Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Workin' on the Railroad by Deirdre O'Dare
Sep 2010 release

Blurb: Roane Wellman only intends to work one summer on railroad maintenance to pay for his next semester of college after his party guy ways cause his grandfather to stop supporting his schooling. In a summer of hard work, adventure and danger, he matures and finds a new course for his life. Before the season ends, he knows he’s meant to be workin’ on the railroad as he fights to build a career and a partnership that just might last for the rest of his life.

Alden Prescott is a loner, content to operate his big crane and shrug off the added responsibilities of being a gang foreman. However, his current foreman is a drunkard and so close to worthless that Alden ends up doing a lot of the functions he has tried to avoid. Although he’s strongly drawn to the handsome new summer hire, memories of a past tragedy make him afraid to pursue the relationship. What will it take to convince him that Roane is not going to let him repeat past mistakes? And what will happen when the current foreman winds up busted for his illicit drug use? Workin’ on the railroad packs a lot of danger, challenge and some very hot times—days at work and nights at play.

Set up: After a close call that was almost a bad accident, most of the men have left for the weekend. Roane did not and he and Alden went to town to get dinner. They've been talking and getting acquainted--and feeling an attraction simmering under the surface but ignoring it.

Roane's momentum carried him forward, hard up against Alden's body. He probably outweighed the other man by twenty pounds or more, even if Alden had two or three inches of height on him. Alden staggered back a half step and twisted to brace his back against the side of the truck.

For long seconds, Roane leaned into Alden's hard spare frame. He could feel the other man's heartbeat, gaining speed just as his own was. Alden's breath whistled out in a puff, warm across Roane's face. Roane raised his arms, meaning to push himself upright again; at least, that's what he thought he was going to do. But that wasn't how it happened.

His right hand found a spot on Alden's upper chest, just below the shoulder and flattened there. He twisted his left out of Alden's loose clasp, felt Alden's fingers slide down from his elbow to his wrist and then fall away. An instant later, Alden raised his hand again, this time to slide it around behind Roane's head, fingers digging into the thick hair at the base of his skull.

Half a breath later, Alden's mouth crashed onto Roane's in an urgent kiss. Roane's left arm snaked around Alden's waist and welded their bodies even closer together. He forgot to think, forgot to breathe, forget everything in the whole world except the contact, chest to chest, thighs to thighs, stiffening cocks surging against confining denim, and lips clinging, twisting, tasting and claiming.

So abruptly Roane could not either respond or resist, Alden shifted his right hand to Roan's shoulder and brought his left up to add to the sudden hard shove--back, away, apart.

"What the hell's happening here?" he grated out, echoing Roane's earlier exclamation. "I know you weren't agreeable to Flannery's games, so what's this about?"

Roane shook his head, trying to claw his way through the cobwebs of lust and confusion. "I don't know, Prescott--Alden." The sound of the other man's name on his tongue seemed both strange and right. "And no, I wouldn't play Flannery's games for...well, the starting quarterback slot on the Lobos' lineup and a blank check for the rest of my education!"

"So you're not gay?"

"I'm not saying that. I guess I just haven't quite been sure, but I'm leaning more that way all the time. I just didn't figure you were. This evening's been a crazy trip--I'm lost. Something's happening. I think I might like it, but I'm scared shitless, too."

Alden laughed, a deep, ragged chuckle. "Yeah, I'm gay...always knew it from the time I was a kid--one reason I don't go home anymore. Folks don't approve. But I'm not a predator like Flannery and I'm particular about who I hook up with. You caught my eye at the start, but I wasn't going to push anything. If it was to be, it would happen in its own time. Has it?"

The blunt question caught Roane off guard for all he should have seen it coming. "I--yeah, I think so..."

Alden laughed again, softer this time. "Go down to your own bunk and sleep on it, Roane. There's no rush. We may both need a little more time to think this through. I'll warn you though--I don't do one-night stands or blow and go or anything like that. Some guys laugh. They tell me that's pussy-talk, to want to care about the other person, but if you don't you may as well just jack off alone or stick your schlong in a bucket of lard--a real one, I mean, not something like Flannery."

Roane had to laugh then, easing the tension. "You're a damn wise man, Alden. I knew that from the first...knew you weren't ordinary. I spotted you for the leader, the one who ought to be foreman anyway, that first evening. And in reality you are--nobody looks to Flannery for anything but a ration of shit. If they need help, advice, even an ass-chewing, you're the one to do it."

Alden cuffed him on the shoulder. "Get on with you, boy. You don't need to butter me up. I like you already and when the time is right, I'll show you just how much. Get out of here now before I change my mind."

He turned away then and started for his own door. Roane hesitated a few seconds, reluctant now to end the evening, although he knew it was right. For here and now, it was right.

There'll be another time, the right time. He liked the inherent promise of that very much.

* * * *

Alden let himself into the car, stumbled to the beat-up couch and dropped onto it.

Thank the gods Dom is gone. He'd want to know what's wrong, and I don't think I could tell him. Shit, I've stepped in it again, right up to my fucked-up eyeballs. What did I just do? Why? What was I thinking? How in the depths of hell did I let this happen?

Life was beginning to look like his luck had totally gone south--at least as far as keeping a clear head and a secure heart went. Common sense told him he'd better clamp down right now and stop thinking with his cock if he didn't want to watch history repeat itself. No way could he survive a repeat of that summer eight years ago. He'd end up slitting his throat or blowing his brains out. For just a few crazy minutes, he'd let himself forget...

The Story Behind Workin' on the Railroad

I've been a train fan for a good part of my life. Both my grandfathers were railroad employees and my brother with whom I am very close just finished a long career on the maintenance side of the business. Most of us give little thought these days to the volume of material that travels by rail. Passenger traffic is of course far less than it was at one time but Amtrak still runs daily schedules on several routes and apparently fills most of their seats. I overheard a couple of men talking the other day and they observed how truck traffic is down on the Interstates while rail traffic seems to be up. This is probably a natural result of the rising fuel costs since a locomotive can move many more tons per unit of fuel than can a semi. I'm all in favor of that outcome even if I do not not care for the reasons!

Anyway, when Amber Allure planned a themed series built around a phrase and a picture ("working stiffs" was the phrase and the picture showing a hunky blue collar type guy, shirtless and sweaty. Yum!!) my first idea was to do a story about railroad maintenance. I had my own tech expert close at hand and also wanted to pay tribute to this segment of a key industry. Because the new technology has brought many changes to the main line railroads' procedures, I chose to use a small independent railroad that could not afford the complex machines and equipment so still relied on labor intensive practices.  There are quite a number of these 'short line' railroads scattered around the country that operate as a rule to serve a specific industry or facility such as a mine, an oil field, etc. I set my fictitious line in the "Four Corners" area where the states of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado come together in a neat square. It is rugged and an ideal place for such a company to function.

My two guys just kind of came out of the shadows and started talking to me. Alden had made a career of the work whereas Roane only intended to work for the summer to make enough money to cover his second year of college after his partying ways caused his grandfather to cut off monetary support. But as we all know, the best laid plans...

Just for fun here is a very old photo that I took long ago in Arizona's Verde Valley of a 'work train' that was in the area to fix some bridges and other structures damaged by summer flash floods. The guys lived in converted box cars made into bunk houses, called "camp cars" or "outfit cars." In more remote areas there was also a cook/dining car in the mix as well as other cars to haul equipment, machines and supplies.

This spot is now across the road from the depot and sidings used by the Verde Canyon Scenic Railroad but at the time of the photo, early 1960s, the line was a spur off the main Santa Fe routes.  I would recommend the Verde trip to any rail fan and also to those who want to see some gorgeous unspoiled scenery, wildlife and just have a fun time. The trip lasts about four hours and there are open cars where you can take in the scenery and photograph the fantastic vistas. Or you can travel in a closed coach in luxury! The URL for info and tickets etc is http://www.verdecanyon.com/  so check it out! I took the trip a few years back and cannot wait to go again!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Eres Tu-Times Two--adult. f/m/m

Eres Tu-_Times Two by Deirdre O'Dare

Blurb: Brandi Montoya has overcome a rough youth and made something of her life. It may not be what her mama dreamed for her but being a top flight exotic dancer is fun and pays very well. . Whatever she does, Brandi seeks to be the best. A wise mentor has set her on a positive path to success and she’s making good.

Darren and Darryl Hathcock have come to the outside world from a sheltered commune in the mountains, enjoined to seek converts for their family’s narrow sectarian religion. Although they were told how wicked things were outside, they had no idea how much fun they could have being thoroughly bad. Brandi is just the person to help them acquire the kind of education they seek but will she convert for them? Maybe it comes down to who will convert whom.

Excerpt: Note--the scene occurs shortly after Brandi meets the two young men as they go door to door with their message.

Brandi selected another CD and loaded it, waiting while the first strains of the music began. The two young men took chairs to one side and perched on the edges, stiff as a couple of mummies. The first notes of a flamenco piece drifted gently into the warm morning air. Brandi began to move--slow, subtle steps, pausing to arch her back, standing on her tiptoes. With her eyes almost shut, she could imagine herself in the Spain of her distant ancestors, moving around a gypsy campfire in one of the caves of Malaga. Instead of the black leotard, she would be wearing a flounced gown of scarlet, fitted to the hips, where it then erupted in a mass of tiered ruffles.

She raised her arms over her head, jingling an imaginary tambourine. Gradually, the tempo built, and her pace with it, faster now and bolder. From the shadows in the cave, hot masculine eyes watched her. Every move she made told them she could be had, but it would take a man among men, the strongest, bravest and most daring of them all.

She risked a swift glance at Darren and Darryl. They both watched her as avidly as her imagined audience, mouths open as they breathed in quick pants, eyes dilated as they followed her increasingly suggestive movements and gestures.

The one she thought was Darren, who'd done most of the talking, swayed in his chair, moving with the music. She was sure he had no idea what he was doing. He fixed his gaze on her, hardly blinking in his intent stare. She drifted across to him and held out one hand.

"Dance with me," she said. She spoke in a quiet voice, scarcely above a whisper, the sound little more than an extension of the music.

Obedient to desires stronger than a short life's worth of admonitions, he stood, following her to the center of the room. She swayed, sinuous as a snake, and moved around him, just short of touching. In a shimmy, her butt almost grazed the growing erection that strained at the fabric of his worn overalls. He shifted on his heels, rocking and twisting to follow her around, keeping his front to her. So close and yet not close enough. She could read the thought in his face. Oh, how he wanted her...

I would almost bet these boys are virgins. Her smile widened. But they won't be when they leave.

She reached to place one hand on his shoulder. Light as a leaf, she let it rest against the coarse fabric of his shirt. She could feel the heat of muscle beneath the fabric, the tension that radiated from his whole being. She trailed her fingertips down his arm, still keeping the touch light, barely enough to be felt. She could hear the heavy gasps of his breath; felt the warm air puff out across her face.

Whirling, she flounced her billowing skirts and tossed her head. In the firelight, her golden hoop earrings flashed like fire. All the men wanted her, but she would choose the lucky one. Who would be her partner tonight? Or might there be more than one?

Brandi let her imaginary scene fade, returning to the intriguing present. Circling the room, she paused before the other young man. "Join us," she murmured. "The music is calling to you. The Great One made man and woman, two halves of a whole. There is joy and honor in bringing those parts together. We honor his gift with our pleasure."

Darryl blinked, hesitated, but then he stood. From his expression and that action, she knew she had him. He grew bolder and reached to take her hand. The three of them linked hands in a circle and moved clockwise, sidestepping to the rising crescendo of the music.

Brandi twisted free, ducked under the arm of one of them, brushing behind him and then back between the two, trailing her hands along their bodies as she went. She wove a swift ribbon of motion around each and between them again, close enough to let her budded breasts feather across the arm of one, the chest of the other. Darting, quick and nimble, she led them in faster and faster spirals until as the music died, they all slumped together, weak and dizzy.

Darren shut his eyes. "The room is spinning around. I think I'm gonna fall..."

Brandi slipped her arm around his waist and brought her shoulder under his raised left arm. "No, lean on me a moment until things settle down."

But then Darryl lost his balance, grabbing first for Darren and then Brandi. That was too much. The three of them sprawled in a heap across her exercise mat and lay for several heartbeats in a hot tangle of bodies. Arms and legs entwined. The unmistakable pressure against her right hip had to be an erection. The heated weight crushing her breasts was a masculine chest. Warm breath stirred moist hair at the back of her neck, and from another angle, sifted sweetly across her face from parted lips very, very close. She turned her head that last degree or two and pressed her mouth to his.

Whether it was Darren or Darryl, she was not sure, but it made no difference. Inexpert though he was, the kiss carried an electrifying charge. She felt the quickening of erotic energy pulse through the male body lying half across her. She shifted to press her butt into the crotch at her back, felt the answering leap in the cock, already more than half-erect.

Both of them looked very young. The blond stubble on their cheeks created no five o'clock shadow, but that was more from its color than sparseness. She was sure both could produce a handsome beard if they did not shave. Odd, too, that they did shave, as most obscure sects approved of facial hair on the adult men. Still she felt sure they were legally of age. Otherwise, it was not likely their strict leaders would have sent them out on a mission. If there was ever a woman perfectly designed to instruct a couple of innocent young men in the amorous arts, she was that woman. From all the signs, both, though naive, were ripe and ready. They would probably prove to be apt students.

In the back of her mind, the image of a new routine flashed as if across a screen--her ablaze in scarlet and sequins with the two blond boys clad in dark denim or leather. She would be the seducing siren and in the act, she'd make them willing to fall from grace--just as she would soon do here, today. Oh, that routine could be hotter than Independence Day in Death Valley and attract an audience of both men and women. Burlesque and erotica were becoming more of a draw for both sexes these days as women increasingly came out of the closet to explore and flaunt their own sexuality.

With a wicked little exhalation, she reached with one hand to fondle the interesting bulge behind her, while she caught the other lad's wrist and led his hand to her breast, covered only by the thin stretchy fabric of her leotard. The three of them shifted, hands wandering and legs still entangled. Within moments, well-worn denim could barely contain the eager organs within the confines of oft-washed overalls.

Relinquishing her holds, Brandi edged herself free. On the pretext of easing herself into a position where she could get up, she slid one overall strap off the right shoulder in front of her and then managed to dislodge the other. She pushed up onto her knees, pausing there to smile down at both young men encouragingly. They both looked dazed, eyes glassy and breath coming in urgent gasps.

"It's all right," she murmured. "Do you think the Great One would seek to deny his children the pleasures for which he designed them? You are men now and ready to sample adult things. Don't be afraid and don't think of this as a sin. You know there were things you weren't allowed to do when a child that adults did. Some of the things I'm going to show you soon are in this category. It's just that no one's told you yet you're old enough and ready..."

She pitched her voice to her most soothing and gentle tone, but also laced it with seductive sweetness. She was Lilith and Salome, every temptress ever described, but also the sugared and wholesome next-door dream girl every young man craved--even those who had been taught to resist the urgings of the flesh. They would thank her when she was done with them.

"I'm going to show you some wonders, share some secrets with you, some of the most powerful secrets I know. First thing you need to do is get out of your overalls. The Great Power likes to see us as we were made, in his image, you know."

She promptly set about removing as much of her clothing as she could without totally stripping at once. The short wrap skirt she'd donned over her leotard for the dance fluttered aside. Next, she slipped her leotard off one shoulder, pushing the cap sleeve down her arm until she could pull free. Then she took care of the other side, but left the clinging fabric covering her breasts although it hardly concealed them, lovingly molding every curve and sheer enough to hint at her dark areolas. One good shimmy and it would be around her hips.

Staring at her with parted lips and expressions of amazement, delight and shock, the two young men unbuttoned and shoved down their worn overalls until they could draw their legs free. Underneath they wore baggy boxers, clearly homemade and cinched at the waist with a drawstring instead of elastic. Two eager erections tented the thin fabric and threatened to burst free of the buttoned fly fronts.

"Now the shirts," Brandy instructed in dulcet tones. "Let's see those chests, all that muscle and masculine beauty. Remember, man is made in the divine one's image and woman in the image of his consort and wife."

Story Behind Eres Tu-Times Two

Eres Tu is a spin off from the very first of my Canine Cupids tales, Doggone Love. However it is not a doggie story at all! Instead I took a secondary character and went on to tell her story. Brandi Montoya was not wholly sympathetic in Doggone Love. She appeared as a rebellious young woman who has not learned how to control and direct her sexuality and perhaps abuses the fact she knows she is attractive and alluring!  She has a good heart but lacks maturity and wisdom.

Still something about her tugged at me and at some readers as well who indicated a desire to learn more about her. Thus Eres Tu came about, picking up on her life some months after her cameo role in Doggone Love. She's done some growing up and although she is still using her sex appeal, she does so in a wiser and more positive way than she did as a late teenager.

Menage tales are fun at times and this one is no exception. Very different from Paint a New Scene, in this one Brandi is very much the instigator although her two young men are more than willing to play the game once she gets them going! They ae naive and inexperienced but make very willing pupils to her lessons and have a lot of fun before it is over! I can't say much more without doing a spoiler here but that is perhaps enough. It is a bit irreverent and tongue in cheek--but then that is Dierdre coming through --the sometimes wicked Irish way of looking at things!

This one has another cover that delights me! The scenery--not the two intriguing torsos but the other part --looks very much like country I know and love in southern Arizona, right along the I-25 highway east of Tucson, a route I traveled many times from my home near Sierra Vista, the one just west of Tobstone!! Since I visualized Brandi's new hometown in a similar setting,  this was just perfect! Yummy enough to hang on the wall!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Excerpt_ Wings of Love m/m, PG-13+

Wings of Love by Deirdre O'Dare

Blurb: Special Border Patrol agent Alex, who can shape shift into a raven, is used to working alone. He honors his Scots ancestry and has never met another shifter except for kinfolk back in Scotland. When he’s required to accept a partner, he normally manages to get rid of them quickly by being so distant, remote and downright weird they cannot deal with him. But the latest one, Native American Manuel, poses a whole new range of challenges.

Manuel Ortiz is a member of the Tohono O’Odham tribe who works for the Border Patrol to support his ailing elderly parents. He has a secret he’s never dared to dare to share: he can shape shift into a Red Tailed Hawk. When his superiors team him with cold, cynical Alex, he’s not sure why until he learns Alex has a similar curse—or gift.

Together they begin to form an uneasy bond. Confronting an evil and completely alien drug cartel boss, they have to cooperate to survive and in doing so learn the synergy of partnership. They discover flying together can open a whole new world for them both and riding on the wings of love can be magical indeed.


Pinal County, Arizona
Early fall

When he paused on the crest of a long ridge, Alex Macalister used the cover of a cluster of ragged creosote bushes and other desert vegetation to mask his silhouette. The sunset glow and a crescent moon riding low in the sky cast a faint shadow that stretched out on the rugged ground before him. He knelt, steadied his heartbeat and breath, and then sent his senses questing in every direction. If a snake slithered, an insect crawled, or a dusk-hunting fox or coyote crept within a mile of him, he would know. Strangely, he sensed nothing. Such silence was not normal. It was not good.
Alex hunted alone. He preferred it that way. The distance and chill in his pale grey eyes kept most people at arm's length if not even farther away. In his three years with the U.S. Border Patrol, he'd proved his skills valuable enough he could now almost write his own rules. As a special agent in the very unofficial Paranormal Operations Unit, he surveyed the Arizona and New Mexico border with Mexico, often on foot as well as alone. Not assigned to any district, he reported directly to the southwest sector commander, going through none of the intermediate officers.
The border knew many threats: drug runners, smugglers of diverse contraband, undocumented immigrants and a variety of foreign nationals seeking to slip into the United States for a variety of unpleasant activities. Now one could add to the list--entities existing outside the realm of normal earthbound human life.
This fact was not, as yet, common knowledge, never discussed in any official communications, and classified at the highest level of security. Still, that made it no less real--as real and serious as death and taxes. This growing new threat had become the venue of a small group of handpicked agents like Alex and the team of Liam Malone and Rhys Davis, men who possessed their own special powers to utilize against the dangerous new invaders.
::Shift!:: The silent command shrieked in Alex's mind.
He did not question the order or its source. In the duration of a heartbeat, he shut his eyes, curled in upon himself and shimmered. A second or two later he launched into the air, clad in black feathers subtly darker than the evening sky. At the same instant, a shot rang out. He heard the bullet scream past beneath him, about midline on his human form had he still been on the ground.
Close, too shaggin' close.
Casting his raptor-enhanced vision downward and ahead of where he had stopped, Alex detected movement on another ridge, almost a mile away. Soaring in that direction, he soon saw a man huddled under a mesquite just below the ridgeline. Dressed in flat charcoal grey, the stranger held a scoped rifle, one Alex identified as a powerful and accurate sniper weapon.
A raven could not smile, but the man within the bird did as he realized what a close call he'd managed to evade. Where did the warning come from? He might never know. Sometimes he thought such alerts came from an ancestor or a local spirit, sometimes a deity of his Celtic forbearers from the dim past. Other times he had no idea of the identity of the unseen, unknown friend who warned him in time to evade danger. So far, it--or they--had always saved him. Perhaps someday his luck would run out. The thought held no dread, no threat. When summoned, he would go--wherever.
A tawny brown, ivory and grey streak sliced across his flight path, mere feet ahead of him. Then the other bird wheeled to fly under him, stealing his air for a few wing beats. After that, the second hunter soared away. Alex identified a red-tailed hawk, apparently out flying late. This hour of deepening twilight was more commonly the realm of owls. His own raven form was also out of its normal pattern, but for now, it was his safest guise.
He slowed his powerful wings to drift lower, as close as he dared go to the shooter, still crouched under the stunted tree. Even Alex's superb vision could not form a clear picture of the man's visage. He suspected the shooter wore camouflage face paint or a thin veil to disrupt his appearance.
Then as the wind shifted, Alex caught a whiff of the other man's scent. He filed that away for future reference. Varied diets and many other factors acted together to give each human a distinct odor. While few other people could detect the differences, many animals could. In this form, Alex's heightened senses were as keen as those of any wild creature. He wheeled in the sky and flew on past, over the ridge and into a valley beyond, coming slowly to the ground where he could change back to his normal form.
Although his raven self had many uses, for most of his work, his human shape served best. He tried to keep his shifting ability a secret. Few even of his fellow special agents knew of it. His commander did, along with another man they'd tried unsuccessfully to partner him with and perhaps one or two others. Even that was too many because who knew what some of the new breed of crossers could extract from an innocent or careless mind? Special agents were trained to resist pressure and even torture, but everyone could be broken in time, in some way.
He changed back, becoming once more a man dressed in flat black, with no obvious weapons and not a lot in the way of gear. He had caches of food and water, even weapons, at critical spots and, if he had to, he could shift and fly to them in an hour or two. Traveling light was as much his habit as traveling alone.
* * * *
Manuel Ortega halted to rest on a point just south of Baboquivari Peak, where the white men's telescopes had displaced the old gods of his people. He had mixed feelings about that. Although he recognized the importance of looking beyond the protective cocoon of the earth and her atmosphere, he still thought another peak could have done the job as well and left the mountain spirits in peace in their sacred spot.
He loved high places. If he could, he'd spend most of his time in places like this, with the greater part of his people's ancestral home spread out beneath him. The Tohono O'odham was an ancient and honorable tribe, deeply rooted in the harsh desert lands. They had wrested their livelihood from the earth's seldom seen bounty there for countless generations. Many of them bore Hispanic names, heritage of a long association with the people of Mexico beginning with the conquistadores who had explored this land centuries ago.
Manuel welcomed a day off from his duties as an officer in the U.S. Border Patrol. The job paid well and let him care for his aging parents, but there were times he was not happy with his work. The job trapped him with too many people, too many tense, angry and bitter emotional currents and sometimes required him to perform tasks he felt were so wrong he almost rebelled against his orders. He spent his free days as far away from the pressures and stifling atmosphere of work as he could, usually in the mountains.
The sun dropped to perch on the jagged edge of the distant ranges to the west, mountains bordering the Colorado River. The sight reminded him he needed to start for home. Fortunately, he had an easier way to get there than a twenty-mile hike over the rugged terrain that fell away beneath him. Tucking his head down, he shut his eyes and felt his essence slip into another form. Then he spread strong, bronze-feathered wings and launched into the air.
He'd been about twelve the first time he discovered he could shift form. Always adventurous and inclined to explore alone, that day he'd climbed into a canyon in a new area of the desert mountains and discovered a hidden ruin of the ancient ones. It took him half a day to scramble up the steep and unstable hillside to reach the spot. He'd slipped in through a narrow doorway in the rough stone wall that blocked the front of a cave under a ledge. Inside, he found only a few beads and shards of pottery. It was really not very exciting, but he'd sensed himself in a secret, sacred place, one where perhaps nobody had been for centuries. That fact alone thrilled him.
Crawling back out, he started to pick his way down. Rocks rolled suddenly. He slipped and began to tumble down the hill. Directly below him lurked one vertical drop of about fifty feet. He'd climbed around it on his way up, but it looked now like he was going to fall right over the edge. Panic hit for a moment followed by a strange calm. Shutting his eyes and wishing desperately that he could fly, something unexpected had happened. All at once he was flying!
He would hold that memory forever. Finally safe back on level ground, he'd been scared shitless at first that he wouldn't be able to change back, but he managed to do it. After a few more times, the process became smooth and close to effortless. He just thought himself in the familiar winged form and changed. It was that easy. He had no notion how and why, only knew it worked.
As far as he could tell, no one shared his secret. He certainly hadn't dared tell anyone, not even his grandfather, who was a medicine man. Although the Tohono O'odham did not have the same superstitious fears about "skin walkers" or shape-shifting witches as did the Navajo and Apache, Manuel still doubted the tribe could accept his gift. They might deem him wicked and unnatural, even bad enough to exile him from their homeland. Such punishment would be unbearable. To the people of the desert, family and tribe were the essence of one's identity and a necessity for survival.
Soaring lower over the foothills, he caught sight of two men, gradually approaching each other across some of the foothill ridges. They both wore dark clothes, but only one carried a rifle. The rifle bearer crossed through a saddle and settled himself under a twisted tree. His actions piqued Manuel's curiosity. What was he planning to do?
Then the other man crested the long hill to the northwest of the first man's hiding place and stopped, partly concealed in a stand of scrubby creosote and burro weed. Down in the lower east-facing slopes, twilight had already come, although Manuel still flew in the last rays of sunlight, some two thousand feet over the lower terrain.
He was not sure why or how he knew, but all at once, he sensed the man with the rifle was aiming at the other man. How could he possibly warn the second man quickly enough to move? Or could he distract the shooter? What should he do? Perhaps he subconsciously screamed a telepathic warning in that last tense instant. Still, he almost missed a wing beat when the second man suddenly shifted, transforming into a raven and flying clear of the bullet that sped his way.
Manuel then could not resist flying close to the other bird, but he knew no way to let the raven know the red-tailed hawk passing him was also a shape shifter. He could hardly believe there were really two of them. Had he seen true or was it all an illusion? He had no way to tell. After circling the raven, he angled away and continued toward home, dropping to the ground to shift back to his normal form before he got too close to the village where he lived.
Even as he settled in his bed for the night, the excitement of the strange encounter spun through his mind. At twenty-eight, he was an oddity among his people to be unmarried still. Something in him had shied away from such a close connection with anyone, a level of intimacy, which in time might reveal his secret and make him a pariah. How could he wish such a thing on an unsuspecting woman if he married? What about their children?
Now untold possibilities opened before him. What if there were others like him? If not many at least some who had this peculiar gift? What if he could find and join their community? His parents would not be around forever and once they were gone, he would be very alone. Hope and fear warred within him as he struggled to fall asleep.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Story behind Wings of Love

Wings of Love was the second of my Thin Green Line rural fantasy series. It started taking shape shortly after Beyond the Shadows was completed. At first I was not really intending to make a series from the basic idea but it just took off on its own and ideas kept coming! I am not done yet. Druid in Drag is about three quarters done and who knows what else may surface?

I've always been fascinated with flying--not in an aircraft but just flying like a bird. I often used to dream that I could fly although I did not actually have wings. Maybe levitate is a more accurate term for what happened in those dreams but anyway I was soaring through the air, as high and far as I wanted to and it was an exhilarating feeling!

So when I started to frame a second tale in the Thin Green Line series, the first character that emerged was Alex. He let me know right away that he was a shape shifter and his other form was that of a Raven. Those familiar with Celtic lore know Raven is a bird of death and battle, sometimes a familiar of various deities. Alex had Scots mother and although his father was American he grew up among kinfolk in Scotland some of whom were also shifters. Then the second guy appeared. A Native American of the Tohono O'odham tribe, he was more shy about sharing his gift with me but I learned he was a shifter too and changed to a Red Tailed Hawk!

I really enjoyed the vicarious experience of 'flying' with Alex and as they followed some evil drug dealing aliens and broke one part of the ring. I set this tale in Arizona, where Manual had grown up on the vast desert reservation of his people. The region is a battleground of the earthly drug trade and very dangerous so adding some extraterrestrial aliens only made it more so!

I looked for a photo of Baboquiveri Peak but did not find anything. However, here is the URL of the website of the Tohono O'odham people. It provides some interesting background into the culture and the modern tribe. www.tonation-nsn.gov/

This region is also featured by J.A. Jance in some of her great novels, a series separate from her Joanna Brady series. It's roughly west of Tucson and east of Yuma but extends a considerable distance along Arizona's southern border.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Excerpt: He Comes WIth the Dark, adult m/f

He Comes With the Dark by Deirdre O'Dare

Zeth fled Lemuria when a natural catastrophe of earthquake, volcanic eruption and tsunami swallowed his homeland. He led a boatload of survivors on a quest to seek a new home. The group struggled and splintered disastrously, leaving him one of a very few survivors. After a terrible conflict, he is condemned to remain a disembodied spirit until he can again become human and modify the tragic events in which he played a large part. Millennia later, he finds a new resident making her home in the spot he has come to consider his. She is an artist—using only the power of his intellect and energy can he seduce her into visualizing a likeness which he can take to create the new body he requires?

Stifled by her restrictive mentor and clientele in the Bay Area, artist Arabella seeks a new home in Sedona, Arizona. The ambience rejuvenates her creativity even as she encounters an earlier denizen of the region who turns her narrow life inside out! How can an invisible entity possibly awaken her deeply sensual nature and school her in the carnal pleasures she’d felt were greatly over-rated? Will she be able to channel this new energy into some incredible artistic efforts?


Northwest of Sedona, Arizona

The present day

He came with the dark...
The first night in her new home, Arabella fell asleep on the pallet she spread among the boxes in the great room downstairs. Exhaustion claimed her almost before her head touched the pillow.
By the next night, she'd set up her beloved antique sleigh bed in the strange upper room she'd claimed for her private sanctuary. And that was where he came to her the first time...
She'd heard about Sedona forever, what a Mecca it was for artists and of all the mysteries and wonders locked amidst the rosy turrets and towers, the coral battlements and castellations of Coconino sandstone. Six months earlier, she'd held an exhibit in Talaquepac, spending three weeks in the area while her paintings and photographs were on display. Now she was back to stay.
The real estate agent had seemed almost too eager, insisting she had just the house for an artist. Perhaps she had been right, although it was by far the strangest house Arabella had ever seen, much less occupied.
The structure twisted around two pillars of stone, rooms linked one after another like the cars of a freight train, some at odd angles to each other. Some rooms were higher or lower than their companions, with ramps or steps connecting them. Yet the moment she stepped through the arched front door, Arabella felt a strong sense of coming home. This was her place, the home she had always longed for, almost without knowing she longed.
He came with the dark.
The second night, she had trouble falling asleep. She'd never been uncomfortable or fearful about being alone. In fact, she was used to solitude. She'd locked all the doors before climbing up to bed, more out of city-bred habit than from any need to bar intruders. This five-acre lot sat at the end of a winding dirt track, which forked off from a maze of other gravel roads that ultimately led back to a normal paved street--actually the highway between Flagstaff and the Verde Valley communities. If a person didn't know the way, his chances of ending up here were slight indeed.
Still, as she lay staring up at the myriad stars visible through the round skylight, she had a sensation of being watched. The room's shape was irregular, odd nooks and crannies in all but one wall, as the space flowed around the larger of the stone pillars. Although the starlight provided some illumination, there were dark corners into which she could not see at all.
The shivery sensation grew stronger until her skin quivered as with a chill. Then, at last, she saw the eyes, two almond-shaped amber eyes, shining from one of the niches set in a hollow of the massive wind-carved pillar of stone.
::I come in peace, in harmony.::
The words came not to her ears but directly in her mind. Although there was no sound, she imagined a rich, deep voice, clear as the tolling of a heavy brass bell.
::I came to see who now lives here in my place only to find a lovely woman. I salute your beauty.::
Arabella bit her trembling lip; gasped in a quick, hard breath. Am I losing my mind? I'm not a person who hears voices, not one given to hallucinations. And it's been years since I used any recreational drugs.
::You worry; you fear. That is not necessary. I will never harm you; never invade beyond the barriers you set for me.::
"Who are you? What are you?"
The echo of a gentle laugh came before his words. Instinctively she labeled the entity male. How she knew, she could not say, but she sensed nothing feminine about the presence at all.
::I am one of the Ancients, one who lived in this place long ago. A part of me has stayed, awaiting the opening of a gate to come again into your world. There are things I must do, duties unfulfilled in my past and errors to be set right.::
"Why me? Why now?"
::I sense you may be the One. Others who came before were too fearful, too filled with disbelief. I sense in you an openness of spirit, a willingness to accept that which you cannot understand, and talent to visualize and to create. Last night, when I watched you sleep, I recognized you are not like the others.::
Arabella drew a deep, shuddering breath, fear and curiosity dancing a pas de deux in her heart. She felt the strange entity told the truth, that he would never harm her, nor would he invade her mind, although he had the power to do so if he wished. That mysterious power excited her, called to a wildness within she had always kept under wraps.
::Hush.:: Light as a wisp of fog, she felt a fingertip press against her lips. ::There is no hurry. We have as long as we need, even forever. For tonight, this is enough.:: A caress as soft and cool as the breath of a moist breeze brushed her cheek. Then he was gone.
She fell asleep almost at once and woke the next morning to ponder whether or not it had all been a strange dream.
* * * *
He comes with the dark.
All day the phrase repeated in her mind, reverberated in her heart, resonated in her soul. Would he come again? Did he truly see something in her that no one else had ever noted, some quality he had found in no other? He had called her lovely... No one had ever spoken of her beauty in a way she could believe. No one had ever looked at her with the joy and awe true beauty could evoke.
She had mirrors and she knew how she looked--ordinary. Mousy dark brown hair that was long, thick and wavy, but ordinary. Pale gray eyes, bright and intelligent, but still ordinary. Features even yet unremarkable, a very ordinary female body with perhaps a bit more roundness than the modern world called perfect. Strong, square hands with nimble, blunt fingers that could hold a brush and force it to produce lines and patterns pleasing to the eye, and an artist's sight to envision a scene, a design, and bring it forth in a photograph or a painting. But that was talent, not beauty.
At odd times during the day, she caught herself studying her reflection. In the bathroom mirror, in the one still pool of the little stream that tumbled over the rocks below her house, in the window once darkness fell outside. From the corner of her eyes, she could almost see a stranger, a person she did not know, but when she looked directly, only her familiar face and form appeared. She grew cross and out-of-sorts. She ruined a canvas with a dozen strokes of scarlet that did not fit her vision at all. She finally gave up any pretense of working. Today it was not to be.
Eager yet hesitant, she prepared for bed at the usual time. The ritual dragged out into a thousand steps, none of which could be abbreviated on this night of nights, but at last, she slipped between the cool, lavender-scented sheets on her bed. The soft cotton of her loose gown slid gently over her body as she moved. She reached out to turn off the light on her nightstand, then laid back to watch the stars appear as her eyes grew used to the dark.
She lay perfectly still, almost rigid. Waiting. Watching. Wanting. The glowing hands on her bedside clock crept slowly, minute by minute, until an hour had passed. He was not going to come. He had realized she was not special, not unique at all. Disappointment dimmed the very stars.
At last she let her body relax, stretching out and twisting to lie on her side, then drawing her knees up, tucking an arm under the pillow and letting her eyes fall shut. She drifted for a time in a drowsy state, neither awake nor asleep, yet a part of her still listened and probed.
::Greetings, little one. Did you think I would not come?::
She jumped at the unexpected words. Did she truly hear or still just sense them? She wasn't sure. "I'm not little," she protested. "I'm all of five feet eight inches and more pounds than I care to admit."
When he laughed, she was sure she truly heard the sound. His laugh was rich and warm, unrestrained. "To me, you are little. You are young and female. You are lovely. How can that combination not be little?"
Yes, he spoke aloud now, in a voice that wrapped around her like dark velvet. Sensuously rich, luxurious and seductive, intimate and exciting.
"You have given me a voice," he went on. "That is the first step. I can have nothing I do not obtain from you, except for a shadow of spirit and knowing. It has been so long since I was alive as you are that all my living attributes have been lost. In your thoughts, you gave me a voice, and with it, I can now speak aloud."

Behind the Story--He Comes With the Dark

This was actually one of the first erotic romance pieces I began, about the same time as Karola's Hunt which was my first Amber Heat release in June 2004. I know I had written a bit on both before my husband's death in November 2003. I had gone to RT in Kansas City in September and everyone was talking about Ellora's Cave and their romantica --a new genre of romance with much more explicit and detailed love scenes. Hmm. I said, I wonder if I could write that?

It was a stretch right then as I had to work really hard to create the Pg-13 love scenes in my earlier Gwynn Morgan books--all my inhibitions and hang-ups seemed to crawl out of the woodwork and harass me! But I said heck, I am a 'professional writer' and a real pro can write anything s/he wants to! I will do it!

I've been fascinated by tales of the drowned lands of prehistoric times such as Atlantis, Ys and Lemuria. I was also intrigued by the notion that all the continents of Earth were once one and over ageless eons broke apart and shifted to new locations around the globe. There is considerable disagreement as to where Lemuria might once have been but that is really not critical. An island kingdom could certainly have been shattered by a combination of an earthquake and a volcanic eruption and a resulting tsunami that swallowed it up forever. But what if there were survivors who managed to get away? Thus Zeth came to be and I knew he had been forced to linger in a state of limbo for an ageless time in order to 'fix' some terrible events in which he had a part.

Enter Arabella, an artist struggling to reawaken a dormant and sluggish muse stifled by many layers and kinds of repression. Where might these two come together? What better place than the area near Sedona, Arizona which has become a kind of New Age Mecca with all sorts of mystique! the pictures at the top are a couple I took up on Sedona on a visit in about 2006; it was in September but still a bit of monsoon clouds hanging around.

And so, I wrote the first couple of chapters, still waiting for the characters to open up and tell me their tale so I could share it. That was about when my husband's sudden and unexpected death sent my muse into a prolonged hiatus and my work slowed drastically for some time. I finally did complete Karola's Hunt to enter the first contest held by Amber Quill to admit some new erotica authors. But He sat in that proverbial under-the-bed box for a very long time, Now and then I would write a little on it but it was sporadic and I was still reaching to find where this tale was going.

So it was a long while before I really got into it again and it finally took shape and was released in both ebook and print form since it is a short novel length in June 2010! I mght add that I love the cover. The image of Zeth is totally as I visualized him and the background is perfect. I love the red rocks and they really do glow in the right light! Trace Edward Zabar does some awesome cover work for us!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Excerpt; Love is Snowblind m/m, adult

Love is Snowblind by Deirdre O'Dare (a Canine Cupids Story)

Blurb: Dylan is a loner, seeking to heal old wounds as he pursues a new-found dream of training a sled dog team and winning the big one, the Iditarod. He makes a difficult choice to rescue a stranger lost in a blizzard instead of seeking a win in a preliminary race. This choice and the results throw an unexpected but major change into his solitary life. Can he accept and adapt to these changes?

Grey must prove himself, pursuing his dream of seeing Alaska first hand and writing about the world of sled dog racing in such a powerful way it will jump start his chosen sports and feature writing career. Green and naïve, he almost pays with his life for a bad decision. Can he learn and grow fast enough to survive in the unforgiving environment and overcome a rocky start with his new hero, musher Dylan Norgard, or has he sold that proverbial outhouse?

Excerpt: Dylan hit the third checkpoint at mid-morning. Seventy-five miles to go. While the vet went over the team, he listened to the checkpoint crew discussing the weather. The latest reports had them cautioning all the mushers that the next storm was coming in a lot faster than they'd expected. By tonight, it would be nasty--cold, vicious wind and heavy snow. They were all praying most of the racers would make it to the finish before the worst of the storm hit, but everyone knew the weather goddess in Alaska was one capricious bitch.
Just then, one of the volunteers rushed out of the cabin where they had the office set up. This checkpoint was at a village inhabited mostly by Native Americans, but also a few hardy European and American souls who liked to live in the most remote and harsh conditions they could find, generally under the radar of society. The cabin the race had preempted normally served as a kind of city hall, community center and office space for traveling Bureau of Indian Affairs and other state and federal officials who came through occasionally.
The young man, not Grey as Dylan quickly noted, looked flushed and anxious. "We just picked up a distress call. The caller's phone was fading in and out, but we did get a GPS fix on the location. It's about fifteen miles south and west of here. Sounded like someone tried to cut across the big loop the regular trail makes and got into trouble. Ground out there is cut up bad, worse than ever now because of the fire last summer."
He paused for breath and looked around at the four racers who were going through the checks before he continued.
"The villagers are trying to put together a crew to go out searching, but we need more, a good sled in case the party is injured...better dogs than the mutts the Indians have here. Most of them aren't even real sled dogs, much less trained, just mongrels that hang around the camp. It wouldn't be so urgent except the weather's due to change, a lot earlier than they'd predicted."
Dylan glanced at the sky. Already a leaden haze was darkening the faded blue to the north and west, the leading edge of the storm. Then he looked over his team. They'd begun the day rested and raring to go. The twenty miles or so they'd covered this morning hadn't phased them. This side trip would cost him the lead he'd managed to build, though. He could probably still finish, but it would be well back in the middle--or worse. He figured he was in the first five right now. Two of the three currently at the check were ready to go any minute.
He weighed the options. What he wanted to do versus what he knew needed to be done pulled him two ways. How could he turn his back on someone, maybe another racer, who'd screwed up or a fan trying to follow the action and leave him out there to face the coming storm? Unless the stranger was well outfitted, such exposure likely spelled out his death warrant, and if the man was injured or had dogs down, fatal consequences were even more likely. He'd been close to that a few times himself. His gut still cramped at the memory.
The volunteer said information had been sketchy as to what was wrong and the caller's phone had apparently died completely before he finished the call. All they had to go on was a frightened voice calling in a broken SOS and a general location. Everyone knew without it being said that GPS was notoriously unreliable at times.
Dylan took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I'll go. Anybody got a map I can use to plot a route out there, a good topographic map that shows the terrain?"
Someone produced one. He hitched the team and went inside to spread it out and figure which way he'd go. It was going to be like looking for a needle in a haystack, maybe a big needle in a small stack, but still no easy task. He checked his own compass and GPS unit, watered the dogs and then headed out. Sergei and Sasha both looked askance at him, as if sensing they were leaving the trail and the route the other teams were taking.
"It's okay, kids. We're going to make a detour here. If we get lucky, we might still be able to finish this race. If we don't...well, someone's life is worth more than a cup and a title, right?"
As if they understood, the two lead dogs leaned into the harness and swung into a smooth wolfish trot that ate up distance with the least possible waste of energy. Dylan trotted alongside, knowing he needed to spare the team all he could now because there was no way to know what they might encounter. A keen regret knifed through him--he'd been counting so much on a good finish in this race and he'd just thrown that away.
Am I a fool or a crazy, half-assed hero? Perhaps a bit of both, he decided.
* * * *
Two hours of that steady trot got Dylan close to the GPS coordinates he'd received. The wind had started to blow, swirling the dry surface layer of snow as he made his cautious way down a ridge. A bad forest fire had ravaged the area the past summer. Now dead trees that had not completely burned lay like giant jackstraws, and holes left where some had blown over, pulling out their roots, lurked under the snow to trap a dog or tip a sled. It was ugly terrain.
Sasha seemed to have an inborn sense for hazards. She had slowed from the trot and zigzagged along, picking her way as daintily as a gymnast or a dancer. The rest of the dogs followed her lead, also showing cautious alertness. The ridge finally leveled off into a gentle bowl. Just before a stronger gust obscured his view, Dylan thought he saw a flash of color off to one side, color at variance with the uniform black and white of the landscape.
Damn it, will the fucking wind die for just a few seconds? He squinted through the spinning, whirling white, trying to find the spot, the color, once again. If there were other dogs, maybe his team would scent them. The wind kept shifting so it was hard to line up with the place where he thought he'd seen something that didn't belong.
He didn't speak, but sent the thought to Sasha. Sometimes she seemed to read his mind. Maybe she would this time. Find them, girl. If there's someone here, close, find them.
The lead pair halted, heads up, ears pointed like antennas. He knew their noses would be twitching, sampling the frigid air. Finally, Sasha stepped off again, moving faster now and in as direct a line as she could. Here the fallen logs were fewer and there seemed to be no holes or other booby traps. He didn't try to guide the team. If Sasha was onto something, he'd let her find it.
When the team stopped, Dylan almost tripped over the sled. For an instant, the blizzard let up and he saw it, a patch of red, just in front of Sasha and Sergei. A tent? It looked like one, but a damned small one. He edged along beside the team until he reached it. Yep, a miniscule half-tube of red nylon, stretched by several light plastic arches.
He knelt at the end. "Hallo. Anyone here?"
The next instant he rocked back on his heels as a very pale face suddenly appeared in the opening as a zipper slid down.
At first, he did not recognize the person who drew opened the tent and began to wiggle out, dragging a green sleeping bag with him.
"Oh, my God, oh, my God, I'm not going to die after all." A gloved hand grasped Dylan's and another reached out to Sasha. "Somebody heard; somebody came. I didn't think anyone would."
"Don't go bawling," Dylan said. "The tears'll freeze your eyes shut. Let's get you packed up and on board, and head back to civilization before this blizzard gets any worse."
"Mr. Norgard? Is it really you? I thought you were trying to win the race."
Dylan didn't know whether to laugh or cuss. It was that damn cheechako kid, the reporter. What in bloody fucking hell was he doing out here alone in the snow?
"Where's your team, your rig?"
The younger man was fumbling to try to collapse and fold up his tent. "I--a guy named Hoolihan was going to get me to the third checkpoint ahead of the racers. One of his lead dogs came up lame, and he said he was going to take it to a village a few miles back just off the way we'd come. He said he'd be back in two hours. After four or five, I figured he'd left me."
"Hoolihan. Might've known. That sorry son of a bitch. You paid him, of course."
The younger man nodded. "Yeah, I paid him. And he suckered me, didn't he?"
"Looks that way." Dylan took pity on the kid, and anxious to head back, slammed the tent into a bundle and jammed it and the sleeping bag into his sled bag. "Get on and hang on tight. We're going to be fighting the wind all the way back, but we'll make it, gods willing."
Almost before he gave the command, Sasha and Sergei turned and headed back the way they had come, following the tracks and runner-ruts that were rapidly filling with new and blowing snow. No trotting now, but they kept a steady pace, leaning into the harness to take the extra weight. Dylan muttered a prayer they'd make it back to the checkpoint. If they got that far, he'd forget about the race. There would be other races, but he only had one life, as did his unexpected passenger and each dog of his precious team.
The trip that had taken two hours coming out took five going back. Long before they got there, the dogs had to break drifts higher than their backs. The wind howled like an insane banshee and ripped at them, sucking off every bit of heat their bodies could produce. A time or two Dylan considered stopping and making a cold camp, but he didn't have enough to feed the whole team because he hadn't picked up his drop bag before he left the checkpoint--mistake on his part. It was make it or die...no other choice.
He stumbled now, pacing beside the sled, knowing that his added weight on the runners would be too much for the tiring team to handle. All at once he tripped, his leg twisting beneath him and he fell. A searing pain knifed up his right leg. Oh, shit, I've done it now.
Somehow, the dogs knew, stopping almost at once. He grabbed at the sled and tried to get up, but he couldn't. His leg was not going to bear his weight.

The Story Behind Love is Snowblind

It is a bit ironic that a desert dweller who is almost allergic to cold such as myself is totally fascinated with Alaska. I developed a distant love affair with the 'frozen north land' at an early age reading Jack London's wonderful tales and the true life adventures of Bud and Constance Helmericks who homesteaded in what was then just a territory. In a very odd coincidence, shortly before Snowblind was published, I learned that Mr. Helmericks had just passed away and also found he had lived Tucson for some time. If I had learned of that a bit sooner, I would have contrived to meet him and talk with him and his wife about their early impact on me as an impressionable kid of ten or so!

The toy husky pup on the left came from the Iditarod on-line store and I gave one away in a drawing when the story first came out and kept another for myself! The pic on the right is an Alaskan Malamute, not a great shot but clearly shows the wolf-link of the breed. There are several breeds of 'huskies' and malamutes--the Alaskan, the Siberian and some others. Also many other breeds are used by various mushers, many not traditional but some seem to adapt very well. Many of the Siberians and related Samoyeds have blue eyes, a trait shared with many of the Austalian Shepherds, by an odd coincidence since they are very different dogs!

Doing a story about the mushers and their wonderful dogs had been nibbling at the back of my mind for some time. Once I had embarked on the whole canine cupids notion featuring different breeds of dogs as the matchmakers for unlikely gay couples, I started to think about a tale involving the lead team of a group of sled dogs. As part of my reserach, I watched the Disney movie Iron Will (which I recommend highly! It's a bit stark in spots for kiddos but a very moving and in the end a 'feel good' story.) I ordered some books and other information from the Iditarod website too. (http://www.iditarod.com/) It's a great source of info and they sell some neat things with the proceeds going to support "the last great race." I follow it every year on line and several of the lady mushers are huge heroines of mine such as the late Susan Butcher and Allie Zirkle who came in second this year, just an hour behind the winner--and considering the distance and days involved --over 1000 miles!!--that is a 'close' finish.

And the rest prehaps is history. As I said in a note in the book, I know there are inaccuracies and not all for the sake of the story but I did try to make it as accurate and authentic as I could. I will never see the big one live, I am sure, but I've run that course in many dreams and lived the idea vicariously with Dylan and Grey!

Then I 'saw' the opening scene with Dylan exercising sixteen of his pack. That was written first. Then all at once Grey appeared, disembarking from a plane into the cold world so different from his native southern Californnia. The rest just unwound in a fast chase across the frozen world of mushers and our northern-most state.

Excerpt Beyond the Shadows, adult, m/m

Beyond the Shadows by Deirdre O'Dare

Blurb: First year Border Patrol officers Rhys Davis and Liam Malone have been friends since second grade. When their new assignment puts them on the front lines in tracking down a vicious and inhuman killer along the southern border, they must call on every resource at their disposal.
The most potent of these turns out to be memories from a life they shared two thousand years ago in the British Isles, one in which they were partners in every way, forming an eternal bond that allowed them to defeat this same enemy in that life. Will crossing the line from friends to lovers in this life destroy their friendship or build on it?

Excerpt: A moment later, Liam was again cursing the fact he was not on horseback. A horse would have scented trouble before they roared around the bend right into the middle of it. As it was he slammed on the brakes so fast Rhys almost ran him over. The sight confronting them was too bizarre to absorb for a moment. A man-sized and shaped figure loomed in the center of the faint two-rut trail. As Liam ground to a halt, the creature threw down the limp form he'd been holding, a young woman from what Liam could see. It was still early in the morning and the deep canyon had not yet seen the sun.
The body fell, loose limbed and lifeless as an oversized rag doll. The apparent killer stood a moment, staring down at the still form. Liam's stomach clenched. Oh, shit. There wasn't any blood, nothing similar to the body they'd found a week ago. What shocked him into paralysis, though, was the fact the man-creature was almost colorless, a shadow of an entity whose opaqueness ebbed and flowed. For an instant you could see through it and then the next, it would be dark and appear solid.
Rhys muffled words echoed Liam's thoughts. "Holy shit, what the fuck is it?"
At the sound, subtle though it was, the creature's head came up and he pinned them with a scarlet, glowing gaze, eyes that seemed to reveal a banked fire smoldering within the shadow of his form. Liam swore he could feel the heat and hatred shooting like a laser in that soulless stare.
He grabbed for his sidearm as Rhys dismounted and came up beside him. A slanting glance showed him Rhys had also drawn his weapon. They both spoke as one. "Halt. You're under arrest."
The monster gave a harsh cackle that might pass for a laugh. "Try to stop me." He--or it--wheeled and sped away. It didn't seem to walk or run, but simply glided over the rough ground, floating, skimming. Both men fired at the same moment, but the figure did not waver. For a blink, it almost vanished and they saw their bullets impact into the hillside some yards beyond where the thing paused. Then it darkened and moved on, vanishing around a bend in the canyon far too quickly.
For a few breaths, Liam and Rhys stood frozen, looking at each other in total disbelief.
"What the fuckin' hell was that? Our bullets passed right through him. He just dimmed out and then went on like nothing happened. Jesus! Were we hallucinating?"
Liam shrugged in reply. "Damned if I know. I guess we'd better check on the vic and then try to call this in."
The young woman was clearly past help. She wasn't clawed to pieces like the man had been, but that might only be true because they'd interrupted the killer in the act of murder. Stooping beside the body, Liam shook his head. "Gomez is going to think we're crazy if we tell this the way it happened. We'd better get our stories straight right now."
Rhys nodded. Liam figured they were both still in shock, completely spooked. He damn sure was. Rhys' face, as the first sunlight leaked over the rim above them, showed a greenish gray pallor. Liam guessed he didn't look any better.
Anything that could shift from transparent to solid at will and let bullets pass through its shadow self could probably morph into a dragon, a werewolf or a demon from the pits of hell. Shit, he couldn't believe it himself and he'd seen the whole thing.
He studied the hapless victim. She seemed deflated, empty, reduced to a state beyond normal deadness to something from which the very essence had been extracted. Although newly killed, the young woman's lifeless body held no heat, no ooze of blood, and no trace of energy fading with the last of her life. The monster had drained her completely, leaving only a husk of flesh.
She'd probably been pretty, but her face was shrunken and pinched now, marked by the last throes of total terror. They found no ID on her, but that was not unexpected. Border crashers seldom carried their life history, if they even had such documents. He'd guess this poor girl was mostly Indian, probably from somewhere far to the south. How she'd become separated from the group she should have been traveling with they'd likely never know. They might never even learn who she was. He blinked for an instant against the rush of sadness. Nobody deserved to die that way for the mistake of listening to someone who promised a better life.
"We're not going to split up this time," Rhys declared. "I don't know what we'd do if that thing came back, but at least we wouldn't have to confront it alone. We can carry the vic out; I'd say she wasn't killed here anyway, although there isn't much sign to read. Doubt if even Billy could unravel this one, but he may get a chance to try."
They wrapped the woman in a small tarp and tied her body on the back of Liam's ATV, which had an empty carrier rack. Once back at the trailhead on a ridge, they called the incident in. Then it was wait again for the CSI forensics team and for Billy, who came with them.
The young Navajo shook his head as he examined the body briefly, with an obvious effort to subdue his distaste and discomfort. "Tchindi," he muttered. "I can smell 'em. A really bad tchindi like a dead skinwalker." After he climbed on behind Rhys, they drove back to the site. There was really nothing to mark the small flat as a crime scene--no blood, no tracks, not even a stone or a dry leaf that looked disturbed.
The CSI expert opined the woman had probably not been killed there. Liam and Rhys had agreed to say they'd just found the body, no hint of what had happened to her. They might have to say more later, but for now that seemed the safest approach. They'd tell Billy more, of course, but not in the presence of the others.
After the CSI group left with the body, Billy checked the scene with the care of a search and rescue dog checking for signs. He didn't quite squat and smell the ground, but he did almost everything else, even walking to the bend and looking around it, where, of course, he could not see anything.
"Tchindi," he repeated. "No question. We're dealing with some bad medicine here, bros. Wish my uncle was still around. He might be able to do something to stop this, but what little I learned from him is about as useful as a cap pistol against an anti-aircraft gun. Let's get out of here. It's givin' me the spooks."
Liam had no issue with that. For the second time that day, they retraced the route back to the trailhead. There they loaded the ATVs on their pickups and then headed back to town.
More than enough for one day.
Finally back home, Liam realized he was tired to the bone, but he dreaded bedtime and falling asleep. He'd been having some strange and disturbing dreams lately and this was surely not going to help. He'd die before he'd admit it to Rhys who was always going on about déjà vu and lucid dreaming and shit like that, but some of Liam's dreams were getting much too vivid and hard to forget. Maybe I'm not cut out for this work after all if it's going to cause this sort of reaction. Hell, even Iraq wasn't this bad. Blood and guts and death he could handle--well, most of the time--but this weird stuff gave him the heebie-jeebies. Bad medicine indeed.
* * * *
He seemed to come awake drenched with sweat, aching in every fiber of his body. The bed was hard beneath him, an uneven surface with prickly texture. The blankets felt heavy, smelled of dust and a raw animal scent. The room seemed dark; the only light a low fire flickering to one side. A man-shaped shadow moved between him and that light. The bed sank a little as the man sat down on the edge. Then a damp cloth swiped over Liam's face, soothing, cooling. A pungent herbal scent stung his nose of a moment, but it seemed to ease his pain and fear. He was safe and everything would be all right.
"You're awake." The voice was low and mellow, as soothing as the herbs and the cool damp touch on his face."You've been very sick, stranger, but I think you're going to pull through. The wounds are closing, and I've broken your fever."
The speaker used words and a tone he recognized--Druid. They were healers, wise men, priests and more, the few who held keys to the future and ways to appease the vengeful gods. Maybe even ways to deal with the spirit suckers who would steal so much from their victims there wasn't enough left to get to Tir-Na-Nog or be born again. He found a vague memory of encountering one of them in the forest while on patrol.
How he was still alive, he was not sure. A miracle. He'd have to make some major offerings to the gods when he could walk again, even throw his best shield and maybe his spear into the holy well. You had to thank the gods for saving you with valuable stuff. Weapons could be replaced, but souls could not.
"Thank you, Druid. I know I'm blessed to remain among the living after all I suffered. I will not ask how or why. And I will make offerings to the gods--whatever you deem right--as soon as I am able to get up."
"Rest easy. There will be time enough for that later. My name is Rhysanos. Yes, I am Druid, but that is a title and a duty, not a name. What do you go by, stranger? How came you here to our quiet corner of the Isles?"
"I think I am called Finbar, but my memories are unclear. I was on a patrol for my king, guarding the boundaries of his domain, looking for signs of raiders and those who would steal from our people. Where is this place? It seems far from my home."
The Druid's touch was gentle, yet it sent a strange energy surging through his weak body. His cock stirred at that touch and blood pounded through his whole form as if he must run or fight or do something else he did not understand. He stiffened with a mixture of fear and eagerness.
"No, be still. Do not fear. You will be all right. Now you need to sleep more to let your body heal. I will be here, guarding you while you sleep. I guarantee you will be safe."
As soft grayness enfolded him, he drifted off into it, fading to a similar shadow of existing. Fear blinked out; arousal and tension did so as well. For a moment, he had a dim recollection of the security of his mother's arms--a mother long dead and almost forgotten except in times like this...
Trust was not something he really knew, but it came to him now. This strange, powerful man, though no warrior, would keep him safe. He knew that beyond any doubt.

Story behind Beyond the Shadows

I've been a fan of so-called Urban Fantasy for some time. I got started reading some of the novels of Charles DeLint who mixed the kingdom of Fairie and other-worldly dastards into modern Canada city-scapes. Then a whole raft of romance authors began to blend present day love stories with paranormal or fantasy elements with some fascinating results!

But I rarely write about city life. Except for living in Colorado Springs for not quite three years, I have always lived in suburbs or rural areas and that is what I prefer. So when I decided to mix some fantasy elements into a story or several of them, I knew I would be writing rural rather than urban fantasy! Later I found someone had already coined the term for a sub-genre of fiction.

Living near the Mexican border in the southern parts of Arizona and New Mexico I was familiar with the US Border Patrol. I knew of their very difficult job of trying to protect our border and cut down the influx of undocumented people from not only Mexico but many more distant and often less friendly places. What if, I said to myself, they also began to have to deal with some really alien beings from beyond the earth we know? And thus the notion of the Thin Green Line series began to take root.

Beyond the Shadows was the first of this group of related tales. I set it in the 'boot heel' region of southwestern New Mexico and spilling over into the southeastern corner of Arizona. This is very rugged and isolated country, perhaps nearer to wilderness now than it was fifty or a hundred years ago. I had also begun exploring some of the ancient Celtic spiritual paths such as Druidism and felt an urge to weave a bit of this background into the tale and of course the ethnic mix of people among which I have grown up and lived in the area--Latinos, Native Americans and and those of Northern European descent as well. I chose my two heroes to represent the Welsh and Irish roots that I myself have while other characters completed the mix.

Some reviewers have complained about my "mixed metaphors" in borrowing a bit of several trends of fantasy such as elves and vampires and so on, but I say, hey, its my world and I'll build it as I want to! Beyond the Shadows was an April 2010 release and part of an Amber PAX group about friends becoming lovers.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Excerpt: Paint a New Scene--adult m/f/m

Paint a New Scene by Deirdre O'Dare

Blurb: Artist Keely is not sure how to emerge from the isolation of her early widowhood and start living again. Her first step is to move from Tucson to southwestern New Mexico. When her landlady hires a couple of hunky handymen to do some much needed refurbishing on the house Keely rents, she discovers a new subject for her paintbrush and then a couple of friends with benefits who introduce her to the erotic pleasures of a ménage.

Jerry and Tim have been drifters, working their way around the west while trying to put their painful pasts behind them. In Keely they discover a reason to stop moving for awhile and perhaps put down roots in the colorful old mining town of Copper City as they ply their painting and handyman trade.

Excerpt: Note: Keely agrees to go out with both men to hear a band they describe as great performing at a local hangout. As a three-way date, it's a first for her and the first time she's been on any date since her husband's death.

By the time they'd played the first set, Keely had to agree Buddy Montoya's group had a good sound. It was somewhere between mariachi and pop, with a bit of traditional country western and a strong hint of Tex-Mex thrown in. Her feet were itching to get out and move to the infectious rhythms.
Keely sipped her beer and watched, not sure what the etiquette of the moment called for. Did she dare make the first move? She wasn't even sure if Tim was able to dance, especially not the more lively and complex steps. Whether Jerry would or not was another unknown. They both sat quietly, watching as she was. Finally, Jerry made the first move.
He stood and held a hand out to her. "Can't sit this out any longer. Come on, lady. Let's go polish that dance floor."
It turned out he was no slouch as a dancer. Keely wasn't sure if she was surprised to learn that or not. Mostly she was too busy remembering steps she hadn't practiced for quite a while, thankful her feet seemed to recollect what her mind tended to forget. Then there were the sensations, like how good it felt to have a man's strong arm around you, feel a muscled shoulder under your fingers and be guided through the complex moves by a confident masculine touch.
It's been too damn long, for sure.
A giddy delight flashed through her, followed by the unmistakable burn of desire, activated by the movements of the dance that brought her close to Jerry's muscled body, along with the beer, the crowd and the excitement of being out on an almost-date. A three-way date? Well, why not? Most of all, though, she had to admit it was the good-looking man who held her.
When the band segued into a slow, seductive tune, she was as good as lost. Jerry tightened his arm around her, one hand settling just above the outward curve of her butt. He slipped two fingers into the hip pocket of her jeans, a gesture somehow incredibly intimate. He brought her close enough her breasts brushed against his chest, while the scent of his aftershave fogged her senses.
Her nipples peaked against the soft fabric of her bra and stretched the clinging knit of her top. He had to feel them. God knew she did. Every touch they made against his solid heat sent jolts of liquid flame darting through her body to settle in her pussy. With every move, the seam of her jeans rubbed the sensitized flesh between her legs, adding to her growing arousal. Oh, my God, I feel so damned hot I must be glowing!
By the time the band took a break and they made their way back to the table, Keely was ready to drag Jerry outside and have her way with him in the bushes edging the parking lot. She cooled down a little as they sat and she downed a second beer. That was about her limit--much more and she'd get queasy instead of buzzed.
Mike had always laughed at her limited capacity for alcohol. He could put away a six-pack and just be started, but then he'd been a big guy, six-foot-two and about two-forty. At his death, he was still looking like the high school football star he'd been when they started going together. With a start, she realized she'd thought of him without the debilitating stab of pain this time.
He'd been her first love and would always have a special place in her heart, but she was still alive and deserved to live, not just exist. For the first time, she knew she really believed this and was ready to act on it. If living involved Jerry or Tim, or Jerry and Tim, or any of the miners and cowboys who had begun to eye her with some interest, that was all right, too.
When the band resumed after about twenty minutes, Tim stood and offered a hand. "I'm not good for the fancy footwork, but I can manage a line dance or a couple of slow numbers. Will you give it a try?"
Keely didn't hesitate. "Of course, Tim. It would be my pleasure."
Despite the small drag or pause when he had to turn or move on his bad leg, Tim danced well enough. His touch was as sure and comfortable as Jerry's had been and equally exciting. Before they returned to the table when the band switched into some quick salsa tunes, Keely would have been more than willing to go outside with him, too.
During the next several sets, a half-dozen of the other men in the place asked her to dance. They were all polite and made sure it was okay with Jerry and Tim, recognizing that she was with them. Most of the local men had a bit of old-fashioned courtesy she had to appreciate. Miners and cowboys were hard workers and most of them relied on one or more partners as they performed the dangerous and strenuous tasks of their jobs. You didn't want to make any enemies by not treating someone's lady with respect because tomorrow he might be your partner. It made sense, but it was nice to be one of the ladies!
In between the others, she danced two more times with Jerry and once more with Tim. Finally, people began to leave and the band started to pack up their amps and other gear. There was a jukebox, one of the traditional kinds, but it wasn't the same as live music. The evening was clearly at an end.
They walked out as they had entered, three abreast, with Keely in the middle.
Tim handed her into her seat and scrambled in behind her. It took a couple of tries before the engine fired, but Jerry seemed to know the tricks to make the vehicle start. He only said a couple of cuss words before it began to rumble.
"Wanna come over to our place for a bit and look at the etchings?" In the dash lights, Jerry's expression bordered on diabolical. Keely smiled to herself. He's testing me. Am I up to the challenge? Damn straight!
"Sure. Why not? Heck, it isn't even two o'clock yet."
The men rented an apartment in a rustic old building that surely dated back to the early mining days in the community. She suspected it might once have been a row of cribs, the tiny, cell-sized rooms where streetwalkers took their johns back in the wild days when the rich mining district was in its heyday. It looked as if smaller rooms had been connected and walls shifted to make regular apartments.
"We did the paint job on this place," Tim said with a touch of pride. "It was our first job in the area. The ole coot who owns the building liked it so well he rents to us for half the usual price."
In the headlights, as Jerry pulled up to park near their door, Keely could see the bright colors. Had anyone told her the color scheme she would have shuddered, but it actually looked good--the walls were deep hunter green with Chinese red and gold for the gingerbread and other woodwork such as porch rails, shutters and banisters.
"Wow," she said. "It's really unusual, but kinda cool. I like it. Did you guys come up with the colors or did the owner?"
"I guess these were the original colors," Jerry said. "That's what Mr. Busich said anyway. We went a little darker than the old hand-tinted postcard he had, but I think it came out pretty good. Looks a lot better than that faded, pukey pink and lilac that it was, anyway."
He made a production of opening the door with an ancient brass skeleton key and switched on the lights.
Keely stopped and took a moment to absorb the room. The furniture was old, or at least looked old, and no two pieces matched, but the room was neater than she had expected. Through a doorway, she could see a bedroom, where a huge bed dominated the confined room. Another open archway led to a small kitchen. To call the place quaint was almost an understatement, but it did have a peculiar charm.
Well, my house isn't exactly twenty-first century either. So long as there's heat and cooling and running water, I think I'm okay with it.
"Where are the etchings?" Keely posed the question with a giggle, determined to play along with the game Jerry had begun.
Jerry twirled an imaginary moustache and leered. "We have you in our power now, me lovely. What should we do with you?"
Keely fluttered her lashes and glanced coyly back and forth between the two men. When she spoke, it was in a quivery falsetto. "Oh my, I'm afraid you're going to have your wicked way with me. Oh dear, what have I gotten myself into?"
She had not had that much beer, but the whole evening had been intoxicating until she was giddy and silly with it, hot nearly to the point of melting and far past any wish to back out or change what seemed the likely outcome. "But I'm prepared to hand over my virtue..." She began to laugh then and could not go on. "Oh, hell's bells, one of you better come over here and kiss me!"
Jerry moved first. He closed the distance between them with one fast step and caught her by the shoulders. The next moment he angled his head just enough not to bump noses as he sought and found her lips. He tasted of beer and the nachos they'd munched, smelled still of the piney aftershave, and kissed like a consummate professional. Not too much tongue or too little; not too much wetness or pressure, or one single thing that did not feel absolutely right. She grabbed at his arms to steady herself as the world began a slow spiral beneath her feet. A small moan escaped her lips, muffled by his. Yes, oh, yes!
A moment later she felt another hard male body close behind her and a second set of hands clasped her waist from behind and then began to explore, one slipping under her top to approach her breasts and the other fanning across her stomach, the heat of it burning through her jeans.

Story behind Paint a New Scene

The next release I had in 2010 is a steamy menage! Paint a New Scene came out in March of 2010. It is not yet in a print collection; I am working on a menage group and need to complete one more to round it out!

This tale also came from my short time of residence in Grant County, NM. I rented a house in the little town of Hurley and just like Keely, I found it run down but my land lady hired a couple of guys to spiff it up on the outside, which it badly needed. They were not quite as hunky as Jerry and Tim but they were nice guys and we got to be friends. They received a little thank you gift from me--a good sized jug of Jose Cuervo which I had kept for quite awhile; it was left over from my daughter's wedding reception!

The left picture is before--and does not really show how leprous and yucky parts of the exterior looked. I had my doubts about the color scheme but the warm tan with two shades of green came out pretty kewl. And I have to share what I called "the Barney Room" for obvious reasons; with the land lady's permission I rpeainted it sky blue with white trim. Whew--that was my office and work room! Yes it really was Kelly green, Lincoln green and screaming purple!!!

Of course this sequence of events triggered my "what if" bug and pretty soon I was imagining things that could happen and then the three characters began to share their tale with me! I saw that Keely could not decide which guy was the hottest and since she liked them both and they seemed very amenable to sharing... Well, they really did paint a new scene! Keely's success with the gallery in Las Cruces and the gallery itself arose from a trip I made with a friend to do a gallery tour early in the spring of 2009. There really are some marvelous little galleries and shops scattered through the old town, well worth a visit!