Archive for December 2011

Missy Welch’s Every Time a Bell Rings

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The 42 Days of Christmas Series from MLR Press continues and today I’m posting an excerpt provided by Missy Welch!

every_time_a_bell_rings_revised_11_12_2011

 

Every Time a Bell Rings

by Missy Welch

 

Available at MLR Press

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The blurb:

 
Brian dropped everything last year when his mother became ill so he could take care of her until the day she died. People he thought were friends didn’t stick with him and he’s somehow become kind of a recluse without meaning to be. Only Mike, his best friend since they were kids, has stuck by him and is now saving him from homelessness after a fire destroys Brian’s apartment building days before Christmas. Though Mike has to go down South for the holiday, Brian stays in Mike’s apartment with his slightly singed kitten Oreo.

Brian’s only goal is to set his affairs back in order before everything shuts down for the holidays and then make it through those holidays in one piece. He’s lost so much–his only real possession is a photo album of his mom that he risked death to save from the fire–and he’s feeling lost and very alone…until Mike, his hot neighbor Trent, and even little Oreo conspire to give Brian the best Christmas possible and a future that looks a lot brighter.

 

Excerpt:

 
Tomorrow came all too soon.

It started uniquely when Mike kissed my cheek and turned it into raspberries almost immediately. Nothing like a vibration on your face, some spit, and a giggling maniac to get you going at the butt crack of dawn.

"It’s nine o’clock," he said and bounced off the bed. "Not dawn."

I sighed and Oreo grumbled. Neither of us were morning people. Especially not after a long night’s worth of trauma.

"Come on," he hollered from the bathroom. I heard him start pissing. "We have arrangements to make with…places before I have to leave."

I got up and arranged the covers around Oreo [my kitten] so she could keep sleeping in toasty comfort.

"What time’s your flight?"

"Not until two." He tucked himself away and waved me in. "Save water. Piss with a friend."

I laughed. That was Mike. He wasn’t just trying to get his gloomy friend to lighten up, he really was a nut sometimes.

While I complied, he made a few adjustments to his hair. I didn’t know how he did it, but his black hair looked practically perfect while mine was doing a half-fluffy and half-flattened thing. I should just buzz it off. I flushed the toilet instead.

"Hearty breakfast or light one?" he asked as we trooped into the kitchen. "You remember how to make the coffee?"

"Light and yes." He’d gotten this single-cup coffee maker you’d have thought was a gift from Jesus straight to Mike. The man had every accessory and his mugs now coordinated with the little red thing. His carousel of cups had a few regular coffee-flavored coffees just for me since I didn’t like it to taste like french toast or pumpkin pie.

Apparently, he chose hearty because, while I dealt with a bowl of cereal and a shushing coffeemaker, he made an omelet. I watched him, waiting for the moment when he would flip it in the air. He had gotten better, but it was fun to bet on what would land where.

"So I figure we start with the fire department."

"Why?" I asked. "They did their job."

"To find out when you can go back in." He flicked a glance at the coffee maker, probably hoping it would hurry up so I could get smarter. "Only then can you assess the damage for the insurance company so they can pay you. Oh hey! This is one of those times when the Red Cross swoops in, right?"

I shrugged. "Maybe. The local one anyway." I frowned and munched granola coated in sugar. "That’s on Market, isn’t it? Near Frank’s?"

"That’s the only one I know."

Then he went quiet and, with a little hip wiggle and a biting of his bottom lip, he swiveled the omelet in the pan before flinging it up and—

"You did it!"

"Booyah, baby!" He hopped up and landed like a gymnast’s dismount with his hands in the air. After a bow to the fridge and one to me, he high-fived the air in front of me and spun away to thrust his hips at the oven.

Chuckling at his antics, I didn’t dream of mentioning that half the omelet cooked up the side of the pan instead of in it. It was a definite improvement.

"I’ll make a trophy. Master Flipper."

He snorted. "I’ll put it next to my trophy for being a Master Baiter."

I laughed, milk dribbling down my chin which just went so well with the topic. He turned and pointed and laughed it up right along with me.

God but I was so glad to have him here right now! Swallowing my breakfast, I sobered to the point of nearly crying. If he’d already left, I knew one phone call would’ve ensured I could stay here, but to actually have him with me was a balm to my sanity. And when he blew me a kiss over his shoulder, I knew he knew it too.

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Clare London’s Secret Santa

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The 42 Days of Christmas Series from MLR Press continues and today I’m posting an excerpt provided by Clare London!

Secret_SantaMLR400

 

SECRET SANTA

Clare London

 

Available at MLR Press.

Click Here to Purchase

 

BLURB:

Seb and Jamie argue over most things, even in the season of presumed good will.  When a totally unsuitable "Secret Santa" present for each of them causes even more tension, the hostility threatens to ruin the pleasant Christmas meal they had planned with friends. But there are strange forces at work tonight and both of them seem to be acting out of character. They find they’re working together in the kitchen, sharing confidences, and admitting to feelings they never dared before – and cooking up something rather more exciting than food!

 

EXCERPT:

The temperature in the kitchen had increased by many degrees and not all of them were caused by the oven.

Jamie broke from the kiss and pressed Seb against the counter, until its edge must have dug painfully into his waist. Seb didn’t complain, though, or not so Jamie noticed. Seb had a smudge of cranberry chutney on his nose, and his breathing was much more shallow than earlier in the evening. They both were. When Seb lifted a hand to his nose, Jamie grasped his wrist, not harshly, but firmly enough.

“I’ll do that.” With his free hand, he wiped the chutney gently off Seb’s nose. Then he trailed his finger tips down Seb’s cheek, under his jaw and along the lines of his throat.

Seb groaned aloud, a soft growling sound in the back of his throat. His head went back, baring his neck, and he swallowed heavily.

Jamie dropped his hand, leaning in even closer. “What I’m saying…what I mean…”

“What?” Seb’s voice was just a whisper. “For fuck’s sake, say it.”

“I want you.” Jamie murmured directly into Seb’s ear, trying to breathe all the heat and sweet excitement he felt into the other man. In case he couldn’t find the right words—better words—he hoped his actions worked instead.

Seb bit back a gasp. His body shivered. “How long?”

Jamie watched the movement of Seb’s mouth; the drop of sweat on his upper lip. He thought he could watch it for hours. He’d never imagined quite how fascinating this bloody annoying, astonishing, sexually provocative man could be. He wanted to kiss him again, he knew that more surely than anything he’d ever known before. “What do you mean?”

“How long have you wanted me?”

Jamie smiled. That was a stupidly easy question, at least tonight it was, when his heart felt released, and his mouth eager to get back to more important things. “Since I met you. Forever. For too long. Have I said the wrong thing again?” He realized he didn’t care anymore. All he could do was be honest, to let himself be exposed. “We’ve never talked about these things, never stopped arguing long enough to discover an alternative way of communicating. Do you…are you angry with me?”

“Angry?” Seb’s laugh was a little shaky. “I’ve wanted you since you first turned those icy blues on me when I lurched in late for another of our get-togethers, and told me I was a waste of everyone’s time.”

“I never said that. It doesn’t sound like my phrasing at all.”

Seb grinned at him. “You’re too literal. Maybe I paraphrased. You know how serious you look when you frown like that?” He leaned forward as if to kiss Jamie between the brows, but dropped his head down to Jamie’s mouth instead.

Jamie kissed back. Daringly, he ran a hand down Seb’s back and over his arse, his fingertips brushing at the crease of Seb’s jeans, just underneath his left buttock.

Seb jerked against him, and sucked in a ragged breath. “Any more of that, man, and I’ll roll over and play ‘dead’ like the best kind of pet.”

“You like that?” A lucky guess, Jamie thought with delight, and squeezed again. Seb felt good under his grasp and tasty on his lips. When and how had he deserved this Christmas present?

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Geoff Knight’s Together in Electric Dreams

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The 42 Days of Christmas Series from MLR Press continues and today I’m posting an excerpt provided by Geoff Knight!!!

GK_Together_in_Electric_Dreams

 

Together in Electric Dreams

by Geoff Knight

 

Now Available from MLR Press

Click Here To Purchase

 

Bailey Baxter’s only Christmas Wish was wishing that Christmas would go away! Not that this handsome, kind, young man was ever mean or angry, he was simply busy—pitching to clients and securing successful accounts for the ad agency at which he worked tirelessly.

So it’s just as well that Bailey—unbeknownst to him—has someone making his Christmas Wishes for him.

And this year, on the eve of his biggest account—which happens to be Christmas Eve—this year’s Christmas Wish comes in the form of a handsome electrician named Gabe, willing to do more than simply help Bailey put up his Christmas lights to please his elderly and eternally grateful neighbors.

Will Bailey let this Christmas race by him like all the others? Or will this racy Christmas be one to remember?

 

Excerpt:

Bailey managed to turn the lock, push open his door and flick on the lights to his apartment. “I hope you’re as understanding and patient as you seem.”

He gestured into the apartment and Gabe’s eyes widened at the sight of the tumbleweed of Christmas lights sitting on the floor in the middle of the living room.

“Like I said,” Bailey shrugged apologetically. “I tried.”

Gabe simply smiled, picked up his toolbox and step ladder, and walked confidently into Bailey’s apartment. “Let’s get you untangled, shall we?”

While Gabe knelt beside his toolbox and began unloading tools, Bailey—feeling suddenly guilty at the mess he’d made for the handsome tradesman—put down his computer, his broken phone and attempted to pick up the twisted ball of wires trying to unravel an end.

“I know this is kind of supposed to be easy,” he said, taking a twirled strand in one hand, “and I know millions of people do this every year, but I’m just not used to… Christmas.” He turned in a circle to grab another end, and the wire snaked around his torso. “You see, my neighbors have this stupid dream of turning the outside of our building into a big Christmas tree. They’ve all lined their fire escapes with green lights that kind of zigzag all the way up here.”

Bailey turned again, entwining himself in lights even more. “Now it’s up to me to…”

He pirouetted again and made things worse.

“…to finish the job…”

He twisted right, left, until he could barely move at all.

“…with a beautiful big star on top.”

With one last effort to unpluck the web of wires, Bailey successfully tied himself into a complete knot. That’s when he let out an exasperated sigh.

Gabe stood with a, “Whoa, whoa, slow down. You’re rushing things again. Just stay still for me for one moment.”

Without a second’s warning, the electrician placed one large hand on Bailey’s right hip to stop him from struggling.

It worked instantly.

Bailey froze and caught his breath.

Gabe slid his other hand over Bailey’s extended arm, following the enmeshed trail of lights down to Bailey’s hand. “Let go,” he instructed softly. “Let me take care of you.”

Bailey tried to gulp down his fears, but in doing so let out a nervous splutter.

“It’s okay,” Gabe smiled, sliding his fingers around Bailey’s to untwist the wire. “We’ll have you fixed up in no time.”

Gabe stood a little closer, struggling with a tricky knot around Bailey’s ring-less ring finger.

Bailey felt his own hand begin to tremble.

Worse still, he felt his crotch quiver, aroused by Gabe’s fingers dancing over his, by the proximity of their bodies, by the closeness of Gabe’s face. Yes, with Gabe’s next words, Bailey could feel the warmth of Gabe’s sweet breath on his cheek.

“Just keep still. I’ll have you undone before you know it. Nearly… got it… Ah, there you go.”

Gabe released a pent-up puff of air at the moment he released Bailey’s finger. Bailey felt the air brush his black hair, warm on his ear which had been frozen out in the city night earlier, but was now pink and burning.

He suddenly realized he was hot all over. Being bound with his overcoat still on didn’t help matters.

“God, it’s hot in here. Don’t you think?” He realized he was rambling again.

“It’s okay, let’s get you out of this tangle first.” Gabe had both hands on Bailey’s hips now. “Turn this way for me. Slowly.”

He turned Bailey in a half-circle, then stopped him, holding him in place with one firm hand while his other hand worked on freeing more lights.

“Now this way,” Gabe continued, his movements calm and collected, his touch soft and certain.

“And back again,” he said as he unloaded a net of wires from around Bailey’s narrow waist.

“Now turn again.” This time he unthreaded a necklace of pearly lights from around Bailey’s neck.

“And with that…” Gabe lifted the last of the wires off Bailey’s chest, “…you’re free.”

Bailey let out a whoosh of quivering air and said, “Thank God. I need a beer. You want a beer?”

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Lex Valentine’s Breath of Heaven

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The 42 Days of Christmas Series from MLR Press continues and today I’m posting an excerpt provided by Lex Valentine!!!

BreathofHeaven_200

Breath of Heaven

by Lex Valentine

 

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Sebastian Marchetti and his husband Ryder Beckett are flying high since their retirement from the Air Force. They’re still young, still hot for each other and enjoying life as a married couple and members of the Flying Marchettis aerobatic team. When tragedy strikes their extended family, the couple become parents overnight and the demons of Ryder’s past return with a vengeance. With the Marchettis and the entire town of Forza pitching in to help, Bas and Ryder strive to make Christmas unforgettable for a special little boy and his newborn brother while laying to rest past and present pain.

Excerpt:

Ryder pushed the shovel into the dirt with more force than necessary to loosen the sandy soil. He could have used the small backhoe that Sebastian had borrowed from his brothers-in-law who owned Todd Brothers Construction, but he needed the physical activity to help slow the spinning of his brain. He worked for the better part of three hours until his muscles burned and protested. He ignored everything except the staked out areas that needed to be dug. The rain had let up for a few hours but storm clouds gathered darkly once more. Ryder never noticed. When the sky began to pelt him with huge drops of water, he ignored it. Not until hard hands closed over his biceps did he jerk himself free of the stupor he’d been in.

“You’re soaked.”

Sebastian’s flat tones alerted Ryder to his husband’s concern. Bas very obviously held himself in check, keeping his emotions to himself in what Ryder knew was an attempt to be supportive and not add to the turmoil of the situation.

“Yeah. We should probably go inside.” Ryder turned his head toward the house, staring unseeingly at the windows that spilled golden light into the deepening gloom.

“There’s no lightning. No danger,” Sebastian said quietly, rubbing his hands down Ryder’s arms in a soothing manner.

Heaving a sigh, Ryder pushed the shovel deep into the ground in front of him and let go of the handle. The tool stood like a lone beacon in the rain soaked night, a symbol of Ryder’s confusion and pain.

“I can’t imagine what Ryan is going through,” he murmured. “If I lost you, I would be done. I don’t know how he picked up the phone and called me. After his first few words, when he practically screamed that Kat was dead, he sounded so calm, so unemotional, so…together.”

Hard arms came around him as Sebastian drew him back against his body, the rain pouring over them, drenching them through their t-shirts and jeans.

“Everyone deals with grief differently, Ryder. Your brother seems to feel the need to put his house in order, to take care of things,” Sebastian said in Ryder’s ear. “Maybe being busy and focusing on what needs to be done helps him to channel his grief into productive outlets. Maybe he’s hanging by a thread and he’s just waiting until he gets here to let go and lose it. Maybe he needs your support and your love to help him deal with his grief. After all, he called you, not your mother and father.”

Ryder closed his eyes on a stab of pain. “My father wouldn’t tolerate any show of emotion. He’s an Army man after all, a Ranger. And my mother would make up for his lack of emotion by an overabundance of it.” He shook his head. “No, Ryan wouldn’t call them first. They would only make him feel worse.”

Sebastian brushed a kiss to Ryder’s ear. “Well then, your brother called the only person he trusted to help him deal with this devastating blow. You.”

A rush of emotion swept over Ryder and his legs gave out, dropping him to the ground. Caught off balance, Sebastian was pulled with him and the two of them tumbled into the hole Ryder had dug which was fast becoming a mud pit in the downpour. Ryder twisted around, pressing his body against Sebastian’s, ignoring the mud that caked them both.

“Ryan’s loss made me realize what you went through when my plane went down,” he said hoarsely, tears forming in his eyes and trickling out to mingle with the rain on his face.

He dug his fingers into Sebastian’s hard shoulders, holding him tightly with a frantic sense of their mortality fueling his strength and urgency. Their bodies cleaved together and they rocked into each other’s hips, mud coating every inch of them as they rolled in the flower bed. Seeking Sebastian’s mouth, Ryder kissed him hard, pushing his tongue between his lover’s lips, demanding a response. He slipped his hands beneath Bas’s t-shirt, spreading slick mud over the hard muscles he loved to touch.

Muffled moans of pleasure came from Bas as he returned the caress, his fingers finding the curve of Ryder’s ass and digging into the muscle through the layers of denim and mud. Ryder ground his crotch against Bas’s, uncaring that they were out in the open lying in a growing pool of mud in the middle of a December rainstorm. He needed Bas. Needed to feel Bas around him, in him, loving him, sexing him. He needed to feel alive so that the specter of his brother’s loss would go away. So that death would go away. So that the fragility of life was held at bay by the love he felt for Bas and that Bas felt for him. Ryan’s wife might be dead but Ryder’s husband wasn’t and Ryder needed Bas as he had never needed him before. Right there in the mud of their yard.

He pulled at Bas’s clothes, popping open the buttons of his lover’s jeans. Bas murmured a weak protest and Ryder kissed it from his lips. He brushed his fingers over Bas’s cheek, streaking it with mud. Then he smiled sadly.

“I knew how hard it was for you when my plane went down and you had no right to even ask how I was or what happened,” he whispered, his gaze holding Bas’s. “I knew, but I didn’t understand. Hearing Ryan tell me that his wife had been killed gave me that understanding. For the past few hours I’ve thought of nothing but what my life would be like if something happened to you. If tragedy can strike the golden boy Ryan Beckett then where does that leave me?”

“It leaves you with me. In my arms, safe in my love,” Sebastian said promptly, hugging Ryder tightly despite the squish of the mud between and beneath them. “No one, not even death can take that love from us, Ryder. Life holds no guarantees. You know this. You’ve been to Afghanistan. You’ve punched out of a disintegrating jet. And so have I. Either of us could have been killed by that. I could have died in Iraq, but I didn’t. We survived war zones, we survived the stupid ass policies of our government about being gay. Our love has transcended so much that I can’t imagine death would take it from us.”

More tears squeezed from Ryder’s eyes at Bas’s words and he nuzzled his husband’s throat, trying to burrow into his warmth. “Don’t leave me,” he moaned, shivering with emotion. “Don’t ever leave me, Bas.”

Tenderly, Sebastian kissed him, staring at him with solemn eyes. “I won’t. My love will always be with you, Ryder.”

With a deep, shuddering sigh, Ryder eased his grip on Bas. “Maybe we should take this into the house.”

Bas chuckled. “Why? I was enjoying the slipperiness of the mud, weren’t you?” He cocked a brow at Ryder as a wicked grin began to turn up the corners of his mouth.

Ryder slipped one hand between their bodies, snaking his fingers into the open fly of Bas’s soaked jeans. “I’m a dirty boy. I always have been.” His hand closed around hot, hard flesh. “God, you better be dirty too, Bas cause I won’t be responsible for corrupting you.”

A full-blown laugh filled with love and lust and amusement escaped Sebastian as he snaked his hands into Ryder’s jeans seeking Ryder’s hard flesh. His dark eyes held more emotion than Ryder could ever remember seeing in them, even when they first confessed their love or when they’d gotten married. In the face of tragedy, their love blossomed, he thought with savage satisfaction, his hand stroking Bas’s cock in time with Bas’s strokes of Ryder’s cock. He smiled as lust swamped his senses. Their love triumphed even when covered in a thick coat of mud.

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Barry Brennessel’s, All the Souls on Earth

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The 42 Days of Christmas Series from MLR Press continues and today I’m posting an excerpt provided by Barry Brennessel!

 

All_The_Souls_On_Earth_9_21_2011

All the Souls on Earth

by Barry Brennessel

 

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Elijah’s previous holiday season was a disaster. This year, he’s determined to give a surprise gift that he prays will erase the lingering bad memories. But his idea catches the attention of March—an attractive, mysterious man who is bent on stopping Elijah in his tracks. Both men are determined to fight for what they want, but they soon find they are also fighting their growing feelings for one another.

Will Elijah be able to deliver his gift, or will March forever alter the spirit of the holidays?

EXCERPT:

The bar on Madison Ave was a dimly lit, wood-paneled affair, with only a few patrons milling about. Not surprising, given that it was an early Tuesday afternoon. Kitschy Christmas decorations adorned the walls, doorways and windows: annoyingly jolly cardboard snowmen, silver and green garlands, plastic reindeer. Yet another rendition of “Here Comes Santa Claus” blared from the six speakers situated around the place.

“Hiya,” the bartender said as he twirled a hand towel over his head then tossed it into a plastic bin of glasses behind him. Standard young and muscular mixologist, as they were calling them these days.

“Good afternoon,” March said.

“What can I get for you?”

March looked around. No sign of him yet. “Do you have Boodles?”

“Do I have…?”

“Boodles. Gin.”

“Nah. We got Tanqueray, Beefeater, Hend—”

“Plymouth?”

“No.”

A wide variety of ales was always available at these clubs, but the mixed drinks were rarely inspiring. “I’ll have an Arrogant Bastard. You can determine the level of irony.”

The young man chose not to comment as he opened March’s bottle of beer and slid it over to him.

March had tried to convince himself that going to see Bret Evans earlier had been in the interest of honing the boy’s developing visionary talents. But when he asked Bret to locate Elijah Liepa yet again, March felt a pang of guilt. Spying, stalking, eavesdropping…he had probably reduced himself to that and more.

“A red building on Madison,” Bret had told him, flipping up his mop top of blond hair, and jiggling his leg as so many antsy teen boys tend to do. “With a black door. A bald guy on a stool outside. A rope, like they use at movie premiers. That red fake velvet kind of rope.”

Bret’s visions were becoming sharper, and lasting longer. But at fifteen, he was easily distracted, and his vocabulary still lacking.

“And an awesome ride out front! A GTO! Aw, man, March, you should see—”

“Focus, Bret.”

“Ahhh. I lost it.”

At least the boy had pinpointed where Elijah Liepa had gone for the afternoon.

“That’ll be $6.99.” The bartender’s voice sliced into his thoughts.

“Beg pardon?”

“For the Arrogant Bastard.”

“Oh, yes. Right.”

March knew he would garner looks as he wandered the floor: his dark hair slicked back; the long leather coat; his angular face. Had he any interest, he could take home any number of men. His plate was too full these days, however, to think about any of that. And truth be told, he’d rather have wandered around the place secretly, in the shadows, drawing no attention. There was little alternative, however. He had to scan every form. It surprised him that of the eight men, not one was Elijah Liepa. Could Bret have been wrong? Or had Liepa been and gone?

His answer came in the form of a squeezed arm. March turned.

“I warned you about following me.”

March stared at Elijah’s face. He was willing to wager that he, too, could have his pick of men to go home with. He seemed even more strikingly handsome than March remembered.

“Please, Mr. Liepa, let’s keep our cool. I want to have a calm, rational discussion with you. That’s all.”

An unknown crooner belted out “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” with some electronic accompaniment. March winced. He wished they’d turn off the infernal holiday racket. He took a measure of pride at having been friends two centuries ago with a writer by the name of Charles Dickens. March was convinced he himself was the model for Ebenezer Scrooge, but that Dickens had done him the disservice of turning the fictional crank into both an unattractive geezer and a soppy mess at the end.

“Not a fan of the holidays?” Elijah asked him. The man must have noticed the pained look on his face.

“Not particularly. No.”

“It’s my favorite time of year,” Elijah said. He paused. “At least, it used to be.”

March glanced down at the half-empty glass in Elijah’s hand. “May I buy you another drink? And then perhaps we can sit in a quiet corner and have a chat.”

Elijah’s eyes danced left and right. He glanced up at the ceiling, then looked directly at March. “Okay. I’ll give you ten minutes.”

“What’s your poison?”

“Vodka martini. Up. Onions on the side. I’ll grab a table.”

* * *

Elijah studied March as he walked over to the table. The man looked like he belonged on stage. Or in a classic horror movie.

“Here we are then. Vodka martini.”

March placed the drink before Elijah. He sat down, crossed his legs, and raised his bottle of beer. “Cheers.”

Elijah lifted his glass. The men toasted. Elijah focused on March’s lips as he sipped his beer. Elijah vowed he wasn’t going to dwell on March’s striking features. How could a man be that handsome and not seem aware of it?

March leaned forward and lowered his voice. “Now then, Mr. Liepa. Here is my theory.”

Elijah’s first reaction was to move away; to keep March out of his personal space. But he stayed rigid. He wanted to be sure that he showed the man he would not be intimidated. “Your theory? About what?”

“Frankly, I’d have to be a bit of a twit to not have figured it out. You hope to do just as Viktor Griese did.”

Elijah couldn’t deny it. However, he wouldn’t give March the satisfaction of confirming the fact.

“There’s something you need to understand,” March continued. “As with everything in the universe, there has to be balance. Energy has to be compensated for. In order for something come out, something must go in to replace it. Understand?”

Elijah took a sip of his drink. “You’re an unusual man, March. What are you exactly?”

What am I? I can think of a more polite way to phrase that question.”

“Don’t pull the Old World manners shtick on me. I want to know how you know so much about these…supernatural…things, and why you’re hanging around a group of kids that seem to have…powers or something.”

“Is it really any more shocking than some people of Latvian descent being able to see the spirits of their ancestors once a year? Or Native Americans using magic to heal the sick? Or any number of unexplained phenomena in any given culture?”

“Are you some kind of guardian of all these things? Some kind of law enforcement?”

“Not exactly. But I’m a man of logic who understands that if people toy around with—”

“Look, March. Here’s what you need to understand. All I’m trying to do…all I want…is to say a proper goodbye to someone.”

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