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Dale Cameron Lowry: Myths, Moons, and Mayhem
Friday, October 13th, 2017

Thanks for Inviting me to your blog today, Delilah! The past few weeks have been a whirlwind as I’ve been preparing for the release of Myths, Moons, and Mayhem, a steamy collection of paranormal erotica and erotic romances featuring male ménages a trois.

Working with the authors of the nine stories in this collection has been a true delight. Each has brought a different perspective to the theme. We’ve got everything from ghosts to werewolves—Sasquatch even makes an appearance!—but what really impresses me about the stories are the relationships at the heart of them. Just like there are many ways to be a romantic couple, there are also many ways to explore love and desire within a threesome. The writers of Myths, Moons, and Mayhem excel at showing the different permutations that these relationships can take.

In some of the stories, an established couple is struggling and needs the perspective of a third partner to draw them back together. That’s what happens in Morgan Elektra’s “The Endless Knot.” When vampire Jackson runs into Rafael, his werewolf ex, on a Halloween night in New Orleans, he assumes their encounter will turn sour as always. But a gorgeous human intervenes, showing them how to channel the tension and competitiveness between them in a way that fulfills all three men.

In other tales, a single guy finds himself attracted to two different men at the same time and decides to seize the best of both worlds. Rob Rosen plays with this theme in a delightfully lighthearted way in “Close Encounter of the Three-way Kind,” when a man who’s been eyeing his hot neighbor gets a surprise visit from an attractive alien in search of information about the human sex drive.

And sometimes, desire builds in the background, as three characters confront a bigger problem together. That’s what happens in “The Secret of the Golden Cup” by Rebecca Buchanan, when a classics professor finds himself at the center of a magical war and a former student and a campus janitor run to his aid. The men weren’t looking for a new relationship—in fact, at the beginning of the story, Grover is avoiding relationships because he doesn’t see himself as good boyfriend material. But the pressure of the situation reveals the true heroism of each man, and they can’t help but want what they see.

Myths, Moons, and Mayhem has been a labor of love, and I want to share that love with readers. To celebrate this new release, I’m offering a special gift when you order Myths, Moons, and Mayhem by the end of the today, Friday, Oct. 13: seven of my paranormal and speculative stories collected into an ebook I’m calling Chance & Possibility: Seven Fantastical Tales of Gay Desire.

Chance & Possibility is an eclectic selection of stories previously published in multi-author anthologies and my mixed-genre collection Falling Hard: Stories of Men in Love. They range from sweet fairy tale romances to scorching hot tentacle erotica. In its pages, you’ll find fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal stories, and you’ll meet:

  • an unemployed journalist whose sentient iPhone hooks him into rescuing stray cats—and leads him to love
  • a college student who falls in love under the full moon of the Jewish harvest festival, Sukkot, but finds that his new boyfriend shies from his touch when the moon wanes
  • a professional horticulturalist who develops a more-than-scientific interest in a strange new plant he’s been assigned to care for

Chance & Possibility: Seven Fantastical Tales of Gay Desire isn’t available to buy anywhere. The only way to get it now is by ordering Myths, Moons & Mayhem at your preferred store, then forwarding the receipt to mmm-giveaway@dalecameronlowry.com. I’ll send your choice of a mobi (for Kindle) or epub (for all other e-readers) this weekend (I’m in U.S. Central Time).

I look forward to hearing from you!

——————— 

Myths, Moons & Mayhem

Editor: Dale Cameron Lowry 
Authors: Rebecca Buchanan, Elizabeth Coldwell, Rhidian Brenig Jones, Morgan Elektra, Greg Kosebjorn, Clare London, Dale Cameron Lowry, Carl Redlum, Rob Rosen
Genres: menage, LGBT, MMM romance, MMM erotica
Universal E-bookstore Link: https://books2read.com/mythsmoons
Buy the print version at your country’s Amazon store: http://getBook.at/mmm
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/36368999-myths-moons-and-mayhem
More information: https://dalecameronlowry.com/books/myths-moons-mayhem/

Myths, moons, and mayhem make the perfect threesome—and so do the men in this anthology.

Enjoy nine erotic stories of paranormal ménages a trois fueled by lust and magic, where mystical forces collide with the everyday world and even monsters have their own demons to conquer.

A werewolf gets a lust-fueled lesson on fitting in with the pack, a professor unlocks ancient secrets and two men’s hearts, and a pair of supernaturals find themselves at the erotic mercy of a remarkable human. Ghosts, fairies, aliens, and mere mortals test the boundaries of their desires, creating magic of their own.

Penned by favorite authors such as Rob Rosen and Clare London, as well as by newcomers to the genre, Myths, Moons & Mayhem is an eclectic mix of paranormal lust and polymythic beings that will spark your fantasies and fuel your bonfires.

About Dale Cameron Lowry

Dale Cameron Lowry’s number one goal in life is getting the cat to stop eating dish towels; number two is to write things that bring people joy. Dale is the author of Falling Hard: Stories of Men in Love and a contributor to more than a dozen anthologies. Find out more at dalecameronlowry.com.

My Little Warriors (Contest)
Thursday, October 12th, 2017

UPDATE: The winner is…Stephanie!

* * * * *

When I sat down to write my blog, I didn’t have a clue what it would be about. When I’m in Promo Ho mode, it’s easy. I tell you about a book, offer you a tease, and I’m out. When I’m not in Promo Ho mode, I have to think. Gah.

So, this morning, with only one desk light lit, I glanced around for inspiration. Of course, my jumble of junk, on both sides of my monitor, drew my attention. At first, I was just admiring that my oak desk was dusted. My dd did that for me. And she arranged my treasures the way she saw fit. Since they weren’t put back exactly as I had them arranged, they look “new” to me. Yes, that’s King Kong peeking out from behind my crystal ball. Harley Quinn is on the right, and you can see her blue pigtail on the left. I love me some Harley. I’m not a My Little Pony person, but the 8-year-old knows I collect toys, so she gave me one of her favorite ponies. Now, it’s going to be there forever, guarding my bamboo plant.

There’s a piece of a shabti—that Egyptian head in the background, and yes, it’s the real deal. The fragment came from some ancient person’s tomb. And you probably can’t make out the bronze piece in front of it, but that’s a bunny rabbit broach from ancient Scythia—which is purportedly where the legend of the Amazons came from.

I have a piece of smooth, square stone that looks like a piece of Tootsie Roll, and that’s the only reason it’s sitting here instead of my bowl of rocks in my living room. A gift from the same 8-year-old, again. She knows I like weird.

See the little grouping of miniature figures at the center of the pic? Those are my Night at the Museum pieces. Not long after I first saw that movie, I was visiting a friend in town who owns a consignment shop, and those little guys were arranged across the top of her checkout stand. Well, of course, they had to come home with me. There’s a Plains Indian, a knight in armor, a Zulu, a Roman, and Napoleon Bonaparte. I’m sure my dd cussed about moving around all my little bits to dust. Especially these tiny pieces. But they are my companions. And I talk to them. Especially when it’s still dark outside. I keep hoping they’ll come to life and wage battle on my desktop.

So, tell me. Do you have cluttery junk on your desk or work area at home? Do you “collect” little inspirational trinkets? Comment for a chance to win a $5 gift card from Amazon!

Cailin Briste: Teasers from Cosmic Cabaret
Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

Cosmic Cabaret: Where Hearts Collide in the Greatest Show in Space officially released October 10. Get your copy at all major online eBook retailers for just $2.99. The price will be going up in the near future.

Cover to cover Cosmic Cabaret is delicious sci-fi romance.

Thirteen authors. Thirteen novellas. Sure, you can download and read all thirteen first chapters (see links below). But what if you just want a little somethin’ somethin’? Here you go. A sample of what to expect in Cosmic Cabaret.

“Him. Him. Always him. Why couldn’t Astra just get away from the heart-thumping creature, Doctor Zane Jones?”
Stars Shining Bright Above by Jayne Fury

*~*~*

“I’m here for you, whatever you need.”

“Stay with me,” she whispered.

He leaned down and brought her fingers to his lips, brushing them with a gentle kiss. “Nothing would please me more.”
Star-Studded Love by Rosalie Redd

*~*~*

“Well you see, it’s a funny story involving twins, a capybara, and a whole heap of buttercream.”
A Dance of Fallen Stars by Kat Vancil

*~*~*

“Feckin’ man! Why did someone so exasperatin’ have to be built like a god? Standin’ there in his underpants. All his glory on display except for his private bits, which weren’t exactly hidden by that layer of cloth.”
Educated by the Master by Cailin Briste

*~*~*

“The bad boy she had known had grown into a predator that oozed sex.”
Vordol’s Vow by Dena Garson

*~*~*

“Here’s to the sunrise.” He smiled, lifting his glass in a toast. Her eyes flared wide, the clear clink of the pure crystal reverberating through the silence. “Sunrise? Why are we toasting to that?” He watched hungrily as she sipped on the pleasant dessert wine. He tossed back the drink in one gulp. “Because that’s the next time I plan on letting you out of my sight.”
Midnight at Andromeda’s by Tessa McFionn

*~*~*

If you need a little more, download One Small Step First Chapters. But really who needs more?

Click and buy right now for $2.99. That’s 13 sci-fi romance novellas, 1340 pages of love, soft and gentle to wildly abandoned.

Click Here: https://books.pronoun.com/cosmic-cabaret/

One Small Step First Chapters – Read all 13 first chapters of Cosmic Cabaret in this companion teaser.
https://www.instafreebie.com/free/RThtK
https://books.bookfunnel.com/firstchapterchallenge

Cosmic Cabaret: Where Hearts Collide in the Greatest Show in Space

Come aboard Blue Star line’s crown jewel, the LS Quantum, a luxury starship traveling through space and time. You’ll meet princes and star sultans, solve a murder, track a thief, plan the ultimate jewel heist, and encounter futuristic rock stars on the lam, cirque stars who want the quiet life, and dancers who want fame.

Join thirteen USA Today, Amazon best-selling, and award-winning speculative fiction romance authors as they twist their own tales on the decks and in the dance halls of LS Quantum. Embark on a journey to fall in love at the Cosmic Cabaret.

Buy Now for $2.99
Pronoun: https://books.pronoun.com/cosmic-cabaret/ 
Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0755XPYTM
B&N https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cosmic-cabaret-sfr-shooting-stars/1127023699
Kobo https://store.kobobooks.com/ebook/cosmic-cabaret
GooglePlay https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=-sAyDwAAQBAJ
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36144442-cosmic-cabaret?from_search=true

SFR Shooting Stars
SFRSS = Speculative Fiction Romance Shooting Stars.

A collective put together by three authors, Selene Grace Silver, Rosalie Redd and Jayne Fury, SFRSS aims to promote the genre of speculative fiction romance by finding and promoting some of the best SFR authors out there. Our current anthology, which goes on sale October 10, 2017, showcases stories by CJ Cade, Kerry Adrienne, Tessa McFionn, Cailin Briste, Jayne Fury, Rosalie Redd, Selene Grace Silver, Athena Grayson, Kat Vancil, Dena Garson, Blaire Edens, Jenna Lincoln, and Diana Rivis. SFR is more than blue alien sex, it’s beautiful romance set in amazing galactic worlds.

As the LS Quantum prepares to set off into the great expanse of the universe–loading cargo, checking in passengers, monitoring flight conditions—Traverse with us through our various worlds. The luxury space liner promises adventure, a little chaos, and stories of tender love.

Website http://www.sfrshootingstars.com/
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/SFRShootingStars
Twitter https://twitter.com/@SFRRomanceStars

WEARING HIS BRAND is here!
Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

It’s heeeerrrrre! Wearing His Brand, that is. If you love stubborn cowgirls, who aren’t afraid to push a guy to the brink of violence, and stoic cowboys, who go wild when pushed…well, you’ll love this story! And guess what? There are five more stories coming right behind it! So, start here. Get ready for more. Nuff said?

Just a note to those who do read the story… Reviews are greatly appreciated! ~DD

An accident involving barbed wire gives Lyssa McDonough the chance to play damsel-in-distress to capture rancher Brandon Tynan’s attention. Brand promised Lyssa’s older brother he’d keep an eye on his kid sister when he went off to war, but the sexy cowgirl tempts his code of honor past the breaking point when her actions beg for his brand of sensual punishment.

A little TLC turns into one hot encounter neither can just brush off. Now, Brand is determined to put the brakes on Lyssa’s reckless behavior—just as determined as she is to find a way to stay in his bed, forever.

Get your copy here!

Lizzie Ashworth: Emily’s Very Special Halloween (Free Story)
Monday, October 9th, 2017

This month, my guest post on Delilah’s blog will be a few words plus a link to a FREE SHORT STORY, Emily’s Very Special Halloween.

What happened is that one afternoon I had this sketchy idea for writing a Halloween story. I thought, okay, something with dark mystery would be nice. I’d figure it out the next morning.

During the night, this idea came to me about a book and a magical man. Next morning, I could think of nothing else. I sat down at my desk and by noon, the story was finished.

I’ve never had that happen before.

So…I hope you enjoy it. I’m still a little creeped out by the whole process, and I’m absolutely not going out for Halloween. Anywhere. My two black cats are enough, thank you very much.

Usually, that’s how it works for me with a character appearing out of the shadows. They start talking, showing me the story. This one is spooky, which is not my norm. Rest assured there are plenty of others that will wet your panties and keep you up too late.

Here’s the first part of the story:

The book fell, quite literally, into Emily’s hands. Teetering on the tall ladder, she set down the duster and examined the small volume. Bound in blackened ancient leather, the book seemed unremarkable. The title, visible more from the indentation on the leather than by any surviving original lettering, said “Spells and Incantations.”

Briefly, she leafed through the brittle pages. Elaborate scrollwork ornamented the letters, which didn’t form words she knew. At one random page, she tried to read the text and succeeded only in mumbling nonsense phrases.

She’d never seen it before, but that wasn’t a particularly odd circumstance considering the thousands of books crammed onto the shelves along the narrow aisles of Taylor’s Used and Collectible Books. Mr. Taylor himself, a distracted older man with a pinched face and thick glasses, liked to joke that the books bred when the lights were out and he took no responsibility for the overflow that sometimes ended up in hopeless stacks partially blocking the aisles.

Then he’d look over his glasses and wink in an admission that yes, on his off hours from tending the store, he roamed through garage sales and flea markets and browsed the internet to find more books. As far as Emily was concerned, Mr. Taylor cared less about selling books than he did about acquiring them. She’d seen him become visibly pained when someone insisted on purchasing a book that he held in particular regard. Which more or less applied to a majority of the works in the store, a ramshackle red brick structure on the corner of a minor street on the edge of downtown.

Turning to replace the slender tome, Emily frowned at the crammed shelves. She tried pushing the books over where she’d dusted but there was absolutely no room for another book. Even more puzzling, additional books lay on top of the upright ones, filling every inch of space. She looked around wondering where the book actually fell from, then tucked it in her oversized apron pocket, stifled a sneeze, and climbed down.

At the front counter, she set the book down as a man walked up. There had been only a handful of people in the store this morning, not exactly one of their busier days. Somehow this guy had slipped by her. Had she not heard the bell ring?

“How can I help you?” she said, trying not to gape at his appearance.

He studied her with intensely dark eyes, almost frightening at first glance but then engaging in a fascinating way. Short dark hair and a slight after-five shadow set off his chiseled features, a combination of strong aquiline nose, stern brow, and sensual lips she couldn’t avoid noticing. His lips seemed to move slightly even though he wasn’t talking.

He cleared his throat. “I’m looking for a particular book,” he said. The corner of his mouth crooked in the hint of a smile. “Do you have a section for vintage and collectibles?”

His melodic baritone voice sent chills down her spine that collected at her nipples and pressed them to hard points. Almost breathless, she clutched the edge of the counter, pointing to the place she’d just been dusting.

“Aisle 5,” she said. “Halfway down. There’s a ladder if you need it.”

FREE READ

Download the full story at Smashwords and use coupon code CY64F.
Hurry! Coupon good only through October 12. 

P.S. My apologies to Delilah fans who are also subscribers to my newsletter. This free story offer was extended in the October issue of Liz’s Hot News, meaning you didn’t get anything new here. But stay tuned—more free stuff coming to newsletter subscribers! For those not yet subscribed, when you join the fun, you’ll get excerpts from forthcoming works, short stories, coupon deals, previews and more. You can unsubscribe at any time, and it’s FREE. Easy signup at http://eepurl.com/bHOyS9

Like my Facebook page to receive updates on other nice and naughty works by Lizzie Ashworth plus some random images of hot men. What more could you want? https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLizzieAshworth

Don’t forget to check out my Pinterest page. https://www.pinterest.com/ashworthlizzie/ And definitely check my website/blog for regular outrageous blog posts and the full list of all my books and short stories, with buy links, http://lizzieashworth.com/

Dena Garson: London Calling
Sunday, October 8th, 2017

Thanks for having me here today, Delilah!

I have two new releases out this month. One is a follow-up to my sci-fi romance, Rege’s Rescue, and will be included in the Cosmic Cabaret set. The other is a steampunk romance.

What excites me so much about the steampunk is that I finally go to live in Victorian England for a short time while writing the story. I have always loved the Victorian Era. Don’t know why. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of my former lives was spent in that time period. I was so fascinated by Queen Victoria and her influence on the world that I wrote my senior paper on it.

But something struck me while writing Her Clockwork Heart like a slap upside the head. When I visualized myself in the heroine’s life and began to add details to the story to fit that time period, I discovered that I wouldn’t want to live there for long.

For starters, while I love steampunk clothing and costumes, have you ever worn a corset? As lovely as they are, and no matter how flattering they CAN be, they are not terribly comfortable. Corsets do wonders to support my back but they sure limit movement. Not to mention how much they get in the way when you need to use the bathroom.

Speaking of bathroom—that would be the number one reason I would never want to live in historic ANYTHING. We really do take for granted how good we have it with modern-day plumbing and waste disposal. Seriously. I heard horror stories while touring Edinburgh of how waste (yeah, human waste) used to be tossed out windows onto the city streets. Eeeww! And with most of the transportation being dependent on horses, imagine all of the horse droppings on the street. How did anyone or anything stay clean??? The answer: they didn’t. I’m betting it was a fragrant nightmare to go anywhere in a crowded city.

And don’t get me started on what women could or couldn’t do back then.

So… yeah. I’ll happily sit here, in my climate controlled home, wearing my soft and stretchy clothes, and simply read or write about the romantic side of times gone by. We’ll just ignore those ugly details of how things used to be.

London Calling

Three Scintillating Victorian Steampunk Tales
By Sorcha Mowbray, TL Reeve & Michelle Ryan, and Dena Garson
Release Date: October 17, 2017

Take a journey to Victorian London where an assassin meets her match, zombies invade, and top scientists go missing.

Four talented authors come together to bring you three BRAND NEW, full length Victorian steampunk novels of seduction, adventure, and mystery.

A look inside…

Seducing the Assassin (The Ladies League) by Sorcha Mowbray
Josephine Stanton, Madame and assassin, has another assignment to eliminate an enemy of the Queen. Too bad John Griffin, The Earl of Melton, has no intention of dying. Neither of the pair expects the heat that steams them up between the sheets and ultimately sets New Victorian London on its ear.

Darkness Rises by TL Reeve and Michele Ryan
A zombie horde has invaded London, England. Jonah McRae and his band of ghoulish Dreadfuls are London’s only hope. However, when Annabelle Craig threatens his mission he doesn’t know whether to kill her or claim her as his. Can the hunter and the huntee team together to take down the horde? Or will London be lost forever?

Her Clockwork Heart by Dena Garson
During her search for her missing brother, Trixie is reunited with Nathaniel, the man she never stopped loving. Sensing that Trixie might be in danger, Nathaniel lends his skills as an investigator to her efforts. Their love is rekindled as they race across the country looking for clues to more than one mystery.

Buy Links:
**Pre-Sale Special Pricing of $2.99**
Amazon – http://amzn.to/2gNEIYz
Barnes and Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/london-calling-sorcha-mowbray/1126979054
Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/london-calling-38
iBooks – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/london-calling/id1271410373?mt=11
Teaser Book Trailer Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiU23CI5ZcM
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36311063-london-calling

About the Author

Dena Garson is an award-winning author of contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance. She holds a BBA and a MBA in Business and works in the wacky world of quality and process improvement. Making up her own reality on paper is what keeps her sane.

She is the mother of two rowdy boys, two rambunctious cats (AKA the fuzzy jerks), and a loving Labrador. When she isn’t writing you can find her at her at the sewing machine or stringing beads. She is also a devoted Whovian and Dallas Cowboys fan.

Website: http://www.denagarson.com/
Blog: http://www.denagarson.net/
Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/dena.garson.7
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDenaGarson
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DenaGarson
Pintrest: http://www.pinterest.com/denagarson7
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/dgarson
Newsletter: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/v7a2i6

Flashback: Hard SEAL to Love (Contest)
Saturday, October 7th, 2017

UPDATE: The winner is…Ann Q!

* * * * *

Hey there! I’m up bright and early today. What does that phrase mean, anyway—bright and early? It’s  dark as midnight outside at the moment. And you know, I stumbled over the “dark as midnight” too. I wanted to write “dark as fuck”, but figured you might not like that word outside of a scene where the F-word is definitely being used as a verb. The “dark as fuck” is a remnant of a relationship I had with an Irishman. He loved that phrase. Now, it slips far too easily off my tongue and fingertips…

So, there was absolutely no point to that opening paragraph. Hope you didn’t mind the meandering segues. I have a feeling it’s going to be one of those days. I have a shit-ton of editing to do today, and how will I be starting my day? I’m headed to the Pumpkin Days Festival, which a little nearby church in the sticks holds every year. The kids always love it, so of course, we have to go. Games, food, PUMPKINS.

Do you have big things planned for today? I have a suggestion! Read the excerpt below from Hard SEAL to Love, and tell me you’re not tempted to find a SEAL book-boyfriend!

Contest

Comment for a chance to win one of my Uncharted SEALs stories
PLUS an Amazon gift card!
Click on a cover to explore the series!

Watch Over Me Her Next Breath Through Her Eyes Dream of Me

Baby, It's You Before We Kiss Special Forces: Operation Alpha: Between a SEAL and a Hard Place 

Hard SEAL to Love  Head Over SEAL 

Hard SEAL to Love

Hard SEAL to Love

Former SEAL, “Big Mac” McLane, is sure he earned all kinds of bad karma somewhere when his next mission with Charter Group is to guard the “Love Boat” and a pretty program director. Okay, so the cruise line is sponsoring a special cruise for wounded soldiers and their significant others—a great cause. Mac doesn’t doesn’t know a thing about spending time with “good” women, but Kylie Hammond is full of surprises. After the initial shock of meeting her, he feels like he has two left feet whenever she’s around. So he’ll do his job, keep it strictly business, fade into the background whenever she’s around, but Kylie seems to have other ideas…

Kylie knows the muscle-bound SEAL isn’t exactly gung-ho for his new assignment, and she isn’t exactly the “princess” he expected, but she can’t be more pleased. The big man’s the yummiest thing she’s ever seen, and coaxing blushes and glares from him becomes her favorite sport. Then someone aboard the ship is killed. The thing her charity most feared—a terrorist attack at sea—appears to be underway. Now, she has to trust Mac and his team to keep her wounded soldiers safe.

Read an excerpt…

Five hours later, Mac stepped through the entrance of the Hampton Inn. The lobby was a study in orderly chaos. Suitcases were lined up and stacked against one wall. Men and women, some in wheelchairs or walking with crutches and walkers, and missing limbs—some multiples—filled the space.

Mac tamped down a feeling of guilt for being able-bodied and whole as he walked through the throng, nodding now and then as he passed the veterans. He headed to the concierge and asked where he could find Kylie Hammond. After being informed which conference room Soldiers’ Sanctuary had commandeered to hand out welcome packets to arrivals, he headed down a hallway, relieved he didn’t have to push through a sea of bodies. He was ready to start this op. Sooner the better. Five days would fly by, and then he’d have the down time he needed to get his head on straight before the next assignment.

Stepping inside the room, he noted two long conference tables filled with plastic buckets of folders. Three elderly men manned the table.

One of them who sported a gray buzz cut and a surprisingly muscular build glanced his way. He lifted his chin in greeting.

Mac decided he was as good a place to start as any and strode toward him.

The old man held out his hand. “Joe Olinksy,” he said, in deep, loud voice. Then he leaned against the table edge and whispered, “You with Charter?”

Mac eyed him then glanced at his two buddies who were moving closer. His presence as part of the security team was supposed to be on a “need-to-know” basis.

Grinning, Joe waved a hand. “We’re part of your support. Eyes and ears only. We’re a little too long in the tooth to be the muscle, but we’re here to help. We’ll be staying in the stateroom next to yours.”

Skeptical that this band of elderly brothers could be of any service at all, Mac drew a deep breath and gave Joe’s two companions another look.

“This is Morty,” Joe said, pointing toward a thin man with a round, pot belly. “And that’s Sly.”

Sly smiled, and his teeth were blindingly white and little too large in his mouth.

“Ex-marines, 3rd Division during Viet Nam,” Joe said. “You a SEAL like Wiley?”

“Semper Fi,” Morty said, grinning.

Mac grunted, revising his original assessment. These guys had seen real action. “I’m looking for Kylie Hammond.”

“She’s out in the atrium,” Joe pointed toward the windows behind him, “getting a cup of coffee. She’s been manning the tables since dawn. And don’t worry about us. We can handle ourselves. After all our help on the last cruise, Poppy made sure to add us to the team. We’ll have your six.”

The three elderly men hadn’t been mentioned in any of the briefings he’d attended back at HQ. Wiley for damn sure hadn’t said a thing, but then again, Wiley had looked a little smug when he’d heard Mac was being assigned to protect his wife’s best friend. He cleared his throat. “Mac McLane by the way,” he said, giving a nod to all three men.

“We’ll see you aboard the Oceanus,” Joe said.

Mac left them and thought about calling Wiley to find out why the hell he hadn’t mentioned his geriatric buddies. Just to bitch because he was already dreading the coming minutes. He didn’t have a lot of experience with Ms. Hammond’s brand of womanhood. He’d served with women in the field, and slept with the women who swarmed bars outside Navy bases, hoping for a hookup with a SEAL.

Women outside those two categories tended to make him nervous. In his experience, women had served only two purposes, as support and/or stress-relief for a SEAL. Not that he looked down on them. He liked the women he’d known. But he hadn’t had to think much about what kind of impression he made or how to talk to them. He could be gruff and blunt. What the hell would he talk about for the days and nights he and the princess would be glued to each other’s sides?

Entering the atrium, he glanced around for someone who fit the picture he’d made up in his mind. She’d be pretty, no doubt. He couldn’t imagine anyone who was friends with Poppy Shackleford and attending her social functions looking any different.

Most of the small round, brightly tiled tables were filled with men and a few women. Probably wives of the wounded soldiers, who’d be accompanying their husbands on the cruise.

One woman sat alone, her head bent over her cell phone which lay flat on the tabletop, a tall Styrofoam cup beside it. Her hair was a mass of dark brown curls. Her body, what he could see of it hunched over the table, was slender. Her bare arms and the tops of her shoulders, revealed by an olive tank, showed well-developed muscles. She wore no jewelry, save for a watch on an olive-colored web strap. Faux military-issue? And now he wondered whether she was one of those who was so enamored of military men she wore cammo pajamas. He’d met a few like that. As he moved nearer, she must have sensed someone watched her.

The woman’s gaze lifted from her phone and locked with his.

As he took in her features, he slowed his steps. Wide-set green eyes whose gaze never wavered, tan skin, rose-colored lips, cheeks that were prominent and high. She was lovely, but didn’t wear a hint of makeup. She didn’t need it. Unbidden, interest flared inside him, heating his blood.

“Are you Mac?” she asked, her voice even and little husky.

His tongue felt thick as he gave a crisp nod and replied. “You Kylie?”

Her smile was a little tight, but she pushed up from the table to greet him, her arm reaching forward.

When he looked down at her hand, with its long fingers and short bare nails, his gaze dropped to her legs. Another shock stole his breath. She wore shorts which ended at mid-thigh, revealing one long, nicely turned limb paired with a shapely thigh that disappeared into the black cup of a prosthetic limb.