. I take a breath and the air feels stale and empty. I roll my suitcase towards the elevators where I wait in silence and when the doors finally open, I pause before I step inside when I notice my reflection in a mirror along the back wall.

I don’t just feel like shit; I look like shit.

My cheeks are flush. I’m fucking red all over and damn. I need a haircut.

I straighten up and remind myself I’m a soldier—an Airman. When duty calls, there’s no questioning feelings, especially my own. So, it’s time to go and I guess I should be glad K made it easy for me to just leave.

Take off, she said to me. It’s as if she understands my obedience to military service, to Congress, and to my Commander-in-Chief—the President. I follow his orders whether I agree with him or not. And maybe that’s exactly what my problem was from the beginning. K is a nice girl. She deserves a nice guy—someone who is always going to be there for her, be nice to her, and always be obedient to her needs.

The elevator descends and I grin at my own reflection, checking out my dimples.

Chicks dig the dimples. K said they were nice. She said a lot of things about me were nice and I hate to admit that I might’ve lied about a few other things as well. Ultimately, I think I lied because I didn’t want her to know who I really was—angry and an occasionally overzealous Badass. Instead, I wanted to leave K with a memory of someone who treated her nicely.

I hear a ding, so I turn around to watch the elevator doors open to a busy lobby with giant glass windows boasting a bright blue sky.

I still have the taste of K in my mouth and her sweet scent is lingering. None of it is enough to help me go forward—quite the opposite in fact. But the memories—the thought that she was mine for a time is enough fuel for me to pick up my feet and fly.

*End of Chapter 1*

Releases 1/18/2018

Amazon US | UK | AU | CA



Loose Cannon: Boom No. 2.


Chapter 1

This story is told in its entirety by


Real. Life. Superhero.

That’s what I think when I think of Senator Gemma Jones. I look up to see the senator has entered the hangar and I can’t believe my eyes.

I have to agree with Specialist Ransom as he mumbles under his breath, “She’s so fucking hot.”

The skinny enlisted soldier in my charge straightens his slouching spine; as I look to the rest of my team of subordinate soldiers, all dressed in camo, they all get taller—coming to attention without having been asked.

Senator Gemma Jones looks like someone straight out of a comic book—brunette with long legs, steel blue eyes, and a busty chest. I’ve seen her on television, but she looks a lot different in person. On TV she has the appearance of a balls-in-your-face politician, but in person, she looks like a genuine superhero. If she had indeed been crafted from a comic book world of crime fighters, she’s not hiding her superhero identity very well. She’s wearing a fitted, cut-at-the-knee, bright red dress complete with a matching slim blazer with shoulder pads that makes her look like she’s about to kick ass.

The woman exudes power and I can see my soldiers stick out their chests as Senator Jones swiftly glides into the hangar—smoother than a glider plane despite the six-inch red heels. She’s in the company of her bodyguards, all dressed in black suits, who were likely soldiers once…except for the fatty slouchy one who is rubbing me the wrong way. He makes me uneasy as he rolls his eyes at my men. He’s an asshole. Ain’t no way he was once a soldier.

But these are not government paid suits; they are definitely privately paid. I can tell since they are carrying more weapons than is typically allowed and I have no doubt that most of what they are packing are not government-issued either.

Gemma Jones has money. It’s what got her into the political arena and what keeps her there. Her family owns one of the largest international shipping companies in the world, among other assets.

I can’t help but wonder what she has on under that superhero suit that was likely designed by some French designer for thousands of dollars to fit exactly snug on her bodice. I venture to think how much her underwear costs and if it could be lace or satin or cotton under that red dress suit. It wouldn’t matter. I’ve fought with all kinds of fabric—yanking panties to freedom with my teeth. Jeez, I’d love to get into a fight with her panties. I’d love to be her adversary, her villain. Come to think of it, if she is a superhero, she probably has on spandex. I don’t think my pearly whites have had the pleasure of grinding on stretchy spandex just yet. That would be an awesome tug-of-war.

I call my men to attention as she gets closer. She glides right past us—soldiers lined up in a perfect array, yet she heads straight towards the display of firearms and weapons.

Senator Jones glances over the weapons and turns to us. Her voice has a sultry, raspy, and somewhat off-worldly sound when she speaks. “Where’s my new guy?” she asks. “Where is the officer that is supposed to give me a demonstration?”

I step forward. “I’m not an officer, Senator Jones. I’m a First Sergeant. You can call me Sergeant Badass.”

Senator Jones looks stunned. “Is that a joke?” she asks and her glide turns into a cautious stomp as she moves towards to me.

“That’s not a joke,” I say proudly, “but if you’re uncomfortable calling me by my last name, you can just call me Sergeant.”

She examines me for minute with her steel blue eyes under a crinkled forehead that shows she is deep in thought. She looks me up and down—assessing me, as if she needs to be sure I’m not mocking her, as any villain would. I take it she’s not used to having people fucking around with her, which I’m not.

She makes eye contact with me. It’s a bit peculiar that she makes me feel cautious; I don’t get the jitters easily. It almost feels like she does have superpowers behind those out-of-this world eyes. It feels like she can see right through my green eyes, under my thick skull with short blonde hair, and deep into my soul. I wonder, what does she see as she stares into me? Her eyes soften and her forehead relaxes. I see a smile wanting to play at the corner of her mouth, but it’s obvious she doesn’t want anyone to see her without her stern superhero disguise.

“Okay, sergeant,” she says, “show me your guns.”

The relaxed suits chuckle, as do I, and the senator realizes the silliness of the comment she just made and rolls her eyes. I know my soldiers are chuckling too, internally, as they remain standing at attention.

“At ease,” I tell them and I ask my soldiers to line up behind the table as we rehearsed yesterday to help with the demonstration.

Today my job is to be more of a salesman than a soldier. Senator Jones is here to assess the firearms as well as the tank we’ve parked in the corner of the hangar. Although the senator is the owner of a billion-dollar company known as World Gem Shipping and Enterprises, she’s not here to secure any contracts. She’s here on behalf of the House Armed Services Committee.

We all know how Senator Jones, the youngest woman in Congress at thirty-three-years-old, only a few years older than me, feels about weapons. Her father, a former politician himself, died in a hunting accident and her older brother was killed in action as a marine overseas.

I need to convince the senator that the weapons are safe for transportation, but it’s my understanding the super senator won’t be so easily won over. As I understand it, she doesn’t just know a lot about politics, money, and world commerce, but she knows a lot about weaponry as well.

I pick up the first rifle at the end of the table when we all hear a loud, “Damn!” holler from inside the hangar. “Is that a tank?! That’s a fucking tank!” the voice exclaims.

I turn to see it’s the senator’s kid brother, Graham Jack Jones—who just turned eighteen yesterday. We all know the stories about the kid who’s going to inherit billions one day, but is a total fuckup. He’s been kicked out of every school—public and private, and the senator is stuck having to watch over the kid, who should be acting like a man, but is fooling around like an ill-behaved two-year-old. He stumbles into the hangar and the kid looks like he just finished banging his head while getting stoned at a rock concert. He’s dressed in ripped black jeans and a black jacket torn to shreds at the shoulders with black hair gelled stiff to cover half his face. He’s also carrying a dirty gray backpack, which I can only wonder what’s inside.

I watch Graham wander over to the tank as the senator does, too. I bet she’s embarrassed. I only have one kid under my charge that is the same age as Graham, but he’s most certainly more of man.

“Holy shit!” cries Graham. “This fucking thing is huge! Look at the cannon sticking out of this thing,” he cries and looks at his sister. “You’re really planning to fuck shit up with this thing, aren’t you, sis?”

The senator shakes her head and I see the kid climb atop the tank.

“Get down from there, please,” I say as pleasantly as I possibly can although I already feel a need to choke the kid. I don’t know how my adoptive father managed to never beat my brothers and me for all the shit we did when we were Graham’s age and younger. But I do know what it’s like to get beat. My biological father ingrained that into my earliest memories.

Instead of coming down, the kid crawls higher onto the tank. He’s not going to hurt or do any damage, but it does piss me off that he’s behaving disrespectfully.

“Get down, please,” I ask again.

Senator Jones calls out to her brother in a girlish whine, “Graham, can you please do what the sergeant asks and come down?”

I can’t believe it. The super senator’s weakness is her own kid brother. She slouches as she speaks to him and her voice is weak. If I were her, I’d be yelling.

The kid jumps down from the top and trips on his own two feet, landing on his back, and laughs at himself as he rolls on the ground. I’m pissed. My demonstration, which I’ve planned for weeks, has become a circus.

I turn to one of my soldiers, “Will you ask the senator’s brother if he would like to wait in the office in the next building and escort him there?”

“I’m not going anywhere,” the kid interjects and skips over to us.

“Graham,” begs the senator, “please behave.”

The kid laughs and picks up one of the semiautomatic weapons on the table.

“That is fucking awesome!” he shouts as he grips the gun and holds it upright pointing it at one my soldiers. It’s not loaded, but this kid is getting on my last fucking nerve.

“Sir, please put the gun down,” says my soldier standing in front of Graham across the table. The soldier reaches for the gun, as does the senator, and all three scuffle with the weapon.

“Son!” I yell at the top of my lungs, “Put that gun down!”

The kid gets startled and he turns, but as he does he whacks his sister in the face with the gun.

We all pause for a minute. My soldier has put both of his hands up. The senator has her face in her palm and the kid starts laughing.

The senator’s entourage of suits who have been watching step towards us, and the senator puts her hand up and waves it. “I’m fine,” she says, but as she removes her hand from her face, I see blood as red as the skirt suit she’s wearing.

I’m am fucking fuming. The kid just laughs.

“That’s it. I’ve had enough,” I say. “Specialist Ransom, you’re in charge,” I order as I push the senator out of the way, pull the gun from the kid, toss the gun to my soldier, then grab the kid by the neck.

“Ow!” he cries as I lock his arm behind his back and grab his head by his stiff, sticky hair and lead him to the bathroom.

“What the hell are you doing?!” cries the senator. “Get off of him!” she says as blood continues to drip from her nose.

I look at the suits. “Stay here, will you? I’m just going to have a chat with Senator Jones’s baby brother.”

“Chat?” cries the senator and to my surprise, the suits move in to keep her from following us. I’m sure the suits are more than fed up with having to play constant babysitter to an overgrown spoiled brat.

Both the senator and the kid are wailing at one another as I grip the kid tighter to march him towards the toilets.

“Don’t worry, ma’am,” I hear Specialist Ransom assure her. “The sergeant isn’t going to hurt him, but I’m sure your brother will emerge a new man.”

The senator starts screaming; I guess she thinks I’m going to hurt the kid and no one is standing in my way. I should feel lucky to have the support I do in the hangar. And one day, I’m sure this kid will feel lucky he had it, too.

I march the kid through the bathroom entrance door, push us both into a stall, and I stick his head in the toilet. There’s not enough water in the bowl to cover his whole head, but his face gets wet and I yank him up quickly.

“What the hell?!” cries the kid as he struggles to fight me—face wet and trying to pull my hands free of him. “Do you know who the fuck I am?” he asks with his eyes still closed.

I shove the kid’s face back into the bowl. “I know exactly who you are, Graham Jack Jones,” I say and pull the kid’s head back out. “You’re a spoiled rich brat, a Cracker Jack, with no parents so no one taught you how to be behave.”

“Fuck you,” the kid whines and I put his face back in the bowl and pull him out again.

“I didn’t hear you, Cracker Jack, what did you say?” I ask.

The kid is breathing heavy as he continues to fight my grip on his head. Despite the cold toilet water dripping from the edges of his nappy hair, he’s steaming and red in the face. It reminds me of my youngest brother and when Cracker Jack opens his eyes, which are identical to his sister’s, he makes eye contact with me, clearly unafraid to face a fight or confront his enemy, but I can see in his eyes he knows this is a losing battle.

The kid is strong like his sister, but he clearly has no direction. It’s too bad; with the strength he has, he would’ve made a good soldier one day.

I repeat myself. “Did you have something to say or are you ready to do right by the people waiting outside, waiting on you to grow the fuck up? Especially your sister.”

“Grow up?” repeats the kid with a huff. “You’re not a grown up,” he scorns. “All you soldiers do is take orders and do what you’re told. You’re more of a child than I am! At least I get to be independent—do what I want and when I want. You might think you brought me in here to teach me a lesson, but the only lesson going to be learned here is that you’re nothing more than a little bitch—and my sister’s bitch at that.”

I want to hit the kid. I want to squish the little shit’s throat between my palms until he crumbles like a cracker. Of course, I can’t do that and shitty toilet water isn’t working on him, so I grab his backpack. He fights with me for it.

“What do you have in here that’s so important to you?” I ask as I push him with one hand so he’s facing the stall wall and use my other hand to dig through the bag. “Let me guess,” I say. “Whatever is inside seems relatively small and by the look of you, I’m guessing its drugs. Or a sippie cup. Or, most likely, your tiny ball sacks, which you have to carry with you because you don’t know how to keep them attached.”

“Don’t fucking go in there!” he yells.

Sure enough, I manage to pull out a plastic bag, of what looks like cocaine, which was resting between a porn magazine and a comic book.

A comic book. Fuck, now I feel bad. Some people might think I’m a little too old for comic books, but some dreams just stay with you your whole life and being a soldier was the closest I knew I’d ever come to being in one of those comics. If Cracker Jack doesn’t clean up his act, he’ll never have dreams, much less fulfill any of any kind.

I grab the plastic bag of drugs and toss it in the toilet.

“Don’t do that!” he screams and I hear the tapping of high heeled shoes enter the bathroom.

“What the hell is going on in here?” snaps Senator Jones and she grabs my arm to try to get me off of her brother.

“Step back, ma’am,” I tell her. “This is between your brother and me.”

“No!” she cries. “This is between you and me. Get your hands off him right now!”

I laugh. “Hey Cracker Jack, I’ll make you a deal. If you promise to behave for the rest of the day and not hit anyone or touch my guns, I’ll let you fish the drugs out of the toilet later.” I’m lying of course; I have every intention of flushing that shit down the toilet.

“Drugs?” asks Senator Jones.

I cock my head to show her what’s in the toilet and she closes her eyes as she sighs. “Flush it,” she says.

“No! You can’t!” the kid exclaims. “That’s worth a lot of money! You can’t flush it. Please, you don’t understand!”

Senator Jones pulls my hand free from her brother and she reaches her foot up to the flush lever and pushes on it.

“You fucking bitch!” Graham hollers as he tries to go for the drugs spiraling down into the toilet. I hold him back and the three of us watch the bag of cocaine swirl to the bottom of the bowl and into the abyss of sewage.

The kid starts to cry. He’s actually crying over a bag of coke as his sister walks out.

“I’m a dead man,” he says. “You have no idea what you just did. What my sister just did.”

I finally understand why the kid was not afraid of having his face dunked between a porcelain ring where assess sit to shit. “Don’t tell me you’re dealing drugs,” I say. “You’re an heir to a billion-dollar corporation. What the fuck do you need to deal drugs for?”

“I don’t know,” he whines. “It just kinda…happened. I have a lot of connections. People know this.”

“How long have you been doing this?” I ask.

“A year,” he sulks, “and I’ve tried to get out of it, but they threatened to kill my sister. I fucking hate her, but she’s the only family I’ve got left, you know?”

“I know,” I tell him and I let him go because I really do understand. I would be nothing today if it wasn’t for my family—my brothers and my adoptive parents. “Listen,” I say as I unroll some toilet paper and give it to him so he can wipe his face. “How about we talk about it afterward?”

“Talk?” he smirks. “Who the hell do you think you are?” he asks sarcastically. “You just put my head in a toilet and now you want to talk about my drug problems?”

“Yeah,” I tell him looking him straight in the eyes.

He studies me for a minute with his face crinkled in the same way his sister did and I don’t know what he sees when he looks into my eyes, but his face softens as his sister’s did earlier.

“I shouldn’t get you involved,” says the kid. “I don’t want to put anyone else at risk for my stupid mistakes.”

I take a big breath and exhale slowly. The kid has more potential than I thought; it pulls at my heartstrings. “That’s one of the best things I’ve ever heard anyone say in a long time.”

The kid studies me again.

“The only thing I’d like to hear more than that,” I mention, “is an apology to your sister, the woman who shouldn’t have had her nose bleed or get injured in the first place. But I understand you might not be ready for that, so I’ll talk to your sister. I’m sure I can set something up for you. I want you to learn to protect yourself from whatever shit you’re in.”

The kid shakes his head. “You can’t help me, man. And besides, you’re not really going to talk about my problems with me, are you? You’re going to lecture me and tell me how men should treat women. You’re going to feed me a bunch of crap the military has fed you about pushing forward, overcoming your battles, and being the best you can be,” he smirks while making a funny face and bobbling his head. “Do you really think that bullshit makes you that much of a badass to the point you actually believe you’re going to win every fight against any asshole that comes at you?”

I laugh and the kid looks at me funny, so I point to my name tag hovering over my chest—Badass, it says and I’m surprised the kid did not notice before, but he’s certainly noticing now.

“Yep,” I say. “I sure do.”

*End of Chapter 1*

Amazon US | UK | AU | CA


For the sake of blue alien men, why I will never again leave a 1-star review.


Sometimes, I miss the old days. Days, when we worshipped books. Days, where books were preserved in cool climates controlled by air conditioners and the only person whose opinion mattered was that of the brainy librarian. And she hardly cared about what books you read; she was more concerned about late fees and suspiciously torn or Crayola on pages. Yes, I miss the days of the classic library where no one’s opinion mattered but your own.

I still go to the library. The only problem with libraries is that they continue to stock books in the same way as they did in the old days. If you want aliens, you have to go to the sci-fi section. If you want a hot Viking, you have to go to the romance section. But if you want to read about a hot Viking spanking an alien…uh, there’s no section for that.

Thank you, Amazon.

I love Amazon. Jeff Bezos is a hero. He made it possible for Big Buff Blue Alien Men to reign in on women from all over the galaxy at any time, in any place, which is the comfy privacy of a reader’s own little portable corner of the universe that is upon her Kindle.

Lovely, magical Kindle.

Best thing about a Kindle is you can’t burn it like you would a book…or, can you? I used to be against book burning. I used to stand against anything that stood in the way of literacy because literacy leads to education, education leads to shared information, and those things together lead to empowerment.

Educated, empowered people. I love these people, the people with enough brain power to change the world.

My kids are going to change the world. They process and compute all kinds of crazy shit that I can’t even begin to comprehend. I have no doubt my kids will be on a spaceship sitting next to your kids leaping across the time continuum to save planet earth from all the stupid shit our generation did to it, but that’s not the point of this post. This post is about reviews. See, my daughter was rummaging through my kindle one day and thought a book looked good. Indeed, it did, so I read it. But I didn’t like it, and so I left a 1-star review among the masses of high fives also letting my daughter in on my opinion.

My opinion.

I couldn’t sleep the night I did this. I kept trying to think why my action of posting a 1-star review bothered me so much. I’m human; my opinions matter. I have a right to leave a review of a book I didn’t like. Right? Truth be known, I continued to feel bad about leaving the 1-star, so I deleted it and I felt so much better afterward but the damage was already done.

Prior to its removal, I told my daughter I didn’t like the book, so she didn’t want to read it either. Per her perception, I essentially burned the book, but worse than that, I had essentially told her: Not. To. Read.

…the FUCK was I thinking? 

My kid is already consumed with so much crazy tech shit that if she had shown even an inkling of interest for a book, I should’ve bought it, gift wrapped it, bought some balloons and handed it all to her with a brand new pink zebra-striped reading lamp that matches her bedspread.

So, I like aliens and Vikings (and textbooks – don’t judge me). My baby, on the other hand, wanted to read a book about a panther. She should have read the book. She was entitled to read the book. I want her to know this. I want her to feel this. I want her mind to become so invested in the minds of others that her brain will be overflowing with information thus contributing to her broader education and empowerment.

I kept my own daughter from empowerment.

Before Kindle technology, it was just me and the heavy books at the library. But it was fun. I felt like I was on a treasure hunt for that one special story each week, checking out fifteen books or so at a time knowing I’d flip through the first one or two chapters of most and only be able to finish the one. It made me feel powerful to know I had so much information, like brains, beautiful and brilliant, held tight in my arms. I didn’t have someone blaring in my face, “DNF.” “Waste of time.” “Do not buy.” If they had done that in person, I would’ve told ’em to F-off. I can consume all the brains I want to.

And giving my daughter a negative review was exactly that-telling another human being not to seek treasure, not to seek aliens or panthers, not to exploit one’s own capacity to exercise literacy, not to become educated, not to use one’s brain on a book: Not. To. Read.

I recently took a chance on an indie book that had only 1-star reviews and the book was good! I have no idea how or why something like that could happen except when I reflect on my own actions.

No, I’m not telling you not to post your opinion, because we need reviews! There’s nothing I love more than digging into people’s brains, which I can’t do unless you write something, like a review. I would simply recommend when giving your review to be considerate of other readers as I should’ve been with my daughter.

But if you absolutely want to burn your books, go for it. Above all things, I respect your humanity, which includes your right to burn books, especially if you bought that book because its now yours and you own it. Just promise you won’t burn your Kindle. That will increase the amounts of toxic gases looming in our atmosphere and Big Buff Blue Alien Men won’t come here anymore.

Ash Burgers by Dani Stowe


*A Teen Paranormal Flash Fiction Romance*

Here they come. They’re strolling through the diner door like they think they’re tough shit.


And there she is. It’s Blainey Foxx, who always seems to be in the company of dumb jocks.

Of course, Blainey is the foxiest girl at school and she knows it. She doesn’t really need to go out of her way to make herself look prettier than she already is but she does it anyway. She likes to wear short shorts that show off her long legs under a fake tan and shimmering dark cherry scented lotion that smells like it was made by a European fashion designer whose name I’m sure I can’t pronounce. She’s also a dark brunette with long wavy hair that’s always falling into her face but can’t hide her glowing gray eyes that make her look like something from far out of this world.

Oh, if she only knew how I would love a girl that goes beyond supernatural.

Why the hell a beautiful and smart girl like Blainey would choose to chill with a bunch of immature, in-crowd, faddy jocks who are confused with so much macho madness to the point they can’t think straight is beyond me.

“Hey! How’s it going wiener boy? Ring me up a hot dog,” says one of the jocks, who looks like a pansy dressed in his inherited purple and yellow letterman jacket, which I’m sure he got from his dad and older brother because it’s obviously been worn through at least three cycles of high school.

I flip the burger I’m cooking for the customer dressed in red plaid and black jeans wearing a black baseball cap sitting in the corner, although I don’t think he’s really going to eat the burger. Thank goodness, he’s paid no attention to the ruckus that just walked in. I walk up to the register at the front counter.

“We stopped selling hotdogs a month ago,” I tell the jock, and although he’s been in here at least a dozen times since then, I’m sure he’s too dumb to remember. I’m certainly not going to give him one of the few hot dogs we have hiding in the freezer.

“So, no wieners?” asks another a bug-eyed brute whose head looks too small for a normal-sized brain.

“Nope, only pussies in here,” says the first pansy and they both laugh.

“Stop!” says Blainey. “Just stop it. Let’s get our burgers and get out of here, please.”

“What the fuck is your problem?” asks the bug-eyed pansy squinting one of his bulging eyes at Blainey.

“She’s on the rag,” laughs the other one and I see the customer in the corner fidget in his chair.

“Oh my God! What the hell is wrong with you two?” Blainey punches each one of the macho pansies in the arm and the jocks rub at the sites as though she’s really hurt them. “Have some fucking decency!” she shouts and heads to a table not far from my other customer and she sits down.

I feel a little bad for her as she rolls her gorgeous gray eyes and curses to herself while crossing her arms. Even when she’s mad, she still maintains the allure of something otherworldly. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she was a supernatural of some kind. But I do know better, and Blainey Foxx is not a super.

“Jeez,” scoffs the bug-eyed pansy. “I was just kidding. I’m sure Ash has got a wiener hidden back there somewhere. He might have to dig to find it,” he laughs.

Blainey puts her head in her hands from the embarrassment. I can’t understand why she takes such torture.

“Are you guys going to order?” I ask.

“Yeah,” says the first pansy, “let me get a number one, extra-large, with extra sauce and make my burger rare.”

I notice the customer in the corner squirm in his seat.

“And for you?” I ask bug eyes.

“I’ll have the same thing, and don’t overcook it; I like it bloody,” he says and he turns to Blainey. “You want anything?” he asks her. “Just remember, anything you get will be smothered with drool because Ashley can’t keep his mouth closed whenever you’re around.”

I blush. It’s probably true, and I’m afraid to see what she thinks but she looks at me with a pretty grin and she shakes her head.

I smile back and she blushes.

Bug-eye pansy notices the exchange and I can practically see steam blow out of his ears.

“I tell you what,” says the bug-eyed jock. “Give her your bite-sized wiener. I’m sure that’ll make her happy.”

“Shut up!” cries Blainey and she leans her head back and I see the customer in the corner in plaid peep his eyes out from under his cap. He’s checking her out. He’s checking out her neck.

“You know, you don’t have to be such a bitch,” bug-eyes replies back to Blainey. “We were just fooling around. If you keep this up, I’m not taking you to prom.”

Blainey’s face turns upside down and I swear a girl like that should never possess a face so sad. She gets up and scurries out the front door. I’m not completely surprised that the plaid dressed customer gets up to follow right behind her.

“I’ll be right back,” I tell the two pansies.

“Where the fuck are you going?” the first pansy asks.

“Uh…I think my burger is burning. I’ll be right back.”

I skip to the back door of the restaurant, stopping to grab my silver coated flip blade, and I head outside making my way towards the front parking lot.

There are only two cars—mine and the one I’m sure Blainey arrived in with her pair of pansies because I’ve seen that car at school before.

How the other customer got here? I can only guess.

I head to my car and open the trunk and pull out my Savage Arms Mark I G Bolt-Action Rifle, which sounds badass and was a gift from my grandad for shooting squirrels, but I make my own bullets for them and it gets the job done. By using a silver alloy in the projectile, my bullets can vanquish a supernatural on contact.

I probably don’t need to, but I do fill my bullets with typical gunpowder because seeing the messy blowout of rotten flesh is still my favorite part of taking on super inhuman creatures.

I know I’m not the typical demon, vampire, werewolf, phantom, ghost, witch, or goblin slayer. I’m sure the typical supernatural undertaker, which I know there are a few us around, look just like the ones on television—big, buff, and handsome fuckers that girls drool over.

But not me.

I look less than average, like someone who might be in the chess club. I’m skinny with big feet, big ears, and my black hair against my white skin and honey brown eyes makes me look like a vampire. So, yeah, I’m hardly television material unless I’m going to be cast as one of the bad guys, which I’m not!

I’m a good guy and, truth be told, for one of the good guys, I’m not that smart. I just have a knack for killing things and I need to track Blainey before the super kills her.

So, I listen. I listen for the sound of Blainey and I hear her. I hear a whimper and I run through the parking lot and into the woods and there she is.

I watch her do a round kick that sends the super, who was following her, flying backward into the air and landing in a bush.

Blainey sees me. “Get out of here Ash, before you get hurt!”

I watch as the super comes jumping out of the air and he’s about to crash down on her to take a bite out of her with his fangs out, claws drawn, and mouth wide open.

Now, this fucking super looks scary.

But I’m shocked to see Blainey flip out a switchblade from her pocket, which I’m sure is coated with silver. And I wonder, how the hell she hides that thing in her short denim shorts? But she flips the blade between her hands like she’s some kind of ninjutsu reincarnate as she defends herself against the super, thrusting the sharp blade in every direction.

I wipe my face because I feel drool drip out of the corner of my mouth.

Blainey takes a hit in the face, and she warns me again, “Ashley, get the hell out of here!”

I can’t believe it. Like me, Blainey Foxx is a Super Killer. I shake my head; it’s just incredible. She does a flip and gets behind the super in an attempt to stab him from the back.

I think I’m in love!

“Ashley! Get to safety,” she struggles to say as she suddenly gets overpowered by the creature that is a vampire and has disarmed Blainey from her weapon, has her clutched by the throat on the ground and, with his other hand, is gripping her wrist where he’s about to take a bite while she’s still trying to fight him off with everything she’s got, so

I shoot him.

He falls dead.

I drop the gun.

He turns to ashes.

I march to Blainey.

She looks confused.

I help her up.

She bats an eye.

So, I kiss her.

Interestingly, she kisses me back. I have no idea what just came over me, but Blainey Foxx is kissing me back!

And now? I smell smoke. I know she’s smoking hot but it smells more like burnt burgers and I think I’m about to shit my pants.

I let go of Blainey and run back to the restaurant.

I notice only one car is left in the parking lot—my car, as smoke is trying to sneak its way out through the front door.

I run to the back and smother the crisping black burgers with pot lids and turn on the fans and open some of the windows.

After a few minutes, most of the smoke clears and I notice Blainey has taken a seat.

“I think your friends may have left you,” I tell Blainey who looks like she’s still confused. “If you wait until I’m done cleaning and closing up, I can take you home.”

I look up to Blainey to see if she might take me up on the offer and I see her grab a napkin from its holder as she gets up from the table. She walks towards me, swinging my gun over her shoulder, which I’m thankful she picked up, and she leans over the counter.

“Come here, Ash,” she says and I try not to stumble over to her.

I try to be cool, but I gulp hard as she reaches over the counter and wipes the drool dripping at the side of my mouth.

She smiles. “Can you make me a burger?”

“Anything you want,” I happily oblige.

“Can you take me to prom?”

My voice cracks. “A..a..absolutely, of course.”

“On second thought, I don’t want a burger.”


“No. Can you get me one of the wieners you secretly have stashed back there and show me how to handle your gun?”

I take the napkin from Blainey to wipe my own mouth because I know my drool is about to pool.

I’m in love with a girl that is beyond super.


NOTE: Dani writes steamy romance and erotic fiction. This YA short was an exception.


Author Beginnings: Pimping Our Books for FREE.


I love it. I love writing stories and books and poetry crafted into all kinds of crazy shit. If you love writing, too, then good for you, but if you’re just starting in the biz and have not begun whoring yourself out and becoming a slave to the literary masses, you’re missing the most important fundamental beginnings of an indie author.

I’m a literary slut and I pimp my books. I slave away at my desk all day and hand most of what I write to the anyone who might read it for free. You might not like the idea; you might think your hard work, time, experience, and brilliance is too special. Honestly, it is.

You are special.

Whatever you wrote could only come from one rare anomaly in the universe, which is you, a person with a genetic blueprint and brain with a complex thought process that is so unique it’s unlike anything else in the entire universe (unless you outright plagiarized some of what you wrote then, you’re not special; you’re a plagiarizer).

But here’s the truth: I read tons of free books. Books that I would’ve never read if an author wasn’t flaunting it in front of my face. Books that say, “Hey, look at me, I’m a slut and I came complete with an overpaid designer book cover. Do you wanna check me out…maybe play a little?”

I do. I do want to check out your book and play a little (because reading is fun!), especially if it’s pimped with covers dressed with naked man abs…or maybe that would be undressed. Regardless, your book is special. But people don’t line up around the street corner to glimpse at special. They have plenty of special things to distract them in their own lives already (their kids, their careers, the Chrises – Chris Evans, Chris Pratt, Chris Hemsworth).

People line up around street corners, standing in line for the next big thing to feel something; it can be good or bad. Romantic or tragic. Minds want to be challenged and mentally exercised so rigorously, it will have no choice but to share that intense mindboggling with other parts of the body, i.e. the heart or p@&%!. People genuinely want to make love (or get spanked, but whatever) with books and they will be more than happy to pay for those experiences but not with a stranger.

So, if you want to get people to read your books, you need to dress them up like sluts and pimp a couple of ’em. Recognize not everyone will like you or your book and YOU WILL hear about it.

I write crazy shit. Mostly, shit about real people who left some kind of crippling impact in my mind and I just had to write about them because at some point I fell in love with their crazy and I want to preserve their misfired or sadly deadened sparks of neurons in the raging glory that they once were. But crazy is not for everybody. So, I pimp a few of my books to give people a chance to know me and my characters and that I’m not some soliciting stranger pounding at the door just for money or charity. (For the record, I am a charity case).

Of course, you also pimp your book to allow people a chance to see if your writing style and world building matches their personal preference. Not everyone wants to read about reenvisioned fairytales or sluts. Personally, I do. One of my favorite stories of all time is about a slut named Vivian who ends up as Cinderella in a movie called Pretty Woman. The moral behind that is she ends up with a damn billionaire. Seriously, you won’t be a billionaire as an indie author, but you can behave like one. (If you are a billionaire, especially one with sexy man abs…uh…where was I?)

Be a pimp. Slut your book. And by that, I mean make your book as visually appealing and sexy per your genre as possible. Slap a “FREE” sticker on her forehead then put her on every street corner you’re allowed without getting thrown into jail. If your book includes man sluts that look like any of the Chrises mentioned above, I’d better be able to find your pimped out book under a flashing neon sign that says, “Love Me. I’m Free.” And if your second book happens to include the Ryans (Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Gosling, Ryan Guzman), I might buy it.