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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Cinnamon and Cigarettes by Samantha Kate




Title:  Cinnamon and Cigarettes
Author: Samantha Kate
Publisher:  Torquere Press
Cover Artist: Kris Norris
Release Date:  June 1, 2016
Heat Level: 3
Pairing: F/F
Length: 88,800 words
Genre/Tags: Contemporary, Bisexual, Lesbian Romance, New Adult





Synopsis
Sara Clarke, recent college grad, is sweet, demure, and cautious in all things, but especially romance—until she meets Moira Estrada, a bold amateur pilot and patron at the library where Sara works. Their intimacy blooms rapidly as they share everything from a sudden medical emergency to Christmas with the Estrada family. With her dashing new girlfriend by her side, Sara learns to overcome some of her greatest fears, whether they be acknowledging her own bisexuality, flying across the sky in a Cessna, or falling in love for the first time.

But Sara’s fear of confrontation is harder to conquer. When asked about her relationship, she finds herself lying to her family, pretending to date a man so she can avoid conflict with her straight-laced and image-conscious parents. But her attempts to please everyone cannot last forever and could result in far worse than her parents’ disapproval: she might lose the respect of her new friends at the library, or become estranged from her sister—or, worst of all, Sara might lose the only person she’s ever truly loved.
Excerpt
Moira pulled her key-ring out of her pocket, plucking out a large silver key from her collection. “Fasten your seat belt. We’re starting the engine now.”

She inserted the key; the plane gave a small lurch as the engine burst to life beneath Sara’s feet, and the propeller began to spin. This engine was nothing like the smooth start of a car; it ignited with a roar, like a motorcycle gunning to maximum velocity, and within moments that sound was pierced with sharp, rhythmic bursts from the propeller’s increasing oscillation. The sound was cacophonous; Sara put her hands to her ears, to block out a fraction of the din.

Amid the noise, she heard Moira speaking into her microphone. “Fairways Air Control, this is Lamassu. Oil pressure gauge is green, transponder is on. Are you receiving transmission?…Okay, thank you. Requesting permission to taxi to Runway Three…You’re the man, sir.”

Sara smiled faintly at her pilot. Moira’s combination of aviation jargon and casual slang was, admittedly, really endearing. So was the way her eyes widened as she scanned the blinking lights and bright monitors in front of her, grinning gleefully, looking simultaneously mischievous and reverent.

“Hang on,” Moira said, removing one hand from the controller and fumbling around by her feet. “I forgot to give you your intercom.” She withdrew another pair of headphones, handing them over. “These will help with the noise.”

Sara put on her headphones; the cacophony was quelled into the distance, now just a background ambiance. In the forefront now was Moira’s voice, smooth and sanguine, every word spoken directly in Sara’s ears.

“Removing parking brake now,” Moira said, a hand reaching out to pull the brake knob near Sara’s knee. The plane slid forward, and Sara gulped, hoping to keep her stomach from lurching as well. 

“Beginning taxi.”

They slid along the main “road” at a slow crawl. Sara noted each white stripe that passed by until they’d arrived at one of the runways; they did a slow 90-degree turn until they faced the open road. It was barely wide enough to accommodate the plane’s wings, and the forest was perhaps a mile ahead. Was that really enough space for them to take off? Even in such a small aircraft? Wouldn’t it take a massive amount of acceleration to lift them into the air? Was this even possible? Was it—

“Trim and flaps set,” said the voice in Sara’s ear, shaking her out of her fretting. Moira had a more “official” tone now, like one might hear over an automated line, with measured rising and falling inflections. 

“Engine temperature normal. Wingtip strobes on. Airspeed indicator reads zero.”

Sara fidgeted with the boom mic on her headphones. “That’s a lot of things to know about,” she whispered into it.

Moira turned her head, smiled, and put one hand on Sara’s knee. “That it is. But I’ve had my license for almost four years now, and if I were a shit pilot, they wouldn’t let me waltz back in those doors.” She grinned. “I’m going to bring you home safe, Sara. I promise.”

Sara nodded slowly.

“Okay,” Moira continued, pulling her hand back and gripping the throttle, “Lamassu departing now.
She pushed the throttle in, gradually but firmly, and they lurched forward, slowly at first, but soon they were gathering speed—the pine trees lining the runway lost the detail of their branches and needles, and soon they were a blur of dark teal and mossy green, punctuated by open field—and Sara’s stomach was shoved down and back into the seat; she felt like where she once had flesh and sinew and blood there was now only a void, an empty space filling itself with nothing but the rush of incoming air—

“Okay, Sara, we’re going to lift off—now!

Sara hadn’t known what it was like to lose the ground beneath her until this moment, when Lamassu’s nose flicked up and an anchor tied around her feet her whole life came undone, evaporated, dissipated into the afternoon sunlight—she realized it existed only when it ceased to exist. Suddenly there was space around her in every direction; she was now bound by nothing. The seat belt wrapped snug around her waist, the windshield ahead, the pane of glass a few inches from her right cheek—they seemed trivial, insignificant, incapable of truly binding her when the space beneath her feet was exponentially expanding.

“You’ve taken flight, dear.”

Soon the white lines beneath them vanished as well, as the runway shrank down, becoming a tiny part of a tiny complex that was quickly passing beneath and behind, no longer required, no longer relevant. She needed nothing in the air, only that constant whir of propeller oscillation, the humming of the engine, and the whipping of wind through the microscopic crack between the window and the fuselage. She almost thought she might float above her own seat, no longer subject to earth’s gravitational force.

“How are you feeling?”

Even Moira’s voice was distant now.

“I’m fine,” she said, in a tone that was half hummed, half spoken. She reached one hand up to the windowpane, tracing random curves along the glass with a couple of fingers. “I…I’m flying.”

“That you are.” Moira dropped her professional tone, her voice wrapping snugly around Sara’s head again. “And how does it feel?”

Even the trees were shrinking away now, becoming indistinct clusters of viridian mixed with a soft palette of mossy and earthy hues, separated by strips of gray asphalt drawing mechanical grids along the earth. She looked ahead, and for the first time took in the sky; its cerulean blue spread out infinitely across the horizon, accented with a few wispy cirrus clouds and an occasional burst of gold light reflecting from nearby lakes.

“It’s liberating.”

“Perfect.” Moira pressed a few more buttons, and the plane gently pitched forward, sliding into a consistent altitude. Within a few minutes they leveled off, thousands of feet above the earth, the bustling metropolis a mere memory behind them.
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Meet the Author
Samantha Kate works as a paralibrarian (that’s library support staff) for her day job. In her free time, she tries to pursue more creative projects than is humanly possible. Cinnamon and Cigarettes is her first novel; her short story, “Bottom of the River,” was published in Torquere Press’ Twisted Fables anthology in February 2016.




 Giveaway
Rafflecopter Prize: One winner will be selected to win an eBook copy of Cinnamon and Cigarettes.





Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Strong Medicine by J.K. Hogan




Title:  Strong Medicine
Author:  J.K. Hogan
Publisher:  Wilde City Press
Cover Artist: J.K. Hogan (KHD Graphics)
Release Date:  5/11/16
Genre/Tags: Psychological, Dark, M/M Romance










Synopsis
Two men who meet in a psychiatric institution couldn’t possibly find happiness together—could they?

The world seemed to be telling disgraced former child star and singer Cameron Fox that he would never be happy again. A drunken car accident gets him sentenced to a work-release at Riverbend Behavioral Health Facility.

Reclusive, traumatized writer Jonah Radley has an entire graveyard of skeletons in his closet. Jonah regularly hospitalizes himself for psychotic episodes caused by a horrific childhood trauma, his biggest secret—one he refuses to speak about in therapy.

Jonah and Cameron form a bond inside the hospital, forged in mutual pain and hope for a better life. Once they leave the hospital, they must decide if they are brave enough to explore the intricacies of living with mental illness—and find a new normal together.



 Excerpt
Jonah was feeling particularly lucid that day. He hadn’t seen any dead relatives, nothing had burned, and he actually felt like he was inside his own body, for once. He knew it wouldn’t last. It was a constant feeling of dancing on the edge of the cliff, just waiting for the one misstep that would send him plummeting into the void again.

He sat in the rocking chair, the one that had become known as ‘Jonah’s chair,’ and watched Harry the groundskeeper shovel snow off the patio next to the picture window. The scoliotic old man bent to sprinkle handfuls of rock salt over the pavers before moving on farther into the courtyard.

As usual, Jonah lost himself in the warmth of the blanket of sunlight, so much so that he was startled when he sensed a presence behind him. It was just a change in the air, a shift of the molecules, and then a new scent—sharp and heady, a mixture of cedar smoke and Old Spice. Jonah had smelled it before, yesterday. He didn’t need to see to know that the sparkly new probie was standing behind him.

And just like that, just picturing the man in his mind with his weird, shaggy blond hair, dark blue eyes, and boyish features, Jonah remembered. He’d been much younger then, the boy on the TV that his mother had sat him in front of when she couldn’t deal with his damning silence anymore. That boy, his sweet face, and even sweeter voice, had saved Jonah more times than he could count, just kept him hanging on for one more day.

Staring unblinking out the window, Jonah breathed deep of that fragrance and addressed the spectral memory of Kyle Chase. “I know you,” he whispered.

The air stilled as the movement behind him ceased, as if the other man had turned to stone.
“I loved you once.”

Footsteps. Soft, padding, staccato beats of leather against linoleum, until Jonah was face to face with his boyhood crush. Well, more like face to chest, since Jonah was seated and Kyle was looming over him. He wasn’t Kyle, of course, not really. Though Jonah strained, digging through layers of memory, he couldn’t extract the boy—man’s real name.

“Excuse me?” Not-Kyle asked, bushy eyebrows raised toward his hairline.

Jonah tried for a rueful smile, and he could practically hear his skin cracking with the effort. “Sorry, probie. It’s well known around here that I don’t make any sense. What I meant was ‘I used to watch your show.’”

“Oh. I, uh… really?”

Jonah half coughed, half grunted, because it was as close as he ever got to a laugh. 

“That surprises you?”

“Yes—No! I just sometimes forget that the people who used to watch my show are all grown-up now. Most of the time, I still feel like a kid, so it kind of catches me off guard.” He ran a hand through that mop of messy hair—bleached blond like he was still playing a Cali surfer boy on TV—then squatted down so that he was on Jonah’s level.

“I think you’d be the first one to call me a grown-up. I’ve been called a lot of things, but never that. Besides, I’m not as old as I look.”

“Yeah? How old?”

“Twenty-three.”

“Oh. Wow.”

“Yeah, I know. That’s what hard living and insanity will do to you,” Jonah explained without a hint of malice.

“Oh, no. I’m sorry, that came out wrong… You don’t look bad. It’s the opposite, really. You look… yeah, anyway, you’re right, you do just look older than twenty-three. Not in a bad way.”

“Easy there. It’s really okay. I’m pretty hard to insult. Most of the things you could think of to say about me would be true anyway.” Jonah wiped his sweaty palms on his sweatpants and reached on out to him. “Jonah Radley.”

“Cameron Fox.” Cameron took his hand, shook it, lingered just a second longer than was proper.

“I have to admit, I was wrangling for an introduction because I couldn’t remember your real name. I figure you probably wouldn’t want me calling you Kyle.”

Cameron’s laugh was soft, cozy, like a splash of honey in some warm Earl Grey. “No, I guess not. It’s nice to meet you, Jonah Radley. 

Radley, that’s an unusual name.”

“Indeed it is. Not as unusual as you’d think, but yes… I did have to deal with the well-read students in school calling me ‘Boo’ all the time. But this is rural Appalachia, so it wasn’t always a problem if you get my drift.”

Jonah could see it took Cameron a moment to get the reference, but when he did, he chuckled again. “So what made you decide to join the wonderful world of psychiatric care?” Jonah asked.

Something flashed in Cameron’s eyes, a cloud, a moment of indecision, before he answered. “I got arrested.”

“Ah, you’re one of Rohan’s boys.” Jonah kept his voice neutral, careful not to seem like he was judging, because people in glass houses and all that… “A probie in every sense of the word.”

Cameron lowered his head, studied the ugly, weathered linoleum. “Unfortunately.”
“Hey, we all have pasts. At least you have a future.”

That blond head snapped up, and Cameron gaped at him. “So do you, Jonah.”

Jonah shook his head sadly, then caught sight of a pair of dark, yawning eye sockets peering through the window. One of the dead girls, of course, just when he was starting to feel human again.

He didn’t make eye contact when he spoke to Cameron. “You should go now,” he whispered.

“Jonah…”

“Go!” Jonah shouted it, his voice tinged with desperation. He never cared before, but he didn’t want this man to see him disappear, to see him float. His eyes welled up, something that hadn’t ever happened at Riverbend before, and he felt ashamed. “Please.”

“Probie!” Rohan’s rich tenor rang out across the buzzing air, slicing the tension between them. Cameron tensed, and his feet seemed to obey Rohan before the rest of him caught up. He cast one more sad, sidelong look at Jonah before he was led away.

Once he was alone, Jonah began to shake. Shivering violently though he was burning up inside, Jonah felt tears sear flaming rivulets down his cheeks. He dug the heels of his hands into his eye sockets until they ached, and eventually the tears stopped. 
Then there was nothing left but smoke.



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Meet the Author
J.K. Hogan has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, beginning with writing cast lists and storylines for her toys growing up. When she finally decided to put pen to paper, magic happened. She is greatly inspired by all kinds of music and often creates a “soundtrack” for her stories as she writes them. J.K. is hoping to one day have a little something for everyone, so she’s branched out from m/f paranormal romance and added m/m contemporary romance. Who knows what’s next?

J.K. resides in North Carolina, where she was born and raised. A true southern girl at heart, she lives in the country with her husband and two sons, a cat, and two champion agility dogs. If she isn’t on the agility field, J.K. can often be found chasing waterfalls in the mountains with her husband, or down in front at a blues concert. In addition to writing, she enjoys training and competing in dog sports, spending time with her large southern family, camping, boating and, of course, reading! For more information, please visit www.jkhogan.com.






Strong Medicine – Playlist
After each of my books is finished, I post a text copy of my playlist, and an iTunes widget where most of the songs can be played. I sincerely hope I’ve led some of my readers to discover new music over the course of my writing.

http://jkhogan.com/sm_playlist/


Songs that reminded me of Jonah’s need for love and the pain that he lived with daily, Gently by You + Me, 



I See Fire by Ed Sheeran was an often played song, as Jonah’s main hallucination was seeing everything on fire.


                                                    


Hear Me by Imagine Dragons really got to me because it reminded me of Jonah’s fear of sleeping because he was afraid he’d die




 Trigger by Phillip Phillips just reminded me of exactly what it felt like to be inside Jonah’s head 





















Monday, May 9, 2016

Freeing Pain: Annex by Lor Rose




Title:  Freeing Pain: Annex
Author:  Lor Rose
Series: Freeing Book One
Release Date:  4/7/16
Pairing: MM
Genre/Tags: Contemporary, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Shifter









Jude Kash’s life was filled with abused animals and too little sleep. His work at the We Are One Foundation brought him his new devil-dog Teddy Bear and his new obsession: an abused liger named Sampson.

Sampson suffered from poor living conditions and threats with a gun. Jude, or Kash to his friends, witnessed it first hand when he snuck onto Whitman’s, Sampson’s owner’s, property. When Kash and others from the We Are One Foundation finally make a plan to rescue poor Sampson things go terribly wrong.

When Kash finally regains consciousness he awoke to a very handsome and naked man taking care of him. Kash felt a connection with the man he couldn’t explain. The man introduced himself as Maj and explained everything except for one small detail of his life: he was Sampson, a liger shifter.

Kash took the news considerably well except for one problem... that detail wasn’t so small, in fact, it could cost Kash his life.

Excerpt
Chapter One: Teddy Bear

The high was waning.

Adrenaline siphoned away, leaving me feeling tired and a little weak.

I needed a damn nap.

“I can’t believe that little monster let you get him.”

Amanda, my best friend, said from behind the wheel of the truck.

I sighed and pet the dog in my lap. He was asleep, curled up, and sighed. “He’s sweet.”

Amanda scoffed. “He’s evil.”

She turned on the blinker and turned down the street that led to the warehouse of the
We Are One Foundation.

“He’s spirited.”

“Spirited with a demon.”

I rolled my eyes and decided to ignore her. It wasn’t the little dog’s fault. He was scared earlier.
Hell, I was too. This was the largest animal rescue the We Are One Foundation took on at one time.

 A cosmetic company, Sugar Pop, agreed to release their testing animals in a PR attempt when it was made known they did, in fact, test on animals. I didn’t really give a damn why they did; I was just happy about it.

This little dog in my lap was one of those dogs. He was kept in a tiny cage, and his skin was red or irritated. Some of his hair was missing in patches. In a weird way, it made him cuter. Once his hair grew in, I thought it’d be white with patches of tan and probably curly.

This little dog was the last one to be taken out of there. His hostile nature wasn’t exactly inviting. Our veterinarian wanted to sedate him, but I said no. Instead I sat with him, the cage open, and waited.

 That was it. I could tell he waited for me to grab or strong-arm him out of the cage. With only a few minutes of completely ignoring him, the little dog jumped into my lap and hadn’t left my side since.

The little dog stirred and stretched. Black eyes looked at me with hope. Hope I wouldn’t hurt him or perhaps hope that I would love him.

Either way, it was after everything humans had done to him.

A dog’s hope couldn’t be crushed like a human’s could.

Sometimes, I wished I was a dog.

“You’re even more worthless than shit because at least you can turn shit into fertilizer.” Those words, my dad’s words, bounced around my head.

I internally balked, and my stomach twisted into knots.

Thinking of my “family” was never a good thing. I needed to focus today. The last time I saw any of them was twelve years ago when my dad finally kicked me out.

I was only fourteen at the time. If I told anyone, which was rare, they automatically assumed it was because I was gay. Truth was, even I didn’t know I was gay until a few years later.
My dad just hated me.

He never physically hurt me, but mental abuse could be just as severe. Sometimes, if done properly, more damaging.

What hurt the most wasn’t my dad’s constant insults; it was my mother standing there, acting like everything was okay. She never defended me. Not once.

When it was just us, she was sweet and kind, but when dad was around, she ignored me. I never understood why. I was a good kid and made excellent grades.

Every day I tried to make my dad happy, but nothing worked. Nothing I did was ever good enough.

“Stop it.”

I jerked, startled. “What?” The little dog snuggled against my chest and licked my chin. A paw dug into my balls.

“You’re thinking about your parents. Stop it.”

My mouth worked. “How did you…?”

“You curl in on yourself when you think about them. Like you’re trying to make yourself smaller or something. Sometimes you whine.” She turned into the warehouse parking lot.

“They’re not worth it so stop.” She parked and looked at me.

“They’re not your family anymore. We are.”

She reached over to squeeze my knee, but a growl from the pup in my lap stopped her. “Damn dog.” She smiled, telling me she didn’t really mean it and got out.

I hugged the little dog close. She was right. Thinking about them wouldn’t do me any good.
A whine pulled my attention to him. “Its okay, Teddy Bear I’m okay.” Teddy Bear? Where had that come from?

 His tail wagged, and I decided Teddy Bear was his name. It fit in an odd deformed way. “Come on.” I gathered him up and zipped him inside my jacket, since he had no fur to protect him from the cold day. I got out with one arm underneath him for support.

Usually, I’d unload, but with my own precious cargo, I opted to head inside and organize the chaos. I began helping process all the dog’s information. Most were still awaiting a vet check and needed a collar with their identification barcodes to match their paperwork.

I didn’t have the heart to put Teddy Bear down. Instead, I found a piece of rope and used it as a belt to keep Teddy Bear in place while I went to help.

We had two vets volunteering their time to help us, along with a half a dozen vet techs. I picked up a stack of paperwork, paper hangers, and headed for the dogs. The first cage I came to held a little dog that looked like a Chihuahua mix. She was almost bald, and her skin looked raw.

The hooks for the paperwork always pissed me off. They tangled up in a metal knot, and it took me a second to get one free. I clipped one onto the cage and hung the dog’s future paperwork and medical records. A plastic collar was attached to each set of paperwork. I removed it and opened the cage. 
She instantly came to me, licking my outstretched hand.

“Hi, sweetheart” I gave her a gentle pat and reached to put on a collar. She didn’t understand and reared back, crying. My heart constricted for the poor girl. Teddy Bear sniffed in her general direction, then looked at me.

 “I’m sorry,” I told her and closed the door to move on. Amanda was on the opposite end of the kennels, taking out dogs and their papers to transport them to the vet area.

Teddy Bear and I continued assigning dogs paperwork for well over two hours before I was finally finished. I sat in the middle of the floor completely uncaring if I was in anyone’s way. 

Exhaustion weighed me down, and a headache formed at the base of my head. My stomach gurgled, and I realized I hadn’t eaten anything all day except an apple before I came in that morning.

My jacket squirmed, startling me. Teddy Bear scratched the inside of my jacket, and I got the hint. I stood with a huff and swayed a little. Food was definitely in my immediate future.
 “Tammy!” I called, and the woman in question skidded to a stop.

“Yes?”

“Can you get me a leash? I need to take this guy outside.”

Tammy nodded and hurried off. Teddy Bear squirmed again. I shook my head and kneeled, then unzipped my jacket, tossing the rope into the corner. Teddy Bear jumped out and shook. 
He turned to me with a doggy smile and twirled with a bark.

“Okay, okay,” I said and petted the little pooch.

Tammy came back, holding out a leash. Teddy growled at her and cowered closer to me. “He needs to be seen and entered into the system,” she told me, and I nodded.

I knew that, but I couldn’t leave this little guy. 

“Come here.”

 Teddy Bear walked over and leaned against me. I put the leash on, and he stood completely frozen. 

His upper lip pulled back with a growl. He spun and bit the leash, trying his damndest to get free.

My first instinct was to comfort Teddy, but I knew that wasn’t what he needed. He had to work this out and calm down with the leash on. If I gave in now, he’d always be scared of a leash. 

That wouldn’t be good since a leash would prevent him from running into traffic or something.

Teddy eventually calmed and lay down, panting. “Come on. Come on,” I encouraged, but Teddy Bear wasn’t having it. He looked at me like I was crazy. A sigh broke free. I did not have the patience for this right then.

“Come on, boy.” A gentle tug had Teddy Bear fighting me all over again, but this time he quieted down more quickly than before.

Teddy Bear walked a step. “Good boy!” I praised, and he wagged his little tail, and then took another step.

With every step, I praised him, and he kept on walking.

We made it outside, and he relieved himself almost immediately. “What a good boy,” I told him, and he pranced on his back feet. I picked him up and put him in my jacket again where he sat, making himself comfy.

I went back inside, heading for the vet area. Other volunteers were seeing to the examined dogs’ water and food needs. Others were taking the dogs out for a potty break. Normally with this amount of dogs, the barking, whining, and crying was deafening, but this group was too quiet.

“Hey, Kash,” Angela said. She was one of the veterinarians helping us out. “Is he for me?” She nodded to my jacket.

“His name is Teddy Bear.” I unzipped my jacket, and Teddy almost fell out onto the examination table.

Angela smiled. “Named him, huh? Well, it fits.” She went to pet Teddy and he growled then snapped.

Angela jerked back. “Harris? Can you bring me a muzzle in here?”

“No muzzles,” I told her. “I’ll hold him or something, but he’s not wearing a muzzle ever again.”

Angela nodded and put on her stethoscope. I held Teddy’s head while Angela performed her 
examination and gave him his shots. Poor Teddy whined, cried, snarled, snapped, and wiggled around, but he never bit me.

“Well,” Angela said with a huff, “other than his little personality disorder and his skin, he’s a pretty healthy little Pomeranian-poodle mix, three to four years old.” 

Angela jotted something down in Teddy’s file.

“With a little weight and some medicated shampoo, he should be fine.”

Teddy jumped into my arms and started licking my chin. “That’s really good news.”

“The other volunteers told me about you with that little guy, in your jacket all day. You should adopt him. You’re the only one he seems to like anyway.”

The thought hadn’t occurred to me. Teddy put his paw on my chest, and our gaze connected. 
In all my years of working at the foundation, I’d never adopted one of our rescues before. 
This little dog had gone through a lot, and the least I could do was offer him a home.

“I think I will.”

“Then this is yours.” Angela handed me Teddy’s new medical file with a smile.

“Hang on.” She left, and then returned with a bag a few minutes later.

 “Here’s his medicated shampoo. Give him a bath tonight, then every other week for the next two months to treat his skin. An oatmeal soak every week wouldn’t hurt.

I’ll see you, Kash.”

“Thanks, Angela.” I walked out with my new little guy and headed out to where the other dogs were.
The stairs leading to the offices creaked as I went in search of Terry, the foundation’s originator.
 I’d met Terry a year after my dad kicked me out.

He had taken me in and raised me as his own son.

I found him in the conference room, ending a call. 

“Hey, Terry”

He turned, and I couldn’t help but notice how tired he looked. “Yeah ?”

Terry gathered some paperwork and a notepad. “Who’s that? He’s cute.”

“This is Teddy Bear.” I proudly showed off the little pup.

He wagged his tail and tried to lick my face.

“I wanted to talk to you about adopting him.”

Terry paused. He looked at me and Teddy Bear. “Are you sure?”

I hitched Teddy Bear up a bit. “Positive.”

Terry smiled and shook his head. “He’s all yours. You can fill out the paperwork tomorrow. 
Go home, Kash. You were here late last night and before me this morning.

Get some rest.”

Terry walked past me, holding all of his papers, and patted me on the shoulder.
Teddy growled, but I hushed him.

“Mean-ass little thing,” I whispered and turned around, heading for my desk.

My keys sat where I left them. As I snatched them, I knew I was forgetting something.
My gaze landed on the call desk nearest mine. Tracey. I looked around, but I didn’t see her anywhere and I didn’t remember her being downstairs.

I had wanted to talk to her about a call she received that morning.

The word liger came up, but I could’ve been hearing things.

My eyes began to burn, and I blinked them a few times, but it did no good. I felt drunk, the sleepy kind of drunk. Maybe Terry was right, some rest would do me some good.

I pocketed my keys and snatched my phone, then headed for the stairs.

Once downstairs, I spotted Amanda. “Hey, I’m leaving,” I told her.

She blew a piece of hair out of her face. “I was about to tell you to get your ass out of here.”
 Amanda cautiously hugged me to avoid Teddy.

We said our good-byes, and I left out of the side door. 

My old beat-up car sat in the sun. That had to be bad for my peeling paint, but I wasn’t sure.

Fishing my keys out of my pocket proved harder than it should’ve been.

One of my keys was stuck in a hole in my pocket.

A loud rip sounded when I wrenched my keys free.

“Damnit”

Oh well, it’d match just about everything else I owned.

I opened the door with my key, and then reached inside to unlock the back door.

Teddy Bear didn’t like it when I put him in the backseat and tied his leash to the seat belt. I climbed inside, started my car, and sat a minute, blinking the sleep out of my eyes.

My headache pulsed at the base of my neck, and my stomach was trying to eat itself. “That cannot be the time,” I groaned.

It could not be dinner time already, but according to my clock, it was.

I backed out of my parking spot and headed for home. The light at the corner turned red, and I glanced around. Resting my head back, I pondered which pet store I should stop at to get Teddy some basic supplies. There was that Pet Mart at the corner before my apartment. 
The parking lot also had a burger place where I could stop.

The light turned green, and some fifteen minutes and four lights later, I came to a stop in Pet Mart’s parking lot. I got out and fetched Teddy from the back.

I zipped him up in my jacket again since he seemed to like it there. Teddy settled with his little head poking out the top. Once inside, I grabbed a shopping cart and went browsing for the basics.

Our first stop was collars. “What color?” The entire aisle was lined with different hues and patterns. I wasn’t much on complicated designs, but the blue one with yellow paw prints was pretty darn cute.

“What do you think of this?” I asked for no reason whatsoever while picking the collar up to show it to him. Teddy just wagged his tail. 

“Well, you’re no help.”

Teddy just sat there, looking adorable. I picked the color along with a six-foot leash and a harness for car rides. Having his collar, harness, and leash match wasn’t necessary. Besides, the matching leash was nine dollars more than the plain red one.

Next I needed to pick some nice bowls. There were so many kinds, I didn’t know which to pick. I settled on the stainless steel ones since those were the kind we used at the foundation.

“What food do you like?” Teddy just looked at me. “Why do I even bother?” I found the food aisle and picked an organic brand along with some treats by the same company. 

“You’re going to eat better than me.”

On the way to the checkout line, I passed some crates. Should I get him one? No, he’d spent too much time locked up already, and I wasn’t about to do that to him, too. A cute display of discounted dog beds caught my eye near the registers.

“You’ll just end up in bed with me anyway,” I told him. “But you’ll need a place when I’m gone.”

Teddy just grunted and settled into my jacket.

I rolled my eyes and picked out a nice red bed.

ID tags snagged my attention in the check-out line, and I picked out a nice black bone.

When it all was said and done, I walked out of there ninety-two dollars and some change poorer.

 I put Teddy in the back along with everything I’d bought.

Next, we went through the burger place’s drive-through, and I ordered a double-meat meal with large everything for myself and one kiddy cheeseburger for Teddy.

He deserved a nice little treat.

We made it to my run-down apartment without catching any lights. How that happened I had no idea since; all street lights hated me.

I got out and opened the back door. Teddy sat in the seat, looking like a dapper young man waiting for his butler to fetch him. I shook my head and rummaged through the bags in search of his new collar and leash.

He looked rather handsome in his blue collar. Teddy jumped from the car immediately, trying to sniff the grass. I somehow managed to get all the bags along with the food. Locking up the car was hard, considering I was overrun with packages.

For the zillionth time, I was happy my apartment was on the first floor. Originally, I had wanted a fourth floor apartment, but then I sobered up with all those stairs. 
Mine was the very middle apartment on the left, apartment 7-3.

When I finally manhandled the door open, I nearly stumbled over myself.

“Welcome home, Teddy.”

I set the bags down in my tiny kitchen, then set Teddy free to explore his new home. My new little dog surprised me by jumping onto the sofa, declaring it his. He stared at me with a look of pure cuteness.

“How about we eat?”

Teddy wagged his tail as I came over with our food. I sat next to him and set out his burger next to him and tore it into tiny pieces. Teddy waited like the best dog in the world, not eating until I turned my attention to my own food.

I almost hummed, the burger was so good. It probably wasn’t all that great, but to me, it was the best thing I’d ever had. That was what I get for not eating all damn day.

Teddy finished before I did. “Don’t get used to this,” I told him while waving a fry at him. “This is a once a year thing. Like, for your birthday, which is today from now on.” Teddy’s tail waved back and forth, and he licked his chops.

I shook my head. This little dog was already worming his way into my heart. After eating, I needed to set his bowls out and give him a bath. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t like that part since Sugar Pop gave him baths all the time, but it needed to be done.

“Will you hate me after a bath?” I asked him. All he did was lick his muzzle and lay down with a whine. 

“I certainly hope not.”

Teddy rolled over and waved at me. “Silly dog.”

Teddy fell asleep while I finished my burger and fries. I didn’t blame him; he’d had a long day. All I wanted to do was curl up in bed with Teddy and sleep. At least now I wouldn’t be alone anymore. I sat a minute, simply watching him. His little chest rose and fell, and his front paw twitched every once in awhile.

He was so damn cute, and I was totally in love.


About The Author
Lor is a snarky, over the top genderfluid polyamorous demipansexual with dark hair and pink highlights. Although, sometimes the color varies. She is almost constantly fighting with her muse, Animus, or referring the fights between Animus and Epicene, her other muse. 
Lor started reading very questionable M/M fanfiction at a very young age in the closet.

Literally.

Though that didn’t stop her from getting caught once or twice. This early love of things M/M sparked her writing career. Without a doubt, her Christian high school English teacher Mrs. B didn’t expect Lor to fall into the M/M genre. Mrs. B did know Lor would be a writer someday because when the class had a minimum, Lor had a maximum. It truly was unfair.

Besides writing, Lor may also be found with one of her two horses, the Chihuahua or her cat. Any un-caught typos are courtesy of the cat, who shoves Lor’s things out of the way when it’s her time for cuddles or playtime… Which is about every ten minutes.