Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Memphis - coming soon!

November 12, 2019

It's a writer's prerogative to change her mind. Right? Of course, it is. Is it also a writer's prerogative to flip-flop on the title of the work-in-progress? I'd have to say yes since I just did it. 

July Heat is now "Memphis." If the truth be told, it was Memphis first and then I second-guessed myself and made it July Heat. 

And this, dear readers, is why it has taken me forever to wrap up the story. I knew in my heart it had the wrong title and there was only one way to fix it. Yet I hesitated. 

One is never too old or too experienced to make a course correction. 

Now I can finally say and mean it, Memphis is coming soon!


ABOUT MEMPHIS:



Jake Soames is the quintessential everyman. He survived a wild youth and grew up strong. The only thing missing from his life is that one special guy to tilt his world. A man to walk beside him without playing head games with him.

With nowhere else to go, Memphis Wheeler knocked on the door of a former cellmate and found the refuge he’d been promised. His spirit is wounded, and he needs a place to rest and recover from years of physical abuse. He worries he’ll never be able to allow another man to touch him again.

When Jake meets his buddy’s houseguest, he’s instantly drawn to the shy, retiring younger man. Memphis doesn’t say much and seems skittish around him, yet when Jake proposes they participate in a road rally, Memphis agrees to be his navigator. But there’s no timed course to traverse to reach the future Jake envisions with Memphis. It’ll take patience and understanding to help Memphis to move on from his past and say yes to more than an afternoon together. 


KC Kendricks
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Sunday, November 3, 2019

A touch of frost

November 3, 2019

Yesterday was a fine fall day. It started off chilly - it is November, after all. As I walked outside with Deuce before daybreak, I noted frost had kissed my car. It glistened in the light cast by the floods. I wondered if the frost had reached the ground and as the sun came up, I got the answer. The meadow was white. 

It's not uncommon for the meadow to show frost when our yard does not. Having so many trees makes the difference. It's never enough to save the annuals in the pots. The flowers froze and now I need to make time to pull them and store the pots for winter. 

The day also brought our Cousin's Lunch. We take time out once a quarter to get together for lunch at a restaurant. It's a nice time-out for me. I enjoy getting to talk with everyone when we're not also busy working on a project. 

"Spring forward, fall back" was the mantra. Here on the east coast, we moved the clocks back an hour. I wish they'd stop doing that. I've begun to think it's unhealthy to mess with people's internal rhythms. My brain woke me at what is now four a.m. and demanded caffeine. Is this a good thing? It's a long time until I see daylight. 

Daylight or not (not in this case) I've got a few things to do. The current work-in-progress, July Heat, is languishing. I'm not sure what is going on with me that I can't concentrate on it. I think my life has had a bit too much upheaval in the past two years and it's caught up to me. Whatever it is, I need to get over myself and get on with it. I don't want that touch of frost to linger inside me. 

KC Kendricks
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Saturday, October 26, 2019

To date or not to date... my blog

October 26, 2019

The Twitterverse is an amazing place. Well, I think it was better before Twitter decided pictures of men in varying states of undress was inappropriate. I miss the eye candy. If that makes me a dirty old lady, so be it. But I digress...

Even though it's not what it used to be, I like to check in on Twitter and see who's having fun doing what. I still occasionally drop a promo or five while I'm at it, and I check out articles other authors have found and shared. I was scrolling down and found something from Justpublishing in the feed. "Should you show dates on blogs?" To date or not to date is a valid question and the article made a good case for dating. 

Truthfully, I never really considered the question. I date 99% of my blogs. Those you find without dates are simply an oversight on my part. I forgot to put it in. Maybe all my posts are not "evergreen," but it doesn't matter to me. 

Between the Keys is more than a promotional tool for KC Kendricks. It's the record of my journey as an author and as a person. The two are entwined, inseparable. It may be the only record of my life that remains, someday. 

Beyond that, not having dates, even on "evergreen" material, seems like a cheat. I'm not ashamed that my first book, Surrendered Victory, was first released in June 2008. Why should I be? The book is still in print and just as good now as then. Heck, I won a contest with it. Why hide the facts? 

To the aspiring writer and/or blogger, don't try to hide your journey. If you go back and update a blog entry, it's easy to add something like **updated 10/26/19**  under the original date.  Content might be king, but honesty is queen. And a queen takes a king every time. 

KC Kendricks
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Sunday, October 20, 2019

Getting ready for the dark evenings of winter

October 20, 2019

Talk about being remiss... 

It's been three weeks since I had time to blog. It's both amazing and annoying that I allowed myself to get that distracted with work. The organization I work for, a.k.a. The Day Job, hosted a regional conference. This will be the last time I organize a big event like this one before I retire, and I took every advantage to "do it up right."

If you're a regular here at Between the Keys, you know this year has brought major transitions to my door. My husband's health and subsequent surgeries, the death of my stepfather, the death of my writing buddy Chris Grover, the resignation of a much-appreciated CEO, all of which precipitated my decision to drop back to a four-day workweek.  

That's all history. In the present, I find myself quite discontent with my lack of writing focus. 

I've made several attempts to get back on my writing schedule. Where I went wrong on that was telling other people my plans. (Saboteur: one who practices sabotage.) I'm grateful I didn't have a publisher's deadline to meet. It would not have happened. But I can't blame anyone for the beautiful weather we enjoyed yesterday. It was my decision to go outside and "work" the afternoon away.

Two of my three acres are wooded so there is no lack of firewood to be found. Wood is a supplemental heat source. We simply burn those trees that die, fall over, or drop big limbs during windy weather. There's no need to harvest a healthy tree unless it grows to a size to threaten the house. Utilizing this resource allows us to cut our utility bills and to keep a park-like feel to the property. It works. 

Yes, it was my decision to forego writing yet again in favor of the great outdoors. Sometimes the allure of sunshine and the spicy cool air of autumn are too seductive to ignore. The long, dark evenings will be upon me in mere days and old habits can reassert themselves. 

I look forward to it. Writing really is a sort of addiction, but one that doesn't do much harm. A few missed television shows won't hurt me. The voices are waiting on me to tell the story, and telling the story feeds my soul. I won't let them, or myself, down. I've been quietly preparing even as my hands have been busy fulfilling other obligations. 

To every thing there is a season, even to the renewal of the writer. 


KC Kendricks
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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

In sequence: 56789

October 1, 2019

I hit another milestone today, or rather my car did. My 2011 Charger, affectionally dubbed Redline, hit the milage mark of 56789. It's a once in the lifetime of an auto event. I pulled over and snapped a quick picture for posterity.

That led to a new problem. There's something weird going on with my cellphone's camera. The focus is going wonky. This is not a good thing. I like my phone. I don't want to spend several hundred dollars on a new one that in all probability I won't like nearly as much. I've had HTC phones for years and I'm not sure what's going on with that company. I'll charge up the old Kodak as long as only the camera feature of the phone is acting up. The spousal unit got a Samsung A10e and he does not like it. He had an HTC before, too. 

Speaking of the spousal unit, he did $3326.00 worth of damage to his pickup. He hit the truck with the tractor. I think he's grounded for a very looooooong time. 

And so it goes, for today.

KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks.com




Sunday, September 8, 2019

Chatting at the yard sale

September 8, 2019

Yesterday I joined a few of the cousins in having a yard sale. I didn't have a lot of items to sell, only enough for on one card table, but I set some glassware out and settled back to enjoy the day with family. I made a whopping big $35. Yea, me! We're already talking about doing it again next year. 

Better than the money was the time spent simply being in the presence of people who have shared my life. 

We held the yard sale on my uncle's carport, and we did that for a specific reason. Male cousins One and Two-ish had been tasked with getting a fresh coat of stain on the back deck. They worked while me and female cousins Three and Four-ish chatted. Then cousin Four-ish had to take Unks to a local cat rescue so he could bring home a new furry companion. It was family and it worked out splendidly. (I say cousin-ISH because they are spouses.)

There was talk about our dogs - we are a doggy family and we like it that way. (Unks is up in years so a puppy wasn't a feasible addition to his life.) We talked about cars a bit. We're all motorheads and we like it that way, too. And of course, we laughed about our times growing up together and what we wanted to do when we retired. Strangely enough, while I'm not the youngest, I'll be the last one to fully retire unless my plans change. It made me realize how successful we've all been in our lives and careers. 

And why shouldn't we be? Every one of us sitting on the carport shooting the breeze has been employed somewhere since high school. Each of us found part-time jobs when we were sixteen and we just kept going up. I'm sure it's a combination of the way we were raised and our own internal drives. Each of us blood cousins is an "only child" while our spouses are not. Did that make a difference? We pondered these things. 

It feels like I'm entering a new and exciting phase in my life. I have more time now, working a four-day week, to manage responsibilities and have hours and energy left to see more of my cousins. I can only hope I don't drive them crazy. I don't think I will. I think they're just as happy as I am that we still enjoy each other's company as much, if not more than we did fifty years ago. It just feels good.

KC Kendricks






Tuesday, August 27, 2019

I and I

August 27, 2019


A byproduct of settling my stepfather's estate on top of the spousal unit's two surgeries has yielded an unexpected bonus. I've done more reading for pleasure this year than in the last several years combined. It's tough being a writer and reading another author's work. One finds a lot of little "mistakes" one never would have noticed before. Mostly it's dropped words which means I'm in very, yes very, good company. It seems we ALL do it from time-to-time. 

Recently I read a boxed set of six stories all set in the same town. The series was patterned much like my Men of Marionville series with subsequent couples being friends or family of the original pairing. I'd name it and the author except for one thing I found difficult in the reading. The author wrote each chapter in the first-person (I'm a big fan of first-person) but she/he flipped-flopped on the point of view. I was constantly scrolling back to see who "I" was. In a six-book box set, there were twelve "I's" telling the story. 

The stories were good, though. I liked the characters, the "black moments" they overcame, and the happy endings. It was just difficult to keep the POV straight. 

Does this matter in the overall scheme of things? I'm not sure. I'm not going to ask for a refund. At a going price of $1.99, I know the author isn't getting much of a return. I'm more than willing to support her. I'll even buy more of her books. 

I suppose I'm putting this out into the universe as food for thought for any writers considering going the "I and I" route. When writing in this style, use enough proper names to keep the reader in the correct POV. Balance using he, him, or his with enough information to show us exactly who "he" is. 

Writing in the first-person isn't something I would ever discourage an author to avoid. As I said, I like first-person. I write in it about seventy-five percent of the time, especially since as KC Kendricks, my main characters are both males. 

So remember a lot of your readers are reading late at night. Some of us are at the age where we read in the middle of those sleepless nights. Do what you can to keep us from being confused. As a reader, I'll certainly appreciate it. 

As a fellow writer, it's a lesson learned. 

KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks





Saturday, August 24, 2019

Association of American Publishers sues Audible

August 24, 2019


I subscribe to a daily news brief called Publisher's Lunch. Every day I get a few industry tidbits to help stay engaged with parts of my profession. Yesterday, they emailed a "deluxe" edition with the news the Association of American Publishers has decided to sue Audible for plans to include TEXT in audiobooks. Audible is calling it "captions," but the end result is the same - they will show text. 

There's no doubt in my mind this would be a violation of MY copyright. I didn't jump on the Audible bandwagon and now I'm glad I didn't. There is enough of my intellectual property stolen every day. Why should I willingly give up more?

Taking any copyrighted material and repurposing it for the benefit of Audible or any other company - without the author's permission - is theft. According to Publisher's Lunch, it would create a derivative of the Work. I certainly agree. 

Audible's plan could potentially cut the publisher out of the business model, which would in effect cut off the author from additional royalties. For many, many, many authors, the publisher is still their financial lifeline. 

As always, it's the author who will be forced to accept and endure someone else making all the money on their hard work. 

Maybe it's not too surprising so many talented voices have gone silent. 

KC Kendricks
www.kckendricks.com

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Coffee at night

August 10, 2019

My project of the summer became clearing out my mother and late stepfather's house. Jack used to say he didn't know how I would ever manage to dispose of their worldly possessions. Knowing he had a propensity to never remove anything from his house hasn't made my job easier. It's taken months, but the end is in sight. Relatives of ours descended last evening and this morning, and large pieces of furniture were loaded onto pickups and driven away to new homes. 

It gets better. 

My sister-in-law showed up with her sister-in-law's cousin. He's looking for a house and, if the price is right, he's very interested in my mother's place. I've explained to him my Power of Attorney to handle my mother's affairs includes a fiduciary responsibility to her. I can't simply sell the house at a loss. The money from the sale will be used for her care. He understands this. I understand the house needs new shingles. I'm sure we can work a deal, especially if we don't have to pay realtor fees. My first call on Monday will be to an appraiser, something I need to do, anyway. 

Dismantling my mother's home is bittersweet. I have the memories of how happy she was living there while her memories of it are gone. Her dishes, clothes, knick-knacks - all that she loved is forgotten. But I remember. 

My mother loved swans and had quite the collection. She talked about growing up once, telling me how she never felt pretty as a girl. I have a photo of her in her wedding dress, when she was eighteen and about to marry my dad. She was beautiful. And somewhere in the course of her life, she felt an affinity to the swan, which starts life plain and matures into magnificence. Knowing this, it's very difficult to keep any of the swans. I've always thought my mom was lovely. It's painful to know she ever felt otherwise. 

Sitting in her empty house this afternoon, hoping I have a buyer, it occurred to me that very soon I may lose those rooms and another link to her. The woman who was my mother has been stolen from me. I visit the woman who remains and I miss my mother. 

Deuce and I sat outside on our little porch as evening turned to night. It's August now and the worst of the humidity is over for this year. I fixed a cup of coffee, something I almost never do in the evening, and my companion and I watched the deer creep into the front yard to graze. The few remaining lightning bugs twinkled here and there, and off in the distance, an owl asked the perennial question, "who?who?"

Who, indeed, will I be when this season is over? 

KC Kendricks













Thursday, August 1, 2019

55555

August 1, 2019

If you follow along here at Between the Keys, you know I have a sort of love affair with the numbers on the odometer. On the way home last night, Redline, my car, hit the number 55555. You know I had to pull over and take a quick picture. 

And you know I just had to share!

What's next? 56789 if I can catch it.

And yes. My car has a name. 

KC
www.kckendricks.com

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Another productive three-day

July 30, 2019

My third Monday off is history, and I'm pleasantly tired. I dropped back to a four-day workweek so I could have more time at home and do those many things I've neglected for years. My dream for all of my adult life has been to be The Lady of the Manor. 

It's not that working a full-time job has hurt me any. It's enriched my life with people and experiences. But in my soul, I belong happily ensconced on my three-acre "manor." 

There's always something to do at the manor. This weekend just past, we got quite a bit accomplished. I'm grateful the spousal unit is doing well enough to participate. He's savvy with the knowledge of how to manipulate tools to do the work and get things done without the need to use brute strength. That's a good thing. 
  • writing time
  • blogged
  • read a short story
  • a load of laundry
  • dinner on the patio
  • got the deck back on the Craftsman mower
  • cleaned up a small pile of sticks along the driveway
  • cut up and moved a fallen dead locust tree
  • burned the parts of that tree not suitable for the woodstove
  • cut down a damaged maple tree and burned parts not suitable for woodstove
  • Yellow Jacket nest removal
  • a trip to Lowe's
  • a trip through the grocery store
  • partial cleaning of the shed and trip to the landfill
  • mowed the lawn
  • watched the NASCAR race
  • installed new chair carrier on pickup
  • assembled new portable scooter

I'm sure there are a few more things that could go on the list but that's plenty. The point is I happily did or helped to do, all those things. They were the sort of things The Lady of the Manor would do to keep her small estate running smoothly. 

I should have started the three-day weekends much sooner.

KC Kendricks





Sunday, July 28, 2019

September Morning and Please Use the Door

July 28, 2019

There are ghosts, and then there are ghosts. Perhaps it's the times I grew up in, but few paranormal entities are as interesting as ghosts. 

I know, I know. Wolf shifters, the modern-day werewolf. I like 'em, too. They're a lot of fun. But a ghost is a lot more personal. Ghosts choose whom they wish to reveal themselves to. Depending on the spirit and its intent, it could be an honor. 

September Morning deals with the memory of a loved one. Michael is ever-present in JD's heart and thoughts until he meets Nate. JD has to grapple with his ghost in the form of those memories. Letting go of Micheal feels like betraying his memory. Finding love again is easier than embracing that love. 
Please Use the Door is a more straight-forward ghost story. Tanner buys his first house and guess what? It's already occupied - by its original inhabitant. Bodhi's tragic death at the house trapped his spirit there. He's friendly enough, and a bit of a voyeur. He wants to get "friendly" with Tanner, but Tanner is in love with his boss, Alex, and that relationship is just heating up. 

September Morning and Please Use the Door are the most recent of my published works that I've updated. My goal is to work my way through my entire catalog and add those things I wished I had but didn't. I'm sure every author finishes a story and somewhere down the road says, "Damn! I should have said that!" So I am. 

It's been fun revisiting the characters of JD, Nate, Tanner, Alex, and Bodhi. Two very different styles of ghost stories. As a result of recent updates, both books have a temporary price reduction at Amazon through September of 2019. I hope you'll give them a try.

KC 


PLEASE USE THE DOOR

Tanner Reddick learned the hard way a man needs his own place to call home – one that is legally his. The last guy set his belongings on the curb and Tanner vows it will never happen again. It’s time for him to be in charge. Embarking on the next phase of his life, Tanner buys a fixer-upper bungalow and gets to work. He’s looking forward to living on his own for a while. His interest in his boss, Alex Crewes, could change that.

It’s moving day and Tanner notices a few things about the house, things his friends disavow knowledge of. The porch is swept and the breakers on. Then Tanner smells a hint of Bay Rum cologne, which no one he knows uses. When unseen hands paint a few rooms in the house, he has to face the facts - he’s not really alone.


Bodhi introduces himself and welcomes the newest resident in the house he built a century ago. This one Bodhi likes, and he’s determined he and Tanner will coexist in harmony. Maybe they can even be friends. And if he’s lucky, maybe a little more – unless Tanner’s deepening relationship with Alex throws a wrench into his plans.  



Barnes & Noble: 


_*_*_

SEPTEMBER MORNING

Jagger Davis, JD to his friends, is at a crossroads in his life. He takes a summer sabbatical at picturesque Sandbridge Beach in Virginia to enjoy sun, surf, and solitude while plotting a new direction for his life. Arriving at a rented cottage, JD finds sun and surf, but the cottage next-door houses six fun-loving guys determined to include him in their summer activities. It’s quickly evident JD won’t have time to feel lonely.

Nate Fischer is one of a group of friends who spend every summer at Sandbridge. An IT specialist, Nate’s taking a few weeks off before his next assignment sends him out to sea for months. He introduces himself to the new neighbor and invites JD to the first bonfire of the season.

JD fends off advances from Nate’s roommates as the two men become close. But JD harbors a secret in his past, one he worries Nate won’t accept. When Nate’s job abruptly calls him away, JD realizes his mistake. He hasn’t given his summer lover a fair chance. Now he has to convince Nate he’ll be waiting when Nate returns - if Nate still wants him. 


KC Kendricks

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Saturday, July 20, 2019

The first week success, Kentucky 98 Proof, and Hot August Comes

July 20, 2019

This past Monday marked the beginning of my sojourn into "retirement." Having a three-day weekend every week should be helpful to me on many levels. I won't be as bored at the day job and I'll have more time to tend to things at home. It's win-win except for the reduction in income, but it's an imperfect world. I've never spent up to my income so the only impact is going to be on the amount I put into savings. It's fine. Money can be replaced, but time can't. 

And while one item on the master to-do list was accomplished last Monday, it convinced me I need a better format for the aforementioned list. Having Cousin Dave cut down a dead tree was fine, but it wasn't a priority for a hot July day. He just happened to be out and about and willing, and I'd have been stupid to turn down free help. 

Having "extra" time led back to the Grammarly project. So
far this week I've worked through Hot August Comes and Kentucky 98 Proof, and got both of the updated books uploaded. I think that's a pretty good achievement for week one. 

Working through Highway Nights, Hot August Comes, and Kentucky 98 Proof has given me an itch to really dig in and get back to work. I also went to Amazon and reduced the price on all three to $.99. This will only be for a limited time, so watch for the price change to go live and get your copies before the price goes back to the regular $1.99. That's only at Amazon and only for a couple of weeks. 

I also loaded the restored cover for Hot August Comes. Sometimes playing with Photoshop gets me into trouble, and this cover has always been a struggle to get right. Second-guessing myself didn't help. 

All-in-all, good progress for the first week of my new schedule. 

KC
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Monday, July 15, 2019

Highway Nights and balancing life

July 15, 2019

Today celebrates the first day of my new schedule. I finally bit the bullet, so to speak, and approached my employer about dropping back to a four-day work week. It seems I'm the sort who needs to ease into retirement instead of going cold turkey. 

I'm very much looking forward to picking up the writing. Cleaning out my stepfather's house and preparing it to be sold has taken a lot of time but that's winding down. The spousal unit is seven weeks past the last surgery and just yesterday resumed driving. (Maybe today I can get him on the lawnmower!) Yes, it's time to ease back into writing. 

To that end, I set a goal to run Highway Nights through an online editor. Grammarly found over four-hundred items for me to review. Four hundred. And this is after two editors at a now-defunct publisher "edited" it. 

Most of the items found had to do with comma placement. Yes, the lowly comma can bring you down, but remember that sometimes it matters and sometimes it doesn't. Case in point - "Let eat Grandpa" as opposed to "Let's eat, Grandpa." Grammarly also likes the Oxford comma and I added a few of those. Beyond the comma, the software found six or seven missed words (a, it, to, do, the), and only two misspelled words. Most annoying word - it flagged "diner" every time and suggested "dinner." So all-in-all, it wasn't too very bad an exercise. Strangely enough, it's more educational than working with a person, at least for me. 

While uploading the updated manuscript, I discovered I'd never uploaded the new cover I made back in September. Have I mentioned I've been busy with caring for family??? Anyway, the newest cover and the book are now up, and I'm moving on to the next project as soon as I take a moment to enjoy my first Monday off to watch the sun come over the mountain from the vantage point of my newly screened-in patio. It's all about balance, isn't it? 

KC



HIGHWAY NIGHTS

Contemporary gay romance/suspense

Garrett Webb has a five-point plan for starting his own business. To keep it on track, he takes a second job and settles into the evening delivery run between Owensville and Mt. Franklin. The solitude of being on the road clears his head and enables him to chart a better future for himself. When a foggy night sends him to the safety of The Downshift Diner and its owner, Oliver Sanderson, that future takes an unforeseen turn.

Oliver Sanderson enjoys a quiet life along the lonely stretch of highway that’s home to his diner. The road brings all manner of interesting souls to his door. When Garrett Webb steps out of the fog seeking shelter, his openness and honesty draw Oliver’s interest. He’s ready to take the next step but needs to be cautious. Trouble is coming to the diner, and Oliver wants Garrett clear of it.  

Good intentions can’t hold out against their budding attraction. Garrett makes the diner a regular stop during his nightly run, and the men get better acquainted. But Garrett’s past isn’t done with him. In a single heart-stopping moment, Garrett is forced to a decision that risks Oliver’s life – one that could forever end their highway nights.


EXCERPT:

Oliver grinned and stopped in front of him.

“Happy to see me?”

Garrett glanced down. “As happy as you appear to be. Can a guy get a soda to go in this joint?”

Oliver shook his head. “I’ve better at the house. Let me tell Shirl and Billy not to call me unless it’s an emergency.” He disappeared into the kitchen, and sauntered back out in less than thirty seconds. Oliver motioned at the front entrance. “Let’s go.”

Garrett turned and held the door open for Oliver. “What constitutes an emergency?”

“Someone is bleeding, choking, or keels over all the way to the floor.” He placed his hand on the small of Garrett’s back and guided him around the corner of the building.

Garrett leaned closer to the warmth of Oliver’s body. “Not fire?”

“That’s what the firemen are for. Call ‘em. Besides, I like firemen. Don’t you?”

“Sure. Big, burly men turn me on.” Garrett stroked Oliver’s well-formed bicep. Oliver laughed softly and backed Garrett against the rear wall of the diner, out of sight from the clientele and staff.

“To each, their own.”

Garrett grasped Oliver’s hips and yanked him against him. He held him there and soaked up the heat from Oliver’s body. The corner of his mouth quirked in a small smile.

“So, am I going to have to beg you to kiss me again?”

Oliver ran his thumb over Garrett’s lower lip. He swallowed, the muscles in his throat moving. “Garrett. Be sure you want this. Don’t lead me on then tell me to stop.”

“I came for this, Oliver.”

Something dark and unsettled sparked in Oliver’s eyes. “Don’t get too attached to me, either, boy.”

“I’m horny. I want to fuck you, not marry you.”

Oliver leaned in, his breath warm on Garrett’s moist lips. In the back of his mind, Garrett registered surprise at Oliver’s reticence but he’d ponder it later. He shifted forward and touched his lips to Oliver’s.

Need burst through him, a siren song in his blood that built as Oliver’s tongue licked into his in a bold stroke. The larger man pressed his body to the sun-warmed bricks, pinning him, his pelvis grinding against Garrett’s in a mock taking. Garrett thrust his tongue into the heat of Oliver’s mouth. Back and forth they tested, well matched, as the world spun behind his closed eyes. Suddenly breathless, Garrett tore his lips from Oliver’s. Oliver rested his forehead to his, breathing hard.

“You should go home, Garrett.”

“I don’t think so. Why are you afraid of me?” He ran his fingers through Oliver’s short hair.

Oliver brushed a kiss to his lips. “I’m too old for someone in his twenties, Garrett.”

“I’m going to surprise you. I’m thirty-two.” He laughed as the man’s eyebrows shot up. “Told you I was older than I look.”

Oliver’s eyes darkened. “I can’t tell you how relieved I am, but I still feel like a dirty old pervert chasing chickens.” He levered off the wall, grabbed Garrett’s hand, and pulled him along the flagstone path to the bungalow-style house.

Garrett fell into step beside him and slipped their linked hands behind Oliver’s back. There was one sure way he knew to find out Oliver’s age—give him a little dig.

“You can’t be that old. What are you? Fifty?”

“Fifty! No, smart-ass, I’m forty-four. Happy to know that?” Oliver eased his hand free as they climbed the steps to the wide veranda. He pulled keys out of his pocket and unlocked the front door. “I should spank you for that.”

Garrett stepped into the foyer and patted his butt. “A spanking might be fun sometime...”



HIGHWAY NIGHTS
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KC Kendricks
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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A Hero's Bargain by Rayne Forrest

July 9, 2019

Google calendars are a handy tool. I check mine every day when I arrive at work. It's sort of a mess but at least my messy handwriting isn't a factor. Today a notation popped up that it's the anniversary of the first publication of Hero, now known as A Hero's Bargain. 

Hero was first released in 2006 at a little publisher by the name of Silk's Vault. It wasn't a good experience. The owner vanished owing a lot of writers a lot of money, and I was one of them. After that, I pubbed it through Whiskey Creek Press. WCP was a good place for a lot of years before they sold out. And so it came to pass that in 2016, I had the rights back to the story and I self-pubbed it with a slightly updated title, A Hero's Bargain.

A Hero's Bargain tells a bit more about the story. Ryder Vaughn crash lands his space ship on a planet being terrorized by a mysterious creature. The locals can't kill it but Ryder has a weapon that will do the job. Our heroine, Saba, strikes a bargain with him - her body for destroying the creature. The only problem is that Ryder is not a killer. Luck is with him, though. He knows the creature isn't a monster but another spacefarer, such as himself. It's old and sick, and Ryder makes a bargain with it, too. In the end, Ryder gets the girl and safety for her people. 

I've always thought A Hero's Bargain is a good, solid story. Chapter Two should be Chapter One and perhaps one day I'll fix that. It was penned early in my writing career, but the plot holds up. I'm technically better now, but a good plot beats out good comma placement every time. 

I've always loved the world building in good science fiction. I've always loved the romance genre. A Hero's Bargain was a good blending of the two. I keep saying I'm going to go back to sci-fi. In truth, it is my first love and has been since I read the great Andre Norton's book, Moon of Three Rings. I doubt I'll ever write again under the name of Rayne Forrest, but Kendricks/Forrest works for me. One shouldn't stray too far from one's literary roots. 

Maybe it's time to lean in that direction. I've had my fill of real life these last few months. Creating a new world with strange and wonderful men living in it has a lot of appeal. It just might cure what ails this writer. 

KC
www.kckendricks.com/RayneForrest_AHerosBargain.html


A HERO'S BARGAIN

When a poker game turns ugly, erstwhile gambler Ryder Vaughan runs for his life. After crash landing his ship on an unknown world it looks like his life will be a short one - until the lovely healer, Saba Duer, finds him and saves him. Smitten, Saba has no qualms allowing Ryder to seduce her.

In Ryder, Saba sees the coming of a hero to save her people. The deadly errol that has terrorized the Ramalho Clan for so many years has been spotted on a course that will bring it to the village. Ryder has a weapon that could destroy the creature. She strikes a bargain with him to secure his help. Ryder’s not yet well and whole, but there is no choice. Saba has to let him go and face the truth – she’s sent him on a mission to die.
           
But Ryder has a plan - and dying isn’t a part of it.

  
EXCERPT

Saba couldn’t lose her nerve now. It was their only hope. She dried the mug and set it up on the shelf then turned back to Ryder. “We need your weapons, and your help. If you agree to use your weapons to destroy the errol, we’ll pay you.”
His eyebrows shot up. His eyes darkened.
“Pay me, will you? With what? A ship so I can get back to my life? Tell me you have one. Lie to me, Saba.”
Ryder had every right to be bitter over his circumstances. She understood, but his acerbic tone shocked her. She hadn’t considered anger. Anger could make him dangerous in ways nothing else would. Nonetheless, her mind was made up. It was her decision, be it folly or not.
“No. The coin I would pay you with is my body.”
His mouth dropped open. “Excuse me?”
“I will come to your bed when you are well enough.”
He sat up, swinging his legs off the pallet and onto the floor. She jumped away from him, startled. Just as quickly her concern for her patient moved her back to his side.
“Do not! You should be still.”
Quick as lightning he grabbed her and pulled her to him. His chest was like a rock.
“Let me go!”
“I don’t think so, angel.” His arms tightened around her. His lips thinned into an angry line.
“So you’d come to my bed, would you? For what? What do you think I could do with you in my current condition, hmm? Pat you on the ass and tell you to sleep well?” His lips curled, snarling.
“Offer something better, Saba. Offer me my manhood back. Then come to my bed!” He released her so abruptly, she almost fell. She plopped down on the stool. He grimaced, his face tightening with pain.
“You will heal but it will take time,” she said, far more calmly than she felt.
He hissed, pressing his hands to his stomach. Alarmed, she jumped up. Quick as a snake, he had her again, one hand fisting in her hair, trapping her.
“Heal me, then.”
His mouth came down on hers with bruising force. She pushed against him but he was too strong. His tongue swept over her lips and suddenly, escaping him wasn’t important. Deep in her belly her womb contracted. Need, hot and sweet, throbbed with each beat of her racing heart.
His kiss gentled, coaxing her now with a soft plea to answer him. Her arms slid around his neck. Her lips opened. There was a low rumble in his chest as his arms tightened around her. Awareness of her surroundings faded. All she knew was his lips moving on hers and his warm hand slowly caressing her back. She was caught in the spell he wove, floating in some dark place where her body spoke to her of aching loneliness and whispered its hope of fulfillment.
Softly, ever so softly, the kiss ended. His lips left hers, lingering a hairsbreadth away. His hands slid to her hips, grasping them with strong fingers and pulling her to him. The hard ridge of his manhood greeted her. She looked into his eyes, gone black with desire.

“You’ll come to my bed first. Then I’ll talk to Tyree about my weapons.”

A HERO’S BARGAIN 

www.amazon.com/Heros-Bargain-Rayne-Forrest-ebook/dp/B00RUUQCAA

books.apple.com/us/book/id1084237597