If at the end of the treasure hunt there will be still unmatched excerpts the giveaway will go to the one who matched more books.
The books are:
A Hunted Man by Jaime Reese
A Kingdom Lost by Barbara Ann Wright
A Place for Cliff by Talon ps
A Special Kind of Folk by Barry Brennessel
About Face by VK Powell
Ancient House of Cards by Bryan T. Clark
Another Healing by M. Raiya
Antidote by Jack L. Pyke
Because of Jade by Lou Sylvre
Beloved Pilgrim by Christopher Hawthorne Moss
Better Than Friends by Lane Hayes
Bird of Paradise by G.J. Paterson
Bite of the Recluse by Azalea Moone & Anais Morgan
Bonds of Denial by Lynda Aicher
Brokenhearted by Cate Ashwood
Camellia by Caitlin Ricci & Cari Z.
Carnal Sacraments by Perry Brass
Caught! By JL Merrow
Chasing the Dragon by Kate Sherwood
Chip off the Ice Block Murder by Jessie Chandler
Clean Slate by Andrea Bramhall
Corruption by Eden Winters
Desire at Dawn by Fiona Zedde
Dirty Beautiful Words by Brooklyn Brayl
Dissonance by Shira Anthony
Dudek by Taylor James
Educating Simon by Robin Reardon
Fight by Kelly Wyre
Filthy Acquisitions by Edmond Manning
Firestorm by Rory Ni Coileain
Forever Hold His Peace by Rebecca Cohen
Forgive Us by Lynn Kelling
Fractured by Mickie B. Ashling
Freak Camp: Posts From a Previously Normal Girl by Jessica V. Barnett
FutureDyke by Lea Daley
Games Boys Play by Zoe X. Rider
Gathering Storm by Alexa Land
Gin & Jazz 1- 4 (4 novellas: Hollywood Bound, Razzle Dazzle, Tarnished Glitter and Starring Role) by Morticia Knight
Girls Don't Hit by Geonn Cannon
Great Pleasures by Edward Southgate
Greg Honey by Russ Gregory
Happy Independence Day by Michael Rupured
Hard Pressed by Sharon Maria Bidwell
Hell & High Water (THIRDS, Book #1) by Charlie Cochet
Highfell Grimoires by Langley Hyde
His Fair Lady by Kimberly Gardner
Hoaley Inexplicable by Declan Sands
How Still My Love by Diane Marina
Hungry for Love by Rick R. Reed
If I Die Before I Wake by Liz McMullen
If We Shadows by D.E. Atwood
Ink & Flowers by J.K. Pendragon
It's Like This by Anne O'Gleadra
Lab Rat's Love by Ana J. Phoenix
Lesbian Crushes at School: A Diary on Growing Up Gay in the Eighties by Natasha Holme
Let the Lover Be by Sheree L. Greer
Like Jazz by Heather Blackmore
Love and Salvage: Loving Emmett by Mathew Ortiz
Love Is A Stranger by John Wiltshire
Love You Forever by Amelia Bishop
Lovers and Liars by Paul Alan Fahey
Mark of Cain by Kate Sherwood
Masquerade by Joy Lynn Fielding
Measure of Peace by Caethes Faron
Mirage by Tia Fielding
More Than Everything by Cardeno C.
Motel. Pool. By Kim Fielding
Murder and the Hurdy Gurdy Girl by Kate McLachlan
Murder on the Mountain by Jamie Fessenden
My Brother's Lover by Lynn Kelling
Nightingale by Andrea Bramhall
No Angel by Clare London
Omorphi by C. Kennedy
On Archimedes Street by Jefferson Parrish
Paradise at Main and Elm by Barry Brennessel
Paris Connection by J.P. Bowie
Passage by Evey Brett
Pick Up the Pieces by Tinnean
Piper by Leona Carver
Rapture, Sins of the Sinners by Fran Heckrotte & A.C. Henley
Rarely Pure and Never Simple by Angel Martinez
Rasputin's Kiss by L.M. Somerton
Rest Home Runaways by Clifford Henderson
Resurrection Man by K.Z. Snow
Return of an Impetuous Pilot by Kate McLachlan
Rocky Mountain Freedom by Vivian Arend
Running Through A Dark Place by Michael J. Bowler
Saving Liam by DP Denman
Serpentine Walls by CJane Elliott
Shades of Sepia by Anne Barwell
Shameful Desires 3: Unbound by P.J. Proud
Shirewode by J Tullos Hennig
Silent by Sara Alva
Slide by Garrett Leigh
Something Like Spring by Jay Bell
Splinters by Thorny Sterling
Stitch by Eli Easton, Sue Brown, Jamie Fessenden & Kim Fielding
Summerville by H.L. Sudler
The 42nd Street Jerking-off Club by Mykola Dementiuk
The Calm Before by Neena Jaydon
The Dead Past by Kate Aaron
The Empath by Jody Klaire
The Engineered Throne by Megan Derr
The Family We Make by Kaje Harper
The Genealogy of Understanding by Daniel M. Jaffe
The House on Hancock Hill by Indra Vaughn
The Last Conception by Gabriel Constans
The Line by J.D. Horn
The Mating of Michael by Eli Easton
The Memory of Blood & Lotuses by E.E. Ottoman
The Opera House by Hans M. Hirschi
The River Within by Baxter Clare Trautman
The Seventh Pleiade by Andrew J. Peters
The Thief Taker by William Holden
This Is Not a Love Story by Suki Fleet
Tournament of Shadows by S.A. Meade
True Stories Too: People and Places From My Past by Felice Picano
Turnbull House by Jess Faraday
Zenith by Arshad Ahsanuddin
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Today excerpts are:
The Texas Star Motel could be described as modest. It was clean, but small and cramped. Jeff stood just inside the motel room. The manager had called the police, frantic about one of his rooms being vandalized during the night. When the uniformed officers arrived, they found blood everywhere. The coppery scent was unmistakable.
Jeff hated this part of his job. Red stains covered the carpet. Puddles of blood could be seen on the bathroom floor starting inside the door. One officer told him the tub and shower liner were also smeared. Jeff waited for a technician to bring him booties for his shoes. They were essential to keep cross-contamination away from the scene.
The sound of vomiting caught his attention. A responding policeman was outside puking. When he straightened up, he looked away, embarrassed.
"This your first?" The man nodded. "Don't feel bad. We've all done that."
I wish Agnes was here. It was still hard to believe that she was a killer, but the evidence said otherwise. Slipping on the shoe covers he carefully stepped around the room, avoiding as much of the blood as possible. It wasn't easy. Some had already congealed into sloppy, blackish-red pools. Jeff had no doubt this was a murder scene. The problem was there wasn't a body. No one survives this much blood loss.
"Is it human?" The tech nodded.
"Oh yeah! Can't say if it's all from one person, though. The lab will let you know ASAP."
"Thanks." Jeff began making notes. "Whoever did this—" When his cell phone rang, he frowned. "Roberts," he answered brusquely irritated by the interruption. "Oh, hi Captain. Another? Where?…Okay. Tell the Ranger it'll be about twenty minutes." Flipping the phone shut he shook his head.
"Another body," he said to the technician. "It's going to be a long day." Especially with Lovejoy present.
For several hours, they drove in silence except for Damien’s occasional corrections in heading. He would have liked to call it a companionable silence, and perhaps it was as close as he would ever come, but he was too keyed up to say he enjoyed the drive. The pain and leaden dread that cropped up along the trails of the dead failed to manifest. He found himself leaning forward, gripping the door handle tight as the trails drew clearer and sharper.
“Five, no six,” he whispered as they broke out of a cluster of pines within sight of what the car assured him was Mahogany Peaks.
“Six, what? Kids?” Blaze’s hesitation lasted several heartbeats. “Do I slow down? Are they dead?”
“Yes. Yes. I don’t think so.” Damien registered Blaze’s sputtered growl as frustration. He pointed to the left. “That way. Slow down. Slower. Stop.”
“There’s nothing here.”
Damien gulped for air, the multiple trail ends so close they threatened to suffocate him. “I need to get out. Blaze, please.”
The Raptor jerked to a stop, settling to the ground with the clunks and thuds of reconfiguring wheels. Damien shoved the door open and stumbled out before the wheels settled, the heat of the trails so recent they threatened to blind him. Slowly, he forced himself forward, one foot, then the other, around the burned-out hulk of an old RV. He fought the images his imagination tried to thrust at him of the occupants fighting for their lives, probably slaughtered for their meager food supplies during the worst of the starvation years.
The driver’s side door slammed. Metallic clicks indicated Blaze checking and cocking weapons as his heavy tread followed, first in hurried footsteps and then painstakingly slow to match Damien’s.
“I’ve got your back.” Blaze’s deep voice soothed him, grounded him. “Would it help if you talked to me?”
“It’s- they’re six of them. I don’t...don’t know which ones yet.” Damien stumbled over loose stones, righted himself on fir branch, and corrected his course to the left. “They meet up ahead a bit. Past- I think, past those first hills.”
Through another stand of firs, he caught a flickering of light. Curious, he headed toward it, the flicker resolving into a tiny holo projection. He thought at first it had to be a marker of some kind or maybe even someone’s memorial, though who would leave such a thing out here?
“I see it. How about you not get so close, dumbass? At least until I get a look around. We could be walking into anything here.”
Damien peered closer at the shifting projection. Strange. Random images of flowers flickered past, bright spots of color in the winter landscape without text or audio explanation. It had to be a memorial of some sort. He took another step toward it, staying a good few yards back with Blaze’s warning in mind.
The click under his left foot barely registered. He hesitated, certain that something was off.
The ground beneath him suddenly shifted. To his horror, a slab of rock tilted up in front of him as his feet slipped. He scrabbled at the dirt and stones, trying to find purchase, anything to stop his downward slide.
After I’ve eaten I carry on with my drawing. I never take this long over anything I draw, but I want this to be the best thing I’ve done. For him.
I even draw the bloody cut on his lip, because it’s there, and there is beauty in truth so bright and shining it makes everything clear.
I love him because of his flaws not despite them.
This is what I’m terrified he’ll see when he looks at the drawing, and at the same time, this is what I long for him to understand.
Phillippe curls on his side away from us. I think he’s trying to give us some privacy.
“Can I see yet?” Julian whispers.
I bite my lip and shake my head.
Hesitantly, he shifts and gently lays his head in my lap, soft, honey-colored hair falling every which way.
He looks up at me—his face at once so open and vulnerable it makes me want to confess my soul to him, every fucking thing—and he lifts his hand as if he’s going to touch my face, but for some reason changes his mind and lays it back down.
Fuck, I think helplessly, my heartbeat skitter-scattering.
It uses all my self-control to carry on drawing. I’m so fucking confused. If anyone else were looking at me like this, I know what I’d think: I’d think they were going to take my hand any moment now and lead me away somewhere more private so we could relieve some of this unbearable fucking tension.
I’m so crazy about you, Julian.
With that thought circling desperately round my head, I finish his drawing and tear it out. I get up after I hand it to him, and just about run away down the hall praying the bathroom is empty so I don’t have to see what he thinks about it.
Maybe ten minutes later I walk back and see Julian is still just staring at his picture.
The lights are dim now and, even though it’s early, all around the room everyone is settling down.
How fucking easy we are, I think hopelessly.
Without looking up, Julian reaches out and pulls me down. He doesn’t say a word. He just holds me. I’m grateful. I don’t think I could look at him anyway.
There was a prickly silence in the truck. They pulled into the Calhouns’, and Rick made it upstairs ahead of Sam. He got through a run to the john, and was about to flop face-down on his air mattress when Sam appeared out of nowhere and grabbed his jaw. He’d have fought that grip, but he figured he might as well get it over with, so he just stared back calmly.
Sam was less calm. “Who hit you?”
Well, shit, he could have used having that low, dangerous voice around in high school. “No one.”
“Don’t bullshit me.”
“No one. Really. It was when we were scrambling for the dog. Travis and I got mixed up together.”
“And he happened to punch you in the eye.”
Rick jerked his chin free and reached to touch his face gingerly. Yeah, that eye was tender. He’d checked in the mirror. He was going to have a nice shiner. “It wasn’t a punch. His hand hit my face.”
“In Texas we call that a punch.”
“Well, here in Minnesota I’m pretty sure they call it an accident.”
“Pretty sure?” Sam grabbed his arm as he tried to turn away. “Rick, if someone is giving you a hard time…”
“They’re not, okay? It was an accident.” His story and he was sticking to it.
“Okay.” Sam let go. “I’ll get you an icepack.”
“Don’t baby me.”
“I was thinking Gayle might prefer not to see you looking like you got beat up. Ice’ll help.”
He flopped on his back on the covers, while Sam disappeared down the stairs. Familiar and yet unfamiliar, the way his face hurt and his body ached, but without the bitterness that usually went with being beaten up. In an odd way, it grounded him. Sank him deep into the mattress, and hooked him back into his past. Although the past hadn’t included Sam coming back and placing a cold pack on his face with surprising gentleness.
“Thanks.” He raised a hand to keep it in place.
The bed creaked as Sam sat on it. “You’re really okay? Nothing else?”
“Accident, remember? Although my toes are starting to thaw out. Fuckity fucking butterface bitches. Owie.” He wiggled his feet, then reached down enough to pull his socks off and check his toes. More red than white, so that was okay. He’d seen a guy with frostbite in Milwaukee. He gave each toe a hard squeeze, willing the pins-and-needles to fade. “They say it’s good when you can feel it, right?"
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