Welcome to our third week of celebrating the absolutely fabulous
aka Ann Gallagher
aka Lauren Gallagher
aka Lori A. Witt
In today's post, we'll talk about Hiatus, Broken Blades, and The Best Laid Plans, all with excerpts. We're also giving you a personal (and hilarious) story Lori has chosen to share, as well as another chance to win one of Lori's fantastic books!
First up in today's line-up, Hiatus:
Three’s a disaster when things come unraveled.
Rock star Nate Keller is on top of the world, but his headlining tour has one drawback. It keeps him away from his boyfriends, Theo and Cameron, for weeks at a time. Yet after four-and-a-half years—and a lot of hard work—the trio is still going strong.
But then Cam comes to visit with devastating news. After seventeen years together, he and Theo have agreed to a trial separation. Nate tries desperately to fix his lovers’ broken relationship, but there’s only so much he can do from the road.
At home, Cam tries to carry on, but feels like his whole life is spiraling out of control. Theo struggles to cope with the split as his depression worsens. They’re both spinning their wheels, quickly losing hope they can keep it together—and keep the man they both still love.
Desperate, Nate drops everything in a last-ditch attempt to pull their trio back together before they hit rock bottom. Except their love could already be shattered beyond repair.
Warning: Contains two men who must face how broken they are before they can fix their failing marriage, and the man who loves them both—but doesn’t know how to save them.
As the numbers above the door climbed, so did my pulse. Why the hell were my palms sweaty? I wasn’t nervous.
Just excited. Insanely excited. Excited enough that by the sixth floor, I was starting to get hard. Hopefully no one joined me in the elevator. And if they did, they didn’t glance downward. That was just what I needed in tomorrow’s tabloids.
Going UP? Creepy Elevator Encounter with Alien Emissary’s Nate Keller!
The imaginary headline made me snort. It wouldn’t be the worst thing they’d ever said about me.
At the tenth floor, I took in a deep breath through my nose and released it slowly. God, I missed my guys. One more floor, and I’d be…
I stepped out before the doors had even opened all the way, making as subtle a gesture as possible about adjusting the front of my jeans, and hurried down the hall toward room 1128.
I reached the room and paused for one more deep breath. As I knocked, I couldn’t stop myself from grinning like a giddy idiot—since, well, the shoe fit—so I didn’t try.
Footsteps on the other side sent my pulse into the stratosphere. I didn’t care which one it was. Cam. Theo. Both. I’d finally get to see them in real life instead of on a computer screen, and I’d get to kiss them and touch them and—
The door opened.
Cam met my gaze.
And my heart hit the floor.
“What’s wrong?” I stared at him, trying to make sense of the dark circles behind his glasses, the tightness of his lips, the fact that he couldn’t quite seem to look me in the eye.
He stood aside, keeping his gaze down. “Come on in.”
Stomach churning, I stepped into the room. There were two beds, and one had a suitcase next to it, standing neatly against the footboard beside a pair of equally neatly arranged shoes. Only one suitcase, though. I looked around.
No pile of semi-folded clothes beside an open suitcase on a bed. No jumble of receipts and pocket change on the nightstand next to the perfect row of Cam’s charging cell phone, wallet, and room key. No Theo.
Cam shut the door behind us. “We, um, need to talk.”
Panic surged through me. “Where’s Theo?”
“He’s…” Cam put a hand on my shoulder and squeezed gently. “It’s just me tonight.”
My mouth went dry. “What’s—”
Oh fuck. This was a “you might want to sit down” conversation.
Just as well—my knees were starting to shake.
He put his glasses on the nightstand, carefully lining them up beside the phone and wallet like he always did, and sat on the edge of the empty bed. I hesitated but joined him.
Though he still didn’t look at me, he did take my hand. His was sweatier than mine as he laced our fingers together.
“What’s going on?” I could barely make myself whisper. “You’re kind of scaring me.”
“I’m sorry.” He put his other hand over ours.
Where’s your ring?
It wasn’t on the nightstand with everything else. Ice slithered through my veins.
Setting his shoulders back, he lifted his gaze to meet mine. “Look, we haven’t said anything because we knew you needed to focus on your tour. So we… I mean, we didn’t—”
“Just cut to the chase, Cam.” Why were my teeth trying to chatter? And where was his ring? “Give me the punchline. Please.”
He held my gaze for a second. Then he stared down at our hands and gripped mine tighter as he said, “The punchline is that Theo and I are separating.”
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Secondly today, Broken Blades, written with Aleksandr Voinov:
They only had one night together—a stolen interlude at the 1936 Olympics. After Mark Driscoll challenged Armin Truchsess von Kardenberg to a good-natured fencing match, there was no resisting each other. Though from different worlds—an Iowa farm boy and a German aristocrat—they were immediately drawn together, and it was an encounter neither has ever forgotten.
Now it’s 1944, and a plane crash in hostile territory throws them back together, but on opposite sides of a seemingly endless war. Facing each other as opponents is one thing. As enemies, another thing entirely. And to make matters worse, Mark is a POW, held in a cold, remote castle in Germany… in a camp run by Armin.
They aren’t the young athletes they were back then. The war has taken wives, limbs, friends, leaving both men gray beyond their years, shell-shocked, and battered. The connection they had back then is still alive and well, though, and from the moment Mark arrives, they’re fencing again—advancing, retreating, testing defenses.
Have they been given a second chance? Or have time and a brutal war broken both men beyond repair?
“Is this how you’re going to fight tomorrow?” Mark laughed as George picked up his foil off the floor. “Are you sure they didn’t mean to put you on the women’s team?”
“The women’s team?” George stood, weapon in hand. “Remember who almost lost to whom, Driscoll.”
Mark shrugged. “Almost, my dear friend. Almost.”
“Uh-huh.” George eyed him. “Just be glad Goldman refused to compete, or neither of us would be here.”
“He’d only have taken one spot.” Mark wiped some sweat off his brow. “So you wouldn’t be here, but—”
“Don’t get full of yourself, kid. Just remember, winning back home doesn’t guarantee you a gold medal here.”
“Well, if you’d like a chance at that gold medal”—Mark pulled his mask over his face—“why don’t we practice just one more time?”
“Very well. How about actually fencing this time?”
They took their positions, facing each other, but then George lowered his foil. “And look who’s back.”
“Huh?” Mark lowered his foil and turned around. Through the mesh, he saw their chaperone, the dark-haired German with that striking scar along his left cheekbone. Slowly, Mark took off his mask. There was something about the uniforms these men wore that made them…imposing? He wasn’t even sure that was the word. And this one? Three times today Mark had caught himself staring at him, and he had no idea why.
Make that four times.
As Mark turned back around, George lowered his voice. “How do you say his name again?”
Mark laughed. “Uh, I think it was Truch…von Truchenberg? Von Truch… karden—”
“It’s Truchsess von Kardenberg, Herr Driscoll.”
Mark straightened. George’s eyes widened.
Mark faced the German. The man looked back at him with those piercing blue eyes and a perfectly schooled expression. His shoulders were square beneath his uniform, his posture rigid. Even the long, slim scar seemed to be at attention.
One eyebrow rose slightly. “Something wrong?” His accent was as sharp as his uniform and his gaze.
Mark, realizing he’d been staring, cleared his throat. “No. No. Just wondering how you can breathe in that uniform.”
“In this—” The German glanced down, then back at Mark. “I don’t understand.”
Mark laughed and waved a hand. “Never mind. Just…never mind.” He coughed. “Uh, could you…how do you say your name again?”
Something that might have been amusement flashed in the German’s eyes. “Truchsess von Kardenberg.”
“You’ll forgive me if it takes a while for me to learn to say it,” George said.
Von whatever-his-name-was sniffed. “Perhaps von Kardenberg would be easier.”
Mark quirked his lips, trying to decide if he should take offense or be grateful for the shorter name.
George idly tapped the ground at his feet with the tip of his foil. “I don’t suppose you have a first name that doesn’t involve quite so many oral gymnastics?”
Cringing, Mark looked at the German, hoping his teammate hadn’t insulted their host. Chaperone. Whatever.
The German offered almost nothing—no smile, no shrug, not even a release in the tension of his rigid posture—but his slight nod relaxed Mark a little. “If it would be easier, you may call me Armin.”
Armin. Mark decided he could remember that well enough.
“So. Armin.” George folded his arms, letting his foil dangle from his fingers. “Who’d you piss off to get this detail? Must be dull as all get out to follow a bunch of fencers around.”
This time, it was definitely amusement. “Following you around is not nearly so dull as watching you fence.”
Mark and George both chuckled.
“Not a fan of the sport?” George asked.
Armin put his hands behind his back, and his shoulders seemed to be even squarer. “I most certainly am.”
Mark and George exchanged glances.
The German grinned. He actually…grinned. “I simply find it dull to watch when it isn’t executed well.”
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And thirdly today, The Best Laid Plans, written as Lauren Gallagher:
It’s a foolproof strategy...until the emotional balance shifts.
After yet another adoption falls through, Gabe is ready to give up, and Shahid isn’t far behind him. Apparently, being a gay couple—half of which is Muslim—is just one strike too many for the powers that be.
When their friend Kendra offers to carry their baby for them, both men balk at first, but gradually warm to the idea. Especially Gabe, whose bisexuality is open to the chemistry among the three of them.
The plan seems simple. Kendra and Gabe, foregoing the cold, impersonal IVF clinic, paperwork and red tape, will conceive the old-fashioned way. They’ll all share parenting responsibilities, and live happily baby after.
But as the heat flares between Gabe and Kendra, Shahid’s long-suppressed insecurities bubble to the surface. Then some unexpected news catches the trio off guard and derails their plans—and now one heart could be left out in the cold.
Warning: Authors subsist on the tears of readers. Please recycle your hankies by wringing out and reusing. We’d hate to be the cause of a worldwide shortage of Kleenex.
Gabe slid his hand up my thigh, and goose bumps prickled between my shoulders. I pulled in a sharp breath as I kissed him harder.
Abruptly, he jerked his hand back and broke the kiss. “Didn’t you just do your salat? We shouldn’t—”
I silenced him with another kiss. My husband needed me. Under the circumstances, I had faith that Allah would understand.
I broke the kiss and moved toward his jaw. He exhaled but didn’t protest, and as I started down his neck, he tilted his head back, running his fingers through my hair and cursing softly. I kissed my way down the front of his throat, nearly to his collarbone, the warmth of his skin beneath my lips turning me inside out.
“We should go upstairs,” he slurred. “We have time, right?”
“We do. And we should.”
I kissed beneath his jaw once more, and then we both stood and hurried upstairs. In our bedroom, we didn’t waste any time—clothes off, sheets pulled back, and…ahh, there. Lying together, naked, wrapped up in each other’s arms and a long kiss.
The chicken’s going to burn if we—
Oh, who cares? We’ll order takeout. Don’t want to stop.
We were both out of breath, both trembling, and I was so turned on I could barely stand it. I’d been itching for some time with him anyway, since we were seldom intimate during my work rotations, but this was even more than I’d anticipated. This was the way we touched whenever one of us had been away for any length of time—fingers digging into flesh, kissing until my head spun, rubbing together until body heat forced us to kick the sheets off.
What’s gotten into you tonight, Gabe?
What’s gotten into me?
Didn’t matter. I wanted him.I rolled him onto his back, and he took me with him, never even breaking the kiss as he settled gently on the mattress. If dinner burned, it burned—now that I had him, I couldn’t make myself rush.
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A Short Story About Me
This was previously published on my webcomic, Marginally Unhinged.
This is the story all about how, my life got flipped turned---
Wait. Sorry. Let me start again.
This is the story of the day I crowned myself Nerd Queen of Okinawa. It all started back in 2008 when my husband received orders to Okinawa, Japan.
So, after a great deal of hassle and headache, we made it to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Now, upon arrival, we were informed we needed to go to "Island Indoctrination." Basically, it was a military briefing to give us all the information we needed in order to make it through three years on Okinawa without winding up deported, dead, or permanently affixed to the scenery.
If you're familiar with the military life, you probably snickered at the word "briefing". Why? Because it's anything but brief. Briefings last for-fucking-ever. Always. Never fails. And this one?
10. Bloody. Hours.
But that wasn't the worst of it. You see, flying to Japan from the States involves crossing about 7 million time zones, not to mention the International Date Line. This results in a degree of jetlag you simply have to experience to believe (and it's actually worse going back to the States from here, but I digress). Basically, for the first few days, your internal clock looks a little something like this:
And they wanted me to sit through a ten-hour briefing. Let the fun begin.
Being perpetually on time, not to mention having our internal clocks all jacked up, my husband and I were early. Which meant we wound up sitting in the front row.
So much for casually nodding off and getting away with it.
The briefing began, and the boredom set in like a tick burrowing under the skin. Not only did most of our speakers go to the William Shatner School of Public Speaking, and graduate magna cum boring from the Politicians' Academy of Being Interesting, they also went to the University of Graphic Design for the Blind. Either that or the College of Torturing Innocent People by Way of Their Retinas.
And they were armed with PowerPoint.
On, and on, and on, they droned. Reading the PowerPoint slides aloud. Repeating everything multiple times. Harping on stupid crap while glossing over the actual important stuff.
And deeper still burrowed the tick of boredom.
I mean, seriously. There's only so much PowerPoint a girl can take.
It was starting to get ridiculous. I'm not kidding.
And I was starting to get irritated.
My husband knew I was getting annoyed, and he started getting worried I might do something like morph into an alien and decapitate someone. I was seriously thinking about it, but then they served lunch. And by "served" I mean they made us purchase lunch from the enlisted club. Nothing like shitty food at highway robbery prices to make a briefing easier to stomach.
But, at least I'd eaten. So things were more bearable.
Slightly more bearable.
I'm not kidding. This dude was lecturing us about drugs and alcohol and how they're bad. If I'd had a desk, I'd have been getting my forehead acquainted with it.
I started to tune him out. It was my last defense mechanism. I had no choice. It was either that or drop to the floor in a fetal position and start weeping for death. Believe me, that was tempting.
But then the speaker started talking about a drug problem that was especially significant on Okinawa, and with six words, I was jerked back into full awareness:
And somewhere in the deep, dorky recesses of my brain, something sprang to life. For about 7 nanoseconds, I fixated on that word...
...and I couldn't stop myself.
The words echoed through the room.
Murmurs of confusion rippled through the crowd.
And I realized...no one had a damned clue what I was talking about.
After an awkward moment, I took my seat, and while the speaker cleared his throat to continue his coma-inducing lecture, I silently crowned myself Nerd Queen of Okinawa.
But at least for a few fleeting seconds, I wasn't bored off my ass.
Thank you for this, Lori!!
More about the author:
L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn't lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies.
She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don't tell Lauren. And definitely don't tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut...
Thanks for joining us again today. Come back next week for more info on Lori's book, our Q&A, plus one more chance to win.
Until then, happy reading!!