QSFer Rory Ni Coileain has a new MM paranormal/fantasy book out:
Rhoann Callte, Rhoann Half-Royal, is an impossible Fae. As a shape-shifter, he carries the blood of Fae water elementals and has a once-in-a-generation healing gift. Which is his blessing, or his curse, depending on how you look at it – his gift is needed among the exiled Fae of the Demesne of Purgatory, and he’s coerced from his beloved solitude and sent on a one-way trip to the human world.
Vietnam veteran Mac McAllan has been through hell in the last few months, and not just because his new C-leg isn’t performing up to spec. He and his partner of 34 years, stocky bald muscle bear Lucien de Winter, were working at Purgatory when what the owner said was a gas explosion collapsed the building – and put Lucien into a coma back in August. Now it’s October, and an impossibly handsome stranger says he can heal Lucien. But there’s always a price…
A Fae who wants only to be left alone, SoulShared with a human who’s already found the love of his life… and the Marfach testing their incomplete bond, seeking the key to its watery prison. What could go wrong?
Book Seven of the SoulShares Series
Excerpt from Chapter Six of UNDERTOW (this is a flashback Lucien is having, to the early days of his relationship with Mac)
Lucien let the barbells drop to the floor with a thump that would have pissed off anyone living downstairs, if he didn’t have a basement apartment. His biceps were burning, his triceps felt like a couple of bags of dead mice, and his lats and his pecs weren’t speaking to him or to each other. But damn, it all felt good. And the aches wouldn’t last long, none of his aches and pains ever did. Though a shower would feel amazing right now.
His legs made a ripping sound as he stood up, sweaty skin peeling away from the cheap vinyl of what passed for his weight bench. It would be nice to be able to afford a gym membership, but there was no way, not on a part-time grease monkey’s wages. Small-time service station owners weren’t making the killing everyone thought they were, this summer of ‘crisis of confidence’. National malaise. Whatever. So until he could figure out how to print money, he was on his own, trying to keep up with Mac.
Just the thought of Mac made him grin like an idiot as he headed for the john. His boyfriend was getting in some killer workouts lately, part of a new program he’d been assigned to. Mac had already been built when they’d met, and Lucien had always been hot for military types. But Mac was part of a team at Walter Reed that was working on ways to get amputees healthy and keep them that way. And Mac was incredibly fucking healthy.
Lucien shucked off his muscle tee as he headed for the shower. Wearing it in the first place was kind of a pain in the ass. Even below ground, D.C. was hotter than hell in August; he couldn’t afford air conditioning, either, and all the little fan in the corner did was move the hot humid air around. But he was just fastidious enough not to want to leave his short-and-curlies all over everything.
Fastidious. Hell. He was a fussy twenty-year-old queen. Furry cub. And wannabe gym rat.
Laughing, he reached into the shower. The rotating handle sounded like glass being raked down a chalkboard; tepid water sluiced over his hand.
A fist banged on his front door.
Lucien turned the water off, ignoring the screech. “Who is it?”
“It’s me, Lucien. Mac.”
He’d never heard his Marine boyfriend’s voice sound like that before. Like someone was trying to choke him. Lucien sprinted to the door — not like he had far to go, calling his place an ‘efficiency’ was dignifying it — unlocked it, and swung the door wide.
Mac stood there in the dank hallway, scalp gleaming under his regulation brush cut in the light from the crap bare bulb overhead, in what Lucien guessed were the uniform khakis he wore on duty. Guessed, because apart from the day they’d met, Mac hadn’t dared to be seen with him in uniform. Lucien understood. The facts of life were harsh, for a gay man in the United States Marine Corps in the Year of Our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Nine.
And underneath a sheen of sweat, Mac was as pale as paste. “Can I come in?” It sounded like he was having trouble breathing.
What the hell? “Yeah, sure.”
Lucien headed straight for the kitchenette as Mac walked past him. He didn’t have much on hand in the way of food, but alongside the round cardboard oatmeal box and the green box of elbow macaroni in the cupboard was a half-full bottle of Jack Daniels. He grabbed it, and two glasses — Foghorn Leghorn and Pepe le Pew, courtesy of Jack’s Sunoco — and turned around.
Mac stood in the middle of the room, surrounded by the weight bench and the old armchair and the TV set on the chest of drawers and the mattress, flat on the floor because Lucien had never been able to figure out why he should bother putting it on anything. And Mac looked as lost as anyone Lucien had ever seen.
Lucien glanced around; not seeing anyplace better, he set the bottle and glasses on the floor and went to Mac. To his boyfriend. As bizarre as that sounded to him. Hesitantly he reached up and rested his hands on Mac’s shoulders, and winced as the taller man flinched. “What is it? Did something happen?”
It almost seemed like Mac hadn’t heard him, for a few seconds. And when he finally spoke, it was like he was remembering how. “Major Rawlings called me into his office, right after lunch.”
Mac didn’t sound like he wanted to go on, and Lucien sure as hell didn’t want to say anything stupid like “And?” or “So?” So he gritted his teeth and waited, and wondered if maybe he should try to grab the bottle.
“He told me… that he had photographic evidence that I’d engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of the armed forces.” Mac’s voice was hoarse. Soft. Like he didn’t want to hear what he was saying. “That my court-martial will be convening the second week of September.”
Lucien stared, his mind racing. Racing, hell. Pedal to the metal and smoke coming out of the transmission.
He didn’t get to spend a lot of time with Mac. He didn’t like it, but he understood. The Marine Corps was Mac’s first love. His biggest. Mac gave Lucien what didn’t get in the way of that love.
Maybe everything that didn’t. Lucien wasn’t sure. He hoped so.
He didn’t have all of Mac. But he had enough to understand that the big Marine’s world had just ended.
Mac swayed a little. Lucien probably wouldn’t have noticed if his hands hadn’t been on those hard shoulders.
He tightened his grip.
Am I enough to keep him from falling?
He didn’t feel like enough. Mac had always felt like more, larger than life. Maybe because Mac had always seen himself as part of something bigger.
Lucien had never been part of something bigger than himself.
Fuck if he hadn’t.
He was part of himself and Mac.
And no one took his Marine down. Not on Lucien’s watch.
Rory Ni Coileain majored in creative writing, back when Respectable Colleges didn’t offer such a major, so she designed it herself – being careful to ensure that she never had to take a class before nine in the morning or take a Hemingway survey course. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa at the age of nineteen, sent off her first short story to an anthology being assembled by an author she idolized, got the kind of rejection letter that puts therapists’ kids through college (Ivy League), and found other things to do, such as nightclub singing and volunteering as a lawyer with Gay Men’s Health Crisis, for the next thirty years or so, until her stories started whispering to her. Now she’s a legal editor, the mother of a budding filmmaker, and amanuensis to a host of fantastic creatures who are all anxious to tell their stories. And who aren’t very good at waiting their turn.