Thursday, May 4, 2017

Author Of The Month - Ari McKay - Week One

Welcome to our first week of celebrating the fantabulous 

In this week's post, we'll take a look at Herc's Mercs, with excerpts, plus Ari and McKay's favorite things. All the way at the bottom is a chance to win one of the Herc's Mercs books in e-copy.

First up in this series, The Bigger They Come


Cade “Hercules” Thornton is an ex-Marine and soldier of fortune; now he’s the owner of Hercules Security, which provides the best bodyguards in the business. After his leg was crushed and reconstructed, Cade doesn’t do field work anymore - until a challenge is issued to him by wealthy Kate Morgan, who wants her “bookish” grandson protected from a stalker. She insists on having the very best bodyguard available, and that is Cade himself.

But there is nothing laid back or bookish about Dr. Jude Morgan. Having lived under the thumb of his grandmother his entire life, Jude is insistent that he doesn’t need a babysitter. Sparks fly when Cade tries to insinuate himself into Jude’s life, and Cade knocks Jude on his ass - literally.

Yet the danger to Jude is real, and Cade is the only thing standing between him and an increasingly more terrifying stalker. Cade’s protective feelings for his client become something more, while Jude begins to realize that his brawny, neo-Viking protector is a man unlike anyone he’s ever known. Yet as Cade and Jude grow closer, so does the danger.

Cade will stop at nothing to protect Jude, but Jude’s stalker is determined to get his man - even if he has to kill Cade Thornton to do it.


The crash of breaking glass startled Jude awake, and he instinctively scrambled on the bed to get away from the broken window. A dark figure appeared at the window, and it raised its arm, aiming a gun at Jude just before he heard a familiar voice.
“You’re mine, Jude. If I can’t have you, no one can…”
Jude awoke with a cry and sat upright in bed, his breathing labored. This wasn’t the first nightmare he’d had since breaking up with Thomas, but it was by far the worst. In the others, Thomas had chased him or showed up at work and begged him for reconciliation. This was the first time he’d dreamed about Thomas trying to kill him, and he wasn’t sure whether his subconscious was trying to warn him or the paranoia of his security squad was wearing off on him.
Over the past few days, he’d gotten to know the men assigned to keep him safe pretty well. Aside from Cade, there was Gabriel “Mojo” Crowe, a tall, broad-shouldered Native American whose specialty was being able to repair pretty much anything mechanical. Brian “Finn” Finnegan had green eyes, auburn hair, and a flashing Irish smile, and his partner Joe Morrissey – big, dark, and quiet with watchful brown eyes that seemed to see right through things – were always together, and Jude had a hard time thinking of them as separate entities. Finn was an EMT, and Morrissey was a linguistics expert. Rounding out the group was Payne Gibson, who was considerably shorter than the other big, buff men and had a lean, wiry build. Cade introduced him as Pita, and Mojo gleefully informed Jude it was because he was their own personal pain in the ass, which got Mojo a sharp elbow in the ribs from Payne.
The Hercules Security van remained in Jude’s garage, and someone was in it twenty-four seven, monitoring the house via strategically placed cameras around the perimeter. They all lived up to Cade’s promise of being as unobtrusive as possible, which Jude appreciated. His life was being disrupted far less than he feared, and he had to admit, just knowing they were there made him feel safer, like having a bunch of quiet but deadly watchdogs.
But he didn’t feel safe now. He stared at the window to reassure himself it wasn’t broken – and then something tapped on the pane, and Jude bolted.
He ran to the garage and banged on the side of the van, feeling on the verge of hyperventilating.
The door slid open, and Payne looked out at him as Cade came up from the back of the van.
“What happened?” Cade asked, and Jude saw he had a gun in his hand. He was dressed in only gray sweatpants and a white tank top that showed off his broad shoulders rather than his normal suit and tie.
“I heard something at my window,” Jude said, not wanting to admit he’d been woken up by a nightmare. He had heard something tapping, after all.
“Get in,” Cade said firmly as he jumped out of the van. He glanced at Payne. “Lock down right now. I’ll investigate. Watch on the monitors, right?”
“On it,” Payne said, drawing his gun.
Payne helped Jude into the van and got him settled in one of the seats, and Jude wrapped his arms around himself as he watched the two men, more for self-comfort than because he was chilly.
“Don’t worry, Pita will keep you safe,” Cade said gently. “I’ll be right back.” With that, he closed the door to the van.
As soon as Cade left the van, Payne locked the doors, and then he resumed his place at the monitors.
“Want to watch?” he asked, doing something with the controls that put an image of Cade outside the house on a monitor that was slightly larger than the others. “We can follow his progress from here.”
Jude was curious enough that he moved to sit beside Payne, even though he wasn’t sure he wanted to witness Cade getting attacked in case someone was lurking in his yard.
Cade hugged the side of the house with his back against the wall as he rounded the garage and headed to the backyard. He held his gun at the ready, then extended his arms into a firing position as he turned the corner. He scanned the area quickly from side to side as he approached the part of the house below Jude’s bedroom. He lifted one hand and opened and closed his fist quickly, and Payne immediately pressed a button, which flooded the rear yard with light.
No one could have hidden from the glare of the floods, and Jude watched as Cade quickly checked the other corner of the house, then returned to the back. Cade examined the ground, then looked up into the branches of the large river birch that shaded Jude’s yard, watching for several moments before lifting his hand, giving a thumbs up, then opening and closing his fist again, at which point Payne turned off the exterior lights.
“All clear,” Payne said, offering Jude a reassuring smile. “Herc didn’t find anything suspicious out there.”
On the one hand, Jude was relieved to know no one was sneaking around his house. On the other hand, he was deeply embarrassed over the thought of causing a fuss over nothing.
“That’s good,” he said weakly.

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Second in the series, Line In The Sand


In order to keep his skill in the field up to date, Alec "Red" Davis, Hercules Security's chief of operations, takes a job protecting Jon Baldwin, an actor thrown into the spotlight by sudden fame. Although he's attracted to Jon, who is modest about his success and genuinely appreciative of his fans, Alec knows he has to keep his distance. Even when Jon makes it obvious he returns Alec's interest, there is a professional line Alec knows he must never cross - no matter how great the temptation.

While Alec accompanies Jon on a vacation to Central America, the two are caught in a devastating flash flood that pushes Alec's abilities to their limits. Determined to get Jon to safety, Alec has to battle both nature and his own feelings. But when Jon falls ill, Alec realizes that professional integrity won't mean a thing if he loses the man he loves.


The panel got underway with the director presenting a teaser-trailer for Dead Wrong, which had the fans surging to their feet in a standing ovation. Then there was the screening of the blooper reel from Dead to Rights, which had the audience howling with laughter. Alec couldn’t help but chuckle as well as he watched Jon’s antics, particularly when Jon was trying to act like a total badass but started laughing in the middle of a line.
  After that, the question and answer session began, and most of the actors were asked about roles they’d played in other movies or on stage. Not surprisingly, Jon was asked about Macbeth, and Alec listened with interest to his answer.
  “Playing Macbeth--” Jon glanced around, feigning alarm. “I can say that now, right? We aren’t in a theater, so I don’t have to remember to call it The Scottish Play. Okay, so, playing Macbeth really was a bucket list thing for me,” he said, his demeanor turning more serious as he spoke. “I’ve done Shakespeare before, but I was always cast in less intense roles. Claudio in Much Ado, Lysander in Midsummer Night’s Dream. I didn’t even get Petruchio when I auditioned for Taming of the Shrew. They cast me as the mild-mannered student Lucentio instead.” He laughed and shook his head. “I’ve always wanted to play Macbeth, though, because he fascinated me as a character. Here’s this decent guy who ends up completely losing his humanity over the course of the play. In a lot of ways, that whole play is like a horror movie, so it was a natural fit after Dead to Rights.”
  Alec found himself nodding. He and Jon had discussed Macbeth during their evenings together in California, and Alec admired Jon’s attitude and approach to acting. He’d also been as impressed as hell with what he’d seen of Jon’s stage work; Alec had seen several different productions of Macbeth, both amateur and professional, as well as the recorded versions starring Orson Welles and Ian McKellen, and while he might be accused of being biased, he thought Jon’s portrayal was one of the best he’d ever seen. Jon had a natural grace and a tremendous stage presence, which made him seem larger than life when he performed, which was perfect for portraying Macbeth.
The Q&A continued smoothly with questions directed more or less evenly among the panelists, although the actors did get a few more questions than the behind the scenes crew. No one rushed the stage or brandished a weapon, and Jon was enjoying himself immensely, even when faced with inane questions like “boxers or briefs?”. Given Jon’s apparent lack of boundaries, Alec was surprised when Jon’s response was coy.
  “I think we--” he gestured to his fellow cast mates “--should be allowed some secrets.”
  It didn’t help that Alec had seen Jon in his boxer-briefs on several occasions, and the question brought back the memory of Jon’s nearly-naked body with rather more clarity than was comfortable. The thought that other people would -- perhaps literally -- kill for the chance to see what Alec got to see on a daily basis was sobering, yet also made Alec feel more smug than he had any business feeling.
  Immediately following the “boxers or briefs” questioner, a young man stepped up to the microphone stand; his outfit looked familiar, and after a moment, Alec recognized it as a meticulous reconstruction of Jon’s costume in Dead to Rights. Before the young man could even open his mouth to ask his question, Jon jumped up and pointed at him, grinning with utter delight.
  “Oh, my God, you’re Duke!”
  “No, you are,” the young man replied cheekily, but he looked pleased by Jon’s response.
  “Okay, I have got to get a good look at that costume. It looks fabulous.” Jon skirted around the table and jumped off the stage, making a beeline for the costumer.
  This was not how the Q&A was supposed to go, and Alec was moving almost before he realized it. He stepped out of the wings, crossed to the front of the stage and jumped down, hot on Jon’s heels. But his eyes were also on the man on the podium, dressed in Duke’s costume; he knew real weapons weren’t allowed in the con, but there was no way he was risking Jon’s life betting on everyone following the rules. Somehow, he reached the young man as soon as Jon did, and Jon blinked at him, startled at seeing him there.
  “Oh, hi.” Jon smiled sheepishly at Alec as if he realized -- belatedly -- that he’d done something reckless. But it didn’t stop him from gushing over the quality of the “Duke” costume and asking questions about how the costumer had replicated certain aspects of it.
  The young man in the costume seemed almost overwhelmed at first, but he gradually relaxed and began answering Jon’s questions with more ease, and he worked himself up to asking if he could get a picture taken of them together.
  “Of course!” Jon agreed readily -- and handed the young man’s camera over to Alec. “Do you mind?” he asked, giving Alec a winning smile.
  Alec raised one eyebrow at Jon, but he took the camera obediently and snapped a couple of pictures before handing the camera back. “Now, Jon, how about if you get back on the stage where you’re supposed to be before they charge you admission?”
  “Sorry, sorry!” Jon looked chagrined as he sprinted back to the stage, using the steps off on one side to get back up there while his cast mates looked on with amused indulgence.
Alec followed at a more sedate pace, but he took the same stairs Jon did, then slipped back into the wings. The other bodyguards were there, and he gave a wry smile in response to their sympathetic looks. There was no changing Jon, and at this point, Alec wasn’t even sure he wanted Jon to change, especially if it lessened his joy in life in any way.

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Book 3, Bloody But Unbowed 


Daryl Greer isn’t a bodyguard. He’s Hercules Security’s “odd-job” specialist, as wild and dangerous as he is competent. Fiercely independent, he resents his older brother Matthew’s view that he spends his life “playing G.I. Joe”. When he’s sent to rescue a kidnapped scientist, Dr. Emerson Winfield, from a terrorist organization, Daryl finds himself attracted to the snarky, outspoken man even though Emerson is the kind of rich, successful person Matthew claims could never be interested in a hick like Daryl.

For his part, Emerson doesn’t care about Daryl’s lack of polish; he’s more interested in the incredible chemistry between them. He sets out to prove to Daryl that they can make a relationship work despite their differences. But Daryl’s defensiveness about his career drives a wedge between them -- and if he doesn’t find a way to deal with his issues, Daryl might lose Emerson forever.


Fishing required a good deal of patience and a lot of waiting, but it was peaceful on the lake, and a fresh breeze kept them from being too hot. Once the sun was up, Daryl put on a floppy hat that had obviously seen a lot of use and produced a similar one -- this one new and pristine white -- and ceremoniously presented it to Emerson.
“Every fisherman needs a hat,” he explained. “Fish are attracted to hats.”
“Uh-huh.” Emerson didn’t believe that line of bullshit, but he took the hat and put it on anyway. “I thought maybe you wanted to make sure my pretty skin didn’t get burned.”
“That, too,” Daryl replied easily, giving Emerson a knowing smirk. “If your pretty skin is gonna be red, I’d much rather get it that way myself.”
“So would I.” Emerson smirked back at him. “It would be a shame if I got too sunburned for us to have any fun.”
“It would. So let’s get these fish caught quick, before the sun gets too high,” Daryl said. He nodded to Emerson’s rod, which had dipped a bit. “Looks like you got one fiddlin’ with your bait.”
Emerson could feel the tug, and he stared down at the tell-tale ripples in the water. “What do I do?”
Daryl scooted closer to him. “When it hits, let it go for a couple of seconds, then jerk back hard to set the hook. Once you do that, just reel that sucker in.”
Excitement and nervousness coiled in Emerson’s belly as he followed Daryl’s instructions, and he thought he could actually feel the instant the hook caught firmly. Whatever was on the other end of the line wasn’t happy about getting hooked, and it put up a fight as Emerson reeled it in, forcing him to be slow and careful so the line didn’t snap or the hook rip free. When it finally broke the water, he was astonished to see a huge bass on his hook, and he let out a victorious whoop.
“Look!” he exclaimed as he brought it into the boat. “It’s a big one!”
“That it is.” Daryl reached down, swiftly removing the hook, and held the fish up. Its silvery scales shimmered in the light. “A beauty. Probably seven, seven and a half pounds. Open that cooler. I put water in it, so we’ll use it to hold Mr. Fish until we’re ready to kill him for eatin’.”
Emerson took the lid off the cooler and watched proudly as Daryl lowered the bass into it. “How much do you want to bet mine’s the biggest we catch today?” He shot Daryl a challenging look.
“We’ll just see about that, Doc,” Daryl replied. “Though beginner’s luck is a powerful thing.” He picked up his own rod again. “You better get back to work, just in case.”
“What do I get if I win?” Emerson put fresh bait on his hook and cast his line, settling in comfortably to wait once more.
Daryl cocked his head to one side. “What do you want?”
There were a lot of different ways Emerson could answer that, and he had to take a minute or two to decide on which option he wanted to go with. “I want a night where I get to tie you up and do whatever I want, and you give up all control to me,” he said at last. He wasn’t so much interested in having total control as he was in showing Daryl exactly how good it felt when Daryl did it to him.
“All right,” Daryl agreed easily. “I trust you, Doc.”
Emerson shot a startled look at Daryl, taken aback by the easy capitulation. He’d expected Daryl to balk, but knowing Daryl trusted him enough to say yes without reservation warmed him. “What do you want if you win? Not that you will,” he added with a smirk.
Daryl was silent, then he gave Emerson an intense look. “I’ve already got everythin’ I want. Askin’ for more just seems greedy.”
Emerson recognized the compliment underlying Daryl’s words, and he leaned over and clamped his hand on the back of Daryl’s neck, hauling him into a swift, hard kiss. “You can always be as greedy as you want with me.”
The kiss seemed to catch Daryl by surprise, but he returned it, then smiled at Emerson wickedly. “Me bein’ greedy with you that way seems kinda like a win-win situation, don’t it?”
“I never claimed to be totally altruistic,” Emerson replied with a wicked grin.
“That’s okay, Doc,” Daryl said, looking out across the lake. “You’re just fine the way you are.”
Emerson smiled as he turned his attention back to the lake as well, feeling as if a good day had gotten even better. “So are you, Cooter. So are you.”

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Book 4, Once A Hero 


Ezra Levin spent years as a soldier, just as his father had wished. But after stints in the Israeli military, the Mossad, and finally as a member of Hercules Security, the man once known as “Ghost” decides to retire and pursue his own dreams of being a chef. At forty-five, he knows his yearning to have a partner and a family of his own are probably unattainable, but as a private chef for Judge Mason Whittaker and his young son, Jamie, Ezra finds some measure of fulfillment.

Unfortunately, Mason’s past as a District Attorney has made him a lot of enemies - one of whom seems to be looking for payback. When a series of unsettling events disturbs the Whittaker household, Ezra immediately steps up, wanting to protect Mason and Jamie. He calls upon his old friend, Cade Thornton, for help, as a cunning criminal plays a game of cat and mouse that endangers Mason’s life. Ezra realizes that Mason has come to mean far more to him than just an employer, and that he’s going to have to use all his old skills to stop a killer - or else he just might wind up losing the man he loves.


Mason shook his head. "I wasn't paranoid enough," he said. "You were. You knew it could get bad. I didn't believe it -- didn't want to believe it. It almost killed me."
"I did not want to believe it either. I hoped I was wrong, but my instincts were telling me something bad was going to happen. Now that it has--" Ezra's voice broke, and he brought Mason's hand to his cheek, clinging tightly. "I cannot be objective. When I saw you there, saw all that blood..." He shook his head, and Mason thought he saw the glimmer of tears in Ezra's eyes before Ezra looked away. "I cannot be merely an employee. I tried. If you want me to recuse myself, I will."
"What?" Mason was confused, but he could see Ezra's pain, and he reached over with his free hand, touching Ezra's cheek. "Are you saying you want to leave Jamie and me?"
"No!" Ezra stared at Mason, wide-eyed. "No, I don't want to leave. But if you want me to remain only your employee, I cannot do that any longer. I tried to maintain my professional distance, especially after I overstepped so badly, but I cannot do it after this."
Hope flared brightly within Mason. "I don't want you to leave, Ezra," he said, praying he wasn't misreading what he thought Ezra was implying. "I don't want you to maintain a professional distance, either. You never overstepped, I overreacted. But everything I tried to do to bring you closer just seemed to push you farther away from me."
"I thought you were angry with me for forgetting my place," Ezra replied, searching Mason's face intently. "But if you do not want me to keep my distance, what do you want?"
"I want you to give me a chance," Mason said slowly, stroking Ezra's cheek with his fingers, his heart pounding. "To woo you. To see if we could be as good together as I think we could be."
Ezra's eyebrows shot up as he gave Mason a startled look, but then his lips curved in a warm smile. "You want to woo me? I like the sound of that."
Mason felt his cheeks growing hot. "I know that sounds old-fashioned, but what I feel is more than just physical attraction." He smiled. "Not that I'm not attracted to you. I definitely am, believe me! But I'm drawn to you as well. Your strength, your kindness, your intelligence, your caring. I see how you are with Jamie, and to be honest, I've been a little jealous of how easy you are with him, when I wanted you to be like that with me, too. How's that for pathetic?"
"It is not pathetic," Ezra replied, giving his hand a reassuring squeeze. "I have wanted to be like that with you too. If you want to woo me, you will find I am amenable to being wooed."

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Book 5, The Harder They Fall 


Chris Hardison never expected the simple consulting gig to put him on somebody’s hit list, but Hercules Security’s resident computer whiz never does anything by halves. Now he’s on the run, guarded by gorgeous Jason Hekili, the newest member of Herc’s crew. But Chris and Jason have a past, and holing up in a safe house together is as complicated as it is dangerous.

Jason still wants Chris even though his broken heart hasn’t healed. He isn’t sure he can trust Chris, but when a crime syndicate targets Chris for assassination, Jason has to put his life on the line to protect Chris or risk losing their second chance for happiness before it even begins.


It took Chris a few minutes to find the right place, and his heart lurched when he saw Jason sparring with a tall, broad-shouldered Native American merc. He hovered in the doorway of the training room, torn between wanting to run over, fling himself at Jason, and beg for forgiveness and wanting to flee.
Jason had changed. Gone were the thick, dark waves that Chris had loved to run his fingers through; Jason had shorn it all off in favor of a buzz cut, and Chris wanted to cry at the loss. Jason’s shoulders were broader, and he was even more muscular overall. After working with mercs for so long, Chris knew the difference between body builder muscles and working muscles, and he could tell Jason had gotten those hard muscles from work. Jason’s body wasn’t the only thing that looked harder; Jason’s face looked different as well. More closed off, more distant. It was enough to make Chris want to turn and run. How could he possibly stand a chance with this Jason?
Before he could slip away unnoticed, the other merc knocked Jason on his ass. Jason let out a grunt when he hit the floor, but he didn’t grimace or show any other sign of pain. He simply bounded to his feet and turned—and spotted Chris.
For a long moment, he simply stood there, holding Chris’ gaze, and something that Chris thought might be hope brightened his eyes. Then Jason turned away, said something to his sparring partner, and headed toward the far side of the room.
Chris’ heart plummeted at that clear rejection signal, but he knew he deserved it. He lifted his chin and squared his shoulders. Jason had seen him, so he couldn’t just sneak out like this had never happened, and he hadn’t come all this way to give up so easily anyway. The other merc’s eyebrows climbed as he watched Chris march across the room, and Chris heard him say something about going to the showers, but Chris’ attention was focused entirely on Jason.
“Jason, I’d like to talk,” he said firmly as he approached.
Jason draped a towel around his neck, his spine straightening before he turned slowly to face Chris. Up close, Chris could see that a slender, pale line of a scar now bisected Jason’s right eyebrow. The line mercifully skipped over his eye, but picked up again on his cheek, running down to the sharp line of his jaw. It made his cheekbones look even more pronounced and seemed to pull the line of his lips slightly crooked, though that wasn’t easy to judge, since he seemed to be clenching his jaw.
“I believe you agreed six months ago that there was nothing more to say,” Jason replied, his voice ragged, betraying emotions that didn’t show on his face. “And you didn’t want to subject yourself to a long, awkward ride.”
“A lot can change in six months,” Chris pointed out, aching to reach out and touch Jason but knowing he didn’t have that right yet. “You have. So have I.”
“Is that so?” Jason regarded him with narrowed eyes, a muscle twitching slightly in his jaw. It was something Chris recognized at once as a “tell,” an indicator that Jason wasn’t nearly as unaffected by Chris’ presence as he was trying to appear; sometimes the little things he’d learned from being around people in the physical side of the security business were quite useful.
“Yes, that’s so,” Chris replied quietly. This was the part where he laid himself utterly bare and held nothing back, which was terrifying, but it was necessary if he wanted any hope of winning Jason back. “I’ve had plenty of time to think about what an idiot I was. I’m sorry I hurt you, and I’m sorry I didn’t trust you. You didn’t do anything wrong. It was all me and my stupid insecurities getting in the way. Letting you go was the biggest mistake of my life.”
Jason’s eyes widened slightly as if he was surprised at Chris being so blunt and forthcoming. At first, he stared back at Chris, seeming to search for something. Finally he gave a terse nod. “I’m glad you realize that,” he said quietly.
“I do, and I’m willing to do anything to make up for my stupidity.” Chris took a little step closer, gazing up at Jason hopefully. “I’ve missed you so much, Jason. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about how good we were together. I came here to see if there was any way you’d consider giving me a second chance.”
Again, Jason didn’t answer immediately, and this time, there was no mistaking the pain in the look he gave Chris. “There’s a problem with that.” He glanced away from Chris and frowned. “Trust has to go both ways.”

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And the last book, so far, Where Angels Fear To Tread 


Mercs rush in where angels fear to tread…

Lee Albright is a photojournalist who loves traveling and the challenge of his job, but when he’s asked to shoot a calendar for charity, he can’t resist — especially since the models are the men of Hercules Security, some of the sexiest hunks he’s ever seen. Things get even better when he meets Mr. July, Geo Kensei, and the instant spark of attraction between them quickly bursts into an all-consuming flame.

Geo is exactly the kind of intense, dominating top Lee needs to fulfill all his fantasies, while Lee’s sensitivity and artistic soul tempt Geo to bind the gorgeous man to him with more than just ropes.

Unfortunately their careers force them to part ways, though they’re both anxious for a quick reunion. But in the midst of a war-torn city they meet again, and now Geo, the merc everyone calls “Saint”, must use every tool and skill he possesses to get both Lee and his client out of danger, while a frightened and confused Lee has a hard time finding the comfort he needs in Geo’s cold, hard pragmatism. Geo’s intense focus on the mission is all that’s keeping the three of them alive, but will it also end up costing him any chance to be with Lee?


Lee began taking turns at random, hoping to shake anyone chasing after him. His breath was scalding his lungs, and his legs were starting to ache from the strain as he pushed himself to run faster. He didn’t dare look back, terrified he’d see someone gaining on him, gun in hand, ready to shoot him down.
When he finally slowed, he found himself in the midst of an area that appeared deserted. No one was coming up behind him, but he could hear shouting not too far away, and he was certain they hadn’t yet given up. He couldn’t run forever. He needed to find a place to hide. Then, when they gave up, he could try to find his way back to the hotel.
Keeping close to the buildings, he crept from doorway to doorway, listening for the shout that would mean he’d been discovered. He heard more gunfire and a few desperate cries as he slipped into an alley, peering around the corner to make certain no one was following him. As he stood there, breathing hard, a hand clamped down over his mouth, and a strong arm snaked around his torso, pinning his arms to his side as he was yanked into a dark, open doorway.
His scream was muffled by hard fingers as he flailed wildly, trying to escape his captor. His mind was filled with images of his own death, spurring him into panic, but all his struggling didn’t loosen his captor’s steely grip in the slightest.
“Lee! Lee, stop it! Everything’s all right.”
The voice in his ear was deep and familiar, and Lee stopped struggling. The arms around him loosened, only to spin him in place until he was looking into a familiar face. Then Geo’s arms were around him again, pulling him close, and Geo claimed his lips in a desperate kiss.
Lee’s legs nearly gave way from the weight of his relief, and he moaned as he wound his arms around Geo’s shoulders. He parted his lips eagerly, clinging to Geo as tightly as he could to reassure himself that this was real and he was safe at last.
Geo deepened the kiss, but then he groaned and pulled back, breathing deeply. “We have to go right now,” he said, his voice barely more than a whisper, but holding an edge of authority Lee had never heard from him before.
“I’m good with that,” Lee murmured, curling his fingers around Geo’s hard biceps. He couldn’t believe Geo was here, that they had found each other in this hellhole against all odds, but he wasn’t about to question his luck.

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Our favorite things:

McKay and I do share a love of many, many things, and here are a few:
  • CAKE! -- This is always expressed in all caps with exclamation point. 
  • Chocolate -- The universal female panacea, which we both love
  • Norman Reedus -- we are both incredible Daryl fangirls
  • Jane Eyre -- What can I say? Those who get it, get it. ;)
  • Star Trek and Star Wars -- we get together every year at a Trek convention.
  • Firefly -- Captain Tightpants could own us both if he wanted to.
  • Knitting/Sewing -- we both love to create things, and not only with words
  • Corsets -- we both have several
  • Dorky t-shirts -- the geekier, the better!
  • Arms -- a hot guy in a sleeveless shirt, with well muscled biceps? YUM.

More about the authors:

Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, and action/adventure. Their work includes the Blood Bathory series of paranormal novels, the Herc’s Mercs series, as well as two historical Westerns: Heart of Stone and Finding Forgiveness. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge watching TV shows together.

Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day who is eagerly looking forward to (hopefully) becoming a full time writer in the not-too-distant future. Now that she is an empty-nester, she has turned her attentions to finding the perfect piece of land to build a fortress in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, and baking (and eating) far too many cakes.

McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.

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One lucky will will have his or her choice of one e-copy of 
a book in the Herc's Mercs series, winner's choice. Good luck!

Thanks for celebrating with us. Come back next week for more of Ari McKay's book, five little-known facts about them, and another chance to win.

Until then, happy reading!


  1. Great post I like the new covers for the Herc’s Mercs series.

  2. Loved it!! Can't wait to read them all.

  3. Angela:
    Congrats on being author of the month. I look forward to all the posts :)


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