Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Guest Post: Michelle Osgood

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Michelle Osgood author of The Better to Kiss You With.

Hi Michelle thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

Hi, thanks for having me! I’m a writer who lives in Vancouver, BC, with my partner Elizabeth and our two black cats.  I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, and have been fascinated with storytelling for as long as I can remember.  The Better to Kiss You With is a paranormal romance about Deanna, the moderator of an online werewolf role playing game, who falls for the mysterious woman living above her.

1)   What is your least favorite part of the publishing/writing process?

My least favourite part about the publishing process is having to talk specifically about my book, and my writing.  I love talking in general, and so I’m happy to chat with anyone about very nearly anything—but the moment I’m put on the spot to talk about my book, especially in person!, I’m like “Um… well… uh…”.  It’s awful!  But I’m trying to get better.  You’ll notice that men who are writers never seem to have trouble talking about their work…

2)   As an author, is there one subject you would never write about? What would it be?

I don’t think I’d ever write about sports.  I’ve never had a real interest in them, and in order to write about them I’d have to learn all the rules, in great detail, and I think that would bore me.  I’ve certainly read well-written, entertaining stories about sports, but I can’t imagine writing one myself!

3)   When did you first realize you wanted to write?

I’m not sure if I can pinpoint a specific time.  I’ve been reading and writing for as long as I can remember.  For a number of years I just considered it an enjoyable hobby, and it’s only within the last year that I’ve allowed myself to take it seriously again! 

4)   How long did it take to write your book?

The Better to Kiss You With was written in about three months.  After that, there was about two months’ worth of editing, and various, amazing, editors, who helped make it into the book it is today!

5)   For Fun: Where is one place you’d like to visit you haven’t been before?

I would love to go to Spain.  I watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona at a formative age, and let’s just say it’s heavily influenced my vacation thoughts about Europe.  Plus, isn’t that where all the best wine is from?

Author Name: Michelle Osgood

Book Name: The Better To Kiss You With

Release Date: April 21, 2016


Deanna, the moderator for Wolf’s Run, an online werewolf role-playing game, wanders the local forest with her dog Arthur and daydreams about Jaime, the attractive, enigmatic woman who lives upstairs. When threats from an antagonistic player escalate, Deanna wonders if her job could be riskier than she’d ever imagined—and if her new girlfriend knows more about this community than she had realized.

Pages or Words: 182 pages

Categories: Contemporary, Lesbian Romance, Paranromal


“I think I know blood when I see it,” Deanna pointed out. “It was definitely blood.”
Beside her on the floor, Nathan leaned his head back against the couch and, behind the black frames of his glasses, rolled his bright blue eyes. “I’m not saying it wasn’t blood. But just, like, blood happens.”
“‘Blood happens.’ You sound like a tampon commercial.”
“Not true.” Nathan snickered over the top of his glass. “They never use the word ‘blood.’”
Deanna choked on a mouthful of wine.
“Anyway,” Nathan continued, “it was probably just a dead animal. Dogs love that stuff.”
“He wasn’t happy, though. He was scared. Something scared him. And Arthur’s brave. He doesn’t scare easily.” Deanna wiped the Pinot Gris from her chin and they both leaned forward to look at Arthur, who was sprawled artlessly on top of his dog bed and snoring loudly. Deanna smothered a giggle with the back of her hand and grabbed the bottle of wine.
“Just don’t confuse fantasy with reality. I think your job is messing you up.”
Deanna snorted. “Wolf’s Run is a just game, Nathan. I haven’t forgotten that.”
“Really? Because you’re talking about mysterious bodies torn up in the woods, and if that doesn’t sound like werewolves…”
Deanna gave Nathan a shove. “Ha, ha, very funny. I’m not like that weirdo who thinks that werewolves actually exist. It’s role-playing. Playing being the key word.”
For the most part, the players of Wolf’s Run were a good crowd—with the exception of one user who seemed to think that he actually was a werewolf. Apparently, he took offense to the game’s depictions of “his species,” considering them inaccurate and insulting. The rants had been going on for months, and the situation would have been laughable, except that in the last few weeks his posts had taken on a more threatening tone. Every time Deanna deleted his posts and blocked his username he simply created another account. The Wolf's Run team didn’t want to block his IP address because IP addresses could be shared by a large number of people, and doing so might block legitimate players from the game. Besides, it was child’s play to circumvent a block by logging in from a third-party app or web service, or just logging in from a different location. Deanna could only shut him down and hope that this time he finally gave up.
“Well, then just accept that Arthur found a bunny rabbit or something and decided it would be a good idea to roll around in its mangled corpse.”
Deanna shook her head. “You didn’t see him. It was a lot of blood.” It had taken two desperately unpleasant baths and an entire bottle of shampoo to get Arthur clean. Deanna had had to scrub her bathtub three times before she’d felt comfortable using it again.
Nathan grabbed her hand with his long, thin fingers. “Listen, you’re my best friend, and I love you, and I’m sure that it was really terrifying, but I’m also one hundred percent sure that you are blowing this way out of proportion. No more fantasy werewolf role playing nonsense for you.”
“Until my shift starts in…” Deanna tapped the screen of her phone. “Ten hours.”
“Until then,” Nathan agreed and clinked their glasses. “Now, tell me more about your hot neighbor.”
Deanna buried her head in her hands and groaned. “It’s awful. She’s gorgeous. And I can’t think around her. Or speak. I turn into a spluttering sixth grader with her first crush.”
“That’s disgusting and adorable. Tell me more. What’s her name?”
Buy the book:
Interlude: http://store.interludepress.com/collections/the-better-to-kiss-you-with-pre-order-bundle-1

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1U2ulv3

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-better-to-kiss-you-with-christine-osgood/1122958914?ean=9781941530740

Apple iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-better-to-kiss-you-with/id1059532443?mt=11

All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-thebettertokissyouwith-2016083-182.html?referrer=55feb862851f8

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/593334

Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Better-to-Kiss-You-with/9781941530740?a_aid=interludepress

Indiebound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781941530740?aff=interludepress

Meet the author:

Michelle Osgood lives in Vancouver, BC, with her partner Elizabeth and their two cats. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and has been reading, writing and blogging in online communities for five years. She likes to read romance novels, speculative fiction and feminist pop culture critique.

Where to find the author:

Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: Monika Gross

Tour Dates & Stops:
21-Apr: BFD Book Blog, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Hearts on Fire, Bayou Book Junkie
22-Apr: My Fiction Nook, Kirsty Loves Books, Inked Rainbow Reads, Happily Ever Chapter
25-Apr: Oh My Shelves, Foxylutely Book Reviews, Louise Lyons, A.M. Leibowitz
26-Apr: Elisa - My Reviews and Ramblings, Havan Fellows, Open Skye Book Reviews
27-Apr: Wicked Faerie's Tales and Reviews, Butterfly-O-Meter, Prism Book Alliance
28-Apr: Nephy Hart, QUEERcentric Books, Emotion In Motion, Unquietly Me
29-Apr: Chris McHart, Velvet Panic, Book Reviews and More by Kathy
2-May: Charley Descoteaux, Love Bytes, Bonkers About Books
3-May: Alpha Book Club, Cathy Brockman Romances, Rednecks and Romance, MM Good Book Reviews
4-May: Dawn’s Reading Nook, Divine Magazine, Molly Lolly

Rafflecopter Prize: Grand Prize: $25 Interlude Press gift card. 5 first prizes of e-copies of The Better to Kiss You With by Michelle Osgood.
Rafflecopter Code:

Monday, May 2, 2016

What I'm Reading Now

What I’m reading right now? Still slogging through Jurassic Park by Crichton on audio. I haven’t decided on a new ebook yet. :D

April 2016 (total 15)

Melody’s Wolf by Mina Carter

Casey’s Warrior by Ann Mayburn

Dragon Claimed by Misha Paige

One and Only Rogue by Jade Lee

Bared by Stacey Kennedy

Lance by Eliza Gayle

Unexpectedly Expecting by Susan Mallery

Delicious by Susan Mallery

The Marquis and the Mistress by Dominique Eastwick

Sweet Irish Kiss by Joanne Kenrick

Insane Asylums by Alex Rice

Black Wolves by Kate Eliot

Life in the Victorian Asylums by Mark Stevens

Why the Victorians Saw Ghosts by Michael Gallagher

Mental Ward by Various Authors

March 2016 (total: 16)

Switch by Sean Michael — I’d missed this one

The Crawling Abattoir by Martin Mundt — utterly hilarious. I embarrassed my wife on the plane cackling.

Dollhouse by Anya Allyn — this was like watching a TV pilot. Not for me.

Taken by VM Black — fast paced, great heroine

Wicked for You by Erzabet Bishop — great worldbuilding

Toybox by Al Sarrantonio — very King-esque but nothing happens.

27 Action Writing Blunders by James Scott Bell — for beginners only

Black Butterflies by John Shirley — totally worth the read

Nuts About You by Kate Lowell — squirrel shifters O.o

Promises Part 1 by AE Via — bought the second book immediately after reading the first

Promises Part 2 by AE Via — loved these two boys

Two Men and a Virgin by Kate Richards — cute as hell

Fierce by Sabrina York — not bad at all. Love a strong heroine

Lay It Down by Mary Calmes — Mmm. I do miss Spain.

Bend Over by Brina Brady — a little too hard core for my tastes

The Centaur’s Solstice Wish by Siobhan Muir — sweet and dear

February 2016 (total: 7)

Challenge the Darkness by Dirk Greyson — I absolutely adored this. Bought the 2nd in the series already. Charming, warm, good world building.

The Curious Case of Winter King by Kiernan Kelly — a fab, fun homage to Stephen King. I loved it.

Tattered Loyalties by Carrie Ann Ryan — tons of world-building and I loved the heroine of this one.

Entwined by Colette Gale — this is hilarious. A retelling of Tarzan and Jane

Marked by SJD Peterson — I think I must have read this before. It’s very familiar.

Pornography and Seriality by Sarah Schaschek — fascinating theory. I’m not sure I agree 100%, but fascinating.

Krampus by Brom — the charm at the front didn’t hold up.

January 2016 (total: 5)

Dom of Las Vegas by Tricia Owens — On the good, the sex was hot, the main character was interesting. On the not so good, the main character had detailed on-screen sex with a number of other characters and, in a romance, that’s not for me. The writing style was fine and I quite liked the secondary characters. 

Nightmare House by Douglas Clegg — I’m usually a HUGE Clegg fan, but I did not enjoy this one. I found it neither scare nor atmospheric. I was disappointed.

A Fashionable Indulgence by KJ Charles — took me about 1/4 of the book to get into this one, but once I did, I found it clever and charming and I actually had a couple LOL moments.

Bazaar of Dreams by Stephen King — The best part (and I don’t mean this in a nasty way) was the notes before each story. Loved it.

Collected Short Stories by Andre Debus — I am madly in love with the way this man writes. One of his short stories changed how I saw life. 

Much love, y’all.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What I'm Working On this Week

*cheers myself on* ;-)
Catch and Release — third in Release series. I’m about 4 scenes from the end!
STSB — Super secret project for DDS
Sniper — mercanary story for ARe. Finishing this this week, too.
Pulling from Both Sides — Roughstock Brazilians. This book is going to kill me.
In edits/rewrites:
Mr. Unlucky in edits
Fuck Forgiveness
Real World
Commitment Ranch
At beta:
At proofing:
Back to Back
On hold:
Double U
Eternity is a Long Time
Soft Place to Land
The week's plan?
Sub Catch and Release, Fearless novella and Pulling from Both Sides.

Guest Post by Joe Cosentino

Why I Wrote the Cozzi Cove beach series—
published by NineStar Press
by Joe Cosentino

When I was a kid, every year my family and I threw off the fall/winter/spring blues and joyously spent our summers with my aunt and uncle in their bungalow on the New Jersey Shore. We swam and made sandcastles at the beach, waded in the bay, played miniature golf, ate salt water taffy and jumped up and down on trampolines until we (literally) saw green, and dined at our favorite seafood restaurant with a colorful player piano. All those places and experiences are in the novels set in a fictitious place I call Cozzi Cove, a gay resort of eight bungalows in a private cove on the Jersey Shore. Each bungalow is based on my aunt and uncle’s, and is furnished with hand-carved nautical furnishings, and has a stunning view of the bay and lighthouse in the distance. The main beach and boardwalk are only a mile away. It’s a place I love to visit, and I know you will too.
The bungalows on Cozzi Cove are set on a stretch of cove formed when softer rocks were worn away by the sun and salty water faster than the harder rocks surrounding them. This created a gorgeous bay of turquoise water shielded by large rocks in the distance and smaller rocks near the water’s edge.
My leading character is Cal Cozzi.  Cal, short for Calvin, is thirty years old, tall, and muscular. His Italian and Scottish heritage left him with striking auburn hair, golden skin, and a strong nose. He dabbled as a professional football player then restaurant owner, but neither was a good fit. After Cal’s parents died in an automobile accident, he found his calling: managing Cozzi Cove in the New Jersey shore town named after his great-grandfather. Sensing Cal’s sexual orientation as a boy, Cal’s father had turned Cozzi Cove into a gay resort. Cal is honored to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Cal’s husband Lance is twenty-four, short, stocky, African American with dark hair and dark eyes and amazing dimples. He grew up poor, and worked hard getting scholarships and maintaining good grades throughout school. As a second grade teacher, Lance is off during the summers, his favorite time of year. This leaves him more time to do what he loves most: being with Cal.
Connor, the college student assisting Cal, is packed with muscles and hormones. He revels in Cozzi Cove, and in checking out each resident for a possible fling on the cove—which he enjoys.
Tommy, the bald, muscular, tattooed resident of Cozzi Cove who owns the local bar has held a torch for Cal since high school. Carla Mangione who runs Carla’s Seafood Restaurant holds a similar torch for Cal’s sister.
Cal’s sister, Taylor, drops in from Rome, Paris, Wall Street, or Palm Springs. As a tough as nails top one-percenter, the world revolves around her, which makes her hysterically funny. I also admire her devotion to her brother.
After my two Bittersweet Dreams novellas, An Infatuation and A Shooting Star (In My Heart Series) published by Dreamspinner Press, were released, countless readers begged me for more time with one of the characters from An Infatuation (Divine Magazine Readers’ Choice Award 2nd Place for Best MM Romance). So that character and his brother are the first guests in Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back. They are two brothers/college students who look alike, but couldn’t be more different. Mario is searching for love, and Harold is searching for lust.
The other vacations in book one are a wealthy older couple, Josh and Greg, who play matchmakers for their gorgeous son Christopher. Opposites attract as multifaceted Tim meets shy Mark, and porn star Chuck Caliber connects with Sean, a virgin romance novelist. Finally computer game designer Arthur has a midnight sea rendezvous with a merman. Even Cal faces an emotional upheaval when a gay bashing turns into something quite unexpected for him. Everyone has a secret at Cozzi Cove, and nothing is what it seems at the magical place called Cozzi Cove.
After Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back released, many readers and reviewers praised its romantic, humorous, dramatic, mysterious style, and interwoven captivating stories. Having received countless requests for another visit to Cozzi Cove, I wrote Cozzi Cove: Moving Froward. As with the first book, nothing is what it seems in book two, and romance is everywhere.
Also after my novella A Shooting Star was released, many readers wanted more time with two of the leading characters, college theatre majors Jonathan and Barry. So two of the guests at Cozzi Cove in book two are loosely based on how Jonathan and Barry might be as middle-aged men. I call them Rodney Maxwell and Dennis O’Halloran, a Tony Award winning actor and his estranged producer/husband at Cozzi Cove with their two hired bodybuilder studs, Jarek and Zeus. Computer analyst, Sam, enlists his best friend Chase in a scheme to attract Sam’s hunky, unsuspecting best friend, Raul. Hunter, a female gay romance novel enthusiast, is hoping to experience gay life off the page. Middle aged Gil Van Truren wants to end it all—until he sees a vision of his first love from college. Cal’s new young lover, Michael Rodgers, is an African American college student with exotic eyes and a toned body. After going through tough times, Michael landed at Cal’s doorstep and the two have never looked back. Cal has his hands full, however, with Michael’s study buddy the gorgeous and muscular Carlo, and resident man of mystery George Valis who seems to know a great deal about Cal’s past.
So grab your Speedos, suntan lotion, and shades and head to Cozzi Cove. I hope to see you there twice!

by JOE COSENTINO from NineStar Press
purchase link:

On Cozzi Cove at the New Jersey shore, handsome Cal Cozzi’s seven bungalows are open for summer and love. Mario and Harold are brothers and college students who happen to look alike, but couldn’t be more different: Mario is searching for love, and Harold is searching for lust. Josh and Greg, a wealthy older couple, are matchmakers for their son, Christopher. When it comes to Connor, the maid, packed with muscles and a roving sponge, anything can happen. Opposites attract as wild Tim with the secret past meets shy Mark, and porn star Chuck Caliber connects with Sean, a virgin romance novelist. And what will happen when computer-game designer Arthur has a midnight sea rendezvous with a merman? Even married Cal faces an emotional upheaval when a gay bashing turns into something quite unexpected. What secrets and passions lie in magical Cozzi Cove?


“I loved this story. It carries you through the full range of emotions, from joy to sadness, from happiness to anger.  The characters are beautifully written.” “I look forward to a return visit to the Cove.” TBR Pile

“Heartbreaking and heartwarming, sweet beginnings for some, sour endings for others, emotions jumping off the page as you turn eagerly to read more, welcome to Cozzi Cove. The author measured his scales to perfection in delivering the perfect balance of love, laughter and tears in this sexy, fun filled holiday romance entwined with some sadness. Summer magic waved it's wand at all who visited and stayed at Cozzi Cove and I was one of those who wanted to stay.” Three Books Over the Rainbow

by JOE COSENTINO from NineStar Press
purchase link:

On Cozzi Cove at the New Jersey Shore, handsome Cal Cozzi’s seven bungalows are once again open for summer and love. The vacationers include Rodney Maxwell and Dennis O’Halloran, a Tony Award winning actor and his estranged producer/husband with their two hired studs, Jarek and Zeus. Computer analyst Sam enlists his best friend Chase in a scheme to attract hunky Raul. Middle aged Gil Van Truren wants to end it all—until he sees a vision of his first love. Cal also has his hands full with college student Michael—his new young lover—Michael’s study buddy Carlo, man of mystery George Valis, and Connor, the houseboy packed with muscles and a wondering sponge. All the while Hunter, a female gay romance novel enthusiast, experiences gay life off the page. What secrets, humor, tragedy, mysteries, and passions lie in the magical place called Cozzi Cove?

Author’s Bio:
Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back & Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (NineStar Press), Drama Queen and Drama Muscle Nicky and Noah mysteries (Lethe Press), In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll & Porcelain Doll & Satin Doll (Wild Rose Press) Jana Lane mysteries, and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Drama Cruise Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press) and China Doll Jana Lane mystery (Wild Rose Press). Joe was voted 2nd Place for Best MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015!

Author’s Contact Links:

Excerpt of COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK by Joe Cosentino
published by NineStar Press

As Lance rested in bed and Cal was putting on jeans, sandals, and a canary polo shirt, they heard Connor enter the living room and call out to Cal. After giving Lance a kiss on the cheek, Cal begrudgingly left his lover, shut the front bedroom door after himself, and then met up with Connor, who was standing next to the living room sofa.
Connor said, “It’s good to be back at work.”
“How were your grades at college this year?”
Connor shrugged his muscular shoulders. “Pretty average.”
Cal thought, If average is getting Cs and Ds. “I’m guessing you were quite involved with extracurricular activities.”
“One or two.” He giggled. “Maybe, three.”
Cal had a soft spot for the kid. “You did a nice job preparing the bungalows yesterday.”
“I aim to please.”
Cal thought the nineteen-year-old looked like an American flag in cutoff blue jeans that matched his eyes, a T-shirt and sneakers that matched his red hair, and pale skin with freckles.
“How can I be of service to you today, boss?”
Cal ignored Connor’s obvious double meaning.
“Just the usual routine.” Cal wasn’t immune to Connor’s charm, but Connor was a kid, and Cal was a one-man man. “Carry their luggage into the bungalows when the guests arrive. Turn down beds at four p.m.” He attempted to look sternly at the boy. “… Without you in them.”
Me come on to a guest?” Connor feigned surprise.
“Yes, you, Connor. This is a vacation resort, not the baths.” Cal moved behind his desk. “After today, make up the rooms late mornings and early afternoons. Leave the sheets and towels in front of the garage for the laundry pickup. And don’t forget to sweep out the parking area.”
 Connor saluted. “Aye, aye, Capitán .”
They heard a knock at the front door. Cal shouted, “It’s open.”
“Is this the office?”
“We’re informal here,” Cal explained. He typed into his computer, and then motioned for the young man to join him.
“I’m Mario Ginnetti.” He placed a piece of luggage at his feet. “Is it okay to park in the lot?”
Connor seemed to nearly salivate at Mario’s arms in his violet short-sleeved shirt. “You can park anywhere you like.”
Ignoring Connor, Cal said, “Yes, that’s the lot for the bungalows.” Cal handed Mario a key. “You’re in Bungalow One. I’ve got your credit card, so you’re all set.” He took a map from the topmost desk drawer. “The ocean beach is open to the public and is only minutes away. You can swim, surf, snorkel, or go on a glass-bottom boat there.” He pointed to various black dots on the map. “You’ll want to get some groceries here. Tommy Malone’s is a good bar, and Carla’s is my favorite seafood restaurant. This place has killer ice cream, which you can work off here at the gym.”
Connor interjected with, “If you need help finding anything, just ask me. I’m a native.”
“Or you can come into the office and ask me.” Cal handed Mario the map and then pointed outside. “The cove is private property. You can sit out there all you like. The bay water is calm and warm. As you can see, the view is amazing.”
Connor added with a grin, “Nude sunbathing is permitted.”
Mario was visibly trying to take it all in.
“Any questions?” asked Cal.
Mario’s dimples appeared. “Will the weather always be this nice?”
“From your lips to the sea gods’ ears.” Cal smiled. “The weather report calls for rain, so that means it’s going to be sunny all week. Connor will take you to your bungalow.”
Connor looked like the wolf meeting Little Red Riding Hood as he took Mario’s luggage. “Follow me, Mario.”

Excerpt of Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward by Joe Cosentino published by NineStar Press

Cal Cozzi sat on the white sandy beach like a king on his throne. The thirty-one-year-old thought about his great-grandfather, Calvin Cozzi III, who had built the eight bungalows, seven of which Cal’s father, Calvin Cozzi II, had rented to guys like Cal when Cal was a boy. With both men long gone, Cozzi Cove was Cal’s heritage, lifeblood, and oasis. As he gazed out at the ancient lighthouse near the horizon, Cal filled his lungs with salty sea air. He was happy to be home.
A familiar yawn and warm breath on his neck caused Cal to turn around and throw his arms around the stocky young man who plopped down next to him. Over a decade younger than Cal, Michael Rodgers rubbed his fingers over dark eyes. Resting his head with its chestnut-colored locks on Cal’s chest, Michael said, “I missed waking up in your arms.”
They shared a long kiss and then rose and stood at the water’s edge, watching the seagulls fly across shades of amber, violet, and flame that were fading to reveal a bright-blue sky. With Cal’s Italian and Scottish heritage and Michael’s Swedish and African lineage, Cal thought their skin glistened in the sun like jewels.
Shorter than Cal, Michael licked Cal’s neck.
“Hey, stop licking. I don’t have any pets.”
“You do now.”
Cal took the boy in his arms and smothered his youthful face with kisses. Though Cal would never forget Lance, the soul mate he’d lost to cancer two years prior, he couldn’t escape the fact that he was growing more and more in love with Michael every day they lived together. Michael’s high-energy zest for life and brutal honesty in speaking his mind both infuriated and delighted Cal. And Cal was well aware that his straightforward, hardworking masculinity still made Michael weak at the knees after living together in the main bungalow for nearly a year.
“Let’s get some breakfast.” Cal ran his fingers through Michael’s curly hair.
Michael kneaded the muscles in Cal’s back. “What are we having?”
“I’m having the honey buckwheat pancakes I made. What are you having?” Cal slapped Michael’s firm buttocks playfully, and then ran away as Michael chased him, laughing.
As they headed for the main bungalow, Cal scanned the row of seven guest bungalows on the cove. Cozzi Cove itself was a quiet stretch of beach with waves tickling jagged rocks perched on white sand only a mile away from the open ocean. Though he was excited about the start of the summer rental season, Cal knew he’d miss the tranquility of having the cove to himself—with Michael.
Michael followed Cal into the kitchen. As Cal gazed at the lantern-shaped kitchen clock on the wall, he admired his grandfather’s taste in decorating all of the bungalows with wood-carved, nautical-themed furnishings.
Sitting at the table, Michael said, “When do the guests arrive?”
“Check-in starts at eleven a.m.”
Michael giggled. “Do I have to check in?”
Cal kissed the top of his head. “Yeah, into my bedroom.” He served the pancakes and orange juice before sitting next to Michael. “What time do you have to leave for school?”
Michael answered with his mouth full. “College! I’m taking a summer class at State, not going to morning kindergarten. I’m a junior.”
“Okay, Junior.”
“Very funny. In the fall I’ll be a senior, like you.” He kissed Cal’s wide nose.
“Hey, your lips are covered in honey.”
“So they tell me.” Michael continued eating.
“Does your study buddy tell you that?”
Michael raised his eyes to the mermaid-shaped lighting fixture as if gathering patience. “Carlo is my partner.”
“In my advanced photography class.”
“Is that what they call it at State?”
“Maybe in your day.” Michael’s eyes gleamed devilishly. “Hey, did they have college back then?”
“I’ll put you over my knee, young man.”
“Promises, promises.” Michael swallowed his last piece of pancake and then gulped down the rest of his orange juice. “Carlo is coming here before our class. We’re taking some shots of the cove.”
Cal felt his expression harden. “I thought you were going to mow the lawn, rake the pebbles, and hose down the sidewalk around the bungalows.”
“Done.” Michael put his plate, glass, and fork in the sink.
“Last night, when you were in the shower.”
“That’s why you didn’t come in with me.”
Michael wrapped his arms around Cal. “Can I take a rain check for tonight?”
“Maybe you should ask Carlo.”
“Carlo doesn’t shower. He takes baths.”
Cal did a double take. “And you know this how?”
“He told me.” Michael ran into the back bedroom, the home of his computer and photography equipment.
Cal felt his blood boil. Taking in some deep breaths, he told himself to calm down.
Michael came back holding a number of prints and placed them on the kitchen table. “What do you think?”
Cal looked down at photographs. “Nice composition, proportions, and shading.”
He pointed at the dark-haired, dark-eyed, olive-skinned, very muscular young man with a stoic Roman nose, dimples like craters, and a cleft chin like the San Andreas Fault. “Your professor brought in an Italian porn star?”
“Watch many Italian porn films, do you, Cal?”
“Obviously you don’t have to.”
 “That’s Carlo. I took them in class.”
Cal offered a weak smile, trying hard not to let the anger and jealously he was feeling show on his face.
Michael ran his finger over the photographs. “Our professor complimented me on the line and shape.”
“I can see why.”
“And the contour and shading.”
“I’m really proud of them. Tommy loved them too.”
Cal rose and put his breakfast things in the sink. “When did you show these to Tommy?”
“Yesterday afternoon when I was working at Tommy’s bar. The pictures of Cozzi Cove are for our next assignment.”
“‘Hot Italian guy on the beach’?”
“‘Summer magic.’ ” He hugged Cal’s neck. “And there’s no place more magical or more romantic than Cozzi Cove in the summer.”
After Michael headed into the bathroom, Cal heard Connor’s jeep pull up into the parking lot.
A minute later, Connor’s voice rang out. “Hi, boss. Private Connor O’Riley reporting for duty.”
Cal met Connor in the living room. “Hi, Connor. Good job cleaning the bungalows yesterday. I aired them out last night. Do me a favor. Get some fresh towels from the bin outside and put them in the bungalows.”
In his usual skintight white T-shirt and short-shorts, the freckled twenty-year-old saluted. “Aye, aye, Capitán.” Connor licked his red lips, which matched his frizzy hair. “Where’s Michael?”
“In the shower.”
“Does he need more towels?” Connor headed toward the bathroom.
Cal grabbed his muscular arm. “Down, boy. And keep it in your pants when the guests get here.”
Connor feigned shock. “Me? Make a play for a guest? Never! Cal, you wound me to the heart.”
“You must have studied dramatics at the college this year.”
Connor batted the long lashes over his sky-blue eyes. “How else could I have dated all the gay dudes?”
Cal laughed. “I’m sure you dated them.”
“I did.” Connor revealed his pearly-white teeth. “It was the football team last year who went straight, pardon the pun, for the touchdown.”
Cal put his arm around the boy’s wide shoulders and walked him to the front porch. “Please get straight to work so everything is ready when the guests arrive.”
Connor said with the eagerness of a child at Christmas, “I can’t wait to see our pick of the litter.”
“Look, don’t touch.”
Connor opened the front door and bumped into Carlo, whose crimson dress shirt had enough buttons open to reveal impressive pectoral muscles. “Welcome to Cozzi Cove!”
As he entered the front porch, his dark eyes glistened in the morning sun. “I’m Carlo. I’m looking for Michael Rodgers.”

Cal shut the door behind him and shook Carlo’s hand, noticing the bulge in Carlo’s black slacks. “Please come in.”