Hidden Gem Series and Writing update

treeSo last year I released a novel called Hidden Gem about a prostitute in love with a police detective in a sort of futuristic society with indentured servants and lots of crazy genetic manipulations. Hidden Gem was received pretty well, maybe because I did a reading for it at the Chicago GRL? Luck maybe? I dunno. Anyway I went on to complete the sequel knowing that I had three books planned. No sooner had I finished writing book two and my editor said why not just write book three already too. Okay. So book three is done now.

Cardinal Sins (book 2) was released 11-13-15. It’s a longer book, which goes into more detail about how the world became the way it is. We dig into Paris’ past. As former Dom, owner of the Hidden Gem, and senator, he’s got a lot of secrets, the worst of which is that he has an illness that is slowly killing him.

A handful of my readers didn’t much like Paris after Hidden Gem. They saw him as being “mean” to Aki (the one spanking scene in the book), when he disciplined Aki for scaring everyone to death. So I’ve read that people are a little hesitant to read his story. It’s kind of funny to me, since Paris is not at all the cold-hearted Dom that people fear him to be. He’s strong and can be ruthless to protect those he cares about.

Book three is about Candy who is Aki’s best friend, Jack who is Shane’s best friend, and Ivy-a new psy that gets added to the Hidden Gem roster after Aki “retires.” This book instead of focusing on the past, is focused on the future for all of City M. Our threesome have a lot to deal with. They’ve already survived a lot, and they have a tight network of friend around to support them in Aki, Shane, Paris, and Rain.

I just signed a contract with Dreamspinner Press for book three, which will be out hopefully late April. This series is finished. I have no plans for other stories at this time in this series. For now I’m working on the Dominion series, which book four will be rereleasing in late Jan, and the long awaited book five sometime in the fall of 2016. I’m also working on my contemporary mystery series Haven Investigations, which started with Model Citizen.

So there is more to come. Sorry I don’t write faster. I hope you enjoy the stuff I do have out. And if you like it and want to support me, please post reviews/ratings and recommend to your friends. Thank you!

Note: Ebooks are available at all major retailers: Amazon, BN.com, Smashwords, Allromance, ibooks, etc.

Book List:

HiddenGem_postcard_front_DSP CardinalSinsFS   cover    10150116_10206512778956693_461145317_nconvictioncover


Urban Fantasy:

EvolutionFS EvolutionGenesisFS

New Adult:


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M/M Veterans Day Scavenger Hunt featuring Carly Rose

MM Veterans Day Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to the MM Veterans Day Scavenger Hunt

Today I am hosting Carly Rose

I’m thrilled to be participating in the Veterans Day Scavenger Hunt for the second time. There is a long history of service in my family, including my father and grandfathers. I have two brothers in active service; the youngest is currently serving a tour in Afghanistan, which really brings the importance of honoring our veterans home. My latest book, Unexpectedly Lucky, is the first in a series about three brothers. I like to think that my stories are about love, family and having fun. I’m not gonna lie, a lot of the Bradford boys’ shenanigans are based on memories I have of growing up with five brothers of my own. In Unexpectedly Lucky Lincoln and Ryan are always looking for opportunities to prank each other so I thought I’d share a how-to list on pulling off the ultimate prank. = )

  1. Plan carefully. The best pranks are well thought out and perfectly executed.
  2. Make sure that the punishment fits the crime. It’s important to up the ante by returning fire above and beyond your opponent’s initial effort.
  3. Take your time. Wait until your buddies have let down their guard.
  4. Court the element of surprise. Nothing is sweeter than catching someone unaware.
  5. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery but it’s more fun to become a role model for the next generation.
  6. Keep it clean. It’s not about revenge, the best part of pranking is laughing ‘till you cry while re-living the experience.

Comment Contest: Share a fun or funny memory from your childhood and your email address so I can get in touch with you. The winner gets a $5.00 Gift Card at the end of the tour!

Here’s a little excerpt from Unexpectedly Lucky of the boys having fun to inspire you.

Eighth Grade

The rhythmic sound of a basketball bouncing against pavement and the rough scuffing of athletic shoes accompanied the laughter that filled the air. “Ry, if your aim was any farther off you could apply to the space program and shoot for the moon!” Link heckled.

“You’re just jealous because my game is out of this world.”

At that, Link lost interest in playing and lunged at Ryan, tackling him to the ground. Laughter filled the air as the boys tussled, rolling over one another and onto the grass. During the summer, Link and Ryan spent nearly every day in the Bradford’s back yard, shooting hoops and exchanging the good-natured ribbing so commonly heard amongst teenaged boys. Despite living on opposite sides of town, one was rarely seen without the other. Three years after the run-in, as they jokingly described their first meeting, the boys were practically attached at the hip.

Dylan emerged from the house, car keys in hand. “Well, if it isn’t Thing 1 and Thing 2,” he joked, referencing the trouble-making characters from Dr. Seuss’ book The Cat in The Hat.

“Watch out, Ryan! Dylan is on the move, and we all know what that means. Disaster is soon to follow!” Link and Ryan broke apart in favor of cowering dramatically behind the row of bushes surrounding the garage. Poking fun at Dylan’s legendary bad luck was another one of their favorite pastimes. “Lock up your loved ones and say your prayers, I think he might be planning to drive!”

“Ha, ha, very funny.” Dylan stood with his hands on his hips, a look of exasperation on his face. “Don’t you two have anything better to do then laze around the yard, poking fun at hardworking adults?”

“On a beautiful day like today? I don’t think so,” Ryan scoffed, casually batting aside an acorn as it flew towards his face.

“If you see any hardworking adults coming our way, be sure to let us know.” Link stopped his acorn assault on Ryan and turned his attention towards Dylan instead. “At least we have the good sense to stay home, where it’s safe! You never know what terrible things might happen to a person while in pursuit of the almighty dollar.” At that, Link and Ryan exploded into a fit of laughter.

“I fall off the stepladder at work and sprain my wrist one time, and you two fools make it sound like I broke every bone in my body,” Dylan huffed in frustration before walking towards the garage. He stumbled over his feet along the way and the boys began to mimic ambulance sounds after witnessing his display of grace. Dylan shook his head ruefully. “I give up. There’s no point in trying to reason with you. Once the two of you get started, you’re unstoppable.” Link might have worried about pushing his brother too far if it hadn’t been for the smile Dylan tried to hide.

Copyright © 2015 Carly Rose



AuthorAuthor Profile

Named after my grandmother, an accomplished poet, and a character my mom met in a romance novel while awaiting my birth, I guess you could say that writing is in my blood.

As a child my parents used to threaten to take away my books and make me play outside when I wasn’t getting my chores done… I bet you can guess why!

Now I’m all grown up and my roles as wife, mother of two, and part-time nurse keep me hopping. As a blogger, book reviewer, freelance editor, and author, I still manage to spend time each day with my nose in a book.

I’m a student of life who’s always looking for new opportunities to learn and discovered early on that the love of family, friends and a positive attitude are all you really need. A free spirited motorcycle enthusiast who loves butterflies, dancing in the rain, and believes that everything is better in purple, I love to hear from reader so stop by and say “hi” anytime!

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Carly’s Book Reviews

Rapid Fire Q&A

    • Chocolate/Vanilla I’m not a fan of Chocolate and I haven’t been Vanilla in a very long time so I’ll have to go with (drum roll please) Strawberry Cheesecake!
    • Coke/Pepsi Um… Coke. Seriously, is this a real question? Coke Zero, Cherry Coke, Coke with Lime, Black Cherry Vanilla Coke. Need I say more?
    • Morning/Night Gah. I have to set two alarm clocks in order to haul my not-so-happy self out of bed in the morning. No matter what time I get up my brain simply does not turn on until 0900 and my most productive hours are between 1900 and 0100.
    • Coffee/Tea I drink spice tea when I’m sick and am a self-proclaimed coffee snob so when I do enjoy a cup it’s a craft coffee that I make at home. Roast and grind the beans, bloom in a French Press until a thick crust forms, stir, seep and enjoy… it’s a process. (Folgers is practically a curse word in my house.)
    • Summer/Winter I live in Minnesota so Winter is a season to be endured. I’m a summer girl at heart. I love the sun, hate to be cold and refuse to shovel. That being said, I married a country boy. The things I do for love. 😀


Follow the Scavenger Hunt for more chances to win!

11/11 – Jessie G Books, N.R. Walker, Talon P.S. & Princess S.O., Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy
11/12 – Ki Brightly, Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews, Sloan Johnson, Wickedly Innocent Promotions
11/13 – Aria Grace, Chris McHart, Sassy Girl Books, Gay Book Reviews
11/14 – Carly’s Book Reviews, Kai Tyler
11/15 – Lissa Kassey, Prism Book Alliance
11/16 – KathyMac Reviews, Stephen del Mar
11/17 – 2 Bibliophiles Guide, M.A. Church
11/18 – Charlie Cochet, Lexi Ander
11/19 – J.K. Hogan, Book Lovers 4Ever
11/20 – BFD Book Blog, Bike Book Reviews
11/21 – T. Strange, Foxylutely Books


a Rafflecopter giveaway

MM Veterans Day Scavenger Hunt

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GRL Dominion Print Book Preorder

Preorder of Print book for GRL. Note: None of these books will be shipped. You must pick them up from me at GRL San Diego 2015. Please be sure to include your name for pick up in the section about personalization, even if you don’t want it personalized.


coversmInheritance (Dominion Book 1)


Seiran Rou’s life is complicated—he’s the only male in the world allowed to take magic classes in a female-dominant society, his vampire boyfriend, Gabe, is hinting that he wants more, and his mother is demanding a grandchild. But when a co-worker turns up dead on his doorstep, Seiran realizes his problems are only beginning.

With the police dogging his steps, a stalker-like bartender watching his every move, and a magic groupie following him around, Seiran is finding it hard to hide his power—a power that if revealed could get him killed. The Dominion, the ruling body of elemental magic, seems to have started a deadly game to control the rare magic he possesses.

Someone is pulling strings, murdering witches, and gathering power. When Seiran finds himself next on the hit list, he doesn’t know whether to run and hide or prove himself to be the powerful witch he is. If he stands up and fights, he’ll have to decide what is more important—hiding his power or protecting the ones he loves.

GRL Preorder no Shipping


reclamationcoverReclamation (Dominion Book 2)


Seiran Rou did the unthinkable to save his own life—he killed someone with magic. Now he’s haunted by the deed, and his internal troubles are ripping apart his newly strengthened relationship with Gabe. And the Dominion still wants him to toe the line and produce an heir.

After receiving threatening e-mails, phone calls, and vandalism that all seem to stem from another dead man from Sei’s tormented youth, Matthew Pierson, Sei thinks he’s going crazy and realizes he needs help. He turns to a Dominion-recommended psychiatrist.

But the past has already dug its claws in deep and someone is helping Sei’s old abuser lead him into a trap. Sei knows Gabe will come for him, and he’s ready to accept his love now. Only he doesn’t know if either of them will survive long enough to find a future together.

GRL Preorder no Shipping


11791622_10207102971431136_1679258271_nConviction (Dominion Book 3)


Kelly Harding has become good friends with Seiran Rou, originally the only male witch to actually train in magic. Now after a couple trying months and several crazy plots to kill Seiran, Kelly suggests a ski vacation to help them all relax—even if Kelly does have to work to keep his taboo crush on Seiran’s brother, Jamie, under wraps. But their getaway becomes a fight for survival when a magic fueled blizzard strands them in the middle of nowhere…with a killer.

When visions of a tower and a dying man fueling a deadly spell begin to fill Kelly’s head, he realizes he has to try to save his new family. Jamie isn’t about to let him go alone—no matter how against a relationship with his little brother’s best friend he might be. But their goals are the same: Protect Seiran, stop the spell, and make it home in one piece. It will take a brush with death to make them understand how deep their feelings go, and none of them will make it out unchanged. (Ebook out in Sept 2015)

GRL Preorder no Shipping

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Gender Roles with M.D. Grimm

RubyLostandFoundHi everyone! M.D. Grimm here. I first want to thank Lissa for having me on her blog (thank you!) and for having such a fun subject today: Gender roles. But first, let me say a little something about myself. I write m/m romance, usually with a supernatural, paranormal, or fantasy flair. I was born in western Oregon with the rain, I love to read and write, and I’m obsessed with dragons, LOTR/Silmarillion, and ancient mythology. I like the fantastical, have a keen interest in the supernatural/paranormal, but I’m actually a very practical person who analyzes everything within an inch of its life… which is probably why I enjoy today’s topic so much.

What are gender roles? It’s a concept we understand but to try and describe what it means is difficult. At least, I find it difficult. Do the roles have to do with opposites, dichotomies? Nurturer vs. provider or gatherer vs. hunter? Do they have a set definition or do they change with the seasons, with the mood of society? Is it as simple as the woman always being the damsel in distress and the man her knight? I really hope that’s not the case. Why can’t the man be the damsel? Would we even like a man as the damsel? Would we want to read that story?

I’m not here to answer those questions. I don’t have the answers, but I think it’s fun to analyze, to explore, to challenge the “gender roles” of a society.

This also becomes a very interesting challenge for those of us who write m/m or f/f or any other spectrum of romance other than m/f (though some m/f authors do play with the idea of gender roles, the majority seem to find comfort in following the established “roles”—at least the ones I’ve read). Many people enjoy a strong woman character but 4AgateThenandNowrarely do I find a “weak” man, or a man who takes the standard woman’s role in the romance. To that end you end up with two strong characters, which is great, but what happens to the “roles?” Personally, I find them outdated, since society changes with each generation and what was once “normal” (I have a distinct dislike of that word) is cast aside for the new “normal.”

When you have two men in a relationship, do gender roles even apply? How can they? For myself, I let the personalities of my characters dictate their roles in the relationship. One is usually more nurturing than the other, or one is a tad more aggressive. But they can still surprise me when I least expect it, and a hard character can become a softy depending on the situation. There’s a certain type of freedom and fluidity when writing romances that aren’t m/f. I don’t feel beholden to set guidelines regarding my characters and how their relationship should unfold.

2PeridotWarAndPeaceFor example, with my “The Stones of Power” series, my two main characters are warriors. One is a dark mage named Lord Morgorth and the other, his mate, is a dialen (Tolkien elf-like creature) named Aishe (pron: Ash). Morgorth is a powerful mage and Aishe is an expert swordmaster, archer, and tracker. But despite their ability to go to war, they both have softer sides. For Morgorth, he didn’t know about his softer side until he met Aishe, while Aishe grew up in a tribe with four siblings and knows when to be tough and when to be sweet. They complement each other and there’s a give-and-take they learn to negotiate as the series progresses. Neither of them fit the standard “women” or “man” gender role. They flip-flop depending on the situation; when one shows vulnerability, the other is there to shield them and visa-versa.

While I have Morgorth often save Aishe from dangers, I don’t think Aishe fits the “woman” role in the relationship. It simply comes down to Aishe fighting other mages and being out of his league. Morgorth doesn’t really fit the “man” role, either, since he’s very emotional (when he allows himself to be) and he’s quite moody. The perceived role for men seems to be a lack of emotion (which is just silly). At least, that’s why I’ve observed. And some men are better at hiding their emotions, or don’t wish to show them. That’s fine. But in the context of a romance story, emotion is the main part, isn’t it?

Then I have to ask again: What are gender roles? Do they even apply anymore? Should they? Do we subconsciously make our characters adhere to roles or are we able to break 3AmethysBowAndArrowfree from those constraints that never stay the same?

Something to ask yourself, I think.

What do you think? What are “gender roles?” Do you think they still have importance today?

May dragons guard your dreams,

M.D. Grimm

My home: www.mdgrimmwrites.com

The Stones of Power series available at: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=358&zenid=444c592bdcc1f41429342cd14e02289e

The Shifters series available at: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/md-grimm

M.D. Grimm lives in the wet state of Oregon, and when she’s not reading, writing, or watching movies, she dreams of owning a pet dragon. She’s wanted to become an author since second grade and feels that her dreams are finally coming true. She was fortunate to have supporting parents who never told her to “get her head out of the clouds.” While she doesn’t like to write in only one set genre, she feels romance is at the core of most of her stories. M.D. earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Oregon and hopes to put that degree to good use in the literature world as well as the “real” world.

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Genderswap with K Lynn

I have always been interested in genderswap fiction, but I find most of it jumps straight to objectification rather than exploration. You’re turned into another gender, so the first thing you do is feel yourself up and try to have sex with the nearest willing person? I don’t buy that.

Essentially your body doesn’t match your inner self anymore. That should cause some kind of journey to either accept or reject the situation. That’s what I tried to do with His Womanly Ways. Alex didn’t ask for this to happen to him, and the process is gradual, as is his acceptance of the changes. His mind doesn’t match the image he sees in the mirror, and that’s important to realize.

Alex is a womanizer. He makes no excuses for it. Yes, he picks up women at the local bar, leaving them with just a memory of a good night and a good lay, but he hasn’t had any complaints yet. That is, until he picks up the wrong woman. Not satisfied to be tossed aside as just another notch in Alex’s bedpost, she curses him, wishing he “knew what it was like for a woman.” And he’s about to find out what she means, embarking on a genderswap journey that he can’t stop.

Alex starts slowly gaining secondary female characteristics. Waking up with his cock gone, replaced by a vagina, was bad enough. Then it gets worse, as his body becomes more like a woman than the man he used to be. Alex tries to hide the changes he’s going through, for fear that someone will discover his secret, but keeping this quite literally “under wraps” might be impossible before the curse runs its course.

With the help of his female best friend, Eve, Alex tries to deal with who he is becoming.  He feels like he’s lost his identity, his mind not matching the body he now has. But Eve sticks by him, and they become closer as Alex’s changes progress. What started out as friendship may become something more before Alex’s journey is over. Perhaps this curse was actually a blessing in disguise.


About The Book: His Womanly Ways









About The Author: K. Lynn

  1. writerklynnLynn has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. While in college, K. Lynn increased her involvement in LGBT issues and writing within the LGBT fiction genre. She has become a long-time fan of the authors that seek to explore the commonality that exists within all sexualities and genders. Most of K. Lynn’s work features LGBT characters, many of whom are in established relationships and show how love perseveres through every trial and tribulation that life holds. She also has a particular interest in seeing transgender characters gain a larger foothold within the LGBT fiction genre, hoping that the market for these works expand in the future. Contact K. Lynn at writerklynn@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @WriterKLynn
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MM Scavenger Hunt

Army Banner 2 Update


Welcome to the first annual MM Memorial Day Scavenger Hunt! 10 Days, 30 Blogs, and loads of prizes! The rules are simple: At each stop on the tour you’ll find a military themed picture with a word or words. Collect the words and figure out the secret phrase (HINT: It’s lyrics to a song). Once you think you have the correct phrase, enter it into the Rafflecopter at any of the stops.

One grand prize winner will be selected from all the correct phrases. Use the other Rafflecopter options to enter to win one of the runner-up packages.

Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

Our stop’s phrase is: Meant


Scavanger Hunt Pics - Meant-LKasey

Grand Prize ($45 GC total)
-Kindle Paperwhite (VWF)
-Swag (VWF)
-$25 GC (Jessie G)
-$20 GC (Sara York)
-2 ebooks (Jessie G & BFD)
-Bad Boyfriends series ebooks & print (3 books) from Nya Rawlins

1st Place ($35 GC total)
-$25 GC (Nya Rawlins)
-$10 GC (Sloan Johnson)
-CTR & backlist ebooks from Kade Boehme
-Unicorns & Hidden Gem ebooks from Lissa Kasey
-Winner’s ebook of choice from MMGoodbookreviews
-Adventures of Cole & Perry ebook from Amanda C. Stone

2nd Place ($30 GC total)
-$20 GC (Aria Grace)
-$10 ARE GC (Prism Book Alliance)
-Love at First Site ebook from Cardeno C.
-Trouble Comes in Threes ebook from M.A. Church
-Winner’s choice of Felice Stevens ebook

3rd Place ($20 GC total)
-$10 Amazon GC (READing is FUN Da Mental)
-$10 GC (Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy)
-backlist ebook from Annabeth Albert
-Winner’s choice of Aria Grace ebook
-Winner’s choice of Andrew Grey ebook

4th Place ($20 GC total)
-$10 GC (Felice Stevens)
-$10 Amazon GC (Amy Lane)
-Undercover Love series ebooks (2 books) from Brendan Cothern
-Winner’s choice of Susan MacNicol ebook
-Winner’s choice of Lexi Ander ebook

5th Place ($20 GC total)
-$10 Amazon GC (BFD)
-$10 GC (Lexi Ander)
-Winner’s choice of Kindle Alexander ebook
-Winner’s choice of Susan MacNicol ebook
-Winner’s choice of backlist ebook from Cate Ashwood


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Participating Blogs/Authors:

May 25

BFD Book Blog

Cardeno C.

Kade Boehme

May 26

Prism Book Alliance

Cate Ashwood

Reading is FunN’mental

May 27

Lissa Kasey

Hearts On Fire Reviews

Nya Rawlyns

May 28

Carly’s Book Reviews

Jessie G. Books

Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy

May 29

Annabeth Albert

MM Good Books Reviews

M.A. Church

May 30

Amanda C. Stone

Amy Lane

Aria Grace

May 31

Kindle Alexander

Sara York

Taylor Brooks

June 1

Andrew Grey

Divine Magazine

Brenda Cothern

June 2

Kai Tyler

3 Chicks After Dark

Sloan Johnson

June 3

Felice Stevens

Lexi Ander

Vampires, Werewolves & Fairies Oh My!


Posted in Hidden Gem, Lexi Ander, Lissa Kasey, News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Model Citizen Snippet



Oliver “Ollie” Petroskovic’s life as an international supermodel was heading in the right direction. He worked part-time for his brother at his detective agency—Petroskovic Haven Investigations—and had just bought his dream house. But all that changed when he found his brother dead, a victim of PTSD-induced suicide.

Almost a year later, Ollie is trying to keep his brother’s business afloat, but can’t get his PI license. Then his brother’s best friend, Kade Alme, shows up, fresh from the battlefield after a close brush with death. Kade is looking for a new life, in more ways than one, and with PI license in hand, he’s exactly what Ollie needs to keep PHI running.

When one of Ollie’s childhood friends gets in trouble, Ollie feels he has to help. Kade insists on investigating if only to keep Ollie safe. Neither realizes the danger they’re in as someone tries to tear them apart before they can find solid ground together.



I rotated my wrist in a circle to try to relieve the cramping and numbness forming, but they kept pushing more pages at me to initial, sign, and date. Hard to believe I, Oliver Petroskovic, had given them a check for over a million dollars for a home with “beautiful city views, Victorian bones, and a large private yard.” The place was a dump with crumbling walls, torn wallpaper, no appliances, and missing copper plumbing. However, it was going to be home for generations of Petroskovics. If there was anything Jacob, my ex-boyfriend, had taught me with his betrayal, it was that blood truly was thicker than water.

Now all I needed was for my older brother Nathan to find some pretty girl to settle down with and have babies. I would be the proud uncle, spoiling the kids, watching them grow, and easily coaxed into free babysitting when I wasn’t walking a runway in Paris or Milan. A few more years of modeling, and I could retire wealthy enough to take care of the whole family no matter how many kids Nathan had.

I’d have to retire soon, anyway. Models didn’t often last beyond twenty-two, and I was already pushing twenty-three. I thanked God every day for blessing me with flawless skin and the feminine figure that made my teenage years miserable but my modeling so lucrative.

I never would have dreamt at fifteen that seven years later I’d be traveling the world, speaking a half-dozen languages, and studying the high-pressure venue of fashion. No, that skinny kid was all knees and elbows and endlessly teased for never being enough of a man. But the money I made taking off my clothes and dressing femininely paid for the house in full. A house others could only dream of in the expensive Pacific Heights area of San Francisco, California, where multimillion-dollar houses congregated in beautiful rows of Victorian architecture. Sure, the house needed work, but no mortgage was a good thing. I wouldn’t have to worry about maintaining the high-buck jobs I fought so hard for now. And Nathan would help with the renovations, make it our home.

We had looked at over a hundred places. Some immaculate, which appealed to my laziness, but not to Nathan’s need to improve. And I debated with my agent on the price so many times, unwilling to pay so much for spaces too small for the effort of moving. The studio apartment Nathan and I had shared for the past three years worked well only when I was traveling. The flat was just too small, though it was blocks from the building Nathan used as an office for his investigations business. An easy walk to public transportation, shops, and endless restaurants made the rent sky-high. Buying was more economical. And finding a fixer with potential sweat equity was what Nathan had convinced me we needed.

The three-thousand square foot, three-story layout would give us plenty of space to not always be bumping into each other, and yet keep us close enough we wouldn’t have to go far to find the other. Nathan had been looking after me for years. Warned me about Jacob. My house search had actually begun as a way to find a home for Jacob and me to be together. But I should have listened to Nathan.

Jacob Elias was a rock star—with a voice like a god and an amazing ass in leather pants. He’d even won a couple Grammys and was featured on magazines everywhere. Which meant my face was plastered across every rag from here to Timbuktu. A year of my life I’d wasted, listening to him tell me all the stories about him cheating were untrue. Until I caught him in bed with another man. Nathan was there with a hug instead of a told-you-so.

A million dollars didn’t seem like that much in the larger scope of things, though it had been the bulk of my savings. I’d rather have Nathan close at hand than money, anyway. He was all I had, and I couldn’t wait to rush home and hand him the keys.

“Just one last signature, Mr. Petroskovic.” The guy slaughtered my last name again. He’d been corrected a half-dozen times. “That ad you did in Esquire was phenomenal.” He adjusted his tie and smiled, winking at me.

I sighed, signed the last page, and shoved my mirrored sunglasses down to cover my eyes, giving the man a slight smile. “Thanks.” Not interested, move along.

“Where are you from?” he tried again, apparently not getting my not-so-subtle hint the first time.

“Oakland,” I replied and turned toward my real estate agent, effectively turning off the conversation. The man was probably shocked by my origins. But Nathan and I had come a long way from neighborhoods filled with gangs, drugs, and never-ending violence. I couldn’t count the number of times people had offered to pay me for sex while I walked home from school. Nathan saved my ass often when some wannabe something thought the pretty blond kid with a hard-to-pronounce last name was worth stirring up trouble. We’d survived. Worked hard to make ourselves better. Nathan had enlisted at seventeen, only to be called home six years later when our parents died. He refused to let the state separate us and instead left the Marines to take over as my guardian. I was twelve, and he became my life.

The rest was history. What we had now was the future. And I could finally give back to the man who’d given me everything he could. I fingered the keys as they made copies of the paperwork for me. Nathan was going to be so excited to start working on the house. When he wasn’t tracking down cheating spouses and white-collar criminals, he was building something. I couldn’t wait to see what he’d make of the house. The attic space would be mine. The giant wall of windows with sparkling glimpses of the ocean in the far distance called to me. The unfinished space was three times the size of our studio and would be solely mine.

My realtor handed me a folder filled with papers. He was probably thrilled to get rid of me. Over a year of searching and a dozen fruitless bids had finally brought us to this day. He held out his hand, and I took it to shake. “Congratulations, Oliver.”

I grinned at him. It was done. The house was ours. “Thank you for your patience, Mr. Frost.” I grabbed up my bag, shoved the folder in it, and headed for the door. Since I was downtown, I could walk home instead of calling a cab, but I wanted to get to Nathan so bad. He’d be at work, of course. But he would look up, smile, tell me he was proud of me, and maybe I could convince him to close up for the day to celebrate.

Tall, dark, and handsome waited for me in the lobby.

It was Will, my brother’s best friend, my best friend’s husband, and San Francisco PD. “What are you doing here?” I had to ask him. His lack of uniform meant he was off-duty, but he wore everything well with strong shoulders and lean hips. Even in jeans and a polo, no one would mistake him for anything other than a cop. He was my first crush. I’d been sixteen when he’d appeared back in Nathan’s life. A fellow Marine, he and Nathan were close. And when Nathan wasn’t around, Will usually was.

“Came to pick you up and take you to a congratulatory lunch. Britney planned it but had a last-minute client. So you’re stuck with me. How’s donuts sound?” He was always making cop jokes at his own expense.

I laughed. Britney was Will’s wife and my best friend. I could imagine how she had begged her husband, likely promising sexual favors, just to get Will to show up. He’d have come anyway, but I knew for a fact Will loved playing negotiator with Britney. Since I couldn’t have him, I was pretty happy my best friend had gotten him. “And ruin my girlish figure? You know I don’t eat that stuff.”

“Tofu and air it is,” Will teased as he led the way to his Suburban.

“Fish. No tofu.” I scrunched up my face in distaste. “Even I have standards. But let’s go get Nathan first.” I waved the new keys around and got in the truck. “I want to give him the keys to the house since I’m leaving for Milan tomorrow.”

Will backed the truck out of the lot. “PHI it is, then. Maybe you can convince that workaholic brother of yours to actually go to lunch with us. You know he’ll make some excuse about having work to do.”

Yeah, that was Nathan. He worked more than I did, often banking eighty or more hours a week. Sadly the fruits of his labor would never be enough to afford us a house large enough to live comfortably. The million-dollar dream house was a thank-you from me to Nathan. I owed him so much. He’d paid for private school and attended all of those early modeling sessions to protect me from predators. Lots of people wanted to take advantage of the kid who suddenly began making thousands of dollars for taking off his clothes. I learned very quickly to be comfortable in nothing but my skin, but to also be wary of the world, as everyone wanted something from me.

“Business appears to be booming as usual,” Will snarked as he pulled into the lot in front of the PHI building and parked the truck. Other than Nathan’s battered Honda, the lot was empty.

“He’s probably at the computer doing background checks.” Whenever I wasn’t modeling, it was what I did. My college degree had been achieved with the idea that someday I’d be assisting Nathan full-time at PHI. But since I was off signing my life away for a house this morning, that left the boring computer work and answering phones to Nathan, who hated it.

I slid out of the truck and trudged to the front door, giving it a hard yank. It was locked. That was weird. I fished my key ring out of my pocket and flipped through them until I found the one for the door, and unlocked it. “Maybe he’s taking a break?”

Will frowned but pulled the door open and held it for me. “Not really something your brother does without coaxing. Did he say anything about having a meeting today?”

I shook my head. I was the one who arranged Nathan’s schedule and couldn’t recall anything being lined up for today. “It would have had to be something last minute,” I told Will as I stepped inside. The office smelled. Metallic and something more unpleasant. “What’s that smell?” It couldn’t be a gas leak; the office was electric. In fact, Nathan had installed solar panels on the roof last year, taking it mostly off the grid. Costs to stay in San Francisco were sky-high as it was, so we tried to stay green and cheap all at once.

Maybe the bathroom was backed up. “Nathan?” I called.

Will grabbed my arm and dragged me away from the door to Nathan’s office. “Go out to the car, Ollie.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialed. “Got a possible DB,” he told the person who answered and rattled off the address.

I blinked at him in confusion for a moment. DB. Dead body? My heart flip-flopped and bile filled my throat. What about Nathan? I tried to loosen Will’s grip so I could get to Nathan’s office. The door was closed. Nathan rarely closed the door, always said something about an open door showing trust. Will’s arm wrapped around my waist, lifting me with the ease of a grown-up lifting a child, and carried me outside.

“Let me go. Nathan might be in there. He could be hurt.”

“Right, ’cause you have medical training that can help? Whatever’s in there, you don’t need to see. And help is on the way.” His grip was like iron around me no matter how hard I struggled. The sound of sirens wailed in the distance, coming closer. Nathan had always said it was good to be close to downtown, the hospital, the police, and the fire station all only minutes away.

An unmarked arrived first and parked beside Will’s truck. The officer who got out greeted Will respectfully by nodding his head. “Forrester.”

“We need to do a welfare check on the owner,” Will told the cop. “Main office.” His eyes flicked to me. “Owner’s brother and I arrived together, else I would have done it already.”

The officer nodded and headed inside. He was back a minute later, just as an ambulance and a half-dozen other cops showed up. The cop shook his head at Will.

“What does that mean?” I asked. “Where’s Nathan? Is he hurt?”

Will guided me over to one of the police cars. “Sit here until I can go check. I’ll be back in a minute.”

“Let me come with you,” I begged. If that was Nathan in there….

“No,” Will said firmly. He opened the door to the back of the squad and shoved me inside. The door closed and I realized there was no way to get out, as there were no handles and a barrier between the front and back seats.

“Dammit!” I pounded on the window trying to get Will to come back, but he walked toward the building with a handful of other cops and medics who arrived and disappeared inside a moment later. My heart wouldn’t stop pounding. It hurt as it raced in my chest, rattling my ribs like it weren’t really attached to my body. What if it was Nathan? Who would hurt him? Everyone liked him. Except for the occasional client whom he’d caught cheating. Why weren’t the EMTs coming out with him? How bad was he hurt?

Will was back a moment later. Instead of letting me out of the car, he slid into the backseat beside me and closed the door. The other officers congregated away from the car, giving us privacy. I could feel tears running down my cheeks before I even knew exactly what Will was going to say.

“Did someone hurt Nathan? Is he okay? Tell me, Will.”

Will’s expression said it all, the tightness in his jaw and the watery edges of his eyes. “It looks like Nathan hurt Nathan.”

What? That made no sense. What was he saying? “Was there an accident?”

“I’m sorry, Ollie. He’s gone. Looks like he put a gun in his mouth.”

It took a few moments for the words to register. “What? No! He wouldn’t. I don’t understand. Let me out. I have to see him.” I threw myself at the opposite door, willing to break the window if I had to get out and get to Nathan. “It’s not him. You’ve got it wrong, Will. It can’t be him. He wouldn’t leave me. I closed on our house today. We were going to raise his family there. He was going to paint and remodel to make it our dream home.”

Will wrapped me up into his arms, locking my body against his though I tried to struggle free. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Stay here with me, Ollie. You don’t need that memory. Just remember him how he was. God, kid. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s wrong. You’re wrong. It can’t be him. Let me go. I have to see him. He needs me.” But Will wouldn’t let me go, and my world swirled in a crazy whirl of flashing lights and disjointed sound bites carrying me into a future where I was all alone.

Dreamspinner press ebook: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6494

Dreamspinner press Print: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6495

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Coffee Date by Lynn K

CoffeeDateThe perception of gender and trying to place people into specific gender roles is very limiting. What does it mean to be a man or a woman? And what if you don’t fit neatly into either role? Or if society has assigned you as one gender when you actually don’t perceive yourself to be that gender? For my novella, Coffee Date, Alice is dealing with how society perceives her versus how she perceives herself.


Alice is finally happy with her body and her life—except for the part where revealing she’s trans winds up leaving her hurt and abandoned over and over again. She’s decided she’s done making herself miserable by looking for love.

Love finds her anyway, in the form of Hank, the new guy at her local coffee shop. He’s sweet, friendly, charming… and will probably turn out like all the rest. Determined not to shatter the fantasy and lose him before she has to, Alice holds fast to her secrets.

But if the truth doesn’t ruin everything, the lies will, and it seems no matter which choice she makes Alice is set for just one more heartache.


I knew that I wanted to explore Alice’s feelings in this novella, and that she would have built up a wall to protect herself from the hurt she’d experienced over the years since she began her transition. What I didn’t know, and what she soon showed me through revealing her story, was how deep that hurt ran and how much damage it had caused. Alice is constantly trying to match up to what she thinks she should be, what society has taught her she should be, while making herself miserable because she hasn’t reached that constructed reality. In the end, what she had to learn and what we all have to learn, is that you don’t have to fit into anyone’s constructed categories. Be yourself, whoever that might be.


About The Book: Coffee Date

Coffee Date is a 12,000 word contemporary transgender novella that explores Alice’s struggle to find acceptance, and possibly love, in a world that has not been kind to her on either front.


Read an excerpt at Less Than Three Press.



Coffee Date officially releases on July 1st, but you can pre-order it now!




writerklynnAbout The Author: K. Lynn

  1. Lynn has been an avid reader and writer since childhood. While in college, K. Lynn increased her involvement in LGBT issues and writing within the LGBT fiction genre. She has become a long-time fan of the authors that seek to explore the commonality that exists within all sexualities and genders. Most of K. Lynn’s work features LGBT characters, many of whom are in established relationships and show how love perseveres through every trial and tribulation that life holds. She also has a particular interest in seeing transgender characters gain a larger foothold within the LGBT fiction genre, hoping that the market for these works expand in the future. Contact K. Lynn at writerklynn@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @WriterKLynn
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Spring is for Lovers by Kelly Jensen

They say spring is for lovers, but what if you live in a place with no spring? As I write this, the thought of never seeing another spring makes me want to curl up and die. It’s been a long winter in North America, and unreasonably cold.

I could argue that cold weather is good for lovers. Nothing like a bit of nippy air to encourage the use of one bed and that whole taking your clothes off to exchange body heat thing is a fantastically sexy device. Summer weather is great for showing off a lot of skin and skin is very alluring. Then there is the romanticism of fall. Crisp mornings, the smell of crushed leaves, and cool evenings made for cuddling close. But spring is the time of awakening. It’s when we emerge from hibernation and stretch. Leaves unfurl, flowers open their faces and bunnies get busy. It’s a time of birth and rebirth. A time of new beginnings.

Rituals and festivals celebrating spring are an important part of nearly every culture on Earth. As a writer of speculative fiction, I often wonder which of these rites we’ll take to the stars with us, however. When we chart years’ long voyages to distant planets and take up residence in stations and habitats, will we mark the same time? Space does weird things to time. And, as we’ve discovered, our planet has a pretty unique biosphere.

This is not to say that cramped quarters aboard an ark ship won’t be conducive to love. Quite the contrary. I imagine any long voyage is going to see an increase in the number of passengers—if they’re not all put to sleep, of course.

(I mean cryo-sleep, not Fluffy’s just going to the vet for a checkup sleep)

(But then the cockroaches might breed and take over helm control, possibly steering the ship into the nearest black hole—at which point we might discover the universe adjacent to ours and…I had better get off this tangent before I start writing a whole other blog post)

A generational ship might observe native holidays and festivals. Or maybe they will create their own. Days to commemorate important events, rituals that arise out of a new way of living. By the time they land (we’re assuming the best here!) several cultures might have merged to give new meanings to seasonal and religious celebrations, which have always been so closely linked.

The colonists will celebrate their landing (good or bad) and perhaps that will be something like a spring festival, a new beginning. This would be a momentous occasion, so hugely important. The day we, as explorers and pioneers, claimed a new world, a new home. The climate and seasons of this new world would inform the culture as much as what they bring with them. Perhaps the seasons will be reversed—doesn’t make sense to me, either, but this is science fiction—or maybe they’ll find a planet that is locked in eternal spring.

That’d be nice, wouldn’t it?

Whatever happens, one thing is certain. Love will be a part of our journey to the stars. Spring might be when we celebrate fertility, but you can’t confine sex to a season. And reaching out to the stars is just going to give us so many more ways to get together and celebrate being together.


CSCover190Felix and Zander met in the ‘spring’ of their lives, when they were just eight years old. Their lifelong friendship developed into love just before they graduated school—only to be separated by their careers and then war. In Chaos Station (Chaos Station #1), they are reunited.

Seasons play no role in their love story—in fact, Felix isn’t a fan of planets. But their love will be defined by the passage of years and the places they visit.

Read the first chapter of Chaos Station at http://chaosstation.com

Find me online at http://kellyjensenwrites.com

Twitter: @kmkjensen

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kellyjensenwrites


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Unfinished beginnings part 2 by Lissa Kasey


The sky shone bright blue through the metal crisscross of wire mesh over the window. Down below, the trees grew tall and green, birds flew about merrily, and the world turned for everyone else. People passed by, walking down the sidewalk, cross the street, many stared up at the windows. Some shuddered or hid their eyes. Among them, demons. Hundreds. Maybe even thousands of them. He’d lost count years ago.

Myrtle was screeching down the hall again, that meant demons were coming to give him his pills. The tell-tale clip clop of boots headed his way made his shoulders tighten with apprehension. Maybe if he didn’t look at them they would just let him take them and leave. He blinked away a hot rush of tears that filled his eyes. How dumb to be afraid of these same demons.

These two came every day, twice a day. One held the tray with the pills and a small glass of water, the other stood behind the first, beefy arms crossed, waiting for any wrong move. But there was no fight left in him. He liked sitting here staring out the window. They never let him outside anymore. Not after he’d been lost staring at a demon for several hours. How long ago had that been? A few months? Maybe a few years? Not that it really mattered. One day blended into the next.

He took his pills dutifully, handed back the empty cups and opened his mouth to show they’d been swallowed. Only when they walked away did he finally feel some of the tension leave his shoulders. Distantly there was the sound of a TV blaring. Rose often yelled at the people on the screen like they could hear her. He wondered if she knew most of them were demons too.

More footsteps headed his way, several sets, one heavier than the rest. There were raised voices. Had they forgotten a pill? It’d been ages since he’d been taken downstairs. He didn’t have to go back for more training did he? He swallowed a pain filled breath, fear coursing through him in an instant. He’d do anything, say whatever they wanted, as long as they didn’t strap him down again.

He began to shake as the voices filled the room.

“Why isn’t he ready to go?” Someone demanded. A pair of women paused just inside the door, glaring around the room. “This is worse than a prison. Why is he in a straight jacket?”

“We haven’t received official release papers. I’m sorry, Ma’am, but you can’t be in here. This is a restricted ward. Mr. Winters is one of our more volatile patients.” One of the demons tried to block them from coming further into the room.

“Volatile? He looks like he’s thirteen years old, underfed, and hasn’t seen real sunlight in at least a decade.” Someone stepped into the room behind them. A demon, but not one he’d ever seen before. This demon had long hair like an angel, all golden and bright falling like lazy petals over his shoulders and cascading down his back, and he wore dark clothes, leather with lots of zippers. His hands were covered in a bright spattering of ink. This demon towered over the others, his face stern, eyes narrowed. His voice had been gruff and angry.

One of the women pushed her way across the room and knelt down between the chair and the window. “It’s time to go home, Aaidan.”

Aaidan? Oh, right that was his name. Sometimes he forgot. He sighed and wondered what she meant. Home. What a foreign word. A memory of an angry man, fists raised, and a sobbing woman flashed through his head. Pain. He flinched.

“He’s not stable enough to leave, Ms. Franks.”

“It’s Mrs. Franks. You’re standing next to my wife.” The woman nearest Aaidan snapped back. “If case you’ve forgotten, your little hospital has been ordered to release, with compensation, all victims of your sexual identity conversion scam. I’ll be surprised if this hospital isn’t closed by the end of the week. Get him out of that awful jacket right now.”

Mrs. Fanks. You know we can’t do that. He is a ward of the state. His parents handed him over to the Heavenly Road Asylum more than ten years ago. You know they gave up all rights to him.”

“Jake?” The woman looked at the long-haired demon.

“On it, O.” With only two long strides was sudden in front of Aaidan.

“You can’t do this!” The other demon shouted.

The long-haired demon smiled at Aaidan. “Hey, little buddy. You ready to get out of here? See some sunshine, eat some real food?” His eyes were a shade of bright green. Face somewhat scruffy but beautiful like an angel.

“Are you a demon or an angel?” Aaidan whispered.

“Well, I guess we’re all sort of both right? A little good, a little bad? That’s what it means to be human.” He fiddled with the straps of the coat finally snatched a knife out of his pocket and sawed way the last remaining strap, then tucked the blade away again. “Your aunt’s been really worried about you.”

The woman touched his face. Her eyes were kind, a warm brown, skin around them slightly wrinkled, but not from tension. She didn’t look at him like the others did here. “Do you recognize me at all, sweetheart?”

Aaidan thought about those warm eyes. The woman who had been sobbing had eyes like those, only never as soft and welcoming. There was this one time when he was little that someone looked at him like that, with no judgment, just love. Aaidan remembered eating fresh baked chocolate chip cookies while his Aunt Olivia stroked his hair. He’d been seven and had fallen off his bike.

He blinked again. Surprised by such a lucid memory. Most of the time all he had was fog. “I remember cookies.”

A smile lit up the woman’s face. “I’ll bake you some fresh cookies when we get home. Oh, baby boy!” She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him fiercely.

Aaidan frowned, not sure what to do. He wasn’t allowed to touch anyone. He looked back at the long-haired demon. Security filled the room, a group of hulking demons in uniforms with sticks that hurt. He’d felt their sting before, but the long-haired demon rose to his full height, a scary thing that was, and cracked his knuckles.

“I’ve got his release forms, all the court orders, and federal mandates right here,” the second woman waved a stack of papers around. “Try to stop us and you’re all going to jail.”

Olivia pulled the straight jacket off and tossed it aside. “Do you have anything you need to take with you, baby boy?” She looked around the room, but there was nothing personal. “Jake, can you carry him?”

“I don’t remember what cookies taste like,” Aaidan said quietly.

“He’s so tiny. Didn’t they feed him?” Jake, who was the long-haired demon, scooped him up out of the chair. “Weighs nothing. Christ, my dogs have more meat on them than him.”

“Not supposed to touch,” Aaidan said voice raised slightly in alarm. The warmth of Jake’s body against his was nice. He was always so cold, but no one ever gave him extra blankets. Demanding young men went to hell. Evil young men with wicked thoughts like his. “I don’t want to go to hell.”

“Peanut, I think you’ve been there for the last decade,” Jake commented as he headed for the door. “Ladies, let’s get out of this hell hole.”

Faces peered at them from every doorway. The silence almost painful while Aaidan struggled to keep himself from falling into the devil’s snare and enjoying the strong arms around him. No one was supposed to touch him. The demons used to back when Aaidan had fought the medication, but that had been years ago. Now they just held him down to shove the pills down his throat.

His panic began to rise as they ventured into areas Aaidan hadn’t been in years, down the stairs, through the main hallway, and toward the door. He couldn’t go outside. Evil waited for him out there. It was everywhere, hiding in every corner, waiting to suck him down to the black abyss of never-ending fire. He began to struggle.

“Hey, hey. Calm down, kiddo. No one is gonna hurt you,” Jake told him.

“Aaidan, I’m just taking you home. I promise we’ll keep you safe.” Olivia stroked his brow, but the door was so close. The light shining through it so bright it hurt his eyes.

“Can’t. Can’t go out there. Demons!” Aaidan fought with all his might, though he might as well have been a flea in Jake’s arms. He sucked in several huge lung-full of breath but still couldn’t breathe.

“He’s hyperventilating, Olivia,” Jake stopped just before they exited the building.

A doctor cut them off and the security guards became a wall of bodies. “You cannot remove him from this hospital. Mr. Winters is very disturbed.”

“No doubt because of your reprogramming methods. We have video you know. One of your nurses defected and gave us hundreds of hours of videos. Including  videos of you using shock therapy on Aaidan,” Olivia threw back at him.

“Shock therapy is used to treat many illnesses, including depression, which your nephew has. Now if you’ll have your somewhat barbaric friend put him on the bed over there we’ll wheel him back up to his room where he’ll be more comfortable.” The doctor gestured to a gurney that had been pushed down by a tight-faced orderly.

“Marissa?” Oliva asked.

Marissa stepped forward, flipping through her stack of paperwork. “Custody of one Aaidan Delaney Winters is remanded to Olivia Brittney Franks. Any interruption of this change of custody shall be seen as direct disobeying of a court order and met with criminal charges.”

“That means get the fuck out of our way,” Jake said, pushing his way through.

Aaidan blinked around him at the faces that seemed to stop and move in weird motions. His pills were kicking in again. Everything spun, but at least the pressure on his lungs eased even as the brightness of the sky filled his vision. All he could see was the bright blue and a weird golden halo around Jake’s blond hair. Maybe this one was an angel, he thought briefly. Just as the world vanished and darkness took him down into a deep sleep.


Jake wished he’d brought his guitar or something other than his phone. When O had insisted on taking Aaidan to a specialist she trusted he could have just said he had something else to do. After all he’d just been there to help by playing the muscle. Olivia and Marissa had been sure they would meet opposition in removing the kid from the mental hospital. He’d thought they’d been exaggerating, but they’d been right. He knew his grungy rock appearance would make them nervous, though he didn’t consider himself a real tough guy and never spoke with his fists. Sometimes looking like the bag guy just helped. Though the kid’s question still threw him off. Are you an angel or a demon?

Did that mean the kid really was crazy?

He leaned back in his chair and stretched. Tomorrow he’d be working on the house, sanding the windowsills to get them ready for replacing the windows and repainting. Every couple of years he bought a house that needed some love, lived it in, fixed it up, then sold it and moved on. Six months ago he’d found the most beautiful place. Thought it might just be the forever home for him, after some intense cleaning and fixing of course. That was when he’d met the Franks. Nice ladies. Barbequed all the time and were genius’ at it.

Those many evenings sitting around the grill, sharing meat and sauce, he’d learned about their on going fight to save this kid, Olivia’s nephew, Aaidan Winters. Jake had gone so far as to look up old newspaper clippings about it. Apparently, at the age of twelve, he’d been caught with a neighbor boy and set off to one of those reprogramming camps. When that didn’t work his parents institutionalized him. Something you could only do in a handful of states and Tennessee was one of them. Olivia explained that Aaidan had been caught holding the other boy’s hand. Nothing overt, but apparently they’d all suspected for some time that the kid was gay. Still that was no reason to throw the kid away for life like his parents had.

Kid. Well, Jake supposed he wasn’t much of a kid anymore at twenty-two, but he could hardly think otherwise when the man probably weighed less than a hundred pounds and was barely over five feet tall. Stunted for life. Christ. What a mess. Yeah, he should have gone home. He just thought back to how different it could have been if his parents hadn’t accepted him.

Hell, he’d always been the trouble maker of the family. The second from the bottom of six kids, he was the musician, the tattoo freak, the one who hadn’t gone to college, and had revealed to his parents at sixteen that he was bi with a firm lean toward men. That was more than a decade and a half ago. Before people knew there was more to being gay than just liking men, or that being bi meant you weren’t set smack dab in the middle. His parents had given him more gruff over his first tattoo than his sexuality. Guess he should have been grateful. Some people really got the short end of the deal.

The door opened and the specialist stepped. Everyone jumped to their feet, even Jake who barely knew the kid. The woman’s face was drawn, tired, and a frown played the corner of her lips. Not a good sign.

“It’s bad then?” Olivia asked, running her hands through her brunette curls. Marissa gripped her other hand. “Is there anything we can do?”

“He’s extremely malnourished. You’ll have to ease him into a balanced diet, supplement a lot of vitamins. Nothing overly sweet or fatty, his body can’t take it right now. Broths, lean proteins, bland vegetables lower in fiber.” She pulled out a list and handed it over. “Here’s a list to start him off with. Introduce each level slowly, watch for reaction. I suspect he might even be gluten intolerant. Most of the foods mental hospitals offer are high in starch and carbs, over processed. He’s got hundreds of ulcers in his stomach and intestines. Could be from the medications, could be from an allergy, which would most likely be gluten. I did take a sample of his stomach lining and we’ll be testing it, but that will take a few days.”

“What about the medications he was on? Are there things we need to continue with?” Marissa asked.

“A lot of them are sleeping medications, anti-depressants, things to keep him loopy, or if he were volatile like they claim, to keep him calm. Taking him off shouldn’t make him too sick, but you may find he’s very sleepy for a few days.” She pulled out another chart. “His bone density worries me. Probably a prolonged lack of calcium. Something we see more often in third world countries than anything here in the USA. I would like to test his vitamin levels every month for the next few months until we can get him back to normal levels. However, I think the damage has been done. Right now his bones are pretty fail. No intense activities. A single fall could have him cracking a hip or breaking his spine.” She paused, then shook her head. “You know I deal in recovery of a lot of these type of patients, but this is going to be hard. Emotionally he’s still 12, is there a grown up locked in there somewhere? Probably. I’ll have Ellen schedule weekly at home visits with him. He’s likely not going to be up to leaving the house anytime soon.”

“What about a suicide watch?” Jake asked, ignoring the horrified looks on Olivia and Marissa’s faces. “He might not be strong enough to hang himself or even cut his own wrists with a knife, but he might be able to hurl himself down stairs or out a window. I know suicide is high for those who have been through one of these reprogramming things.” He had a friend for six months, came back after being reprogrammed only to lock himself in the garage with the car running a month later. “I’m just trying to be real here.”

“Mr. Rhoades has a valid point. I do recommend keeping Aaidan away from heights, or anything you think he could find to harm himself. Pills, razors, anything he might use to hang himself.  It sounds morbid, but it’s better to be safe until we can give him back the life that was stolen from him.” She motioned to the room. “You can take him home. I’ve got the nurses filling the vitamin prescriptions right now. You know how to give a shot, right? Giving him pills will only remind him of the asylum.”

Olivia nodded, “I can give him the shots.” She blinked back tears and headed into the room. Everyone followed and Jake couldn’t believe how small and frail the kid looked. And this is what hate did to people. How horrible.

Aaidan smiled faintly at him when Jake approached to pick him up again. “You’re back, Angel.”

“Sure am, Sunshine. Ready to go home? Hospitals of any kind are really not my thing.”

“Hmm.” Was all he replied before closing his eyes and seeming to fall back asleep again. Olivia and Marissa collected the medications and everyone headed out to the duo’s Hummer. Jake had thought it was an odd choice for the two when he first met them, since they were both fairly small, nonaggressive women who didn’t seem to flaunt their minor wealth. But they also coached little league, ran a division of brothers and sisters, headed a ton of Pflag events, and often had foster kids. The Hummer made sense because it had a lot of space and a get a hell out of their way attitude. Jake liked that about them.

The drive back to their neighborhood was a silent one filled only with random tunes from the local pop station.  Aaidan slept in Jake’s lap the whole time. He shivered once or twice, forcing Jake to dig out a blanket from the back and wrap him up. He vaguely wondered how many more kids were lost in these places. Who else had been thrown away? He sighed and prayed for the kid to have a fast recovery.


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Lissa Kasey LogoBio: Lissa Kasey/Sam Kadence lives in St. Paul, MN, has a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing, and collects Asian Ball Joint Dolls who look like her characters. She has three cats who enjoy waking her up an hour before her alarm every morning and sitting on her lap to help her write. She can often be found at Anime Conventions masquerading as random characters when she’s not writing about boy romance.

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