Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Weekly Specials

This week we have selected titles by Syd McGinley and J. Rocci on sale, as well as selected Color Boxes, all at 20% off.

Army Green by J. Rocci
Attitude Adjustments by Syd McGinley
Aubergine by CB Potts
Bys Viken by Syd McGinley
Olive Green: The Imperial Cat by Kate Cotoner
Pink: Dolorosa by Syd McGinley
Smoke: Askari by Lee Benoit
Taction by J. Rocci
Youthful Gods Book 1: Pretty Pleasures by J. Rocci

Still on sale at 20% off through to the end of December are our past years' Holiday Sips and Holiday Single Shots.

And don't forget our Merry Christmas coupon 'xmas2010' good for 15% off through to December 31 at midnight (est)

New Releases for December 29

Ivory by J. Rocci

Trapped by familial obligations, engaged to a fiancée he doesn’t love, and crippled by the regrets of his past, Dr. Bradley Durrant is miserable and rapidly caring less about his own health as he works himself to the bone at the family hospital. Then he meets Nashan Windham, the grandson of his late father’s scandalous old friend, and Brad’s downward spiral is derailed, at least for the moment.

He lets Nashan and his grandfather pull him into a world where families -- blood and the ones you choose -- support each other and understand that love is unconditional. Nashan helps Brad get his life together again, now Brad just needs to convince Nashan that Brad can finally accept who he is and knows what he wants.

Pick up your copy today!



Sky Blue Pink: Flying Pigs by Syd McGinley

You’ve come a long way, baby! From junkie bag boy slut to a well-disciplined boy and proud father about to graduate from college, Charlie has really pulled his life together. Ben and Dr. Fell continue to guide their twink as he faces the demands of a family party -- and of a Sirs retreat with Drs.Rønne and Tanaka!

Get your copy today!


The Complete Dr. Fell, Volume 3: The Boys of Fell by Syd McGinley

Dr. Fell can’t solve everything for a boy!

Charlie, aka twink, and his owner, Ben, have worked for their love and have weathered some hard lessons from life and from Dr. Fell. But will being owned be enough for Charlie as he matures? His goals and Ben’s are suddenly no longer the same, and silly Charlie is faced with some hard choices. Will following his heart mean leaving his owner?

Theatre boy Tommy has also had the benefit of being trained by Dr. Fell. Deeply in debt to the foundation, he’s spent some time away developing his career. Sad and lost without an owner, Tommy returns to Dr. Fell’s world. Placed under the care of Dr. Fell’s own mentor, Dr. Pol Rønne, Tommy is safe, but still alone. Sweet Rinaldo, another rescued boy, is already there and in love with Dr. Rønne. Rinaldo and Tommy build a friendship as they serve their shared sir, but the good times are only temporary. Rinnie's student visa is about to expire, and a sir of Tommy's own is nowhere in sight. Can two resourceful boys figure out how to make it all work out?

Find out what happens to Tommy, Charlie, and Rinnie and the rest of Fell’s boys.

The Complete Dr. Fell Volume Three: The Boys of Fell includes:
Huckleberry
Pink: Dolorosa
Ain’t Misbehavin'
Un bel di vedremo
The Wrong Customs
Tommy and the Magi
White Day
Wax On, Wax Off
Paper Cranes

Pick up your copy today!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Coming This Week

Coming Wednesday

Color Boxes:
Sky Blue Pink: Flying Pigs by Syd McGinley
Ivory by J. Rocci

In Print:
The Complete Dr. Fell, Volume 3: Boys of Fell by Syd McGinley


Coming Saturday

Single Shot:
An Island Lost by Wayne Mansfield

Holiday Sips:
Nice: Auld Acquaintance by AR Moler
Nice: Festivities by Stevie Woods
Nice: The Hopeful Romantic by Aaron Michaels

A Special Thank You

Thanks so much to all the authors and readers who participated in our 12 Days of Smutfest! We really appreciate y'all making it a success!

Happy Holidays and we look forward to the New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from Torquere Press Sale!

We love the holidays at Torquere Press, so we're offering 15% off your purchases from now through the end of day New Year's Eve! Just put 'xmas2010' in the coupon code box any time you check out at Torquere Books before the new year to get 15% off your order.

Sale good now through Friday December 31 at Midnight (est).

Get yourself a gift from Torquere Press today!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Discount codes are provided as a courtesy to our customers. Torquere Press Inc. cannot be responsible for discounting purchases made before coupons/sales are announced, and cannot issue discounts to customers who fail to use the coupon or discount code during the purchase process.

Christmas Wishes to you and yours!

All of us at Torquere Press want to wish y'all the happiest of holidays and a fab new year. :D

Our authors got together to share their holiday wishes with you. Feel free to add your own in the comments.

Angela Benedetti - What I'd like more than anything else for Christmas is a 30-hour day.

Berengaria Brown - My wish is that girlchildren everywhere would have equal access to primary schooling as boychildren.

JM Cartwright - My wish for us all is a world where deeds and character count before looks, wealth and popular sentiment. Doing what is right and just is hard; that's why many of us let our chances to make the right choices pass us by. Each day, let us choose the right path, however small the decisions appears. Let our lives and our actions be that tiny stone in the pond, rippling to touch the lives of others and leaving the world a better place when we're gone.

Lily Grace - I want to finish my first novel-length story!

Sean Michael - I wish for someone special for every girl and boy and happy ending for all. Under my tree, I'd like a new laptop and a year's supply of lube. :D

Aaron Michaels - My Christmas wish: More hours in the day! There are so many things I want to read and write, and just not enough time to do it all (if I want to get any sleep). Or maybe I should wish for needing less sleep. Of course, that could lead to insomnia, which is a bad thing. So yeah, my wish is for more hours in the day. Merry Christmas everyone!

Lydia Nyx - First, I want to wish a happy, healthy, prosperous holiday season to the readers and fans--those people who make being an author the coolest job in the world. I want to extend those wishes to my fellow authors, many of whom I've just met this year as I'm new around these parts, with the added wish you have many wonderful years of success in your careers. I want to wish a wonderful and prosperous holiday and new year to Torquere Press as well, and thank them for accepting my first full-length novel for publication and having enough faith in me to take me on board! As for personal wishes, I have a long list of friends and supporters I wish nothing but the best for. If I were to list them all here they'd take up the entire blog! So I'm only going to mention three specifically, although for all of them I wish happiness, health, and prosperity. First, I wanted to thank Jamie Edford, my 'unofficial agent,' who has been by my side through thick and thin for nearly a decade. She has been invaluable to me since I first got published earlier this year, and I hope someday I can actually pay her for all the consulting she does! I wouldn't be where I am today without her tireless support, advice, and encouragement. She was also kind enough not to roll her eyes at me all those times I flung myself on the floor crying, "I'll never be a real writer!" I also want to thank Michelle Wallace, who kept me connected and with my writing medium earlier this year when tragedy struck, and has continued to help me in many ways since. She's the best patron an author could ask for. And lastly, I want to thank Jodi Antonion, for being the best friend a girl could ask for and always supporting me and lifting me up. I wish the three of them, all my friends and loved ones, and all of YOU a happy, joyous, wonderful holiday, with many more to come!

M. Raiya - I wish for everyone to live as happily ever after as our characters do.

Julia Talbot - I wish for everyone to be infused with the Christmas spirit. Also, in my stocking, I would like chocolate and Tim McGraw.

BA Tortuga - My wish is that everyone is as happy and satisfied in their life, love, and career as I am. Oh, and Santa? I've been a very good girl. Can I have a bullrider to play with? Please?

Eden Winters - My Christmas wish for myself is for a call from my son, who's currently deployed, and for the restored health of three people close to me. For all of you, I wish a safe and happy holiday and a very prosperous New Year filled with love, laughter, and good books.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hell Is in the Details

Hell Is in the Details was fun to write. Poor Benioth just isn't completely enthused about this whole demon thing, and he always seems to be stuck behind the curve. :)

Benioth, the Demon of Laziness, is behind on his memos and has just found out he needs to corrupt a soul by midnight to make quota. Luckily the Demon of Sodomy doesn't mind sharing the fun, and Benioth runs into Andy, who's still innocent but eager to have someone fix that for him. It sounds like a perfect situation, but somehow things never go right for poor Benioth....

==========

An ear-shattering honk filled the already cacophonous void of the infernal Pit, signaling a change of shift. The suffering souls still capable of moaning in dread did so, knowing that their tormentors would soon be replaced by a fresh group eager to get back to the fun of skewering, bashing, singeing and dismembering the inmates. For the demon Benioth, it was a signal that he could slink back to his office and his game of Minesweeper without having anyone over his head in the spitting order wonder why he wasn't out doing his duty with proper enthusiasm.

Truth to tell, Benioth just wasn't all that enthusiastic. It really wasn't his fault -- he hadn't asked to be saddled with repping Laziness, after all. He'd been a little late to the re-org meeting (the one called after the boss had finally sucked it up and dealt with the fact that he was never going to make it back to Heaven and that ruling Hell wasn't so bad if you looked at it from the right angle) and all the good jobs had already been assigned. Lord Belial had smirked and declared Benioth to be Laziness and that was that.

He hadn't always been lazy, no matter what anyone else said, but after being forced to represent a characteristic for a few millennia, it tended to soak in.

Besides, Kalubel thought scorching his initial into squealing souls was the greatest thing ever, and was more than happy to take Benioth's shift right after his own. Kalubel, who repped Firebugs, loved his work and so Benioth was really doing him a favor by graciously ceding his own shift in the bolges. Win-win and all that.

Which sounded as logical as it always had, for the five and a half centuries (give or take) he'd had the arrangement with Kalubel going, until he slipped into his office and found Lord Belial kicked back in the only chair in the room. It was a comfy chair, padded and adjustable, but Belial didn't look happy to be sitting in it.

"So. Have a good shift, did you?" Belial asked, in a way which made it obvious he knew the answer and was just waiting for Benioth to put the conversational noose around his own neck and tighten it.

"Umm," said Benioth.

"Spent your free time well, I'm sure."

"Umm?"

Lord Belial slammed a huge, solid hand down on Benioth's desk, making various pens and pencils and paper clips jump. Benioth jumped too.

"It's not as though I give a festering shit who prods the sinners," his boss snarled, "so long as it gets done. What I do care about is when someone on my staff hasn't made quota in so long that it's come to His Highness' notice."

Oh. That.

It hadn't been that long since Benioth had corrupted a soul, had it? He scanned frantically through his memory and recalled being part of a group project not too far back -- political corruption and fear mongering, mass condemnation, bearing false witness, all signs of compassion for one's fellow being driven out by terror. Best of all, most of the humans caught up in it had known they were doing wrong, but had gone on with it anyway because "everyone else" had been doing the same. They'd rounded up enough souls for the Pit that Intake had been backed up for years, with that senator who'd started it all leading the way. The credit had been divided among team members, but there'd been so many souls brought down -- that must've been enough to keep Benioth up to quota for at least another century.

"Umm," he said again, "I had a team project not too long ago--"

"That wrapped fifty-six years ago." Lord Belial interrupted him with a quick wave of one hand. "Your share of credit for the take was four-point-six souls."

Benioth's first thought was, That long? But then he did some quick mental arithmetic and beamed. "Well, there you go," Benioth said. He felt a light wave of relief run through him and an immediate need to lean against the wall before his legs gave out completely. "His Highness requires us each to harvest four souls per century, so--"

"His Highness requires a minimum of one soul per decade." Lord Belial interrupted him again, this time glaring at Benioth with tiny flames crackling around his eyes. "A paltry contribution even after the quota increase, which you would have known about if you ever bothered to read your memoranda." He grabbed a handful of papers off the top of Benioth's dust-furred in-basket -- a relic of the time before the computer had been thumped down onto his desk -- and flung them into the air, where papers and dust alike fluttered sadly toward the floor. "I assume your e-mail is similarly neglected, which means you're unaware that you have no grace period."

No grace period. No, of course not. His Highness hadn't ever been big on grace, not since the Fall. Benioth swallowed hard.

"Midnight, Benioth. Quota. One soul. And if I were you, after I brought in that one I'd start immediately working on the next. I have no intention of having this same discussion with you ten years from now."

"No, my lord!" Benioth fell to his knees and groveled while his boss strode out of the office, leaving blackened, hissing footprints burned into the putty colored carpet.

better late than never

hey y'all!

Been offline most of the day, but I wanted to stop by and wave, since paranormals are near and dear to my heart. I love them. I've written all manner of weird creatures, though I think Tree Hugger might be my strangest one.

Dorian is a werewolf on the run, trying to evade the hunters who want to do who-knows-what with him. When he decides to stop for a rest in a hollow tree, though, he gets more than he bargained for. Ash is a tree spirit, and he finds Dorian as fascinating as he is inconvenient. Will these two figure out how to come to an agreement?

____

Dorian leaned forward, pressing his mouth to Ash's, which earned him a surprised grunt. Then that mouth mashed down over his, and Ash was proving what a good learner he was.
 
They kissed and rolled and tussled, both of them touching, both of them making hot noises, until anyone passing by the damned tree would probably think they were losing their minds. If he really was in a tree… He didn't have any reason to think he wasn't.
 
In fact, he had a couple of very solid reasons to believe he was.
 
One of them was in his hand, swollen to three times its size when it was soft, and Dorian finally broke the kissing session to bend down and lick the tip.
 
Ash shouted for him, almost poking his eye out when that cock jerked, dancing for him.
 
"Watch that, man." He said it with a grin, laughing up into Ash's eyes.
 
"Sorry. That… Please do it again."
 
"You bet." He could do one better. He sucked at Ash's cock, licking all the way down, as far as he could go. Which may not have been very far, but it was far enough to get him another shout, another harsh push of those lean, brown hips.
 
So damned weird, but so good.
 
The taste wasn't at all off-putting. It was natural, woodsy, but not like chewing a table or anything. No, it was way more alive and amazing than that. It was even better when Ash turned in the weird little box of a bed and straddled him, mouth at Dorian's cock. They were pretty much alike in that part of their bodies, just like they were in the nipple department.

---

You can get it here!

Werewolf/Vampire RomComZom, anyone?

One of my releases this year is "Fuchsia: Fanged Trouble", a tongue in cheek romcomzom (Romantic Comedy with Zombies)

Blurb:
Shifters and vampires never mix, even shaken or stirred. That's the lesson Adam has learned, but now he has to fake becoming bonded to his biggest enemy, Philippe, for the good of his clan. To say the two of them don't get along is like saying a volcano is a little hot.

Philippe is gorgeous and sexy as hell, but he's also a king-sized snob, which is a turn off to down-to-Earth Adam. Soon Adam may have to change his tune, though, because zombies invade the city intending to make a tasty snack out of anything that moves, and the only person he can turn to for help is Philippe, even though he'd rather eat his own leg.

Excerpt:
Adam was checking his Twitter feed during the early evening from his room. He and Philippe had moved off the cruise ship and were staying in suites that could fit an entire football team.

The place set Adam's teeth on edge. This hotel was so upscale that he wouldn't be surprised if there was a black tie requirement for the dust. It had an in-house gym and racquetball courts, twenty-four hour room service, in-house spa services, plus sheets with a thread count so high that Adam that he felt like he was lowering their value just by touching them.

He knew that the Maquereaus were loaded, but it was one thing to hear about it, and another to find out that Philippe had a personal servant who traveled with him. Admittedly, the manservant was easy on the eyes, but Adam knew better than to look while he was out in public. He even held his tongue while Philippe quibbled with the hotel staff over the location of Adam's previous suite. A department store nearby had had a fire the previous day, and the slight smell of smoke drifting through Adam's window was deemed unacceptable. After an embarrassing amount of fuss, Philippe had Adam's room changed to a more suitable one.

Adam wanted to be in something less expensive, but they needed a place that had tight security so that they could control what got out on the Net. The hotel was also far away from both Sotiros and Maquereau territory, to enforce the illusion that they needed their privacy.

Adam had started the skewed campaign two days ago on Twitter, by making it appear that he had gotten plastered and had kissed Philippe. He hinted that something that disturbed him had happened, and then he signed off. After a few hours, he Tweeted, "Couldn't sleep, keep dreaming of someone I should hate."

Blaine had been briefed, and he immediately followed up on Adam's Tweet with, "OMFG! It's the prophecy!"

Of course, all the younger members of the clan immediately jumped on it and started bombing teamhowling, their social networking community, with hopeful posts asking each other if the rumor was true. Flame wars started between the cynics and the optimists, and Blaine had his work cut out for him to keep everything on track. Days of debate followed, with more and more members joining the community to see what the hoopla was about. Adam's last Tweet indicated that he was going somewhere remote "to discuss new developments with a certain someone."

This caused teamhowling and their rival community, furballs_FTW to explode with rumors again. Now that speculation had reached a fever pitch, Adam just had to do one little thing to push them over the edge.

He was wondering if it was possible to get out of it when he heard the sound of footsteps coming down the hallway. He knew that scent anywhere and braced himself for a tongue lashing right before he whipped open the door.

"What the fuck do you want?"

Philippe glanced up and down at Adam's beaten up jeans and worn T-shirt. "Can't you dress even somewhat decently tonight?"

"Are you nuts? I always wear this. If I change, any picture Tweeted to my clansmen will make them suspicious." He snorted when he saw Philippe's tailored black silk shirt, expensive wool slacks, and custom-made black leather jacket. "Although I don't think anything is 'normal' for you. Don't you have anything in your closet that isn't a limited edition design?"

Philippe straightened his clothing. "There's nothing wrong with looking good. Can you at least shave that disgusting five o'clock shadow?"

"See my previous answer. And don't you fucking dare bash on the scruff, my hook-ups think it's sexy."

"If they want to have their faces abraded off, I suppose so."

"I'd love to tell you to go coat yourself in honey and sit on a hill full of fire ants, but I'm too polite to do that."

A Spirit of Vengeance

A Spirit of Vengeance was one of the first stories I published, and it's still one of my favorites. It's a ghost story, and I wanted to capture a realistic image of how someone would react -- someone who was already devastated by the sudden murder of their lover -- when faced with a haunting. Josh came alive for me in a way that every writer loves to experience. I hope you love it too.

(And if you do enjoy it, there's a free sequel on my web site -- The Last Anniversary.)

When Josh comes home from a business trip to find out that his lover, Kevin, has been killed, his life takes a terrible turn. Even worse, Kevin is haunting him, wanting Josh to exact revenge on his killer. Josh thinks Kevin is a hallucination to begin with, but he soon starts to believe that his lover's spirit is really hanging around.

As he begins to believe in Kevin's ghost, Josh also starts to believe he knows who killed Kevin. He's not sure what to do, and neither is Kevin, who never really considered an afterlife. Can these two figure out how to catch a killer and how to move on with life after death?

==========

[Early in the story, Josh comes home from Kevin's funeral.]

Josh pulled into the driveway of their rented house -- his and Kevin's and Kat's, the shabby old Craftsman the best they could afford by pooling their incomes, the two starving artists and the unknown actress -- stopped the car and just sat. He stared through the windshield at the avocado green paint on the garage door and thought of all the times Kevin had sworn he was going to paint it over some other color, any other color, and forget their deposit.

Another shiver ran through him and he roused himself to get out of the car. He left his suitcase in the trunk but did remember to lock the car before walking through the gap in the privacy hedge up to the front door. Stuck in the crack right above the knob was an invoice from BioClean, the company Kat had hired to clean up the house after the body had been removed. He looked down at the list of services performed -- walls cleaned and steamed (6), carpet removed (3), sofa removed, chair removed (2), windows cleaned (6), floors cleaned (2), misc. unsalvageable debris removed (see itemized list, attached).

Pain slammed through both his knees when they hit the smooth boards of the porch and swelled to meet the agony tearing his heart into fine shreds. He buried his face in his hands and cried, great shuddering sobs that shook his shoulders and jerked his arm and his cheek against the front door; he'd curled up against it when he'd lost his balance and fallen. He'd not cried before, not been able to or not quite comprehended in his gut that Kevin was truly gone, that he was dead, but the clinical, businesslike list of all the things that'd had to be cleaned of blood and whatever else had been spilled, all the things scrubbed and sterilized or torn up or thrown out, added up with a total charge at the bottom, plus tax -- that had clarified all his nightmare imaginings and made it real.

Kevin was gone and Josh sobbed out his grief and loneliness.

:Don't cry for me! Help me!:

Werewolves anyone?

A tiny heart-warming snippet from “Dogged Pursuit” a Halloween MM treat from Torquere.

One of the young men pulled a large knife from his sleeve. He held it up and the moonlight glinted off the long blade. “You’re dead,” he gloated to the old man, and slashed out at him.
The metallic smell of fresh blood slammed into Dwyer. The wolf raged through him. What right did these idiots have to terrorize the old couple? They were obviously not wealthy, just ordinary folks minding their own business. Did these punks think dressing up as vampires gave them the right to act as predators? Well, I'll show them a real predator!
Dwyer stretched out his arms into the moonlight, lifted his head, and howled. The wolf cry reverberated around the small park. Before the last echo faded, Dwyer had stripped out of his clothes and shoes, shaken all over like a dog shaking water off his coat, and turned into a large black wolf.
The wolf padded out from the trees, turned to face the wanna-be vampires, and howled again. The one with the knife looked at the huge animal and fled. The wolf stalked toward the vampire who held the woman, the one who had done the talking and seemed to be the leader. He opened his mouth wide, giving the young man a good look at all his sharp teeth, then bunched his hind legs and leaped.
The fake vampire's courage gave out. He let the old lady go and turned on his heel to run. But the wolf was faster. He grabbed the young man by the neck and shook him. There was the harsh, acrid smell of urine as the vampire wet himself. The wolf shook him again and let him go. The vampire took off like a rocket across the park.
The wolf turned around and saw the vampire who had been with the old man disappearing fast toward the river. For a moment, he considered giving chase, then decided against it. He wanted to teach them a lesson, not actually harm them.
Then shaky old arms wrapped themselves around the wolf's neck. "Shaggy, it's you, isn't it? Oh, Shaggy, it's so good to see you again."

Dogged Pursuit blurb
Dwyer is a two-hundred-year-old werewolf currently working as a limo driver. He’s enticed by the scent of a man he has to take into the city. The man’s smell overwhelms him and calls to him “mate”. Yet he thought only a male and a female could mate and he is gay.
Nelson is equally attracted to Dwyer and the two spend a very hot night together.
However their second date is on Halloween and Dwyer is really struggling to keep his wolf under control. Nelson’s scent is giving him a permanent hard-on and his wolf is demanding to be let free, to bite and mate with Nelson.
Their new relationship is derailed by a group of wanna-be vampires robbing an elderly couple and the elderly couple strongly believe Dwyer is their pet dog come back to life, because it is Samhain.
How is Dwyer going to get himself out of this mess? And what will Nelson’s reaction be? Can they possibly have a future together now?

Buy link: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=2887

Berengaria Brown
http://berengariasblog.blogspot.com/

An Excerpt from "Change of Attitude" by Kiernan Kelly, NWS!

Here's a sneak peek at my upcoming novella release, "Change of Attitude," coming in January, I believe. It's a sequel to my High Ball, "Change of Heart," and continues the adventures of Dae, the shapeshifting veterinarian, and his lover/assistant, Sean.

In "Change of Attitude," Dae's estranged Pack is in deep trouble, and he's summoned there to help the very people who turned their backs on him when he was young.

In this scene, Dae and Sean have had an argument, and are making up in the best possible way. :) Enjoy!

Excerpt:

Dae cut off Sean’s words with a fiery kiss that Dae felt all the way down to his toes. It heated Dae up from the inside out, awakening his hunger for Sean’s body and touch, his body hardening instantly.

He grabbed Sean’s arms, pinning them to the door over Sean’s head with one hand. His head dipped down, breathing in Sean’s scent, so warm and male, so familiar, comforting. For the first time since receiving Jaeger’s letter, Dae felt the knot of tension ease in his shoulders. “Mine,” he breathed. His tongue flicked out to taste the skin of Sean’s throat.

"I think we've established that already." Sean's words were teasing, but his voice was husky and his eyes were already darkening with desire.

Dae leaned against Sean. He could feel Sean's body coming alive, hardening. He claimed Sean's mouth, his tongue sweeping boldly, tasting deeply. As always, Sean's taste fueled Dae's need, and he growled deep in his chest. "Too many clothes. Off." He released Sean's hands, and pulled at Sean's T-shirt, almost tearing it off Sean's body. The sight of Sean's lean-muscled chest made Dae salivate. He loved tasted Sean's skin, licking the salt from it, worrying Sean's nipples with his teeth and tongue.

He leaned down and took a long, leisurely lick, starting at just above Sean's navel and working his way up the center of Sean's chest. His fingers found Sean's nipples, rolling them between his fingers until they peaked. "Naked. Now."

"Damn alpha," Sean whispered. His sensual smile belied his words. Dae knew he liked it when Dae dominated him in the bedroom. Not so much in the other areas of their life, but between the sheets, Sean enjoyed being submissive, which suited Dae's wolf nature perfectly. Dae smiled as he watched Sean hasten to kick off the rest of the clothing standing between them and lay down on the bed, waiting for Dae. Sean's cock was hard, rosy red, and bobbed as if entreating Dae to come and take a taste.

He forced himself to undress more slowly, enjoying the hungry look in Sean's eyes as he revealed his body. He liked drawing it out, making Sean wait, and by the time he finally shucked his underwear, Sean was writhing on the bed, and mewling like a kitten.

Dae stroked his erection, bringing it to full mast, although it didn't take much. Just seeing Sean's naked body, legs wantonly spread for him, cock ready, made him as hard as nails. He bit his lip, trying to hold back the roaring need screaming inside him, demanding he take Sean, sink himself into Sean's body to the hips and ride, to bite and nip and mark Sean as Dae's own. The wolf inside howled, demanding he take his mate.

Sean seemed to be having as hard a time with control as he was. "Stop teasing me. Come on, Dae."

Dae bared his teeth and growled as he crawled over Sean's body, and rubbed his cock along the groove between Sean's thigh and groin. "Gonna fuck you until you can't walk."

***
Get your copy of "Change in Attitude" in January at www.Torquerebooks.com!

An Angel For Christmas by Lily Grace

I suppose my story, An Angel For Christmas, sort of straddles the line between fantasy and paranormal, depending on how you look at it. Sebastian is a non-solid guardian angel determined to do whatever he can to help his human charge, Kevin. 




Blurb:


Sebastian has done the one thing a guardian angel is never supposed to do. He’s fallen in love with a mortal. When his human falls into serious jeopardy, Sebastian descends to Earth without permission.

Kevin’s bartending job just doesn’t pay enough, his mother's hospital bills keep piling up, and now he’s borrowed money from the wrong person. He needs a miracle this Christmas season. Kevin just didn’t expect it to come in the form of an actual angel. 

Not caring that he's breaking all the rules that govern guardian angels, Sebastian helps Kevin all he can. But the consequences of Sebastian's actions could be dire for the angel, unless Kevin can perform a miracle of his own. 


Excerpt:


"Why me? I mean, does everyone have a guardian angel? And why was it last night that you showed up?" His questions came out like rapid fire. "Does this mean that you know God? How many angels are there? You said that you wanted to help me -- what exactly does that mean? And, I hope this doesn't sound rude, but, you seem a little, um, transparent. Why is that?" Kevin finally took a breath.

Sebastian suppressed a chuckle and tried to order a response in his mind. "Not everyone has a guardian angel. Angels are assigned to humans, and not even I know why some people have guardian angels and not others. I was created by God, as all angels are, but I do not have direct contact with Him. That is not the way it works. I work under Michael."

"Michael?" Kevin's expression went from confusion to surprise. "As in the archangel?"

Sebastian smiled. "Yes. He is the leader, if you will, of all the angels and serves as an intermediary between God and us."

Kevin nodded and Sebastian continued. 

"There are many angels. We are created as the human population expands and there is a need for more of us. I was assigned to watch over you a while ago." Sebastian didn't know if he would ever have the courage to tell him the exact reason Kevin was assigned a guardian angel. "But last night was the first time I descended to Earth to come to your aid. I could sense that you were in trouble."

"So, you can come to Earth whenever you want?"

"Not exactly." Sebastian looked down and scrunched his hands into his robes. "An angel is supposed to receive approval from Michael before descending to Earth."

"You got Michael's permission to help me?" 

"Not exactly." His voice wavered. "I should have, but I did not. There was not any time. I... I came to Earth without permission." He slowly raised his head to meet large, questioning, beautiful eyes.

"Y-you broke a rule... to help me?" Sebastian watched as Kevin dragged a hand through glossy strands of chestnut hair.

"Yes."

Kevin shifted closer to him on the couch. "Why?"

"I..." Sebastian couldn't lie, but he didn't think he could tell the whole truth, either. "I wanted to help you. I did not want you to get hurt. I have watched you for a while now. I like you." He could feel his cheeks flush, and he ducked his head.

After an excruciating silence, Sebastian forced himself to raise his head. Kevin was staring at him, mouth slightly agape. Sebastian could almost see his brain working overtime behind his confused and shocked gaze. 

"But, to answer your other question," He made himself continue. "you are right. I am a little transparent." A forced chuckle made its way passed his lips. "And I do not think you could ever be rude. I am not mortal. Therefore I cannot take solid form while on Earth."

"So," Kevin's brows knit and his hand slowly reached out. "I can't touch you?"

"No."

"Oh." A look that bordered on disappointment flashed across Kevin's face. He looked undecided, and his hand hovered a few inches from Sebastian's robes.

"It is all right. Go ahead." Sebastian held out his hand, palm side up. He nodded at Kevin's hand and then looked up with an encouraging smile. 

Gnawing on his bottom lip, Kevin met Sebastian's eyes and swallowed. His hand moved closer until it hovered over Sebastian's. Sebastian's breath stilled, despite knowing he wouldn't feel anything. Kevin's hand would go right through Sebastian's, but the thought that Kevin wanted to touch him thrilled and moved him beyond words. 

Slowly, Kevin's fingers moved in to touch. They both gasped in unison. Kevin's eyes bugged out his head as his fingers passed through Sebastian's. Sebastian's heart sped up. He had felt that. Not exactly felt it, but Sebastian's fingers had... tingled. That wasn't supposed to happen, and he had no idea what it meant. He forced himself to look calm, though he felt anything but.


Happy Holidays to all!!

Lily Grace


Paranormal Day!

you might have noticed it's paranormal day!

Ghost, ghoul fiends, all that good stuff

one lucky commenter will win a love spell gift pack!

Spoooky!

Since it's paranormal day, I'm offering up a snippet from my Halloween Sip from this year, 'Le Ankou.' The story isn't terribly smutty, but I'll try to give you the good bit.

Blurb: In old world Brittany, Mael Le Calvès lives in despair after the loss of his lover Donan to consumption. Mael contracts the disease as well, and one cold night, has a near death experience. On the other side, he discovers Donan is the parish Ankou, the Bretton death servant collecting the dying in a spectral cart. Mael is revived, but after seeing his lover, is determined to reunite with him.

Mael attempts suicide repeatedly, but is saved by well-meaning people. Fearing he will never see his lover again, he stumbles from his home on New Year’s Eve night in the hopes his grief, if not his death, will allow him to see Donan one last time.


Excerpt:

In late summer Mael had a dream. He had spent long weeks contemplating ways to end his life, with methods irreversible, in places he would not be found. He discovered Donan's ornate gold-tipped dagger in a wooden chest of his belongings, a gift from his father. Mael took the knife to bed with him and slept with his hand upon the hilt. He did not need to summon the Ankou however, for the Ankou came to him.

"You must not do this," Donan whispered. He looked beautiful. Though he wore his black cloak, he appeared alive beneath the hood, gorgeous as in his youth. He hovered over Mael, straddling him upon the bed. Mael felt his warmth, the solid realness of him, and nearly wept with joy, a joy he had not known in so long.

"I want to be with you," Mael pleaded. "I cannot bear this life without you. I cannot be here, knowing you are out there each night collecting the dead and I cannot be near you."

"You will not be with me if you do this. You must wait, love."

"I cannot wait!" He clutched at the fabric of Donan's cloak, at his silken hair. Mael feared he would dissipate, but he remained solid. Lips pressed to Donan's, warm and alive, with the taste of dying summer behind them, the taste of promises and love. Mael kissed Donan with all the desire and anguish in his heart. He clutched at his lover's body, pulled Donan down flush against him and felt the only surge of arousal he had experienced in three seasons.

In the half-true world of sleep and dreams, caught between life and death, he saw Donan for several nights. The realm, he realized, presented a place they could both exist. Donan said little, outside of repeating to him, "do not do this, you must wait." In the darkness they made love, bodies and souls entwining gloriously, and when Mael awoke, the sheets reeked of his dead lover's scent and he wept, burned by the sun. He could not bear the pain of the waking world. He made his way to the nearby village, a great physical task for him, his body weakened by both sickness and poison. With the few coins he had left, he bought sleeping potions from the old crones with their baskets full of magic. He went back to his now squalid and crumbling home, knowing this meant he would not eat for a week and not caring. The serving girl had stopped coming after he'd attacked her, her master who had been so kind to him no longer sending gifts.

However, grief would be his only reward for spending his last pittance: Donan stopped visiting his dreams.


Thanks for letting me play here this holiday season, everyone! If I've piqued your interest, come pay me a visit! Happy Holidays!

Shifting Perspectives Book Two: Excerpt/Blurb

An excerpt and blurb from Shifting Perspectives Book Two: Jacey, Fynn and Aden, as well as another Aussie Christmas favourite: White Christmas. A dessert this time, but be warned, this one is SUPER sweet.

This novella is due for release in April 2011. Keep your eyes open; in April, I will be hosting on Torquere Social, Torquere LiveJournal and on my own blog with a few competitions to win yourselves a free copy of this bad boy (or boys, depending on how you look at it ;)).

Blurb:

Jacey felt a connection with Fynn and Aden, he just didn't want to know about it. Jacey was straight and he wasn't interested; now he just had to make Fynn and Aden see it.

Fynn knew Jacey was theirs, Aden felt the connection through his mate bond with Fynn; now they just had to make Jacey see it. What happens when two dingos decide on a human third...whether he likes it or not?


Excerpt:

Unedited
Copyright Nerine Petros

"Heading back into the kitchen, which was now empty, Jacey was finally able to grab that cup of coffee, before turning to head deeper into the house. He wanted his stuff back, dammit. He wasn’t staying another minute. To hell with the job, he’d move to a city and find something, cause there certainly wasn’t anything keeping him here. Oliver was obviously one of them now, and Jacey had no interest in being a third wheel.

With these thoughts solidified in his head, Jacey started exploring the upstairs sections of the building, which seemed to house the bedrooms (if that’s what they could be called at the size they were) and the bathrooms. Coming up to the first door, he could see it was locked, so he headed to the next one.

A voice from behind startled him out of his musings and made him spill coffee down most of his front, not that it mattered much in his present state of roughness.

"You want the third door down on the left." Jacey would know that rumble anywhere, and answered Aden without turning.

"Right, thanks for that, I’ll just grab my things and be on my way then." He started forward now that he had direction.

"I do not think so," was Aden's growled response. Jacey turned to find the much larger man walking slowly, but with purpose, towards him, herding him backwards towards the aforementioned bedroom.

"Do you really think we are going to let you just walk away, Jace? Do you really think that knowing my mate has tasted your lips, and I have yet to, helps me sleep at night? Does it not matter to you that I want to pin you to a wall and have my way with you?" Aden continued to growl at him as he stalked Jacey backwards.

"Don’t call me that." Jacey knew that wasn't a real intelligent comeback, but it was the only thing he could think to blurt out at the alteration of his name while ignoring the rest of what Aden said.

"Oh, I’ll call you more than that, I’ll call you mate before this night is over," Aden declared.
"



Wishing you all a Merry whatever it is you celebrate and a wonderful, safe passage into the New Year.

Nerine x


Recipe: White Christmas

250 grams Copha
3 cups Rice Bubbles
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 cup mixed dried fruit
1 cup milk powder
3/4 cup sifted icing sugar
A few drops of Vanilla or Rum essence.

Melt Copha and stir in all the other ingredients. Add the vanilla or rum essence.
Spread the mixture evenly in a flat tin, place in refrigerator to set and cut into 3 cm squares when firm.

Duet by Eden Winters

I've been told that my latest novel, Duet, is hard to classify. It's half historical, half contemporary, and very paranormal.(And it has as sexy Highlander in a kilt!) It's also contains one of my favorite themes: love that exists even beyond death -- and a happy ending, of course.

Here's the blurb:

The English are an evil not to be tolerated, or so Aillil Callaghan believes, and Malcolm Byerly, the Kentish tutor Aillil's father brings to the Highlands to teach his younger brothers, is no exception. Their affection for the boys and a shared passion for the violin bring the two men together, and scarlet fever tears them apart. When a Druid priestess offers her aid, grief-stricken Aillil vanishes into legend, to be handed down from one generation to the next.

Over two centuries later, violinist Billy Byerly’s arrival at Callaghan Castle for a concert feels like coming home. An old man presents him with a strangely familiar violin, and from its strings he draws melodies he doesn't remember learning. Billy doesn’t believe in ghosts, but if the tales of the Lost Laird aren’t true, then why does he dream of a dark-haired, kilted Highlander? And why is he haunted by the strains of a phantom violin? Two violins, one love. How many lifetimes?

Here's an excerpt:

The canvas hanging over the hearth was blank. Billy flinched, looking up to find the raven-haired Highlander standing over him, smiling and extending a hand. The gesture seemed comforting somehow, and Billy reached out for that large, rough hand without hesitation. In a part of his brain inaccessible during waking moments, he knew this man, the Lost Laird of the Callaghans. Far from the expected fear, Billy was filled with deep and sincere longing. Giving trust freely along with his hand, he followed the otherworldly visitor from the great hall.
 
"Where are you taking me?" he asked, without really caring. He’d go anywhere this spirit led.
 
"You'll see in a few moments," the specter replied with a soft chuckle, placing a blindfold that had appeared from nowhere over Billy's eyes. "Take care where you step."
 
"You're taking me upstairs?"
 
"Shh... Quiet, my little fox," was murmured against Billy's skin, warm lips finding and tickling his neck. Ghosts had warm lips? A shiver flew up his spine. "A few more steps."
 
Billy had never ventured upstairs before, but had a good idea of their destination, and his anticipation soared. A door quietly shut behind them and a rich Scottish burr husked, "Open your eyes." The blindfold slid from his face.
 
Billy's eyes flew open and he stared in shocked amazement. The familiar bed, the trunk, the mirror, the chair! He'd been to this room before! His guide smiled, eyes crinkling at the corners. A hand on his back ushered Billy toward the enormous bed, then slipped beneath his shirt to tease the thin patch of hair above his trouser band.
 
"I want you," the ghost murmured against Billy's nape, whiskers tickling the sensitive skin there. Billy shivered, not from cold, but from arousal. A second hand joined the first, and his dream lover stripped the shirt away, leaving him bare from the waist up.
 
Gentle hands stroked his sides, turning him, and dark, lust-filled eyes left Billy feeling more desired than ever before. Cock already hard and aching, he feared he'd come immediately from a single touch.
 
"Do you trust me?" the apparition asked.
 
"With my life," Billy replied, knowing in his soul that it was true. He watched, fascinated, as the spirit's lips descended, drawing ever closer.
 
 A faint meeting of lips, like a shy hello, and then the gentle exploration escalated into something deep and passionate. It had been far too long since Billy had had the attention of another, and the craving for this man was nearly unbearable. The kilted Scot reached down and squeezed Billy's erection with a strong hand. "It seems you missed me, too, Mael Caluim."
 
Billy woke abruptly, still feeling those lips upon his skin. Why did he have to wake up now? Why couldn't he have finished the dream?

O Holy Night by DC Juris

A little ficlet featuring the angel Ekenezer, and his human lover, Nathan, from "On God's Honor"

Ekenezer let out a low whistle as Nathan entered the room. Dressed in a black tuxedo with a shiny red cummerbund and a matching bow tie, he was a vision of male perfection.

Nathan spun in a slow circle with his arms out as he approached Ekenezer. "Like it?"

"You look very nice." He slid his arms around Nathan's waist. "Although I think you always look nice."

"So do you." Nathan ran his hands up and down Ekenezer's own tux jacket.

Ekenezer shrugged. Truth be told, a Christmas concert was the last place he wanted to be tonight. He'd rather spend his night at home, in the state he'd become accustomed to: dressed in a pair of shorts and nothing else, with his wings out. But Nathan's father had bought them the tickets at great expense. The least they could do was go. He wiggled his shoulders, wings itchy.

"I appreciate you coming with me," Nathan murmured as though reading his thoughts.

"I am your guardian, after all." Ekenezer kissed Nathan's forehead. "There's nothing I'd rather do."

"Nothing?" Nathan asked, quirking an eyebrow at him.

"Well, maybe there's something, but that can wait until after the concert."

Nathan pushed Ekenezer's hand down to his cock. "I'm not sure it can."

Ekenezer made a gentle fist and smiled as Nathan arched and moaned. "It'll have to." He let go and stepped back. "Come. We're already late."

***

Nathan's cock was still pleasantly half hard by hour three of the Never-Ending Christmas Concert From Hell. He squirmed in his seat as the choir entered yet another bar of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." I'll rest after I get to pound some heavenly angel ass, he mused to himself.

Beside him, Ekenezer sat enthralled, watching the singers with intensity, following their every gesture and sway, his eyes moist. An irrational surge of jealously twisted Nathan's guts and he reached over to squeeze Ekenezer's hand.

Ekenezer glanced at him, then looked back at the stage. He must've caught a glimpse of something in Nathan's eyes though, for he quickly swiveled his head back around. "What's wrong?"

Ah. What a fortunate misinterpretation! Nathan seized the moment as an idea came to him. Perhaps everything didn't have to wait until after the concert. He ran a finger under the edge of his collar and feigned a headache. "I need some air," he whispered.

Ekenezer nodded and stood immediately. He helped Nathan stand--Nathan laid it on a little thick by leaning on his arm as they walked. Ekenezer headed toward the staircase leading down to the main door, but Nathan stopped him.

"I don't think I can take the street noise. Let's go out there." He pointed to a balcony on the right.

Ekenezer led the way, one arm around Nathan, eyes constantly scanning their surroundings, in full protector mode. Out on the balcony, Nathan headed for the furthest, darkest corner.

"Are you--"

Nathan cut off Ekenezer's question, spinning him around and pressing him against the wall. "I've been thinking about this all night." He quickly unbuttoned Ekenezer's slacks, knelt, and reached inside Ekenezer's boxers, puling out his cock.

"What're you…Oh!" Ekenezer let out a moan as Nathan began sucking and pulling in a slow rhythm. Nathan curled his tongue around Ekenezer's cock, sliding it up and down, teasing the little slit on the underside. He rubbed and cupped Ekenezer balls, rolling them back and forth gently in his palms.

"Nathan…" Ekenezer tangled his fingers in Nathan's hair, gently holding Nathan's head hostage as he bucked his hips, thrusting his cock deep into Nathan's throat.

In the background, the choir began the first verse of "O Holy Night." Nathan closed his lips tight and hummed along. That did it--Ekenezer's grip tightened and he shuddered, his spend filling Nathan's mouth. Nathan milked and swallowed every drop, then stood, licking his lips as he tucked Ekenezer's cock back where it belonged. He slid his arms around Ekenezer's neck and pulled his angel's head down for a long, deep kiss.

"What…was that for?" Ekenezer asked breathlessly as Nathan broke the kiss.

"Just thought I'd give you an early Christmas present." He chuckled, running his fingers along the red flush that had crept up to cover Ekenezer's cheeks. "You don't have to reciprocate until we get home, of course."

Ekenezer nodded quickly. "That's good!" He cast a glance skyward. "I can't believe you hummed "O Holy Night" while you…" He gestured vaguely to the area of his crotch.

Nathan pulled him close and kissed him gently. "Every night with you is a holy night. I think things like holy crap…how'd I get this lucky? Or holy hell don't stop touching me." He grinned as Ekenezer's face went through four more shades of red.

They walked back into the auditorium and reclaimed their seats. Ekenezer wrapped his arm around Nathan's shoulders and started running his fingers along the sensitive flesh of Nathan's neck. Nathan shivered. "You know what that does to me," he hissed softly.

"I do." Ekenezer nodded, gaze fixed on the stage.

Nathan sighed happily. Holy night indeed!

***

Sam and Hector!

Squeezing in under the wire to bring you this little holiday story with Sam and Hector from the Chaos Magic series. (Chaos Magic, Love Runes, and Personal Demons, as well as a Sam and Hector short in Toy Boxes: Public Places) Sorry if this is rough. I just finished it tonight.

Chaos Magic is urban fantasy. Sam and Hector are pagan gods, but that doesn't seem to make life any easier for them.

This is just a sweet (except where Sam gets a little carried away with his story) little tale of Hector and Sam at the Dewey farm for Christmas. Sam's sister Linda talks Hector into playing Santa, and Sam plays a Christmas angel for one of his nieces.


"Ho, ho ho!"

My sister Linda and I set down our coffee mugs on the big kitchen table in my parent's farmhouse at the same time and turned to the foyer. I must have been hearing things, because I could have sworn that was my big, badass Master Hector laughing like Santa Claus.

"Ho, ho, ho!"

I peaked around the corner, and there, between the parlor and the kitchen, stood Hector in a Santa suit. Swear to the Gods. White fluffy beard, a big sack (not that kind, get your mind out of my gutter) and those shiny knee-high black leather boots he wears when he dresses up like a cop and we play… Never mind. This is a Christmas story, and I'm going to keep it as wholesome as I possibly can.

I'll have to say, Hector looked pretty hot in that Santa suit. Oops. Mind, back on track. Wholesome, Sam. You're telling a wholesome story.

Right.

Anyway, while Linda, Mom, Pop, Linda's husband Doug, and I, stood gaping at Papi Christmas, my nieces and nephews and assorted second cousins who stayed over for our Solstice celebration stampeded down the stairs. All except Cora, of course, who probably thought that she was too cool for that kind of thing. She slinked halfway down the staircase then leaned against the banister and folded her arms across her chest. One sorrowful eye showed through the jet black bangs that hung in her face.

"Merry Christmas!"

Hector had to shout to be heard over the kids who had gone into hyperactive overdrive. I swear the little rats were bouncing off the walls already. That might have been because I kept slipping them candy all day, but I'm their uncle, and that's my job to spoil them, get them all worked up, and then take off before they puke.

I had no idea that Hector was going to play Santa. From the smirk on Linda's face, she was the one who talked him into it. Sometimes I wondered if I should be worried that my bratty older sister and my Master got along so well, and that they kept secrets from me.

The kids had made such a racket that my cousins appeared one by one on the stairs, peering down from the upstairs landing, and in the hallway until the foyer was so packed that no one could move.

"Maybe you should have a seat, Santa." Mom took Hector's arm and led him into the parlor. Mom looks like a mom should, very huggable and loving. She's also a wiccan High Priestess and a witch like Linda and me. I don't know if it's priestess power, witch power, or mom juju, but she can change from the sweetest person on earth into a drill sergeant in seconds flat. My sister, Linda, is just like her, except for the nice part. (Linda, if you read this, I'm kidding. Sort of.)

The kids followed Hector like he was the Pied Piper with the adults straggling in after them. Mom had him sit in Pop's recliner next to the Christmas tree. Pop already had his camera set up on a tripod facing the chair, so I guess he was in on the secret too.

Between the fire crackling in the fireplace, the scent of Christmas dinner lingering in the air, and the tree, the parlor smelled like Christmas should. I was so glad that Hector suggested that we spend the holidays at my parent's farm in southeastern Oklahoma, even if it meant sleeping on those lumpy beds in the converted sewing room on the third floor of the farmhouse. He didn't grow up around a big family, so sometimes the Dewey Clan could overwhelm him, but he never complained about spending time with them. I was one lucky boy.

Cora slid into the parlor behind me, still hugging herself so tightly that I wondered if she was afraid that she'd fly apart if she let go. I used to feel like that all the time. I put my hand out but didn't look at her. After a while, she took it. Poor kid. I could almost feel the misery rolling off her.

Hector stared at the kids. They stared back.

"Who wants to talk to Santa first?" Pop asked. Pop is tall and lanky like me, although I have my mother's deep blue eyes. If Pop ever unbraided his hippy hair, it would probably reach his waist.

Suddenly, all the kids were shy.

"Davey?" Pop asked.

Little cousin Davey - four and a half if I remember correctly - took one look at Papi Claus and just about peed his pants.

Did I mention that my Master is big and badass? Imagine Santa Claus as a Mexican muscle bear a little over six feet tall. A hot, sexy, Mexican muscle bear with a butt like…

Where was I?

Linda pushed through the kids. "Me first! Me first!" She plopped into Hector's lap. Then she wriggled a little. What a slut! (I know - I have no room to talk.) She whispered into Hector's ear while grinning and winking at her husband. Doug - who isn't a Dewey - blushed bright red. After she was done, Hector handed her a candy cane and a present from his red velvet sack.

That was enough to get break the ice. The kids mobbed Hector. Mom and my cousins got them into a line. Hector looked over their heads at me and nodded toward Cora. He saw how unhappy she was too.

I kept a firm grip on her hand and led her back to the foyer. "Let's go outside."

She pulled back.

"Unless you want to sit on Santa's lap?"

She sneered a little but let me take her outside.

I settled on the top step. She leaned against the porch railing and hid behind her hair.

"I don’t get to see stars much in Los Angeles. Too much light pollution," I said as I stared up at the night sky.

After a long silence, she said, "I got accepted to State."

She didn't sound too happy about it.

"Wow." I kept stargazing. She didn't say anything, so I finally said, "Good school. Congratulations."

As if a Dewey would go anywhere but Oklahoma State.

It was chillier outside than I expected. I should have worn a coat, but if I went inside to grab mine, I'd probably lose my chance to talk to her alone. I shoved my hands into my pockets.

Cora sniffled. "Daddy doesn't want anyone to know, but the paper mill is closing at the end of the year."

I nodded. "This economy is rough on everyone."

"I guess I can ask for delayed entry and try to get a job to help out."

From the sound of her voice, she was about two seconds from tears.

I leaned back on my elbows while I thought. The paper mill was the only industry in our little hometown. If her father, Doug, lost his job, it was going to be hard to find work. It as sweet of Cora to think of her family first, but in the long run, a college degree would help everyone in the family more than any job she could get around here.

"Or…"

She looked up at me. I could see her desperate hope for some kind of Christmas miracle. Handing her some candy wasn't going to be enough to fix this.

"Or you could go to college, work your ass off to get your degree, get a good job, and help out your folks then. But--" I held up my hand to stop her from interrupting. "That's four years away, and your folks need help now."

Cora sank down on the step next to me. "This sucks." She wiped a tear from her eye.

"Grandma and Grandpa are getting too old to run this farm by themselves. They've always hoped that your mom and dad would take over. I guess that's what's going to happen, even though it's sooner than your parents wanted to move back here. So they'll be all right."

"I guess so."

"But they won't have any money to pay for your college."

She shook her head.

The door opened behind us. Hector, still dressed in his Santa suit, stepped out onto the front porch. He dropped my coat on my head.

"You forgot something, as usual, boy." He muttered a few things I didn't quite catch, although I heard something about forgetting my head if it wasn't screwed on.

Pulling on my coat, I smiled up at him. "Thanks, Papi."

I turned back to Cora. "I guess it's a good thing that you've got an uncle who thinks you belong in school. Get whatever scholarships you can, and I'll make up the rest."

Cora glared at me. Her jaw set in a hard line. "I couldn't."

"You Deweys are all too stubborn for your own good," Hector said. He sat down between us. "Now you listen to me, Cora Jean. You're going to school. Let Sam and me worry about the money. End of discussion."

I don't know if it was relief or happiness or Papi Claus using his Master voice on her, but she laughed! I would have been on my knees begging his forgiveness. Then she hugged him. "Thanks, Uncle Hector." She let go of him and leaned forward to peer around him. "And you too, Uncle Sammy." She wiped away the tears trickling down her cheeks.

Hector shivered. "It's freezing out here. Get inside," he grumbled.

Cora and I both jumped to our feet. No one argued with Hector when he used that tone of voice.

She went inside, but he grabbed my hand.

"Aren't you going to sit on Santa's lap?" he asked.

I bowed my head and smiled as I shook my head.

"I'll give you candy."

Hector pulled on my hand until I either had to sit on his lap or fall over. He wrapped an arm around my waist. "Have you been a good little boy this year?"
Even though we were alone, I couldn't bring myself to say what I was thinking. I blushed though.

"Say it." Under his Santa wig and beard, his smile made his eyes crinkle up.

"I was a bad boy," I whispered.

"Naughty?"

I nodded.

Hector shook his head sadly. "It sounds as if Santa needs to put you over his lap and give you a good, hard spanking before bedtime."

Oops! I was going to make this a clean, wholesome story. And it sort of is. Hector and I were Cora's Christmas angels. That's sweet, right? As for what happened after Santa dragged me out to the woodshed (yes, there's an actual woodshed on my parent's farm), let's just say that before he was through with me, I promised to be a very, very, very good boy next year.

But I didn't mean a word of it.