Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Chapter Two

Another week and more mine! If you haven't seen the updates on my blog yet, tell me what you think about those too. :) This week's update was inspired by the prompt: Don't be absurd!

Chapter Two

Kraig gradually went limp against me, his long, pale eyelashes resting on his cheeks as he dozed in the tub. Maybe it should’ve been strange—we hadn’t seen each other in two years, and we’d certainly never bathed together—but having him close felt right soul deep. I had one arm looped around his stomach, keeping him from leaning sideways, and he’d wrapped his fingers around two of mine. The blunt tips of his claws dug in.

Finally alone, I took the time to study him closely. He looked so different from before. When he’d left to go to college he’d been a human werekin. Without an animal soul to bridge the gap between the body and spirit, he’d looked completely human. Dad shouldn’t have let him leave the streak; most human werekin stayed close and handled matters in the public eye to protect our secrets when our appearance was more than humans could handle.

But Kraig wanted to go, and we didn’t treat our human werekin as slaves. He had a right to make a life for himself when the pain between us grew to be too much. I’d wanted him, but an alpha heir blooding a human werekin? It just didn’t happen.

“What happened to you?” I whispered, stroking his skin when he shifted until he settled under the gentle petting. He wasn’t a human werekin anymore. The doctor’s files had outlined the outcome of his experiment, but I didn’t take the time to understand how it happened. The thicker hair of a ruff that stood out in a way no human’s did, the claws, the fangs, and the patterns on his skin all marked Kraig as a bonded werekin... but a soul blended with the spirit in a bonded werekin in the womb, not when someone was fully grown.

His stomach was concave under my hand, his hipbones jutting against his skin. I wanted to feed and coddle him. He’d have the best cuts of meat; I’d already assured it, sending two bonded werekin out for fresh venison. I’d put flesh back on his bones until he was sleek and well-fed again. “I won’t let anyone hurt you again.”  

The water cooled, and Kraig began to shiver. Getting out was tricky, but I tried his limp form and then tucked him back in bed. I cleaned up the bathroom and then left the door cracked and vanity lights to keep the bedroom from being fully engulfed in darkness. Slipping into bed, I put Kraig on the inside away from the door and wrapped my body around his.

Content in a way I hadn’t felt in years, I fell asleep.

“Where is he?” The door burst open. I crouched on the bed, snarling and hissing.

“Get out,” I roared.

Park stood in the doorway, his chest heaving. His claws were out, marring the wood frame. “I can’t,” he choked out. His nose twitched. “Where is he? Mom said Kraig was here, he’s alive.”

I throttled back my urge to attack and defend my blooded mate. I knew Park was no threat to his brother or to me. “He’s here.”

“Why can’t I smell him?”

 Kraig sat up in the bed, bitterness twisting his voice into something unrecognizable. “I’m a freak.”

Just like that Park was forgotten. I turned to face Kraig, dropping to my knees beside him. “Don’t be absurd. You’re not a freak.”

“I don’t need a mirror to see.” Kraig held up one arm, the stripes breaking up into rosettes along his forearm and the dark claws that didn’t retract. His coloring was all tiger, but his bone structure was rounder and narrower than a tiger’s wider face, and the dark lines ringing his eyes and framing his cheekbones and mouth emphasized the jut of his face into a muzzle. Most bonded werekin didn’t have facial markings like that, but different wasn’t bad.

It was not a mix I’d ever seen. No one had. Half tiger and half cheetah, a genetic aberration that would never have been born... but he held an exotic appeal that called to me. I’d always wanted him, even when he looked human.

“You’re unique.”

He huffed. “Unique, freak, same thing.”

I narrowed my eyes and growled. “Don’t say that again. You’re not a freak. You’re an alpha’s blooded mate, and I think you’re fucking gorgeous. That’s all that matters.”

“Bossy as always.” Kraig rolled his eyes then glanced toward the door. “If you don’t let my brother in, he’s going to permanently maim the door.”

The sanctity of my room was hardly something Park respected normally, but there wasn’t a revolving door policy either. Still, I didn’t usually threaten him if he burst in on me, and I was still agitated. He carefully avoided direct eye contact with me as he waited impatiently. It would be cruel to keep him away from Kraig any longer. “We’ll talk more about this later,” I warned Kraig. “Come in.”

Park rushed into the room and would’ve pounced on Kraig but I snarled again. “Careful!” We might have keep our claws in and avoided biting him, but Kraig had always tumbled around as we wrestled, refusing to give in even though we were bigger.

He was not up to rough treatment now, not even a tight hug.

Now that he could see him clearly, Park’s eyes widened. “What happened to you?”

Kraig leaned his head back against the headboard. “Too fucking much.”

“Are you... okay? You don’t look so great. Kraig, shouldn’t Mr. Brynter be here checking on him?”

Just saying the doctor’s name had an immediate effect on Kraig. He paled and whined, his claws tearing at the sheet. “No!”

“Shh,” I said. “It’s okay.” But Kraig wasn’t listening to me and his eyes rolled wildly. I cupped his face between my palms, turning him toward me. “He can’t hurt you. He’s dead.”

Park growled. “Hurt him? Why would the doctor hurt him?”


Did that answer some questions?! More next week and if you're still in the reading mood, check out the other Briefer's updates!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Blog Changes!

Please be patient with me as I change around the format and look of my blog in the coming days. I feel the need for something fresh and new to revitalize this place.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Cover Reveal! Sue Brown's Island Counselor



Sue Brown reveals the sexy cover art of her next book titled ISLAND COUNSELOR coming out from Dreamspinner Press.

It releases on June 20, 2016.



Counselor Logan Wilde has a successful therapy practice in London, but when a traumatic incident there leaves him suffering from PTSD, he takes refuge in his holiday cottage on the Isle of Wight, unable to face going back to work. Not that he’s allowed to relax. Logan’s time is taken up with helping Liam Owens, plus there’s Nick Brent, whom Logan discovers collapsed on the beach. Nick and Logan spend their time bickering with each other, but that doesn’t alter the attraction they both feel.

Logan is forced to make some hard decisions about his future, which entails facing up to recent events, only he’s not alone—Nick is with him. Unfortunately, someone else makes a decision, too, and now trouble is on its way to the Isle of Wight.



Cover Art by L.C. Chase




As the afternoon progressed, Nick ended up with his head in Logan’s lap, with Logan stroking his dark hair. It was sweet in a sickly kind of way, as Logan didn’t hesitate to point out.

Nick looked up at him, and Logan noticed how the sunlight caught his green eyes. “You’ve got no romance in your soul,” Nick said.

“Don’t tell me my fisherman is a poet?”

My fisherman? Logan knew instantly he’d made a mistake when Nick’s eyes darkened, but he didn’t call Logan on it.



Sue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn't following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot and has gotten expert at ignoring the orders.

Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favorite television series. The series was boring; the kissing was not. She may be late to the party, but she's made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.

:: Website :: Blog :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Google+ ::



Winner’s Prize: $10 Amazon/ARe Gift Card

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Chapter 1

Well here's the first new bit I promised you. I hope you'll enjoy this update inspired by the prompt, "Now listen closely, I'll only say this once."

Chapter One

“How is he?” I asked softly. Kraig was nestled in my bed, the covers pulled up to his chest and one hand covering his newly shorn hair.

“Sick, in both his body and his mind. We bathed him clean but we had to shave his head.”

I tilted my head. “Kraig always kept his hair short.”

“But a bonded werekin doesn’t,” his mother said softly. She leaned over the bed and tugged the covers up to his shoulders, smoothing down the fabric. Even in his sleep Kraig flinched away with a whimper, burying his face in my pillows.

She straightened and walked into the bathroom to clean up, surreptitiously wiping her cheeks. I ran a hand through my thick hair that stood out in a proud ruff, the multicolored strands falling to my shoulders. Combined with my prominent bone structure that wasn’t quite... human, it set me apart. Yet instead of shaving it, I wore it long just like my father had.

Wary of waking Kraig, I followed her into the bathroom and shut the door quietly. “Shave it off.”

“What?” Lydia turned to face me, a frown marring her forehead in deep lines. “We did already.”

“No.” I lifted a heavy hank of hair. “Mine.”

Her eyes flared wide. “Alpha?”

I refused to look away as I picked up the heavy shears sitting on the counter and held them out to her. “It’s okay. I mean it.”

Lydia’s hand shook as she reached for the scissors. “But you’re the alpha, Deke. People will....”

“Look at me in shock and then realize my hair has nothing to do with how well I lead this streak. Listen to me closely, I’ll only say this once... don’t chop off my ear.” I squeezed her hand and winked and then let go. I actually was afraid she might do it, but she was careful as she snipped away all my long hair while I watched in the mirror. There was more to it than just the hair disappearing as each clump fell to the floor, and I hoped Kraig would understand when he woke up.

When she was done buzzing my hair off to an even length, it wasn’t quite as tight to my skull as Kraig’s but the soft brush of it under my hand was strange.

“Thank you, Lydia.”

She shook her head. “Do you want me to clean this up?”

“Maybe later. It’s been a very long day, emotional for everyone. Park will be here in the morning, and I know nothing is going to keep him away from Kraig when he hears. I would like it if you and your husband would join us for a family breakfast in my sitting room.”

Since I took over the streak Lydia had gotten more formal, no longer treating me as the boy who’d gotten into trouble alongside her sons, but that barrier was gone in that moment when I said family.

Tears sprang to her eyes again, and she clapped a hand over her muzzle, suppressing her sob. She nodded, but the tears still seeped out. I knew what she needed. I wrapped both my arms around her and ran my chin over her head. “Everything will be okay. We’ve got them both back.”

Park had been out of cell range for nearly a month—not great for a beta—but I understood his need to run in the backwoods when it all got to be too much. Losing Kraig had hurt all of us. “This time we’ll keep him safe in the streak.”

Lydia squeezed me and then she let go. “We’ll be back first thing,” she promised. “Tell Kraig that if he wakes up.”

I nodded.

She stopped by the bed. I watched her, unable to look away when she was so close to Kraig, but she didn’t try to touch him again. When she closed the door behind her, it was just us left alone in my bedroom suite. I bundled up the towel full of my hair and pushed it in the corner by the hamper. The little hairs on the back of my neck were more sensitive now that they’d been cut short, and they prickled as I bent over to turn on the shower.

Senses alert, I spun, my teeth bared as I snarled. Kraig stumbled back.


“What are you doing awake?” I strode over to him, intent on putting him back in bed.

“I feel dirty.” He grimaced.

“Your mom said they cleaned you up.”

He shrugged. “Washcloths. She didn’t want me on my feet too long.”

“She has good reason.” Kraig was emaciated, very unusual for a bonded werekin in my streak. We were large and prosperous, well-fed, which made our animal souls peaceful. While Kraig had never been as big as me or Park, he’d had sleek muscles packed on his frame from running with us every day.

Kraig leaned his head back. “Please?”

Instincts warred with common sense, but those blue eyes pleading always melted me. “A quick shower, then a bath.”

“I’d love a bath.”

Holding Kraig’s slick body against mine tested my control, but he was so obviously exhausted and ill that our abnormal blooding was still enough to keep my wilder need to pounce on him at bay.

We were in the tub before Kraig said anything about my hair. My head was just visible in the mirror we faced. “I can’t believe you cut your hair.”

“I like it. Makes me look more normal.”

Kraig snorted and then coughed. “It is not normal for a tiger streak alpha to have no ruff.”

Ruffs were a source of pride to most cat bonded werekin, but I could care less. “It’s only hair. It’ll grow back, if I let it. I might not. It really does feel lighter and summer’s coming.”

“Tell that to your dad when he sees.”

“Dad’s dead.”

Kraig gasped. He grabbed my hand resting on the edge of the tub and squeezed. “I’m sorry.”

Want more? Come back next week! There's other flash updates to enjoy too, so follow these links below.

Briefers Website

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mine! Prologue

You asked for it, and now it's coming! Well... almost. Today you get a slightly cleaned up version of my initial post of Mine! and then the first new update will come with the usual Briefers post tomorrow.

“Please, I can explain.” He looked up at me from his knees.
“Don’t worry.” I narrowed my eyes and glared. “You don’t have to.”
His intestines spilled from his body just before his head rolled across the floor. His wife screamed and scrabbled away from me, but she couldn't escape my wrath. Her body hit the floor with a dull thud. The silence was broken by the pattering of blood dripping from my nails as it hit the concrete floor. I flicked my hands, annoyed with the sound.
“I know you’re here. I can smell your rot. Come out, come out wherever you are.” I prowled the room, trying to find the scent that spoke of my kind. I extended my claws and retracted them. An alpha would have come at me by now.
“Secure in your little hidey hole?” The source of the scent was masked by the putrid smell of the doctor’s innards spilled from his eviscerated body in a rush of bile and blood.
“You should have known better than to work with him.”
My ruff stood up, the skin on my neck and shoulders prickling. I huffed a sub vocal sigh. “I will find you.” Trespassers did not live after they crossed my borders. “Did you think his experiments would make you stronger than me?”
I’d not faced a credible threat in years, not that I cared much anymore. I held onto my land because once… he’d lived here. He’d loved the hills and the forests that ringed my estate, and for his memory I’d protect my claim.  
“I’ve seen his files. The tests, the trials.” I turned in a slow circle. “The good doctor was using me all along. For you.” I’d allowed the bastard to move to my town. His knowledge had been useful. Finding a doctor who’d treat werekin could be hard. I’d kept my distance, until the worm I’d sent into his computer system cracked his firewall and found everything he’d been trying on his sneaky guest.
“Did you think you could become an alpha? That something in our blood could actually change you into something strong enough to face me?” I was not an alpha because of the blood that ran through my veins. Obviously neither the doctor nor the bastard trying to challenge me understood that. “If you want to live, you’ll come out now.” I scanned the walls, searching for the cracks that had to be there.
There was a lab here somewhere. The blood and tissue samples he’d taken from my people had to be processed, and it wasn’t at the clinic we’d raided. The good doctor had rushed down to this room for a reason, and it wasn’t to protect his woman.
I snapped my head and stared at the south wall. There. A faint chiming sound, like a blade drawn from a sheath.
Striding to the wall, I spun and kicked sideways. The thick sole of my boot absorbed the blow as my leg went through the wall. The gaping hole exposed a room partitioned off from the rest of the basement. I grabbed the sheetrock at the sides of the hole and tore it from the studs. A long steel counter ran the length of the wall. Tools of all kinds were strewn haphazardly across its surface. Darkness hide what lay at the far end of the counter but nothing could hide the stench of feces and urine.
The coward must have fouled himself. Alpha… yeah right.
“Last chance to come out and die with a shred of dignity.” Not even a human was as weak as this bonded werekin filth.
I crouched when metal slid across the ground. Clumsy. He had revealed his location in the shadow and that he was armed. It would be his last mistake.
A slender arm reached into the light. Dirty fingers scrabbled at the cracks in the stone floor and then pulled.
Deep blue eyes dominated the pale face. His skin stretched taut over knife-edge thin cheekbones. A black mask covered his muzzle, the straps digging into his patchy ruff.
His blood began to flow toward me in thin rivulets along the white grout between the stones from his lacerated wrist.
Not a challenger.
Park’s little brother.
We’d been told he’d died in an accident on his way to college. He’d decided to leave town and head to the city, where I couldn't follow, and my best friend had been inconsolable when his parents broke the news Kraig would never come back.
I jumped through the hole.
The straps were easy to slice away with my claws but the mask was adhered to Kraig’s face. He cried out weakly when I ripped it away.
“Deke,” he whispered.
My heart pounded. It had been two long years since I heard my name said in that voice. Adrenaline surged through me in a way it hadn’t when I killed the doctor and prepared to kill the trespasser hiding in my territory. I felt alive in a way I hadn’t since I lost Kraig.
Not since he left without a look back for me because he didn’t believe he, a lowly human werekin, could possibly belong at my side when he couldn’t be blooded as my mate.
“I’ve got you.” My hands trembled as I traced them in the air over his wasted form, unsure of where it was safe to touch. He’d sliced his wrist to the bone yanking it out of a manacle holding him to the wall so he could reach out to me. The other wrist was still clamped with a band of thick metal. I breathed through my mouth, taking in his changed scent.
“I’m dying. Hold me… while I go,” he begged. His cracked lips bled fat, red drops of blood down his muzzle. His face, so different, was just as beautiful as it had been when I knew him last. I didn't understand what had happened to him, but it didn't matter.
“No!” I denied his request vehemently. My claws dug into my palms as I clenched my hands into fists. “Don’t ask me to do that, not when I just found you. Not when I can save you.”
“Not safe.” He began gasping for air. “He did… things… let me die.”
I ignored his plea. I leaned down and began to lick his wrist to stem the tide of blood. There was no time to find bandages.
“What… are you… No!”
I pierced my tongue with my fangs, ignoring the stinging pain. I would not let him go again no matter the risk. If the doctor doomed him to die with his experiments, we’d die together. If I had to I’d beg Kraig’s forgiveness, but he’d only be able to give it to me if he lived. I couldn’t believe I’d find him now just to lose him. One day he would know, just as I did, that he belonged to me no matter what soul he'd been born with.
I shoved my bleeding tongue into his mouth.
You. Will. Not. Die.
Each thrust of my tongue denied his fatalistic desire as if I spoke the words aloud. He battled me, struggling in vain before my essence swept him away. We stared into each other’s eyes as I cradled his body in my arms and forced Kraig to accept me inside him.
The blue bled from his eyes, and they shone red for a long moment until he shuttered them, his lids sliding shut slowly.
He was blooded.
My heart sang when he began to suck on my tongue. His free hand dug into my ruff, yanking me closer. A purr vibrated against my chest, startling me, but then I pulled him in closer.
Kraig was mine.

TBC... tomorrow!!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Release Day Blast of The Harvest Young: Bound by Fate

Half human and half Tah’Narian, Szin doesn’t fit with either race. His appearance is mainly human, but he’s able to have a young. Unfortunately, that’s his only Tah’Narian characteristic. He’s smaller and weaker than other young.

Szin’s eighteenth birthday has passed and time’s running out. He has to stop his childhood friend, Takeo, from making the worst mistake of his life: claiming Szin as a mate. Takeo deserves an equal who’s as fierce as he is, something Szin most certainly is not.

Since before Takeo was born, he’s known Szin was his. Nothing and no one, not even Szin, is going to stand in the way of claiming his mate. He understands Szin feels he isn’t good enough, and he’ll do anything to convince Szin otherwise. Including taking drastic measures to ensure his mate listens.

Takeo is the ultimate blend of human, Tah’Narian, and Onfrevian DNA. He’s pure predator, and his sights are set on his mate.

“Takeo, you need to put me down.”

Takeo swatted Szin’s ass. “You don’t give the orders here.”
“How’s this, then? Either get me on my feet, or I’m liable to throw up all down the back of you. Not kidding here.”

A rumbling, ominous noise sounded, one Takeo wasn’t sure a body was supposed to make. That got his attention. Without hesitation he set Szin back on his feet. Szin turned green, and Takeo quickly grabbed Szin’s wrist and rubbed a spot on it.

Szin sighed and delicately rubbed his stomach.

“You okay now?” Takeo asked.

“Yeah, much. Neat little trick. I really thought I was going to spew.”

Takeo frowned. Szin was trembling and pale. A simple stun shouldn’t have done that, nor should have what he injected Szin with. “What did you eat last?”

“Um, I think….” Szin rubbed his forehead. “Icing off the birthday cake right before I went to bed.”
Takeo wanted to shake Szin. “Do you mean to tell me that after two big slices—with loads of that homemade ice cream your dad made—you were eating icing straight? No wonder you feel nauseated.”

Szin glared at Takeo. “Yeah, it couldn’t have anything to do with being stunned, then injected with something to knock me out, right? No possible connection there.”

M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!

When not writing, she’s exploring the latest M/M novel to hit the market, watching her beloved Steelers, or sitting glued to HGTV. That’s if she’s not on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two children.

Friday, May 13, 2016

eBook Review: Dear Stranger by SidLove

A Short Story With a Lot of Wow!

Sid Love's Dear stranger is a 7,500 word short story just right for reading on your commute... and wouldn't you know it? That's where the story starts. Two strangers are brought together by a need to make a connection they just couldn't ignore.
One of the best elements of Sid's story is that it's told from Reggie's point of view. He's blind, so we're forced into following the world through his other senses, which allows for a lot of imagination. As an author who's played with that concept myself, it's hard! We are a visual species, and when you take that away, it's harder to connect with the world around you (or the world around the characters).

That's why I enjoyed Dear Stranger so much. I appreciated the skill it took to write from a character different from the norm, and the short length made this a nice evening read that I could enjoy without having to really do more than follow along with the story. Word to the wise, though, if you do read this on your commute... make sure you're not the blushing type because Reggie sees through his hands, and that does mean everything!

Title: Dear Stranger

Author: Sid Love

Publisher: Creative Minds

Cover Artist: Sid Love

Length: 7,500 words approx

Release Date: 12th May, 2016

Blurb: Reggie is a young man in his early twenties, living a still and calm life. Being blind makes him a little cautious to new situations, at least until that one day on his way home when he meets a stranger, a man with a voice smooth as honey and burning hot as the most expensive whiskey, starts talking and flirting with him. 

At first, Reggie is scared. The guy seems to be a stalker but soon he realizes that the stranger wants him no harm. On the contrary, he is attracted to Reggie and invites him home for a hot romp in bed. 

With the ball in his court now, Reggie needs to choose what to do. He could turn him down and continue living his life as it is, with very little excitement. Or, he could say yes and see where this unexpected ride takes him...

Buy Link: Amazon

Thursday, May 12, 2016

My Next Wednesday Brief is....

Okay, so not really a surprise for those following the comments, but I'm already plotting things out for the longer story and figuring all the details out that weren't needed for a 1200 word short story but must be cemented to make the paranormal world come alive, so I hope everyone will enjoy it!

Thank you to everyone for voting!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

New Wednesday Brief... What would you prefer?

I'm not inspired lately, but I'm constantly asked about expanding older stories by readers, so I thought I'd give everyone a chance to weigh in on what I should write for my next Wednesday Briefers flash story now that No Flash is over. Tell me what you think between these options:

1. Mine: A werekin tale wrought with darkness.

2. Picking Up Strays: A post-apoc tale of mutation and corruption.

3. First Contact: A sci-fi story about the loss of humanity.

4. Blinding Light: ??? Sense deprivation of sight. This story could really go anywhere. What genre do you think it should be if you pick it?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

eBook Review: Locked by Anyta Sunday

Today I'm featuring the newest eBook release of an author I've known for a few years now, since before she began publishing! I've enjoyed Anyta's stories quite a few times, and I hope you will too! Check out my review of Locked, and then don't forget to enter her contest to win your own eBook copy.


So it's been quite a few years since I was heavy into fantasy. I enjoy it, but my convoluted plot reading skills have rusted. I had a hard time getting into Locked in the beginning, switching from what read as contemporary to fantasy to some mix of the two... but in no way like I was expecting. By the time I reached the ending scenes of the book I couldn't read fast enough and I'd sequestered myself in a room and hushed my children as they interrupted me, begging for just a few more minutes to be left alone with Rye and his friends and foes.

Locked is definitely a fantasy tale rife with magic, mayhem... and dragons! Are they evil? Good? A mix of the both? Considering the dragons are also people (though in no way is this a shifter-like theme) for me they fell into both. I loved how they were humanized in some ways and beastified (I can't think of another way to put it) in others.

Above all, I loved the themes of the story that come into play again and again. Good isn't all good and evil isn't all evil. Everyone has their motivations and everyone has choices to make. But... how many people in the story are making their own choices or are being led to making them for a greater purpose? And is that greater purpose good for them and the realms or is their a mastermind villain behind the scenes when we're focused on the more obvious one?

Those questions and more plagued me as I read, keeping me wondering to the very end... and beyond. I'm still not sure who is really the bad guy and who isn't. I'd love to read more, which will happen since Locked is just book one in the Telluric Realm series. My only word of warning to readers is to make sure you can read this in a place with no distractions because the tale is told through many different point of views, which means you really have to pay attention if you want to catch the subtle clues and connections lacing the story.


TITLE: Locked

SERIES: Telluric Realm #1

AUTHOR: Anyta Sunday

COVER ARTIST: Natasha Snow

LENGTH: 98,000 words

RELEASE DATE: April 26, 2016

BLURB: A curse threatens the Winter Kingdom. 

A brother is turned to ice. 

A rebel uprising is on the horizon. 

Marble-maker Rye Cunnings is at the center of it all—and doesn’t know it. 

He doesn’t know he’s the lost summer prince. Doesn’t know his blood can unlock Winter’s curse. Doesn’t know why the marbles he makes flutter with magic. All he thinks is that he’s crazy. That he sees things others don’t, like dragons and strange markings on his skin.

But when a dark dragon snatches away Rye’s only friend Milo, he is forced to face the crazy in his life and figure out a way to bring Milo back.

Help comes in the form of Cerdic Leit, a warrior who finds Rye to take him “home” to the Telluric Realm and their kind. All Rye has to do is follow him into Gatreau, the gateway to the four Telluric kingdoms, and all his questions will be answered.

In the hopes of saving Milo, Rye steps into this new and dangerous world. A world where he learns of the Tellurics and their Hansian foes. A world that is swept up in a bitter battle of justice and hate.

And a world that won’t let Rye leave again.

Rye Cunnings shivered and hoofed it down the cobblestone road, fixed on the slice of his marble store ahead. This was just another morning. Just another morning.

A drizzly dawn fingered through the low-hanging mist creeping along Bristol’s narrow streets. Lamppost lights flickered and blinked out, sucking their murky reflections from deep puddles. Rain hit Rye’s neck and face and the palm he pressed against his chest. The drops snaked down his sleeve and mixed with the blood at his wrist. It tingled, and Rye dabbed his cuff over the cut—a circle intersected with twelve loops.

A cut that he’d gouged out with his keys, following the shimmery pattern that had marked his skin for as long as he could remember.

Mist lurked over the Marvel Marbles store sign, thickening over the tattoo parlor and barber cushioning it on either side.

Inside was safe. He just needed to get inside.

He jogged over the road for the bright blue door beckoning him home. Each step jarred through his body to his aching head. He just needed to touch one of the marbles he made.

Key in his good hand, he sank it into the lock and twisted until the bar snapped back.

A figure prowled out from the shelter of the parlor entrance.

Rye choked back a gasp, then let out a relieved laugh. Milo. Just Milo.

“Stealthy as a cat, you are.”


Milo smirked and slunk to his side, raindrops weaving through day-old stubble to the cleft in his chin. He studied Rye and lifted an eyebrow. “And where’ve you been?”

Doesn’t matter. Get inside!

Rye feigned nonchalance. “A walk.” A drug-induced, crazy person one. “Just a walk.”

He beckoned Milo inside, but he tilted his chin skyward and let the rain fall on his face. A small smile played at his lips. “And a mighty good morning for one. Fresh, today is. Invigorating. Where’d ya go?”

Where? Where he always regained consciousness: the local cemetery at the church ruin. Every week the same time, the same place, and always surrounded by a sea of daisies. “Just . . . about.”

Clouds rippled, growing darker. Rye sucked in sharply, grabbed Milo’s arm and steered him inside. He shut the door and sank back against the glass.

Milo strutted through the store, running fingers over jars of comets, cat’s eyes, peacocks and milky ways. Hundreds of jars filled the shelves on his walls. Sparklers, corkscrews, aces. Hundreds of colors glittered without light. Aquamarine, butterscotch yellow, magenta, and every shade in between.

Rye caught his breath and let the colors calm him. In a couple of hours the grandfather clock tucked between shelves would chime nine and kids would press their noses to the window and fog the glass as they took in the wonder of his store. The day would whip by with smiles and laughter. Then it’ll be sundown again, thank God.

Milo faced him, casting a look at his mud-crusted jeans. Rye tucked his bloodstained sleeve behind him. “You look like regurgitated hell, pudding.”

“And you wonder why I never let you into my bed.”

“You couldn’t handle me, love.”

Rye gripped the wooden “shut” sign as he peered through the rain-splotched glass to the sky. Milo came to his side, staring out the window with him.

“A bad sign, huh?”

Rye startled. “What?

“The weather. Means less customers, right?”

“Customers. Right.” His head pounded, his teeth ached. A marble. He needed one now. He shifted away from the windows but Milo planted a forearm on his shoulder.

“You seem on edge, Rye. Lock up for the morning. We’ll go out.”

Out? He shook his head. “Not today.”

A dark shape darted behind the gaps in the clouds. A shiver scuttled down Rye’s spine and he stepped back. Milo moved with him, oblivious to the danger that lurked out there.

“I need to make marbles,” Rye croaked.

“What you need is a day off, friend.”

“Haven’t made a marble in two days.”

“We could go to the carnival, hop on the Ferris wheel. Might even see above these clouds today.”

“How about some green tea?”

Milo pulled away, and Rye scampered across the store to his special marbles behind the counter.

“All right,” Milo said. “I’m going to be a bloody wanker and just say it: you don’t have a social life, mate. You never party. No one visits.”

“I’ve plenty of—”

“Customers don’t count.” Milo skulked closer. “Far as I can see, I’m the only friend you have. And that makes you one hell of a poor bastard.”

A sharp pang shot up Rye’s temple and he hissed, and scanned the middle shelf. He withdrew the largest jar, uncorked it, and dunked his fingers into the mass of silver swirls. Relief fingered up his arms, soothing the pain in his head and the ache from Milo’s advice.

He pocketed a marble.

Over the counter, Milo pointed at Rye’s bloodstained sleeve. “What happened, then?”

Rye resisted the urge to stare at his wrist. The cut never stayed long, would be nothing but faintly-scarred lines by now. Opening the door to his kitchen and marble-making workshop, he threw a hurried lie over his shoulder.

“It’s nothing. Had a raspberry smoothie.”

In the kitchen nook before his workshop, Rye picked up a half-filled pot of tea. Behind him came the clacking of boots, then a hand clamped over his shoulder, urging him around. Cold tea spilled out of the nozzle to the floor between them.

“What are you—?”

Milo pushed up Rye’s sleeve and revealed the circular scar, traced with dry blood. “How exactly did you have that raspberry smoothie?”

“Y-you wouldn’t understand.”

“Don’t underestimate me, I have vast, comprehendy abilities.”

Rye’s throat was tight. “I’m crazy, Milo. Certifiable.” He lifted the pot. “Green tea?”

Milo gently drew his black-painted nails around and over the mark. “You and green bloody tea.” He pulled Rye’s sleeve down. “I’ll have a cuppa.”

With a shaky hand, Rye poured them both a cup. Milo pinched his nose, downed his tea, and set the cup in the sink. “Ugh.”

Rye sipped his, then put it down. It didn’t settle his churning stomach.

“Now make me a marble, friend,” Milo said with a wink, and took out the pendant hanging under his shirt. “One with a bit of me in it.” He snapped off a thin corner and handed Rye the tiny wedge.

Rye stared at the piece on his palm. So small, so horribly scratched, and yet it warmed his entire hand. He clamped his fingers over it.

“Got any cash?”

“Put it on my tab.”

“I love it when I do work and no one pays me.” He moved into his workshop and Milo followed behind. 

“Reminds me of my last foster home.”

“Said so dryly. That’s exactly why I like you.” Milo flung himself on the stained brown couch at the flank of the room and slipped his hands behind his head. “I’ll lie here and share my woeful problems while you warm your glory hole. God, I love marbling.”

Rye tossed a fiber blanket at him. “I work with a torch.”

“Go on then, light up. Make magic.”

Swallowing, Rye glanced at Milo, who stared at the ceiling with half-lidded eyes. Make magic. He’d thought the same thing himself a thousand times. The way his marbles soothed his anxiety, or seemed to open locked doors, or throbbed warmly in his grip like they held secrets of who he was—what he was.

“I don’t make magic,” Rye said carefully.

Milo turned his head, waggling his brows. “Marvel me, then. Make me a nicer set of balls than I already have. Or better yet, make a marble that solves all my problems.”

“Such as cockiness?”

“Don’t go messing with anything starting with cock. All else is fair play.”

“Your assery it is then.”

Milo snorted.

“Entertain me with these oh-so woeful problems.” Make me forget mine.

“I’m too smart for my own good,” Milo said with a smirk. “And it’s going to cost me.”

“So dramatic.”

Milo looked pointedly toward Rye’s wrist.

“Point taken,” Rye said.

Milo’s phone rang and he swung off the couch. “You get to making that marble,” he said, ducking through the door. “I’ll be back.”

Rye took a sparkly gold glass rod from the jars on the shelf, bumping the small velvet pouch of marble monstrosities at the end. They’d been Milo’s attempts at marbling, pockmarked and pitiful. Yet he’d not brought himself to throw them away. They called to him with a magic of their own, the magic of a hundred shared laughs between them. Laughs that had been few-and-far-between before Milo had come into his life a year ago.

Rye set the melting glass next to the wedge of pendant. What style did Milo want? Did he wish his marble to glitter? To glow? To be dotted with silver?

He listened for Milo and was met with nothing but the creaking of his store door. Where had Milo gone to take his call? Rye shuffled to the kitchen. Empty. He checked the store.


A breeze swept through the room. The front door was partially open and rain was pooling at the floor. Had Milo taken his call outside? Or had he left, like sometimes he did, without so much as a goodbye?

At the store window, Rye looked outside. The cloud had thickened. It hung low over shop roofs and gutters, only a few feet above the three umbrella-toting pedestrians huddled at the bus stop. Milo was strutting down the middle of the street toward the store, ash blond and soaked.

Rye waved.

The cloud burst, plumes pelting toward the ground, and a large winged body swooped down the street toward them.


Rye’s heart seized in his chest; he jerked his bloodied arm across his face and peered at the beast again, at its long snout, horns, and black scales, the arrowhead tail snaking behind it, whipping up gusts. The dragon dipped and umbrellas jerked, inverting into black poppies. Their owners laughed.

Rye ached to be one of those men, ignorant of the terror flying over them, of the dragon stretching its forelegs, clawed talons aimed at—


Rye tried to shout but his voice was lost in the tight clutch of his throat.

The dragon whipped past the window. Wind surged and the door banged against the wall shelves, smashing a jar, glass shards and red marbles raining to the floor.

Rye shrank back into the shadows, shaking as the dragon snatched his friend and lifted into the clouds. Words echoed in his head, soft, placating…

Shhh. He won’t get you.



A born and raised New Zealander from Wellington, I’ve been exploring the literary world since I started reading Roald Dahl as a kid. Stories have been piling up in my head ever since. Fast forward to my mid-twenties and jump a few countries (Germany, America, and back again), I started to put them to paper.

My genre of choice is romance, both adult and YA, gay and straight. You can take a closer look at my books, available as e-books for download in many formats!

When I’m not pushing my characters deeper into adventure, I chase my son around the house and fight my two comical cats for the desk chair.

Since 2014, I’m also part of CritShop Literary Services, specializing in writing workshops and editorial services for LGBT fiction.

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