Monday, December 29, 2014

Early Birthday Snippet and Giveaway!

Hey guys!
So my next novel, We Found Love, co-authored with my close friend Allison Cassatta, is releasing January 5th. (Omg so close!) [Click Here] to pre-order from Dreamspinner Press  or [Click Here] for Amazon.  I've been posting Snippet Sundays/Saturdays here on my blog in the preceding weeks to promo. Well, I got some early birthday presents (my birthday is January 6th, The big 2-7 this year.) which had me thinking "why not share this good mood with my badass readers/friends?" So I thought why not post another snippet, since this coming up Sunday's is the final one before release day. Then stay tuned after the Snippet for a giveaway that includes a signed paperback and copies of eBooks.

Hello, my name’s Hunter, and I’m an alcoholic,” he said clearly into the microphone on the podium he stood behind, facing a small crowd of fellow alcoholics, familiar and unfamiliar alike.
Hello, Hunter,” the group said in unison.
I’ve been sober for ten months.” He paused for the obligatory smattering of applause. His face scanned the crowd, noticing his sponsor, Gianna, giving him a thumbs-up from the back. “In the last months I’ve been hospitalized, jumped through the hoops to work on my recovery, lost a friend—well, friends.” He closed his eyes and felt a moment of grief for his friends.
I’ve completed rigorous therapy,” he continued, directing his attention back to the faces in the crowd. “I think the scariest part has been working to stay sober and make amends with people who didn’t deserve the crap I’ve passed around over the last six years.”
A deep breath. “Not long ago, someone said to me, ‘Live your life.’ That really resonated with me, because so many people I know didn’t live their lives. Some died too young.” Riley came to mind, blurrier at the edges than ever thanks to too much time having passed. Hunter couldn’t even remember the man’s voice, just the slightest memories of his laugh. “Some just can’t because of their circumstances. So I realized what a huge freakin’ blessing this chance was for me.
This isn’t a second chance. No way. More like my ninth life. I hate thinking it’s my last, but it feels that way sometimes. So I’m gonna keep going. Hopefully I’ll see them again, but I’m sure as hell gonna keep living, for myself and for them.” He stepped back from the podium, signaling the end of his sharing. The applause this round was a little more heartfelt than obligatory. Gianna stood up in the back, clapping her hands above her head for him but keeping it at a respectful volume.
He walked back to the seat Gianna had saved for him, getting a playful punch in the arm as he sat down. Her sparkling eyes beamed with pride. “Good job,” she whispered. He gave a single nod with a wink of appreciation. He wouldn’t pat himself on the back too much. It had definitely been a long, hard road. He’d even wandered into a bar after a particularly ugly disagreement with his brother two months earlier. But he hadn’t had more than a Diet Coke before heading back to his apartment to sift through his letters from Riley.

He kept each and every one, safely tucked away in a box under his bed. He’d read them all a hundred times. 

And that's it for the snippet. Now, on to the giveaway:

5 Winners Receive Anything From My Backlist.

3 Winners Receive eBook Copies of We Found Love on Release Day as well as eBook Copy of Any Backlist Title They Choose 

1 Winner Receives Paperback Copy of We Found Love Signed By Me, eBook Copy, and Any Backlist Title 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! And I hope you enjoyed the snippet! See you this weekend for the final Snippet then it's release day!!


Dreamspinner Press  |  GoodReads  |  ARe  |  Amazon
Coming January 5, 2015!
Pre-Order Available Now!


Saturday, December 27, 2014

We Found Love: Snippet Saturday

Heya guys!

So I give up. Haha. I keep doing it early so we'll just call this Snippet Saturday. Only two more rounds to go before the release on Monday, January 5. My birthday is that Tuesday... er. But I get less excited about that as we get closer. But I'm still super stoked for you guys to read Hunter & Riley's story.

Okay. So here's the deal. This week's snippet, unlike the others, is just a snippet. I had to stop with all the effing excerpts, haha. This is a hard part of the book we've gotten to. These guys met in a mental hospital, but obviously no one would believe in their HEA, they wouldn't have had an HEA if life had continued as it was. They're moving to the part of the story where they have to be apart and do some growing on their own, because they desperately need it, hoping to come back together and be better for each other in the end while fearing they never will. This is part of a larger couple of chapters that I felt was one of the most heartbreaking parts of writing this book, while also being beautiful because I got to grow with them. Ugh. So here's a bit from there.

Please take me with you.
Please don’t forget about me.
Don’t leave me.
He threaded his arms around Hunter’s waist, buried his face in the bend of Hunter’s neck, and held on with without mercy. He hoped with everything inside him this wouldn’t be the last time he laid eyes on Hunter. The universe felt wrong without Hunter in it.
Hunter pulled back first, jawline rippling. The blue of his eyes darkened, searing their sorrowful imprints into Riley’s memory. “Good luck… getting out of here,” he said, and not in a doubtful, meaningless way. He said it like he genuinely wanted Riley on the other side of those doors with him.
Turning his head, Hunter stepped back. He didn’t hurry to the double doors like a man who’d finally been handed his freedom. He took slow, measured steps, shoulders slack, void of the strength and conviction Hunter always had. His head hung ever so slightly. The doors opened. Hunter stepped through. Then he was gone.
The arms that once held Hunter so tightly wrapped around Riley’s body, a command issued by his mind to prepare for his breaking heart. He’d been lying to himself, thinking he could be the better man and be happy for Hunter’s release. He hated it. Cursed it. Wanted Hunter to come running back through those doors like people always did in those shitty movies Mimi used to watch. Where the fuck was his happily ever after?
His back hit the wall, and Riley became distinctly aware of the fact he’d been walking backward. Without the sudden dull throb in his spine, he would’ve never known. And that new pain crowned the shit out of the emotional tornado building inside him, and that breakdown he’d been trying not to have… it happened, right in the middle of the hall so every nutcase in the joint could watch him fall apart. His shoulders curled forward, wrenching with every gut-twisting sob. He couldn’t fight his tears anymore.

Hunter looked back at Riley one last time before the doors shut on him. Every step he took after that was like a saw, severing something that could never be stitched back together. An orderly guided him down a hall he’d never been in—at least, if he had, he was still too trashed at the time to remember.
The warren he was led through was dingier than the rooms he’d been housed in the last couple of months, air dustier and less sterile. Nurses, orderlies, and doctors passed by, not giving him a second glance in his street clothes. He’d forgotten how quickly one became anonymous, how unimportant they became when they were just a normal person in the normal world.
He wasn’t stressed about seeing the outside again, not really. He was nervous, scared shitless he’d find a way to mess this up. He was scared to death his brother would reject him, that he’d fall back in with his drinking buddies, because he’d faced facts, he had no friends. That’s why Riley’s attentions in the beginning had been so welcome.
But now, after this journey, after these long weeks of suffering, overthinking, being picked and prodded, he was confident he could survive a little rejection from the people he’d been nothing more than free vodka to in hopes of finding people who’d care even a fraction as much as Riley had.
Riley, though. The tether trying to pull him back down toward the hell he’d wanted out of so badly was caving his chest inward, crushing his heart, stealing what little air he could draw into his lungs. That was good-bye. Good-bye when they’d barely said their hello.

That's it for this week. The next week's will be the last before release day! After all these months (finished writing this in June!) I am so ready for Riley and Hunter to be out there for everyone to see. I'll probably always be more proud of this book than most I've written. Anywho. Thanks if you stuck around til now. You can pre-order at Dreamspinner Press [Click Here]. They've got some great holiday sales going on right now so it's the perfect time!


Coming January 5, 2015!
Pre-Order Available Now!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

We Found Love: Snippet Sunday 2

We Found Love (which is available for [Pre-Order] now, releasing from Dreamspinner Press January 5) Snippet Sunday time again guys! And again, this one is kinda long. This part of the story is right after Hunter and Riley have gone on their first "date" in their secret ward of the hospital. We meet a new friend, who's going to help shape our boys a lot through the course of the story. Poor Bubba. I adored this character, probably moved more by him than any of my other secondaries. He was just such a good soul. Anyways... so this is a fun moment where we also get to see Riley's jealousy pop up for the first time, too, defensive little bastard. Hope you guys enjoy!

As Hunter took his seat and opened the container to study its contents—a dry-looking hamburger with no condiments, yay—he heard the booming voice of the orderly who’d broken up Riley and Big Hispanic Guy’s fight.

You gonna behave, or I gotta stand in here over you, Willby?” He was holding Bubba the Newbie by the arm.

You got it, Big Boy,” Bubba said, saluting the orderly. The orderly grunted and released his arm, telling him to go get his tray and shut up.

After Bubba had retrieved his food, he spotted Hunter and gave a smartass smile. Hunter just shook his head, already feeling amused exasperation as the guy strutted his way. “Yo, you helped me stay out of restraints.”

Did I now?”

I was just about to start kicking when you told me to calm my tits.”

Hunter laughed. “That’s me. Jiminy Fucking Cricket.”

Well, Jiminy, this seat taken?” He didn’t wait for a response before plopping down in the chair directly across from Hunter at the table.

By all means, Bubba.”

It’s Shane, actually.”

Like I said, Bubba.”

Bubba laughed, a loud belly laugh that was totally out of place in the cold, sterile halls of the hospital. “I like you, Jim.”

It’s Hunter.”

He gave Hunter a pointed look, still smiling. “Like I said, Jim, formerly known as Jiminy Fucking Cricket. So what you in for?” He was drumming his hands on the table, eyes starting to dart around the room, not nervously but unable to focus on one thing.

Avoiding the question, Hunter said, “I didn’t know they locked people up for ADHD.”

Bubba snorted, giving Hunter a smirk. “Manic, buddy. I got a little bipolar problem.”

A little one?”

Well, more a problem staying on the meds.”

So you like being all…. Hyped up?” Hunter wanted to laugh when Bubba turned his head sideways, confusion like the big dumb dog he was crossing his face.

Of course. Who wants to be a pill zombie?”

Never bothered me all that much.”

Ah. A D and A boy?”

Among other things, apparently,” Hunter said vaguely, taking a bite of his hamburger. Bubba snorted and sped up his drumming on the table, almost banging.

Hunter stared irritably at the quickly moving hands until they stopped. Bubba smirked, which seemed to be one of his favorite expressions. “Sorry. Gotta get it out somehow.”

You sure you don’t want to take those meds?” Please. Oh, my God. The energy was fun, but Hunter hated banging and tapping. It made him twitch. If Bubba was going to be doing it all the time, like Humming Man, he wasn’t sure he’d make it without throwing shit at him all the time.

Bubba just laughed, though. “I like you, Jim.”

It’s my lucky day,” Hunter said drily, earning another guffaw from Bubba. Okay, so the guy was all right. In a hyperactive, straight jock kinda way.

Hey.” Bubba’s head tilted in that confused way again. “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”

Hunter’s head snapped back. No, surely not. He’d remember someone this excitable. Certainly he’d remember someone, even a straight boy, who looked like that. “I don’t think so.”

Bubba drummed his fingers—on his chin this time, thankfully—thinking so hard it looked like smoke would come out of his poor ears at some point.

Don’t overdo it, man. I can hear rusty bolts trying to break in there.”

Bubba’s eyes widened before he snapped his fingers and pointed, bouncing in his seat. “Dude! Hunter Morgan?”

Hunter eyed Bubba warily. “Uh, yeah.”

Dude!” He said it louder than he needed.

Calm down, man,” Hunter hissed. “You’re gonna get us both sent to our rooms.”

Bubba settled… as much as he could, anyway. “You’re Travis Morgan’s little brother.”

Hunter frowned. “How….”

You fixed my Camaro last summer. Did a damn good job.”

Oh. Did we meet?”

Yeah, man. You were blitzed. Your brother looked pissed. I graduated with him, though, so when he promised you did good work I threw the work your way. You rocked it hard. That baby hasn’t run that well since I’ve owned it.”

Oh.” Hunter blushed. He knew he’d learned his shit, though he had been an ass about working at his brother’s shop at first. He’d never been complimented, though. He smiled at Bubba. “Glad it worked out.”

No shit. Small world, huh?”

No doubt,” Hunter said on a snorted laugh.

A movement from the corner of his eye caught Hunter’s attention. Riley stood in the doorway with his tray of food, glaring daggers at Hunter and his companion. Hunter kept smiling, waving at Riley. Riley scowled, passed his food to the old guy he usually played checkers with, and walked over to his chair by the window. Without a second glance at Hunter, he shoved Hunter’s chair back to where it belonged, by the couch, and plopped down in his own with his book. What the fuck?

Huh, I think I’ll call him Sunshine.”

Hunter turned back to Bubba, who’d apparently amused himself. “Say it to his face at your own risk, Bubba.”

Oh, Jim. A challenge? I love those.”

Hunter glanced back at Riley, who sat solitary, alone, and scowling as he read his book. “It’s your funeral.” Maybe mine too.

IT WASN'T BAD enough Riley had been verbally reamed by Dr. Landers, but to come back and find his only friend in that hellhole—a guy he’d trusted enough to share Andy’s secret with—getting cozy with the hot new guy… well, sunny didn’t exactly work in reference to Riley’s disposition.

Yeah, well, the whole lot of them could fuck right the fuck off. Dr. Landers. New Guy…. Hunter.

Oh, but you don’t mean that. Do you?

He slumped farther down in his seat, bringing the open book all the way up to his face. As a kid, Mimi had chastised him about reading like that, said holding a book that close to his eyes would make him go blind. He wasn’t really reading, though, more trying to hide the pissed-off mug he was rocking right now. And to think, all he’d wanted to do the entire time he was in Dr. Landers’s office was find Hunter and disappear. Maybe make plans for a second date, but noooooo.

He peeked over the edge of his book, just because curiosity wouldn’t let him mind his own business. For some ungodly reason, Riley wanted to know what was going down between his man and the new guy. His man. Riley snorted.

Connors,” Jerry the orderly said, snapping Riley’s attention away from Hunter and the new guy. It took a second for his eyes to adjust, what with the sunlight pouring in from behind Jerry’s massive frame. “Time for group.”

Again? Fuck. I’m tired of talking to people.”

Sorry, kiddo. You gotta go. Rules are rules.”


Riley pushed up from his lonely seat in the corner, dropped his book facedown in the chair. Everyone knew that was his space and his book, and no one really screwed with his stuff, so he didn’t have a problem leaving it there.

You too, Morgan,” Jerry said as he passed by Hunter’s table.

Riley did his damnedest to keep his eyes straight ahead. He couldn’t look at Hunter right now, not without wanting to go the fuck off, then rip New Guy to shreds. And they said he didn’t have any impulse control. Pft.

Catch ya later, Jim,” the new guy said, holding up two fingers in Hunter’s direction.

You too, Bubba.”

Bubba? Jim? What the hell?

They were guided into the same small room as before, same chairs but different characters. The doctor was someone Riley couldn’t look directly at. Something weird about his mouth made Riley twitch. Every time the dude spoke, his lips and jaw moved side to side, not up and down like normal people. That really got under Riley’s skin.

So he kept his stare on the floor like normal. He sure as hell couldn’t look at Hunter right now, not without feeling utterly betrayed and cast aside for some newer, hotter version of crazy. Maybe Hunter was the kind of person who needed to feel like he could save people or some shit. Sure would explain what happened last night, the way he’d taken care of Riley, been so kind and caring and actually made Riley feel good for a change. Maybe since he’d sorta saved one soul it was time to save another.

But as soon as Hunter took the seat beside him, Riley knew the cold-shoulder shtick wouldn’t last. He’d been biting his tongue, but now the pressure hurt in that emotional sorta way the therapists always talked about.

So, y’all got nicknames, huh?” he whispered in Hunter’s direction, keeping his eyes straight ahead.

So you’re talking to me, huh?”

Riley turned his head away, aiming it more at the doctor he couldn’t stand looking at rather than the guy he could stare at for hours. How the hell was he supposed to answer that? Didn’t he have a right to be a little pissed off?

Didn’t look like you needed someone to talk to.”

So when you’re being a jerk I’m supposed to sit with you and get the silent treatment… again?”

Jerk? Jerk! How the hell?

Eyes widened, Riley whipped his head toward Hunter. His mouth opened, ready to pour out a stream of belligerent bullshit, when the doctor saying “Let’s get started” put the brakes on the verbal explosion.

Now he had no choice but to sit there and fume, and he managed that well for all of about ten minutes. Had it not been for all the mixed feelings and the anger over New Guy getting cozy with his man, Riley would’ve been content to keep his mouth shut and waste an hour of his day with people he couldn’t stand.

Oh, but he couldn’t do it. “How was I being a jerk?” he whispered bitterly, half not caring if they got called out for speaking out of turn.

Are you shitting me? What? I’m supposed to embarrass myself in front of everyone and drag over the chair you pushed away? I assumed that meant not to fuck with you.” Hunter’s whisper held a low growl, jaw clenching as he glared at Riley.

Someone outside the bubble of their argument cleared their throat. Both Hunter and Riley jerked their heads in the direction of the sound. It’d been the doctor with the funky mouth, and he didn’t appear to be pleased at all.

Is there something you’d like to share, Mr. Connors?”

Riley shook his head.

You, Mr. Morgan?”

Nah,” Hunter bit out.

May I proceed, then?” Doc asked.

Neither one of them said a word. Riley didn’t so much as cut his eyes, despite his wanting to.

They were relegated to sitting in silence again, Hunter doing whatever Hunter did, Riley staring at the floor, counting down the minutes until they were finally free to go back to their room. And who knew what kind of fresh hell awaited them there. For all Riley knew, Hunter had every intention of chewing him out, up one side and down the other.

The hour went by faster than Riley expected it to. Probably because he wasn’t looking forward to being alone in a room with Hunter. Wow, what a contradiction to how he’d felt last night. Now he seriously wondered what the hell Hunter’s angle was.

Riley entered their room first and immediately slid into his bed. He didn’t bother with blankets or removing his slippers. Right now he just wanted to sleep and pretend none of this ever happened—well, none of it save for meeting Hunter. It didn’t matter how mad he wanted to be at Hunter, Riley cherished every second they’d spent in each other’s lives.

Boy, didn’t that make him want to melt into a puddle of blah.

He curled around his pillow, facing the wall, because looking at Hunter right now made him think about the moment he stepped into the common area, just wanting to sit down next to his friend and spill his guts over his session with Dr. Landers, only to find Hunter hanging out with someone else, laughing and talking to someone else in a way he didn’t really laugh with Riley. Maybe Riley was too morose. Maybe he needed to lighten up and chill the fuck out. Maybe he’d pushed Hunter away just like he’d pushed his mom away after he’d been rescued.

That's it for this week's Snippet Sunday. Only two more to go before We Found Love releases on January 5, available everywhere: Amazon, ARe, Sony, iBooks, B&N (will post those links as available)! Which is awesome because my birthday is January 6 so that's a pretty rad way to celebrate. (It also means I have an excuse to party twice as hard haha) Don't forget you can pre-order the eBook and/or paperback at [Dreamspinner Press] or the eBook at [ARe]. So excited for y'all to meet these guys.

 Until next time.

<3 Kaderade

Releasing January 5, 2015!
Available now for pre-order!

Monday, December 15, 2014

We Found Love: Snippet...Er...Monday

Hey guys!

Sorry I'm a little late on this. Of course I'm a spaz and forgot schedule this post and I was SO crazy busy yesterday, including a fabulous Brunch with the M/M reader crew. Fabulous times. So what is the first Snippet Sunday post for my upcoming release, We Found Love, releasing January 5 [Pre-Order Here] or [Here], will actually be Snippet Monday. Just for this week haha. I've actually remembered to set up the following weeks' posts. Gracious.

So anywho. SUPER stoked this release is almost here. I've said before, this was probably one of my favorite projects ever, from the setting in a mental hospital, to the fabulously fucked up characters. I just loved working on this. It's definitely different than mine and Allison's first co-authored project, Teaching Professor Grayson. So anyways...  I'll get on with my Snippet, which is actually bordering on an excerpt in word count. But this scene sets up a big thing in Hunter & Riley's story. Their private room in a closed off section of the hospital that they sneak off to when they can and they go on these imaginary dates. That's actually where the WHOLE story idea came from, the idea of thus world of their own that they created. So there's some background for you haha.

A little set up: Hunter's second day at Hartfield Hospital has been rocky. He defended his new roommate, Riley, against a bully, got fussed at by feisty Riley for helping, he's suffering from alcohol DTs, and he went through a hellacious intake panel that set him off. So he'd lying in his room when Riley comes in...

What’s with the scowl?”

Hunter rolled over in his bed, away from his roommate, who’d popped in the door to catch him battling with himself. ’Cause that’s how you prove you’re not crazy. He took a couple of deep breaths and rolled back to Riley, who now sat on his own bed, back leaning against the wall, arms wrapped around knees he’d pulled to his chest. He was studying Hunter in that quiet way he did, again. Hunter found it disarmed him less than it had at first. He couldn’t deny enjoying the interest in that searching gaze. It wasn’t sexual, but it was more passing interest than anyone had given him in any way for the last several years. He had an overwhelming need to melt into it, revel in the attention.

What’s up?” he asked lamely.

Riley looked confused at the question but answered anyway. “Um. Sitting here?”

Hunter laughed because Riley’s tone conveyed he wasn’t being a smartass. Hunter realized What’s up? was probably a dumb question, though. What could he be up to? Getting meds, maybe, or perhaps eating again?

Yeah. Silly question, I s’pose.” He was really trying. He found he didn’t want Riley to leave. He was intrigued by Riley, and not just because he was cute. Really cute. Even with his scars and the way one of his fingers was a little crooked from having obviously been broken and not set correctly. He was just a good-looking guy. But when he wasn’t being scrappy, when he spoke in his deep, quiet voice, Hunter was lulled into a weird place of not feeling completely adrift in this sea of sterile whites, blinded by the fluorescent suns.

You feeling okay? I heard you get up a couple times.”

Hunter was embarrassed. He’d hoped he hadn’t awakened his roommate while he was unmanned before the porcelain goddess. Twice.

Yep. Fine.”

Riley raised a disbelieving brow. “DT’s?” At Hunter’s grunted response Riley smiled. “They suck. I’ve met a couple guys who’ve gone through ’em here. What’s your DOC?”

Hunter narrowed his eyes at Riley. He’d been talking about his drug of choice all morning and wasn’t in the mood. “You’re awful nosy this morning for someone who clams up whenever I ask a question.”

Riley looked away from Hunter, smile dropping from his face. Damn but Hunter hated to see that shy smile disappear. He really was tired of talking about himself, though. Of course, that could be why Riley didn’t want to talk about his issues, either. Hunter decided to change the subject. Anything not to scare Riley off right now. Just… not right now.

So what were you talking about last night? With the whole Disneyland thing?”

Disney World.”

World, land, whatever. What did you mean?”

There Riley went, clamming up again like he’d been doing all along. His focus shifted from Hunter to the door and back again. He took a breath, then exhaled. “Can I trust you?”

Hunter frowned. How did you answer that? He didn’t know Riley’s story. He didn’t know Riley from Adam. He knew he might like the guy. If they’d been in any other place he’d have hit on him, and if that failed would have at least tried to befriend him. He thought. Maybe? But how could he promise to be trustworthy when he didn’t know what trust meant to Riley? He felt special that Riley had asked. He didn’t seem like he spent much time with the other guys when he and Hunter weren’t in their room. Hell, he didn’t think he even saw Riley speak to anyone, other than a couple of the orderlies and the one old guy Riley had played cards with during breakfast who twitched a lot.

I guess. I mean, who am I gonna tell anything, right?” He put on the faintest version of the smile he usually used with his friends to get what he wanted. And he wanted Riley’s trust. Or at least to know what he could do not to die of boredom in this place.

Riley didn’t seem to like that response. “You guess?” he asked, expression wary.

Hunter rethought the answer. Riley was not just another guy whose pants he was trying to get into at a party or another friend who he needed help from. Riley was different. Maybe crazy, but at least he was genuine. It’d been a long while since Hunter had met a genuine person.

Yeah. Yeah, of course you can trust me.”

Okay, because it’s something Andy told me about, and—”

Whoa. Who’s Andy?” And why is this the first I’ve heard about him? Wait. Why do I care? “I mean….”

No, it’s okay. He was the first friend I made here.”

Was?” And do you really want to know the answer to that? “Was” could mean many things in a place like this.

Yeah, um…,” Riley croaked, voice awkwardly cracking. He turned rigid again—a sign that the topic of Andy was uncomfortable for him. Though Hunter hated seeing him tense, curiosity was being a bitch right now. He might watch Riley squirm all damn night just to find out more about Andy.

He was my first friend here,” Riley said. “He made it better.” His jaw rippled when he lowered his head, and he went right back to rubbing his forearm, as if Hunter were reading the lines of his scars or something. “He died about six months after I got here.”

Hunter ached for Riley. The pain emanating from him was palpable. The emotion of loss that resided deep in Hunter’s heart started knocking on the door he struggled hard to keep closed. He held his breath, waiting for any other emotion to win, anything but more of that deep, aching void that was despair and missing someone who’d become vital to your existence.

What did he tell you about?” The words struggled their way out Hunter’s mouth, fighting past the pounding of his heart in his throat. But he had to get through this, had to keep talking.

It’s a secret place away from this bullshit.” Riley nodded toward the door, meaning he was talking about everything happening outside their shared room. “There’s an entire wing of this place that’s been closed off from everyone. Somewhere we can go without people watching us all the time.”
A secret place? Didn’t that sound promising. Until he thought…. “Wait. Secret place in a mental hospital? Isn’t that how horror movies always start?”

Riley smiled, more to himself than at Hunter, and it was twisted in a way Hunter couldn’t decipher.

“When your whole life is a horror movie, what’s a little adventure?”

Because that makes me feel better….”

Riley shrugged. “If you don’t want, you don’t have to go. It’s cool, though. I just need a break from this… place.”

He still wasn’t convinced, but after more days than he could remember now, he’d been picked over, prodded, given blood, vomited, and had a catheter. A catheter. Administered by a fucking hot nurse he didn’t know—but he never remembered anyone, thanks to being drunk. A break sounded nice.

And it’s not like he was housed with sociopaths and killers. His doctor had told him he was housed with other suicide cases, long-term guys with clinical but nonviolent issues, and other mild cases. While he wondered which of those Riley fit into, he didn’t fear for his safety going somewhere with his roommate.

Okay.” He looked back to Riley, who was studying him, amused this time. “Okay,” he said more confidently. “I’m game.” He tried to sit up, but his stomach roiled from the mixture of detox, pills, and the sharp pain that shot through his ribs. “Um, if we could just wait until I don’t feel like garbage.” He grunted as he fell back down onto his pillow.
Riley laughed quietly.

A spasm of pain shot through his ribs again. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.”

What’s wrong? You need a nurse?” Riley’s voice was closer, but he couldn’t ascertain where he was because he was lost in a fog of bone-weary tiredness and pain.

No. No, I’m fine, Riley.”

He heard some shuffling, the snick of the door. He hated that Riley had gone, but he figured Riley was trying to give him some—

Is it your ribs?”

And suddenly a warm hand was under his shirt, rubbing his abused ribs. Nimble if uneven fingers kneaded and stroked his skin. The ache wasn’t gone, but it was eased, if only a bit. His skin raised in goose pimples, moving around with every sweet touch. He let out a sigh and relaxed into his pillows, trying his damnedest not to cry. It’d been so long since he’d been touched in kindness, and this from a complete stranger.

He wanted to hug his roommate but didn’t imagine Riley was the type. Until the bed dipped gently and Riley lay beside him, still stroking his skin, calming him and making his aching body capitulate. He could sleep like this. Forever.

This okay?” Riley’s breath was on Hunter’s ear. Emotion swelled in his throat, so all he could do was nod. Riley’s breathing huffed, the whisper of a laugh as he continued to lull Hunter into sleep.

Thank you, Hunter. For helping me.”

Hunter drifted off, warm and feeling safe, smiling.


THOSE quiet, contented snores were an incredible sound. They meant Hunter had found enough peace to finally sleep. That was important around here. Andy had taught Riley that, and exactly the same way. He’d made himself forget all about it. Until now. Because Andy had turned into one of them—those people who never hang around, despite how badly Riley needed him.

Riley didn’t want to leave that bed, not for a second. He liked this less-alone feeling, this sense of being wanted and welcomed. But he knew morning checks would come shortly after sunrise, and the last thing anyone needed to see was the two of them snuggled up in one bed. So reluctantly, Riley removed his arms from Hunter’s body, covered him with the blankets, and returned to his own bed.

And that had been the shortest night of Riley’s long life.

He settled into his bed, mussed the sheets to make it look like he’d been there all night, and curled around his pillow. But he wouldn’t use those last few hours of predawn to catch some z’s. Not even close. He was too worried about Hunter and the state of things going on in that body over there to pretend like sleeping was an option.

Every time Hunter shivered, Riley saw it and wanted to warm him. Every time he whimpered, Riley wanted to hold him. It was strange and unsettling, being in the role of nurturer, because Riley had never been that guy before. Now, with Hunter, he thought he could.

He rolled back on his bed, keeping his head turned to the side so as not to miss a single moment, and he waited for his internal clock to sound its alarms. In nineteen months, his body had acclimated to the schedule his scrub-covered friends had forced on him. In a matter of minutes, they would come by and flip on the lights, announce themselves, and announce breakfast.

Breakfast was a special kind of horror. Usually powdered eggs and burned bacon or stale cereal and watery juice. No coffee. They didn’t give the nutcases the hard stuff. Better to keep the crazies sedate. Riley would’ve gladly skipped the fresh hell of breakfast any day, but then he’d be antisocial and uncooperative. Maybe even earn himself a longer stay.

The doorknob jiggled and the hinges squeaked. A soft voice called out, “Checks,” and Riley immediately sat up on his bed.

The whimper from Hunter’s side of the room stole his attention. The covers bunched and tugged, then twisted as Hunter flopped over. He faced Riley now. The lights overhead reflected in the beads of sweat dotting his skin. His face looked paler than it had been last night, eyes darker. Damn, Riley wanted to be in that bed with him.

You okay over there?” the man in the doorway asked in Hunter’s general direction. Not like he really cared. When Hunter grunted, the man returned an “A’ight, then” and ducked out of their room. They were alone again, not for long, but alone.

Chewing the inside of his cheek, Riley turned and let his legs dangle over the mattress. He locked his hands in the sheets to keep himself anchored where he belonged. The door was still open, meaning anyone could accidentally see them if Riley did make the ballsy move to return to that bed.

I slept,” Hunter said, voice gravelly but lilting, as though he couldn’t believe he’d actually managed a full night of shut-eye. Riley wondered when he’d last had a full eight.

That’s good. Right?”

Yeah.” Hunter finally sat up, dragging his hand over his ear-length blond hair. It was moist, just like his forehead. “Did you—”

Stay with you all night?”


Heat filled Riley’s face. He suddenly felt incredibly stupid for assuming. He didn’t answer the question for fear of giving his embarrassment away. He worried his voice might crack awkwardly, that it might quiver in all the wrong places.

Did you… stay with me all night?”

The stare Hunter pinned him with would’ve knocked him on his ass had Riley not been sitting down already. It wasn’t a look of anger. Not the narrowing of eyes or the dilating of pupils. It was hard to explain, but what Riley saw was softness, hope.

Yeah,” he whispered. “’Til it got close to time for—” Riley nodded at the door. “Didn’t know how you’d feel about them finding us in the same bed.”

I, um….” Hunter blinked, eyes shining, and turned his face away. “Thanks. I probably wouldn’t have slept at all without you…. You know.”

His looking away nagged at Riley, nagged him to get off his ass and check on his roommate, just to make sure everything was okay. And yet Riley didn’t budge. “You um… looked like you needed… someone.”

Hunter’s gaze slowly came back to meet Riley’s, and he gave a small nod. “That was really nice of you. It really helped. A lot.”

Truthfully, it sorta helped Riley too. Habit and fear kept him away from people, as a rule, anyway. Not with Hunter. He couldn’t keep distance with Hunter. Being close to the guy felt as natural as breathing. Riley blamed that on kindred souls, on two people who just needed someone to care. He assumed Hunter didn’t have anyone like that. Otherwise he wouldn’t have been dumped in a place like Hartfield.

He was on the verge of admitting to enjoying the night and the way it felt to hold on to Hunter. Before he could make himself cop to the confession, the door creaked open and a head popped in. “Breakfast.”

Alright. I know that was a long one. I just loved this moment so much. The rest will actually just be SNIPPETS. But I hope that y'all enjoyed this. Don't forget you can pre-order the eBook and/or Paperback at [Dreamspinner] or eBook at [ARe].

<3 kaderade

Releasing January 5, 2015!
Pre-Order Available Now!