Sunday, May 1, 2016

New Cover Art: Demon Duke

I promised as soon as I had the cover art for Demon Duke, that I would share it and here it is! I'm absolutely thrilled about the cover and I'm sending out my gratitude to author and artist, Zathyn Priest, for putting his amazing skills to work in making this beautiful cover though Scarlet Tie Designs. I love it, and I know Sal would be very pleased with this representation of him :-)

Demon Duke, Paranormal Nobles Book 2 and the sequel to Vampire Prince, will release at MLR Press on May 27, 2016. I hope everyone will enjoy returning to the Nobles' world!


Blurb:
A month ago, Calvin Blackwood found himself in the company of vampires, having been hired to use his talent as a witch to summon a demon. That demon ended up saving his life. In the time since, he hasn’t been able to forget about Sal. He knows entering a deal with a demon is dangerous, but to save his brother, binding himself to the beautiful demon might be worth the risk.

Sal is a duke among demons. An immortal being, more powerful than a vampire, but who has one admitted weakness, a fondness for humans. When Calvin offers to make a deal, he’s hesitant, but can’t deny his need to be closer to him. He also knows if he doesn’t help him, Calvin will summon another demon, and he knows all too well the treachery of his own kind.


Desire and trust builds between Calvin and Sal. Their relationship grows, but so does a hidden threat, and it might take power greater than a demon duke to save them. It might take that of a witch.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blurb: Demon Duke, Paranormal Nobles Book 2



Hey, everyone! All right, I know this book has a few folks who have been waiting on it, so I wanted to give an update. As of right now, things are looking fantastic for Demon Duke, Paranormal Nobles Book 2 and the sequel to Vampire Prince, to release on May 27, 2016 at MLR Press. Woo hoo!

The first round of edits on it are finished and it's moving into the second round as I write this. I don't have cover art to share yet, but I can say that the cover is being made by author extraordinaire, Zathyn Priest, through Scarlet Tie Designs. He also created the beautiful new cover of Vampire Prince and the cover for Song of Souls, Terra Book 3.

Now usually I share the blurb and cover art at the same time for a new release, but I thought I'd go ahead and give you all the blurb now :-) I'm incredibly, tremendously, absolutely excited for this book to come out! And I hope everyone will enjoy returning to Savannah, Georgia and visiting with the demon duke and his friends!

Demon Duke
Paranormal Nobles, Book 2

Blurb:
A month ago, Calvin Blackwood found himself in the company of vampires, having been hired to use his talent as a witch to summon a demon. That demon ended up saving his life. In the time since, he hasn’t been able to forget about Sal. He knows entering a deal with a demon is dangerous, but to save his brother, binding himself to the beautiful demon might be worth the risk.

Sal is a duke among demons. An immortal being, more powerful than a vampire, but who has one admitted weakness, a fondness for humans. When Calvin offers to make a deal, he’s hesitant, but can’t deny his need to be closer to him. He also knows if he doesn’t help him, Calvin will summon another demon, and he knows all too well the treachery of his own kind.


Desire and trust builds between Calvin and Sal. Their relationship grows, but so does a hidden threat, and it might take power greater than a demon duke to save them. It might take that of a witch.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Reviews, Please

Hi, everyone! As many of you know, Kissing Cody Starr has been re-released by MLR Press. Yay! I'm still thrilled and relieved to have the book in their hands. I'm also happy to say that the book is now at Amazon and other vendors, too. There's just one little thing about its return to Amazon...even though the book is now back up there, unfortunately all of the previous reviews for it are gone.

When Vampire Prince was re-released and returned for sale, the old reviews for the previous edition returned with it on Amazon, but it seems because Kissing Cody Starr was down for sale longer, the old reviews are gone. Reviews are certainly very helpful to authors, but they're also extremely helpful to other readers. So I wanted to humbly ask, my dear readers, if you have a spare moment and you've read Kissing Cody Starr (or any of my other titles, if you'd like :-), could you please post a review on Amazon? It doesn't have to be anything big, just a sentence or two of your thoughts on the book. I would be very grateful and appreciative if you could, and I know other readers would be, too <3




Thursday, March 31, 2016

New Release: Kissing Cody Starr

I'm very happy to announce that Kissing Cody Starr is now live at MLR Press! It won't be long before it's up at Amazon, AllRomance eBooks, Barnes & Noble, and more.

Having this book re-released through MLR Press is a massive relief for me. I love the story and the guys in it, and now it's back and looking better than ever! It has a new cover, a new home at MLR, and it received some awesome editing on it. While the story is unchanged, personally I think the editing has helped make it a more enjoyable read, and I'm grateful to my amazing editor, Kris Jacen, for all the time and hard work she put into it, as she always does with all of my stories.

And now I'm very happy to welcome Christian and Finn back to the world! Thank you to everyone for all your support <3


Blurb:
Cody Starr is one of the most popular actors in gay adult films. Young, beautiful, charismatic, when he’s on screen, he shines. But Cody Starr is a stage name, a persona, and the real man, Christian Larson, isn’t as enthusiastic about his adult career anymore. The problem is, Christian fears if he stops being Cody, he could end up homeless…again. He came to Hollywood with big dreams and lost them all, even the one of finding someone to love him.

Finn Madigan is an Army veteran who has a warrior’s soul and a hero’s heart. He makes his living protecting people. When he meets Christian, he sees a young man who needs someone who can be there for him. He’s hesitant to begin an intimate relationship with Christian, but at the same time, he’s helpless to resist him.

Passion, desire, and emotion are strong between Finn and Christian, but they will they be enough to overcome the challenges of Christian’s career?

Friday, March 25, 2016

Sneak Peek Excerpt: Kissing Cody Starr

I don't know saying it's a "sneak peek" is accurate, since this book is a re-release and some of you have seen this story before, but you guys know what I mean ;-) And for many of you, this is their first look at the story. Now me, I'm absolutely thrilled that next week, on April 1st, Kissing Cody Starr will return, published by MLR Press!

A few extra words have been added to the story and it's gotten the editing it needed. The plot, the guys, are all the same, but personally, I think the story is at its best now thanks to my amazing editor at MLR Press. With the book getting ready to drop next week, I thought now would be a good time to reintroduce everyone to Christian/Cody and Finn, and to let those of you who haven't met them before, get a peek at them. And so, I'm happy to bring you all a look at the Prologue and Chapter One of Kissing Cody Starr!

Blurb:
Cody Starr is one of the most popular actors in gay adult films. Young, beautiful, charismatic, when he’s on screen, he shines. But Cody Starr is a stage name, a persona, and the real man, Christian Larson, isn’t as enthusiastic about his adult career anymore. The problem is, Christian fears if he stops being Cody, he could end up homeless…again. He came to Hollywood with big dreams and lost them all, even the one of finding someone to love him.

Finn Madigan is an Army veteran who has a warrior’s soul and a hero’s heart. He makes his living protecting people. When he meets Christian, he sees a young man who needs someone who can be there for him. He’s hesitant to begin an intimate relationship with Christian, but at the same time, he’s helpless to resist him.



Passion, desire, and emotion are strong between Finn and Christian, but they will they be enough to overcome the challenges of Christian’s career?


Prologue

Tucked into the shadows, Christian lowered his head toward his drawn-up knees and wrapped his arms around his legs. No one would notice him if he could make himself small enough. If someone did happen down the alley and spot him, he would appear to be nothing more than another piece of trash sitting among the other discarded rubble, or yet one more hungry stray.

His stomach growled and clenched. He’d surpassed hungry that morning. He was starved. So starving his legs couldn’t carry him without stumbling. He was lightheaded, dizzy, and trying to hold a thought of anything other than food took all his concentration.

Maybe he should go back to the shelter.

He disregarded the thought. His fear of going back overrode his hunger. He stayed there for a couple of weeks, coming and going while he looked for work. The place was rundown and it didn’t have enough beds or food for everyone, but he learned the times to show up to ensure he got a meal, even though it seemed half the homeless population of L.A. turned out at the same time. Most of the people were harmless enough and same as him, they only wanted a meal to ease the aches in their bellies. But there were some who wanted more. Who wanted to take what little others had. Who wanted to hurt.

Christian lifted his head, tipping it back and resting it on the building behind him. It was risky to shower at the shelter, he knew that, but after being on the streets, he felt so dirty and wanted to be clean. He’d finished dressing when they came in.

The gang of five had surrounded him, taunting him. He didn’t respond to their words. They spit horrible names at him, said disgusting things they wanted to do to him, but he kept his head down, trying to not antagonize them, hoping someone else would walk in and scare them off.

No one did.

Three of them jumped him, punching, kicking, throwing him to the ground. The other two grabbed his backpack containing the few things he’d taken with him when he ran away from home, including his phone and his last fifty dollars. His screams must’ve carried through the door, because a group of men rushed in. His attackers took off, shoving the newcomers to the floor to get out the door, though, they were careful to not forget his backpack.

The people at the shelter treated his injuries as best they could, but there wasn’t much to be done for a black eye, split lip, and miscellaneous bumps and bruises other than handing him ice packs and antibiotic ointment. They tried to convince him to file a report with the police, but he refused. He knew what would happen if he did. The police would take him home.

No way in hell was he going back there with his drunk of a mom and stepdad. His stepdad was an ass when he wasn’t drunk and a violent ass when he was. And his mom, she was a slug. She wouldn’t even yell at his stepdad to stop hitting him. She’d lie in her bed, crying. As if that did anyone any good.

He couldn’t take their shit anymore, so he left. He wasn’t sure if that was a good decision, or a bad one. Considering he was sitting here with nowhere to go for shelter, having not eaten in two days—or was it three now?—and still wasn’t sure if it was a bad decision to leave home, that said it must’ve been a good one. He didn’t regret leaving and he didn’t want to go back. He missed some of the few meager comforts he had there, but nothing else.

No, he had to stay strong. He bought the bus ticket from Las Vegas to L.A. for a reason; to become an actor. He couldn’t lose focus on that. This was a down moment, but he’d get back up. Somehow…

Tears moistened Christian’s eyes. It was so much harder than he thought it would be. He thought he would come to L.A., go to a few auditions, land a role in some teen movie, and he’d be on his way to stardom. If he had to, he’d settle for commercials and modeling to get him by until he got picked up for a big role. Stupid. He suckered himself with his own stupid fantasies. He hadn’t planned anything out and thought it would all fall into place. When the hell had anything ever fallen into place for him? Never. He should’ve known better. Now instead of trying to figure out how to make his dream come true, he needed to figure out how to survive.

Christian swallowed his tears. He wouldn’t let any more of them come out. He didn’t have the time or energy to waste on crying. He needed to pull himself together and get some food. Breathing in deep, he released a slow exhale. He only had one option left; he was going to have to steal. He’d tried to get by being honest, and honesty was going to starve him to death. It wasn’t as though grocery stores had great security. He could stuff a package of lunch meat down his jeans and be out the door before anyone noticed.

His resolve set, Christian pushed to his feet. A rush of dizziness sent him off balance. He braced a hand on the building to steady himself. Then again, he might not make it the distance to a grocery store.

The spell passed, and he made his way down the alley. The streetlights stung his eyes after sitting in the darkness. The cars rumbling by seemed far too loud. He wondered if starving and being exhausted was making him more sensitive to everything. Looking to his right, he spotted a convenience mart on the corner. Too small. It’d be risky to swipe something from there, but he was going to have to try it. He needed to get something in his stomach before he passed out.

He shuffled down the sidewalk toward the corner. Not many people were out, but the hour was late. He still had his watch, a cheap digital but durable, and he saw it was a little past two o’clock in the morning.

Stopping at the corner across from the convenience mart, he waited for the crosswalk light to change. Then it hit him, why the fuck was he obeying traffic laws when he was going across the street to steal? He almost laughed at himself. Too long without food and sleep. He’d use that as his excuse.

Christian took a step toward the curb, catching himself before walking into the street as a car pulled up and halted at the red light. He shifted back slightly, gazing up at the light. Would the damn thing change already so he could get some food?

The passenger side window of the car rolled down, and a male voice called out. “Hey, kid. Come here. I want to ask you something.”

Christian’s heartbeat picked up. His instincts screamed for him to move away.

“Oh, sorry,” the voice said. “I thought you were out here trying to make some money.”

Christian straightened a little more. He pushed aside the warning voice in his head and took a step closer to the car. “Money?”

Soft laughter floated out the window. “Yeah. Money. Since you don’t know what I’m talking about, I guess that’s not why you’re out here. Forget I said anything to you.”

The light turned green, and the car rolled forward.

Christian jumped toward it with a quick step. “Wait!”

The car stopped again.

Christian walked to the car, bending down and looking inside. The man behind the steering wheel appeared to be in his late-thirties. His blond hair was slicked back. It was too dark for him to be able to tell the color of the man’s eyes, but they had a friendly shine to them and the guy’s smile looked real, not fake.

He knew exactly what the guy was asking about. He could imagine a thousand different dangers and reasons to walk away, but also one positive outcome—money. Enough money to buy food for a few days. He might even get to spend the night in a hotel room, have a shower, sleep for a little while in a bed. He wanted those things, so badly, so desperately. “I know what you’re talking about.”

“You do, huh? Then how much?”

Christian’s mind raced to come up with a response. “A hundred.”

The man let out a whistle. “A hundred? That’s pretty high. For the night or an hour?”

“The night.” Christian paused. “And a meal. A hundred and a meal. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A burger is fine.”

The man sat quiet, contemplating him for a long moment. “How old are you?”

“Uh…eighteen.”

A soft snort came from the man. “If you say so.” He reached to his left and tapped a button. The passenger door unlocked. “Hop on in.”

Christian gripped the door handle. He paused, nerves and fear racing through him. What the hell was he about to do? Sell himself for some food and cash? He couldn’t do this. It was wrong. He hadn’t even lost his damned virginity yet!

But, this man was offering money and food. Right now, both would do him a hell of a lot better than his virginity and morals.

Christian opened the door and slid into the car. He would have time for regrets and remorse in the morning, with a full stomach and money in his pocket.

Chapter One
Finn drummed his fingers on the tabletop, but not in sync with the heavy bass bumping in the club. Rather, his rhythm was one of boredom and annoyance. All these men, acting like fools. Or maybe they were acting normal and he was the fool since it seemed he was the only one not having a good time. But he’d never been into the club scene, even when he was younger, and he sure as shit wasn’t into it now.

He caught movement out the corner of his eye and glanced at Eduardo, his reason for being there. Eddy bopped and danced in his chair, lifting one arm in the air, encouraging the dancers onstage. Eddy’s smile shone over his face, lighting up his dark brown eyes. Finn chuckled to himself. Damn Eddy. Even in the worst of times, Eddy could make him smile. Considering some of the situations he and Eddy had gone through together, coming out to a gay club to see some porn stars shake their moneymakers was far more enjoyable.

And he did have to admit, the guys were hot.

When Eddy first told him about the event, after running through Sparta Security’s building and into his office, his first question to Eddy was, “Why are you looking up crap about porn stars on company computers and on company time?”

Eddy’s response was, “Company time? Shit, any time is porn time.”

As Eddy’s boss, he was obligated to scowl at him. Eddy ignored it and pressed on about the event at the Rockin’ Cock, five of the hottest, most wanted gay porn stars in the industry were appearing as guest performers. So far, three of them had put on some fairly sexy performances and the fourth was onstage at that moment. They’d tossed free sex toys, condoms, underwear, jock straps, and T-shirts to the crowd. Each time they did, Finn expected a fight to break out over a plastic dick. He was more than used to being around a pushy crowd, but it was a damn feeding frenzy on the floor. The men were crazed for anything the porn stars touched.

With a shake of his head, Finn glanced around the club. All in all, it wasn’t a bad looking establishment. The place’s logo, a rooster holding a guitar, was in neon above the long bar. He figured they probably used the bird to make a weak attempt at covering up the name’s true reference. There were a few raised platforms for the club’s usual go-go boys, but it seemed the go-go boys had the night off with the porn stars coming in. The place was big, with a spacious dance floor that took up most of the room. Security was low, though. He only saw three bouncers. Surprising considering the guests the club had tonight.

Finn put his attention on the stage. The current performer had finished his routine. He couldn’t remember the guy’s name, but he did remember seeing a couple of his movies. He knew he could ask Eddy, since Eddy was a living encyclopedia of today’s top gay porn stars, but he didn’t care enough to ask. He wondered if he could convince him it was time to go and glanced at him again. With how Eddy’s face was aglow with anticipation and delight, there was no way he’d get him out of here before the last porn star hit the stage. 

A large shower was wheeled onto the stage, tanks on the back and no doors or curtains on the front. The stage lights dropped low, a blue tint coloring them. Smoke rolled across the stage. The music shifted from the high-energy dance song to a deep, slow, rhythmic beat. From the darkness at the back of the stage, a young man walked forward dressed in a thick, white robe. His medium-length, dark brown hair framed his young face of soft, pretty features.

Finn did know his performer, Cody Starr. Everyone knew him. Well, everyone who watched gay porn. Cody was in his early twenties and had been making adult movies for the past five years. His first movie, Good Boy Going Down, had turned him into an adult film sensation.

He seemed as if he was an eternal twink, an all-American with a boy-next-door look to him. His fair skin was smooth and flawless, his body slender with lean muscle. His big brown eyes could look soft and sweet, or desperate with lust and desire.

Finn would admit he’d watched some of Cody’s movies and enjoyed them—immensely—but there was something different about Cody. On camera, he seemed very natural, whether flirting or fucking. There was an inexplicable charisma to him that when he appeared, Cody took over the scene. And his dialogue and acting came across real, not stiff. Finn almost snorted at his mental, unintentional pun. But really, the thing with Cody was, no matter what he was doing on camera, he was believable. Plus, the guy knew how to work that cute little bubble butt of his, as the many awards he been granted for “Best Bottom”, “Bottom of the Year”, “Best in a Group Scene”, and others proved.

Cody grabbed a steel pole to the side of the shower. Holding the pole in one hand, he let his body fall back, loose and relaxed, as he swung in a full circle.

Finn shifted in his chair, his cock starting to swell. Damn, Cody hadn’t even taken off his robe yet and the guy was making him hard. The evening was starting to get more entertaining.

Swinging in another circle around the pole, Cody reached with his free hand and pulled the belt loose on his robe. It fell open, sliding back on his shoulders. With more of Cody’s body revealed, the men in the crowd shouted their approval and called for more.

Cody hooked one leg around the pole and flung himself back, his arms straight behind him. The robe slipped off, showing he wore only tiny white briefs. Starting at his groin, arching over his hips and ending at the tops of both ass cheeks, were his trademark tattoos, six stars on each hip—red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple. Even though Finn couldn’t see all of the stars because the briefs hid some of them, he knew from Cody’s movies the stars started smaller near Cody’s groin and got larger as they flowed over his hips.

Snapping forward, Cody caught the pole and gracefully unhooked his leg, spinning toward the shower. With a flip of the lever to the left, a flip of the one to the right, water rained down from two showerheads. The beat of the music picked up in pace. Cody rolled his hips with the rhythm, his ass swinging in the most tantalizing way with the music. He hooked his thumbs over the top of the briefs, edging them down, showing half of his round ass cheeks. The lower the briefs went, the louder the crowd roared. Just when it seemed Cody was going to take them off, with a quick tug, he pulled the briefs back up and into place. Collective cries of disappointment filled the club.

Finn couldn’t take his gaze off him, captivated, hypnotized, by Cody’s movements. The muscles in Cody’s back shifted with his dancing. Cody spread his legs wide, dropping lower to the stage, bouncing his ass with the beat. He hopped up, turning to face the crowd. Gripping the edges of the shower, Cody leaned back. Water rolled down his chest, coursing over the grooves of his abdomen, wetting the white briefs.

Cody pulled himself upright, shaking his wet hair from his eyes and sliding his tongue over his lips. He took a large step backward, standing under the streams. With water drenching his dark brown hair, the color was nearly black.. The briefs became saturated, the thin material turning translucent and showing the outline of Cody’s cock, long and half-hard.

Finn wet his lips. Fuck, the guy was getting him hot…him and every man in the club. That’s something he needed to remind himself. Cody Starr was an adult performer. It was his job to turn people on.

As the thought passed through Finn’s mind, Cody’s routine came to an end. Waving and blowing kisses to the audience, Cody picked up the robe and walked off the stage. Finn reclined in his chair, his arousal cooling, whether from his realization or Cody leaving his sight, he wasn’t sure. Probably a mix of both with a little of it’d-been-too-damn-long-since-he’d-gotten-laid mixed in.

Eddy threw himself back in his chair, rocking it on its two back legs. “Fuck! That was hot!” He backhanded Finn on the arm. “Didn’t I tell you this would be a hell of a show? You need to be thanking me for dragging your ass here.”

“It was okay.” Finn picked up his beer, taking a long sip. He scrunched up his face at the taste. It’d gotten warm and was little better than bottled piss. He scanned for their waiter, spotting him walking away from another table, and held up his bottle. The waiter nodded in understanding.

“Okay?!” Eddy said, his voice pitching high with disbelief. “How can you say it was just okay? Shit, Zach Wilde alone almost made me come in my pants.”

Finn rolled his eyes at him. “It probably wouldn’t be the first time.”

“No, but it would’ve been the first time with him in the same physical space as me.”

Finn reached for his beer as the waiter dropped it off, giving him a nod of thanks. “Now if only you could get Zach to touch you.”

Eddy exhaled an exaggerated forlorn sigh. “Tell me about it. But it’s probably best if he didn’t. I know I’d embarrass myself by blowing my load from doing nothing but shaking his hand.”

Finn laughed. He had nothing to come back at him with since the chances were high of what Eddy said being true.

Eddy snapped his arm toward him, clutching Finn’s bicep. “Holy shit! Look! There they are! In the crowd! Mingling!”

Finn followed Eddy’s gaze. The performers were in the crowd, but it was Cody and Zach, standing close together, who caught his attention. The two of them had done a few movies together and they had a fun, playful charisma on camera. He wondered if they were a couple in real life. From the demeanor he saw in them now, they were acting more as if they were good friends than lovers.

They did complement each other nicely, though, with Cody’s dark hair and dark eyes, Zach’s sandy-blond hair and blue eyes. They had similar body types, so their movies together were a twink lover’s wet dream come true. Each wore a little more clothing than they had performed in, but not much more. Cody had on a white button-down shirt, fully open, and tight black shorts conforming to his ass and package.

Finn studied them and their interactions with the men around them. Zach smiled and signed autographs, posed for quick pictures and was an all-around good sport and promoter for himself. Cody, however, wasn’t following Zach’s example.

A beer bottle to his lips, Cody tipped his head back as he sucked on it. A man stepped up to his side and stuffed some cash into Cody’s shorts. Cody pulled out the money, counted it, and rolled his eyes as if less than impressed with the amount. It didn’t stop him from pocketing it, though. Another man approached him, only to get Cody flinging his hand up and waving the guy off. 

The last of the arousal Cody had sparked in Finn faded away. Attitude. The guy had a punk of an attitude. He’d read on a blog once that Cody was a bit of a dick in person. Since he worked with celebrities and knew most of the time what the media said was less than the full truth, he blew off the post. But maybe there was some truth to it.

Cody also looked to be quite the party boy. The guy was already signaling for another beer, having downed his first in under three minutes. Play hard and burn out young. That was probably going to end up being Cody’s tagline. It was for a lot of men and women in the kind of work Cody did.

Finn shook his head. Such a shame. There was so much talent in Cody, too.

Eddy shoved Finn on the shoulder. “I’m going over there. Maybe I can get a pic with Zach.”

Finn shot him an exasperated look. “Out of everyone in this place, you and me know how much our clients get tired of that shit.”

“Yeah, when they’re out with their kids, or grocery shopping, or trying to be regular people. When they’re promoting, they know what the drill is, and so do these guys. They may not be Hollywood A-listers, but they’re Adult A-listers.”

“You got a point.”

Eddy brought his hands together in a single loud clap. “Damn straight, I do! Now I’m…oh. Oh damn. He’s looking over here.”

“Who? Zach?” Finn looked to where Eddy was staring and met Cody’s deep-brown gaze. A soft smile rose to Cody’s lips. Finn’s heart started to beat quicker. His cooled arousal ignited, sending a heated rush through his groin. Cody broke eye contact, lowering his gaze. Slowly, he looked up again.

That look…tempting and inviting, sensual and arousing…was almost enough to get Finn out of his chair. Almost. He forced his mind to function despite it running short on blood with so much going to his cock. He’d gotten a glimpse of what Cody was really like. Even for one night, he wouldn’t want to mess around with someone who could act like that to others.

He had to hand it to the guy, though. Cody knew what he was doing and how to lure a man in, and that was the problem. What he was seeing from Cody right now was nothing more than an act.

Finn put his attention on his beer. The last thing he needed was for—

“They’re coming over,” Eddy said in a loud whisper.

That. That was exactly the last thing he needed.

His voice far calmer than Finn knew he felt, Eddy said, “Hey, guys. Loved your performances.”

“Thank you. I’m happy you liked them.”

From the politeness, Finn knew it had to be Zach who replied. Glancing up, he saw Zach looking at Eddy, but Cody’s gaze was fixed on him.

“You guys don’t have to introduce yourselves, but I’m Eduardo Ramirez, you can call me Eddy, everyone does, and this is Finn Madigan.”

“It’s nice to meet you both.” Again, it was Zach who replied.

Finn nodded to him. “Likewise.” He brought his gaze to Cody.

Placing a hand on his hip, Cody flashed Finn a bright smile. “So, you gonna buy me a beer?”

Finn startled inside at the question. “Excuse me?” He hadn’t meant for his tone to come out as sharp as it did, and if he was surprised by Cody’s bold assumption, Cody seemed as surprised at his response.

Cody’s smile dimmed. A hint of confusion drew his eyebrows closer. “A beer. Aren’t you going to buy me a beer?”

Finn stared at him. Seriously? He wasn’t exactly used to being told to buy a guy a beer. No. That kind of shit didn’t fly. “I wasn’t planning on it, and I don’t recall asking you if I could buy you one.”

Cody let out a dry laugh. “You didn’t have to ask me if you can. Every man here wants to buy me a beer and more.”

“Well, I’m not like the rest of the guys here.”

Eddy held out both hands, motioning to the empty chairs at the table. “Why don’t you guys have a seat? I’ll buy beers for everyone.”

Cody set his other hand on his hip also, leaning toward Finn. “What’s your deal, man? Acting all rude and shit.”

Finn snapped his head up, fixing Cody with a look of disbelief. “You’re joking, right? You came up here, telling me to buy you a drink. I don’t care who you are, if you give me rudeness, you get rudeness back.”

Cody let out a shocked cough, his mouth dropping open.

Beside him, Zach snickered softly. “Finally, a dude who’ll tell you what’s up with your cocky ass.”

Cody shot him a dirty look. “I’m not cocky.” He looked at Finn again. “And I’m not rude. I just thought since you’re damn hot, I’d give you first chance to hang with me tonight, but you’ve pretty well blown that now.”

A grin on his lips, Finn lifted his beer to take a drink. “I’ll try not to cry in my beer too long.”

Zach snorted out a loud laugh.

Cody turned on him. “There’s nothing funny here!”

Zach flipped his hand toward Finn. “Are you kidding me? He’s fucking hilarious!”

Finn drained the last of his beer. In his peripheral vision, he caught Eddy shooting him a murderous glare. If Eddy didn’t get to hang with Zach, he was going to hear about it for the rest of their lives. He pointed with his bottle at Zach, then at Eddy. “Why don’t you two dance and have some fun? I’m going to get another beer from the bar, then take off.”

“Sounds like a great idea!” Eddy turned his best smile on Zach. “What do you say? Do you want to dance?”

Zach offered his hand to him. “Sure.” As Eddy took his hand, he gave Cody a smirk. “Later.”

Cody nodded to him.

Finn stood, ready to head to the bar.

Cody tipped his head back, looking up at him. “I didn’t realize you were so tall.”

Finn gazed down at him. Cody couldn’t be more than five foot eight to his six foot three. “I didn’t realize you were so short.”

A laugh slipped from Cody. “Yeah, I kinda get that a lot. I think I look bigger on camera.” He paused. “But not all of me! The camera doesn’t exaggerate the size of all things on my body.”

Finn let out a soft chuckle. “I’m sure it doesn’t. It probably understates it, if anything.”

A more genuine smile came to Cody’s lips. He stepped closer to Finn, dropping his voice low, as though not wanting anyone to overhear. “About when I first came up. You’re right. I was kind of a pushy dick.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

Cody’s smile took on a flirtatious edge. “How about a make-up dance, then?”

Finn shook his head. “I don’t think so. I’m not much of a dancer on a good day and this isn’t one of those for me. This cool, rainy weather has my bum leg aching. That might be why my patience is a little short and I’m growlier than usual.”

Cody’s gaze flicked downward. “What happened? Did you get into an accident or something?”

“Took dirty bomb shrapnel in Afghanistan.”

Cody’s eyes widened. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have asked that way. I didn’t think…”

Finn gave him a warm smile. “It’s okay. But see what I mean, when I said I’m not like the rest of the guys here?”

Cody only nodded, seeming apprehensive about opening his mouth again.

Finn patted him on the shoulder. “Thanks for the offer to dance. I do appreciate it.” He shifted his voice to have a teasing edge. “And now after talking to you one-on-one, you might not be as much of a brat as I first thought.”

Cody relaxed under Finn’s hand, his smile returning.

“I still don’t think we’d get along well, though.”

Cody’s smile dropped away.

“But you are a cutie and I do wish you the best. I’m going to get my beer now. I hope you have a good rest of the night.” Not giving Cody a chance to reply, Finn stepped around him, trying to force his left leg to work with a minimal limp. The damn rain always brought aches with it.

He didn’t need to look back to know Cody’s gaze on him, but he wondered why it felt that walking away from Cody was the wrong decision. Why he wanted to go back to him and say he’d changed his mind. He held onto his resolve, refusing to listen to his gut, even if his gut always had guided him true in the past. Whenever he didn’t listen to it, he found himself in trouble. But this time, it seemed as if his gut was directing him toward trouble.

Finn plopped down on a barstool, signaled the bartender, and ordered another beer. The bartender brought it, and Finn wrapped up his tab with him. He sat in his thoughts, nursing his beer. Should he track down Cody and tell him he’d reconsidered? That he’d buy him a beer? Ask him to sit down and talk some more?

Once Zach walked off and it was him and Cody on their own, Cody started to show a side he liked a lot more. He should’ve known better than to throw judgments at Cody before talking to him. He knew what celebrities showed to the public often wasn’t who they really were. Cody might have a jerk-ish side, but who didn’t? And Cody had to guard himself against men who only wanted him for one thing. Which, wasn’t that what he was wanting him for, too?

Or, maybe, he was overthinking the whole thing and he needed to go talk to Cody some more.

Finn chugged the last of his beer and set the bottle on the bar. He spun around on the stool, scanning the club for Cody. There were a few clusters in the crowd, men gathered around some of the performers. The crowd shifted, and he caught sight of Cody dancing between two muscular men. Cody swung his head, rolling it back on his shoulders. He wore a smile that didn’t look quite right. It was a little too…loopy. Cody’s movements were loose, but not following the music. Rather, he was dancing in his own little world. 

Stoned. In the fifteen minutes since their conversation ended, Cody had gotten stoned off his ass.

The man dancing in front of Cody held his thumb and forefinger up to Cody’s mouth to feed him something. Finn couldn’t see what was between them, but his guess was a pill of some kind. Cody shook his head, seeming to not want whatever the man had. The guy nodded, gripping him under the jaw. Cody obeyed, letting the man put the drug into his mouth.

Finn spun back around on the stool, not able to look at the scene any longer. He shouldn’t be surprised. He’d heard of several adult stars who’d gotten mixed up in drugs. Several stars in general, actually. He’d been to the parties and after-parties with his clients, and knew all too well what went on at some of them. For some celebrities, it was their break from reality, a desperate escape from the pressure of being a public figure. It wasn’t any different with these guys, but thinking it was a shame didn’t cover how he felt. It was fucking tragic in Cody’s case.

He shouldn’t have walked off on him. Yeah, he was honest in saying they probably wouldn’t get along, but he was thinking intimately. On a friend level, that might be something they could make work. But, it also wasn’t his problem. It was pretty clear Cody wasn’t upset at getting turned down by him, since the guy went off and continued to have a good time.

With two men.

Who looked as though they were taking advantage of him.

Finn turned around again. Cody and the men weren’t in the same spot, or anywhere on the dance floor. Finn stood, craning his neck to see over the heads in the crowd. He caught sight of them going toward the restroom. One man held both of Cody’s hands, walking backward, checking over his shoulder to not bump into anyone. The other had his hands on Cody’s hips, guiding him. Almost to the restroom, Cody balked, shaking his head. The guy in back shoved him. Cody stumbled forward, falling into the other man.

And that was enough.

Finn stormed toward them, the pain in his leg forgotten and pushed aside by adrenaline. Seeming to sense and see his anger, other men moved out of his way. He neared the two men as the one gave Cody a tug to walk and overheard the guy saying, “Come on. It’ll be fun.”

Finn closed the last of the distance fast. “Hey!”

Both men whipped around toward him.

Cody turned more slowly, unsteady on his feet. Recognition came through the drug haze in his eyes as he looked at Finn. Cody tried to move toward him, but the first guy held him back. He pulled against the man’s hold, the other refusing to release him.

Finn stepped up the man holding Cody’s hands, bringing their faces close and staring into the man’s eyes. “Looks like he wants you to let him go.”

“Man, this isn’t any of your business. We’re all just having a good time.”

“He doesn’t look like he’s having a good time.”

The one behind Cody added his voice, “Who the fuck are you? His bodyguard?”

Finn glanced at Cody. Cody looked afraid to speak, but he saw the plea in Cody’s eyes. He focused on the man in front of him. “Yeah, I am.”

“Funny we didn’t see you with him earlier.”

“He just hired me. Now you’ve got until I finish this sentence to let him go, or else I’m going to make you let him go.”

The man in front of Finn leaned closer to him. “Fuck you!”

Finn grabbed the man’s wrist, closing his fingers around it in a crushing grip and driving his thumb into the pressure point on the underside.

The man cried out, releasing Cody from both his hands. His accomplice lunged to strike. Finn twisted to meet him, slamming his fist into the man’s stomach. The guy curled forward and slumped to the ground, and the first assailant made his attack. He shoved off Cody to get momentum, knocking him to the ground.

Finn saw the hit coming. He ducked to the side and pushed the man on the back, adding his strength to the speed his attacker had gained, driving him to the ground. The guy fell hard, cracking his nose on the floor, blood instantly leaking from it.

Sensing he’d taken the fight out of both of them, Finn checked his surroundings to see if anyone else was getting ideas of jumping in. All the nearby men seemed content to point and stare. One hollered, “To the victor, goes the spoils!”

Finn snorted. Typical macho bravado. He hadn’t taken the two men down to claim Cody as some kind of a prize. He was only trying to help him out of a bad situation. At least, he hoped he’d helped him and hadn’t just completely fucked up Cody’s night. He looked down at him.

Cody stared at the two men. Slowly, he lifted his gaze to him.

Finn bent toward him, offering both his hands. “Are you okay?”

Cody nodded, taking Finn’s hands and using Finn’s strength to get up. He stumbled forward, tossing his arms around Finn’s neck. “Thank you.”

“No problem. I—whoa! Easy!”

Cody slumped to one side.

Finn grabbed him, standing him up again. He caught Cody under the chin, trying to look into his eyes, but Cody kept closing them in long blinks. “You’re not okay. What’ve you drank tonight? And what’ve you taken?”

His words slurred, Cody said, “I don’t know. A couple beers. Some X…I think. Maybe. I’m not sure.”

“I think you need to go to the hospital.”

In a brief moment of clarity, Cody clenched the front of Finn’s shirt in both hands. “No! Please, don’t! If it gets out, it’d be so, so bad.”

Finn gazed at him. Damn it. This guy was nothing but trouble. “Fine. Then I’ll take you home, but if I see you looking any worse than you already do, I won’t give a shit whether you like it or not, I’m dragging you to a hospital.”

Cody nodded and pressed against him, laying his head on Finn’s shoulder, wrapping his arms around Finn’s waist.

Finn swallowed hard. Now was not the time to get hard, but Cody’s body molded perfectly against him. Finn grabbed the thought and hurled it out of his mind. Thoughts like that did not belong there. Still, he wrapped his arms around Cody. “Where do you live?”

His voice drowsy, Cody gave him two words, “My pocket.”

Understanding what he meant, Finn moved his hand to Cody’s shorts and the back pocket. Trying to stave off an erection was pointless. All it took was a brush of his fingers against Cody’s firm ass cheek and he was getting hard again. Doing his best to ignore it, he pulled Cody’s cell phone from the pocket. The phone was wrapped in a rubber case with a pocket on the back to hold cards and cash.

Finn took out Cody’s driver’s license. His eyebrows raised as he looked at the name on it. Christian Larson. So that was his real name. He looked at Cody’s birthday. He really was twenty-three too, with an August birthday. He checked out the address. A good neighborhood in Venice Beach.

Finn pocketed Cody’s…Christian’s phone, feeling it was safer to touch his own ass than Christian’s again. His mind stumbled over the name. He knew Cody Starr had to be a stage name, but it was always a little wild finding out a celebrity’s true name, as if a secret part of them was revealed.

Shifting Christian to his side, Finn moved forward and guided him through the club. He watched for Eddy, but didn’t see him. Could be he’d already left. He exhaled a sigh. What had he gotten himself into?


Finn stepped outside, hailing a cab. The trouble he’d brought to himself was one more thing he couldn’t think about now. His main concern was getting Christian home safely and making sure he would be all right. He’d find a way out of this mess in the morning.

Copyright 2016 by S.J. Frost and MLR Press