Posted in Blog

Kate Steele’s Latest Book: Gimme Shelter

This book is about two extremely hot guys. Oo-la-la! Here’s her first chapter, just to give you a sample:

Gimme Shelter
Chapter One

Check out the hottest guys in the hottest romance I’ve seen this month!

Gimme SHelter
Chapter One

Proximity sensors blared and red warning lights flashed madly, disrupting the everyday routine on the bridge of the starship Brizo. Captain Zen Ahbramez looked up from the comm screen he’d been perusing. “Report, Mengs.”
Already in action, his Gulrian navigator’s long, agile fingers flew over the command keys at his station. “There’s a slow moving ship crossing our projected course. Unless we change speed or course we’re going to collide.”
Familiar tension readied Zen’s mind and body for action. He took a deep breath of recycled air. The customary hints of metal and machinery registered against his sensitive palate, a barely there but recognizable taste. “Distance?” he asked, redirecting his gaze to the forward view screen.
“Half a parsec, more or less.”
“As usual, Mengs, your pinpoint accuracy is underwhelming.”
The intricately carved wood beads in Mengs’ short braids clacked as his chair swiveled. He fixed his orange-eyed gaze on the captain. “Yeah well, you get the good stuff when it counts. You know me, I don’t like to show off, and it’s not like you have to make an instant decision.”
Chuckles accompanied the navigator’s observation. Zen rolled his eyes and returned the grins directed at him by two of the other three crew members present on the bridge.
“Serk,” Zen said, his gaze turning toward his second in command, “Run a scan on that ship.”
“Already in progress.” As usual, the Adarian had anticipated Zen’s order. His fingers — retractable claws currently hidden — were finessing the control keys for every bit of information as his almond-shaped, emerald-green eyes remained glued to the monitor that scrolled info at its operator’s command. “It seems we have a… Captain, that ship is a Dukati shuttle craft.”
With the ship’s identity revealed, the jovial mood on the bridge vanished and every person present went from relaxed to battle ready. The Dukati were a warrior race known for their random and ruthless raids against anyone not strong enough to defend themselves. Zen was hit by a sting of anticipation laced with hostility. He was more than willing to engage in conflict should the Dukati choose to initiate it, but caution warred with aggression to keep his hatred for them in check. For the sake of his crew it would be better to avoid trouble.
“Shields up. Scanners at max. Harren, report any subspace chatter,” Zen ordered his communications specialist. “Serk, any other ships in the area and how many on the shuttle?”
“No other ships currently in range of our scanners. One life sign on the shuttle and they don’t appear to be doing too well.”
“Life signs are weak. The life-support system is failing.”
“Give me a thorough scan on the shuttle right down to the last nut and bolt. On the passenger too. If there’s so much as a hair out of place I want to know about it. As fast as you can, Serk.”
“On it, Captain.”
“Mengs, take us out of warp. Clay, I want everyone armed. We’re on red alert, people.”
“Aye, Captain.” Clay Delgato, in charge of ship’s security, turned to a panel near his station and keyed in the code which opened it. A whisper of sound accompanied the slide of the door as it revealed sleek black scorch pistols and the sturdy, woven belts that would carry them. He went quickly from crew member to crew member passing one set each to Zen and the others.
Serk, who was still engaged with his scans, held his arms out, giving Clay, his mate, room to fasten the belt at his waist. Green eyes met brown and a quick smile was exchanged before Serk made his report. “Captain, the scanners are finding no anomalies. The shuttle and its passenger appear to be clean and from what the biosensors are telling me, the passenger is not Dukati.”
“That’s fortunate. A Dukati I’d just as soon launch out an airlock no matter what shape he’s in. All right gentlemen, it seems we have a rescue to enact. Mengs, I want a tractor beam on that ship. Haul it into the hangar bay. Clay, you’re with me. Harren, tell Doc and Jacks to meet us in the hangar bay. Serk, you have the bridge and keep an eye on the long range scanners. I don’t want any unexpected guests crashing our party.”
Various voices called out, “Aye, Captain,” as Zen prepared to leave the bridge.
With Clay at his side he strode to a set of double doors that slid open to reveal a small chamber. As soon as the men entered the brightly lit cubicle, the doors slid shut behind them and they were scanned by the internal sensors of the bioporter.
“Hangar bay,” Zen called out.
“Hangar bay,” repeated a digitally synthesized yet lyrical voice.
Absolute darkness engulfed them and for a split second Zen wrestled with the surge of adrenaline that sometimes spilled through his veins and made his heart beat faster when being transported. The sensation of being struck blind was disconcerting until tiny whirling streams of light twinkled, blazed, then gradually faded. With only the tiniest sensation of having been moved, Zen’s vision returned unimpeded. He and Clay stepped out of the bioport chamber and into the safety zone sealed behind a set of thick, metal-framed glass doors.
The hangar bay held two six-passenger shuttles neatly parked in their designated places beside four hover cycles. Other than a small work area for the ship’s engineer, the rest was open space. Caution lights flashed as the hangar bay doors slowly opened.
A rainbow swirl of colors indicated the presence of the atmospheric membrane which prevented everything in the hangar bay from being sucked out into space. As the Dukati shuttlecraft moved forward, the membrane yielded to the pressure, but rather than break, it melded itself to the small ship and clung to its every contour. The ship eased through and was brought to a halt, settling in its new berth near one of the Brizo’s shuttlecraft.
When the hangar bay doors were again secure, the safety zone doors automatically opened and Zen and Clay headed toward the shuttle. A chime informed them of an incoming transport. Both men paused and looked back as the bioport’s interior doors slid open. A tall man and a slim woman stepped out. Without a word, Clay handed each of them a holstered scorch pistol.
“Dukati shuttlecraft. Latest design too. We salvaging this baby?” Meral Jackson, ship’s engineer, asked as she belted on her weapon. Her hazel eyes twinkled with good-natured avarice. “I’d love to get my hands on her.”
“Why does something so innocuous sound so lewd coming out of your mouth?” Doc’s thin lips were pinched in a grimace as one eyebrow rose.
Jackson grinned. “Can I help it if I admire a shapely hull?”
“Shouldn’t you concentrate on getting the hatch open? Serk’s last report gives the passenger approximately seventeen minutes before the oxygen runs out.”
“Seventeen minutes? Piece of cake. I’ll have it open in less than two.”
Doc’s snort of disbelief brought a speculative gleam to Jackson’s eyes. “Wanna bet?”
“Bet what?”
“Five greens at the next poker game.”
“A hundred and twenty-five credits?”
“You in or out?”
Doc aimed a squinty-eyed scowl at Jackson. “In.”
“Time me.” Jackson turned her attention to the shuttle and dug into her tool pouch, which was perpetually attached to her by a cross-body strap.
Directing a look of sympathy toward the ship’s main medical practitioner, Zen shook his head. “I’m pretty sure you’ve been suckered, Doc.”
“We’ll see.”
As Zen watched, Jackson found whatever she’d been looking for and set to work. Muscles flexed under the smooth tanned skin of her bare arms as she punched a series of keys on the flat, rectangular unit she held in her hand. A slight turn of her head brought her profile into relief and set a few glimmers of light chasing through the strands of her blonde pixie-cut.
Having learned at her father’s knee from the time she was old enough to pick up a sonic wrench, Jackson knew her way around a multitude of ship types and systems. Zen had little doubt the shuttlecraft door would give her any trouble.
From the small unit she held in her hand, a continual series of chirps issued as a cycle of colored light beams played over the closed shuttle hatch. As the seconds passed, one by one each beam turned green.
“Twenty seconds,” Doc warned.
“No worries. It’s… done!” Jackson’s announcement was triumphant as the hatch slowly lifted. Stepping back, she made way as the steps began to lower.
“Damn,” Doc cursed softly. “Don’t you have anything better to do than practice breaking and entering?”
“For your information, nothing broke and no, I don’t. As ship’s engineer I see to it the Brizo performs like a Xanasian courtesan being paid double. Smooth and compliant.”
“You’d know.”
“A girl’s gotta have her fun.” Jackson’s unabashed wink brought a quick grin to Zen’s lips and snort of amusement from Clay.
All four of them quickly sobered as the now fully opened hatch ceased all movement. Zen motioned Jackson and Doc back. Weapons drawn, he and Clay approached the yawning hatch. Touching the small, round and flat metal disc attached to his collar, Zen voiced a soft question. “Serk, any change in the scans?”
“None, Captain. All readings remain within normal parameters. The passenger hasn’t moved. Nothing on long range scanners.”
The shuttle’s inner lights were dim, the interior shadowed, with no sign of the passenger. About to take a step forward, a quick negative motion from Clay stopped Zen in his tracks. Zen gave way and allowed his security officer to precede him. Clay went aft where the last scan placed the shuttle’s passenger. As soon as Clay stepped within the murky interior of the shuttle, Zen lost sight of him.
His own foray into the ship was accomplished without incident and he turned to the fore and the ship’s controls. Each space along the way was examined, between and under seats in case something had remained undetected. Every unoccupied space was clear and the shuttle quiet as a tomb.
Reaching the ship’s control’s Zen gave them a quick once over. Except for the blinking lights indicating the failing life support system, everything else seemed in order.
Zen touched his communications disc. “You find our guest?”
“Yeah. Can you bring up the lights? We need Doc in here on the double and he’s gonna need ‘em.”
“Right away.”
Zen called Doc and Jackson in and adjusted the lighting while waiting for Jackson to join him at the controls. “Do a thorough exam on all systems, Jacks,” Zen ordered when she appeared. “Make sure this thing can’t be traced. Something doesn’t seem right here. Why would the life support fail? This shuttle’s so new the paint’s barely dried.”
“I’m on it, Zen.” Jackson seated herself at the controls and began running ship diagnostics.
Leaving Jackson to her work, Zen made his way back to Clay and Doc. The closer he came, the more pungent the scent. The coppery tang assaulting his heightened sense of smell weighed heavy on the still air. Doc was squatting near a body, his med scanner beeping and flashing in a way Zen could tell bode ill. Side-stepping Clay, Zen was able to take in the full picture. He drew in a sharp breath. What once had been a vision was now covered in blood and lay still as death on the deck.
The shuttle’s passenger was male. In contrast to the obsidian darkness of his softly curling hair, his skin was bone white. Sweat dampened bangs adhered to forehead and stuck there. His full lips were slightly parted and his finely chiseled, androgynous features were slack. His almost too-delicate-to-be-male appearance was emphasized by his current condition.
He wore a pair of near-diaphanous pants that hugged his body from the waist down like a second skin. Other than a pair of wide, embossed silver bracelets that encircled his wrists, his upper body was nude. The man lay on his stomach, his back clearly visible, the damage done to it horrendous. Thin strips of skin had been peeled away leaving raw open wounds that had bled profusely before clotting. Rusty spatters of blood had soaked into his pants, as well as the matted curls that touched the back of his neck.
Shock, fury and the raw reminder of a familial tragedy pummeled Zen in equal measure at the sight of such torture being visited on someone who appeared to be little more than a helpless captive. His hatred of the Dukati — something that was branded into his very soul — twisted within him.
“Son of a Bactrian bitch.” Zen cursed not only the savage act so blatantly displayed on the young man’s back, but also at the reminder of what that selfsame act had cost him. “They used a fucking flayer on him. Doc?”
“He’s hanging on, but we need to get him to the med bay now. Not that I think he’d wake up, but just in case I’ve attached a nerve blocker, so let’s hurry. I can’t leave it in place very long without causing nerve damage, but it’s that or nothing.” Doc indicated the flat, square metal chip now sealed to a patch of uninjured skin on the man’s shoulder. “I can’t administer any drugs until I get this mess cleaned up and have a better idea of what I’m dealing with. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, be damn careful how you handle him. If you can avoid it, don’t touch his back.”
“We need a stretcher,” Clay said.
“No time. Grab a blanket from the supply locker. We’ll slide him on it and carry him to the bioporter,” Zen answered. He touched his communications disc. “Serk, send Kyle to med bay and have him transport down here on the double with a gurney, then resume course and get us the hell out of here. The Dukati may come looking for their missing shuttle.”
“Right away, Captain.”
When Clay returned with the blanket, Zen helped him lay it out and as carefully as possible the two of them maneuvered the injured man onto it. With each of them grabbing two corners of their makeshift stretcher, they shuffled out of the shuttle in time to hear the bioporter’s alert chime sound. The door slid open.
Zen noted with approval Kyle’s prompt arrival and the way he hurried to meet them. Kyle helped Doc settle their patient on the gurney and took charge of wheeling him back into the bioporter.
“You two wait here,” Doc ordered as he followed Kyle and the gurney into the bioport chamber. “I’m taking him up lift mode. The last thing he needs right now is to have his innards scrambled.”
Taking a last glance at the injured young man’s pale, still face, Zen stepped back. “All right, Doc. Go.”
* * *
An hour later Zen was seated at the conference table in an area just off the bridge that served as everything from meeting room to casino when the weekly poker game was in session. He listened attentively as Jackson filled him in on the shuttle situation.
“It had the expected tracking beacon that could be activated by any Dukati vessel looking for it,” Jacks said, “but there was also a backup designed to kick in and send out an immediate signal if the regular beacon was tampered with. Both are now disabled. We don’t have to worry about the Dukati on our tail with absolute proof we’ve got their shuttle. Not to mention that poor kid in the med bay. How’s he doin’?”
“Doc’s got him stabilized,” Zen answered. “He’s still working on him.”
“You okay?”
Zen’s eyes met Jack’s and noted the concern in hers. “I’m fine. Why do you –”
“You know perfectly well why I’m asking. Don’t be an ass, Zen.”
“I may be the captain of this ship, but I have just as much right to be an ass as anyone else on board.” Zen tried a smile, but gave it up under the pressure of Jack’s unwavering stare. He sobered and sighed. “It stirred the bad memories, but like I said, I’m fine. Thanks for asking. Now what else did you find? I can see there’s something you’re just dying to tell me. Spill it.”
“It’s the reason the life support failed. There was a clever little bug inserted into the ship’s system. It initiated the failure and began to erase itself at the same rate the life support degraded. Once the life support died, all traces of the bug would disappear. Damn clever piece of programming. Anyone finding the shuttle after total life support failure would never be able to figure out what went wrong.”
“They’d put it down to some sort of pilot error.”
“So someone tortures our passenger not quite enough to have him die outright, throws him in a rigged shuttle and sets him loose where life support failure would finish the job. Why would they do that?”
“Maybe they didn’t dare kill him outright. They wanted to make it look like he escaped, but needed to make sure he didn’t survive. If I had to guess, I’d say he was under someone’s protection and that person got careless. You know it’s said the Dukati sometimes make pets of some of their captives.”
Zen nodded. Those stories had already given him hope and nightmares in equal measure. The very idea that his little brother and sister might yet be alive, but under those conditions, rattled him to the core. A thousand times it came to mind that they’d be better off dead. Yet Zen couldn’t bring himself to wish it, and each time he wondered if it was selfishness for wanting them to be alive or cowardice for being afraid to let them go.
He pushed those thoughts away. “Rumor has it only high level Dukati are allowed the privilege of claiming pets. Whoever did this wanted to be able to say he didn’t die by their hand, but rather by the shuttle’s malfunctioning life support. Of course we won’t know for certain until we can talk to our unexpected passenger, holies heal him.”
“Actually, that’s my job, and getting answers out of him won’t be happening for a while,” Doc said as he entered the room and took a seat. “I have an update on my patient.”
Zen acknowledged Doc with a nod then returned his attention to Jackson. “We need to dispose of that shuttle in a way it can’t be traced to us. Any ideas?”
Jack’s smile was beatific. “I know a guy who’ll make her disappear like she never existed. No questions asked, and the parts’ll be scattered to half a dozen systems before we hit Ilsan for our cargo drop.”
“The drop off won’t take us off course?”
“Nope. He runs a mobile shop, if you get my drift.”
“Make it happen. I’ll leave the financial negotiations up to you. Equal shares for everyone, including our passenger.”
“Yes!” Jacks bounced up out of her chair and practically skipped out of the room.
“You’ve made her day. There were stacks of credits dancing in her eyes.”
Zen chuckled. “What have you got for me?”
“He’s stable. His physiology is similar enough to ours that he can accept transfusions with no problem. I’m pushing fluids and antibiotics. He’s developed a fever, but that’s not unexpected. The injuries to his back… they’ll heal. Sluget gel will alleviate most of the scarring, but not all if it. Some of the wounds were pretty deep. Whoever did this is a vicious son of a bitch.”
“Agreed. Anything else?”
Doc’s expression confirmed what Zen had already assumed. “Previous scarring on his back and buttocks. Not recent and very thin stripes. Not from a flayer. Some sort of switch if I had to guess. There’s been sexual abuse. Again, some older scarring. I’ve taken steps to minimize all damage, recent and old, as much as possible. His body will be fine. No lack of feeling or hindrance of function. As to his emotional and mental state, I can’t speak. He hasn’t woken at all.”
Zen nodded. “All right, Doc. Keep me informed.”
With Doc’s departure Zen was left with his thoughts. He found them bouncing between his missing siblings and the young man now recovering in med bay.

Posted in Blog

Some (Whale) food for thought.

Dear Readers and Fans:

In honor of our orcha and whale friends, please check out the following:

Killer Whale Attack ( Documentary ) *
Who would win in a battle between the orca, the largest of the dolphin family, and a Great White shark. And, more importantly, why would that animal win?

*I’ve posted only the title on my website because it’s illegal to have a link to a video without the express permission of that video’s creator. I don’t have that permission. Yet.


Posted in Blog

Orca Week Post 1

Dear Readers and Fans:

It is Orca week. Thus, I will be posting blurbs regarding videos, books and other media related to these awesome whales! Enjoy!

Post 1: GoPro: Orca Rescue in 4K *

This is a video about orcas that includes exciting, little-known facts, like the idea that orcas are first formed with legs that they absorb back into their bodies. It also includes an amazing orca rescue. Starring: Dr. Ingrid N. Visser.

* The reason I’m giving only the title is because it’s illegal to post a link without permission and I haven’t been able to reach Dr. Visser.

More cool posts to come!



Posted in Blog

A Blog Post to Incite Your Interest

Dear Readers and Fans:

Please consider the following information. I hope you will want to learn more…

Morphed: Before They Were Bears
This exciting delve into the Paleolithic history of the world’s bears filled me with love for one of the most misunderstood animals in the world.

*Why I’m posting only the title: I don’t have legal permission to post the link. Check out the title on YouTube.

Check out Ziff Edu, the creator of these MORPHED videos and many other fascinating snippets about human history.


Posted in Blog

A New Post.

Hello Dear Readers:

Please check out this new blog post. An interesting anthropological perspective on bears, which is informative and makes you think.

Morphed: Before They Were Bears
This exciting delve into the Paleolithic history of the world’s bears filled me with love for one of the most misunderstood animals in the world.

*Why I’m posting only the title: I don’t have legal permission to post the link. Check out the title on YouTube.

Check out Ziff Edu, the creator of these MORPHED videos and many other fascinating snippets about human and animal history.


Posted in Blog, Books

Salva Me, and How to Write Gay Regency Vampires

Dear Readers:

Come visit with Autumn Montague and her Regency, living vampires.

Salva Me

Autumn Montange says: Yes, I will give away a book to anyone who leaves a comment.


Blood Sworn: Salva Me blurb:


England, 1816. A nosferatu, a rogue vampire, hunts unchecked through Sussex. Jeremy Takeshi Colbourne is honor-bound by ancestral duty to find and destroy such madmen. Foremost among the vampires of England, he must find a way to ensure the safety of the English citizens and the Nosferii that live among them. Then Jeremy and his blood-host Morgan Holland discover a brutally savaged girl. With this latest victim of the nosferatu, Jeremy realizes the time has come to make Morgan aware of the Colbourne responsibilities. But the situation could not have come at a worse time.

For years, Morgan has served as Jeremy’s blood-host. Though Morgan adheres faithfully to his Contracted terms, he refuses to surrender to the sexual seduction that completes each feeding. He yields neither his body nor his heart, though Jeremy yearns for both. As nosferatu’s atrocities grow, Jeremy must ask everything of Morgan to gain the strength needed to fight the ravening monster. Will Morgan relent and give up body and heart to help Jeremy defeat their enemy, or will the battle destroy them?


What does “salva me” mean?

“Salva me” is Latin for “save me” or “rescue me”.


What inspired you to write a story about living vampires?

Well, I’ve always been in love with the idea of vampires. They’re just cool. And thanks to Hollywood, they’ve become really sexy. There are vampires or vampire-type myths in almost every culture, though they don’t always look like the ones we’ve become used to. When I started thinking about writing my own vampires, I wondered what if…vampires were actually a type of human, like vampire bats are a type of bat? There are plenty of species that live on blood, so why not humans? And I went from there. Besides, sexy undead vampires, even glittering ones, have kind of been done to death. Pun intended, haha.


What’s the science behind your living vampires? And tell us about the minore too!

Umm, how much science should I give? I went pretty deep here, relying on some tricky biology (that I might not have gotten right – I’m not a viral biologist). But in a nutshell, I built on the idea of compressed evolution over something like 20,000 years, centered on an isolated population almost decimated by a hemorrhagic fever. The survivors passed on multiple dominant genetic mutations that created the ultimate ‘vampire’ human. I tried to apply biology to the typical vampire tropes, giving them a bit o a twist. My vampires are not immortal; they do live longer than normal humans, around 5 to 6 centuries, but they do age, and they do die. Their extended life span comes from a faster cellular regeneration from a more efficient caloric process. They have greater strength than normal humans, which comes from enhanced blood flow and higher oxygenation across their muscle fibers. I kept the sexual attraction (hey, it’s erotic romance!), using the idea of enhanced sexual pheromones for safety – hey, if your prey lusts after you, there’s less chance for injury, right? Instead of fixed, longer than normal canine teeth, my vampires have retractable fangs like a snake for an in and out strike and no broken teeth (fangs don’t grow back.) To prevent the blood host from feeling pain, they have developed an anesthetic saliva. To keep the host from bleeding to death, they have evolved clotting agents – gotta keep your food source alive to breed successive generations, and civilized nosfera no longer consider their blood hosts as mere food sources. And finally, for self-defense, they have developed venom – actually, a really nasty, highly toxic bacterial goo (think Komodo dragon spit on super steroids) brewed up in a pouch like a second stomach.

The minore are basically minor vampires (nosfera minore). They are normal humans who have been turned after being bitten by a rogue vampire, or nosferatu, and only done to save a life. Unlike the traditional vampire stories, where the newly turned vampire has all the skills and physical attributes of a full vampire, a minore is essentially a normal human who has been infected by the mutated virus. It takes decades before they grow fangs or develop the specialized saliva. They never develop the venom, and while their lives are extended, its only to about half that of a full nosfera.


Why did you decide to write a Regency, gay, living vampire, erotic romance?

t started as a joke. Don’t you remember, Emily? My alter ego writes straight Regency, and we had been joking about me taking a walk on the wild side. I think that was about when Twilight first hit the shelves. And I said, “Maybe I should write a gay Regency vampire romance!” and you said “Go for it!” So it’s all your fault.


On a serious note, though, I decided to try my hand at gay romance after helping plot a number of gay romances, and reading countless yaoi manga. But when I actually started, I felt it would be best to stick to something comfortable. That meant Regency, at least for the time being. Stepping out of my comfort zone was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was worth it. The vampire stuff, though, was strictly a rebellion against the time-worn vampire of yore. I wanted something different, so since I couldn’t find it, I wrote it.


Where did you do your research for the Latin and Japanese phrases found in Blood Sworn: Salva Me?

Google Translate (not always the best source when used alone), which I cross-referenced with several other sites. At the moment, I’m enhancing my Japanese with Rosetta Stone.


Many authors have a story behind their pen name. Do you? If so, tell us!

My pen name is an anglicized version of a Japanese name I chose, Akiko Aoyama, which means Autumn’s Child of the Blue Mountain. Essentially, it means I came to enjoy reading and writing gay romance in the autumn of my life. And no, I won’t tell you how old I am. That’s for your readers to guess!


What advice would you give to people who want to write fantasy?

The sky is the limit, because you make the rules. YOU are God for your mini-verse. But you must remember to keep your rules consistent. Just because you’re God, doesn’t mean you can break your own rules with impunity. Your readers will know, and hold you accountable.


What advice would you give to people who want to write gay romance?

Don’t be afraid! My biggest fear was writing male characters that were women disguised as men. To avoid it, I read gay romance written by men and women, researched the differences in behavior by reading a variety of social media, and generally wrote flat characters that didn’t interact until I threw caution to the wind and just wrote. The characters came alive after that. Hopefully I didn’t miss my mark!


Excerpt from Blood Sworn: Salva Me:

Blood. Sweet, sweet blood thickened with terror. The girl in his arms fought with weakening desperation, her life rushing away through the crimson tide pulsing from her with each frantic beat of her heart. Intoxicating copper heat coursed across his lips, suffusing him with its nourishing power.

Her moans grew fainter as his poison saturated her body. The exquisite torture of emptying his venom flooded his muscles with godlike power, and he tightened his hold, crushing her fragile, merely human form against him. Her gasp of pain drove a spike of lusty pleasure through him. He released her neck to watch her blood flood across her shoulders to stain her flimsy gown.

A waste perhaps, but he could find another. The silent, horrified plea in her dulling eyes spurred his lust, and he ripped the sodden dress open to bare her cotton stays. A hand batted feebly, a near-unconscious impulse to protect her vanished modesty.

Little whore. She’d no need for modesty with him. He had no interest in her person, not yet. Not until she was at the brink. Then he’d spread her legs and revel in her death throes.

Yes. Yes, that peak of ecstasy neared, her glazed eyes beginning to fade. She drew a hitching breath, and he dropped her limp body to the mud, reaching for the fastenings to his breeches.

The clatter of hooves and creak of heavy wheels broke his concentration, his anticipated pleasure vanishing.

Damn! With a frantic bound, he hurled himself into the velvet black shadow of the alley behind him. Frustrated desire boiled through him as he watched the carriage lurch to a halt. A murderous rage rose, urging him to attack the interlopers. He attempted to quash it, but the slavering beast of his hunger did not want to be assuaged. The girl was his rightful prey, and he would be damned if he would allow mere humans to drive him off. He readied himself, prepared to lunge when the correct moment presented.

The tiniest of breezes stirred the air as the passengers descended from the barouche. It carried the oh-so-faint scent of the intruders, driving him back into the shadows.

“Imbecile!” The word escaped him in a hiss. He peered around, forcing his eyes to see, his ears to hear. As if a veil had been drawn back, he realized he stood almost in the heart of London. How had he followed the girl so far without recognizing his danger?

At least one of the men in the carriage knew him by sight and scent. Worse, if they were to meet, his enemy was duty-bound to kill him without hesitation. He twitched, annoyed, uncertain—wanting his prize but unwilling to face his opponent at this moment.

His hunger stilled, replaced by an urgent need to flee. Later. The time would come, but that time was not now. With a last look at the shuddering girl behind him, he forced more venom to his muscles and shivered in delight as he fled into the night.

* * * *

Morgan Holland clenched his teeth against an impious curse as the carriage lurched to an unexpected halt, knocking his skull against the lacquered wooden panel behind his head. Inertial momentum pitched his companion face forward against the opposite seat with bruising abruptness. Morgan gave the trap door over his head a savage thump with his fist, even as he reached to help the Baron of Colbourne up off the floor.

“Blast it all, I’m fine, Holland,” Colbourne barked.

Morgan smothered a grin at his master’s temper over his bruised dignity. He gestured at the gaping tear across the knee of Colbourne’s superfine trousers. “Perhaps we should return home for a change of clothes before we continue to White’s.”

Colbourne scowled. “Damn. Weston just delivered these this week. I’ll have to commission a new pair.”

“As you say, my lord.” Amusement warred with Morgan’s ringing head as he fought to keep a smirk off his face. Colbourne’s penchant for fine clothes had been a constant source of humor between them.

“Don’t be smug, Holland. Just because you managed to maintain your seat is no reason for a swelled head.”

The dour tone proved too much, and a highly inappropriate snort evaded Morgan’s control. Jeremy Takeshi Yamakawa Colbourne, Fifth Baron of Colbourne, took great pains to appear neat and elegant for any evening revelry. Since his Japanese ancestry drew the derision of his peers, he always maintained a flawless nobleman’s appearance. Morgan felt privileged to be among those few who could jest about the habit without giving offense. Moreover, the unique circumstances of Morgan’s employment had built a bond between them, a bond closer to friendship than master and servant.

A sharp rap at the window halted Colbourne’s next salvo even as he drew breath for the words, undoubtedly to cast unmeant aspersions on Morgan’s ancestry. The words died at the sound of their driver’s frantic rap on the door.

It seemed the difficulty interrupting them was more than a mere rut in the road.

“This needs your attention, my lord,” Toby quavered, fear plain in his voice.

Morgan felt a chill worm its way down his spine, a chill having nothing to do with the damp air outside the carriage door. Colbourne’s handsome face tightened, his grave expression igniting an answering spark of alarm in Morgan. He followed his master into the dank night, and nearly choked.

“Plague of the ages!” Colbourne’s biting exclamation did not quite carry the weight of a bellow, but it might as well have been a shout.

The night air carried a familiar coppery tang, laced with the faint odor of bile. Morgan knew the smell, of tainted blood and death. When he’d first met Colbourne, the man had been covered in the same bloody aroma. Morgan could not see this poor soul, not yet, but the smell left no doubt.

Nosferatu.” He’d never encountered one, only read in books what they were, what they did. Read, and seen what had happened to his master, the Baron of Colbourne, one of the preeminent nosferii nobles in England. Or anywhere else. The last nosferatu to hunt here had almost cost the country its most needed protector.

Colbourne cast a keen glance his way but said nothing, just stepped around the corner of the carriage for a look at what had bollixed their plans for the evening. Morgan followed, suppressing the urge to gag at the foulness of the air. He tried to keep his strides casual, as though he were walking into yet another evening entertainment, not around the carriage corner for a look at a shredded human being.

Colbourne quirked an eyebrow at Morgan’s calm facade. “No one would think twelve years ago you were a mere tenant farmer, untutored in such things.”

“Even a farmer faces death, my lord.” A true enough statement. After all, Morgan had tended to enough carrion when he was younger: dead livestock, headless chickens after foxes raided the coops. Yet none of his experience prepared him for the putrid aroma hovering over the slumped form in the road. The rank odor was fouler than the oldest carcass he’d ever cleared from his fields. With reluctance, he turned his full attention on the unfortunate victim.

“God!” The exclamation burst from him at the appalling sight that met his eyes.

The brown dirt of the road had turned to mud, glistening with the darkness of spilled blood. A young woman lay trembling in that crimson sludge, her neck savaged and raw. The gaping wounds reeked from the pungent slime coating them.

“Well, she lives, Morgan.” Colbourne sighed, as though the fact was unworthy of celebration. “At least for the present.”

“For the present? Is there nothing to be done?” Morgan could not tear his eyes from the girl. She couldn’t have seen more than sixteen, eighteen years at best.

“From the smell of things, the abomination emptied his venom into her.” Colbourne knelt in the mud, oblivious now to his appearance. “See?” He pointed to the ragged edges of the wounds on the girl’s neck. “There are multiple bites here, some more recent than others.” He laid a gentle, gloved finger near the deepest one. “This bite is hours old, and she is nearly exsanguinated. I am amazed she can still draw breath.”

“Is it too late for a turning?”

That caught Colbourne’s attention. His master stood, searching Morgan’s face for something. Then he sighed, perhaps finding no answer to what he sought.

“It is far too late. At this point, all we can do is ease her passing by treating the wound and dosing her liberally with laudanum. I doubt she’ll notice, but it should be done nonetheless.” He gave Morgan another cryptic glance. “I suppose it’s time to introduce you to the real meaning behind the existence of the Colbourne title. I’ll call you to my study after I have fed. In the meantime, you might want to do some research into turnings. The library has plenty of material for your reading.”

Research? Morgan felt the faintest flush of embarrassment warm his neck. It seemed he’d touched on a sensitive topic. He turned to the coachman. “Toby, get the lap blanket.” He considered for a moment. “And your long coat.” Between the blood, the sodden clothing, and the general mess, two layers should provide both warmth for the young woman and protection for the carriage.

Toby returned, and Morgan watched as Colbourne bundled the girl tightly in the coat, wrapping her head to toe in the blanket. When he lifted the fragile burden, Morgan attempted to assist him, only to receive a flat denial.

“This slime will eat through your hide,” Colbourne reminded. “Don’t forget your teachings, Holland.”

Morgan stepped back, feeling the Compulsion his master laid behind the words. He suppressed a sigh. When Colbourne used such a trick, it usually meant unpleasant instruction ahead.

They rode home at a rapid clip, carriage swaying on its springs at Toby’s urgent pace. Morgan could see the lax bundle in his master’s lap out of the corner of his eye, though he did his utmost not to stare. He focused instead on the adorning crest of the panel immediately behind Colbourne’s head, little good though it did him. Every time he relaxed his control, his eyes flew inexorably to the doomed girl. At some point, he glanced down again and discovered her hitching breaths had ceased.

Colbourne’s dark eyes were shuttered. Even in the dimness of their carriage, distress showed in the line between his brows and the bunched muscles of his jaw. Morgan reached across the gap separating them, called to soothe his master’s pain. Dark lashes lifted, revealing Colbourne’s grief at his failure.

Tonight’s enjoyments were meant to be a prelude in advance of Colbourne’s Contracted feeding; a bit of casual camaraderie to make amends for the awkward strain that had recently come between them. With this appalling discovery, the emotional toll on them both could hinder the process. Worse still, it might encourage Colbourne to postpone the feeding.

A tinge of red outlined those dark eyes. “Don’t worry, Holland. I’ll have myself under control by the appointed time.”

“I am certain you will, my lord,” Morgan answered, keeping his voice level. “I worry more for my control than for yours.”

A wistful smile touched Colbourne’s lips. “Your iron will? It will never waver, regardless of my desires.” The smile vanished. “Nonetheless, we will bury this poor child before we begin, Holland. I owe her that much, at least.”

Posted in Blog, Books, Interviews

Tell Me I’m Home: first conversation with a potential fan!

Dear Readers,

For your amusement, this is a post I made on FB and the resulting conversation.


Putting this up where some gay men (or those who like to read about gay men) might see it. “Like” this post and have a chance to win a box of dark chocolate sea salt caramels.

December 21
The officers’ wives had invited him for tea. Not for a rousing game of basketball, tennis, or even chess. For tea. What was he supposed to do in a parlor, surrounded by delicate cups, tinkling laughter, and doilies?
Xander shuddered. “Doilies, John. You can’t be sending me into a battlefield that includes doilies.”
His husband of two weeks smirked at him from where he stood in front of the dresser. BDUs on halfway, John Tsoukatos masqueraded as a partial god, partial GI Joe standee. “I thought being part of the military community sounded like ‘all sorts of fun.’ Isn’t that what you said when you agreed to take up with me?”
Xander cast through his shirts, seeking one that wouldn’t look too “out there” according to the assumed military standards. Assumed by me, but confirmed by everything I’ve ever heard about the military. “I don’t regret making our relationship official”—never in life would he regret it—“but I didn’t realize all the required frills that would come with saying ‘I do.’”
“The officers’ wives aren’t harpies,” John said. Fully decked out in his everyday uniform at last, he sat down on the end of their bed to tie his boots. “They’re women. Good women, for the most part. Major Cassock’s wife is a gem. And the others will fall right in line today because this meeting’s organized by the Colonel’s wife, Nora, and she’s a piece.”
“A piece of what?” Xander asked, pulling his head out of the closet.
“A peach.” John smiled. “Relax, Xander. You’ll love them.” He grinned. “And look at it this way: with your long hair, you’ll fit right in. Keiko Armstrong’s hair isn’t even as long as yours, and she’s the queen of understated fashion.”
Xander didn’t respond. John was trying to be helpful, but beyond that Xander heard the familiar note of “I’m being patient in spite of your madness” tone creeping into his husband’s voice. Any further questions and John might snap.
Not that John’s testiness was bad on a day-to-day basis. It normally led to some pretty hot make-up sex. Or some plain old “rough for the sake of being rough” lovemaking that left Xander craving full-out BDSM.
Either floated Xander’s boat just fine.
John stood. “You can come home whenever you want.” He crossed to Xander, turned him gently, and kissed him. “Try? For me?” He laughed. “Besides, after six years of our long-distance loving and you moving whenever I thought I’d be staying in one place for more than six months, meeting a few women—and seeing their doilies—can’t be that bad.”
Xander nodded. “I know.” He swept his hair behind his right ear so it wouldn’t get in the way and resumed their kiss. Mmm. John tasted of coffee and something fruity. “What did you eat this morning?”
“Toast. With homemade raspberry jam.”
The jam Xander had made before their wedding.
John’s next words squashed the warm feeling in Xander’s chest. “I’ll eat a real breakfast at the chow hall.”
With all your buddies I haven’t gotten to meet yet. Xander shoved that thought to the back of his mind. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell had been repealed for less than a year. He and John had been married for barely two weeks. There simply hadn’t been time for more than John going to work and Xander staying in the house they didn’t own, longing to paint the walls and redesign the landscaping in the front yard but knowing he wasn’t allowed to make any significant changes. Bases on the East Coast might be more accepting as a rule, but conformity was still strongly encouraged.
“You taste good,” Xander said, drawing on the raspberry-jam comment. He closed the distance again, grinning when he found John smiling into the lip-lock. “Yes?” he asked, pulling away half an inch.
John’s milk-chocolate eyes sparkled with humor. “I love you. Don’t worry so much.” He stepped back. “If the officers’ wives don’t love you, they’re crazy. I bet they’ll start a contest to see who can French braid your hair the most elegantly.”
“Oh God. Not that.” Xander grinned. “I’d better get going. They wanted everyone to bring a dish to pass for brunch, and I haven’t even started my famous sausage-and-peppers casserole.” Why had he been worrying about what shirt to wear in the first place? He should cook in an apron but without a shirt. As much as he enjoyed being in the kitchen, his fastidious nature wouldn’t allow for oil stains on his clothes. “Go on. You don’t want to be late. The chief will make you give him fifty.”
“That’s drop and give him fifty. Chief Ringgold’s not the BJ type .”
“Lucky for me. And ‘drop and give him fifty’ sounds wrong in the right context.”
“You’re only thinking that because your ‘erotica on the moon’ is due in three weeks and you just finished the outline.”
Xander blushed. “It’s only a short story. I’ll be done in plenty of time for the deadline.”
John pinched Xander’s cheek. “Don’t spend too much time trying to impress the ladies. You’re handsome just the way you are.”
“So are you, GI John.” Bare-chested and wishing he could drag his husband back to bed, Xander nevertheless shoved John toward the door. “Get going. Whether it’s push-ups the traditional way or the new, more creative variety, I don’t want you having to do more than necessary. Unless you’re practicing them on me, of course.”

Tell Me I’m Home: Blue Ticket and Adeste Fideles comes out from Loose Id on December 17.

Elizabeth   I’m not a gay man but can I like it just for candy?

Emily Carrington I suppose, Elizabeth  , but you might like the story too. (Assuming you’re not opposed to two stories where hot men get it on over the Christmas holidays.

Emily Carrington Thanks, Nicholas Rivituso!

Elizabeth   I have never read such a thing, but I like men and I like hot men, so. My husband might question my motives, but if I just tell him I’m secretly a gay man and married him for his hot bod, he will leave me alone. XD

Emily Carrington I have two gay friends, a couple, and they read my first book, Dragon Food, for two different reasons. Jeff read it for literary value. Allen read it for the sex. Considering they went at it after reading, I can only assume it’s…inspiring.

Elizabeth   So 50 Shades of Grey for gay people. I can dig it. XDDDD

Emily Carrington Ummmm. Fifty Shades with a plot. Where the sex is secondary to the story.

Elizabeth   (I didn’t read FSOG)

Elizabeth   In fact, I haven’t read anything not a textbook in a very long, long time.

Emily Carrington I tried. It was full of bad grammar and cardboard characters. Drove me up a wall.

Elizabeth   So Twilight but with S&M?

Elizabeth   and Sans Glitter?

Emily Carrington Tell Me I’m Home will be good for you then. Each story is about twenty pages.

Emily Carrington Yes! No glitter. Although Xander (from Adeste Fideles, the second story in the book) is prone to long, flowing dresses.

Emily Carrington Do you mind if I post this conversation on my website? It makes me smile. I can black out your name if you want.

Elizabeth   I like dresses. I approve.

Elizabeth   Nope, not at all. If you could black out my last name, I’d appreciate it. <_< My MIL is one of the top rottweiler breeders in the country and I’ve found that the rest of us are easy to track down through her (creepilyyyyyy).

Emily Carrington Oooo! Puppies!

Emily Carrington (My guide dog is a Labrador.)

Elizabeth   Yeah our last name…isn’t…really…common?

Emily Carrington Makes sense. I’m lucky I’m using a pen name. Of course, Pepper and Nick know who I am. I started writing shortly after meeting Pepper.

Emily Carrington There are more of us than people think. You can find my stuff on Amazon too.

Emily Carrington I need to go to bed now. Erotic romance novelists turn in early. (Or something like that…) Peace, Elizabeth!

Peace all, and good night!


Posted in Blog

Old Romance Standards (Are Still the Best)

Dear Readers,

While working on my most recent book, a combination Christmas and “don’t ask, don’t tell” series of stories, I took a break and rediscovered a blues/ballad singing style that’s always intrigued me. The lyrics in this particular version are either disturbing or funny, depending on how well you know the Batman universe. I enjoyed them.

But this link started me thinking. How many “standard” romance songs or stories do we take for granted today? Just a question to tickle your brain.