Tuesday, April 25, 2017

OPEN DAY

 
~ Note From Stormy ~
 
Okay, I don't have an author for today and the second part of my story isn't done yet, so I'm going to do a bit of shameless promotion.
 
You can still leave a comment and your email to be entered for today.
 
~~@~~
 
 
 
 
~~@~~
 
Cade Creek 1
Answering a disturbance call, Deputy Marc Walker meets a man that shocks him with his gentleness. He wants to know everything about the man. He wants to show Happy the world, and he’s not going to let a little thing like getting shot interfere with those plans.
 
 
Cade Creek 2
Mitchell Walker never wanted anything other than the simple life of a farmer—until he met Elliot Foster, and then his dreams changed. Elliot seemed to want the same thing until the day he disappeared without a word. Now, he’s back, and he’s not alone.
 
 
Cade Creek 3
Fire Chief Jack Helmond is used to being called to the scene of accidents. It’s part of the job. When he discovers a frightened young man pinned in his car, the job takes on new meaning. Rescuing Chester Bailey becomes personal.
 
 
 
 
Cade Creek 4
The growing feelings Jonny has for Russ just won’t go away, not even when the man makes it clear they can only be friends. After one too many rejections, Jonny decides he needs to build a life without Russ, but that’s just the beginning of his troubles.
 
 
 
Cade Creek 5
When the man he’s interested in betrays his trust, Hank refuses to have anything to do with him. But fate has a way of making a man regret decisions made in haste. When Sammy’s life is threatened, saving him might be harder than finding the serial arsonist that is plaguing Cade Creek. It might be damn near impossible.
 
 
 
Cade Creek 6
When Harvey James is offered a brown-eyed beauty in exchange for a round of drinks at his bar, he accepts, starting a series of events that tests his strength and strips him of his fine-honed control. Because Joey Baker isn’t just a man to be bartered, he’s a man Harvey wants to keep.
 
 
 
Cade Creek 7
Being a fire fighter fulfills Paul Rafferty’s need to protect those that can’t protect themselves. When he meets Noah Helmond and learns who the man is, he’s prepared to think the worst. Getting Noah to admit there’s more to his story might be the hardest battle he’s ever fought.
 
 
 
Cade Creek 8
Life for Artie Mills was hard enough without being sold to a drug dealer by his jerk of a stepfather. He wasn't sure if meeting undercover DEA agent Dorian James was going to make it better or worse, but he damn sure wanted to find out.
 
 
 
Cade Creek 9
Deputy Nick Hale and Dr. Devon Berkley had been best friend since grade school. They had always been there for each other, even when DB discovered he was gay and Nick was not. When tragedy strikes, being best friends might not be enough to keep Nick from making the worst mistake of his life.
 
 
Cade Creek 10
Asked to look into suspicions of abuse, Bear Black finds himself more intrigued by the man he is investigating than he really should be, especially considering the man is married. When Bear tries to rescue Andrew, he finds a man that calls to his soul as much as his protective instincts.
 
 
Cade Creek 11
All Racine Tuff wanted was to get back to Cade Creek. It represented safety. With a date gone wrong and a psycho hunting him, being safe seemed like a dream too far out of his reach. When he's met at the airport by a couple of sexy firemen, trusting them is easier than he thought it would be, but is his trust misplaced?
 
 
Cade Creek 12
Aldrin came to Cade Creek hoping to build a new life. With his job at the Cade Creek Diner, Aldrin has a chance to meet many of the townspeople, but the one that interests him the most is the one that doesn't say anything. Determined to bring the gorgeous man out of his shell, Aldrin sets about showing Jonah Cade that there is life off his mountain top.
 
Cade Creek 13
Cory James went to the city for a small vacation. He never expected to come home with a family. The man he tries to rescue from an attack turns out to be the answer to every dream Cory ever had. Now, if they could just danger from finding them again, they might find happiness.
 
 
Cade Creek 14
Robby Fletcher had a lot of things to be ashamed of, but with one beating too many, he's finally had enough. He barely has time to step foot in Cade Creek before he's running for his life again, right into the arms of a man so sexy, he makes Robby's teeth ache.
 

Monday, April 24, 2017

TERRY POOLE


Happy Birthday, Baby  

by Terry Poole

Lucas stood before the St. Adolph cemetery staring at the marble headstone. It would have been Adam’s twenty fifth birthday today. Tipping his head up, Lucas let the gentle rain wash his tears away.

Eight months and the pain was a fresh as ever. He remembered the visit from Adam’s captain and then waking in hospital days later. This part he didn’t remember. Apparently, he had drunk himself into a stupor and tried to slash his wrists. Lucas would carry the scars from his attempt forever, his pain permanently fixed into his skin.

He faced the grave stone once more. “Happy Birthday, baby. I brought you flowers.” Lucas knelt and placed the colorful bouquet of spring flowers before the stone. His wedding band glinted slightly as he ran his hand over the front of the stone, feeling the deep groves cut into it.

Adam Cooperson, Beloved Son, Beloved Husband.

He rose to his feet and swallowed tightly. “So, the hobby store is doing well. I wish you could have seen it. I took your advice and it worked out really good. Thank you for believing in me. I know models weren’t your thing but you always supported my hobby and my dream of having a hobby shop.”

Lucas shivered slightly and pulled his collar up higher. “I miss you so much babe. Some days the shop is the only thing that keeps me going when I don’t want to live without you anymore. I miss your big body wrapped around me at night like a living blanket. I miss your kisses and the way you would pull me into your body like I was the most precious thing in your life. How w-we made love…”

“I know you always wanted to follow in your family’s footsteps and join the military. I supported your dream too, even though I knew we would be apart for long periods of time. But somehow, I never expected this to happen. Maybe it was denial, I don’t know.”

“It felt like we had been friends forever. The thing was, I wanted you so much but I was too afraid to say anything because I wasn’t sure how you would react if I told you. You never had a serious girlfriend, so I hoped and fantasized. Then, when I was attacked out back behind the gym, you came to my rescue like a knight in shining track pants. At that moment, I knew that I loved you. You pulled me to my feet and held me close to your huge chest and I felt like I could breath.”

“You didn’t let me go. Instead you held my face and lowered your head until our lips were barely a breath apart. Then you paused. Maybe you weren’t sure that I wanted you that way. It was a moment when I could say no, but that was never going to happen. I stood on my toes and closed that final distance, pressing my mouth to yours. I finally got what everybody said about fireworks when you are with the ‘one’.”

 “The first time we made love it was so awkward and sweet. God, the high I felt, sliding off your shirt and feeling your bare chest against mine, having you skin to skin. We were each other’s firsts, but we learned. We also learned that gay porn wasn’t real.”  He laughed. “Boy, did we learn.”

Lucas smiled down at the grave, not seeing it as fond memories moved before his eyes. A small break in the clouds briefly lit up the stone and made it shimmer.

“Too bad you were so good at being a soldier. The military liked to keep you. You looked so damned hot when you came home after your first deployment. And then you fell to one knee asked me to marry you in front of everybody. It was perfect. I’m glad the other guys never gave you grief about being gay.”

“I have all your letters. You really should have been a writer. The things you said were so romantic and I never told you how they made me miss you even more. They are all I have now. I wish I had more than just pictures and letters. I should have made movies or recorded your voice.” The tears had started up again. “I wish I could hear your voice again. Just…once more.”

Lucas wrapped his arms around his thin body. He knew he’d lost weight, everyone told him so - repeatedly. The pain flared again in his chest and he squeezed tighter trying to keep his body from exploding from the force of his agony. He was shivering hard now as great body shaking sobs shook him. His knees weakened and he slid uncaring to the wet ground, curling in upon himself. The rain had eased but he was completely soaked and cold, so very cold, inside and out. He couldn’t raise a care if his life depended on it. His shrink would probably have words to say but…Lucas just didn’t care.

“Lucas.”

A voice called his name.

“Lucas.”

Someone had come to check on him. He hadn’t told anyone where he was going but his friends and family wasn’t stupid – they easily figured it out.

“Go away.” He hiccupped. “I want to be alone with him.”

Something heavy landed gently on his shoulders. It was a coat.

“Please go away. I-I can almost smell him.”

Lucas wore Adam’s clothes at home where no one could see him. Adam had a much larger frame, so Lucas looked like a child playing dress up. He wore the clothes until he realized that he could no longer smell Adam on them. That had been one of his bad days.

“Lucas, look at me.”

Not wanting to but lifting his head anyway, Lucas looked up. The man had bad scaring on one side of his face, from his cheek to his jaw and more just visible above his collar on the same side. His hair, sat limp and stringy from the rain.

Familiar blue eyes gazed back at him, filled with love and sadness.

Reaching out a tentative hand, Lucas brushed his fingers along Adam’s face. Then stared wildly down at the head stone half expecting to see his body lying there on top of Adam’s grave.

“I’ve missed you so much. Am I dead too?” He asked hopefully. “Have you come to take me to Heaven with you on your birthday?”

“No, baby. I’ve come to take you home.”

“W-what?” Lucas’s teeth chattered uncontrollably and the world abruptly slipped away.

***

Lucas opened his eyes on a familiar sight. White walls surrounded him as he lay on an uncomfortable narrow bed. A machine beeped annoyingly behind his head. Oh, damn. Been here, done this before.

He rolled his head to the left and noticed a figure sleeping in a chair but he couldn’t make out the face. The person was large so probably a man.  A nurse chose that moment to come padding into his room, startling the sleeping person awake. All Lucas could do was stare at him with his mouth hanging open as the nurse puttered around him.

“A-Adam?”

“Yup.” The nurse stepped between them cutting off his view. “Your husband has been here the whole time, wouldn’t leave your side. You are a very fortunate young man, being out in the rain with pneumonia. You were lucky you didn’t die. As it was, you’ve been out of it for three days.”

“I was?”

“Sure were. I’m glad to see that you are doing much better.” With that she left the room with a smile in his direction.

Lucas stared at the man who wore Adam’s face. Even with the scaring, he looked so good to him. Adam reached out and took his hand, caressing it with his thumb.

“I thought I was dreaming.” Lucas asked him in awe. “How?”

Adam smiled down at him. “I’ve spent the last eight months in a VA hospital with no memory of who I was. Then a couple of days ago, I happened to see another patient working on a model. I remembered how much you enjoyed building model cars. I remembered everything.”

Lucas clutched Adam’s hand like a lifeline. “But they said you’d been killed by an IUD…”

“No. They thought I had died and taken my tags, but as they were collecting the bodies, they discovered that I was still alive. Barely. By that time though, they had no idea who I was and with no memory…”

Carefully lifting his other hand so as not to dislodge the IV needle, Lucas touched Adam’s face. He ran his fingertips over Adam’s brows, cheeks and traced his mouth. “I’m not hallucinating you, right? Please tell me this is real. I couldn’t handle it if it’s not.”

“No, baby. I’m real, kind of banged up and worse for wear, but real.”

“I don’t care if you came back looking like Frankenstein’s monster or missing half your body. So long as you were alive. I love you so much. It’s been hell without you.”

Adam kissed him so gently, it was barely a brush of lips, but so sweet that Lucas’s heart felt full to bursting.  “I know, baby. I love you too.”

~~@~~


PRICE OF SECRETS BLURB
An old FBI case of Kelly’s returns with a vengeance. The traumatic case that nearly ended his life left him with both physical and deep emotional scars. Kelly needs to finally conquer his inner demons when Nathan, his fiancĂ©, is kidnapped by the wife of a drug lord and used as bait to bring Kelly to her.
With little time left, Kelly must assemble a highly specialized team to rescue the love of his life from a drug lord’s compound in the remote jungles of Columbia. Nathan’s life hangs in the balance as the mother of a murdered child fulfills her plans to exact revenge upon Kelly for accidently killing her son during the drug bust a year ago.
Unexpected treachery and betrayal follow them until not only their lives but the lives of their entire family are threatened.
MLR Press
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Price of Secrets – by Terry Poole
Excerpt
*Although Price of Secrets is the sequel to Web of Secrets, it can be read as a standalone.*
Kelly rinsed out his teacup after washing it, and placed it carefully on the drainboard beside two coffee mugs. Having grown up in an Irish household, he never could get used to the taste of the stuff. Give him a good Earl Grey tea anytime.
He cocked his head slightly as he heard the faintest rustling sound behind him. There was no need to respond with aggression; he knew the soft tread well. The wariness was ingrained in him though, a part of him like his hand or foot. It never shut off, nor would Kelly let it, no matter where he was. A familiar small hand patted his shoulder as he turned his head.
“Good morning, dear.” Vicky, Nathan’s mother, stepped up alongside him. “Sweetheart, you don’t need to do that,” she chastised him, indicating the now clean teacup.
“Morning, Vicky, and yes I did. My mum raised me right.” He kissed the petite blonde woman affectionately on the cheek.
“Well your mum did a good job. Speaking of which, are your folks still coming on Monday?”
“What? And deprive my mum of working with you to arrange our wedding? Do I look like I have a death wish? Nothing could keep them away. Just let the rest of us know where and when.”
Vicki gave his cheek an affectionate pat. “You’re such a good boy.” She grinned up at him. “And you know us mothers well. Speaking of weddings, is Nathan up yet?”
“Morning,” Nathan called to them as he stepped into the kitchen.
“Never mind.” Vicky chuckled. “Good morning, Nathan,” Vicky said, tipping her head to receive a kiss on the cheek from him. She grabbed her coffee cup and plucked an apple from the tray of fruit on the table, before leaving the kitchen.
Kelly shook his head, wondering exactly what he and Nathan had unleashed. They’d asked for something understated, but he had a feeling that neither he nor Nathan were ready for what their mothers were going to cook up.
Speaking of cooking, Kelly had quickly discovered that none of Nathan’s family were terribly big on breakfast. Every morning, there was always a basket of fruit and a covered tray of pastries on the table. Kelly didn’t mind it, but Nathan made no secret of the fact that he loved it when Kelly made breakfast, a real breakfast with eggs, bacon, the works.
Kelly noticed Nathan’s ever-present travel mug clutched in his hand and he couldn’t resist smiling. That man and his coffee, getting between them was like taking your life in your hands.
Nathan looked endearingly confused at his mother’s departing back as she muttered something about lists. He glanced at Kelly. “What did I miss?”
Kelly grinned at him. “Nothing, love, just your mother dropping into planning mode.”
“Planning mode.” Nathan blinked then shrugged. “Oh well, whatever makes her happy.”
“Just remember you said that when my mum gets here and the two of them really get going.”
Staring at Kelly for a moment, Nathan’s expression slowly morphed into a frown. “Is it too late to elope?” he murmured, throwing another look over his shoulder to where his mother had disappeared.
Kelly moved closer, took the travel mug from Nathan and placed it beside the coffee maker. Framing Nathan’s face between his hands, Kelly gazed into Nathan’s beautiful brown eyes.
“Yes, yes it is. I honestly think they would kill us, and in the most painful way imaginable, if we ruined their chance to plan our wedding. My mum’s done this already with one of my sisters, but your mum…well, let’s not wreck her fun.”
Giving an exaggerated ‘hard-done-by’ sigh, Nathan nodded, sliding his arms around Kelly’s waist. “Fine. But just this once.”
“Just this once, huh?”
“Darn right.”
“Sounds good to me.”
Kelly kissed him slow and deep, humming his pleasure at the contact. Nathan pulled himself closer to Kelly, chest to chest, and heart to heart, right where Kelly always wanted Nathan to be.
“Ahem.”
Nathan’s dad pointedly cleared his throat from behind them and Kelly broke the kiss, but refused to release Nathan just yet.
Matt was frowning at them, but the twinkle in his brown eyes, and the twitch of his lips, betrayed his amusement as he reached for a mug. For a businessman worth millions, Matt was very laidback. Nathan’s family didn’t have a pretentious bone in any of their bodies and Kelly got along really well with all of them.
Nathan glanced at Kelly and made a face at him. “Busted again.”
“At least this time you both have clothes on.” Brendan, Nathan’s brother, snorted as he entered the kitchen also making a beeline for the coffee maker.
Caffeine addiction definitely ran in this family, even if Nathan was technically Brendan’s cousin and Matt was Nathan’s uncle. Matt and Vickie had adopted Nathan as a boy, when he had been abused then thrown out by Matt’s brother and his brother’s wife, for being gay.
“That was so not our fault,” Nathan protested. “You were all supposed to be gone for the entire evening last night. None of you called, so how were we to know you would be home so early?”
“Not the mama,” Brendan said in a singsong voice. “We didn’t need to call and check in.”
“Besides…” Brendan slapped Nathan playfully on the back. “It was a good thing I found you first or Mom would have been scarred for life. As it is, I’ll never be able to look at that pool table the same way ever again.”
“Wait, what?” Matt’s gaze swung from Brendan to Kelly and Nathan. He looked at them with raised eyebrows. “Pool table? My pool table?”
Kelly burst out laughing as an amazing shade of red darkened Nathan’s face before he buried his face in the crook of Kelly’s neck. His skin grew warm from the heat emanating off Nathan’s cheeks.
“Put me out of my misery now,” he moaned into Kelly’s throat.
Kelly tangled his fingers in Nathan’s thick dark curls while he rubbed circles on Nathan’s back with his other hand.
“Aww, poor baby,” Kelly cooed at him.
Kelly turned Nathan in his arms and steered him out of the kitchen toward the front door. “Love to stay and chat but we’d better get a move on before we’re both late.”
“Wait.” Matt raised a hand to them. “What’s this about my pool table?”
“You’ll have to talk to Brendan about that,” Kelly called over his shoulder. “Gotta run.” He hustled Nathan out the front door, swiftly closing it behind them.
Outside, Nathan laughed at him. “You are so evil.”
Kelly lifted his hand, his thumb and first finger roughly an inch apart. “Just a little.”
“Uh-huh.” Nathan inserted two fingers between Kelly’s and widened the distance. “It’s more like this.”
Kelly bumped his hip into Nathan’s. “You love me anyway.”
Grinning, Nathan bumped Kelly back. “Yes, I do. I definitely do.”
Nathan halted abruptly on the bottom step then looked back at the house. “Damn it, I left my travel mug in the kitchen.”
Kelly grabbed Nathan’s arm before he could take more than one step back up toward the door. “Do you really want to go back in there? Think about the conversation Brendan and your father are probably having right now.”
Freezing in place, Nathan stared at Kelly for a minute before his eyes widened and he shook his head. “Nope, nada, no way am I going back in there.” He stepped back off the stairs. “Drive thru it is.”
Chuckling, Kelly walked hand in hand with Nathan to Nathan’s car. Stopping before him, Kelly straightened the lapel of Nathan’s suit, then affectionately patted Nathan’s chest. “Don’t forget, you promised to meet me for lunch after you hand the keys over to the realtor.”
Nathan rolled his eyes. “I remember. I need to inspect the condition of the condo after the cleaners but I should be at your office by eleven thirty at the latest.”
Kelly kissed Nathan, and then opened the car door with a small flourish and bow, waving Nathan inside.
Nathan reached into his pocket for his keys as he climbed into the car, stopped and straightened up again. “I almost forgot I bought you something.”
“Really?” Kelly asked standing beside the car’s open door.
Nathan pulled an odd camo colored bracelet from his jacket pocket and held it out to Kelly. “Remember when I stopped by the hospital to say good-bye to some friends the other day? Well, the Boy Scouts were having a fund-raiser in the hospital’s lobby. This bracelet is made from parachute cord with a tensile strength of five hundred and fifty pounds, but this is the interesting part.”
Nathan turned the bracelet over and pointed to one of the side release buckles. “They basically macramĂ© the cord so if you ever need fifteen feet of really heavy-duty cord all you have to do is pick apart the melted ends here.”
Kelly rotated the bracelet, admiring the workmanship and clever design.
“But wait, there’s more.”
Nathan’s eagerness was simply too adorable. “You know you sound like a commercial, right?”
“Yeah, whatever.” Nathan huffed.
He took the bracelet and opened the buckle, almost bouncing with his excitement. “Look. There’s a ferrocerium rod in one end of the buckle and a striker in the other so you can start a fire whenever you need to. And this part of the buckle is a whistle.”
Pausing for a breath, Nathan hesitantly held the bracelet out to Kelly again. “If you don’t like it, it’s okay. It was for a good cause and…” Nathan looked endearing as he chewed on his bottom lip, suddenly unsure if Kelly would like his gift.
Kelly took the bracelet, snapped it into place on his left wrist then grabbed a hold of Nathan’s tie and pulled him in for a heartfelt kiss.
“Thank you for thinking of me. It’s very clever and I’m sure it will come in real handy one day. It’s great, and so are you.”
Nathan beamed happily at Kelly and Kelly swore his heart skipped a beat at the beatific expression on Nathan’s handsome face. Kelly loved seeing it there, he loved putting it there, he just flat out loved Nathan with every fiber of his being.
One of their cell phones chimed breaking the spell.
Nathan blew out a breath. “That’s my reminder. I’ve got to get going.”
Kelly moved out of the way and solemnly waved Nathan into the car again. Nathan gave Kelly an exaggerated gracious nod as he sat in the car, the huge smile on his face ruining the moment. Kelly slammed the door closed, leaned in through the window and gripped Nathan’s chin with his fingers before pressing his lips to Nathan’s once more. He swallowed Nathan’s sigh, matching it with one of his own as he felt Nathan’s hand slid up the line of his jaw and around his neck to cup his nape.
It never ceased to amaze him just how powerful the bond they shared was and how much he craved Nathan’s taste and touch. Nathan was the best drug imaginable and Kelly was happily addicted. He would never get enough of Nathan and in a month this man would be tied to him forever. Shiny platinum bands around both their ring fingers would declare their love and commitment to the world, when they said their vows to each other.
Reluctantly, Kelly drew back. “I’ll see you later for lunch…or something,” he added with an evil leer and wink.
Nathan’s eyes grew large and he swallowed hard. “Yes, please.”
Feeling his pulse quicken and arousal pool in his belly, Kelly seriously entertained the thought of dragging Nathan from his car and back upstairs to their bedroom. From Nathan’s blown pupils and flushed skin, Nathan was probably considering it too.
“Damn it.” He slapped the car’s door. “I’ve got to behave or neither of us will get anything done today,” Kelly grumbled.
“You? The voice of reason? Will wonders never cease.”
“Hey, it’s been known to happen.” Kelly gave Nathan a shit-eating grin. “On occasion.”
Nathan snorted as Kelly straightened. He stood in place until Nathan gathered himself together enough to pull the car from the drive.
A sudden chill raced down Kelly’s spine as he watched Nathan’s car turn and head down the street. Kelly had the intense urge to run after Nathan, to stop him from leaving. Foreboding washed through him, turning his stomach, and a heavy ball of dread settled into Kelly’s middle. Something was in the wind and it wasn’t good.
Quickly tugging his cell from his pants pocket, he dialed Nathan and impatiently bounced up and down on the balls of his feet until Nathan answered.
“Hey, baby. What’s up?” Nathan sounded tinny from the car speaker.
“Do me a favor and text or better yet, call me, when you get to the condo.”
“Um, sure, okay. Is everything all right?”
“Yeah. Listen, I’ve changed my mind. I’ll quickly finish up what I have to do at the office and meet you there at the condo instead.” Kelly noticed his hand had started to shake. What the hell?
“Sure. That sounds great. It’ll give me a chance to say good-bye to Mrs. Rosario.”
“Thanks, love. Good idea. Better yet, wait at her place for me.”
“No problem. Love you.”
“Love you, too.”
Slipping the phone back into his pocket, Kelly climbed into his SUV. He squeezed the wheel with both shaking hands and took a deep ragged breath before starting the vehicle. Without warning, Granda’s distinct aftershave filled his nose and Kelly shuddered.
“Granda, I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”
~~@~~
Terry Poole Bio
Terry makes her home between the two massive lakes that bisect Manitoba in central Canada. She’s always written in one form or another. Her very first book, at age five, consisted of stick figures drawn upon a roll of adding machine paper. When Terry isn't writing (which isn’t often), she can be found crocheting, making handmade soap or hanging out on Facebook.
Her mind has been compared to a train station filled with runaway trains. The trick is to catch one and hang on. So many stories, so little time. Her epitaph will consist of only two words – What if…?
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