I may have talked about this here before, so forgive me if I have. I got to thinking one day after seeing so many conversations on social media among authors not wanting to tackle the topic of the lockdown because we like to write romance, and how do you handle romances and settings where people intermingle with their communities and meet the loves of their lives when so many of us are having to self-isolate. I mean, how do couples find each other in the middle of a lockdown?
As well, we like to write stories that lift people up. How do you lift people up tackling a real-world issue when so many are grappling with depression and loneliness due to the current pandemic?
Well, I talked to author friends online, and we came up with this idea for a series of short-short stories, just 1,500 to 2,500 words long, that we want to offer for FREE to readers. Our passing-time-in-a-pandemic gift to you.
Authors will be hosted on my Collections website—that site that’s not all about me, but rather all about the anthologies I put together and the authors who contribute to them. We’ll all share promo duties to get the word out when a new story arrives. You might want to subscribe to the Collections site so you don’t miss a single FREE story. Just a thought!
While you’re enjoying these short freebies, of all different heat levels, be sure to check out the authors, too. They’re a talented bunch. I bet you’ll find some new authors you’ll be eager to follow.
So, let’s start with the first of the stories coming your way…
SUBLET — Part 1 by Reina Torres
Click on the cover to head over to the Love In Lockdown webpage!
Writing offers countless creative options for authors. One thing that happens for me is the scene, the moment, that springs up in a dream or an afternoon of house chores. They’re never complete stories like a reader would expect to find in a novel. Instead, they’re vignettes.
Some of the stories in this collection have been previously published as standalone shorts. When I decided to work on a collection of shorts, they’ve been expanded and nourished with more detail, more emotion, more of what makes a story resonate with a reader. I called it — Love in the Moment — a collection of contemporary romantic shorts featuring unexpected affection in unforeseen circumstances.
Love in the Moment
One moment she dared. Stepped outside of yesterday and tomorrow. Took what she wanted even if she didn’t want to want it.
These are stories of those moments, when a stranger’s smile and a glint in his eye speak to a previously undiscovered part of her soul, when each second ticks past with the wealth of a thousand years.
In “Encounter at the Elevator,” a moment’s whim may open the door to an unexpected future. Flash Fiction
“Cara’s Rescue” follows a woman’s escape from heartbreak and terror into unimagined safety. Short Story
In “The Lawn Guy,” a widow struggles with survivor’s guilt and the stirrings of desire. Short Story
The struggles of air travel open new opportunities in “The Layover” when a woman steps outside her comfort zone to meet the challenge of a seductive stranger. Novelette
“In Dare to Ask,” a spur of the moment dare forces a woman to blurt out an invitation to a younger man. Instantly regretful, she wants to drive away and never come back. Worse, he accepts. Now what? Novelette
What starts as a woman’s educational pursuit quickly detours into something else entirely when an old house “In Need of Repair” brings a major complication to her life. Novelette
“A Chance to Move On” materializes unexpectedly at a remote cabin smothered in ice and snow when a park ranger comes knocking. Novella
I can’t imagine what I’d do in this pandemic mess without books! Honestly, reading keeps me sane. It’s what I look forward to every day. I write until around 2 p.m. and then it’s time to read. How about you?
This time around I’m introducing Captives of Desire, a collection of short stories and longer pieces that have been previously published. These works have been revised and expanded, so if by chance you’ve read one of them before, you’ll find the new version even more enjoyable.
Rape, pillage, plunder. Those were the bywords of life in the British Isles from the time of the Romans in 50 AD until the Norman invasion in 1066. In each new wave of foreign conquerors, the native Britons – well, not actually the original natives because no one knows who they were – were pushed to the west. Those who maintained their Celtic culture survived in isolated Welsh, Irish, and Scottish strongholds.
Some of the Romans married Britons and their descendants became part of the normalized population clinging to the advancements Rome brought to the island. It is theorized by some authorities that the fabled King Arthur was of such a lineage, and the order he sought to establish derived from Roman law. Arthur and his cohort defended against the invasions of the Saxons, Jutes, and Angles, all Germanic peoples who found British shores inviting.
Three hundred years after the Saxon invasions, Scandinavian vessels bearing Vikings made landing bringing forces from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, all of them sharing a similar belief system based on pagan gods such as Thor. For five hundred years, the population of the British Isles grew to include thousands of invaders who made this place their home.
The final invasion of men of the North came to British shores in 1099 with the Norman invasion. These were a mixed breed of those living in Normandy, France, an area yielded to Viking invaders under Rollo in 911. Subsequent intermarriages between French, Normans, and English led to William the Conqueror’s 1066 Norman invasion of England, which established the early cohesion of Britain as a nation. This fascinating history is explained at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_of_Saint-Clair-sur-Epte.
Throughout these centuries, it was the women and their (often unwilling) coupling with invaders that forged the people ancestral to modern Britons and, in consequence, the earliest settlers of the American colonies. These stories imagine the lives of the women who met such invaders with courage, fear, and not a small amount of pleasure. Not all such encounters ended so nicely, as we can imagine. But it’s lovely to think that in some cases, the worlds meshed and new generations sprang up from true love.
The stories are:
Ruthless Invader: In the dangerous unsettled times of 5th century England, native Britons join to fight off invading bands of Saxon warriors. With her husband Bedwyr off at battle, Nefyn lingers at their homestead hoping for one last visit from him before she flees to the mountains with the last of their belongings. The door latch rattles and she is suddenly confronted with a tall warrior and the risk of rape and death. (Short Story)
The Captive: Lady Elspeth hides away to take her pleasure with a captured Danish warrior. He gives her much more than she ever imagined. (Short Story)
The Escape (sequel to The Captive): Elspeth Lady of Hystead rides through the night with Magnus, a Danish warrior whose lover’s skill woke a hidden trove of erotic pleasure in her heart. But outlaws intervene, and Magnus faces the challenge of a lifetime. Will Elspeth come to regret her escape? (Novella)
The Dane’s Bride: Married against her will in order to save her father and their village, a Saxon maid faces her wedding night with a brutish Danish warrior. He stands across the fire pit from her, leering as he demands she remove her clothing. Does he mean to take her on the floor like the animal he is? (Novelette)
A Taste of Love: A cruel wind blows across the midwinter lands of Northern Britain, flapping Senna’s cloak as she hurries inside the praetorium on the heels of the blustering Tutonius, legion cook and dear friend. In Rome, Saturnalia would last a week and include a day of relaxation for all the slaves. But, she sadly acknowledges, this is not Rome but a miserable outpost on the westernmost boundary of Roman-occupied Britannia.
Senna does her best to relieve some of her friend’s staggering workload as he prepares the holiday meal. The governor of all Britain will feast here tonight along with officers of three legions. Hurrying outside the fortress to the sprawling campgrounds of refugees, camp followers, and traders of all kinds, Senna shops for last-minute gifts for her enslaved Briton mistress Caerwin and food supplies Tutonius must have. But upon her return to the kitchen, Senna blushes as Teutonius shares a moment of personal pleasure. (Short Story)
His Only Love: As Saturnalia dawns and Rome’s Legio XIV Gemina prepares for the midwinter celebration despite their station on the far western border of Britannia, Greek slave Antius faces the disaster he set in motion involving his beloved master and legion commander, Marcellus. He takes refuge with his young lover even as an intimate betrayal unfolds between trusted friends. (Gay Erotica Novelette)
While these stories are available individually for only 99 each, this collection sells for only $3.99 – a $5.94 value. I don’t know about you, but more reading for less money is a hot bargain in a time like this. Enjoy!
Psst! We’re beginning a fun thing over on Delilah’s Collections, which involves the authors of FIRST RESPONSE. I’m repeating the blog here, so you see what we’re up to, but the contest itself, and future “In One Picture” posts, will happen over there!
“Far from Over” by Reina Torres They missed their chance at the academy, but after she rescues him from a pile of rubble, a fireman decides it’s time to make her burn for him
From “Far from Over”…
Smokin’ Joe’s Bar wasn’t his normal haunt. Center City was a few hundred feet smaller than Chicago, not that Chi-town let them forget the difference. Still, Center City was big enough to house a handful of bars frequented by firefighters, but beyond that, Joe’s was one of two bars owned and run by firefighters.
It had probably been a great place to get together a few years ago, but the decorations inside looked like they hadn’t changed much since the Marlboro man was big. And he was still hanging on one of the walls. Things were clean and well kept, just old. Just go to any bar that was packed on a night like this and you’d see why they were packed. Joe’s had just gotten stuck in the past, but he wasn’t there for the decorations of even the liquor. He was there for one reason, Gina Ferrer. She was bartender in Joe’s every night she wasn’t working at Station Five.
We (all 15 authors!) are very proud of this edition! The stories are spicy and fun! We set the price low, not because we didn’t think people would be willing to pay a higher price, but because we want to share it with as many people as we can! So, get your copy! It costs less than a cup of coffee—even the straight, unflavored cup! Remember, I have a short story in this volume, too! One related to the Montana Bounty Hunters…
Also, please visit the Collections website for the next wee while. Starting tomorrow, the authors will be sharing photos that depict an aspect of their stories, plus, there will be more contests!
Well, the book is in the can! Film-speak for it’s loaded and ready for release day! I can’t be more excited! The stories are all soooo good, with a wide variety of themes and genres! Something for everyone!
My own story, “In the Wild” is related to my Montana Bounty Hunters series. In fact, the hunter in this story will appear in the spin-off series, Montana Bounty Hunters: Dead Horse, MT! She’ll have her own full-length story, but you can meet her below in the excerpt. Yes, HER! 🙂
Have you checked out my Collections website where all my anthologies “live”? We’re running a ton of contests. If you haven’t already been on that site, here’s a list of contests that are still open. While you’re busy entering to win something, be sure to check out the authors who are part of this anthology. There are some very familiar names (Elle James, Reina Torres, N.J. Walters, Melanie Jayne) and some authors you might not be aware of just yet. You’re going to find new authors to stalk, promise!
So, yes! A ton of contests! Have you entered? Don’t miss the contest I’m running here, today. You’ll find it under the excerpt from my story!
Excerpt from Delilah’s story, “In the Wild”
If not for her GPS device, Martika Mills wouldn’t have had a clue where she was. All she knew was that she was soaked to the skin, mud sucked at her boots, and two days into this hunt, she was no closer to finding Marlon Oats.
Earlier that morning, after sliding a twenty to a gas station attendant on the Montana border, she’d thought she was getting close. She’d gotten a description of the car Marlon had “borrowed” on his flight into the wilderness and had found it parked in a narrow roadside viewing point, just inside Yellowstone National Park.
After that, she’d followed the narrow stream into a deep gully off the road, knowing Marlon considered himself quite the fisherman, or so his mother had said. No doubt he intended to live off the land until the heat died down after he’d failed to make his date with the judge in Helena, where he was due to be tried for robbing a pawn shop in Springdale at gunpoint. His mother had been very helpful, liking the fact that Marti seemed like “a nice girl” who might “ask” her son to let her put him in handcuffs rather than shooting him. His mother didn’t want Marlon hurt, even though his skip might cost her the home she’d lived in since she’d married Marlon’s no-account, long-dead father.
Marti was just about to call it a day, figuring she had just enough daylight left to get back to her SUV parked behind Marlon’s at the roadside park, when she spotted a puff of dark smoke rising over the gully. Noting its direction, she climbed up a steep embankment, seeking footholds in mud and rock and grabbing vines along the sides of the rocky face until she stood at the top and realized the land on this side of the stream was flatter and filled with tall spring grass—and a herd of buffalo that didn’t seem to pay her any mind as she bent over and dragged in deep breaths. She glanced at her hands braced on her knees and grimaced, because they were covered in mud, which she shouldn’t give a shit about because her jeans were streaked with dirt as well.
Marlon had a lot to answer for, but thoughts of the rich bounty she’d score kept her from throwing in the towel. Her mother liked to say that stubborn was her middle name, which was a quality that worked well in her line of work. She always got her man because she never, ever gave up. She’d been bounty hunting for nearly three years now, the last one going solo because she didn’t like sharing her bounty with a partner or an agency, although she was considering working for one again. Agencies often served as bail bondsmen, too, and therefore had the downlow first on the richer bounties. Fetch Winter from Montana Bounty Hunters had been working on recruiting her to join a new satellite office he was trying to get off the ground in Dead Horse, Montana, to service southwest Montana and into Wyoming. He needed hunters with experience, and he’d heard good things about her.
She’d heard good things about the agency, too, if a you discounted the cable TV show that followed his hunters out of Bear Lodge. Fetch gave his crews a higher percentage of the bounty than most agencies did, and he’d assured her that he wouldn’t be looking to do any spin-off series featuring his other offices, but he had admitted that the bonuses for the hunters who permitted the production crews to accompany them were very generous. The job was hers, if she wanted it.
But first, she had to find Marlon Oats.
Trying her best not to draw the herd’s attention, she walked along the edge of the ravine, keeping within the narrow line of trees standing along the edge of the ravine as she made her way toward the place she believed a campfire had been lit.
As she drew closer, she stayed hidden and peered into a clearing. A small tent had been pitched, one that had seen better days. One of the screen windows was torn, and one of the poles that held up the tarp over the door was missing. But she couldn’t make out whether anyone was presently occupying the campsite.
Just then, she heard movement coming from the stream below and a soft off-key whistling. Hunkering down, she waited patiently until the person climbed over the edge of the embankment and stood.
“Marlon, you sweet idiot,” she said under her breath. Her heartbeats quickened, and she drew slow breaths. She needed calm, not adrenaline, to get closer to her target.
Marlon strolled toward his campsite holding a string of four fish, which he lowered into a pot beside the fire. As he began taking them out, one at time, gutting and filleting them, and then tossing the pieces into a pan he’d filled with oil, she moved closer, choosing her footsteps carefully, grateful for the chorus of gargling grunts from the buffalo nearby that masked the sounds her feet made in the suctioning mud.
She studied Marlon to see what challenges he might present. A rifle leaned against the tent, and he held a knife in his hand. Slowly, she dropped her backpack to the ground and drew her own 10mm Remington from the holster on her thigh, and then began to work her way toward the edge of the tree line, knowing she’d eventually have to expose her position to prevent him from making a move toward the rifle.
Soft chuffing grunts sounded from the herd, but she ignored the animals, keeping her gaze fixed on the more dangerous game in front of her.
Then she stepped on a twig, and it snapped.
Marlon’s gaze swung toward her position, and his eyes widened. His gaze shot to the rifle, but she shook her head.
“I’m a Fugitive Recovery Agent, so you know why I’m here,” she said, keeping her tone low and hard.
Eyes still wide, his body tensed as though he was preparing to bolt upwards and make a run for it.
“Don’t even think about running,” she bit out.
He blinked, and his gaze went to something behind her. “Bitch, you might want to think about making a run for it.” Then a smile stretched across his face as he slowly stood and waved his arms.
What the fuck…?
Then she heard it. A deep, gargling grunt. With her handgun still held in both hands in front of her, she darted a glance behind her.
A large bison bull faced her from about twenty feet away, his head lowered toward the ground, his gaze fixed on her.
Marlon laughed then darted toward the tent.
No way was she letting him get anywhere near that rifle, even if he promised to shoot the bull. As big as the fucker was, Marlon’s peashooter wouldn’t do anything more than piss the animal off. “Marlon!” she rasped as loudly as she dared as she weighed her rapidly dwindling options. “Stay clear of that rifle, or buffalo or not, I’ll shoot your ass.”
“Your choice,” he said, raising a hand to his mouth and issuing an ear-piercing whistle. Then he turned and ran toward the gully.
Another grunt, this one louder and harsher, sounded, and she knew she couldn’t just stand there; she broke into a run, following Marlon as he ran parallel to the gully, keeping twenty yards ahead of her.
Behind her, she heard the heavy thud of hooves striking damp earth, coming closer and closer.
Any second now, she’d have to veer toward the gully and jump, and hope like hell that she didn’t break something on the way down.
Then another sound came from a distance. An engine. Something small. She dared to glance back and saw an ATV running parallel but slightly behind the bull. The person driving it wore a green Park Service uniform.
Oh, thank God! But was he too late to distract the angry animal from trampling or goring her to death?
Ahead of her, Marlon gave a gleeful laugh and ran toward the naked edge of the gully, took one last glance behind him, then slid down the side on his ass, disappearing from sight.
Time for her to do the same, although with the way her hiking boots were gliding in the muck, she thought she’d be a lot less graceful and likely pitch headfirst over the rocky ledge.
The ATV’s motor revved, bringing it closer by the sound behind her. But she didn’t dare glance backward. The bull’s hooves were shaking the ground beneath her feet.
With her lungs and legs burning, she veered right, just as the ATV pulled into the path of the bison.
She peeked behind her again. The buffalo slowed then gave a loud chuffing grunt, trotting now behind the ATV. The ranger slowed, too, coming alongside her and reaching out an arm.
No way could she swing onto the back. She wasn’t particularly graceful, would miss by a mile, and get trampled for her efforts. She waved him away and veered toward the ravine.
Glancing backward, she watched the idiot ranger stop his ATV and begin waving his arms high over his head as he walked backward towards her.
“Get on the ATV,” he said, his voice calm as the buffalo ran several steps forward then made a little circle, which left him a few feet farther away when he halted, still grunting his warnings.
How like a man.
“I’ll take my chances in the ravine,” she snapped. “Besides, that’s where my skip went.”
“Get on the goddamn ATV! I’m trying to rescue your ass.”
“They teach you how to talk like that at ranger school?”
“Jesus Fucking Christ.”
He walked toward her, giving her Remington a hard glare.
She holstered it quickly but backed away, holding out her hands. “We’re good. The bull’s more interested in your Tonka toy than me now.”
Just then, the bull proved her right when he ducked his head and butted against the ATV, flipping it onto its side.
For a chance to win a copy of one of our previous Boys Behaving Badly Anthologies, let me know whether you’ve already pre-ordered your copy of FIRST RESPONSE!