In honor of the arrival of spring,
I'm giving away a
signed paperback copy of my
Romantic M/M Victorian era Urban Fantasy
At its core, Heart's Home is about
finding love and acceptance in unexpected places.
That's a theme I deal with a lot. Not only am a sucker for a happy ending, but I do truly believe that there is nothing more important than loving and being loved--than being loved for who you are. The idea of "finding home" is at the core of my second novel, Bound: Heart in Knots, due out in September. Since there are snippets of Heart's Home already on my website (just hit the link above) as well as on my publisher's website, here I'm going to give you a snippet of my second novel instead. But just in case you want to grab your goodies and run, I'll give you the rules for entering the giveaway first. That's because I'm a nice guy ;-)
To win a copy of Heart's Home, all you have to do is drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org OR leave a comment below.
I'll draw one name out of the hat on the 28th, contact the winner, and as soon as you get back to me with your address, I'll put your book in the mail. Winner will be announced here shortly thereafter.
No hoops to jump through, no trick questions.
And yes, international entries are always welcome.
So now that we have that out of the way, here's the first thousand words or so of Bound: Forget Me Knot; this is NOT a final edit, so minor changes are likely. Which means an editor will show up on my doorstep with a whip and chair to help me tame the wild em dash. Or maybe just a bucket of tar and a feather pillow because she's sick of my run-on sentences and overuse of punctuation!
Fair warning: Bound:Forget Me Knot is a kinky/BDSM novel (just in case the title didn't give that away
Bound: Forget Me Knot
The gray leather was so soft, it felt like silk in Jason’s hands. It was a good solid piece, though, about two inches wide, with four heavy D-rings attached. It was the kind of collar that would tell a man he belonged to somebody—not that there was anyone Jason wanted to belong to. Not that he wanted to belong to anyone. He swallowed back his discomfort. A little light bondage with his sometime-boyfriend Terry as one thing, but—
Jason jumped at the sound of the rich baritone voice behind him, and not-so-silently cursed himself for getting caught “window shopping”. The dealers’ room wasn’t open yet, he was only allowed in because he was working off his convention membership by helping with setup. Setting up didn’t include pestering the merchants.
Normally, Jason didn’t pay even attention to anything in the dealers’ room at a con. He’d been going to science fiction conventions since he was fourteen—eight years ago—and the dealers’ always looked the same: displays over flowing with novels and comic books, tables piled high with CDs and DVDs. There were movie posters and action figures. Plush Lovecraftian monsters. The sword dealer was set up next to the guy who sold replicas of Star Trek phasers and Stargate zat guns. Across the aisle was a woman who did custom corsetry work—for both women and men. Next to her was the guy who sold uniforms: Star Fleet, Storm Trooper, Colonial (as in the Thirteen Colonies of Kobal)… if it was on TV or in the movies, he could get his hands on it.
The last few years Jason had noticed more brass and leather making its way in the dealers’ room, thanks to the rising popularity of steampunk literature and the Victorian culture from it came from. He didn’t mind. There was nothing hotter than a good looking guy decked out in Victorian era garb, and all the better if he was wearing leather.
Jason wasn’t wearing leather, but what he did have on was almost as good: a black fish-net shirt that showed off the silver hoops in his nipples and a pair of ass-hugging jeans with a couple of gray bandanas tied into the belt loops at his right hip. Those were more for show than anything else. Nobody around the science fiction community knew the “hankie code” supposedly used in the leather community. Jason wasn’t even sure anybody actually used it in real life, it was just one of those things he’d read about online. Different colored hankies signified different kinks. Gray was for bondage.
He turned to face the shop owner, to apologize for getting in his way, and hope the guy wouldn’t complain about him being where he didn’t belong—but his mouth went dry and his throat refused to work. He found himself staring into a brawny chest. He looked up. The shop owner smirked. The guy was at least a foot taller than Jason and, while he wasn’t exactly Incredible Hulk muscular, Jason didn’t think he lost too many arm wrestling contests, either. He certainly made Jason feel small, simply by standing there smiling.
He was the epitome of “classically handsome”: strong jaw, cleft chin, dimples. Dimples. Jason loved drawing faces with dimples. His gaze flickered further up and he noticed the full mustache, baby blue eyes and short cropped blond hair. He’d never liked mustaches much, but he was suddenly ready to make an exception.
“See something else you like?” the guy asked him with a lopsided grin.
Jason blushed. “Yes. I mean no! I mean…” he floundered, certain the tips of his ears were as red as the ballroom carpet as he clutched onto the leather collar. “Sorry, I know you’re still setting up. I saw this and I guess I couldn’t resist.”
“I know exactly what you mean.”
Jason’s heart hammered in his chest—the guy couldn’t possibly mean that the way it sounded. Could he?
“C’mon,” he took Jason by the shoulders and turned him around, so Jason’s back was to him once more, before lifting the collar out of his hands. “Let’s try this on for size.”
“I…,” Jason licked his lips. He couldn’t afford a collar like that.
But the merchant didn’t give him the chance to finish his sentence. “Jesus, boy, you got enough hair? Lift that mop outta my way.”
“I… huh? Sorry, I…” he blinked. Why was he apologizing to a total stranger about the length of his hair? Didn’t he get enough of that shit at home? If it wasn’t his father, it was Dad’s girlfriend, Alicia, ragging on him about his hair, his cloths. His attitude. According to them, no one would ever hire someone like him. He usually didn’t remind them that he had a job. After all, waiting tables wasn’t “real work”, it was what college kids and unskilled adults did to pay the bills.
“I should get back to work,” Jason told the merchant. “I’m supposed to be helping with setup.”
The big man leaned in close, stopping him in his tracks. “I’m sure you can play hooky for a few more minutes,” he whispered seductively into Jason’s ear.
“Huh?” was the wittiest comeback he could come up with.
“Let’s see what this looks like on you.”
“I… yeah… okay.” God, could he sound any more like a clod?
The merchant cleared his throat. “Hair, boy.”
“Right. Sorry.” Jason lifted the long, curly black hair up off up off his shoulders, exposing his slender neck. He closed his eyes as the merchant slipped the gray collar around his throat. It was heavy. It felt good. The only collar he’d ever worn before was the one he’d bought for himself a few months ago, from the pet aisle at Wal-Mart. It was so much more satisfying when someone else buckled the soft, sturdy leather into place, even if it was only someone trying to make a sale.
“There,” the merchant laid his hands on Jason’s shoulders once more. “How’s the fit?”
“Perfect, sir.” Jason faltered. But ‘sir’ was a generic enough courtesy, and the shop owner looked a few years older than him. Well. Maybe closer to ten years older, not that Jason minded. Older guys knew what they were doing in bed. Not that he thought the merchant was flirting with him. He was just trying to make a sale. He wasn’t going to succeed. “I’m sorry, sir, but I really can’t afford something like this. I didn’t mean to waste your time.”
“Who says you’re wasting my time? ’Sides, last time I checked, looking was free.”
Jason glanced over his shoulder again. “I can’t actually see anything, you know.”
The merchant rolled his eyes at Jason’s petulant tone. “I think I’ve got a solution for that.” He reached to the table behind him and passed Jason an antique brass hand mirror. “There you go. What d’you think?”
Jason gaped at his own reflection in the oval glass. The charcoal gray leather was the perfect complement to his pale skin and almost the same color as his eyes. How was he ever going to go back to wearing a cheap dog collar after seeing the way he looked in a real collar?
He gave himself a good mental shake. Why would he want a real collar? Real collars were for… slaves. Submissives. Jason wasn’t either of those things, he just dabbled with bondage once in a while.
He licked his lips nervously and cast another glance up at the merchant because looking at the other man was easier than looking at his own reflection.
“Kinda makes you look like you belong to somebody, eh, boy?” the big man observed.
“Yeah. I was just thinking… I erm…just…out of curiosity, how much is it?” He had to ask.
“The hardware on there is all hand forged. I can’t go any lower than two hundred.”
Jason’s heart sank. “I really wish I could afford that, but I…I’m not even sure I’m going to be able to afford to school next semester.” God, he sounded pathetic. He wasn’t trying for sympathy, the words had just come out.
“Gotta have priorities, boy.”
Jason gave him a questioning look.
“School first,” he elaborated. “You’ll have time for stuff like this later.”
“Yeah. I guess.”
Jason took a last look at himself in the mirror before the merchant undid the collar’s clasp. He felt an immediate loss when it came off his neck. He smiled anyway. “Thanks for letting me try it on…” he sought out the man’s name badge, but the only thing printed on it was ‘Sir’. He smirked.
“Henry Durand,” he held out his hand.
Jason accepted. “Jason Kennly.”
“Good to meet you, Jason.” Henry’s hand swallowed his up whole, but his grip was light. Friendly.
“You too. Well, I… guess I should get back before somebody realizes how long I’ve been gone. See you around the con, Sir,” he added, despite having exchanged proper names.
Henry quirked an eyebrow, then laughed. “I’ll be right here, boy,” he shot back with a wink. “I might even let you model a few other things, if you like. Got a set of cuffs you’d look good in.”
With heat burning in his cheeks, Jason beat a hasty retreat. He told himself that Henry Durand was an accountant or something, that selling collars and leather BDSM gear was only a weekend gig, but even the thought of Mr. Tall, Blond, and Handsome sitting in front of a pile of income tax returns wasn’t enough to make his dick go soft.
Bound: Forget Me Knot is due out in September from Dreamspinner Press.
And just to make my life interesting, so is Ghosthunting Michigan, the non fiction book I'm working on for Clerisy Press.