Guestpost

Guest Post: Celebrate Autumn with an Ofelia Gränd Book

Welcome to my dear friend Ofelia Gränd! She and have a little blog autumn swap going on; she’s here to talk about some of her books set in autumn today, and tomorrow, I’ll be at her blog, talking about a few of my books set in autumn. Doesn’t that sound like a great idea? Because autumn is great and older books need love, too, and what other reason do you really need to hang out at the blog of a friend? 🙂

Before I step back and let Ofelia do the talking, I wanna say that if you haven’t read Pine Tree Mary, you’re missing out on something great (read my recommendation here).


Hello, everyone! Thank you, Nell, for allowing me to steal a spot on your blog again 🥰 Today, I’m not here to talk about a new release. Strange, right? 😆 Instead, I thought I’d talk about autumn.

Autumn is my favourite season, no doubt about it. I love the cold crisp air, the yellow leaves, and the walks in the woods. It’s also nice to curl up on the couch and read. A cup of something warm and a good book is a luxury best enjoyed in the autumn 😊

Many of the books I’ve written are set in the autumn, so I thought I’d tell you a little about some of them – not all! When I say many, I mean many. There is something with the dark, chilly nights that make me set the stories in the autumn, so I’ll pick a couple… or two couples.

Hey, I’ll give you two books set in September since it’s September, and then two books that take place in October in case you read this when September has ended.

September

Jaeger’s Lost and Found

The first book I ever wrote for JMS Books was Jaeger’s Lost and Found. To this day, it’s only sold about 150 copies, but I love it. It’s about Archie who’s a finder, only he can’t find anything, at least not the way a finder is supposed to find things.

Then comes Gael, who is a vampire who’s lost his coven. Vampires must have a coven or they’ll die – they’re mentally connected, but when Gael woke up for the day, all his connections were gone.

Archie is his only hope, so they both set out on a race against the clock, assisted by Archies best friend Edie.

So… Archie is a bit neurotic, and he lives in an old dusty book shop, and it’s raining. All. The. Time.

Paranormal gay romance // 28,641 words

JMS Books :: Amazon

Pine Tree Mary

And if we’re gonna talk about those of my books that don’t sell, Pine Tree Mary is one of them. It’s a Norse mythology kind of story, so it might be that or the fact that there is a girl’s name in the title. It’s not about a girl, though. It’s about Hush, who is a pine tree Mary. A pine tree Mary is a forest nymph in Scandinavian folklore. He lives in the forest with his sisters and rides on moose – it is what they do! 😆

A pine tree Mary can also make sure a gun never misses its target, and that’s where Hush gets in trouble. He’s blessing a drug lord’s weapons when Detective Quinn Manning sees him.

Hush has never been to the city, so a trip to the police station is an interesting adventure. He just has to make sure to hide his tail and the hole he has in his back.

Paranormal gay romance // 28,907 words

JMS Books :: Amazon


October

Around Seven

This is about Oswald and Joshua. Oswald walked in on his fiancé cheating on him on their wedding day, before the ceremony, but still pretty bad timing – not that finding out your spouse is cheating on you ever is timely.

When we come into the story, Oswald has been sleeping in his car for two hundred and seventy-three days, but October in the northern hemisphere can be quite chilly, and he’s running out of money.

When Aiden (from Aiden and Tristan) offers Oswald a job, he doesn’t have much choice but to accept. He’s not super excited about it, but he has to find somewhere to stay before the winter and an apartment costs money.

Before he starts working, he decides to rent a canoe and paddle down the river, but things don’t go as planned, and soon he finds himself in the cold water. Luckily, Joshua finds him and takes him home.

Contemporary gay romance // 23,995 words

JMS Books :: Amazon

Soul Eater

Halloween, people! Being a Scandie, Halloween is something I watch happen on social media every year. We don’t do that here. We light candles on the graves of our loved ones on All Saints’ Day, but that’s the closest we have to Halloween. In Soul Eater, we have Halloween, though.

Thaddeus is a wizard and a cop. He has no idea that when he steels a werewolf skull from a black market stall, he’ll conjure a ghost.

Werewolves and wizards aren’t friends, so when Sandy finally comes out of the dark, his first thought is to attack the wizard before him. Mid-attack he realises the wizard is his mate, which he finds as hard to accept as the fact that he’s dead – he doesn’t understand that last bit at first.

This is a favourite of mine because it has ghosts, shifters, wizards, interspecies couples, fated mates, a mystery, and lots of evil people… and it all culminates on Halloween when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest.

Paranormal gay romance // 51,577 words

JMS Books :: Amazon

So there you have four of my autumn stories. They’re all dear to me despite being quite different from each other. Hopefully, you found something intriguing, and if not, check out Nell’s books. I know she has a few autumn reads 😊

Guestpost

New Release Spotlight: Dear Diary by Holly Day

My dear friend Holly Day is back on the blog today, talking about her latest release, Dear Diary. She gifted me an ARC of the story to read if I wanted to, and yes!, I wanted. As you know by now, I love epistolary stories, stories told in text exchanges, emails, through IMs on social media apps, and yes, diaries. I read Dear Diary the day before I scheduled this blog post, and I loved it. You can expect a book rec post featuring it in the future.

But first, let’s welcome Holly back to the blog. ❤️


Hello, everyone! Thank you, Nell, for allowing me back on the blog! 🥰

This month, we’re celebrating Dear Diary Day, and as soon as I saw that day coming up I wanted to write a story for it, but then I almost talked myself out of it.

I write in past tense (works in a diary), third person (doesn’t work in a diary), dual pov (doesn’t work in a diary). And the reason I don’t like writing in first person is that I feel restricted.

For me, a story is told somewhere between two or more characters. They notice different things, they see different details, they draw different conclusions, and to show that in first person always feels forced to me and unrealistic.

And I know it’s a technique thing. Those who prefer to write in first person live in a narrower space (not that they’re narrow-minded in any way! It’s just the space through which they can show the story is narrower) and tell the story from within the main character. Whereas I like to live above my characters and tell the story through the reactions between them.

I don’t know if I’m making any sense at all 😆

The point, though, is that I couldn’t write this story as I normally write because there are no third-person dual povs in diaries, and that’s a little scary. I decided to do it anyway, and while there were a few days when I felt stuck, I was having so much fun!

It’s a challenge to tell a story through a diary. You’re in the character’s head, retelling their day as they would, and a person doesn’t write a diary with an intended audience in mind, so you wouldn’t explain things. For example, I never mention the character’s name because you never would in a diary, would you? Not unless you talked about wanting to change it or if someone mispronounced it or something.

I had so much fun with this one, and I’m very glad I wrote it.

Blurb:

Dear Diary,

My therapist wants me to write a diary to help me manage my depression. I have no idea how it’ll work, but I didn’t have the energy to argue with her.

All I want is for life to go back to the way it was before I walked in on Christopher and Jason. Or maybe not because I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive Christopher for cheating on me in our bed, but I want to function as I did before that moment. Before I lost everything.

Do you remember Lars Olsen from school? I do my best to stay away, but it’s like he’s magnetic and pulls me in every time I see him. I shouldn’t be dating. I don’t want to force my crazy on anyone, but he’s asked me to dinner. He deserves a sane partner, so it would be unfair to go, wouldn’t it?

Contemporary Gay Romance // 9,219 words

Buy links:

JMS Book :: Amazon :: books2read.com/DearDiaryDay

Excerpt:

Wednesday, September 21st

Dear Diary,

I’m gonna kill Lars! Do you know what step class is? No wonder he’s fit. I thought I’d die, or at least puke. I haven’t been as out of breath since I don’t know when—years! And my legs have turned into overcooked noodles. I swear! When I’m walking, it’s like they won’t hold my weight.

When we walked out of the gym, Lars was laughing at me. Not in a mean way. He was sparkling, radiant, and I kissed him.

I know I shouldn’t go around kissing sane people, but he’s so gorgeous, and he stood so close, and… I don’t know, my blood was pumping.

Then the door to work opened across the street, and I jumped away from him. He gave me a stunned look, maybe a little hurt, as I glared at Erin.

She didn’t grin or comment about seeing us, which makes me wonder what the heck she was doing staying late in the office. I guess I’ll hear all about it tomorrow, how she saw me kissing Lars.

I’m a grown man. I can kiss whoever I want.

Fuck. I shouldn’t have kissed him. At least not in public. And I’m failing at keeping Lars safe from the insane.

Oh, he’s texting me now!

He wonders if I want to have dinner with him tomorrow after yoga. Did I say I was gonna do yoga? When did I say I was gonna do yoga? I’m as flexible as a refrigerator. Damn, why do I stop listening as soon as he touches me? I bet it was all in there when he talked about aerobics and spinning and stuff. I nodded and stared at his callused thumb running over my knuckles. The memory is enough to make me tingly, dammit.

Do you have it too? The sinking feeling we’ve agreed to take a spinning class without meaning to? Of course, you don’t, you lazy fucker. Shit, what have I done?

It’s more than Lars figuring out I’ve let myself go and am so out of shape it’s embarrassing. Everyone else in class will see it too.

Okay, deep breath. I’m gonna check Christopher’s Facebook profile. It’s been a week since I last did. I forgot to mention it to you, though I doubt you care, but I told Janet I check his profile several times a day. She told me to stop. Or not to stop, but she had a zillion questions about why I did it, what would happen if I didn’t, how it makes me feel and so on, and then we agreed on me not checking it for a week.

It’s been a week.

I’m looking now…

He’s still with the slut, Jason. They still look happy. And I can still see them fucking on our bed. I hope they get hit by a bus.

1. I don’t have the energy to do this right now.

2.

3. Coffee.

About Holly Day

According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.

Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.

Connect with Holly on social media:

Website :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Pinterest :: BookBub :: Goodreads :: Newsletter

Guestpost, Release Blitz

New Release Spotlight: Queer Relations by Ellie Thomas

Thank you, lovely Nell, for having me as a guest on your blog again! I’m Ellie Thomas, and I write MM Historical Romance. I’m here today to chat about Queer Relations, my September release for JMS Books.

When I was Nell’s guest in July, talking about my story Twelve Letters, written for JMS Books’ Twelfth Anniversary celebrations, I mentioned how much I enjoy writing ensemble stories. Little did I realise, at the time, that I would be writing a follow-up to that tale!

I’m not precisely sure why a close-knit group of characters spurs my imagination. Of course, I thoroughly enjoy writing about the love stories of individual couples. But there’s something about the dynamic of friends, the way they interact, bounce off and talk to each other which seems to inspire me.

This particular group of six men seems to have taken permanent roost in my head, and I’m already on book four of this series. I blame my characters entirely!

At the end of Twelve Letters, set in Regency London during the Season of 1814, we had two newly-established couples. Firstly, easy-going gentleman Jo Everett and Bond Street tailor Daniel Walters, then gruff Captain Ben Harding and serious young doctor Edward Stephens. In Queer Relations, set in autumn of the same year, Jo’s short-term ill-advised love interest from the first book, Percy Havilland, is unsuccessfully trying to get his claws into an older man, the very wealthy and very wary Nathaniel Brooks, who takes no nonsense from his would-be paramour.

But Percy’s spoiled and privileged life is about to be turned upside down, and with it, all his relationships. The haut ton cachet he took as his birthright disappears before his eyes as he faces social ruin. During this redemptive process, he discovers that this unlikely band of companions refuse to abandon him, with Nathan as his most staunch defender. Of course, this is a love story, with the focus on Percy and Nathan, but ably supported by my ensemble cast.

In the autumn of 1814, the Honourable Percy Havilland is generally content with his sheltered existence in London’s exclusive Mayfair. As a society beau, renowned for his fair and youthful beauty, an object of desire to other well-born gentlemen, Percy is slightly miffed that his personal life is not running as seamlessly as he might wish.

His good-natured lover from the spring Season, Jo Everett, has inexplicably lost interest, and his replacement, Nathaniel Brooks, is far too hard-headed to be cajoled and manipulated into pandering to Percy’s every whim.

But these trifles are cast into proportion when out of the blue, a family scandal of immense proportions threatens Percy’s peace of mind and his standing amongst the ton. Fearing rejection or even social banishment, to his surprise, Percy discovers a small, unconventional band of friends, including Jo, who are prepared to stick by him. And more importantly, he finds Nathan is utterly reliable in a crisis.

Will Percy remain spoiled, immature and pampered? Or can he grow from this disaster to appreciate the value of true friendship? And might he even learn to love?

Buy links

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Universal Book Link

Extract:

While standing amongst a group of partygoers but not actively conversing, Percy pondered the state of his liaison with Nathan with a habitual twinge of frustration. Of course, he always had the option of drawing back and ending the affair, which he knew Nathan would respect and accept without question or fuss.

But for some unfathomable reason, even when he and Nathan were at odds, Percy vacillated over making such a drastic decision. Both men were accustomed to getting their way, and Percy found that their frequent battles of will had an unexpected bonus of adding a piquant frisson that Nathan seemed to appreciate, given the resulting spark in his eye. Also, although Percy would never admit this to Nathan, there was something oddly restful about occasionally ceding responsibility and control to another.

As his thoughts roamed, he found his gaze had drifted towards Nathan, standing next to Jo, both of them listening intently to Captain Harding. While considering his two lovers, past and present, Percy felt that an independent observer would judge Jo the better looking, being nearly a decade younger, slimmer, and with clean-cut regular features crowned with thick chestnut brown locks and smiling grey eyes. Percy could appreciate that viewpoint, but all the same, he could not help but feel that familiar sizzle of attraction as he surveyed Nathan.

Although the same height as Percy, with Jo only slightly taller than them both, Nathan’s heavier build made him appear shorter, emphasised by his dark hair neatly cropped in a no-nonsense style, with no attempt to disguise a slightly receding hairline. His features were rugged, and his eyes, an indeterminate brown, could appear flat, cold, and expressionless when considering a matter of high finance or if exasperated with Percy, but could dance with lights of warming caramel when amused or aroused.

Percy’s eyes wandered over Nathan’s body, slightly too thickset to be shown to best advantage by the current slim-fitting fashions, but as Percy knew from experience, was solid muscle beneath the covering cloth. Nathan was widely admired as having a very fine seat on a horse, and he practiced this exercise daily on Rotten Row, hours before the polite crowds came to trot and dawdle and chat.

This constant discipline resulted in those magnificent thighs that Percy now beheld and could enthusiastically vouch for their undoubted stamina. With a little shiver of appreciation, Percy’s focus moved towards Nathan’s face, now looking at him with undisguised amusement.

Before turning back to answer a query from Jo, Nathan favoured Percy with a salacious wink and a distinctly wicked grin.

Given this encouragement, especially as Percy had been thoroughly distracted by idle speculations about thighs for the remainder of the evening, when in Nathan’s carriage after the party, Percy was distinctly disappointed when Nathan mentioned dropping him off at Mount Street.

“Can’t I come home with you?” Percy protested.

“I have an early engagement tomorrow morning,” Nathan explained calmly.

Percy batted his eyelashes and delivered his prettiest pout, sliding his hand onto Nathan’s temptingly rock-hard upper leg. “Please?” He entreated.

Nathan retorted, “You are the most incorrigible hussy!” But as the carriage passed the end of Percy’s street, Nathan did not give the order to stop, and as they bowled along the street-lit roads of St. James’, Percy could see he was smiling.

Bio:

Ellie Thomas lives by the sea. She comes from a teaching background and goes for long seaside walks where she daydreams about history. She is a voracious reader especially about anything historical. She mainly writes historical gay romance.

Ellie also writes historical erotic romance as L. E. Thomas.

Website: https://elliethomasromance.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliethomasauthor/
Twitter: @e_thomas_author
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19835510.Ellie_Thomas
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ellie-thomas

Guestpost, Release Blitz

New Release Spotlight: One Summer Night by Ellie Thomas

Thank you so much for having me as your guest again, lovely Nell! I’m Ellie Thomas, I write MM Historical romance, and today I’ll be chatting about my new release, One Summer Night, written for JMS Book’s Night or Day story submission call.

When I chose to write about the option of Night in this story, I didn’t realise it would be such a contrast to my bright and breezy July story, Twelve Letters, written for JMs Books 12th Anniversary celebrations and concerned with the social life of the ton. Although these are both Regency stories, this one is centred around the political power base of London society. Martin, one of my main characters, is working as a clerk in Whitehall, and aristocratic Will, his love interest, is under the thumb of his wealthy and politically influential father.

Will is under so much pressure that something has to give, so it’s no surprise that his first meeting with Martin is no-holds-barred and passionate! These two first lay eyes on each other in an ordinary tavern (The Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street, which is still a very popular pub). But when researching this story, I was fascinated to learn about numerous well-known meeting places for gay men in Regency London. As well as indoor locations such as bagnios (Turkish baths), certain coffee houses and Molly Houses, there were plenty of outdoor areas, such as Sodomites Walk on Upper Moorfield, where men could meet and hook up. Despite punitive laws, the Regency gay scene was thriving!

That public yet secret world informed so much of my story, with Martin and Will, unsure of the other’s feelings and intentions have to don a social mask in their everyday lives. This element of secrecy inevitably causes confusion until they have the opportunity to talk. Only then do they have the chance to transform a brief night of passion into the start of a true love affair.

In 1801, Martin Dunne spends his days as a hardworking clerk at the War Office in London’s Whitehall. One summer evening, after a drink in a Fleet Street tavern, he has an unexpected passionate encounter with a seducer who haunts his dreams.

But when they accidentally meet at a society function, the alluring stranger not only turns out to be the son of one of Martin’s superiors but also betrothed to a trusting young lady.

Martin’s hopes are dashed as he imagines the Hon. William Grant is a cynical rake of the worst kind. But has he misunderstood the situation? And might he allow Will to explain and give their fleeting connection a chance to develop into a fully-fledged romance?

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read

Extract:

Feeling hot and tired by the end of the working day, Martin trudged home along Whitehall. Not having the luxury of a valet, once washed and shaved, he struggled into his evening clothes and combed down his thick dark hair. Then he practiced a smile in the spotted mirror, softening his serious expression, before setting forth on foot along the busy Strand towards Charing Cross. As he walked past his fellow citizens, the sticky evening made him uncomfortable in his constrictive evening clothes. At least it’s not raining, he thought, and he wouldn’t disgrace his superiors by arriving at a prestigious destination looking like a drowned rat.

Once at the palatial and newly renovated mansion, where no expense or extravagance had been spared, there was the usual endless queue on the stairs before the formality of announcements and resultant herding of guests into an already crowded reception room. Martin made small talk with some vaguely familiar faces from Whitehall who wouldn’t normally have deigned to notice him. He was anticipating when he might be able to escape when Sir Hervey was before him, smiling in gracious condescension.

“Enjoying yourself, Dunne?” He asked, and Martin replied with suitably muted enthusiasm.

“Met many people as yet?” The great man inquired, and as Martin demurred and started to say that he had been conversing with mutual acquaintances, his host turned to call someone forwards.

Martin felt a dull sense of obligation as Sir Hervey introduced a young lady in her early twenties, fragile and sweetly pretty in a simple white gown, the fashion for narrow skirts flattering her petite form. 

“Miss Imogen Ashley,” Sir Hervey intoned, as the young lady curtseyed, her eyes demurely downcast, “affianced to my son. I don’t think you’ve met my youngest, William, have you?”

Without waiting for an answer, he moved to one side to tap a young man on the shoulder. Martin’s first thought was that he was almost as fair and delicate as his intended, and then, as those all-too-familiar eyes met his, he realised with a jolt that this perfectly turned out pink of the ton, furnished with a dauntingly influential father and a winsome bride to be was the seductive stranger from the alleyway who filled his tumultuous dreams.

During the blur of introductions, that sultry gaze, so full of unspoken desire the night before, was blank, betraying no emotion after a flash of alarmed recognition. In such a crush, since neither of them reacted, no one noticed the sudden tension between them. Despite this, Miss Imogen moved a little closer to her betrothed, taking his arm as if sensitive to a change in his mood.

For the remainder of the reception, Martin could not have said who he spoke to or what he said, and as soon as he was able, he slipped away from the party unnoticed. On his way home, when he stopped off at a tavern for a tot of rum, all he could see in his mind’s eye was the shock in those speedwell-blue orbs. 

Bio:

Ellie Thomas lives by the sea. She comes from a teaching background and goes for long seaside walks where she daydreams about history. She is a voracious reader especially about anything historical. She mainly writes historical gay romance.

Ellie also writes historical erotic romance as L. E. Thomas.

Website: https://elliethomasromance.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliethomasauthor/
Twitter: @e_thomas_author
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19835510.Ellie_Thomas
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ellie-thomas

Guestpost

New Release Spotlight: The Book Dragon’s Lair by Holly Day

Today, I welcome one of my favorite people, Holly Day, back to the blog. She’s here to talk about her latest release, dragons, bookstores, and romance. I don’t know about you, but that sounds awesome to me! So Holly, please, make yourself at home, and tell us more about your new book! ❤️


Hello, everyone! Thank you, darling Nell, for allowing me back on the blog again. This month, we’re celebrating Bookstore Romance Day. It has to be one of the better days out there if you ask me. Who doesn’t love a bookstore?

The story I’ve written to celebrate is called The Book Dragon’s Lair, and I have to say it’s pure indulgence on my part. Interspecies couples are my jam. I love writing them. The differences, the slight misunderstandings and misinterpreted meanings, and so on. In The Book Dragon’s Lair, we have Egil who is human, and Ruy the Ravenous who is a dragon.

Most often, I pair my interspecies couples with a fated mates trope, but in this case, I didn’t. Dragons mate, but they have a choice in the matter. When they find someone they want to live their life with, they share the breath of life and tie their lives together.

Egil is unaware of this and believes he is mated to Draken the Dreadful, who is a dreadful dragon and his worst nightmare. He’s been taught dragons stay together for life and therefore see no escape from the abusive relationship he’s in.

Did I mention that on top of interspecies couples and fated mates, I do love a traumatised hero? Well, I do. The worse the past, the better. Poor souls.

When we first meet Egil, Draken has been called to the dragon realm because there is a war brewing. Egil can finally breathe without fear and spends his days running Draken’s bookshop. When he gets word Draken has been injured and is on his way home, his world falls apart.

But it isn’t Draken who comes back. The dragon entering the bookstore claims to be Draken, but he’s not.

Ruy saw Draken die, and since he wanted to go to the human realm, he switched out their belongings and pretended to be Draken. Once in the human realm, it’s harder to pretend. For one, Egil doesn’t believe him, and two, he knows nothing about books. Who in their right mind wants to be a book dragon? 😆

As you can see, pure indulgence – dragon shifters, traumatised hero, bookstores, and a slow-burn romance building among the bookshelves.

Blurb:

Egil Olsen is running The Book Dragon’s Lair, a bookstore on Dragon Row, while Draken the Dreadful, his mate, is away fighting a war on the other side of the veil. The relief of not having Draken around is great. For the first time in years, Egil doesn’t have to watch every move he makes. When word reaches him that Draken is on his way home after having been injured, he considers running away.

The dragon stepping over the threshold to The Book Dragon’s Lair isn’t Draken, though. He claims to be, but Egil knows his mate, and while all dragons are dangerous, the male standing before him is nowhere near as cruel as his mate. Ryu never wanted to be a book dragon. Books don’t sparkle, but if it’s the price he has to pay to be in the human realm, he will pay it. He’ll take over Draken the Dreadful’s treasure, and he hopes he can take over his mate, too. Egil doesn’t want to be mated to a dragon, but without a mate, he’d be homeless and without a job.

A few hours after having met Ryu, Egil thinks being mated to him might not be too bad, but how will they be able to fool the people around them into believing Ryu is Draken? And what will happen if the real Draken comes back?

Gay paranormal romance :: 33,671 words

Buy links:

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read

Excerpt:

Egil was shaking so hard he feared the bookshelf would fall over from the vibrations. There was something wrong with Draken. He didn’t dare look at him properly since he was scarred, and if he caught Egil staring, he’d beat him bloody, but he was bigger than Egil remembered. Could dragons grow? Or had his memory failed him?

His skin tone was darker. Draken had never been as fair-skinned as Egil, but now his skin was a richer brown. He didn’t know if they could choose what they looked like in human form. Maybe he’d been fighting in dragon form, and when he shifted back to human, this was how he appeared. Maybe this was his true self, and the way he’d looked before was a conscious choice.

He grimaced. No. If he could choose how to look, he’d have hidden the scars. Dragons were vain, and Draken was the vainest of them all. He’d never let anyone see him scarred if he had any control over it.

Who was in the room with him? Shit.

“I’ll put on some coffee.” He hurried out from behind the bookshelf and dove for the stairs. The kitchen was on the third floor. It was small, and Egil hardly had anything edible at home. Money was tight. He didn’t dare take more of what the bookstore earned than he did when Draken was around. He only took what he needed to cover his expenses; the rest went into the bank. Business was better when there was a dragon in the building. They attracted the tourists, but Draken had been away for months, and word had traveled fast. He feared Draken would be disappointed in what he’d accomplished while he was gone. A disappointed Draken wasn’t something he wanted to think about.

When Draken had been gone for three months, he’d considered breaking into one of the rooms on the second floor and selling one of his valuable books. If he picked a book Draken wouldn’t notice was missing, it could have given him money he could spend, but he hadn’t dared to. He didn’t know what they were worth.

Now he was glad he hadn’t done it. It had been seven months since Draken had left, and he’d had to scrape by on what little he dared take from what the bookstore earned. He’d survived, and Draken couldn’t accuse him of stealing.

The bottom floor was new books only. Draken had no interest in new books, so Egil was the one ordering, shelving, and displaying. It was the only part of his life he loved. He could have any book he wanted, could display them as he saw fit, and there were so many pretty books.

He wanted to have a corner with a coffee machine and some easy chairs so people could stay and read, but Draken had refused. He didn’t want humans to linger longer than they had to. He didn’t like when they leafed through books or spent too much time looking at them.

Egil put on the coffee, and since Draken hadn’t joined him on the third floor, he ran up to the fourth. Their bedroom was in the tower. There was only the bedroom and a bathroom, and the cold, stone walls were curved. There was a hearth, and Egil quickly pulled his thin mattress off the bed and placed it next to it. It was as far from the bed as he could come and still be in the room. It wasn’t far enough to protect him from Draken’s desires, but it was where he spent his nights.

He then opened the chest by the end of the bed and pulled out clean bed linen for Draken.

With a mournful look at the bed, he exited the bedroom. He’d loved sleeping in a bed these last months. The stone floor was freezing even in the summer, not to mention uncomfortable with only a thin mattress pad to sleep on.

A yelp escaped him as he caught sight of Draken halfway up the stairs. His heart drummed so fast he feared it’d give up. Thank heavens he’d had time to make it look like he’d slept by the hearth the entire time. He squeezed his eyes shut as he waited for Draken to get closer.

The rustle of his clothes as he moved had Egil holding his breath, but there were breaths. Egil frowned. Draken was panting. He never panted. How injured was he?

He cleared his throat but kept his gaze on his scruffy shoes. “I can move the bed if the stairs are too hard on you.”

He waited for a blow, or at least to be shouted at, but all Draken did was grunt. “I need the exercise. I’ve been on my back for too long.”

He dragged himself up the last bit of the stairs and looked around as if he’d never been there. A knot formed in Egil’s belly, and the voice in his head told him the reason he looked around as if he’d never been there was because he hadn’t. The new Draken was a stranger.

“Do you, erm…” He swallowed hard and moved down a couple of steps so he wouldn’t fall as far if Draken hit him. “…remember what it looks like up here?”

The sound of soft footsteps was followed by a long silence. Egil couldn’t breathe. Why had he opened his mouth? Stupid, he was so stupid.

“I was thinking I should wash up.”

Oh… “Of course. Do you need… eh… Your clothes are still in the closet and there are clean towels on the shelf in the bathroom.” He slipped down another step. “I’ll eh… erm… prepare to open the shop.”

About Holly Day

According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.

Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.

Connect with Holly on social media:

Website :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Pinterest :: BookBub :: Goodreads :: Newsletter