Most Romantic Movie Lines We Wish We’d Written #amwriting #lovescenes

Hi — As you know, i love movies and i recently saw this post on the Top 10 Most Romantic Movie Lines.I was surprised how many of them i agreed with. Maybe not so much the number 1 pick– mostly because i don’t love that film — but many of the others. Very often when we’re writing romance novels, authors try to create lines that are a memorable as these. Usually, they just pop into my head and i have no idea where they come from. LOL. See if you agree with these–

Thank you for coming by. Fool of Main Beach is coming and the links to preorder are HERE.

Disney and #RWA17 and Animals, Oh My! Tara in Orlando.

Hi —

RWA17 is over. I stayed  an extra day in Orlando for a visit to Animal Kingdom, but after a short park stop, I got rained out and spent most of the day writing. The week has been  educational, exhilarating and exhausting. Add fun to that list. I got here Tuesday evening and on Wednesday there were only a few workshops, so i thought I’d walk over to Epcot Center and play a little then return to the hotel. I was meeting friends in the afternoon, so i thought i’d return later. Instead, i had such a great time, i never left. I went on all the Epcot attractions, and wandered around with my tea in hand. Yes, it was 97 degrees, thank you, but i still had a ton of fun. I had a Chinese lunch, walked through the World Showcase, went on Soarin’ andSpaceship Earth, saw the dinosaurs fro the last time (they’re going away), then met Kc and Chudney and we splurged on a delicious dinner in the French restaurant. It was fabulous. I got back after walking 19,000 steps at 8:30 at night.

The next day, i got down to work, and Thursday and Friday literally went to a workshop every 90 minutes. Fantastic topics on why series sell, how to use tropes to create high concept. the French market for romance, creating deeply dimensional characters and much more. I was also representing my OCCRWA chapter as President, so i attended the RWA annual meeting and the Leadership breakfast. Then we had the big Literacy signing which was very successful. I saw lots of friends. I even managed to squeak in a few thousand words on my WIP and finish edits on two books.

Today, Sunday, was my last day in Florida, and, as predicted, it rained a lot (although not as much as i expected). I got to take the Kilimanjaro Safari ride and walk through the Gorilla Trek before the rain really started. Then i had to come back to check in on my transportation for tomorrow, so i stayed in the hotel and got productive.

It’s been a fun and worthwhile trip, although i could definitely sleep a couple straight days! Tomorrow is my flight home then back to work on all fronts!

I want to tell you that my next new release is coming in three weeks — Fool of Main Beach. This is one of my fave books ever. Check it out HERE. Talk soon. : )

Like French, German, or Italian Books? 25% Off! #Dreamspinner

Hi —

I’m at RWA in Orlando but i wanted to let you know about the big translations sale at Dreamspinner Press! You can get my translations of Cowboys Don’t Come Out, Knight of Ocean Avenue, Taylor Maid and more among other great author’s translations. Here’s a link to my page on Dreamspinner. Link. 

Okay, i’m off to breakfast.  : )

Tara’s Cowboys Are 30% Off at #Dreamspinner Press #cowboyromance

Hi —

Big sale at Dreamspinner Press on all cowboy romances! 30% off on all these fun books including translations. I’m delighted to have two of my titles in the sale plus three translations! Here they are —

Cowboys Don’t Come Out — This cowboy romance is available in English, French, German and Italian

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/cowboys-dont-come-out-by-tara-lain-7841-b

 

 

Rand McIntyre settles for good enough. He loves his small California ranch, raising horses, and teaching riding to the kids he adores—but having kids of his own and someone to love means coming out, and that would jeopardize everything he’s built. Then, despite his terror of flying, he goes on a holiday to Hana, Hawaii, with his parents and meets the dark and mysterious Kai Kealoha, a genuine Hawaiian cowboy. Rand takes to Kai’s kid brother and sister as much as he drools over Kai, but the guy sports more prickles than a horned toad and more secrets than the exotic land he comes from.

Kai’s earned his privacy and lives to protect his “kids.” He ought to stay away from the big, handsome cowboy for everyone’s sake—but since the guy’s just a haole on a short vacation, how much damage can he do? When all of Kai’s worst fears and Rand’s darkest nightmares come true at once, there’s not much chance for two cowboys who can’t—or won’t—come out.

Cowboys Don’t Ride Unicorns —

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/cowboys-dont-ride-unicorns-by-tara-lain-8301-b

Cowboy Danny Boone—a name he made up one drunken night and has regretted ever since—harbors a big past and yearns for a small future. A short, bright career as a champion bull rider almost ended in his death when his homophobic father discovered Danny was gay. Now Danny longs for a plot of land he can build a ranch on, enough money to make up for some of the education he missed… and, secretly, a beautiful femme who likes to top—a combo rarer than a unicorn. 

Then onto the guest ranch where Danny works drives San Francisco decorator Laurie Belmont, a young man so gorgeous he makes the horses gasp, and so ballsy he almost kills Danny’s attacker. Laurie’s trying to find his way out from under the thumb of a domineering mother, helpless father, and rich, privileged boyfriend. But no matter the attraction, their lives are worlds apart, and cowboys don’t ride unicorns.

Tara Lain’s FOOL OF MAIN BEACH – Cover Reveal! #LoveinLaguna #DreamspinnerPress

 

FOOL OF MAIN BEACH,
 the fifth book in the Love In Laguna Series arrives 
August 21, 2017! 

 

The unlikeliest of lovers. The sweetest of loves.

 

Hi –I’m so excited to unveil the cover of my upcoming release, Fool of Main Beach.  This is one of my personal favorite books with one of my unlikeliest heroes ever. I hope you love it!

* * *

Fool of Main Beach
(Love of Laguna Series, Bk #5)
by Tara Lain
 
Blurb:
Merle Justice wants to reach for the stars, but it’s tough to get respect when playing a teenybopper vampire on TV. Then he meets a famous director anxious to give him all he thinks he wants—and maybe a bit more. Everything’s looking up until a life-threatening encounter with some homophobes on Main Beach puts Merle face-to-face with a Sasquatch-sized hero in a pink puffer coat.
Tom Henry defies description. As unsophisticated and simple as an angel, he walks through life content with who he is and asking for very little except to care for his sister, Lily, and the dogs he loves. Then he meets Merle, the embodiment of dreams he barely knows he has. Merle knows the people who hold his future in their hands might love Tom—but they’ll never understand Merle and Tom together. Tom knows it too. With lives this far apart, who’s really the fool of Main Beach?
Pre-Order your copy now at

 

Also available to pre-order in paperback
Release Date: 
August 21, 2017
 
Excerpts

 

White bursts of light flashed in front of his eyes and a
river of burning bile filled his mouth, oozing around the pressure of the big
asshole’s arm on his neck. Damn. Damn.
Who the fuck wants to die on the beach in a tuxedo?
Merle staggered backward as the brother tightened his
grip and the other sibling from hell moved in to do more damage. Brother One
pulled back a fist—and suddenly flew through the air, practically knocking
Merle and his captor off their feet.
Standing behind where Brother One had stood
was—Sasquatch. It had to be—this huge man, easily six foot six, dressed in what
might be a pink puffer jacket, with a shock of curly, dark hair flying around
his face. He stopped his forward momentum and snapped a fist at Ritchie, who
was staggering back to join the fray. Only the smallest interface between that
huge hand and Ritchie’s chin signaled bye-bye,
Ritchie
. The dude staggered back and fell on his ass. Merle would have
cheered if his neck wasn’t breaking. Sweet Face held up his hands, and
Sasquatch nodded with a smile more appropriate to a kindergarten class than a beach
brawl.
Then the giant turned to Brother Two, who still held his
arm painfully around Merle’s throat. Brother hissed in Merle’s ear, “Don’t come
any closer or I’ll break his neck.”
Sasquatch cocked his head and gave that weird smile
again. Is the guy nuts? “It’s very
hard to break a person’s neck, did you know that?” He walked slowly forward.
“You don’t want to hurt him.”
The arm around Merle’s neck trembled and tightened
convulsively. Merle made a gagging sound.
Sasquatch frowned, an oddity on what appeared to be a
young, pretty face. “It will be very bad for you if you hurt him, you know? But
if you let him go, I won’t hurt you.” He looked over his shoulder. “See. Your
friends ran away already.”
Sure enough. They’d melted into the dark the second they got
the chance.
“You should go too.” Sasquatch stepped forward again. “Go
now.”
Brother Two released Merle and ran like a rabbit toward
the water as Merle collapsed onto the damp sand. “I hope you fucking drown.” He
rubbed his neck and tried to get a full breath into his lungs.
The big man knelt down beside Merle.
Merle glanced up. Yes, on closer inspection the face
might have been a choirboy’s—on the body of the Jolly Green Giant.
The big man bobbed his head. “You’re okay, right?”
“Yeah. I think so.”
“How can we know?”
Merle almost laughed. “Uh, I guess you can help me up,
and we’ll check it out.”
“Okay.” The giant reached down, grasped Merle at the
waist, and whoa—sent him flying to
his feet. This time Merle did laugh. “Was that fun?” The big man smiled, and
huge dimples popped out in his cherub face.
“Yeah. Thanks.”
“I could do it again. I like lifting you.”
“No, that’s okay.” Funny how that gave him a little flip
in the stomach. He rotated his neck very gently. “I think I’m okay. How does my
tux look?” He stepped back and wiped sand from his butt.
“Tux?”
“Oh, my clothes.”
“Good. Really pretty.”
“Thanks. A friend designed the clothes for me, and I’d
hate for those assholes to ruin them.”
“Yes. That would be bad. Disappointing.”
“Yes, it would.”
“Friends are good.”
Merle stuck out his hand. “I’m Merle Justice, and I’m
extremely grateful to you. I think you might have saved my life.”
The big man looked at Merle’s hand for a minute, then
grinned and shook it enthusiastically. “I’m happy to save your life.”

 

Merle stretched out the measuring tape and got the
dimensions of the huge family space, then paced it off into dining and living
areas. Once he had enough measurements to buy rugs, he wandered past the big
island into the kitchen and opened each cabinet. His mind filled in the spaces
with dishes and pots and pans—yeah, a lot of stuff he didn’t have. His current
apartment in Santa Monica was still a transition space from starving-actor digs
to TV-star quarters. TV star? He snorted softly. More like vampire of the
month. Of course, he’d been lucky enough to be vampire of the month for two
years.
I’m killing time.
Go down to Ru’s studio and take him to lunch.
“Want part of my sandwich, Merle?”
He looked up into the truly pretty face smiling at him
from the other side of the island. “I don’t want to take your lunch, Tom. I’ll
go get some.”
“It’s okay. I made two sandwiches, so there’s lots.”
I should go, but—“Sure,
I’d love half of your sandwich. What kind is it?”
“I’ve got peanut butter and I’ve got avocado and cheese.”
“Which kind do you like best?”
“I like them both.”
“I’ll take avocado.” He looked around the big room still
covered in drywall dust, nails, and wood shavings. “Where shall we sit?”
Tom made a waggling motion with his finger.
Merle cocked his head and walked around the island to
where Tom stood, towering over him. Suddenly he was flying through the air and
made a little gasping sound as Tom sat him on top of the island, then grinned
and easily hopped up beside him. Merle laughed. “No fair.”
“Oh, didn’t you like it?” Tom looked serious.
“I’m teasing you. I just meant it’s funny that you’re so
much bigger than me.”
He shrugged. “I’m much bigger than anybody—except Billy.
I’m just a little bigger than him.” He handed over his half sandwich. It was on
some kind of multigrain bread and appeared to have cheese that wasn’t American.
“This looks delicious.”
“Mrs. Allison taught me to make it.”
“Who’s that?” He took a bite and was very happy he did.
“The lady I live with.”
“Oh, you live with a lady?” Duh, Merle.
“She owns the house, and I rent a room from her.” He
chewed his peanut butter, which also looked like it might have some organic
roots. “I help her with stuff, and she helps me too. Like teaching me about
food and water and how to feed the boys.”
“Boys?”
“My dogs.”
“How many dogs?”
“Two. Fluffy and Tigger. I got them from the shelter where
I work sometimes.”
“Most landladies don’t let you have dogs.”
“Mrs. A. is really nice. She doesn’t want me to have big
dogs, though. Wish I could.” He chewed thoughtfully.
“You could probably get an apartment or house with enough
space for bigger dogs if you want them.”
He shook his head matter-of-factly. “No. Can’t afford
it.”
“I guess rentals in Laguna are pretty high.”
“Yeah, but Billy pays me good. I just need the money for
my folks to take care of Lily.”
“Your sister.”
“Right.” He grinned like he was happy Merle knew her
name. They chewed companionably. “You’re on TV, right?”
“Yes.”
“I don’t see TV much, but I’m going to watch this week.
Mrs. Allison said I can.”
Why did his saying things like that wring Merle’s heart?
“Do you like movies?”
“Oh yes. I go to movies sometimes.”
“What kind do you like?”
“All kinds. Except the ones with the words. I’m not so
good at that.”
Merle’s glance snapped to Tom’s face, but Tom didn’t seem
to be complaining or confessing. Just stating a fact. “Do you have trouble reading?”
He tried to ask it with great nonchalance.
“Yes. That’s how Billy and I got to be friends. He
doesn’t read so good either.” He grinned. “But we’re better now.”
“May I ask you a personal question? You don’t have to
tell me.”
“Sure, Merle. You’re my friend.”
Again, that thump on his heart. “I know you passed the
electrician’s exam. Billy tells me that’s really hard. If you have trouble
reading, how were you able to do it?”
“Mrs. A. read it to me.”
He looked up from licking his fingers clean of avocado.
“What?”
“I gave her the tests that were like samples, and she
read them to me. And she read all the handbooks too. Then a nice guy named Burt
read me the questions on the test, and I said the answers out loud.”
“So you learned everything when Mrs., uh, A. read it to
you?”
“Um-hm. I remember really good.” He finished the last
bite of his avocado. “Most people don’t, you know?”
Merle grinned. “Yes, I do know.”
“Do you like being on TV?”
“Yes. It’s a good job. Long hours, but I get time off
sometimes. Like now.” Funny. He wanted to tell Tom. “I might have a chance to
make a movie.”
Tom’s whole face lit up. “That would be really good,
right? Would you like that?”
“Yes, it’d be a step up in my career. And the guy
directing the movie is very well-known and respected.” He glanced over. Did Tom
have the slightest idea what he just said?
“Do you like him?”
Merle smiled. Leave it to Tom to get to the heart of the
matter.

 

Love in Laguna Series
Bk #1

 

Available for purchase at
                 

 

Bk #2
Available for purchase at 
 
                    

 

Bk #3
Available for purchase at
                      

 

 

 

Bk #4
Available for purchase at 
               
Pre-order your copy now!
About the Author

 

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in gay romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 40. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, Best Romantic Suspense, and more. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft. She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

 

You can find Tara at Lain
               
Presented By

 

Top 10 Rom-Com Kisses

Hi —

I love movies kisses. Actually, i love book kisses, TV kisses, and, above all, real life kisses. That’s why i thought i’d share this video of someone else’s idea of the Top 10 Rom-Com Kisses. I agree with some of them. My nominee for best screen kisser, interestingly enough, is Jude Law. Super kisser! Check out one of his romantic films and see if you don’t get what i mean. Here’s the video

And don’t forget, i just introduced a new book that has some pretty cool kisses in it too. You can see FAST Balls HERE. 

Christina’s Wonderful Video Review on Return of the Chauffeur’s Son #5Stars

Hi — Like all writers, i get a lot of wonderful reviews that i’d love to have preserved in gold! One I particularly love, is this video review from Christina’s Bookshelf for Return of the Chauffeur’s Son. She was so excited about the book and it comes across so wonderfully. Check it out. It’s a fun review – and you might want to try the book. Lots of people tell me they’re enjoying it.

You can check out an excerpt from Return of the Chauffeur’s Son HERE. And please take a look at FAST Balls, my new re-release. Thanks for coming by!

#Firefighters in Love! FAST Balls by Tara Lain is Here. #Giveaway

Hi and welcome to the re-release of FAST Balls. This is my firefighter-in-love, enemies to lovers story. It’s a fave of many readers and i hope you love it too. Be sure to enter to win a $10 Amazon GC.  :  )

 

Tour StopsJuly 12, 2017 
Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
Love bytes
Nessa’s Book ReviewsJuly 13, 2017 
Buffy’s Ramblings
Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang!
Book Lovers 4Ever
Bookworm Brandee

July 14, 2017 
Bayou Book Junkie
Making it Happen
books are love
V’s Reads

Fast Balls
(Balls To the Walls Series, #5)

by Tara Lain

Blurb:

Can two men with skewed self-images see their true reflections in each other’s eyes?

Jerry Wallender—firefighter, surfer, and occasional nude model—knows he’s no rocket scientist. So why does he keep choosing intellectual guys who make him feel dumber? He worked his buns off to overcome his reading disability and pass the firefighter’s test, and he loves everything about the job. Well, except for Mick Cassidy, the big, blond, hunky homophobe who harasses Jerry for being gay. But Jerry is smart enough to realize it’s not hate driving Mick, but the pain of a very unhappy upbringing.


Mick Cassidy, Firefighter Assist and Search Team, fights fires, but he can’t fight his attraction to the kindest, most generous—and sexiest—guy he’s ever met. Does that make him gay? If it does, he just might get himself killed by his gay-hating preacher father—and take Jerry down with him.

 

This is a re-release
Available for purchase at
         
Excerpts

 

Mick wrenched the bag from
Straight’s hands. The guy tried to pull back, but he was so off base. No one,
certainly not this pipsqueak white trash, was keeping Mick Cassidy from trying
to save the kindest, best man he knew.
Mick threw an arm toward
Straight, and the guy fell backward on his ass. Get out of my way.
He crouched, focused, breathed
deeply, and hurled himself through the flames. It felt like a mountain of fire.
Please God, let there be another side.
And there was. The solid wall
of burning hell thinned, and Mick fell through.
Jerry.
Quiet, still, broken like a rag
doll. One of his long legs lay at an odd angle.
No.
No. No.
He scrambled to Jerry’s side,
pulled the respirator from the bag, and pressed it over his face.
“Breathe. Breathe, Jerry.”
A new hot spot flared up beside
him. Damn!
He looked over his shoulder,
back the way he’d come. Wall of flame. No exit. Embers rained and a chunk of
the ceiling fell a foot away. He leaned over Jerry’s still body to shield him
and felt the heat closing in. So this is
it.
He stared down at the closed
eyes of the man he had rushed to save. No question. No hesitation. Funny. It
felt like a choice. A choice that had been no choice.
He looked up. Was God up? Up in
that flaming ceiling? Up in the roof that now opened to the sky?
He took a deep breath and bowed
his head. Okay, God, I spent my whole
life hearing what you love and what you hate. According to my father, you hate
the man who’s lying here, and I should hate him too, and leave him here to die.
If he’s not already dead.
He looked up, and sparks lit up
a disintegrating beam. It would fall real soon.
The
thing is, God, if you hate this man and love my father, your priorities are
screwed up. And if that’s true, I guess I don’t care so much about dying
because I’ll be going to hell, and I know it will be full of people I like.
People like Jerry.
I
sure wish I could have saved him, though. The world is better with him in it.
He looked down at the man who
had said he cared about him. That and being a firefighter were about the only
things he could think of that amounted to much in his life, but they were a
lot. He lowered his head to Jerry’s chest.

 

 

“Sure. I can’t think of anyone
else I’d want to be with forever.”
“Why?”
Mick smiled and took hold of
Jerry’s hands. “That’s easy. You’re kind, and good, and funny. And so damned
smart I’d be learning new stuff from you forever. Hell sounded pretty good with
you in it.”
Jerry just shook his head back
and forth.
He sighed. “But I guess hell
would have been the easy way out.”
Jerry nodded. “It’s harder to
live than to die.”
Mick sat on the floor at
Jerry’s feet. “I was thinking I’d leave here. Go somewhere and start over.
Leave my father and that whole gang behind.”
Jerry’s voice was very soft.
“And me? Leave me behind?”
Mick looked up into those bluer
than blue eyes. “That’s the hard part. That’s why I’m still here. I don’t want
to leave you.”
“Why?”
“You’re sure full of whys.
Because you’re my friend. My best friend.”
Jerry ran a hand across Mick’s
cheek. It felt so nice. “I am your friend. Am I your lover?”
Mick’s breath caught. Weird. Half horror. Half delight. “I
don’t know.”
Jerry’s fingers roamed into his
hair, and he pressed his head against Jerry’s palm. “Wherever you go, you have
to decide. Are you gay, Mick?”
“You said I am. Jezebel says I
am.”
“We may think so, but you have
to decide for yourself.”
Mick frowned. “I thought it
wasn’t a choice.”
“It’s not, but there are plenty
of guys walking around pretending they’re not gay. A lot of them end up
freaking out their wives and kids when they get caught in some bathroom fucking
a twink.”
Mick stared at the floor.
“People hate you because you’re gay.”
“Yep.”
Mick took in a big breath.
Suddenly that moment in the fire washed over him. “But God doesn’t hate you.”
Jerry shrugged. “I guess that
depends on who you ask.”
 

 

 

 

 

The Balls to the Wall Series
Volley Balls
Bk #1
Available at
 
      
Fire Balls 
Bk #2
Available to purchase
      
Beach Balls
Bk #3
Available to purchase
         

Prefer paperback?
The first and second book are now available in paperback! 

 

 

About the Author

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 32. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.  She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books.  Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!
You can find Tara at Lain

 

               

Presented By

Taylor Maid in French! Une Mariee sur Mesure Released. #taralain #marriageofconvenience

Hi — I’m so excited that my popular marriage of convenience, boy-masquerades-as-a-girl romance, Taylor Maid, is releasing today in French. Une Mariee sur Mesure stars Taylor, a billionaire’s son who will lose his inheritance if he doesn’t marry by his birthday —  the next day! He desperately needs a candidate and settles on the hotel maid — who isn’t quite what she seems!

You can buy Une Mariee sur Mesure at FRENCH AMAZON

Amazon US — https://www.amazon.com/mariée-mesure-Dreamspun-Desires-Français-ebook/dp/B0739LW9W3/ 

Dreamspinner Press — https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/une-mariee-sur-mesure-by-tara-lain-8661-b

And other major outlets!

Ready for ALL WHEEL DRIVE? #ZAMaxfield #Riptide #NewRelease

Hi all –

You know i’m a huge fan of Z.A. Maxfield. She was one of my favorite authors before i met her and today i feel lucky to count her as a close friend. A particular favorite of mine is her Hell On Wheels and i’m so excited that the sequel, All Wheel Drive, has just hit the site at Riptide. I’m sure it will be at all the retail outlets soon, but you can hop over and order it now. Here’s a link —

https://riptidepublishing.com/titles/all-wheel-drive

And here’s a nibble —

 Blurb:

 Healey Holly is battered, depressed, and looking to go to ground in his childhood home. He wants to rent the garage apartment, but it’s Diego Luz’s place now, and the last thing Diego wants is to share it.

Diego is recovering too—from the accident that put him in a wheelchair and the death of his mother shortly after. The garage apartment is where he’s keeping his mother’s things, and as long as they’re up those stairs and he’s down on the ground, there’s no way he can deal with his loss.  And that’s just how he likes it.

Healey believes in science. Diego believes in luck. It will take a blend of both, and some prayer thrown in besides, for these two to learn that it’s the journey and the destination that matters.

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Diego

The man at the door was a mess.

Diego’s first look through the peephole showed a sort of monster silhouette—a weirdly shaped humanoid dragging a wheeled duffel bag.

In the porch light’s acrid yellow glow, the very shape of him set off a boogeyman, stranger-danger skin-crawl. Ruthlessly, he suppressed any instinct for self-preservation and opened the door wide, but his visitor was just an ordinary man with a mass of healing facial wounds, one arm in a cast, and the haunted look of a recent combat veteran. Diego didn’t recognize him, but there was nothing to be scared of. Whatever had happened to him was potentially frightening, but he was only a guy.

“Can I help you?”

“I hope so. I called about the room over the garage?”

“And I told you when you called: I’m not renting it out. I need it for storage. How did you even know—”

“I’m still hoping you’ll change your mind. I grew up around here. I remember the family that used to live here, and I feel like—” The man stopped. Gathered himself. “I need a room for a little while, and if you’re only using it for storage . . .”

Sorrow limned what few features Diego could guess at behind the bandages, healing abrasions, and the shiny pink newness of burns. Dude had shaved his hair on the sides but the top was long, the result being a man-bun swirl of wavy brown hair that looked greasy. How was this guy even keeping himself clean? Despair, and something infinitely worse hung around him like a toxic cloud. Hopelessness.

Diego recognized the man’s helpless anxiety and anguish all too well.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“John Smith.”

Irritated, Diego eyed him sourly. “I take it you ain’t filling out a rental application?”

“Sure. I’ll fill one out.” It was hard to watch a smile crack those dry, scabbed lips, but it was a nice smile. A friendly smile. Dude wasn’t using it very often, obviously. “I’m thinking of taking up fiction writing as a career anyway.”

“You make it so hard to say no.”

Diego started to close the door, but that soft cast shot out, and Diego didn’t have it in him right then to add injury to . . . injury.

“You want to try and convince me some more?” Diego asked sarcastically. “You want to add you’re also a known terrorist carrying small pox?”

“Two thousand cash a month. Six months tops. It’s a room with a toilet, a sink, and a shower, right?”

“How do you know that? How’d you even get my number?”

Dude’s eyes widened. Then narrowed. “Never mind how I know. My Uber driver left me, and I’ll have to walk all the way to the nearest motel. Where is that, anyway?”

“Three thousand,” Diego countered, “and you move whatever shit’s up there down to the garage.”

“Done.” The dude frowned. “Wait. What’s up there?”

Diego shrugged. “Stuff from my mother’s place, probably. I told the company that moved me to put whatever wasn’t marked for immediate use up there. And since I can’t exactly fly up there to take a look around”—he thumped the wheels of his chair—“I don’t give a shit. Haven’t missed a thing, so whatever’s up there can’t be too important. You move it, hand me thirty Benjamins, and we’re good.”

“Yeah?”

Was that relief on his face? Diego didn’t smile back. “Trial basis. For a month.”

“Fine.”

“Too much drinking, drugging, loud sex? Not fine. Loud parties? Not fine. No one better bother me, leave trash around, or even look at me askance. No redneck music. In fact, give me your number.” He took out his phone, opened the contacts, and let his new tenant type it in. “I control all of the music around here, or you can leave right now. I can’t walk up those stairs but I can light the place on fire from below and rebuild. If you piss me off, I’ll shoot you and tell the police you frightened my permanently-seated ass, and we’ll see who they blame.”

“Askance? Is that a thing now?”

Oh, there it was again. That elusive spark of humor. “It’s always been a thing.”

“I’ll be sure not to do it.”

“All right, then. I’ll get you a key.”

“No need.” Dude reached gingerly into the pocket of his leather jacket. He pulled out a fat wad of cash and a Costco card. “That lock’s always been a piece of shit.”

Diego took the cash, counted it out. “This is only two grand.”

“I’ll get you the rest tomorrow. I’m good for it.”

Diego nodded, wheeled backward, and gave the door a shove to shut it. It banged in the dude’s face, but that was partly the wind. Dude couldn’t blame him for the wind, could he?

So. Now he had a tenant for a bit.

He could have said no.

He could have said hell no.

As soon as the dude got a look at his room, he’d probably come back down. If he caused any trouble, Diego could give back the money and boot his ass. If John Smith gave him any attitude, Diego could call the cops. But that would be a lot of bother to go through, when spending the night in a dank-ass garage apartment with no bed, no food, and a single hanging overhead lightbulb was punishment enough.

A quick look at the time told Diego he’d better call it a night. While he went through the motions getting ready for bed, the part of his brain that remembered the haunted look in his new tenant’s eyes—the part of him that recognized and responded to and acknowledged the unfairness of things and the failure of good people to alleviate human suffering in the long run—listened with half an ear for the sound of boxes being shuffled around.

The man couldn’t move things in his condition. He’d have to ask for help, at which point Diego planned to drive him to the nearest bed-and-waffle-buffet motel. Such a thing would probably cost less than the three grand he’d promised Diego anyway, and sure as fuck nobody’d be feeding him here.

Diego definitely did not think about dust or spiders or other critters. He was not imagining a room he’d never even been in but could visualize from realtor’s photos—wood-paneled walls and vinyl flooring in sickly, faded shades of brown and orange and yellow. But he’d never wanted a tenant. He hadn’t sent anyone but the movers up there after he’d come to Bluewater Bay. Hadn’t cleaned the place. Hadn’t advertised it.

It was almost a public service letting the dude get his fill of it. Returning home after a traumatic event might seem like a good thing to a guy like that. There was a lot to be said for nostalgia. But an old childhood hangout wasn’t the place for someone so physically banged-up, and he’d soon realize it.

What he needed was his family. Friends. Tribe. What he was looking for was safety. Diego could tell him that safety was an illusion, but it looked like he’d already gotten the news.

Even as he grew sleepy, Diego kept an ear tuned for unusual noises.

John Smith’d be back if he couldn’t get the door open. He’d knock if sleeping on the floor beat to hell like that was as fucked up as it sounded.

Diego drifted off to sleep wishing he was the type of guy to treat a man’s pride like it wasn’t as important as his body.

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YUM! Can’t wait to read it, and to listen to it whenever it hits audio. Grab your copy and BTW, my re-release of the firefighter romance, FAST Balls is coming Thursday. Plus i have new releases of Taylor Maid in French and Cowboys Don’t Come Out in French and German coming soon.

Thanks for stopping by!