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Shifting Destiny Book Tour & Giveaway

Shifting Destiny Anthology Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance with stories by: Lashanta Charles Zoe Parker E.E. Andrews Beth Hendrix Reiki Eli Miki Ward Garrett Ward K.B. Wheelock Aspen Winters Helene Gadot C.B. Morrigan Tabitha Barret Ivy Fox Jaliza Burwell Grace McGinty India Kells Zara Stark Lacey Carter Andersen Vanessa Ross Helen Scott Saskia LeBlanc Cece Rose E.M. Moore Blake Blessing Kay Elle Parker C.R. Jane. E.M. Daniels Suzan Lee Elissa Ryan Lidiya Foxglove C.J. Strange

Are you ready for a collection of stories with a bite? Well, shift into a more comfortable position and dive right into these author’s tales. There’s a beast in all of us waiting to come out and play. So, abandon all your reservations and lose yourself in this collection of shifters and discover… The BEAST in you. This is a collection of multiple short stories, in a myriad of genres. The stories in this book are as fluid as the shifters they’re about. Some of them will pull on your heartstrings, others will warm you on a cold day. Come on these journeys with us to fantastical places, accompanied by memorable characters that leave you no choice but to hold on for dear life on the magical ride that is, Shifting Destiny. Available for pre-order for only 99 Cents. Grab your copy while this amazing price lasts. After release it will go up to 2.99!! Add to Goodreads Amazon * B&N * Kobo

Take advantage of this limited time pre-order sale and get the Shifting Destiny Anthology for only $.99! Lashanta’s story, Kaleidoscope, is a RH multiple shifter romance.

LaShanta Charles is from South Carolina, but currently lives in Tacoma, WA. She’s married, has three tiny humans who constantly mooch off of her, and is active duty in the US Army. She’s a homebody who adores SLEEPING, reading (romance, especially RH, paranormal, and sci-fi), eating, white chocolate mochas, SLEEPING, Reese’s PB Cups (but only the ones stuffed with Reese’s Pieces), and writing. Oh, and she hates spiders; why do they need EIGHT legs? Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Amazon * Goodreads

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive content and a giveaway! a Rafflecopter giveaway


Head Over Feet In Love Book Tour & Giveway


Head Over Feet in Love
by Patti F. Smith
Genre: Chick-Lit, Romance

Rebecca Slater is running away from a stay in a mental health facility, a

writing career that never got off the ground, and a dying best
friend. She has nowhere to go, but nothing can stop her—until she
crashes her car into a tree, possibly on purpose, but probably not.
Without a cell phone and in a strange town, Becca starts knocking on
doors, looking for someone to help her. The only person who answers
her call is Mike Riley.

Becca and Mike begin a friendship that neither realizes they need. A
firebrand feminist devoted to all things Generation X, Becca shares
her unique life view with Mike and finds an ally in the reclusive and
shy man. Becca tells him her story and the pair falls in love slowly,
and then passionately, realizing that two lost souls have finally
found each other.
When Becca thinks Mike is dead, she impulsively runs away again, this
time
to a place where she thinks no one will ever find her. She prepares
for a life without her true love, but committed to remaining mentally
healthy and strong, continuing her story that she now believes will
have an unhappy ending.
But will it?
 
 
Patti F. Smith is the author of two books: Images
of America–Downtown Ann Arbor
and
A
History of the People’s Food Co-op Ann Arbor

(and
of the forthcoming
Forgotten Ann Arbor, which will be
published in 2019).
She has written for CraftBeer.com, Concentrate, Mittenbrew, The
Ann, AADL’s Pulp blog,
and the Ann Arbor Observer. A former legal aid lawyer and
current special
education teacher, Patti serves as a commissioner for the Public Art
Commission and the Recreation Advisory Commission, as a storyteller
in the Ann Arbor Storytellers’ Guild, volunteers for the Ann Arbor
Film Festival and WCBN.
Patti lives in her favorite
city on earth, Ann Arbor, with her husband Ken
Anderson and their pets. HEAD OVER FEET IN LOVE is her first novel.
 

I’m driving away. I’m driving away as fast and as far as I can. I’m never going
back. I’m going to drive until I get so far up north that no one will ever find me. I’m
going to—
Except that I’m not. I can’t leave home now. Not with my best friend in a coma, not
with my parents tripped out, not with all that’s going on. Not with bipolar disorder
and anxiety and everything else. I’m still driving away, mind you, but I’ll have to go
back. As soon as the rain lets up, I’ll turn around and head back to US-23. It’s
really pouring though, and I don’t like driving in the rain, so I might have to find a
hotel and stay the night. I’ll have to call my parents, except I don’t have a phone
anymore, and with Rick in the hospital, it all means—
It means that I have no way to call anyone when my car hits the tree.
Goddamn it! My air bag merrily pops out at me, and I start to cough as I inhale the
powder that comes out with it. Without thinking about whether or not I might be
hurt, I throw open the door and climb out of my Jeep.
As the rain soaks me, I look at my Jeep and let out a groan. Goddamn it. Steam
pours out of the engine, and the car wheezes. Shit. Don’t cars sometimes explode
in the movies when steam is rushing out of them? This could suck.
I grab my purse and Red Wings jersey out of the car, cautiously backing away. I
reach for my cell phone before remembering that it had been with Rick when his
canoe upended on the Huron River, and it changed everything. Shit.
Okay, Becca, don’t panic. Don’t panic. Think. Where are the nearest houses
where you can—
The car burps, and smoke puffs from under the hood. I swear the Jeep looks mad.
It belches again and then kinda rumbles at me. One headlight winks at me before
it goes out. The Jeep makes a noise I have never heard it make before.
Okay, now we panic.
I turn and run up the nearest driveway. I pound on the door, but no one answers.
“Help!” I call, before remembering the self-defense course my mom made me take
in seventh grade, which had taught me that people respond well to shouts of “fire,”
but not so well to shouts for “help.” “Fire!” I call helpfully.
“Well, screw you, too!” I say to the door before racing to the next house where
again I pound and pound.
Finally, a voice says, “What do you want?”
I squint in through the window to see a tiny elderly man. “The phone!” I yelp.
“What do you want?” he repeats, as if I haven’t spoken.
“The—this!” I mimic a phone by putting my thumb to my ear and my pinky to my
mouth. He still looks confused, so I start talking into my pinky like a fool. I
remember an improv teacher saying that you shouldn’t imitate a phone that way
lest people think you are talking into your finger like a dork, so I pretend that I
have an old timey Star Trek communicator and start talking in a Captain Kirkvoice.
The man shakes his head and says, “You don’t make any sense, girly. You go
away now.”
I wonder if I really don’t make any sense, or if he’s just offended by my James T.
Kirk impression. I walk off the porch and feel something hit my face. I look up and
realize it’s hailing. Oh, nice. I put the Wings jersey on, because surely this will stop
the ice from hitting me.
I race down the hill and up the block. It takes eons to reach the next driveway. I’m
out of breath, but I start to race up toward the house on the hill. I climb and climb
before I realize that I have, indeed, picked the steepest driveway. Because of
course I did.
Damn, this hill is steep. I wish I hadn’t decided to run away. I wish Ricky had eaten
better and hadn’t screwed up his heart. I wish I had my cell phone. I wish I could
call my parents. I wish. I know, I know, if wishes were horses … a saying I never
really quite understood, but whatever.
The house on the hill enters my line of vision and I stand, contemplating it. Big,
dark brick. Two stories, with black shutters on all eight windows. If I had gone into
architecture instead of law, I would know the style. As it is, my brain can only
conjure up images like the enormous land contract or mortgage on the house.
Hell, if that shit had cropped up on the Bar, maybe I would have passed it.
My thoughts of property law flutter away when I notice a curtain move in the big
bay window, as if someone inside has just peeked out. Oh yeah, baby—the doctor
is in.
I take a breath and run up to the door. One sign reads, “No Peddlers or Solicitors”,
because peddlers are really a thing these days. Another warns of “No
Trespassing! This means YOU.”
“Bite me,” I mutter, and punch the bell. Come on, my man! If you rustle that
curtain, you can open that door. “I need help! I crashed my Jeep down the hill
there. I need a phone.”
Bzzz, bzzz, bzzz. The hail picks up and blows onto the porch, pummeling me. The
more I get hit, the more I want to ram in through the bay window like the Kool-Aid
Man. The more I get hit, the more depressed I become.
Suddenly, I stop ringing the bell, knowing that I am being ignored. “Seriously?
Really?” I announce to the empty porch. I have become a walking first-world
problem, and I hate everything.
My very best friend is in a medically induced coma following two heart attacks and
a stroke. Two heart attacks and a stroke. I have to say it twice sometimes. Just
because I have to. My parents go to the hospital every day, sitting, waiting,
hoping. I have a year off from school, so I can write a book, but I can’t write a
word. And now my beloved Jeep is in a strange neighborhood, making noises like
the Candyman.

I sit on the porch swing. Pin pricks of ice, drops of cold rain, all at once. Passive-
aggressive suicidal. That’s what a shrink called me once. Drives recklessly, drinks

until black out, refuses to look both ways before crossing the road. Latent death
wish. Blah blah blah blah blah. Why, yes. I do feel all of this now, because
hashtag “first-world problems” I don’t have a phone.
The rain continues. It gets darker. I think about throwing out the pills, magically
fixing the Jeep, and driving into something. Driving into a freeway concrete barrier.
Driving into a river, like where my friend was when he had his two heart attacks
and his stroke. His two heart attacks and a stroke. I see Rick’s face above me. He
has no eyes. Jesus! I holler out so loudly that I wake myself up.
I look around, my heart pounding. Incredible. Freezing, wet, miserable–and I fall
asleep. I truly amaze myself at times. I shake my head, like that will clear things
up for me. Out of the corner of my eye, I see the curtain flicker again.
“Okay, asshole!” I call to it. “I’m cold, and I’m wet, and my car is dead! I need a
phone! I need a phone now!” Because surely, the addition of the word “now” will
get things on and popping. “Please?” I add.
Nothing. No flicker of movement. Nothing.
“Well, go to hell then!” I shout, and sit back down on the swing. What the hell is
wrong with this neighborhood? I grew up in the best place on earth, where people
at least it’s called. I sit with my knees to my chest, my head buried.
“Why are you here?”
I literally jump off the swing in utter terror. Naturally, I only land on my left foot, my
right foot catching on the swing. I do a quick dance before falling onto my butt.
I keep my head lowered, crying and wanting to blame someone else for this mess.
I start going through names in my head. I start with Melissa from first grade. She
was a know-it-all brat. I can’t imagine what she’s like now.
A hand appears before my face. I take it and allow the stranger, now known as
The Man Behind the Curtain, to pull me to my feet.
He repeats himself. “Why are you here? Did you come to get a report on me and
turn it into local folklore?”
At first, I think he’s kidding. I look at him for the first time, but I can’t see his face.
Dressed in a hooded rain coat and looking like Paddington the Bear and the
Gorton fish stick guy’s bastard child, his features are hidden from me.
“My car—” My voice breaks. I clear my throat. “My car crashed. I crashed it. I think
maybe on purpose.” I say this out loud for the first time, not knowing if it’s true.
Silence. Finally, he turns and walks back to the house, leaving me alone. Tears
slip down my cheeks. He’s going to leave me out here to freeze, I realize.
But then he turns. “Aren’t you coming in?”

 

Follow the tour HERE

for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!

 

 

 


Dashing Giveaway Hop: Kiddolab 2-in-1 Activity Table

This post is sponsored by Kiddolab.com.  Any opinions expressed are my own.  Prize is sponsored by Kiddolab.com.

Thanks for stopping by LuvSavingMoney.com during the Dashing Giveaway Hop hosted by MamaTheFox.  

Lana was a full-time nanny and always had a her eyes peeled for developmental toys that were both fun and as they were educational.  After having her own child she used her knowledge to create a line of exciting educational toys for early learning called Kiddolab

As a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant and mom of 4 I can relate.  I’d always look for toys that would encourage developmental milestones like crawling, sitting, standing, but making it fun for my kids so they wanted to do it even on their own.  Kids, especially very young children, learn through play.  One of the toys that was a big hit with all my kids and myself was a learning table.  I could take the legs off to give them something interested for tummy time and make them want to lift their head.  As their motor skills developed I could have them sit up and play with it.  Then put the legs back on and they would pull up to stand to play with it.  Kiddolab makes an activity table that is very similar to what I had for my kids. 

The frugal blogger side of me loves the site because the prices are amazing too!  To top it off Kiddolab.com is offering Luv Saving Money readers a 25% discount when you go through my link: https://kiddolab.com/discount/LUVSM25 and use code: LUVSM25 

Kiddolab also has a blog with useful info on parenting, helpful tips, and more.  

If that’s not enough there is also a sweepstakes on the site to enter into their weekly draw for Kiddolab prizes or the grand prize of a trip to Disney World! g

GIVEAWAY

1 US Luv Saving Money reader will win a 2-in-1 activity table from Kiddolabs.com

Dashing Giveaway Hop: 2-in-1 Activity Table from Kiddolabs

Now check out all these other awesome blogs participating in the Dashing Giveaway Hop for even more prizes!

MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.


Holiday Home Hotel Book Tour & Giveaway

The Holiday Home Hotel
by Lou Sylvre
Genre: M/M Supernatural Romance
Daren Novak and Gunny Schuler have known each other since freshmen days at the University of Washington, where they’d started a romance Daren assumed would last. But at the start of winter break, Gunny bowed to the dictates of his lifelong religion and his overbearing father and left UW never to return.
After a failed marriage, Gunny built a quiet life embracing his gay identity, and left his North Dakota home, his marriage, and his father’s business for a forestry and teaching career in Oregon. Meanwhile, Daren has built up his own life around managing a unique holiday venue, the Holiday Home Hotel, and performing for the guests in drag as “Dare.”
A decade has passed since they last saw each other, but now winter’s harsh weather brings them face to face—helped along by a minor goddess and powerful forest spirit. Too much hurt might lie between them now to fix things, but interfering supernatural beings are determined to force them to try.
Lou Sylvre loves romance with all its ups and downs, and she likes to conjure it into books. The sweethearts on her pages are men who end up loving each other, and sometimes saving each other from unspeakable danger. It’s all pretty crazy and very sexy. As if you’d want to know more, she’ll happily tell you that she is a proudly bisexual woman, a mother, grandmother, lover of languages, and cat-herder. She works closely with lead cat and writing assistant, the (male) Queen of Budapest, Boudreau St. Clair. She is the author of the six well-loved books of the Vasquez and James Series and holiday favorites, Falling Snow on Snow and The Holiday Home Hotel. She teamed up with Kiwi author Anne Barwell to write Sunset at Pencarrow, an adventurous tale of New Zealand romance.

Exclusive Excerpt: The Holiday Home Hotel by Lou Sylvre

Being a wild man but keeping it secret was like walking a tightrope without a balance bar. The danger
filled Gunny with quiet but insistent exhilaration.
By the time Halloween rolled around, conservative, respectable, reserved Gunner Schiller from North
Dakota had gained a reputation as a partier. He’d even had sex with women on two occasions at parties.
He didn’t really remember much about that. The memory lapse might have been about booze, but
truthfully he hadn’t been all that drunk either time, so he thought it was mostly because the act itself
hadn’t been as memorable as he’d expected. The idea of sex excited him, but honestly, the women’s
bodies and efforts just didn’t. Oh well, he’d thought after the second try, you live and learn.
Halloween night was to be one big mobile party. Gunny had bowed to popular opinion and decided he
wouldn’t be any more damned to hell than he already was if he dressed up, so he decided to go all out and
be Satan for an evening. Tall, lithe, Daren would go as Cher, wearing a close copy of one of her signature
racy outfits. Gunny was all for that idea, and he told himself that was because he’d heard music-major
Daren sing Cher songs at Karaoke, and he did it beautifully—the costume just made sense.
They were joined by a pair of their more raucous acquaintances—Johnny Langdon dressed as the Lord of
the Hunt, and his brother Benny, who refused to dress up at all with the exception of donning suspenders
and pretending to smoke a stogie all night. Together they started the evening at a Karaoke bar within
walking distance from their home base. They ordered drinks with their fake ID and maybe the costumes
helped them get away with it. But it was early in the evening, and Daren’s first turn at the mike came up
before he or Gunny—who still tried to pace himself in an effort to reduce guilt over the sin of
drunkenness—hadn’t had more than a sip. Oddly, Daren seemed more self-conscious singing “Love is the
Groove” than Gunny remembered him being the last time he’d done the Karaoke thing. Looking like Cher

—and Gunny had to admit Daren, in many ways, pulled that off quite well—evidently made him self-
conscious about singing like her. Although, honestly, Daren didn’t sing like Cher. He sang like Daren, his

voice tenor but enriched with overtones from all the registers, his style strong like Cher’s but, to Gunny’s
inexpert but attentive ear, perhaps differently nuanced.
Gunny hadn’t really known a lot about Cher until he’d started rooming with Daren, who called the pop
goddess his patron saint. In his new, wild-with-reservations life, Cher’s music seemed to fit right in with
the parties and booze and pot, all of which swirled around a central core of Daren. Gunny knew Daren
was at the heart of his changes, the centrifuge that had sent everything whirling, and that was okay. He
figured he’d give himself a year to spin to the outside, and then settle back down—no doubt without
Daren in his life. Meanwhile he gave himself over.
That Halloween night, when Daren came off the Karaoke stage after “Love is the Groove” looking down
and maybe even embarrassed, Gunny had been mystified by his own need to comfort him. He’d been
schooled all his life to think a man’s emotions were his own problem, and he had no reason to believe—or
sense—that Daren wouldn’t be just fine once he manned-up. But he’d finished a hard drink by then, and
that might have been why he even noticed Daren might need comfort. Not knowing the best way to go
about such a not-so-macho thing, he ordered shots all around and challenged Daren to keep up with him.
Daren didn’t try to do that, but he did drink, and he did loosen up, and by the time his second turn for
Karaoke came up, he was a lot more relaxed. Relaxed enough—or drunk enough—to trip on the top step
of the stage. He recovered with a giggle, though and stood at the mic, gazing out at the audience with
sultry eyes before launching into “Taxi Taxi.” Daren’s performance seemed loose and tight in all the right
places and it mesmerized Gunny.


As he walked back to the table where his friends sat waiting, with applause for his performance echoing
in his ears, Daren felt power coursing through his veins. He was high on it as he’d never been before, and
the feeling so far surpassed the booze that Gunny had tried to get him drunk on that he didn’t even want

to sit back down. He needed to move.
“Let’s go,” he said, looking at Jimmy but oh-so-aware of Gunny’s hungry look. Daren didn’t know what
that look really meant, but he liked it, and he thought he might have just made a discovery about himself
that had been a long time coming.
Or maybe several discoveries, all because he liked that look. A lot. He liked knowing he’d affected
Gunny by his drag Karaoke—by his look and his voice and his walk, all of which were different from, but
somehow part of, everyday Daren. He liked that it made him want to get up next to Gunny and move, and
he loved the feeling—the certainty—that Gunny would want that too. And that particular desire was all
about sex.
I’m gay, he thought.
He laughed a little because how the hell had he not known that? Although… maybe he had. And then,
biting his full, red-painted bottom lip and wiggling his ass a bit just for the joy of it, he thought it again.
I’m fucking gay…
And that’s fabulous!
The rest of the festivities that night went by in a blur. Daren sang at a couple of parties, played a racy
board game, and yes, drank too much, all the while getting close to Gunny whenever he could. He never
got quite so drunk that he wasn’t in control, but perhaps, he admitted, he was a little past the point of good
sense, because he knew Gunny was basically an innocent—or at least a naïve soul. Gunny was drunker
than was strictly healthy, and right then Daren had some power over him. For a while, he enjoyed playing
him like a fish on the line.
But when they’d left the last party, said goodbye to Ronnie and Jimmy outside their residence hall, and
walked halfway back to their dorm in a steady, cool rain, Daren sobered and he didn’t feel like toying
with Gunny anymore. He wondered for a moment if Gunny really did want him, but then he realized
wondering that was a little dishonest. He could see Gunny’s desire, feel it. He could damn well smell it.
But then he asked himself a more honest question. Would Gunny want him with his clothes off the same
way he did when he was in drag?
Because if the answer was no, then Daren didn’t want to want Gunny.


Being a wild man but keeping it secret was like walking a tightrope without a balance bar. The danger
filled Gunny with quiet but insistent exhilaration.
By the time Halloween rolled around, conservative, respectable, reserved Gunner Schiller from North
Dakota had gained a reputation as a partier. He’d even had sex with women on two occasions at parties.
He didn’t really remember much about that. The memory lapse might have been about booze, but
truthfully he hadn’t been all that drunk either time, so he thought it was mostly because the act itself
hadn’t been as memorable as he’d expected. The idea of sex excited him, but honestly, the women’s
bodies and efforts just didn’t. Oh well, he’d thought after the second try, you live and learn.
Halloween night was to be one big mobile party. Gunny had bowed to popular opinion and decided he
wouldn’t be any more damned to hell than he already was if he dressed up, so he decided to go all out and
be Satan for an evening. Tall, lithe, Daren would go as Cher, wearing a close copy of one of her signature
racy outfits. Gunny was all for that idea, and he told himself that was because he’d heard music-major
Daren sing Cher songs at Karaoke, and he did it beautifully—the costume just made sense.
They were joined by a pair of their more raucous acquaintances—Johnny Langdon dressed as the Lord of
the Hunt, and his brother Benny, who refused to dress up at all with the exception of donning suspenders
and pretending to smoke a stogie all night. Together they started the evening at a Karaoke bar within
walking distance from their home base. They ordered drinks with their fake ID and maybe the costumes
helped them get away with it. But it was early in the evening, and Daren’s first turn at the mike came up
before he or Gunny—who still tried to pace himself in an effort to reduce guilt over the sin of
drunkenness—hadn’t had more than a sip. Oddly, Daren seemed more self-conscious singing “Love is the
Groove” than Gunny remembered him being the last time he’d done the Karaoke thing. Looking like Cher

—and Gunny had to admit Daren, in many ways, pulled that off quite well—evidently made him self-
conscious about singing like her. Although, honestly, Daren didn’t sing like Cher. He sang like Daren, his

voice tenor but enriched with overtones from all the registers, his style strong like Cher’s but, to Gunny’s
inexpert but attentive ear, perhaps differently nuanced.
Gunny hadn’t really known a lot about Cher until he’d started rooming with Daren, who called the pop
goddess his patron saint. In his new, wild-with-reservations life, Cher’s music seemed to fit right in with
the parties and booze and pot, all of which swirled around a central core of Daren. Gunny knew Daren
was at the heart of his changes, the centrifuge that had sent everything whirling, and that was okay. He
figured he’d give himself a year to spin to the outside, and then settle back down—no doubt without
Daren in his life. Meanwhile he gave himself over.
That Halloween night, when Daren came off the Karaoke stage after “Love is the Groove” looking down
and maybe even embarrassed, Gunny had been mystified by his own need to comfort him. He’d been
schooled all his life to think a man’s emotions were his own problem, and he had no reason to believe—or
sense—that Daren wouldn’t be just fine once he manned-up. But he’d finished a hard drink by then, and
that might have been why he even noticed Daren might need comfort. Not knowing the best way to go
about such a not-so-macho thing, he ordered shots all around and challenged Daren to keep up with him.
Daren didn’t try to do that, but he did drink, and he did loosen up, and by the time his second turn for
Karaoke came up, he was a lot more relaxed. Relaxed enough—or drunk enough—to trip on the top step
of the stage. He recovered with a giggle, though and stood at the mic, gazing out at the audience with
sultry eyes before launching into “Taxi Taxi.” Daren’s performance seemed loose and tight in all the right
places and it mesmerized Gunny.


As he walked back to the table where his friends sat waiting, with applause for his performance echoing
in his ears, Daren felt power coursing through his veins. He was high on it as he’d never been before, and
the feeling so far surpassed the booze that Gunny had tried to get him drunk on that he didn’t even want

to sit back down. He needed to move.
“Let’s go,” he said, looking at Jimmy but oh-so-aware of Gunny’s hungry look. Daren didn’t know what
that look really meant, but he liked it, and he thought he might have just made a discovery about himself
that had been a long time coming.
Or maybe several discoveries, all because he liked that look. A lot. He liked knowing he’d affected
Gunny by his drag Karaoke—by his look and his voice and his walk, all of which were different from, but
somehow part of, everyday Daren. He liked that it made him want to get up next to Gunny and move, and
he loved the feeling—the certainty—that Gunny would want that too. And that particular desire was all
about sex.
I’m gay, he thought.
He laughed a little because how the hell had he not known that? Although… maybe he had. And then,
biting his full, red-painted bottom lip and wiggling his ass a bit just for the joy of it, he thought it again.
I’m fucking gay…
And that’s fabulous!
The rest of the festivities that night went by in a blur. Daren sang at a couple of parties, played a racy
board game, and yes, drank too much, all the while getting close to Gunny whenever he could. He never
got quite so drunk that he wasn’t in control, but perhaps, he admitted, he was a little past the point of good
sense, because he knew Gunny was basically an innocent—or at least a naïve soul. Gunny was drunker
than was strictly healthy, and right then Daren had some power over him. For a while, he enjoyed playing
him like a fish on the line.
But when they’d left the last party, said goodbye to Ronnie and Jimmy outside their residence hall, and
walked halfway back to their dorm in a steady, cool rain, Daren sobered and he didn’t feel like toying
with Gunny anymore. He wondered for a moment if Gunny really did want him, but then he realized
wondering that was a little dishonest. He could see Gunny’s desire, feel it. He could damn well smell it.
But then he asked himself a more honest question. Would Gunny want him with his clothes off the same
way he did when he was in drag?
Because if the answer was no, then Daren didn’t want to want Gunny.


Being a wild man but keeping it secret was like walking a tightrope without a balance bar. The danger
filled Gunny with quiet but insistent exhilaration.
By the time Halloween rolled around, conservative, respectable, reserved Gunner Schiller from North
Dakota had gained a reputation as a partier. He’d even had sex with women on two occasions at parties.
He didn’t really remember much about that. The memory lapse might have been about booze, but
truthfully he hadn’t been all that drunk either time, so he thought it was mostly because the act itself
hadn’t been as memorable as he’d expected. The idea of sex excited him, but honestly, the women’s
bodies and efforts just didn’t. Oh well, he’d thought after the second try, you live and learn.
Halloween night was to be one big mobile party. Gunny had bowed to popular opinion and decided he
wouldn’t be any more damned to hell than he already was if he dressed up, so he decided to go all out and
be Satan for an evening. Tall, lithe, Daren would go as Cher, wearing a close copy of one of her signature
racy outfits. Gunny was all for that idea, and he told himself that was because he’d heard music-major
Daren sing Cher songs at Karaoke, and he did it beautifully—the costume just made sense.
They were joined by a pair of their more raucous acquaintances—Johnny Langdon dressed as the Lord of
the Hunt, and his brother Benny, who refused to dress up at all with the exception of donning suspenders
and pretending to smoke a stogie all night. Together they started the evening at a Karaoke bar within
walking distance from their home base. They ordered drinks with their fake ID and maybe the costumes
helped them get away with it. But it was early in the evening, and Daren’s first turn at the mike came up
before he or Gunny—who still tried to pace himself in an effort to reduce guilt over the sin of
drunkenness—hadn’t had more than a sip. Oddly, Daren seemed more self-conscious singing “Love is the
Groove” than Gunny remembered him being the last time he’d done the Karaoke thing. Looking like Cher

—and Gunny had to admit Daren, in many ways, pulled that off quite well—evidently made him self-
conscious about singing like her. Although, honestly, Daren didn’t sing like Cher. He sang like Daren, his

voice tenor but enriched with overtones from all the registers, his style strong like Cher’s but, to Gunny’s
inexpert but attentive ear, perhaps differently nuanced.
Gunny hadn’t really known a lot about Cher until he’d started rooming with Daren, who called the pop
goddess his patron saint. In his new, wild-with-reservations life, Cher’s music seemed to fit right in with
the parties and booze and pot, all of which swirled around a central core of Daren. Gunny knew Daren
was at the heart of his changes, the centrifuge that had sent everything whirling, and that was okay. He
figured he’d give himself a year to spin to the outside, and then settle back down—no doubt without
Daren in his life. Meanwhile he gave himself over.
That Halloween night, when Daren came off the Karaoke stage after “Love is the Groove” looking down
and maybe even embarrassed, Gunny had been mystified by his own need to comfort him. He’d been
schooled all his life to think a man’s emotions were his own problem, and he had no reason to believe—or
sense—that Daren wouldn’t be just fine once he manned-up. But he’d finished a hard drink by then, and
that might have been why he even noticed Daren might need comfort. Not knowing the best way to go
about such a not-so-macho thing, he ordered shots all around and challenged Daren to keep up with him.
Daren didn’t try to do that, but he did drink, and he did loosen up, and by the time his second turn for
Karaoke came up, he was a lot more relaxed. Relaxed enough—or drunk enough—to trip on the top step
of the stage. He recovered with a giggle, though and stood at the mic, gazing out at the audience with
sultry eyes before launching into “Taxi Taxi.” Daren’s performance seemed loose and tight in all the right
places and it mesmerized Gunny.


As he walked back to the table where his friends sat waiting, with applause for his performance echoing
in his ears, Daren felt power coursing through his veins. He was high on it as he’d never been before, and
the feeling so far surpassed the booze that Gunny had tried to get him drunk on that he didn’t even want

to sit back down. He needed to move.
“Let’s go,” he said, looking at Jimmy but oh-so-aware of Gunny’s hungry look. Daren didn’t know what
that look really meant, but he liked it, and he thought he might have just made a discovery about himself
that had been a long time coming.
Or maybe several discoveries, all because he liked that look. A lot. He liked knowing he’d affected
Gunny by his drag Karaoke—by his look and his voice and his walk, all of which were different from, but
somehow part of, everyday Daren. He liked that it made him want to get up next to Gunny and move, and
he loved the feeling—the certainty—that Gunny would want that too. And that particular desire was all
about sex.
I’m gay, he thought.
He laughed a little because how the hell had he not known that? Although… maybe he had. And then,
biting his full, red-painted bottom lip and wiggling his ass a bit just for the joy of it, he thought it again.
I’m fucking gay…
And that’s fabulous!
The rest of the festivities that night went by in a blur. Daren sang at a couple of parties, played a racy
board game, and yes, drank too much, all the while getting close to Gunny whenever he could. He never
got quite so drunk that he wasn’t in control, but perhaps, he admitted, he was a little past the point of good
sense, because he knew Gunny was basically an innocent—or at least a naïve soul. Gunny was drunker
than was strictly healthy, and right then Daren had some power over him. For a while, he enjoyed playing
him like a fish on the line.
But when they’d left the last party, said goodbye to Ronnie and Jimmy outside their residence hall, and
walked halfway back to their dorm in a steady, cool rain, Daren sobered and he didn’t feel like toying
with Gunny anymore. He wondered for a moment if Gunny really did want him, but then he realized
wondering that was a little dishonest. He could see Gunny’s desire, feel it. He could damn well smell it.
But then he asked himself a more honest question. Would Gunny want him with his clothes off the same
way he did when he was in drag?
Because if the answer was no, then Daren didn’t want to want Gunny.

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