Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Book Blog Tour: M/M/M ~ I am Hope by Evelyn Shepherd ~ (Excerpt, Exclusive Excerpt + Giveaway)

Book Blog Tour: M/M/M ~ I am Hope by Evelyn Shepherd ~ (Excerpt, Exclusive Excerpt + Giveaway)


ES_IAmHope Title: I Am Hope 

Series: The Meteora Trilogy 

Author: Evelyn Shepherd 

Publisher: Loose Id Publication 

Cover Artist: Valerie Tibbs 

Length: 70,000 words 

Release Date: September 8, 2015 


The undead were only the beginning. 

Topher, Jesse, and Sawyer thought their greatest threat were the Infected and Mutated that roam the world. As they struggle to reach the camp in Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina, they soon discover that the monstrous mutations of the undead are the least of their problems. Something else, something far more intelligent and lethal, is hunting them. 

Topher knows that the only way humanity will survive is to find a cure for the strange infection that’s ravaged the world. He’s on the brink of discovering it; but the further his research goes, the more he realizes that curing the world of the infection may mean losing Sawyer.

The three will fight to stay together, and Topher will have to make the ultimate choice: cure the world or save his lover?

A scream broke through my dream. I groggily rolled over and burrowed into Sawyer’s chest. He mumbled something against the top of my head. Sleep lapped at my mind, holding me down. I dreamed of pleasant emptiness; I was in a void, where my brain could shut down. Warmth surrounded me, lulling me into a deeper slumber. 

Another scream, louder. I opened my eyes, staring at Sawyer’s chest. Why was there screaming? Something was wrong. Something was horribly wrong. 

“Jesse!” Chloe banged on the bifold bedroom door. “Get out here!” 

Jesse jolted out of bed. He grabbed his pants and hastily pulled them on. As he jammed his feet into his boots, he ordered, “Get dressed.” 

“What’s going on?” Sawyer asked. He climbed over the bed and found his own clothes. 

I knuckled the sleep from my eyes and hurriedly dressed. Jesse was out the door by the time I pulled my shirt on. I followed him into the main compartment, Sawyer behind me. Rio sat on the couch next to Jaden, who was curled up with his blanket. On the table was a camping lamp, which filled the RV with yellow light. 

“What’s going on?” I asked, straightening my shirt.

“Something is going down with Jane,” Rio said. “I heard it out in the truck.”

Exclusive Excerpt:

I looked up from the microscope as Dr. Singh walked into the lab. She wore a pair of neatly pressed black dress pants and a white blouse that was open at the collar. “Hey, what’s up?” I asked, swiveling around on my stool.

“I was checking to see how things were going,” she said, her gaze flicking over to the microscope on the counter.

I’d made no progress. I considered lying. I didn’t want to risk her seeing my efforts as a waste and revoking my ability to use the lab, but at the same time, I had no clue where I was going or what I was doing. Without a sample of the virus, I only had human blood samples, and while I was able to compare the differences, it did nothing for unlocking the answer. It felt like I’d been beating my head against a wall for the past hour.

“Not good?” she asked with a sympathetic smile.

“Is it that obvious?”

“Well, you have the same look I get when I hit a block. It’s like a constipated pit bull.”

“Oh, well, if I only look like a constipated pit bull. No big, I guess,” I said a bit more acridly than I meant to.



Evelyn Shepherd lives in Columbus, Ohio with two fat cats. Her time is split between writing and running a book/writing blog. She’s the author of the Theo Bourne Series, the best-selling Last Canticle, and the award-winning Meteora Trilogy.


Winner’s Prize: Complete Set of The Meteora Trilogy books


September 14: Queer Sci-Fi 

September 15: Sue Brown 

September 17: Hearts on Fire 

September 18: Diverse Reader 

September 21: Joyfully Jay 

September 22: Love Bytes Reviews 

September 23: Divine Magazine 

September 24: Cia’s Stories 

September 25: Tempeste O’Riley 

September 28: Sid Love Writes 

September 29: Prism Book Alliance

September 30: Bayou Book Junkie

Monday, September 28, 2015

Book Blast: MM ~ Beauty and the Beast by Sean Michael (Excerpt + Giveaway)

Book Blast: MM ~ Beauty and the Beast by Sean Michael (Excerpt + Giveaway)

Author Name: Sean Michael
Book Name: Beauty and the Beast
Series: Fairytale Shifters
Book: One
Release Date: September 3, 2015
Publisher: Sean Michael
Cover Artist: Kris Norris

Buy The Book:
Amazon ~ ARe

As a rhino shifter, Tromp knows that he’s not the sexiest beast in the world. In fact he’s clumsy and he can’t see very well, and that’s whether he’s in his human or animal form. Still, he enjoys going to the bar and watching the other shifters hooking up, especially the dancers. Then he sees a slinky kitty dancing on the little stage and he’s immediately smitten. He knows a sexy beauty like that would never go for him, but he’s happy just to watch and fantasize about what could be.
For his part, panther shifter Pepper might be gorgeous on the outside, but he knows most people see him as nothing more than a piece of meat and he’s had a hard past. There’s something in the way the big rhino shifter looks at him while he dances, though, that makes him feel special. So when his stint on the stage is over, he heads right to the rhino’s table.
Can Tromp and Pepper ignore the world’s expectations and find what they need in each other?

Pages or Words: 10,500 words

Categories: Contemporary, Erotica, Fantasy, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy

Tromp got his beer at the bar and made his way over to the table in the corner where he usually sat. It was an out of the way booth and afforded him a good view of the rest of the place. His thick bottle-cap glasses improved his poor vision enough that from here he could watch the pretty people hooking up—the slinky twinks finding each other or handsome older men to dance and laugh with. He was a bit too lumbering for dancing. Too clumsy and grumpy for easy pickups, too. In short, he didn’t really belong. Hence the out of the way table.
The music was loud and thumping, vibrating up from the floor, and his beer was cold. It was all he really needed after a long week of walking around the three warehouses he worked security on. He’d stay and watch for a while, then head home to the peace and quiet of his little cottage just outside the city.
Someone came out onto the tiny stage, one of the performers who danced in stretch jeans and open-front shirts. This guy had waist-length black hair, golden skin, and sharp features.
Tromp watched, utterly fascinated. He usually didn’t do more than admire the beauties who were out of his league, but there was something about this guy, something slinky and sexual that made him want in the best way. Or worst way, given that he never had a chance with the beautiful ones. Still, he could look his fill, couldn’t he? After all, that’s what the dancers were all about—looking but not touching.

Meet the author:
Often referred to as "Space Cowboy" and "Gangsta of Love" while still striving for the moniker of "Maurice," Sean Michael spends his days surfing, smutting, organizing his immense gourd collection and fantasizing about one day retiring on a small secluded island peopled entirely by horseshoe crabs. While collecting vast amounts of vintage gay pulp novels and mood rings, Sean whiles away the hours between dropping the f-bomb and pursuing the kama sutra by channeling the long lost spirit of John Wayne and singing along with the soundtrack to "Chicago."
A long-time writer of complicated haiku, currently Sean is attempting to learn the advanced arts of plate spinning and soap carving sex toys.
Barring any of that? He'll stick with writing his stories, thanks, and rubbing pretty bodies together to see if they spark.

Where to find the author:
Facebook Author Page:
Twitter: @seanmichael09

Tour Dates & Stops:

Rafflecopter Prize: PDF copy of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ by Sean Michael

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Tour: M/M ~ Uncaged by Lisa Oliver and T.J. Oliver ~ (Authors Guest Post, Excerpt + Giveaway)

Virtual Tour: M/M ~ Uncaged by Lisa Oliver and T.J. Oliver ~ (Authors Guest Post, Excerpt + Giveaway)

Author Name: Lisa Oliver and T.J. Oliver
Book Name: Uncaged
Series: Shifter Uprising
Book: One
Release Date: July, 2015
Publisher: Oliver Group Publications
Cover Artist: Lisa Oliver

Buy The Book:
Carlin is an Alpha Wolf Fighter, one of only three in the top spots at the Souterrain - an underground fighting club, run by the Elite to punish shifters who have gone outside of the laws. He's happy enough, only has to fight exhibition matches, has his own apartment space, food and sex on tap - yep, life it good. So when Martin offers him the chance to fight for his freedom, Carlin turns it down. It's no fun being a lone wolf and Carlin is quite happy where he is.
Then Lucas catches his eye. A handsome man, a stunning fighter, moving up through the ranks fast.  Lucas might not have the killer attitude that most men at the Souterrain have, but he's got the moves.  Carlin has no problems insisting the man is bought to his apartment - sex is never a bad idea.  But when he catches Lucas's scent and realizes the man is his fated mate, suddenly getting him to bed is the least of his problems.  Lucas wants to be free, and for the first time in a long time, so does Carlin.
Unfortunately there is more to Lucas than meets the eye.  Martin certainly has no intention of letting them go, and if he has to have Carlin killed to keep Lucas at the Souterrain, then the man has no problems with that either. Suddenly the deal Carlin makes with Martin goes horribly wrong, and Carlin and Lucas realize that the price for freedom might be Carlin's life, and even then Lucas will not be free.
Warnings: M/M sex, HEA, some violence (they are in a fight club after all).  A growly Alpha who lets his emotions get the best of him, and a hybrid shifter with a wicked imagination.
Pages or Words: 44,000

Categories: Erotica, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Paranormal

Carlin knew he was behaving like an idiot pacing up and down the floor of his small apartment, but he couldn’t stop.  How long did it take for one man to have a shower for fucks sake? He’d ordered food for the both of them. Having been a fighter for more than five years, Carlin knew that Lucas would be hungry – hopefully for food and sex.  But if the bloody man didn’t get his skates on then Carlin would eat alone and get straight to dessert when Lucas arrived.
About to call Brian and find out where his errant fuck had gone, Carlin caught the sound of people outside of his door. He threw himself on the couch and picked up a book.  He didn’t want Lucas thinking he was waiting for him or anything.

Brian came in, Lucas a few steps behind him.

“Alpha Fighter Carlin.  This is Lucas, ranked fifth after today.”

Carlin was surprised.  He’d heard the man had moved swiftly up the ranks, but he didn’t realize that Lucas was so close to a shot for an Alpha ranking. In theory, one more fight and he might have to fight Lucas in the ring. For a moment Carlin was tempted to send the man away.  He did have some conscience, even after so many years of being a fighting machine.  He didn’t want to have to kill someone who had been in his bed.

But then Lucas stepped past Brian, and Carlin was caught in angry eyes. Silver eyes.  Something tugged at Carlin’s brain – the eye color had some significance, didn’t it? But then Lucas’s scent hit Carlin’s nose and any rational thought fell straight out of his brain.  

“Leave, Brian,” Carlin said, standing up and not breaking his stare with Lucas. He knew his body radiated the power he was famous for, and guessed he might look intimidating, as he heard Brian whisper to Lucas as he scurried out of the door, “I told you not to stare at an Alpha.  You’re dead meat pup.”

“Better dead than a fuck toy,” Lucas snarled – his comment for Brian, but those silver eyes stayed fixed on Carlin.

“I agree,” Carlin said, his voice dropping as he got closer.  Before Lucas could react, he reached his hand around, grabbing Lucas by the nape and pushing the man’s face into his throat. Whatever Lucas was going to say was muffled by Carlin’s skin, although the man was kicking, punching and doing everything he could to get free.

“Sniff, damn you,” Carlin said urgently. “Fucking sniff, and then I’ll let you go.”

Carlin felt Lucas quieten, although his body still stayed rigid in Carlin’s grasp.  Lucas’s deep inhale was the only sound in the room. Carlin knew the moment Lucas had worked out what Carlin was trying to say.

Virtual Book Tour: M/M ~ Small Wonders by Courtney Lux ~ (Author Guest Post, Excerpt + Giveaway)

Virtual Book Tour: M/M ~ Small Wonders by Courtney Lux ~ (Author Guest Post, Excerpt + Giveaway)

Author Name: Courtney Lux
Book Name: Small Wonders
Release Date: September 22, 2015

Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: Cover and Interior Illustrations by Elizabeth Vest

Buy the book:


A pickpocket who finds value in things others do not want, Trip Morgan meets and becomes involved with Nate Mackey, a down-and-out former Wall Street professional who looks eerily like a child in a photograph Trip found years before.
It’s part of a collection of stolen trinkets he’s collected since he arrived in New York. He keeps it all close and works out a life he could have if he could ever let someone keep him long enough for him to build up a treasure trove of small wonders all his own.
In confronting their own demons and finding value in each other, Trip and Nate may find that their relationship is a wonder of its own.
Pages or Words: 282 pages

Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, New Adult, Romance


Today, he has encountered no southerners and only a few tourists from elsewhere, and he'd be okay with that if it weren't for the rain. It comes fast. One minute it's sunny and lovely and easy pickings, and the next the sky's gone black and people are running from the park with street-vendor umbrellas popping open over their heads or shopping bags held up as makeshift shields. Trip switches to catchy pop numbers and more recent music, but it's no use.
Some days this works. People take pity on a not-quite-twenty-something singing in the rain. Older women especially seem to take in the auburn hair stuck to his forehead and his relatively petite stature and read hungry young desperation in him. They offer him sympathetic smiles and a few soggy dollars.
Other times, playing in the rain has the opposite of his intended effect—strange boy with strange eyes playing his guitar as if he doesn't know the rain is there. Those people see the darkness in him: a boy with a chip on his shoulder that makes them nervous. Those people give him wary looks and a wide berth. Trip's not sure he blames them.
He's a little put out and a lot cold, so he sells his umbrella for a few dollars before shouldering his guitar and closing the lid on his coffee can to set to work at his other favorite occupation.
He'd been a decent pickpocket in his younger years, but now, after a lot of practice, he's a better thief and a good runner when he needs to be. Not that he steals anything of particular worth. He finds value in treasures scrounged from the bottoms of pockets.
Loose change, hair binders, halves of Vicodin, broken cigarettes, crumpled matchbooks. All of it has a purpose, a certain sense of importance. He envies women and their big purses. They've got whole bags of riches waiting to be exhumed. Though, more likely than not, those little trinkets will remain forgotten and neglected in the bottoms of Marc Jacobs clutches and Target sale hobo bags.
Other people don't see it—the value in these things. Maybe that's why he steals from them. Nothing they'd miss: a worn dollar here, a business card there. He keeps it all close and works out a life he could have if he could ever let someone keep him long enough for him to build up a treasure trove of small wonders all his own.
For now, he will live with worn shopping lists, broken crayons and ticket stubs he lifts off of others. He keeps them in a beaten-up bag that is more duct tape than canvas and lets them build up stardust. Then, in those lonely hours of the night, he scatters them across the floor and works them into constellations to which he assigns stories. Some he writes down; others, he forgets before the next day. It's not a financially savvy task, but it's his favorite, and it passes the time as well as anything else.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Book Blog Tour: M/M ~ Hostage by Cheryl Headford ~ (ARC Review, Excerpt, Exclusive Excerpt + Giveaway)

Book Blog Tour: M/M ~ Hostage by Cheryl Headford ~ (ARC Review, Excerpt, Exclusive Excerpt + Giveaway)

Title: Hostage

Author: Cheryl Headford

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press

Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh

Length: 328 Pages

Release Date: September 17, 2015

Blurb: Astrin Raphael wakes up in a strange place, frightened and confused. He is told to trust someone who seems to hate him, and he tries—he really tries. However, things change rapidly when he discovers his friend is actually his archenemy, Rowan Gabriel, whose abusive behavior stems from a deeply ingrained, if unwarranted, hatred over something that happened many years before, and simply wasn’t Astrin’s fault.

When Rowan's uncle and Astrin's father are kidnapped by Strebo Michael, the two crown princes are catapulted into an adventure that forces them to work together, and along the way their feelings for each other grow. Rowan is quick to let his hate go, but Astrin can’t release his inhibitions. It takes Astrin almost dying from a poisoned dagger before he finally accepts Rowan's love.

When they return home, their problems continue as their Houses try to negotiate a way for the young men to be together. It soon becomes clear at least one of them will need to relinquish his throne.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Book Review: M/M ~ Other Side of the Line by Marguerite Labbe ~ 5 Star Review

Book Review: M/M ~ Other Side of the Line by Marguerite Labbe ~ 5 Star Review

Book: Other Side of the Line
Author: Marguerite Labbe
Release Date: September 18, 2015
Pages: 318
Publisher: Dreamspinner

Buy The Book:


Caleb Hudson and Hal Zimmer became best friends the day they stood up against the schoolyard bully together. Life’s complicated enough with their friendship crossing racial lines in 1960s Charleston, South Carolina, but as time passes, they realize it’s more than their friendship that sets them apart from other kids. At first, Caleb denies his feelings for Hal could be more than companionship. He supports his friend when Hal admits he’s gay, but Caleb isn’t ready to face his own truth.

Hal becomes a staunch antiwar protester, and the divide between them widens after Caleb is drafted. But when Caleb returns from Vietnam, the time for denial is over. His homecoming sets off a series of events that force Caleb and Hal to confront their desires and what lines they’re willing to cross to get what they truly want out of life.

Categories: M/M Romance, Coming of Age, Historical

Tracy's Review:

5 Stars

*copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*

*Please note the review was originally posted at Divine Magazine and is crossed posted at Bayou Book Junkie*

I was shocked when I opened this book and saw the date. This story starts in the year 2023. Hal and Caleb are hosting a 60th family reunion. We sit a spell with them in the present, meet their kids, grandkids and some other extended family members. When I read a book I want a HEA, and I loved knowing from page one that I would get what I wanted, even if the characters did frustrate me while they were getting there! Through a series of stories they tell their story starting in 1963. The year they met. Caleb is in 4th grade and stands out as the only black kid in his class at the beginning of school desegregation, in Charleston SC. Fellow 4th grader and classmate, Hal stands out also, but not for his skin color, his accent sets him apart. Hal is a newly transferred student from a small town in New York. The two outsiders form a friendship, a friendship that is frowned upon. This doesn't deter them. They remain friends and the story slowly takes us from 1963 to 1977. It takes us through some of the major events in their lives.

This story is so well written. It is captivating and riveting. The author drew me in and wouldn't let go. I couldn't put this book down, and in the end, I wasn't ready for it to be over.

I loved that the author worked events in history such as, Kennedy's assassination, Caleb going off to Vietnam and Hal's attendance at his first gay pride parade into the story. We spend so much time with Caleb and Hal from the age of 10 to their early 20's, that they are extremely well developed characters. You feel the chemistry between them from the beginning of their friendship and this chemistry explodes when they become lovers. You can feel the emotions coming off the pages of this book. The happiness, sadness, frustration, fear, love, and passion. It slaps you in the face. This book took me on an emotional roller coaster. I smiled. I laughed. I cried. I awed. I wanted to scream and shake Hal and Caleb at times. The road to their happy ending is a very bumpy one, but the love they share is so worth it.

This is my first read by this author, but I'll definitely be looking at other works. This was an amazing read and I highly recommend it. Pick it up, you won't be sorry!

About The Author:
Marguerite has been accused of being eccentric and a shade neurotic, both of which she freely admits to, but her muse has OCD tendencies, so who can blame her? Her husband and son do an excellent job keeping her toeing the line, though. Together with her co-author Fae Sutherland, Marguerite has found a shared passion for beautiful men with smart mouths. 

When she's not working hard on writing new material and editing completed work, she spends her time reading novels of all genres, enjoying role-playing games with her equally nutty friends, and trying to plot practical jokes against her son and husband. Her son is learning the tricks too quickly and likes to retaliate. You'd think she'd learn.

Book Blog Tour: M/M ~ Off World by Jonah Bergan ~ (Excerpt, Exclusive Excerpt + Giveaway)

Book Blog Tour: M/M ~ Off World by Jonah Bergan ~ (Excerpt, Exclusive Excerpt + Giveaway)

Title: Off World

Author: Jonah Bergan

Publisher: Booktrope Publishing

Cover Artist: Michelle Fairbanks

Length: 240 Pages

Release Date: August 22, 2015

Blurb: What really brought Taine to that backwater little world? Taine’s a hunter. He’s a red-skinned, black-eyed Lowman by nature, and a hunter by trade. Some hunters work in flesh, others in secrets, and some few work to set right what’s been set wrong. It’s a big galaxy and there’s always plenty of work for a hunter like Taine, so you got to wonder, what with all that at his feet, what really brought Taine to that backwater little world?

Off-World is a M/M science fiction action/adventure set in F/M dominated space. The story takes place in an arm of the galaxy where slavery (sexual and otherwise) is legal and commonplace. Strictly speaking, it is not a BDSM novel in that consent is not a matter of concern for the characters, but those with an interest in BDSM should enjoy the story. Due to explicit content, Off-World is not recommended to readers under eighteen years of age.

“You his father?” Taine asked.

“Uncle,” the man said, glancing toward his wife. She looked away, a terse expression on her face. He looked back at Taine, bringing his chin up defiantly. “By marriage,” he said. “I did right by the boy.”

Taine shrugged. It made no difference—these backwater worlds, with their backwater cultures, none of that mattered to him. It was bad enough he had to ride in from the starport on horseback. Bad enough he had to dress the humble part just to avoid offending these rubes. Still, if he’d come blasting into town in his Hover, he’d have found half the doors shut to him, and the other half damned slow to open. Taine was a hunter, a Lowman—a red-skinned and black-eyed alien, and his kind wasn’t welcome everywhere, no matter how much they paid for what they bought. No point in making things worse by flaunting wealth in a place of such poverty.

Taine turned his attention back to the human he was here to inspect. He took a quick inventory of the boy. Pretty face, decent frame, all good starts, but the boy was un-groomed, pale and too lean for his age. Malnourished, Taine thought. Most likely in body and mind both. That might be correctable, might not. Sometimes that kind of damage can’t be undone no matter how much you pay to fix it. Still, the boy looked appealing enough despite the slight frame—long legs, long arms and a pretty face with a halo of wild blond hair like the rays of some golden sun. He’s young, but not under, Taine thought.  Taine checked the boy’s teeth, running his finger under the boy’s lips and along the gums. He tugged a tooth or two—still solid.

“How old?” Taine asked.

“Nineteen now,” the boy’s uncle said. “Twenty soon. Been here more’n half that time.”


“Hard worker,” the man snapped. “Wouldn’t have lasted otherwise.”

“So why are you selling?”

“Hard times,” the uncle said, “and harder coming.” This brought a scowl from the missus, but she didn’t say a word. She’d had enough of the gambling, and the drinking, and she’d said so often enough that the words seemed to have lost all meaning. If her husband had saved his earnings, instead of squandering them, none of this would have been necessary. When he said, “It’s him or me,” she didn’t argue. After all, it wasn’t an ultimatum, it was simply true. She consoled herself by thinking about the money. It would help them get off-world before the aftermath of the war came upon them like some kind of tidal wave, and swept both of them away from her. Choose one or lose both, bane or burden. It had been an easy choice, at least until now.

Taine slipped his middle finger deep into the boy’s mouth. The boy closed his eyes, and his face blushed red, but he yielded, relaxing his jaw and taking the finger as though it were a cock. Taine moved his finger in and out, fucking the boy’s face, watching him blush and tear up. Taine had good reason for doing it, but he earned a sharp look from the missus anyhow. She nudged her husband and glared at him. 

He scowled, and turned back toward Taine.

“You buying or not?” he snapped.

“Maybe,” Taine said. “Hard to tell with him all covered up.”

The uncle grunted and stepped forward. He tugged at the waist of the home weave the boy wore. The coarse trousers loosened and then slid down the boy’s long legs. A gentle tug and the shirt came loose in front. The uncle slipped it over the boy’s shoulders and let it fall the floor.

“There,” he said. “No need to make a show of it. Buy, or get out.”

Taine felt the boy’s tongue start moving against his finger. It surprised him, and he drew his finger back, but the boy sucked at it, trying to keep it in him. Taine obliged the boy, sliding it in and out a few more times and smiling as he felt the boy’s tongue bobbing and dancing beneath his finger. The boy wouldn’t speak, wouldn’t make eye contact either. His uncle had taught him that well enough, but the boy doing what he was doing with his tongue spoke volumes. That’s him just about pleading, Taine thought. What must life in this little hell be likefor the boy to yearn for a sale off into the unknown?

Taine leaned forward, drawing in just a taste of the boy from the air around him. He sampled the first scents of the boy’s essence. Sweet, Taine thought. Like honey must taste. It was a thick and golden flavor, and it made Taine smile. That’s all he needed to know to buy any boy—that there was something either savory or sweet in them that was still strong enough to reach the surface. The rest would be up to the trainers—the professionals back at the Temple on Taine’s home-world. But the boy’s dancing tongue sparked Taine’s curiosity, and he wanted to know more.

He reached up with his free hand, taking hold of the boy at the back of the head and began slowly moving his finger in and out. He knew he was humiliating the boy before his family, but Taine closed his eyes, and drove his awareness deeper. There were other ways to open a human. Most of those were forceful, and some were downright violent. The uncle and aunt might not understand, but for a Lowman, this was an act of kindness. It was the gentlest way to break through to the only thing a Lowman truly valued.

Taine pressed his awareness into the boy, moving through the ebb and flow of the boy’s many complex flavors. He was careful not to feed, not to take any of it in. As was so with most humans, the boy was a stormy wash of conflict within. Taine found urges and desires and regrets, a mind in constant turmoil, and rife with fear—predominantly fear. Some of that fear had been earned, and some had been instilled and it lurked in the boy, like shadows in some dark wood.  Taine pressed forward beyond all that and went deeper, reaching toward the source of the boy. Taine found his way blocked. It was expected, a barrier—an obstacle to turn him back. It had a scent and a flavor—something akin to the bitterness of burned toast, but its aspect was like a sharp blade bearing a dark stain, it stabbed at him, threatening him and warning him to turn back. Taine instinctively flinched away from it, slipping around and behind it, evading it, and driving himself closer to the wellspring. He found and followed the predominant scents—that of seaweed, dark and rich, and the flavor of saltwater, and he found himself standing on hot sand, feeling the sensations of an empty beach, and the heat of a brilliant and golden sun. It was a rich and delicate feeling, and a smell, and a taste—the smell and taste of sunshine. Yes, Taine thought. That is who he is. Sunshine.

Taine slowly opened his eyes and withdrew his finger. He wondered then, and not for the first time, why humans waste their children so, as though darkening them would brighten the world. Didn’t they know the world would be less hard with fewer hard people in it? It’s not an easy thing to change, it takes some real effort, but didn’t they know it could be changed? Didn’t they know those dark urges could be controlled and even used?

The boy had given him nothing but the idea of burnt toast between him and the seashore. Not much to glean from that, Taine thought. To learn more he’d have to feed, and that wasn’t something he’d be doing, not with an uncultivated and feral human. Still, he was curious.

“You about done?” asked the uncle. The aunt had turned away, and the uncle was glowering.

“Not by a long measure,” Taine said.

The uncle shook his head and waved Taine on. “Just get it over with,” he said.

Taine ran his hands across the boy’s chest and down his flat stomach. The boy’s breathing quickened as Taine fondled his cock, teasing it to life. It responded by thickening and rising, though maybe not as fast as it should. The boy never raised his head, never moved a muscle, he just stood there like Taine had every right to touch and use his body. Taine gave the balls a firm squeeze, and the boy tensed, rising on his toes a little, but he never once raised his arms, never once tried to defend himself. Good submissive spirit, Taine thought, that’ll be important if we’re gonna heal him up.

Taine took the boy by the shoulders and turned him around. He meant to plunge his finger into the boy, just to check for damages, and maybe make the boy’s cock grow up full-sized, but the two cheeks were crossed with welts, some fresh and still white where the switch had marked him recently. Maybe not born to it after all, Taine thought. Maybe all that submission was just beaten into him. No way they nurtured it, no way they cultivated it, not the way the Lowmen would have with such a delicate specimen as this one.

Taine considered the welts across the boy’s ass. There were older ones across his back, a few sores, in-growns and pimples across his shoulders; nothing that couldn’t be tended to, and probably should have been before they offered him. These people had no idea what they were doing, but that wasn’t a surprise either, was it?

Taine would’ve slipped his finger in right then, but by the scent of things they hadn’t cleaned him, so he traced his fingers along the welts on the boy’s ass instead, and then looked up at the uncle.

“Trouble maker?” Taine asked.

“No,” he said. “That’s just from his dailies.”

Taine nodded. “So, what’s your price?”

“Sixty,” the uncle said.

“Waste of time,” Taine said. He snorted and turned for the door.

“Sixty’s fair,” the uncle said, raising his chin. “More’-n-fair.”

“Yeah,” Taine said, “Not for that.”

“Now, don’t be disrespectful,” he said. “The boy’s family after all.”

Taine turned and looked the man squarely in the eyes.

“I’m interested, so you name me a real price and I’ll consider it,” Taine snapped, “but sixty is just plain fantasy.”

The man stepped close. That was a brave act, or maybe just a desperate one. Not many people dared approach a Lowman hunter, not with their alien looks and their reputation for violence. The solid black eyes and all that red flesh intimidated humans—something about their ancient myths. Still, Taine had gone to a great deal of trouble to make himself approachable to these backwaters, and now he wondered if maybe he’d done that a little too well.

“Boy sucks cock good as any,” the uncle said, keeping his voice low, as if keeping it from his wife.”He’s a good earner, and that backside’s got years of action left to it. I wouldn’t be selling if I didn’t need to, and I know you got your own expenses, so you tell me what’s fair.”

“Ten,” Taine said.

The man grimaced.

“Ten and you’re lucky to get it,” Taine said. “He’s nineteen, nearly twenty, easily a year past prime, and by my guess, he’s spent that time squaring up plenty of your debts. You’ve done nothing to develop him. By the time I’m done fixing what you’ve botched, I’ll be lucky to clear a slender profit. So that’s my offer, ten, or I’ll head over to Jenkins Creek where I hear there are a set of twins coming up prime.”

“I can’t take ten,” the man said, shaking his head. “I gotta have fifteen, and that’s a loss for me, Mister. I had him ten years under my roof. Fifteen don’t half cover it, but I’m willin’ to concede some, if you are. So there we are, it’s fifteen, or I’ll wish you a safe trip over to Jenkins Creek.”

Taine reached for the door handle, but hesitated. He thought about Shilandra, and what he had done to her. The memory returned, unbidden and heavy, like betrayal. He still had some of the boy’s scent with him, so he turned and looked back. The boy was standing there just about trembling—his head down, and face red, and his cock still jutting up. Would she even accept this one? He thought.

The boy was as lean a colt as Taine had ever seen, but the flavor of him showed promise. It’d take some work, bringing this one up, but there was something alluring about him—a hint of what might be found in him by skilled hands. He’d already found the boy’s name: Sunshine, and that was no small thing. Making him live up to that name, that’d be some hard work, and some expensive work as well, but if he did, if the boy did live up to that name, he’d be valuable well beyond his family’s reckoning of wealth, and well worth Taine’s time and investment. She’d recognize that at least, Taine thought.She’d see the value in him, wouldn’t she?

“I know I’m going to regret this,” Taine muttered. “You got his papers drawn up?”

“All but the price and date,” the man said smiling.