Sunday, July 29, 2012

Smoke and ...Spots?? --info and excerpt, PG-13+

Smoke and ...Spots? by Deirdre O'Dare

When fire fighter Grady Ashcroft adopts his deceased sister’s son, he knows his life is going to change. Although he never expected to be a dad, he resolves to give young Jamie his best, even if it means a celibate life in a new home, far from all he’s known before. He does not expect to find the man of his dreams in the Colorado village where he takes a new job, a man who seems to hate his guts.

Sullivan Parker wanted to be chief of the Valle Vista fire department when the worthless former chief was forced to leave. Instead, the town council hires a stranger from a distant city. In spite of his resentment, Sully finds himself drawn to the new comer. Then he discovers a need to take little Jamie and the speckled pup the former chief left behind under his wing.

The brotherhood born of battling dangerous blazes slowly turns to stronger feelings for both men. Then a scare involving the boy and the dog creates a final catalyst to break Grady and Sully out of their tense and conflicting interface. Can resentment and distrust turn to love?


Sheer cacophony jerked Grady out of a deep sleep. His radio squawked, his beeper chirped like an anxious baby bird and the siren over the fire station's front doors blared out over the village. Operating on auto-pilot from long years' habit, he jumped out of bed and scrambled into his clothes. Next stop would be the station's back door. Inside, he'd grab his turnouts and then start the main truck while he waited for the first of his crew to arrive.
Sandy, the dispatcher  and Sully jogged in together. For an instant, Grady wondered if they were a couple, but so far he hadn't heard even a whisper of gossip to that effect. Still, small towns tended to be close-mouthed and protective of their own to outsiders, even while hot tidbits spread fast among the regulars.
"Jamie's still asleep," Grady said to Sandy. "I thought about getting him up and bringing him over here, but he should be okay."
"I'll watch for him," she assured him. "I'm sure this is the first place he'll come if he wakes up and realizes you aren't there. We're getting to be pals."
"I'll drive," Sully volunteered. "I know right where this fire's at; get there faster than trying to tell you where to turn."
Grady nodded and trotted around to the passenger side. They roared off down the road, lights flashing. Sully blasted the siren briefly at the first intersection, although at two o'clock on a Thursday morning, traffic was light to none. They had not gone much farther when Grady saw the glow and, as they topped a ridge, he could see the fire--by appearances, a big one.
"Shit, it's the barn," Sully mumbled. "Hope to God they got the horses out. It'd kill Kate to lose one."
Behind them, Grady could see the flashing lights of the second truck. They usually took at least two so one could go pull more water from the nearest well or stock tank while the other pumped. There were no hydrants out here away from the few sparse blocks of town. Residences could be a quarter mile or more apart, most with their own wells. Some had a ready spigot, but many did not.
In the back of Grady's mind, he had to admit he had a lot of new tricks to learn. He even appreciated Sully's experience. Of course, the other man resented him, a stranger with a completely different background, coming in to take over. To be honest, the fact Sully cooperated at all surprised him. He had to like the rusty-haired mechanic, despite his periodic fits of grump and sarcasm. He fought against the urge to more-than-like all the time now.
Driving under a western style sign reading Hollister Quarter Horses, they screeched into the farmyard and drove straight to the barn. A man and a woman in nightclothes were squirting the blaze with a garden hose, to little avail. Glancing around, Grady saw several horses tethered to a couple of trees and a fence.
"Did you get them all out?" Sully yelled, as he started the gasoline-powered pump and then began to reel out hose.
"Yeah, thank gosh. Beauty alerted us something was wrong. Smart dog. We ran out and got the horses before the place was fully engulfed, but the hay's a total loss."
The woman who answered dropped the hose and swiped a hand across her face, already soot streaked and marked by the tracks of tears. She knelt and put an arm around the black-and-white dog, sitting close by. The man walked back to turn off the tap and then returned to pull her to her feet and put an arm around her, murmuring something Grady could not hear.
Sully had already set the pump to full power. Grady helped him steady the bucking hose to shoot a strong blast of water into the highest flames. Leaping a good twenty feet into the air, they were erupting from the roof, probably above the hay the woman had mentioned.
Soon Tom Grassley and Henry Smoot pulled in with the second truck. A couple more volunteers followed in their own pickups.
It didn't take long to run through the tank full of water. "I'll go fill 'er up," Mike Davis, one of the men in the first pickup, said. "You guys go ahead with the second truck. I know where the water tank is here."
Grady nodded, attention focused on the fire. Tom already had the second hose going, so they put that pump on high and kept soaking the barn. Just then the woman jerked away from her husband and ran toward the open double doors. "The tack and the trophy--we've got to try to get them out."
"Stop her," the man hollered, starting after her, although she had several yards' start on him.
Sully and Grady both let go of the hose at the same instant. Henry and Tom staggered, taking the full force, and almost lost control. The three-inch hose whipped around like an angry snake.
"I'll get her," Sully fairly snarled. "You're the fucking chief. Stay here and keep things going."
Grady started to yell back, then caught himself. Sully was right on both counts. He might even be familiar with the interior of the barn and know where to go to catch the lady before she succumbed to smoke or worse.
Mike returned with the second truck, and they shot more water into the fire. Grady could see they were starting to cool and wet it down enough to slow the blaze. There would not be much left of the barn, but no other structures would be damaged. Now the big question was, how did the fire start? Anyone with livestock and feed should know enough to be careful with flammables and, perish the thought, never light a cigarette or anything with gas or oil flames near hay.
A chill settled into his gut. What if it was arson, perhaps even set by the farm owners? He'd heard rumors their business was not going well. Maybe they hoped to collect insurance. Although arson investigation was not his specialty, he'd had some training. He'd have to look into the cause as soon as they got the fire out.
All at once, he realized Sully had been in the barn way too long. The structure could collapse at any moment, and he had no way to know what things were like inside. It seemed the upper story was the most involved in the fire, but burning hay could fall down from the loft and the fire might even have started in the lower level. Panic clenched a cold fist inside him. The idea of losing a man scared him spitless. He'd only gone through that once in his prior career, but once was more than enough.
He shoved his grip on the hose at another volunteer who'd arrived a few minutes late. "Here, give the others a hand. I've got to find Sully." He ran for the barn as soon as the man's hands clutched the hose.
The owner lurked at the doorway, clearly hesitant to enter the dim and smoky space, but also desperate about his wife's safety.
"Stand back. I'll go get them," Grady told him. "Don't try to go in. It's way too dangerous for you, but I know how to do this. I'll do my damnedest to get her out and my fireman as well."
Just then, a darker shadow appeared against the dim glow of flame through smoke. Sully emerged, the woman slung over his right shoulder and an odd-shaped glittering object clutched in his other hand. He stumbled as he hit the doorsill. The man reached for his wife as Grady grabbed Sully's arm.
"Are you crazy, man? What took you so long? Let me get you over to the brush truck and get some oxygen going for you. How's the lady?"
Sully coughed before he could croak a reply. "One by one, Chief. Hard to see in there, even though I knew the tack room was at the southeast corner. She's got some spot burns I expect from stuff falling from the loft, but mostly the smoke got to her. Almost got to me, too." He coughed again. "Give her the oxygen first and call for an evac."
Grady didn't bridle at the orders, whether they were appropriate or not. He could see the woman was unconscious. Her husband wept and swore, cradling her in his arms. "Damn fool woman! A stupid trophy isn't worth risking your life for, baby. Oh fuck, don't go and die on me."
Once Grady saw Sully stagger off in the direction of the small grass and brush fire truck, which also carried their medical and rescue gear, Grady caught the owner's arm. "Let me take her. We've got oxygen for situations like this." He eased the woman's limp body from the man's grip. "We've called in the chopper out of Boca CaƱon to evac her and we'll keep her going until they arrive. Oxygen will help unless she's got internal burns from the smoke."
The man scrubbed at his eyes, smearing soot across his face. "I tried to stop her. I told her it was dumb. I-I didn't do enough. Oh God, please don't let her die."
When Grady reached the truck, he saw Sully sitting on the bumper, an oxygen mask over his face. A second mask waited, both attached to the same tank. There should be enough to supply two at a medium setting for at least half an hour. Grady turned to one of the other firefighters standing by, watching Sully. "Did someone call for a med evac? Not sure how bad the lady is, but it's clear she needs medical care."
"Done," the woman said, dwarfed by her turnouts, although they were the smallest available. From experience at a couple of drills, Grady knew Judy Diaz could hold her own, despite her size. She was one tough little gal, as well as steady and sensible.
In the brighter lights from the arc of department vehicles, he could see charred spots on Mrs. Hollister's jacket and holes in her sweat pants where coals had burned through the fabric. It was damn lucky her clothes had not actually caught fire. He slapped the mask in place over her nose and mouth and fiddled with the tank's controls to start the life-sustaining flow. By God, he'd rave at the town council until they coughed up enough for a bigger and better concentrating machine. Any member of his crew could suffer from smoke inhalation, and he wasn't going to see anyone die from lack of this essential gear.
With steadier movements, Sully jerked the mask of his face. "I'm good," he rasped. "Save it for her. She don't look good at all."
He stood steadily enough and reached to turn off the connection for the hose to the mask he'd removed. Then he wheeled around to start toward the main truck, which still pumped out water. At the same instant, a sudden crash shook them. Sparks flew as the barn folded in on itself. For a short time the fire leaped. However soon it subsided, much of its fuel clearly gone, while the rest of the ruined building was now saturated and cooling.
"Sit down and give yourself a break." Grady roared out the order. "Things are under control and you fucking well aren't going to risk more strain right now. That's an order, in case I didn't make it clear."
Sully stopped, looking back with a poisonous glare. "I know my limits. I'm not going to endanger anyone. Leave me be."
Although most of Grady's attention focused on the unconscious woman, he glanced up at Sully. "I said sit. Do it, or I'll write you up for insubordination."
Sully managed a raspy laugh. "Do I look like I care? You can't fire volunteers, big shot. If you keep hassling me, I might just quit."

About another story...

Smoke and ...Spots? is the first release of 2012 and the first story I wrote in my new home last fall. It was a struggle and turned in a little bit late but it made the Heavy Petting Amber PAX group which has been very popular. It was also my first  gay romance with a child in it...and I found that a challenge but also neat.

There's a lot of background for this one! Back in the mid 1970s, my family and I moved from Bisbee, AZ to Colorado and settled in the then-rural community of Falcon, about twelve miles out of Colorado Springs. My husband and I both worked at Peterson AFB on the east side of town. Schreiber AFB  had not yet been established. We got to Colorado the very end of November and were in for quite a shock when we went through our first prairie winter--snow, blizzards and sub-zero temps! Jim and I were both raised in Arizona so except for his tour in Korea he had not 'enjoyed' a lot of bitter weather nor had I but we learned. We even survived a blizzard in a Ford Pinto a few years later; that has yet to make a story although !some aspects wound up in The Maltese Terror.

Anyway the community had a real need for a volunteer fire department and we were involved in its creation. A donated barn was the first fire station; an active Colorado Springs fire department Captain was the first chief and the firefighters were a very motley group, men and women both but totally dedicated to providing the needed service. I was not a fire fighter but became a member of the auxiliary we established to help and support. We took coffee, cold drinks, snacks and sometimes other items out to fire sites, sometimes took charge of kids who were suddenly homeless and so on. It was an exceptional experience and one I will always cherish. Many of the folks we knew there are now gone, either deceased or moved on to other areas but still held in fond memories.

Of course I had wanted to do a fire story for some time and had contemplated a Dalmatian for one of my Canine Cupids tales but that just had not happened so this one did not become an official part of the series although the Dalmatian pup, Lottsa Spots, was a very key player in this tale. My two heroes were strictly imaginary but some of the other people in the invented community were composites of friends from Falcon. Falcon now has a handsome fire station, professional member and all but then it is no longer a scattered rural community! To the left is my old house; it was light blue when we were there and the trees were not. I thought I had a pic of the new fire station but cannot find it. Oh well!!

Actually my peripheral link to volunteer fire fighters goes back even farther. My parents and I lived in Jerome, Arizona at the time the mine closed and things were winding down. Jerome's infrastructure was falling apart, abetted by a severe flood during a violent summer storm, and the town lacked funds to support a real fire department. My dad wound up being a volunteer for a couple of years and I still have a little pin  he got while he was doing it. The siren would go off and day or night, the fire fighters had to jump and go. In Colorado we had a 'plektron' radio that sounded the alarms but in Jerome, just the old siren down at the fire and police station gave the call.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tom Fleet's Incredible Machine--m/m, PG13+

Tom Fleet's Incredible Machine by Deirdre O'Dare

Tom Fleet was a bit of a misfit as the second son of a minor English noble in the 1880s. Once he finished his schooling he had little to do. His grandfathers had left him adequate finances for his needs and with his elder brother set to take the title, he gave in to his fascination with gadgets and began to tinker and invent. His goal was to create a sky craft to go to the moon. Surely if Jules Verne’s characters could go there and many other places, he could do as well.

Rowan Farrell followed in his Uncle Gordon’s footsteps, joining the UniFleet, but went a step farther and became an officer. Assigned to his first command level post, he takes a small patrol ship out to scout a region of interest to the Council and report if any signs of the enemy Angevirian Empire in the area.. When one of his crew spots a strange, tiny craft, he decides to capture and study it. After all it could be an Angevirian Trojan horse. But the odd cylindrical vessel holds only one man, unconscious and suffering from hypothermia and lack of oxygen. When the man comes to, he claims to come from the earth—five centuries in the past!

Excerpt:  (This occurs not long after Rowan has brought the mysterious small craft aboard and found the unconscious occupant...)

"Spot anything unusual?"
The engineer shook his head. "You're the one who's seen that. Empty as a dead asteroid out here."
Rowan grinned. "Well, yeah. The thing's some kind of vessel and there was a man in it; at least he seemed to be a normal human kind of guy. Doc's going over him now. As for the craft, what a piece of work. No oxygen, hardly any shielding--not much more than an old home world-style tin can! How he and it got out here, I can't even imagine. Maybe he can give me some answers once Doc releases him."
"Is that safe?"
"Damned if I know, but what can one unarmed man do? This guy seems like a citizen of Earth from about five centuries ago. Quaint language and his clothes belonged in a museum. I can hardly wait to talk to him."
With perfect timing, Doc's voice came over the intercom. "Hey, Row, if you want your captive, he seems to be hale enough. Come fetch him, or are you too busy?"
Excitement surged through Rowan. "Be right there." Not only did his peculiar prisoner give his curiosity a major tweak, the guy had an appealing face and manner, not a bad body and-- Rowan jerked his wandering thoughts up short. Put the lust on hold, man. This is not the time or the place.
In general, the rules of UniFleet were tolerant of casual liaisons. Despite that, sex with a mysterious prisoner who might be a spy or an Angevire plant or just about anything was not likely to be approved. He'd do well to keep that in mind. Still, his step had a certain spring as he headed for sickbay to collect the man. Simply finding out where the fellow was from and how he managed to be in space--even if mere near-planet space--would be interesting.
When Rowan reached sick bay, Doc and the stranger stood just outside the door. The visitor held out a hand, standing erect, almost at a stiff attention.
"Sir, I'm Tom Fleet. I understand you're the captain of this vessel and also the one who collected me and my sky-ship?"
"More or less. There's a senior officer, but he's mostly... er... indisposed, so I'm in charge in that case. After my flight engineer spotted your craft, we approached, set the tractor beam on it, and drew you in. Probably a good thing we did. You wouldn't have lasted much longer--too cold and no oxygen."
The stranger's face reflected a mixture of shock and confusion. "I'm not sure what you're talking about."
"How in hell did you build a craft like that and head out into the wild yonder without knowing the conditions?"
Tom shook his head. "You have me there, sir. Really, I only thought I might get maybe as far as the moon at best. I didn't expect to travel through both distance and, apparently, time. Things got way out of hand!"
"We've got a lot of talking to do," Rowan said. "Let's go to the lounge and get some caf or something and sit while we discuss this."
A few minutes later, they perched on stools in the compact lounge area, each with a sipper-cup of hot coffee. At first, Rowan thought Tom was blowing smoke when he spoke of Queen Victoria and a dull life in England in the year 1881. He talked of using steam and a complex creation of gears and levers and wires that he'd built to power and control his fragile and impossible "space craft" off Earth. Inspired by some early sci-fi novelists' wild visions, he'd somehow imagined he could devise a vessel to take him off on some extraterrestrial adventures.
Rowan shook his head. "It's a wonder you weren't killed, Tom. I'm serious. The temperature once you get beyond the lower atmospheric layers is way below zero. There's little to no oxygen there. How did you imagine you could survive?"
Tom's expressive face reflected shock and bafflement. "I had no idea... Mr. Verne didn't say anything about those matters in his Journey to the Moon. I mean, who's really been there to find out?"
"You weren't planning to time-travel, then?"
Tom shook his head. "No, the idea never even occurred to me." He paused, an odd expression crossing his face. He sighed. "I think I may have really fucked up. When I launched, I was... er... a bit distracted." A sudden wash of color brightened his pale face. "I have a few other devices I've made and one was in the craft. It's a suction machine. I'd tried it a time or two and the idea of actually leaving the Earth excited me so much... "
Rowan grinned, sensing where this awkward admission might be leading. "A mechanical blowjob! So I bet you sent quite a burst of energy into the machinery at the time you launched, with some unexpected results." Laughter bubbled, but he restrained it as best he could. "I take it you don't have a regular partner for such release?"

Time for another feature!

It's been a week--time flies when you are having fun and even when you are not at times. To catch up on what's going on in my world you can click over to my other and read a few entries. But here we talk fiction!

My next release, the last for 2011, came out in November, part of a futuristic PAX group. I had started out to write a fairly serious follow on to my UniFleet group, previously published Treading Dangerous Ground and Fire on Ice. Any writers out there will know there are times when your characters just take the bit in their teeth and dash off, totally out of control. That's what happened with the tale that became Tom Fleet's Incredible Machine. I had never tried any steam punk before but this one edged into that genre. Actually if you crossed steam punk with Star Trek you'd be close. The first hero, Rowan, is a nephew of Gordon Farrell in Fire On Ice, a young officer with his first command. Then along comes a second son of a minor English noble who has nothing better to do than tinker with mad inventions. And he winds up traveling both light years and several centuries in his incredible machine. There are places the tale sinks into silliness, I have to admit, but it was fun. I had a ball letting it write itself--there was no pint in trying to take control once it got going! Readers and reviewers have had mixed reactions but most have enjoyed it, just for that fun aspect, some sly humor and an orgasm powered space ship! Sometimes the muse does some zany things!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Info and Excerpt: Relative Dangers (PG-13)

Relative Dangers by Gwynn Morgan ISBN: 1-58749-567-8
Available from Mundania Press (Awe-Struck division) and on Amazon, Fictionwise, All Romance E-Books etc.

In most electronic formats and also in print. Click thru my website to reach buy links--

Mari McCabe's life revolves around remote Red Canyon, Arizona and her horse training. Her immediate goal is to earn her high school diploma after having dropped out of school for a time. When a controversial construction projects starts nearby, her ordered life is shaken by changes. Horse training is dangerous work, but danger is relative. She learns some relatives can be dangerous indeed and loyalties severely tested.

As super on his first big construction job, Dustin Layne has to prove his capabilities. A chance meeting with a young woman leads to an unlikely friendship. When that converges with environmental protests at the site, he confronts a major challenge.How can he reconcile these issues while he saves Mari from danger created by her loyalty to him? Can he even save her from himself?


Marisa McCabe swung the heavy stock saddle up on Lightfoot's broad back. She frowned as she reached under the bay gelding's round barrel to snag the cinch. The cords were frayed and ragged. She probably ought to change it. There were bound to be a couple of better ones hanging in the tack shed.

On the other hand, if she intended to be gone before Berne got back from a horse-shoeing job across town, she really didn't have time to go look. If she wasn't gone, he'd yell. She decided to risk the cinch, drew the latigo through the buckle and tugged it tight.

Leaving Lightfoot tied to the hitching rack, she grabbed a handful of rope halters with nylon leads. With them she caught the three yearlings she'd lead or "pony" for their daily exercise. Moments later, she headed out the gate. The frisky yearlings pranced beside the older horse, whose pace remained sedate.

Mari sat easily in her saddle with the confidence of long experience. She'd ridden for a good fifteen years. Now the only horse in the McCabe Stable she didn't ride was Cochise. The Appaloosa stallion was Berne McCabe's pride and joy. Mari had no doubt she could ride Cochise easily, no matter what Berne said. He insisted girls had no business messing with a stallion, so she stayed off the big Appy.

Today, she rode along the highway east to the Reservation fence. There she turned onto the newly widened and paved road leading to the site where the Canyon Rojo Dam was to be built. The project had become a bone of contention in the community. The Indians and the old timers bitterly resisted any change while the new folks, mostly recent immigrants from Back East, said it would be great for business. Once the dam was in, a resort was the next step, an idea even more hotly debated.

Before all the work was completed, there would probably be fights, protests and all sorts of to-do, more excitement than Red Canyon had seen in over fifty years, since they put the first highway through and across the Reservation. Mari figured the construction would not make much difference in her life, one way or the other.

As Lightfoot trotted along, Mari felt the late March wind kick up. It swirled red dust off the raw patches of earth along the road side. The wind picked up a piece of paper and sent it skittering across the new black pavement. At that sight, the yearlings snorted and danced, sharply increasing the pull on the nylon rope to which their leads were attached. Mari had that rope looped over the saddle horn.

She slid to the left, leaning her weight into the left stirrup to try to balance the saddle. "Come on, guys. Settle down. It's only a piece of paper." She gave the lead a sharp snap, bringing the colts back in line.

Ahead, the road vanished around the blunt end of a ridge, cut off to shorten the new road. The ridge was topped by a towering formation of the rosy sandstone which gave the area its name.
At that moment, with a roar and a backfire like a cannon shot, a motorcycle careened around the corner, headed straight at them. Lightfoot threw his head up and gave one prodigious leap before Mari's instinctive jerk on the reins checked him. The colts also leaped--in three different directions. The rawhide wrapping on the saddle horn groaned in protest as the nylon bit deeply into the well-oiled leather.

Mari threw her weight hard into the left stirrup, but the saddle continued to slide to the right. She heard a tearing sound, and felt it roll farther and faster, right out from under her. She twisted and scrambled, trying vainly to find a way to land feet-first, but as the colts bolted, one of the leads caught her under the arm and threw her back and down, right under the twelve scrabbling hooves. She hit hard, breath jolting out, leaving her gasping. Silent darkness closed around her.


Dustin Layne parked his motor home to one side of the newly fenced lot, already jammed with Copper Country Construction Company equipment. He climbed down and glanced around the area that would be his home for the next several months. It looked like any other construction site,
except when you raised your eyes to the magnificent panorama of red rock, blue sky, new green leaves on the cottonwood trees along the creek bed, and the contrasting blue-green of the juniper and Arizona Cypress trees.

The dam might be a good thing, providing electricity to Camp Stone and the other small towns in the Chiricahua Basin and water for more irrigation, but he'd also seen plans for an upscale resort that would follow. For just a moment, he felt a niggling twinge, knowing the peaceful beauty of the place would be totally obscured once the lake and the pricey tourist spa emerged. The fact he was in charge of building the first link almost made him feel guilty, but if he didn't do it, someone else would.

Within the next two weeks, the first phase of construction would begin in earnest. At least, Copper Country or "C4" had a good reputation for being environmentally sensitive. Dustin wasn't ashamed to work for them. The company would support him while he did all he could to see the original appearance restored once his work was done.

At the rear of the motor home, he unfastened the hitch by which he drew his mini-pickup along behind like a trailer. He reached into the truck for his hard hat, exchanging it for the wide-brimmed tan Stetson he'd worn on the drive out from Phoenix. Then he moved quickly through the lot, taking inventory of what supplies and equipment had arrived and what was still missing.

After he made a list, he used his cell phone to call the main office. Yes, the secretary told him, the four Euclid earth movers were already on their way and the plywood had been ordered for the forms. There wasn't much else he could do at the moment. Might as well drive into Red Canyon City and have a look around. It wouldn't hurt to know what supplies might be available locally in an emergency.

He put the hard hat back in its rack, settled the Stetson atop his close-cropped hair, and got in the truck. He headed out the gate, waving to Charlie Jacobs, the security man, as he passed the guard shack. Going back down the new road, he pushed a button and the distinctive sounds of Willie Nelson filled the cab: "Maybe I didn't love you, quite as often as I should..."

Dustin snorted. Was his being gone so much part of the problem with Deborah? Hard to say, now. She seemed happy enough with her new husband, Alvin Hoach. After all, he was the newest partner in Kennebeck, Worth, Lunsford and Hoach, one of the most prestigious law firms in the Phoenix area. As for Pam and Justin, they had things now he'd never been able to get them and even a full-time father figure, not one who was gone for weeks on end.

Maybe the divorce had been best for everyone, except he missed them sometimes. Especially the kids and having a home base to return to between jobs. He'd seen divorce warp and embitter friends, and however hard it might be at times, he was determined not to let that happen to him. Thus lost in thought, he was unprepared for the tableau confronting him as he rounded the blind curve in the road where it circumscribed a steep bluff of ruddy stone.

The big bay Quarter Horse gelding stood just off the pavement, saddle askew. Only the breast collar and the rear cinch held it, almost halfway off his back. Three smaller horses, colts by their long-legged appearance, tightened the rope which had apparently dislodged the saddle. Their leads were tangled. One colt even had his halter pulled over one ear. They all fought the dubious restraint, clearly not completely over whatever had spooked them.

He jammed on the brakes, stopping the truck just short of the horses. For the moment, as he scrambled out, he couldn't see anyone. Moving carefully, he approached the bay's head and caught the trailing reins.

"Easy there, big guy. Gonna get you untangled quick as I can. Steady now." The horse was obviously well trained. Even though the rear leather cinch squeezed him painfully and the breast collar had almost cut off his wind, he had not panicked.

Dustin eased around the horse and reached for the rope tied to the saddle horn. The three colts snorted and tugged, but began to quiet as he talked to them in low soothing tones. Then, out of the corners of his eyes, he saw a patch of faded blue. It was the crumpled body of the rider. He hesitated for a second, torn between needs. Then he acknowledged he could help the rider better if he wasn't distracted by the horses.

It took a few minutes, but he got the colts untangled and tied to stout wooden posts on the Reservation fence which paralleled the road. He righted the saddle to ease the bay's discomfort before he turned to the rider. Then he saw the thick braid of golden hair. It was a girl. She stirred. He knelt quickly to put a restraining hand on her dusty denim covered shoulder.

Apparently she'd instinctively rolled and curled up when she fell. He'd always heard a horse would not voluntarily step on a body on the ground. Perhaps it was true, for as well as he could see, she hadn't been trampled. She began to move, starting to uncurl from her defensive posture.

"Take it easy. Don't try to move until we can assess the damage."

She opened her eyes for an instant. He could see from her expression that she was disoriented and dizzy. She shut them again fast as she obeyed his warning caution.

"Take it real slow, a little bit at a time. Stop if anything hurts. Don't try to get up yet, anyway."

She did as he suggested, slowly straightening first her arms and then her legs. Although she moved as if everything hurt, apparently none of the pain was unbearable. With her left arm, she cautiously levered up into a sitting position and opened her eyes again.

"The horses," she gasped. "Are they all right?"

When she started up again, he restrained her. "I think so. None of 'em seemed to be hurt. Got 'em all tied up over yonder. They'll be fine there for now. Let's make sure you are too before we try to do anything else."

She accepted his reassurance, nodded and relaxed into the curve of his supporting arm.

"No hurry. Get your bearings before you try to get up. From the looks of it, you took a bad spill."

A knot formed on her forehead, already turning purple. He probed with gentle fingers, knowing it would hurt, but anxious to be sure the bone was not damaged beneath the bruise. Apparently it wasn't. She gave a little gasp at his first touch but then did not wince or flinch. He let out a sigh of relief. If a hoof had caught her in the head, she could have a serious injury, but it looked like she'd been lucky.

"What happened?" he asked, after a moment.

"The wind blew a piece of paper across the road and then, before I could get them all settled down, a motorcycle came around the corner, a real noisy one. They went by awfully close. Lightfoot never liked motorcycles, but he only jumped once. The colts went ballistic, though. That’s when my cinch broke. I knew I should have changed it. It's my own dumb fault. Berne will have my hide." She spoke in a rueful tone.

Dustin huffed out a sharp breath. "You're lucky you weren't killed. He ought to be grateful for that." Whoever “Berne” was Dustin disliked him already.

Somehow, the notion of this girl lying stiff and cold seemed particularly unnerving as he knelt there, his arm supporting her slender body. The idea she would be punished further than the distress the accident had already caused was equally unpalatable. Somebody had to be crazy to let her out like that with three spooky colts! She was just a kid, probably not much older than Pam. Hard to believe his daughter would soon be thirteen.

"I think I can get up," she said. "I really want to check on the horses."

After she gained her feet, she leaned against him another moment. He could see she fought dizziness and the wobble in her knees. Then, abruptly, is if she'd realized she was leaning intimately against a stranger, her face went pink and she pulled away.

"I'm okay. Really I am."

"You ought to see a doctor," he said, "especially with that bump on your head."

"Oh, no! I don't ... That's not necessary."

Mari started toward the horses, biting her lip in an effort not to sway and stumble, hoping the stranger would not realize just how weak and shaky she felt. Thank goodness, he'd told the truth. All four of the horses seemed uninjured. The saddle was back up on Lightfoot's back, but the broken cinch hung useless, the ragged ends dangling like a pair of oddly worn mops.

"Oh boy, how am I going to fix that enough to get home?" She didn't realize she had spoken aloud until she heard him at her shoulder.

"Here, I had some rope in the truck. Maybe we can rig up something."

He held out a hank of polypropylene line. Between them, they laced it back and forth through the two buckle-rings, created a makeshift but sturdy cinch. He drew the latigo up firmly and tested the security with a few experimental tugs.

"Yup, I think that'll do it." He turned back to her, concern still evident in his expression. "I hate to see you try to ride. Can you drive?"

She nodded. "Oh sure, but I don't have a license. Don't worry, I'll be okay. They're all over their spook now. It's only about a mile and a half home, anyway. I'm used to fallin' off of horses. Been doing it most of my life."

He studied her, a frown making a small vee above the bridge of his nose. "I'll just follow along then to make sure you get there safe. It's either that or take you straight to the doctor. There is one in Red Canyon City, isn't there?"

Absently, as she gathered her strength to make the long step back into the saddle, Mari answered. "Oh yeah. More than one. There are several at the big BIA hospital. Then that the new couple just opened the clinic. But I told you I'm okay. You've done enough. I--I'll get your rope back to you as soon as I can. That is, well, are you from around here? You don't look familiar."

Did he hesitate a moment? No, probably not, but she shouldn't have been so blunt. Anyway, he answered freely enough.

"I'm Dusty Layne. Just got in today, but I'll be around for awhile. I'm on that construction crew, up in the canyon. This job is going to take some time, prob'ly over a year, so I'll definitely be around awhile."

"I'll get your rope back to you, then. And thanks for everything." His closeness and the intensity of his gaze made her nervous. She grabbed the horn and swung up into the saddle, desperation making her stronger than she felt. It was slightly better, looking down at him instead of up, a little farther away from those acetylene-flame blue eyes. "Thanks for the help. I mean since I’m a total stranger, you didn’t have to. "

He smiled then, not a big come-on kind of smile, but an easy, warm and caring one. "No problem. I was raised to believe you help when you can, when it's needed. Then just hope when your turn comes that it'll come back to you. How far did you say you have to go?"

Mari waved vaguely, back the way she'd come. "Oh, a mile and a half or two. Home’s the McCabe Stable, about a quarter mile from where this road turns off from the highway, back toward town."

He nodded. Maybe he'd seen the sign. "You start on off. I'll wait a bit and then follow you."

Oh rats, I forgot to get the colts. Now I'll have to get down and try to get back up again. Mari glanced at the three yearlings. "Uh, could you hand me the colts' leads? You don't have to wait. I've kept you long enough."

"Sure." He untied the colts, linked the leads back the way she'd had them, and handed her the end. "I was going in to town to look around a little, just killin' time, really, so it's no bother."

There wasn't much use arguing. She shrugged and turned away. The horses seemed none the worse for the experience, but she didn't feel like hurrying. She took a good half hour to reach the stable. When she turned in at the open gate, she saw Berne's truck was back. She moved to block the way when her rescuer started to drive in.

"No need. I'm home now. Thanks again." She knew she probably seemed rude, but the alternative would no doubt be worse, both for her and for him. She knew how Berne reacted to strangers, especially if she was talking to them. Before Dusty could reply, Berne strode out of the new barn and headed toward them.

"What's going on, girl? You're late."

Mari took a breath, let it out. Her head pounded until it was hard to make a calm answer. "I had a little problem. My cinch broke." She eyed Berne warily, hoping he wouldn't be too harsh, much less rude to the stranger.

"Well, don't just stand there, jawin'. There's chores to do. Put them colts in the pasture. I want you to start riding that mare of Donaldson's on the barrels tomorrow, so they can skip the exercise for a few days."

Mari hastened to obey, heading off to the pasture gate with the colts after tossing Lightfoot's reins over the hitching rack.

Dustin got out of the truck and met the big man at the gate. Fellow looks like an InDinay, the tribe on the local reservation. Does the girl work for him or what? He didn't like the horse trainer's dark scowl or his tone when he spoke to the girl. "I think you should know the young lady took a bad fall. If she was my kid or my employee, I'd have a doctor check her over and let her rest a day or two. She probably has a concussion, at least"

The burly man's flat gaze raked him from head to foot. "Well, she ain't either one, so I don't see where it's any of your business. If you lent a hand, thanks. I'd hate to see those colts run off or something. Mari gets careless sometimes and forgets we have to make a living around here. She's okay. She rode home, didn't she?"

Dustin was speechless. How coldly unfeeling could a man be? Anything else he said would only make things worse for the girl. That wasn't what he wanted. Without another word, he turned back to his truck and headed for town. A glance in the rear view mirror showed her standing there beside the big bay, looking after him. She looked forlorn somehow, both fearful and defiant.

She was older than he had first thought. He realized it now, having seen the mature curves of her body as he drove slowly behind her. The wind kept whipping back her jacket, to reveal the roundness of her breasts when the chambray shirt plastered close to her body. The way she moved in the saddle accented the pleasing shape of her hips and waist. Her grace, the athletic but feminine body, and the rich, ripe-grain color of her hair stayed with him as he drove around the little town. She was damned attractive, even without any makeup, with her hair dragged back into a heavy braid, and wearing ragged, faded denims. Definitely an unusual young woman. Maybe that was why he could not get her out of his mind.

Gwynn Again--Relative Dangers and "Coincidences"

I am going to butt in and talk about one of my books again. Deirdre is getting caught up with her releases, just a few more to go, so it's my turn. We shared the spotlight as guests on Sue Ellen Welfonder's wonderful Tartan Ink blog (  the other day and had a lovely time. Maybe we will get some new fans from sharing with her great group! Sue Ellen writes Scotland-set medievals so that is a far cry from our mostly southwest set contemporaries but we both almost always have a dog in our books and we have been very close  friends for a long time.

Anyway the book I want to talk about today is another of my Awe-Struck releases, Relative Dangers. In it I revisit the InDinay people I discovered when writing Powerful Medicine and as I often say, I tried to give my first love and me the happy ending we did not get in real life. There is a lot of me and my life woven into that book, so if there was ever a real book-of-the-heart, that is it. I too was a horse trainer and grew up under sometimes tough and impoverished conditions although my life was certainly less harsh than Mari's, the heroine of Relative Dangers. I too had an older gentleman friend who did a great deal to help me break various chains that bound me to a complex and difficult situation and move on with life. There the parallels pretty much end but there are still some uncanny precognitive bits scattered through the book. The motor home Dustin Layne has is very similar to one a good friend of my later years owns and that friend did grow up on a "cow-starving ranch" in New Mexico. The special friend I honored in the book came from back east but had adopted the western manner very well. In fact, Dustin Layne is almost as if one morphed the two men together but I had not yet  met my more recent friend when I wrote it. Coincidence? I do not think so as I am positive I knew both of them prior to this life and just renewed connections that had existed for many lives. Art imitates life imitates art...

At times I will pick up and read one of my older works. Mostly I am fairly well pleased with them. I can still 'tear up' at some of the very emotional spots and although I do find some typos that were missed or a place or two where I should have edited a little more or modified a scene, I am not ashamed of any of them. I'm glad of that. It validates for me to a degree that writing is what I was really meant to be doing!

A good friend who also writes did the cover of Relative Dangers for me and I really like it. As we've talked about over on the Deirdre-fourds blog, sunsets are a favorite thing. When one of my covers has a sunset, it is special! Anyway I will make a small pitch for Adele "Delle" Jacobs who does covers as a sideline and has written some good books herself. I have lost her email at present and am not sure her new URL but I am sure a search would turn it up. I'll try to find this info ans share it soon.  So that is some background and whys and wherefores for this book. Next post I will share an excerpt or two and the pertinent info if you want to check it out! No, I do not really have a "favorite" for I love each book I have written and they are all special, gifts in some ways, but this one is maybe just a smidge 'specialer' than most of them.

Monday, July 9, 2012

I'm guest tomorrow on Tartan Ink!

I'll be guest blogging tomorrow over at Sue Ellen Welfonder's wonderful Tartan Ink so drop by and visit! Sue Ellen and I have been friends for many years even though we are very different and our differences are reflected in our writing. She creates wonderful romantic tales set in medieval and earlier Scotland and some great paranormals with Scottish settings (writing as Allie Mckay). But we both love dogs and nature and  romance so that is a big sharing point. I really thank Sue Ellen for hosting me and I will try to reciprocate when she gets a huge revision effort concluded soon! CUThere!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Runes of Redemption--adult excerpt (m/m, R rated)

Runes of Redemption by Deirdre O'Dare

(I included both covers; the first book's portrays Aron and the second one Clay. You can see they share nearly the same eyes!).

Blurb: As head of the U.S. Border Patrol’s Paranormal Operations Unit, Clay Chiles has found a place where he can serve with honor and a surrogate family to replace the one he never truly enjoyed. When he meets Elven warrior Arondel and begins to build the partnership he had never hoped to find, life seems good. Still for two life-long loners to merge their lives, hearts and minds, an occasional conflict is bound to arise.

Clay’s discovery he has not only a father but a half-brother on Arondel’s home world of Elvenheim creates new and different challenges—can he accept and trust relatives so different from all he has known? Can they accept him? Finally, faced with incredible tasks and dangers, Clay and Aron are torn asunder. Will the strength of their still- fragile bond be enough to bring them through hell and back to one another’s arms?

"This is it. The energy level is higher than it was on the other side, so this is where we have to start the sealing." Aron drew a small book from a pouch on his belt and flipped the ancient-looking vellum pages until he came to the one he sought. Clay edged closer, squinting to read the runish script over his shoulder.

"This looks and sounds really old. I'm not sure I can even pronounce all the words," Clay said.

"Don't worry. I'll do the speaking. You just need hold onto me and feed me as much energy you can. When I start to move, come with me. I don't want you to be left behind here."

The light faded quickly as the dull sun slipped below the distant ridge. "We have to start now," Aron said. "I haven't memorized this so I need to see to read it. Grab my left arm and hang on for dear life."

After giving the caution, he began to chant in a low sing-song voice, the strange syllables ringing with power. He felt Clay's hands gripping his upper arm tightly and then the slight sizzle as the other's energy began to flow to him. A small glowing patch of light began to shape itself in front of them, illuminating the stone.

When he reached a kind of crescendo in the chant, he shoved the book under the arm Clay grasped. Extending the other, he laid one hand flat on the stone. Lifting it, he sketched some symbols over the stone's surface. They gleamed like blue flame.

"Now," he whispered. He thrust his arm into the stone and followed it, leaving Clay no choice but to come along. The stone did not seem large enough for them to pass through it, but somehow they did. As the same dark whirling maelstrom swallowed them, Aron shouted a final word and slashed a glowing red sigil in the darkness. An explosive crack of sound morphed into a clashing boom behind and then around them.

His eyes were still dazzled by the flare of brilliance and his ears ringing from the roar when he felt ground beneath his feet again and inhaled familiar scents of juniper, creosote and other desert foliage. If they were not back in Texas, it was somewhere very similar.

When Aron's vision cleared, he saw they stood at the foot of the same pale cliffs. Now there was no hint of difference in the face of the rough stone. When he extended a hand toward the spot the gate had been, he could feel no trace of energy or power.

"We did it," Clay yelled. "We really did it. Oh, my God, I think we just demolished our first gate."

They danced around for a few seconds, slapping each other on the back and whooping like crazy boys. It was almost anticlimactic, but Aron wondered if they had simply been lucky.

"Beginners luck," he murmured. "Don't get over-confident. There'll be others, and some of them will no doubt be better guarded, more complex. There are many other races and forces out there, most with high skills and incredible powers. I think this was a very basic Trogue-built gate. They're not known for finesse, as you might guess."

Clay made a growling noise, mixing contempt and disgust. "I wouldn't have guessed they even had enough knowledge and skill to do such a thing."

"Don't be misled. They appear very primitive, limited in their intelligence and powers, but there's more to them than meets the eye. I expect the troops seeking to kill or capture all of them back around the base camp have their hands full. With the counsel of Alex, Manuel and Haldane, perhaps they'll not be too careless, lacking in caution. If they are, some of our folk will surely be killed."

With that sobering thought, their brief euphoria faded. Exhaustion set in. They'd hiked at least twenty miles over some very rough terrain and then poured out a flood of energy in enacting the closing spell. When he sensed Clay waver beside him, Aron caught his partner's arm.

"I think we'd best find a spot to rest and wait until tomorrow to return to the main camp. More time passed while we were on the other side than you might think. There's no way we can get back to the base before dark, not even close. I don't fancy tramping through this rugged region on a moonless night, even if my night vision is better than most."

Clay did not argue. "Yeah, I'm tired," he admitted, "and you must be, too, even with your super-elf powers. We have enough water and we can get by without food."

"I can," Aron agreed, "and if you've been practicing as I told you, you can draw enough strength from the earth's power grid to sustain your elf half. The human half will have to bite the bullet."

He set off at a deliberate pace down the hill, scanning the terrain for a sheltered spot and probing for the ley lines to provide the sustenance they'd need. It did not take him long to locate a likely spot, a niche between a couple of large boulders fallen from higher on the ridge. In the small hollow there, leaves and dead grass had collected to form a mat.

"Here, this will do for tonight." They sank to the ground together to sit. Aron drew his ground cloth out of its pocket on his belt and spread it over the natural mattress of dead vegetation. They both drank deeply from their canteens and then shifted to lie on the cloth, side-by-side. "Normally, I prefer to lie alone, but since it's you..."

"We'll rest better together," Clay finished. "I'm not nearly as depleted as I was when you rescued me from the Trogues, but it's still good to lie close, perhaps share a brief bit of pleasure as well as resting."

"Spoken like a true elf. We may be solitary in many ways, but we still appreciate a good partner, a true soul-friend, when we find one. And we do enjoy our amorous sport."

Aron turned on his side and reached to draw Clay into his arms. He still marveled to sense how good, how right it felt when the smaller man came eagerly into the embrace and reached to draw them even closer together. They might still clash at times over work and the terrible tasks ahead of them, differing on methods, tactics and priorities, but their bodies knew no such conflict, which seemed a precious miracle.

Clay's eager touches skated over Aron's body, finding a spot to slip underneath his tunic to the front overlap in his trousers. Soon, the human's deft, long-fingered hands--one part that revealed his elf heritage--found Aron's prick and began to stroke, bringing it quickly to life.

Aron bit back a moan of pleasure. Had anything ever felt better than this particular lover's caresses? He could not bring to mind any equivalent. Bliss, pure and simple. For a few seconds, he lay passive to enjoy the sensations, but soon he had to reciprocate. The zipper on Clay's military fatigue-style pants slid down with the faintest sound. He delved into the opening and soon clasped Clay's cock, ringing it with his fingers only to begin a slow rhythm, drawing his grip from the base to the head and then back down. He danced his fingertips over the sensitive surface, especially just beneath the head, until Clay began to quiver, muted sounds emerging from his throat.

Aron muffled them with a hard kiss, grinding his lips against Clay's, then thrusting his tongue between Clay's lips as they parted. Drawing back, he murmured a phrase in Elvish, repeating it in English when he realized what he had done. "Yes, plead for me, beg. Who else can do for you what I do?"

"And only I can make you feel what you're feeling now," Clay returned, while his nimble fingers worked their own magic.

Soon simple caresses, even mutual masturbation, were not enough for either of them.

Aron twisted, an agile roll and reverse, placing him head to feet with Clay. His mouth replaced his hand, first only his lips surrounding the head of Clay's cock, while his tongue tip traced steaming patterns around the most sensitive spots. Clay's hips bucked as he thrust, demanding deeper penetration and more contact. Aron obliged, widening his jaws to take in more, until the tip bumped against the back of his throat.

The elf knew Clay, despite being aroused to the brink of ecstasy, would not be an idle recipient of Aron's incredible skills. His partner had his own art and his unique tricks. He moved enough to find Aron's twitching prick and set to work on it like he would eat an ice cream cone, lick by greedy lick.

When he sensed Clay's climax was imminent, as was his own, Aron took a final strong draw, as if to suck Clay's very essence from him. He felt his lover's body convulse and release instants before he, too, came. Afterward, they twined together in sated, boneless unity for a time before they untangled and moved again to lie side by side.

Each time they made love, their connection became stronger and each act more intense as they grew more closely attuned. Their telepathic link began to let them feel both their own and the other's passion and pleasure, mixing them to the point neither could truly say where his own sensations and emotions ended and his partner's began.

Soon Clay rolled to press his back to Aron's front as they drifted into the shallow trance in which they drew sustenance from the earth's vital currents. Aron felt Clay slip into a deeper sleep. He smiled in the darkness. His arm tightened across Clay's body, one hand splayed to span the human's chest. He felt his partner's heartbeat with every fingertip, the rhythm both lulling and stirring him.

From long habit, he'd remain alert enough to detect danger long before it drew close enough to harm either of them, but still, he rested, relaxed in the novelty of this new connection with another being.

Time for another tale! Back-story first.

Hi all. The Independence Day holiday has come and gone. I hope it was enjoyable for everyone. I had a good day and saw a spectacular fireworks display for a small town put on by the city fathers of Alamogordo, NM. Awesome is overused but it pretty well fit that concept. I am a big kid about fireworks and had not gotten a chance to see a good display for some time so this one really thrilled me!

Then I had some issues with my dog. I'll post more of that on my other blog, my deirdre-fourds one if anyone cares but here and now it is time to talk about another 2011 release, the next to the last one, which came out last October--actually right while I was in the midst of moving from Colorado Springs to Alamogordo, NM. Had no internet for several days and needless to say this release did not get a lot of promotion and buzz started by me. I hated that as it is a special story!

Runes of Redemption concludes the adventures of Clay Chiles and the elf Arondel, Clay's unexpected lover and new partner. The same general background I gave when I covered the first of the two tales, Runes of Revelation, applies to this one. (that post can be found in the May group) I loved Tolkein's elves and was not too disappointed with the way they were portrayed in the film trilogy The Lord of the Rings. I too see them not as tiny pixie creatures with mischief and silly little tricks but as demi-gods, larger than life and regular humans, powerful and rather fierce in many ways.

That is certainly how I picture Aron. I'd fall in love with him in a minute myself. So I do not blame Clay a bit for being enthralled almost from the start. And it turned out that Clay was part elf himself. In this story he gets to meet his father and goes through some harrowing adventures which end by cementing his bond with Aron so that you know they are going to be together forever. That is the kind of ending I demand, really-- love triumphs over all and binds the pair with invisible but eternal chains that cannot be broken even by death--which only brings a temporary parting. You definitely need to read both these stories and in the order they were written to get the full impact.

As of today, I am working on another Thin Green Line story--it's been slow and proceeded in fits and starts as Renn, the human hero, and his alien friend and lover Darzul, gradually tell me their tale. Working title is Druid in Drag after the initial scene where Renn goes to a party disguised as a woman. I hope to get it done and turned in soon but the release date is of course unknown for now. More on that in time.