Wednesday, April 14, 2021

#ReleaseBlitz...Haven...#MM #PNR #Mystery

RELEASE BLITZ

Old secrets, hidden psychics, secret shifters, ghosts, scandals—and true love.

Book Title: Haven

Author: Morgan Brice

Cover Artist: Alexandria Corza

Release Date: April 8, 2021

Genre/s: MM paranormal romance/mystery

Trope/s: Action, mystery, hurt/comfort, geeks in love, supernatural secrets, a brave historian and a lovelorn private detective, plus a guaranteed HEA. Old secrets, hidden psychics, secret shifters, ghosts, scandals—and true love.

Themes: Age gap, starting over, friends to lovers, 

Heat Rating: 4 flames       

Length: 60 000 words/200 pages

It is a standalone book, but there are soft ties to Morgan’s Fox Hollow series. Other than the shared elements of the magic emporium, it does not connect to any of the other books in the Magic Emporium series.

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A series of long-ago disappearances leads cold case private detective Austin Williams to investigate a troubled sanitarium. Jamie Miller is new in town, temporarily running the local historical association, and he willingly signs on to help solve Austin’s mystery. Sparks fly between them as they dig into the hospital’s troubled past. But someone wants the past to stay buried—and is willing to bury Austin and Jamie to keep it that way. 

Haven is part of the Magic Emporium series. Each book stands alone, but each one features an appearance by Marden’s Magic Emporium, a shop that can appear anywhere, but only once and only when someone’s in dire need. This book contains explicit scenes, action, mystery, hurt/comfort, geeks in love, supernatural secrets, a brave historian and a lovelorn private detective, plus a guaranteed HEA. It is loosely connected to my Fox Hollow series.

The handsome stranger looked a bit pole-axed, staring at Jamie in surprised recognition although he didn’t seem familiar.

“We’ll be closing at five, but we open tomorrow at nine,” he offered, wondering if the man was lost.

The newcomer smiled, and Jamie’s heart sped up. Short, dark blond hair, pretty brown eyes, and broad shoulders got his attention right away. So did the toned chest that tapered to narrow hips beneath the man’s sweater and jacket. He definitely caught Jamie’s notice, something that hadn’t happened often since he’d moved to Saranac Lake.

“I realize it’s close to quitting time, but I wondered if I could meet the archivist? Then we can pick up in the morning.”

Jamie chuckled. “That would be me. Temporary archivist Jamie Miller, at your service.”

Hmm…I wouldn’t mind “servicing” him. Guys like that don’t wander in places like this every day.

The newcomer smiled and stepped close enough to shake hands. “Austin Williams. I’m doing some genealogical research, and I’m hoping you can help me. It’s a bit like solving a mystery—I’ve got bits and pieces, but I need to find the glue to hold them together.”

Austin’s hand was warm and the palm more calloused than Jamie had expected. His first guess had been that the man was a professor or researcher, but the callouses suggested a more hands-on vocation. Maybe I can get some answers while I’m helping him with his “bits and pieces.”

Jamie almost felt guilty about lusting after the man, but he’d had a long dry spell, and Austin was the best thing to come along in quite a while.

“We’re still open for twenty minutes. Tell me what you’re looking for, and that way I can think about it overnight so we can get a jumpstart tomorrow.” Jamie waived Austin toward a seat at a study table.

Jamie listened as Austin talked about his great-uncle’s disappearance and his grandmother’s desire for answers. He asked a few questions, most of which Austin said he didn’t know the answers to. When Austin fell silent, Jamie leaned back in his chair, sad to find that they only had a few minutes left before he needed to close up.

“I’m happy to help you, but the kind of records that might help you find your great-uncle would be at the county courthouse or the library,” Jamie said. “Especially if he wasn’t from a local family, I don’t think anything we’d have here will be what you need.”

Austin hesitated like he was trying to decide whether he should confide in Jamie. “I think he might have been a patient at Havenwood,” he said quietly. “I thought the archive might be able to shed some light on the hospital in that period.”

“Oh.” Jamie had only been at the archive for a month, but he’d already heard plenty of whispers about Havenwood, the creepy old abandoned hospital on the edge of town. “That’s a bit of a touchy subject. What are you hoping to find?”

Havenwood had been closed for decades, but plenty of people in town had worked there, and many of those former employees were still alive. Jamie had overheard some heated arguments between long-time residents over the rumors that still circulated about the old mental institution. He had steered clear since he was just filling in until a permanent archivist could be found. Still, he figured that both sides probably had a bit of truth to them. A place that big with such a long history dealing with vulnerable people was bound to have some heroes and villains.

Which made him wonder what Austin was really hoping to find.


On the rare occasions Morgan isn’t writing, she’s either reading, cooking, or spoiling two very pampered dogs.

Series include Witchbane, Badlands, Treasure Trail, Kings of the Mountain and Fox Hollow. Watch for more in these series, plus new series coming soon!

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#ReleaseBlitz...Hit The Brakes...#Contemporary #Gay #Romance #Giveaway

RELEASE BLITZ

Can they fake it til Tate makes it?
Book Title: Hit the Brakes (Food Truck Warriors #2)

Author: Beth Bolden

Cover Artist: AngstyG Book Cover and Media Design

Release Date: April 8, 2021

Genre: Contemporary gay romance

Trope/s: Fake boyfriend, former high school crush, bisexual awakening, professional athlete

Themes: Coming out, accepting help, building trust

Heat Rating:  4 flames  

Length: 88 000 words

It’s the second book in the series but can be read as a standalone.

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Blurb

Tate Ward is in a bind. His food truck hasn’t been the runaway success he’d always dreamt it would be. When he tries to join a new food truck collective to gain a larger following, his sales aren’t even high enough to win a spot. What he needs is a high profile endorsement—and he knows just the guy.

Tate hasn’t seen Chase Riley since high school. It’s been ten long years of watching from a distance as Chase conquers football fields and fan’s hearts.

Tate never wanted Chase to know that he had the world’s stupidest crush on him, because he always believed Chase was straight.

But desperate times call for desperate measures . . .

When Chase offers a tempting plan that could fulfill all his dreams, Tate knows he can’t say no. All he has to do is pretend that his very real feelings are actually fake.

But faking it with Chase, while leading to wild success and even wilder nights, is everything that Tate feared it would be. All it’s done is leave him wanting the impossible: Chase’s heart.

A few minutes later, Tate re-emerged from the shiny silver truck, carrying a paper plate in one hand and a bottle of water in the other.

He headed in Chase’s direction, and without saying a word, sat down opposite him and slid the plate across the table.

“Rachel’s heating up the mac and cheese. It’ll be out in a second.”

“No soup?” Chase wondered.

“We’re out.” Tate shrugged. “Busy day. Shouldn’t have come at the end of lunch hour.”

“I had a meeting,” Chase said. One he probably could’ve canceled, but he also knew what would happen if he’d shown up when there was a crowd here. It’d have become a circus, and he wouldn’t have gotten a moment alone to talk to Tate.

The grilled cheese was perfectly browned and crispy, glistening at the edges with butter and melted cheese. It looked just as good as Chase remembered, and when he bit into it . . . bliss.

He chewed and swallowed. Wished he had about a thousand other bites. “This is even better than I remember it,” Chase said.

Tate drummed his fingers against the worn wooden grain of the tabletop impatiently. “It’s been ten years. I was a kid. I’ve refined the recipe since then.”

“I don’t suppose you’d tell me your secret ingredient,” Chase wondered.

Tell me all your secrets. Please.

“Secret ingredient? Time? Patience?” Tate seemed annoyed he was here, and maybe it was his fear of being found out but, deep down, Chase was worried it was something else. Maybe it had only been Chase who’d been so affected by their classes together twice a week. He hadn’t wanted to believe that was true, because he knew flirting and Tate had undeniably flirted with him. Had always responded, even when Chase hadn’t really known what they were doing.

Honestly, he still didn’t know what they’d been doing.

Chase finished one triangular half with three more big bites. “Well, I thought about this sandwich a lot,” he said.

I thought about you.

Tate looked incredulous. “I made you one grilled cheese sandwich, in high school, and you’ve been thinking about it ever since? For ten years?”

It sounded ridiculous when Tate put it like that. “Well, it was a good sandwich,” Chase retorted. “And so is this one.”

“Does this mean you’re not going to sue us?”

Chase groaned. “I never planned on suing you. I just wanted . . .” What had he wanted? He hadn’t let himself contemplate exactly what it was that he wanted from Tate, hadn’t given himself the chance, but now, even with Tate seemingly annoyed, that indescribable tension hummed between them.

He’d wanted to know that he hadn’t misremembered or imagined it after all. He’d wanted to know if it had been real.

“No? You just came here to intimidate me?”

“Oh for God’s sake,” Chase said. “I’m not here to sue you or intimidate you or any of that crap. Is it so hard to believe I just wanted to see you again? See how you’re doing?”

Tate stared at him. Those gray eyes—usually so warm but opaque now—had always unnerved him. Before, in the best possible ways. But now? Chase didn’t know what to think.

“You really aren’t here to demand I stop talking about you?”

Chase shrugged. “You posted that you make my favorite sandwich in LA. Technically, it was true. You did, just ten years ago. And now I’ve confirmed, officially, that you still do.”

Tate tugged off his beanie and ran his hand through his hair, the auburn strands of it shining in the mid-afternoon California sunshine. “I’m sorry, it’s just hard for me to believe that you’re not pissed.”

“I could pretend to be pissed off if it’d make you feel better,” Chase offered.

Tate chuckled. “No, no, that’s okay. I’m . . . I guess I’m just surprised. I’d have thought you’d hate people who use your name.”

“Most people, yeah,” Chase admitted, biting into the second half of his sandwich. “But you’re not most people. Never have been.”

A lifelong Pacific Northwester, Beth Bolden has just recently moved to North Carolina with her supportive husband. Beth still believes in Keeping Portland Weird, and intends to be just as weird in Raleigh.

Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. She’s published twenty-three novels and seven novellas.

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#BookTour...Orange City...#SciFi #Giveaway

Orange City
by Lee Matthew Goldberg
Genre: Science Fiction
Imagine a secret, hidden City that gives a second chance at life for those selected to come: felons, deformed outcasts, those on the fringe of the Outside World. Everyone gets a job, a place to live; but you are bound to the City forever. You can never leave.

Its citizens are ruled by a monstrous figure called the "Man" who resembles a giant demented spider from the lifelike robotic limbs attached to his body. Everyone follows the Man blindly, working hard to make their Promised Land stronger, too scared to defy him and be discarded to the Empty Zones.

After ten years as an advertising executive, Graham Weatherend receives an order to test a new client, Pow! Sodas. After one sip of the orange flavor, he becomes addicted, the sodas causing wild mood swings that finally wake him up to the prison he calls reality.

A dynamic mash-up of 1984 meets LOST, Orange City is a lurid, dystopian first book in a series that will continue with the explosive sequel Lemonworld.

Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of THE ANCESTOR, THE DESIRE CARD, SLOW DOWN and THE MENTOR from St. Martin's Press. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. ORANGE CITY, his first sci-fi novel, is forthcoming in 2021 along with his YA series RUNAWAY TRAIN. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, Vol 1. Brooklyn, LitReactor, Necessary Fiction, Fiction Writer's Review, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, Essays & Fictions, The New Plains Review, and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series (guerrillalit.wordpress.com). He lives in New York City.

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#BookTour...Bounty...#UF #Giveaway

Bounty
by Bobbi Schemerhorn
Genre: Urban Fantasy
On a world called Olympia, a terrible disease plagues the race of gods. As rumors spread about the disappearance of the anomalias, many infected gods flee through portals from Olympia to other worlds, including Earth, hoping to avoid a similar fate.

When the disease infects Rion, a bounty hunter who once helped return anomalias to Olympia, he, too, seeks sanctuary on Earth. But Rion’s partner, Temis, hunts him. Temis still believes the lies told to the bounty hunters about the anomalias. She believes they are violent, paranoid, delusional.

Rion’s only hope is to convince Temis to see the dark truth. But how can he convince her that everything she thought she knew is a lie?

A race against time to discover a chilling truth with powerful consequences.

Bobbi Schemerhorn was born in Nova Scotia, but raised in Alberta. She has lived all across Canada, living in at least five different provinces, thanks to her military husband. Bobbi enjoys watching a variety of TV shows and movies; she is a Sims 2 playing fool, and loves working with her hands making crafts. Although she has no human children she does have one beautiful kitty who has reached her 19th year.

Bobbi is self-published in the fantasy genre. She has dabbled in Steampunk and Greek Mythology as well as Urban and Epic. Outside of her own writing Bobbi takes pride in helping her fellow authors with their work with her content editing and beta reading. She is known for her tough love both in her professional and personal life.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

# BookBlitz...Artifacts...@firstforromance @pridepublishing #mmromance #contemporary #suspense #booklover #bookblogger #bookaddict #romancereadersofinstagram #booknerd #bookworm #Giveaway

Aldric Beamer thought working in an antique shop would be safe and boring. He never expected to find his life—or his heart—in danger…

Artifacts by Bailey Bradford

Book 1 in the Intrinsic series

Word Count: 54,742
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 215

Genres:

 CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

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Book Description

Being the low man on the totem pole is nothing new for Aldric Beamer. The youngest of three siblings, he was always the afterthought in his family, but Aldric’s trying hard not to let the little confidence he has sink any lower.

Aldric loves the job he managed to land at Intrinsic Value, so much so that he often works off the clock—or maybe he doesn’t want to go home to his empty apartment. Just as he’s slowly learning to trust his boss and co-workers, he’s attacked outside the store, and all the security he thought he had vanishes with the force of a blow to the head.

San Antonio cop Darrell Williams takes one look at the beautiful, bruised man he finds in a dingy alley behind an antiques store, and something in his heart melts. This weakness scares him, making Darrell gruff and indifferent when he should have been—and longs to be—compassionate and caring.

Aldric’s no pushover, though. He’s had enough of being ignored and treated like he doesn’t matter as much as everyone else. And he’ll make damn sure Patrol Officer Williams doesn’t dismiss him in any way…

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and assault. There are expressions of homophobia by several characters, mentions of non-nurturing parenting, references to addiction and a scene of attempted abduction.

Excerpt

The Help Wanted sign in the window stopped Aldric in his tracks. He’d been walking along San Antonio’s Pearl District, somewhat lost in his thoughts and worries, so why he noticed the sign, he couldn’t have said.

Maybe because it stood out in the day of internet-everything. All the job boards that he’d scanned and the applications for employment that he’d sent in had been online. That was just how it was done nowadays…except not at the business he’d stopped in front of.

Aldric stared at the sign for a solid minute while trying to calculate his chances of being hired if he went in and applied before going home and changing. Not that he had any fancier clothes. Jeans, T-shirts and one button-up were all that was in his wardrobe.

What are the chances someone else will apply and get hired by the time I go home, shower, shave, change and come back?

Whatever the odds were, his empty stomach didn’t want to risk them. Blinking away his musings, Aldric pushed his glasses farther up his nose, then caught himself screwing up his face to re-settle them exactly where they’d been. He attempted to smooth down his hair—being thick, it tended to tousle, even though it wasn’t long—and reached for the door handle, which was when he saw the name of the place that was hiring.

Intrinsic Value Antique Shop. At least shop wasn’t spelled all funky. It was a silly pet peeve he had, people adding extra letters onto words to make spellings like shoppe rather than shop. An antique store might have a better reason than most businesses or services to use an old spelling of the word, and he had no reason to be judgmental of anything—something he needed to keep in mind.

Even though he knew nothing about antiques, Aldric opened the door and stepped inside to the tinkling of chimes. He glanced down at the door handle inside and saw strings of silver and copper bells dangling from it.

“Good afternoon. May I help you?”

Aldric pivoted so quickly that he almost tripped over his own feet—nothing unusual for him. Heat rushed to his face, and he gulped as he spotted the older man standing with one hand on an ancient-looking cash register. “Er, yes, I, um, I—” Aldric took a deep breath and exhaled to the count of ten. If he didn’t get himself calmed down, he’d stumble over his words as well as his feet, as he tended to do when he was flustered.

“My name is Elliot Douglas. I’m the owner of Intrinsic Value. Please call me Elliot.” Elliot came around the counter and stopped in front of Aldric.

“Aldric Beamer.” Aldric offered his right hand to shake. “Nice to meet you, Elliot.” His mouth was dry, and a tickle started up in his throat.

“Nice to meet you, too.” Elliot pumped his hand one more time, then let go. “Are you here about the job? I noticed you standing outside and thought you might be considering it.”

Aldric covered his mouth and turned his head before he coughed. He lowered his hand and faced Elliot again. “Sorry, the mountain cedar is kicking my allergies into high gear. Yes, sir, I’m here about the job. Surprised me to see an actual sign in the window. Everything’s done online, it seems. I’ve been told to go home and apply online so often, I’ve quit thinking about actual signs.”

“Ah yes, the internet is an amazing tool for many things, but I prefer to meet people in person first, rather than online.” Elliot smiled, and Aldric realized the older, taller man, with his tawny-brown eyes and thick mane of slightly long, wavy light-brown hair that was just starting to silver, was quite handsome.

“Why don’t you come back this way and tell me what makes you think you’ll be a good fit at Intrinsic Value?” Elliot gestured in the direction of the cash register. “I was cleaning off my baby and would like to finish as we talk.”

“Yes, sir.” Aldric coughed again and wanted to melt into the floorboards.

“Would you like some cold water or hot tea?” Elliot offered. “I have both available.”

Aldric wasn’t sure about hot tea. He’d only ever had Texas tea—cold, with lots of sugar and ice in it. But maybe tea was a thing with Elliot. “Er, tea, please?”

Elliot glanced back at him. “You sound uncertain. Have you tried hot tea before?”

Lying wasn’t something Aldric did if he could help it. “I haven’t, but I thought a warm drink might help with my scratchy throat.”

“That it might. I have a few different kinds, but how about you try the chamomile? It’s good for all sorts of ailments.” Elliot stopped by an elegant-legged wooden table that had a silver tea kettle and several mismatched cups and saucers sitting on it.

A white ceramic dish held glass jars of tea and cubes of sugar, and a clear container was filled with what appeared to be honey. Delicate silver spoons were laid out as well. Aldric tucked his hands into the front pockets of his jeans. Everything on that table looked delicate, not only the spoons, and he was afraid to touch anything.

Which had to mean he shouldn’t apply for the job.

“Aldric?” Elliot arched one thick eyebrow. “Is chamomile okay?”

Realizing he’d more than likely made sure he wouldn’t get hired, because Elliot had to think he was on the dense side, Aldric shook his head. “It’s okay, thank you. I’ll just—” He started to take a step back.

“Just what?” Elliot asked, scooping tea from a jar before he put it into a little oval-shaped strainer. “Are you not interested in the job after all?”

Aldric bit his bottom lip and pondered whether he should stay or not. For one thing, he’d already made some kind of impression, good or bad. For another, Elliot hadn’t run him off. That has to mean I still have a chance, right? Until I tell him I know nothing about what this shop sells. Damn it.

“I’m interested, but I don’t have any experience with antiques,” Aldric rushed out, watching Elliot pour hot water over the strainer holding the tea. Elliot had put a lid on it so the tea leaves didn’t flow out.

Aldric took a step closer, unable to resist getting a better look at what Elliot was doing. He took off his round-framed glasses, polished them and shoved them back on.

“The tea needs to steep for a few minutes,” Elliot explained. “The infuser keeps most of the bits of tea leaves from escaping, but you still might have a few pieces in your cup. Those will usually settle at the bottom.”

“That’s the infuser?” Aldric asked when Elliot nudged the strainer holding the tea.

Elliot smiled at him. “Yes, it is. Do you like honey?”

“I—” Aldric’s stomach picked that moment to let out a rumbling growl. He dropped his gaze and pressed a fist to his belly. “Sorry. Skipped breakfast.”

“Well, that won’t do. It’s almost time for dinner. I’ll order us something to eat, then you and I will sit down for a proper interview—if you’re interested in the job?” Elliot picked up the jar of honey.

“Oh, I…I am, I just thought I’d blown any chance I had at it.” Aldric ducked his head and stared at the worn toes of his tennis shoes. “I don’t have any experience for it. I’ve only worked at fast-food places. I don’t know anything about antiques. I didn’t even know what that thing—the infuser—was.” His ignorance was embarrassing, and he hated that he didn’t know more.

“So,” Elliot drawled, one corner of his mouth curving up. “No experience at all? That would mean I’d have a clean slate in you, if I were to hire you. Wouldn’t have to rid you of bad habits and misinformation.”

Aldric was almost too afraid to believe he might have a chance of keeping his shitty apartment and not going hungry for much longer, after all. “Are you serious?”

“Utterly. Here, let me fix your tea, then I’ll order something from the restaurant across the street. It has a little of everything. I have a menu for it behind the counter. This won’t take a moment…” Elliot took the infuser out, then added honey to the tea.

“Thank you.” Aldric should have refused the offer of a meal, but the truth was, he was too hungry to let pride cost him sustenance. He took the warm cup of tea from Elliot and inhaled the fragrant steam rising from it. “Oh! This smells good.”

Elliot smiled at him, a delighted expression, if Aldric wasn’t reading him wrong. “I hope you’ll like the way it tastes as well. Let me grab that menu, then you can peruse it with me.”

“Okay, thanks.” Aldric took a sip of the tea. It was hotter on his tongue than he’d expected, and he winced as he swallowed. He was glad Elliot hadn’t seen him do that. The next sip he took was slower. The taste was as pleasant as the smell of the tea, the honey sweet but not overpowering.

“Here we go. I haven’t had anything bad from here yet, but then again, I always order the same thing. I’m a creature of habit in many ways.” Elliot’s smile had turned rueful.

“What do you get?” Aldric asked before taking another drink. He could get addicted to hot tea.

“Nothing adventurous, just the grilled salmon with steamed vegetables and mashed sweet potatoes.” Elliot handed him the menu. “I think the burgers should be good, though. Whenever I’m in the restaurant and see and smell them, they remind me very much of the ones my brother used to love.”

“Younger or older brother?” Aldric flipped the paper menu open to scan the selections.

Elliot froze for a second, as though something were wrong. Before Aldric could ask him if he was okay, Elliot drew in a breath, then touched his temples, where he had a few strands of gray. “Younger. Chris is thirty-two, Natty is thirty-four and I’m the old man at forty-something. Do you have any siblings?”

Aldric decided he’d get the bacon burger and sweet potato fries. He’d never had the latter before. “I have two, like you. Twins. They’re almost twenty years older than me.”

Elliot’s eyes widened. “That’s two whole decades!”

“Yeah. I was a surprise,” Aldric muttered. That was a nicer description than his family had called him at times. “Gregory and Simon are forty. I’m twenty-one.” He hoped Elliot wouldn’t ask any more questions about them, or Aldric’s family, period. Hoping to avert such possibilities, Aldric tapped the menu. “Can I get this? The bacon-mushroom burger?”

“Of course, of course.” Elliot moved back behind the counter and picked up something black. He stuck one finger in a silver ring that had smaller holes in it, and it took Aldric a moment to realize Elliot was using some kind of old phone.

Aldric had vague memories of his parents having a landline, but by the time he’d been old enough to care about it, they’d had cell phones. Even so, none of the phones Aldric had ever seen had looked like the one Elliot was now speaking into.

Elliot grinned as if he knew what Aldric was thinking, making Aldric look away and take another drink of his tea. When Elliot had looked at him then, it had occurred to Aldric that his potential boss was not only quite handsome, but very attractive. He’s about the same age as my brothers, so gross. Aldric needed a job more than he needed to get laid, and he’d never been attracted to older men, either—and he wasn’t about to start down that road now.

Not that Elliot would be interested in someone like him. Even though he’d only spent fifteen minutes in Elliot’s presence, Aldric could already tell that the guy was much classier than he’d ever be. There was also the very real possibility that Elliot wasn’t gay, despite the vibes Aldric was reading. Well, it didn’t matter one way or another.

Elliot hung up and tapped the black phone. “It’s an ancient rotary phone. My grandparents and parents had these, way back when, although we’d upgraded to a push-button phone by the time I started school. Want to see how it works?”

Aldric was itching to do just that. “Yeah, I mean, yes, I’d like that.”

The lesson taught him more than how to dial out on the phone—it taught him that Elliot was a patient and kind man. He encouraged and answered any questions Aldric had, which was freeing in a way that Aldric hadn’t experienced before. The old saying about children being seen but not heard had been a rule in his parents’ home.

“You have an inquisitive nature and a good brain.” Elliot propped a hip against the counter. “I think you’ll do well here.”

Aldric blinked in surprise. He was glad he’d set the teacup down, or else he might have dropped it, considering how much his hands trembled. “I have the job?”

Elliot nodded. “You do.”

“But…what about references and work history?” Aldric regretted asking as soon as the words were spoken.

“I like to believe I have excellent judgment when it comes to people,” Elliot said. “Am I wrong in regard to you?”

Aldric shook his head. “No. It’s just, I don’t know anything about antiques, or what I’ll be doing.”

“You can learn. Someone gave me a chance a few years ago and made this”—Elliot swept a hand toward the antiques in the shop—“possible. I’m still learning, one might say. That’s one reason I keep alphabetized cards on every item in the store, as well as those in the back. If someone asks about, say, this…” Elliot walked over to the second row of shelves and pointed to a silver tray. “What does it look like to you?”

Sweat broke out on Aldric’s brow. He knew what the object looked like to him, and it seemed obvious—was Elliot trying to trick him? No, Elliot had been nothing but kind to him. Aldric couldn’t let his own insecurity get the better of him now. “A-a silver tray?”

Elliot’s smile could have lit up the room. “Yes! So you’d just open the gold-leafed book under the register—go ahead and find it. Open it and look up ‘silver tray’.”

Aldric did as directed and was delighted to discover that most of the cards also had a small image of the item on the right corner. “It’s an eighteenth-century silver salver.” He read off the rest of the information, relief coursing through him even as he stumbled over some of the words. He could do this job.

“You won’t be alone in the store often, not at first,” Elliot said. “I’ll be out on the floor with you or, once you’ve been here for a while, in my office. Sometimes I’m away for a day or so, for instance at a fair or auction, or I might have to leave the city, to procure or sell an antique or attend an event, but I close the shop then.”

Aldric’s excitement fizzled out. “Oh. How…how long would you be gone? How often does that happen?” He’d lose out on work, and if he couldn’t support himself—

“I’d have you come in and work in the back while I’m gone. There will always be plenty of cleaning that can be done. I’ll show you how to polish silver and clean antiques—the ones that should be cleaned,” Elliot added before the door opened, and a young woman carrying a box entered. “Meredith! You are an angel of mercy.”

Meredith shook her head, making her brown hair ruffle over her shoulders, and chuckled. “Hardly. I’m just the delivery chick from across the street. Who’s this?”

“Aldric Beamer, my new employee,” Elliot answered, glancing at Aldric. “Right?”

“He’s not sure?” Meredith asked before Aldric could answer. She winked at him. “You should work for Mr. Douglas. He’s cool, and I bet he pays well, judging by the tips he gives me.”

Aldric hadn’t even thought to ask what his wages would be. The whole job-thing had happened so fast it felt like a dream.

“We haven’t discussed his pay.” Elliot took out his wallet and removed several bills from it. “But, of course, I believe in paying a livable wage.”

Aldric knew first-hand that minimum wage wasn’t a livable wage. He’d worked just under full-time and had often skipped meals to make rent. More than once, his electricity had been cut off. No fast-food joint he’d worked at had wanted to employ him full-time—that would have meant offering him health insurance. Then things had taken a turn for the worse and he’d found himself unemployed and hovering at the edge of homelessness.

“Aldric?”

Aldric lifted his glasses with one hand and rubbed a knuckle of the other into his eye. “Sorry. I sort of drifted off. I promise I won’t do that while I’m on the clock.”

Elliot held out a box and a drink. “I have utter faith in your ability to work well. Here, take this and head to the back. Second door on the left is my office. We’ll dine in there.”

“Fancy,” Meredith said, her brown eyes alive with humor. “Nice meeting you, Aldric.”

“Nice meeting you, too,” he replied, his face heating because he’d mentally checked out in front of her and Elliot.

He found Elliot’s office and was almost afraid to sit down in the plush leather chairs. The whole room looked like something out of an old-time movie, with its shiny wood surfaces, smooth leather seats and framed black-and-white photos from decades ago on the walls.

“Have a seat. Well, scoot closer to the desk if you want to use it for a table.” Elliot came around to the other side of his desk and sat, placing his own food on it. “There’s a coaster for your drink in the wood tray to your left.”

Aldric found the coaster and set his drink and boxed meal down before moving one of the leather chairs closer. “This is a very nice office. Is everything in it antique?”

Elliot began removing his food from the box it had come in. “Yes, except the pens and paper. Although I do have a quill pen!” He pointed at a long white feather. “It’s not quite an antique, but I like it.”

Aldric took a bite of his burger, and his stomach gave a happy rumble. “This is good,” he muttered after he’d swallowed.

Elliot grinned. “I’m glad you like it. My salmon smells amazing, as always. Before I start in on it, though, I want to cover salary, hours and health insurance.”

Aldric almost choked on the sweet potato fry he’d just bitten into. “Health insurance?” No. His ears were playing tricks on him.

But they weren’t. Elliot explained how he’d make sure Aldric was covered, without a waiting period. Aldric would have a full forty hours a week, would be paid at time and a half for any hours over that, and while he wouldn’t get rich working at Intrinsic Value, he’d earn that much-longed-for livable wage. It seemed too good to be true, and Aldric quickly and gratefully accepted everything he was offered, hoping that nothing happened to make this dream-come-true come crashing down around him.

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About the Author. . .

Bailey Bradford

A native Texan, Bailey spends her days spinning stories around in her head, which has contributed to more than one incident of tripping over her own feet. Evenings are reserved for pounding away at the keyboard, as are early morning hours. Sleep? Doesn't happen much. Writing is too much fun, and there are too many characters bouncing about, tapping on Bailey's brain demanding to be let out.

Caffeine and chocolate are permanent fixtures in Bailey's office and are never far from hand at any given time. Removing either of those necessities from Bailey's presence can result in what is known as A Very, Very Scary Bailey and is not advised under any circumstances.

You can follow Bailey Bradford on Twitter and Facebook.

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# BookTour...The Pizza Chronicls #Book 3...#YA #LGBTQ #Contemporary #Giveaway

Why Can't Relationships Be Like Pizza?
The Pizza Chronicles Book 3
by Andy V. Roamer
Genre: YA LGBTQ Contemporary
THE PIZZA CHRONICLES is a YA series that follows the main character, RV, through his high school years at demanding Boston Latin School, as he tries to answer his many questions about life, God, prayer, sexuality, being the son of immigrants, and staying loyal to his heritage while carving out his own life and tentative tries at relationships. www.thepizzachronicles.com

As RV enters sophomore year, his friendships and relationships create more questions than answers. RV still cares for Bobby, but Bobby seems a different, more distant person. RV’s best friend Carole is distracted by the ups and downs in her relationships with her French boyfriends, while RV’s new friend Mark is more focused on his family’s troubles. School is a mixed bag. RV enjoys the Spanish club he has joined, which is run by his beautiful Spanish teacher, SeƱorita Sanchez. But he struggles with other subjects and annoying teachers and always has to watch out for the school bullies who seem to know how to stay under the detention radar.

As always, RV’s former teacher and mentor, Mr. Aniso, is there for advice, especially when near-tragedy strikes and RV needs Mr. Aniso’s counsel to stay strong and provide help where it’s needed most.

Why Can't Freshman Summer Be Like Pizza?
The Pizza Chronicles Book 2
RV, having successfully completed his freshman year at the demanding Boston Latin School, is hoping for a great summer. He's now fifteen years old and looking forward to sharing many languid summer days with his friend Bobby, who's told him he has gay feelings too. But life and family and duties for a son of immigrant parents makes it difficult to steal time away with Bobby.

Bobby, too, has pressures. He spends part of the summer away at football camp, and his father pushes him to work a summer job at a friend's accounting firm. Bobby takes the job grudgingly, wanting to spend any extra time practicing the necessary skills to make Latin's varsity football team.

On top of everything, RV's best friend Carole goes away for the summer, jumping at an opportunity to spend it with her father in Paris. Luckily, there is always Mr. Aniso, RV's Latin teacher, to talk to whenever RV is lonely. He's also there for RV when he inadvertently spills one of Bobby's secrets, and Bobby is so angry RV is afraid he is ready to cut off the friendship.

Why Can't Life Be Like Pizza?
The Pizza Chronicles Book 1
RV is a good kid, starting his freshman year at the demanding Boston Latin School. Though his genes didn’t give him a lot of good things, they did give him a decent brain. So he’s doing his best to keep up in high school, despite all the additional pressures he’s facing: His immigrant parents, who don’t want him to forget his roots and insist on other rules. Some tough kids at school who bully teachers as well as students. His puny muscles. His mean gym teacher. The Guy Upstairs who doesn’t answer his prayers. And the most confusing fact of all—that he might be gay. Luckily, RV develops a friendship with Mr. Aniso, his Latin teacher, who is gay and always there to talk to. RV thinks his problems are solved when he starts going out with Carole. But things only get more complicated when RV develops a crush on Bobby, the football player in his class. And to RV’s surprise, Bobby admits he may have gay feelings, too.

Andy V. Roamer grew up in the Boston area and moved to New York City after college. He worked in trade book publishing for many years, starting out in the children’s and YA books divisions and then working in adult Editorial and Production of various houses. To relax, Andy loves to ride his bike, read, watch foreign and independent movies, and travel.

The first two books of The Pizza Chronicles (Why Can’t Life Be Like Pizza? and Why Can’t Freshman Summer Be Like Pizza? ) were published in 2020. His adult novel, Confessions of a Gay Curmudgeon was published in 2019 under the pen name Andy V. Ambrose.

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