Three Romances. One Anthology
*Enjoy three out-of-print stories for the price of one!*
Sometimes the greatest romance can be found in the vastness of space...
TRASH AND TREASURES
Tucker has spent his entire life as an interstellar trash man. But ever since his mother died, he’s been alone, and certainly lonely. So when he discovers the derelict ship he scooped up has an occupant—a beautiful young man named Ronan—Tucker is thrilled.
Ronan is royalty and running from his tyrannical mother, determined to keep a powerful object out of her hands. But when he strikes a deal with the adorable Tucker, he wonders if it’s time to stop running.
Or during one’s loneliest hour...
William was a soldier until an IED severely wounded and scarred his body. Now he lives a quiet life in a small village in the Black Forest and is the caretaker of the church and caregiver to the local priest. He’s grown fond of the two stone gargoyles on the bell tower and often speaks to them, reminding himself of Quasimodo. But on his thirty-seventh birthday he learns a stunning secret—the gargoyles aren’t what they seem.
Or among dear friends in their darkest time of need...
A GIANT'S FRIEND
For three years, Jeth and Kodie and their soldiers have guarded a hostile mountain pass against the invading Dathians in a war that has waged for decades. Jeth has the blood of giants running through his veins, and it has caused bigotry and death to dog his steps his entire life. After a childhood tragedy shatters his world, it takes the courage and loyalty of his best friend, Kodie, to protect him from himself. Jeth knows he’s a danger to everyone around him and joins the army to control and focus the black rage inherited from his bestial bloodline.
Kodie follows his friend into the army, determined to stay close to the one he loves most. He has never revealed his deeper feelings for Jeth, and is ignorant of Jeth’s own feelings. Their bond is too precious for either of them to risk rejection. Yet they might have to take the chance when Kodie’s life is threatened, and their enemy forges an alliance with a giant clan. Jeth must call upon his darker heritage to brave the hostile environment to make an alliance of his own—with a giant clan that knows more about him than he does himself.
- 3 To Be Read lists
Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Tropes: Friends to Lovers, Menage
Languages Available: English
Kodie led the charge through the thick snow and brutal wind. He wouldn’t grant the fleeing Dathian soldiers mercy, not this time. He shouted at his soldiers to keep going, keep pursuing. They pounded down the rough trail, the land and weather unforgiving and cruel to all sides. Every enemy soldier he reached, Kodie cut down with his sword and axe, and his soldiers were every bit as determined.
Yet so intent was he on pursing the enemy, he only realized where they were when it was too late. The frozen lake cracked under their feet, and he ordered his troops to halt. Unfortunately, the battle frenzy held many in sway, and they continued to run, stomping on the ice, weakening it.
He yelled at them. “Stop! Halt!”READ MORE
The cracks deepened before spreading like spider webs under the feet of Dathians and Senicians alike. Kodie managed to grab a few of his own soldiers and yanked them back but too many were beyond help. The ice broke, upended, sending many into the frigid water.
“No!” He could only watch as nearly half of his unit disappeared under the ice. He and those by his side managed to drag a handful of soldiers out of the water. The rest were gone. Far beyond hope.
Bracing his hands on his knees, Kodie stared wide-eyed at the disaster. Soon the lake was calm again, serene and deadly like a sleeping saberwolf. All the Dathian soldiers perished but that was small comfort. One of his soldiers wailed, a woman named Skadha. She ripped off her helmet and fell to her knees, keening in sorrow. Several more women took up the keen and he let them. The dead would not get a proper burial. At least they would be given the respect of the keen.
Kodie straightened and pushed his long blond hair out of his eyes. It hung in small braids as was the custom of his people, but it was forever tangled. He hated the cold and snow. He hated these mountains. He hated all of this.
“A storm’s coming in,” Dagur said. His beard was long and thick as Kodie’s own, obscuring half his face. “We need to leave, Commander.”
“I know.” Yet he let the women finish their keen. When they fell silent and stood, he waved to those left and pointed back the way they’d come. Their breaths fanned out in front of their faces, and Kodie let the wounded lead, then the able women and men, and he brought up the rear. He kept looking over his shoulder, wishing the images and screams of the dying would leave his mind. Wishing to travel back in time and stop his soldiers before the edge of that accursed lake. He’d been stationed on the Curllun mountain for three years, and he was still learning the terrain, and moments like this reminded him he should do more of the scouting personally.
Curllun Mountain was the highest peak of the Lash Mountain Range, and it was named after the man who had successfully navigated it centuries ago. Curllun discovered the only safe pass through the range and settled in what was now Senica, and founded a small village that quickly grew into the capital city of Thuron, where the king sat. The range cleanly divided the kingdom of Senica and the neighboring Dathia.
Kodie’s half of the Senician army guarded that pass against Dathian invasion. The insane, genocidal king of Dathia wanted more land, more slaves, so he threw every resource at conquering Senica. But the dangerous mountains and thickly fortified ports at sea, along with Senica’s superior fleet, blocked his forward motion. That didn’t stop him in the least. For generations the kingdoms had been at war, though the bloodshed increased when King Kurmain had taken the throne decades earlier. It needed to end, somehow. Someday. Kodie just hoped it was before the extinction of the human species.
Kodie followed his troops into the cave where they camped and dreaded reporting his failure to his general. He winced and glanced at the sky, observing the dark clouds, feeling the sharp cut of the wind. He considered it a failure despite the dead enemy. All his brothers and sisters in arms lost. Grief clutched his breast. He fought against it and walked into the cave, determined to tend to the wounded. He wouldn’t lose anyone else.
Kodie stared at the ground, shivering. He pulled his cloak closer, knowing it wouldn’t help much. Even his thick breeches and fur-lined cloak barely muted the frigid punch. He stood inside his general’s tent, waiting for a response. He’d reported his actions as duty commanded and shame filled every word. Ignorance and battle greed lost them good soldiers. Such was the burden of command.
He led most of the soldiers back to main camp and sent another small unit to relieve those left behind in the cave. There were other such temporary camps pocketed around the only trail known to bisect the Lash Mountains. Senician soldiers kept an eye on several parts of the trail to make sure Dathians didn’t get too far. A few Senician scouts reported other trails that could also be used to scale the mountains but they were far more hazardous. Yet Kodie wouldn’t put it past the Dathians, and their king, to grow desperate and use them.
There was yet another looming threat in those mountains beyond the weather, deadly terrain, and enemy soldiers: giants. Both mountain and ice giants thrived up here, so close to the clouds and frozen sky. Yet after generations of the army stationed on the mountains, not once had giants given them any attention. Kodie was thankful for that. The very last thing they needed was to be noticed by those enormous beasts.
“You didn’t know the lake was there.” His general’s voice was deep and rough, and though he spoke softly, Kodie knew he could trumpet his words over large distances.
Kodie looked at his general’s back and swallowed hard. “I did, sir. I am ashamed to say I did. But I didn’t realize we were standing on the blasted lake until it was too late. It was only when the ice cracked under my feet that I come to my senses and order the troops back.”
Little good it did.
“It was careless, Kodie. You were careless, and we lost soldiers because of it.”
“Yes, sir.” Kodie grimaced. He stared at the general’s hunched back as he leaned over the table, over the map held down with rocks. Despite his rank, their general had few comforts. They were nearly all equals up here, where survival was a daily struggle. They depended on each other for food and warmth. Without trust and loyalty, they would all perish.
Furs blanketed the floor at the back of the tent, indicating the sleeping area. The table was the only piece of furniture, and Kodie knew the map was continually being added to, every time a scout reported new cliffs, lakes, or peaks. Apparently, units before them didn’t deem that a worthy endeavor, and Kodie always cursed them for their carelessness. Previous units had been lulled into complacency by long periods of inactivity. With King Kurmain all that changed.
The general straightened as much as the tent would allow. Around eight feet tall, General Jeth was intimidating and powerful, broad and vicious. Kodie also knew he could be gentle and playful, and would even sing when he was in the mood.
They’d been friends for twenty years. Good friends. Brothers. Due to that bond, Kodie felt his failure more acutely.
Jeth turned around, and Kodie straightened his shoulders and lifted his chin. He stood over six feet himself, taller than anyone of his acquaintance. It was humbling to be near Jeth and feel dwarfed, though he was mostly used to it, since Jeth had always been taller and broader than him.
With black hair, onyx eyes, and dark skin, Jeth was a sight to behold. His heavy, thick brow gave him a perpetually angry expression, and the brutish structure of his face and body indicated his deadly heritage. Giant blood ran through his veins, and it gave him strength, height, and imperviousness to cold. He also retained their darker nature. Their black rage.
“I’m disappointed in you,” Jeth said. “But I can hardly throw any stones. More than anyone here, I know what it is to be lost in battleCGRA frenzy.”
Their eyes met, sharing a tragic memory that still haunted them both.
“I’m sorry, Jeth,” Kodie whispered.
“I know.” Jeth stepped closer and pulled Kodie into his arms, holding him tightly against his chest. Kodie locked his arm around Jeth’s waist, taking deep breaths of his scent, and it calmed him, warmed him inside-out. He indulged himself for a moment and buried his face against Jeth’s chest. Jeth’s body was always a furnace, and for the first time in years, Kodie felt warm.
Jeth could easily crush him without much effort but Kodie’s trust in his friend was absolute. Long past was any fear that Jeth would hurt him. Physically, at least.
“We will get through this. We will survive this, or so help me, we die, taking as many of those bastards with us as possible.”
Kodie smiled. “Damn right.”
Jeth pulled back, and Kodie nearly clutched him tighter, wanting to stay in that safe, warm cocoon for the rest of his life. He called himself pathetic and forced his arms to drop, forced his expression blank. Jeth gently tugged his beard and Kodie snorted. Playing along, Kodie reached up and tugged Jeth’s thick, bushy beard. Jeth grinned, white teeth flashing.
“The women keened,” Kodie said, returning to sober events. “The dead got that much.”
“General!” a soldier shouted from beyond the tent.
TRASH AND TREASURES:
This short story was originally published in “Theory of Love” anthology by Torquere Press, now defunct. I really enjoyed writing these characters. For this reprint, I honestly had nothing to add to this story. It was perfect the way it was. To add anything more would be to make it a novella or novel, and not the short story it was always meant to be.
I hope you enjoy it, and take it for what it is: a cute sci-fi romance involving two lonely young men searching for connection and acceptance.
This story was originally published in “Harvest Moon” anthology by Torquere Press, now defunct. One major requirement was the story had to involve a supernatural creature. I decided there weren’t enough stories about gargoyles, so I decided to center my story on them.
It didn’t seem to go over well with readers, which always puzzled me. I loved it the way it unfolded but after reading some reviews, I decided to expand it a bit and add a couple of elements not present in the original. But much like “Trash and Treasures,” to add too much more would be to turn the story into a novella or novel, and it was always mean to be a short story. It might not be a story for everyone and that’s all right. I can’t please everyone, and I don’t set out to try. Short stories are always hard because, well, they’re short. I endeavored to focus on the romance and let the rest unfold.
I hope you enjoy it, or at least appreciate it for what it is: a sweet love story about finding acceptance in the most unlikely of places.
A GIANT'S FRIEND:
This story was originally published by Torquere Press back in 2011. It had a lot of issues with it that didn’t get resolved during the editing process, and I regret that. One cruel reviewer decided to point out every single flaw, and I felt skewered and flayed alive. You see, it was my first published book, and I was terrified and excited. Then I was sliced to bits by her sharp tongue and only managed to limp along by sheer force of will. I never did manage to read her entire review. I decided not to flog myself with her merciless opinions.
I have certainly grown as a writer. I know I have. I can only continue to grow and become increasingly better and stronger. And I believe it’s time to use the skills I’ve learned to tear this book apart and put it back together so it shines as it was always meant to.
This story will always hold a special place in my heart because it opened up the world of publishing for me. It gave me the confidence to follow my dreams, to run down that path at full speed, and if I crash into walls, well, then I will make it a spectacular crash that sheds blood and tears. I won’t be stopped. I won’t allow anyone that power of me and my muse. Writing is a part of who I am, it’s part of my soul. I am a storyteller, and I have many stories to tell.
This second edition of “A Giant’s Friend” has been fully revised from top to bottom and expanded and polished until it shines. I truly hope you enjoy it, whether you were brave enough to purchase the original or are coming to the story for the first time.
It is what it is. It doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. Take it or leave it, the choice is yours.