After he’s kicked out for being gay, still reeling from being abandoned by the man he loves, Jude goes to live with his brother Beck, who thankfully is more than happy to take him in. But Jude has other secrets he’s yet to share, for fear that even Beck will reject him, leaving him well and truly alone.
Then he draws the attention of werewolves, and discovers that everything he thought he knew about Levi, the man who abandoned him, is a lie. But one lie leads to another, ending in a vast conspiracy that threatens to destroy everything Jude loves—and that doesn’t even begin to include the challenges that Beck is facing.
A huge thank you to Molly Lolly for having me on the blog today. My new release, Werewolf’s Tale and a Druid’s Sword, came out on August 31st. It’s the second book in the I.O.N. series and delves deeper in to the werewolf world that was hinted at in Ruby Red Booty Shorts and a Louisville Slugger. I’ve dropped by with an Exclusive Excerpt for your reading pleasure. 🙂
How could he begin to put Levi behind him and move on when his body betrayed him? In the torment of the predawn hours, Jude’s first waking thoughts were of Levi. His body thrummed with desire and love. He swore he smelled the sweat of Levi’s skin, and Jude burned with phantom touches from the lover in his dreams. In those brief moments of sleepy fog, he was convinced Levi was lost and in need of help. Then reality set in, and Jude was the only one who struggled to find his way. He didn’t know how to leave behind a love that had started before he’d even known what love was.
Cracking the bathroom door, Jude peered out into the hallway. He didn’t remember to grab a pair of shorts from the bedroom before he jumped into the shower, and he always felt too exposed wandering the house with only a towel to cover his ass. He kept forgetting to buy a robe. He hadn’t worried about his nudity when he lived at his parents’ house. He’d had the upstairs all to himself. Neither his mom nor dad ventured onto the second story, so he’d never been concerned about being seen.
Shooting from the bathroom to his bedroom, he secured and locked the bedroom door behind him. Sitting on the edge of his bed, he cleaned out his pants pockets, setting everything on the nightstand before throwing the garments into the hamper. He opened his wallet and drew out a folded slip of paper. It wasn’t strictly white anymore. The edges were soft, the crease thin enough to be nearly transparent. He couldn’t count the number of times he’d unfolded and read the note before storing it once again in his billfold.
At one time, he’d had such unshakeable faith in the man he loved. It almost seemed like another time, as if it all happened to a different Jude. The days leading up to Levi’s departure had been filled with quick kisses and exploration in snatched moments of solitude. There had been no sex. Jude had wanted to, but Levi had refused, claiming, “It’s not about the sex, Jude, it’s about us.” And Jude had fallen more in love.
The day after graduation, Jude’s world collapsed. He had arranged to spend the night with Levi. They were lying on the carpeted floor, playing Battlefield on Xbox, and eating potato chips out of the bag. Levi had been quiet the whole evening. They’d been friends for long enough he’d known Levi had something on his mind. “Ienlistedwiththemarines.” Levi had said it so fast all the words ran together. It had taken Jude a second to decipher what had been said.
The sounds of Jude’s character dying in the middle of an epic battle with a chorus of explosions had faded into the background. None if it had mattered. He hadn’t known Levi enlisted. The last several days, he’d believed they would still be together after Levi graduated. All of his hopes had been crushed with one simple statement.
He’d gazed at Levi with wide eyes. “What do you mean you joined the Marines? I thought you were staying here. Going to college… here.” Jude’s stomach had cramped when he thought about not being able to see Levi every day.
“My parents can’t afford college, and the Marines will help pay for school. I signed up with the recruiter almost a month ago.” Levi wouldn’t meet Jude’s gaze. With a sickening feeling in his stomach, he knew Levi hadn’t finished. “Besides, Jude, you’re only sixteen and I’ll be nineteen soon. Your parents will skin me alive and probably try to have me arrested if they found out about us. I can put my four years in with the Marines. When I get out, we can do whatever we want.”
“I can’t believe you didn’t tell me. Why didn’t you say anything? A month? Seriously? What the hell! What does my age have to do with anything?” Jude had tried to listen, but he was so upset his stomach churned. The perfect world he’d constructed was falling down around him. He hadn’t wanted Levi to go away. He’d known it was selfish of him. Levi was being responsible. He was always the responsible one, and at that moment, Jude had despised it.
Levi had finally glanced at Jude. His eyes were red rimmed and filled with sorrow. The expression on his face was one of barely controlled agony. “Do you think I did this for me? I have loved you since…”
Levi had choked back tears and scrubbed at his eyes, and Jude threw himself at his best friend, straddled his lap, buried his face in Levi’s neck. He clutched Levi tightly, Levi’s arms encircling him as they sobbed together.
“I want—need—to be more for you. I want it all, a relationship, a house, sharing our lives. I want to be someone you’ll be proud of. If I do this, then we’ll have a good start.”
Jude had snuffled into Levi’s shoulder. “Did you mean it?” Drudging up his courage, Jude had sat up and gazed at Levi, taking in his straight nose and the curve of his lips. “Did you mean what you said?”
Jude had leaned into Levi’s palms when Levi cupped his cheek, brushing a soft kiss over Jude’s plump lips. “Yes, I love you,” he’d breathed. “For so very long. I don’t know if I can ever stop.”
That night, they’d made out until their lips were stinging and raw. Jude had been afraid of the dawn and held tight to Levi. He’d whispered some of the sappiest things, but it had felt right as he’d lain in Levi’s strong arms. He’d run his fingers through Levi’s dark-brown hair, memorizing the silky texture, and gazed into those huge green eyes surrounded by long, sooty lashes. It had been corny and sweet and everything he’d needed at the time.
In the morning, Levi had kissed him one final time before they’d left the bedroom. At the station, Levi had boarded the bus that would take him to basic training. Before climbing the steps, he’d slipped an envelope into Jude’s hand. Jude had sworn he wouldn’t cry. So he’d smiled, and yelled, and waved like a lunatic until the bus turned the corner. Spinning on his heel, he’d run to the first secluded spot he could find and read the letter with shaking hands.
No matter what happens, I will always come for you. Love, Levi
Jude stared down at that same slip of paper, reliving the swirl of emotions he’d felt when he first opened the letter. All of the talk about their parents, how he felt about Beck and Diego, and his feelings for Levi had left Jude emotionally exhausted. He thought he might be able deal with Levi moving on as long as he could confirm Levi was safe and sound.
Sometimes he had this sense Levi had died. Jude struggled with the sorrow that swamped him at those odd and sudden thoughts. He assumed not knowing had allowed his mind to supply the horrific scenarios. He needed to break this cycle or he’d become a freakish stalker or lose himself to depression. No—that wasn’t correct—he was already losing himself to a dark downward spiral. To pull out, he needed to find the resolve to move on.
Sighing heavily at his morose thoughts, he reread the note one more time before carefully folding it back up. To start over, he’d have to put Levi in the past. He opened the nightstand drawer to drop the note in but he couldn’t ignore how wrong it felt. After closing the dresser drawer, he placed the slip of paper carefully back into this wallet. Jude switched off the light and then crawled under the covers. The thought of starting over hurt too damn much.
“I should’ve told him I only ever wanted him to love me.” Jude sighed into the shadows before sleep took him under.
Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.
September 1: MM Goodbook Reviews
September 2: GGR Reviews, BFD Books
September 3: Prism Book Alliance
September 4: Love Bytes Reviews
September 5: The Novel Approach
September 6: Molly Lolly: Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words
September 7: Hearts On Fires Reviews
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