Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Background on Guilty by Innocence and Smoke and ...Spots?

These are the last two tales in my upcoming print collection. Both feature professions with which I have a little familiarity and a lot of interest. I have huge respect for cops and firefighters because they are out there on the front lines doing their best to take care of us all. Day in and day out, they can confront deadly danger at any moment. They are mostly well trained but there is no way any training can prepare you for every possible thing that can suddenly go wrong!

My late husband was in law enforcement and investigation in various capacities for much of his adult life. When he was alive he was my main tech adviser and first critique for everything I wrote. He would probably raise an eyebrow at some of the things that happen in Guilty By Innocence but I can only say this is fiction, not reality and sometimes a plot seems to require that one bend the rules a bit here and there. This story came first as a title--the dichotomy and enigma there. How can one be guilty by innocence? Then I got the first scene where Gabriel wakes up in a chamber of horrors with a big hole where his memory should be. I wrote it gritty, hard. Short choppy sentences and stark images. Then suddenly Jax appeared, a somewhat cynical and jaded detective who struggled grimly on because he felt he must. He had to honor the apparent facts but the youth at whom the fingers pointed tugged at something within him. So he had a quandary.

I am somewhat familiar with El Paso and other cities and towns along the border where so much of the horror and violence of the drug wars spills across onto this side of the line. The law enforcement people have a very unenviable task there and danger equal to any war zone. I tried to offer some tribute to the courage and determination of these people in this story.

Smoke and ...Spots was written for an Amber PAX collection featuring pets as a key feature in the romance. The firehouse dogs were a breed I had not covered in prior Canine Cupids tales but I just saw a young wiggly bundle of energy polka-dotted with black on a white coat and was captivated at once. Now where would this pup fit into a story?

When my husband, kids and I lived at Falcon, Colorado in the mid 1970s, we were affiliated with a rural volunteer fire department that formed in that community. I saw first hand the challenges the fire fighters faced, and like my fictional department, there were women, old folks and a variety of people involved. They did have a professional chief who was an officer in the Colorado Springs department rather than a paid pro like Grady is in Spots. There were conflicts and politics and the issues that arise whenever a group of people have to cooperate and work as a team. Before I left Colorado after my second sojourn there, another little town out east of the city went through some anguish with a chief being relieved and a major kerfuffle in the department and I recently saw a similar tale here in New Mexico take shape. It happens. Sully really wanted to be chief but the town hired a stranger. The new guy was a very appealing stranger but he got the job Sully wanted...and the plot was born. With that background, I built Smoke and Spots. It was a new challenge as this was the first time I had a gay romance with a child involved; I hope I handled that well. I really came to like young Jamie and as for the pup, well he was special too. I hope readers enjoy both of these special stories that have a lot of my heart woven into them!

Guilty by Innocence--PG 13 excerpt

Guilty by Innocence by Deirdre O'Dare

Gabriel awakes to blood and horror—and to a total blank of who he is, what has happened and how he got there. He finds himself charged with horrific multiple murders. Unless he can regain his memory, how can he prove he’s not guilty? Protective custody soon assumes new aspects as Jax and Gabriel develop a strange friendship that wants to blossom into much more. Can someone be guilty by innocence? 

Jax is a cop by choice and to honor his father who was killed in the line of duty. His allegiance to his fellow officers and the code of ethics he lives by are the ruling factors of his life. When he finds an unconscious young man at a hideous crime scene with a bloody machete in his hand, Jax confronts a quandary. He can hardly believe this beautiful youth could have committed this atrocity but if not, who did?


 El Paso, TX
Late Fall
Cold. Pain. Floating and yet so heavy. Sensory details flooded his mind, but they only confused him.
Where am I? What's happened?
He realized then that odors were the most insistent cue. Hot, metallic--the raw, thick scents of fresh blood and terror.
Holy Mother, what's happened?
Sticky moisture seemed to coat his skin, growing crustier by the minute. The fingers of his right hand clenched around something hard, solid. His hand hurt, but he could not let go. He clutched it with unremitting urgency. Next, he heard a low, anguished moan followed by the building scream of sirens.
Then the scariest question of all entered his mind: Who am I?
He could not come up with a name or even a single trace of an identity. Before utter terror overcame him, he let the dark weight of silence close over him like water.


Chapter 1

A Few Minutes Later
Jackson Byrne "Jax" McDermott pulled his unmarked car to the curb, cut the ignition and stepped out. 3150 Rincon Street was ablaze with lights and starting to swarm with action. The first responders had begun to arrive. He watched four EMTs led by their sergeant, Delia Maldonado, unload from their ambulance, which had pulled in behind his car.
Before they went to work, he needed to view the scene. From the sound of the call, they'd probably just be picking up pieces anyway. Two uniforms were already stretching yellow crime scene tape around the simple, boxy, typical tract house on the sprawling city's northeast side. Jax stepped across one tape band and headed for the open front door, which hung off a single hinge.
Micky Finnegan, one of the newest rookies on the EPPD, came charging out. He skidded to a stop and then puked into the arbor vitae to the left of the cement stoop.
Jax looked at the young cop with a trace of sympathy. He'd been there once. "Bad, huh?"
Micky coughed and gagged before he replied. "Yeah. Real bad."
Edging past the green-faced rookie, Jax went inside the house. With ten years as a cop behind him--six on the street and four as a detective--broken by a tour in the Middle East with the National Guard, there wasn't much he hadn't seen. He'd deal with it. He stopped two steps inside, blinked and began to breathe in shallow pants through his mouth. You could cut the stench with a knife--blood, puke, piss, fear and death. There might have been a place somewhere when he'd seen that much blood, but he couldn't recall it. The whole room seemed to have been painted red. He counted six bodies.
Delia came up behind him. He held out a hand, halting her for a moment. "They look like coroner cases," he said. "Give me a minute and then you can do your thing."
He did a quick mental count--an older man against the far wall, a middle-aged woman two steps to the man's right, a young woman with her arms extended toward a kid, apparently a boy maybe four or five. Gaping throats slashed open, still-seeping gashes on limbs and torsos. They all must have struggled, resisting to no avail. An infant, just beyond the boy. Whoa. Unbelievably, the kid moved and made a faint mew like an injured kitten.
Delia shoved past him. He let her. He managed to draw a fast sketch of the scene in his notebook to show the small form's spot on the sticky floor as the EMTs worked. When his gaze skidded to the last body, he went dead still. From the blood-crusted face of an apparent corpse, two eyes stared at him, eyes holding a clear and unmistakable shine of life and awareness. No gashed throat on that one, either. He was definitely still alive. The eyes blinked shut, as if the man knew he'd been made. Jax grabbed his camera and snapped a couple of fast shots.
Delia and her team bundled up the infant to evacuate it. As she started past him, following one of her crew with the baby, Jax halted her.
"Del, that one's alive, too." He pointed.
She stopped. Her glance whipped around to the last body, apparently a young man.
Sixth victim? But wait, in one blood-painted hand, he clenched the rough wooden handle of a two-foot long machete, the wide blade streaked black with blood.
"You can take him as soon as I mark the placement of the body, but tell the ER crew he doesn't go anywhere until they hear from me. He could be the perp, and I'm not taking any chances. Save his clothes, too, and anything else you or the ER staff find on him. I'll get hold of Nat at the ME's office and see if she can meet you at the hospital to get blood samples and anything else she can while it's fresh."
Del nodded. She knew the drill. These days, crime scene pickups were a regular part of her team's routine. El Paso had become a war zone. Like Jax and a number of others on the force and in the first responders, she'd been in the military in the Middle East. None of them had seen anything worse while they were over there.
It only took a couple of minutes before the EMTs were back with a gurney. Eight careful hands lifted the young man's body from the floor. If he was still conscious, he played possum like a champ, but the slow rise and fall of the bloody, tattered T-shirt across his chest proved he still lived.
Once the ambulance shrieked away, Jax took out his camera once more and began to snap pictures. There wasn't much in the way of physical evidence to collect--except for the savaged bodies and blood. There was plenty of that. Jax knew two crime lab techs would be there any minute to go to work on the wet evidence.
When he finished at the house, Jax drove over to St. Martin's Hospital. Not that he didn't trust both Delia and Nat to do their jobs, but he'd learned better than to leave anything to chance. Over the years, he'd seen too many guilty fucking bastards get off on technicalities and sloppy police work. He'd be damned if one would skate because of his failures. 

Smoke and ...Spots

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

Blurb: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?

Excerpt:  (This scene gives you a good flavor of the reality of fighting a fire and of the conflict between Grady and Sully. It is about a quarter of the way into the story.)

All at once, Grady  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."
Grady was saved from a reply that might have made matters worse by the distinctive whaps of the approaching helicopter. He left the woman in the care of another firefighter as he grabbed a flashlight and went to direct the chopper to a clear landing.
The EMTs lost no time bundling up the victim and getting her aboard. Grady thought about sending Sully with them, but when he looked around, the other man had disappeared. The chopper had lifted clear and headed away before Grady found his second-in-command in the cab of the truck they'd brought to the scene. Sully leaned on the steering wheel, resting his elbows in its lower curve and holding his bowed head in both hands. His helmet lay in the passenger seat. By all appearances, he was totally done in. Breathing smoke could do that to a person.
Grady gulped. The surge of sympathy and concern sweeping over him took him by surprise. It felt like more than the normal worry he should have for a member of his team. He'd always treated the firefighters under him like brothers and sisters, but he'd also maintained an insulating distance and never let any of them inside his protective shell. That was way too risky. He damn sure wasn't going to do it here!
Sully made him mad as hell, although some sixth sense insisted the often-belligerent mechanic was a good man, someone he could trust and count on. Did he dare accept that intuitive assessment? Maybe now was a time to test it. Under the moment's pressure, he forgot the other side of his feelings about Sully, the risky, incendiary tingle of attraction. Without giving himself time to analyze his motives, he reached through the open window and put his hand on Sully's shoulder.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Workin on the Railroad--PG-13 Excerpt

Workin on the Railroad by Deirdre O'Dare Amber Quill Pres, Amber Allure Line  www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/WorkinOnRailroad.html  or www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/bio_ODare.html

FYI, this was part of a multi-author series of 'picture inspired' stories titled Working Stiffs--all about one or more blue collar guys and their sexy, sweaty lives. Of course as I explained in the background post, mine had to be about railroads so the cover does not quite fit but it is still tasty!  Tight sweaty abs---ohhhhh! This excerpt illustrates the danger and unforgiving nature of the work and how some of the crew interacts.

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.


Alden waited while the two Indians hooked up the panel, the next to last for the day, for the week. Things had been going pretty well. Wellman seemed to be working out, confirming Alden's first impression that the young man had the smarts to do a job and the will to learn and work. After a mistake or two, the kid had gotten the spotting function down to almost foolproof. Not that Alden had stopped keeping an eye on the newest worker, but that was more habit and a sense of responsibility than serious doubts about the younger man's capabilities.

It had been a fast-paced week. Fortunately, Flannery stayed out of the way most of the time. Oh, he'd come around and harangued the crew at the start of each day's work and maybe made an appearance around midday flanked by his two muchachos mariposas, the whole group reeking of liquor, pot or both, but the rest of the day they vanished.

Thank the gods for small favors. Alden rested one hand on the controls, his gaze on Willie Randall. From his angle, he didn't have as clear a view of Jack Dahosie. When Willie waved all clear from a perch on the edge of the gondola, Alden eased the levers into place to begin lifting the track panel clear of the car.

All at once he realized Roane was not in his spot near the end of the last panel Alden had placed. Then a flash of motion caught his eye as Roane popped up over the far end of the car, waving his hands in a frantic pantomime of "stop everything." That wasn't in the normal repertoire of signals, but clear nonetheless.

Alden slammed the controls into a stop mode, ready to give the new man a royal ass chewing. What the fuck does he think he's doing? Wellman's got no business up on that car. Making sure the levers were locked so the crane would not move another inch, he swung down from the cab and sprinted toward the car. He leaped up the ladder in a half-dozen fast steps until he could look over the side. Willie hung in his place, his face drawn into a mask of terrified shock.

Roane braced astraddle the edge of the car as he reached down to grab for Jack. The Navajo slumped against the side of the car, one leg mostly out of sight down between the ties on the panel Alden had started to lift.

"His foot's caught," Roane yelled. "A few more inches and he'd have been crushed. I realized you couldn't see and when I missed him on the back side of the car, I knew something was wrong."

Alden turned a fierce glare on Willie. "What were you fuckin' doing, signaling all clear when your partner wasn't safe?"

"I-I didn't see. Thought he was just fuckin' around and didn't realize his foot was caught. I'm sorry, I didn't mean... We wanted to get these last two panels down so we could quit for the day. Shit, it's been a long damn fuckin' week."

"Piss poor excuse to be careless," Alden said, his words closer to a snarl than speech. "Don't you ever signal clear until you fucking know everybody's out of the way. That means your partner, yourself and anyone else who happens to be around."

Then he turned to Roane. "Don't ever be so stupid again, Wellman. Heroes end up dead more often than they get thanked. You could've signaled and I'd have stopped but no, you had to play Superman. We'll discuss this later. Get back down to your place."

Only then did he turn his attention to Jack. "You okay, Dahosie? Can you get out now?"

The Navajo nodded. "I think so. Foot slipped. This damn creosote is sticky, but it's slick, too. It's a long jump to the top of the car and when I went to push off, my foot slipped. I got caught between the end of a tie on the bottom panel and the side of the car. I might have got my foot out, but there was no way I could jump clear in time. I'd have been dog meat if you'd lifted this panel on up."

Alden cringed at the picture he got. Those panels were heavy, awkward and full of sharp edges and unyielding surfaces. Yeah, a man could be crushed--easily. "Get on out and go sit down, Jack. Randall, you can hook up both ends on the last one. Stay clear while I get this one out."

Clearly shaken, Willie nodded. Roane had already climbed back down and taken his usual place. Alden managed to set the last two panels without further incidents. When he finally secured the machine for the weekend and climbed down about thirty minutes later, he still fought the sensation of a red hot iron fist clenched in his gut.

He could have lost one man, two, maybe even three today. Fuck it all, you can't ever afford to relax, not even for a minute. He was so mad, so relieved and so shaken it took all his will to climb up on the flatcar to ride back down to the campsite. He knew he'd have the camp car to himself for the weekend since Ragulsky was heading home. Maybe that was a good thing, but then again, too much solitary time to think and worry and what-if the whole incident might not be what he needed. A man could get too jumpy. That was as bad as being too lackadaisical.

He'd been hard on Wellman, he knew, but when he'd suddenly missed his spotter and sensed in a split second that something was wrong, he'd almost lost it. When had this new guy become so significant? He was just another temporary hire, a short-term summer worker. A good enough kid, but he sure didn't know him well enough to be that concerned about. Damn it, he'd felt like it was his brother, his son, someone really special when he realized he didn't know where Roane had gone. That wasn't good, not good at all.

I'm a loner, aloof and always a long reach apart from the rest of the crew. I've got plenty of professional acquaintances, but damn few friends. I like it that way. Always have. Shit, I can't let anything with this Wellman kid get out of hand. Damn it, I won't.

Workin' on the Railroad--adult excerpt

Workin' On The Railroad by Deirdre O'Dare, Amber Quill Press, Amber Allure Line. www.amberquill.com/AmberAllure/WorkinOnRailroad.html

This is much later in the story as Roane and Alden begin to come to terms with their mutual attraction and desire to build a relationship. Blurb provided in prior post.

Alden studied Roane for a moment. He sensed the younger man's hesitation and recognized Roane had been hurt more than he'd let on by Alden's sudden withdrawal. Shit, I messed up again, trying to do the right thing. Well, maybe I can get him to see my reasons.

Roane stooped to rummage in the refrigerator, the white cotton tightening over his firm and well shaped ass. Alden felt a surge of arousal, even beyond the itchy awareness he always sensed when he was around the other man. Near nude, every solid, muscled inch of Roane's athletic body showed to the best advantage. No artificial pumped up muscles there but the sleek power and strength built by work.

The spotting task might not be too strenuous, but Alden had never seen Roane hesitate to grab a shovel or a spike maul and use them, tote a bucket of bolts or a box of fish plates, or get in beside the others to lift, shift or tug something into place. His tan stopped at the right places, too--not the all-over bronze of a beach bum, but white legs and brown arms, an even redder neck and face up to the brow where his hard hat sat. Alden had to appreciate the view.

Roane backed up with two frosty cans in his hands and kneed the door shut. He plopped one can--a Bud Lite--down in front of Alden and settled with the other on the opposite side of the table. "Stuff is not much better than horse piss, but it's cold and wet," he said.

Alden grinned. "Yeah, I like the imported stuff better myself, but beer is beer." He popped the top, using the pause to gather his thoughts. "I got to thinking over my little campfire a couple of nights and I saw I'd fucked things up. Guess you need to know why. It's not a story I often share, but you deserve to hear it."

Then he told Roane the whole sorry tale--Jason and the accident and every agonizing bit of it, barely pausing a time or two to sip the beer. He wasn't able to watch Roane's expression during his narrative, maybe afraid of what he might see. Finally, when he finished, he looked up.

Roane's face held only sympathy and anguish. "Oh, my God. But you shouldn't blame yourself. Shit happens. Accidents. The world isn't always nice or fair." He plowed to an awkward halt, as if aware that platitudes didn't even provide real sympathy, much less anything more concrete.

Then he reached across and laid his hand, cold from holding the beer, over Alden's clenched fist. "I'm sorry. I wish I'd known. Maybe things would've gone down different that night."

Alden didn't feel easy with sympathy. He didn't even think he wanted it. He'd only meant to take away what he sensed was Roane's notion that the sudden chill was due to something he had done wrong. "It's not your fault, none of this, just... Well, I don't want to see history repeat itself. I don't think I dare try to handle mixing work and pleasure that way. It's too risky."

Roane's grip tightened on Alden's hand. "Wait a minute. I'm not that guy. I'm not just out for kicks or a summer fling. At least that sounds like what he was doing, teasing and stuff. I won't flirt when it's time for business. We've been working together a while now and it's been okay, hasn't it? From what you said, you and this guy Jason had only been working together a short time and just hooked up. You were new with the crane, too, still learning how to operate it and apply all that safety stuff."

Alden nodded, not sure where the other man was going with his argument. "Yeah, that's true. And yeah, Jason liked to flaunt his looks and sex appeal and he did it all the time. I was prob'ly scared he'd move on to someone else, maybe someone cooler and more macho than I was so he kept me going."

"Well, then, why should something bad happen again? This is different. Why not give me, give us a chance?"

Somewhere in the frozen depths of Alden's chest, a trickle of warmth hit and began to expand. He looked into Roane's earnest face, into the guileless blue-green eyes that held his gaze with their intensity. "Are you sure you want to take that risk?"

"If I wasn't I wouldn't be asking."

Alden closed his eyes for a moment. He heard Roane stir; the gripping hand released. The next thing he knew, he was bodily hauled out of the chair and into the demanding circle of Roane's arms. Shock jolted through him. He'd always been the one to make the first move, even with Jason.

Jason had been very blatant about showing his interest, but it had still been Alden who reached the first time. A few minutes ago, Alden had admired Roane's obvious strength. Now he experienced it. He felt as if the whole issue had been taken out of his hands, lifted off his shoulders. He could no more stop it now than he could block a runaway train.

The other guys could return any time, but that didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was Roane's hard, hot body crushing against his and then Roane's avid lips. The kiss tasted of beer. The other man's mouth sealed over his with so much heat, force and intensity Alden wondered if he might go up in a flash like an arc welding rod touching grounded iron.

Roane maneuvered him in a circle, almost like dancing. Then, with a shove, he sent Alden sprawling onto the sagging couch. Dropping to his knees on the still-wet floor, Roane went to work on Alden's belt, almost ripped the buttons undoing his Levi's, and stopped only for a split second when he apparently realized Alden wore no underwear.

Alden's cock sprang free, bursting past the open fly of the jeans and into Roane's waiting hands.

I could come just from that touch. Oh, my God. Holy fucking shit.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Some Background--Workin' on the Railroad

The second story in my upcoming collection is one very near and dear to me. I've been a railfan most of my life, perhaps coming by that naturally since both my grandfathers were in the railroad business. Granddad Morgan ended his career as a passenger conductor for the Chicago and Alton, a line long absorbed into what is currently the BNSF. Grandpa Witt was in the administrative side working as a clerk for the Louisville and Nashville, another long-gone rail line. My brother, with whom I currently live, retired just last year from a 35+ year career in the maintenance side starting with the Denver and Rio Grande and ending with Union Pacific where he was a union official for the last ten years or so but he had plenty of time out where the wheel meets the steel and was an invaluable technical adviser for me as I wrote this story.

Years ago when we were growing up in the Verde Valley in central Arizona we looked forward to the visits two or three times a week of "The Local," a mixed or "manifest freight" that Santa Fe ran down through the Verde River Canyon to Clarkdale. Business picked up for some years there in the 1950s as the Glenn Canyon Dam was under construction and many hoppers full of limestone for the cement were hauled out. The line was a challenge to maintain, an incredible feat of engineering for the time it was originally built early in the twentieth century. A few years ago I rode the route from Clarkdale to Perkinsville on what is now mainly a tourist excursion line. It was a truly awe-inspiring experience. I crossed the infamous bridge over SOB canyon and looked up at the sheer cliffs that in spots boxed in with just a ledge above the river, barely wide enough for a single track and in places hewn out of the white, gray or red stone.

 My brother and I even became friends--and probably pests--with some of the maintenance people who came in to repair and maintain that track, absorbing like sponges information that later formed his life work and part of my store of experience about which to write. I took pictures with my precious little Kodak box camera and offer here  a couple of them and a  couple taken the day I rode the train myself. All of this was the foundation for Workin' On The Railroad.

 The color shot on the right is behind the depot which was roughly center in the b&w shot above it. And the color on the right is the same track where the cars are parked in the b&w one above it but looking west instead of east.

During my brief sojourn in Hurley, New Mexico I also observed the South West Railroad's operations there bringing in supplies for the local mining and smelting operations and hauling out the products. This effort has now expanded up into the hills beyond the village of Hanover where some new mining activity is in progress. I observed that on a visit to the area last October.

Although the big railroads have mechanized and modernized much of the work and use more huge complex machines than men, these smaller special purpose short line railroads still do a lot of work the old fashioned labor intensive way. I chose to set my tale around one such line. It does not exist but many of its kind do. I have not finished either Alton and Roane's adventures or the complete story or stories about the San Juan and Southwestern I am sure. There may be some men who work on the carpentry or Bridge and Building (B and B in the vernacular) and even in the rolling stock parts of the business. When they are ready, these tales  will all be told.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Special Delivery PG-13 excerpt

Special Delivery by Deirdre O'Dare Amber Quill Press, Amber Allure Line

Blurb: Monte’s dream of owning his own sporting goods store is teetering on the edge of collapse due to the economic problems. The small conservative eastern California town he chose for the project is not welcoming even though he keeps his gay lifestyle very quiet. Then trouble and a gorgeous package delivery driver fall into his world at the same time. Are they somehow connected?

Jeff, a special agent for Homeland Security, is working under cover to help bust a contraband and drug operation. Tracks lead to the small town of Cameron Creek, California. Who is the ring’s contact at this end? As a delivery driver, he’s scoping things out. When he meets Monte he is smitten at once but evidence begins to link this new friend to the case. Jeff has every reason not to pursue a relationship, but he can’t help himself.

Excerpt 1 PG-13  Monte meets Jeff

30 November
Cameron Creek, CA

Monte Farnsworth stared out the display window of his shop at the bleak wintery-looking street. Business was about as slow and gray as the cold November day. At this rate, he'd be broke before the end of the year, a mere nine months after realizing his long-time dream of opening his own sporting goods store the previous spring.

Just then, a black delivery truck pulled up to the curb, midway between Monte's store and the barber and beauty shop next door.

I don't think I have any deliveries coming in today. Must be for the Hair Apparent.

When the driver stepped out, Monte's breath hitched in his chest. Oh, my gods, that's a beautiful hunk of male. Whew, he could raise my temperature, whatever the weather.

The man must have been an inch or two over six feet tall. In spite of the chill, a pair of brown shorts revealed sleek, muscular legs from mid-thigh down to a pair of dark athletic shoes edged by strips of white ankle-high socks. An open brown windbreaker displayed a broad chest straining the fabric of the tan uniform shirt. The brisk wind ruffled hair that matched the uniform, except it was shiny and vitally alive. Everything about the man seemed vitally alive.

The stranger paused on the sidewalk and glanced up and down the street as if looking for a name or number. Maybe he's new and not familiar with Cameron Creek yet. Drawn by a magnetic pull he could not resist, Monte opened the door and stepped out onto the sidewalk. "Can I help you find a place?"

The deliveryman spun to face him, eyes the color of dark chocolate meeting Monte's gaze in a manner that sent a jolt of erotic heat slashing through his veins.

The other man smiled. "Yeah, maybe you can. I'm not seeing three-fourteen or a place called Icy Heat. This is Hammond Street, isn't it?"

Clearing his throat, Monte found his voice after a gulp. "Yep, this is Hammond. Never heard of such an establishment, but my place is three-fourteen. The number isn't very clear, I'm afraid."

The other man nodded. "I'm guessing you haven't been here long and maybe there used to be another business in your space called Icy Heat? Can't imagine what that would be, except maybe a tea room and ice cream parlor." He laughed.

"I'm not sure what was here before I opened up on April Fools' Day. The place had been vacant for a while, I was told."

"April Fool's Day, huh? That's quite the day to get started." The delivery man smiled at him.

"Yeah, well, I'm afraid the opening date's been symbolic of my success so far," Monte admitted. "Sportsman's Stop is--well, let's just say I wasn't expecting any deliveries. I'm not sure how I'd pay for them if some came or where I'd put any new inventory. Nothing much is moving."

"That's a bummer. I guess everything is slow now, and what business there is goes to the new mall down the freeway at Junction City."

"I suppose so."

"You know...I'm a few minutes ahead on my route and I see there's a coffee shop at the corner. I was thinking about getting a cup. Would you like to join me?"

Monte hesitated. He couldn't quite figure why, but the surprising invitation, though flattering, troubled him. Why would a total stranger--a gorgeous stranger at that--want his company, even for a few minutes?

"Sorry, guess I should introduce myself. I'm Jeff Hardesty. I just took over this route last week, so I'm still learning the town and the area out here. It helps to get to know some folks as well."

Monte took the other man's extended hand. Jeff's grip was firm but not punishing. The contact sent a warm current sparkling along Monte's nerves. "I'm Monte Farnsworth, still pretty new here myself, obviously. Sure, let's go get a cup of coffee. As my uncle use to say, this is a five-cup day--one for each hand and foot and one to drink. That wind must come straight from the North Pole."

"Yep, only one fence post between us and there and it blew down. I'm from southern California, so this climate is a shocker."

Monte flipped the open sign to read "Back Soon" and locked the door. Then the two men set off to the opposite end of the block and the welcoming warmth of Dip 'n' Sip Coffee Shop. They did have good coffee, Monte knew, and served sinfully delicious homemade pastries.

He had to stretch to keep up with Jeff's long strides, but that was okay. Since coming to Cameron Creek, his social life had dwindled to near zilch. It felt good to be with someone as congenial and appealing as Jeff, even if only for a few minutes of casual company. He'd never considered a deliveryman would be his type. He normally gravitated to other high tech guys like he'd known in his prior life in Silicon Valley, or some of the fellow sports enthusiasts who'd inspired him to open his own place.

    Adult excerpt follows in its own post!!

Special Delivery--adult excerpt

Special Delivery by Deirdre O'Dare Amber Quill Press, Amber Allure Line

Blurb in prior post.

Adult excerpt: (considerably farther into the story!)

The small, old-fashioned kitchen was equally neat. Monte waited in the doorway while Jeff made coffee. Dressed tonight in faded jeans and a plaid flannel shirt over a well-worn T-shirt, the other man looked every bit as good as he did in his delivery uniform. Monte feasted his gaze and enjoyed every second of it. For a minute he held a vague wish Jeff would turn around, come over and grab him.

"Hell, you really don't want to go home to an empty house tonight, do you?"

Had Monte heard those words or only imagined them?

Part of Jeff, the disciplined, trained agent, stood back aghast at what he'd just said, while the rest of him, the man who'd been fighting the urge to touch Monte, to kiss him almost from the first, just acted. All at once, he couldn't wait another moment, could no longer resist the urgent need to feel Monte's body against his, to taste the boyish smile and find out whether the sizzle of their few accidental touches was a fluke or the real thing.

He set the two coffee mugs on the counter and crossed to where Monte leaned in the doorway. Even before he got close to the other man, his arms already reached for him. A man has a head at each end of his spine, and when one is working, the other isn't. The old adage slipped through his mind, as if from a distance.

No question, his cock, and maybe something else, was in the driver's seat now and he could no more control their demands than he could fly. He'd known in the back of his mind this very thing was a risk, but he'd thought he could suppress it. He'd been wrong.

He grabbed Monte by the shoulders and dragged him close. Monte's mouth opened in surprise an instant before Jeff's collided with it. Lips and tongues began a frantic duel, reaching and searching, driven by need too urgent to deny. They both clasped and clutched at each other, bodies straining to get closer, stiffening cocks thrusting against the confines of their jeans.

Jeff's conscience still protested. I can't do this. I've got to stop, back off, calm down.

But it was like trying to stop the wind, a flash flood, an implacable force of nature. There was nothing sane and rational about it at all. The power of lust, primal and ravenous, raged through him, its demands too forceful to contain.

Finally, Jeff slacked his grip, pulled back enough to break the lock-lipped kiss and to see Monte's face as other than a blur. Monte's eyes reflected the stunned sensations Jeff felt. In spite of that, a silly grin tugged at his lips and a similar urge seemed to be twitching Monte's mobile mouth.

"Oh, man, I..." Jeff struggled for words, unable to frame his jumbled thoughts into anything coherent.

"Did you read my mind? And did you say something about staying just before you turned around, or did I imagine that?" At least Monte seemed to be able to speak.

"The urge just hit me, all at once. It seized total control. I know I came on like a runaway train. Are you all right with this? Do you want it as much as I do? I began to speculate about you and this right off when we first met, but I wasn't sure how to ask, what to say."

"Me neither. I thought I sensed some interest. I suspected, but I've been wrong before. It's really humiliating to make that mistake." His gaze dropped to the floor for a moment, then he looked back up at Jeff. "But I'm more than all right now. Where do we go from here? Whether it's the bedroom or the living room rug or up against the wall doesn't matter to me, but there's no way I'm leaving now."

Jeff released his hold on Monte completely, suddenly not sure what to do next. He was still shaking with the intensity of his desire, but close to paralysis as well. As his hands dropped to his sides, Monte sank to his knees right in front of him. Before Jeff fully realized what the other man intended, Monte lowered the zipper of Jeff's jeans, released his belt buckle and pushed back the denim to free Jeff's prick. With a touch almost reverent, Monte wrapped his hand around the engorged shaft and stroked from base to head and back.

When Monte's mouth engulfed him, Jeff struggled to keep his legs from buckling. Somehow Monte stayed with him as he backed a long step to brace himself against the counter. With arms extended behind him, he managed to stay on his feet. Then, working with an amazing, nimble tongue and a deep throat, Monte administered the most amazing blow job Jeff had ever experienced. He came in an explosive burst that shot cum down Monte's throat and shook his whole body with climactic tremors.

"Man, where did you ever learn to do that? You just gave me the most incredible BJ I ever had in my life."

Monte looked up at him, a smile on his moist, shining lips. "I don't know. I've just wanted to do that from the moment I saw you get out of your truck the first time. I didn't think I'd ever have the chance, but when it came, I had to take it. I hope you didn't mind."

"Mind? Do you think I'm totally stupid? It was fantastic."

Monte stood then, as easily as if he were not shaken at all, but vulnerability shone in his expressive eyes.

Jeff studied him for a minute. "So what can I do for you in return?"

Monte's expression changed in a flash from satisfied to troubled. Seeing the shift, Jeff realized that, if not a real sub, Monte was far from a dom. He was not comfortable asking, much less demanding. He might be aching with need, but he couldn't come straight out and voice his desires. He took whatever a partner chose to give, and gave back more than he got every time.

Just as Jeff reached for him again, Monte's cell rang. It didn't stop ringing. Monte grabbed for it. "Fuck, I forgot to set it to silent and voice mail only."

To read more go to the buy link shown or wait for the print book Duty and Daring where this is the first of four tales!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Some Background on Special Delivery

I go way back with UPS!  Since I have lived much of my adult life in rural areas or small towns, I've done a lot of shopping first by catalog and later on line when I became active with computers. Of course some packages get delivered to the Post Office but some firms will not ship to a PO Box or an RFD address so that's where UPS comes in. Most of the drivers that were on my regular routes were great and most even became friends with the various dogs I had over the years.

Back when I lived outside of Huachuca City, AZ from 1984-2008 the UPS guys knew our address very well. For a number of years, our regular driver was a guy named Ken. He was a good looking hunk of a chap, too, and very personable and pleasant. My daughter had a crush on him for awhile before she went off and got married. Since she has grown kids now you can guess this was quite awhile back! But Ken stayed in my mind as a great hero model. I even met a Mr Romance contestant at one Romantic Times Convention who was a UPS driver and offered to be a tech advisor when I mentioned the idea I'd had. So do not laugh!!

You see,  I always thought it would be cool to have a hero in a romance tale who was a UPS delivery man! Somehow it just never came together and the idea went dormant for a long time, back there in the bundle of scraps with scribbles or the file draw stuffed with ideas, partials and stray notes.  Right now I cannot recall if it was for an Amber PAX collection or not but I visualized first a delivery driver and then decided he needed to have another profession and was just working this under cover. So that meant he had a crime to solve or a bad guy to track down. Then the what ifs kick in. I actually 'met' Monte before I got a good look at Jeff. I really liked Monte, a slightly nerdy guy who got daring and went after his dream of owning his own business, a sporting goods store. It would be in a small town and I decided to create a place a bit like China Lake and Mojave, California. The part of that huge state inside the barrier of the Sierras is a whole different world and a place I could live if I were not allowed to be in Arizona or New Mexico so that came easily. That's where I set my fictitious town, near a military base.

Then Jeff popped up and the bad guy appeared and the story began to unwind. Of course as an agent working to break a case, Jeff had no business falling for a guy who just might be one of the black hats. He didn't want to believe it but the evidence kept piling up and finally he has to make an arrest--and it's at the worst possible time for Monte and his new business. I can't tell you much more except to say it does end well  with the problems solved and the bad guys busted. I do believe in happy endings and every one of my tales ends with a HFN (happy for now) if not a real HEA (happy ever after) for the couple involved or in a few cases the menage. That is the whole reason I write romance instead of something else and I neither write nor read much literary fiction which like real life often ends quite badly! I think fiction should be for fun and escape since reality and the news offer us more than enough grim, dysfunctional people and downright brutal and horrific events to last 'til doomsday! So hang on for an excerpt or two tomorrow and of course a peek at the cover of Special Delivery. Guarantee it's yummy!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A New Year, Upcoming Releases

Happy 2013 CE to one and all. I actually celebrated the New Year when the sun turned back on 21 December and many of my Druid and Wiccan friends on Samhain, 31 Oct/1 Nov but the calendar has changed and since we use that for official stuff, happy 2013.

I'm glad the hectic holidays are over. Tomorrow will be Twelfth Night which marks the final official end of the season. My few decorations came down on New Year's Eve and I've been striving to get back on the normal path, getting my goals and affirmations ready (I don't do resolutions) and clearing out the residue of real and mental/emotional clutter to settle down to work. Yes, I do have a writing goal and that is 1500 words a day for at least five of each seven days, allowing myself a mini-vacation now and then or a a 'mental health' day if it is just flat not working. Usually I can switch from one WIP to another if the characters go mum on me and carry on but at times they are all tight lipped and I have to cut them and me some slack.

The first thing that will be out this year happens later this month when Duty and Daring is released. That's a paperback compilation of four of my m/m romances, all work related where the background of the job of one or both of the heroes impinges on their relationship and often forms a barrier to their hooking up. How they juggle the demands of duty with the draw of desire makes the plot of the tale.

I will feature each story on one day in the next couple of weeks with some background on how and why it came to be written and a couple of excerpts. The four tales are Special Delivery, Workin' on the Railroad, Guilty by Innocence and Smoke and ...Spots?  I have a special love for each of them and the inspiration as my dedication explains  to readers:

"To a bunch of unknowing tech advisers who have passed through my life over the years and given me glimpses into the varied industries and occupations which form the background for these tales. I've been blessed to live along the periphery of some of the most challenging and exciting jobs anyone could have. I’m quite a chameleon and a sponge when it comes to facts and information, so such background eventually finds its way into my fiction. My heartfelt admiration and appreciation goes out to those who serve in various law enforcement capacities, as fire fighters and the men who labor to keep those trains rolling. Without you, so much would go bad in our world!"

For now here is the cover for the new print book which I like a  lot. I cannot say enough good about Trace Zabar, one of the owners of Amber Quill and the art and creative director for the firm. His covers are just awesome. I have some faves of course but very few have been a disappointment in any way. He has the artistic eye and the line and color equivalent of Perfect Blarney that lends a bit of magic to every cover. This new addition is a worthy one!

More soon on Special Delivery. And one reader who comments here will receive an autographed copy of Duty and Daring as soon as they are in my hands, hopefully before 31 January!  I might even give away a download of one or more of the stories, too....