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
You're Always in the Last Place You Look by T.N. Gates
Zenith by Arshad Ahsanuddin
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Today excerpts are:
“Dad was angry at me.” He hadn’t said the word Dad in so long that it felt strange on his tongue.
“Keep talking,” Kane said without loosening his grip, and Nex couldn’t have gone on if he had.
“He called me stupid. I think...I think he was drunk.” Saying it, he smelled the alcohol on his father’s breath as if the man was standing right in front of him. Nex wrinkled his nose. “I think I’m going to be sick.”
“You’ll be fine. Go on.”
The sound of Kane’s voice dispelled the odd smell, reminding Nex of reality, of here and now. Dad was in prison. Dad couldn’t breathe his alcohol stench on him. If there was any justice, he was having a lot of fun with the other inmates.
“He asked me why I couldn’t be like Styx.”
It was funny in a way. The one day his dad had been able to tell him and his brother apart. Maybe he had only been guessing at names; Nex would never know.
“He asked why they even had two of us running around. A waste of money and food, he said.”
Once the floodgates opened, the words came tumbling out. They’d been held back for far too long, always in the back of his mind.
With the words came the memories. He could see the angry scowl on his father’s face, the concerned look on his mother’s, a little unfocused. “Did you drink that bottle of scotch on your own? I thought we were sharing.”
Taking a deep breath, Nex focused on the heat of Kane’s body against his, keeping him anchored in reality as the images threatened to sweep him away. “He had a gun,” he said. “He’d never had a gun before.”
Suddenly I was “on call” with the Casting agency and I’d never been “on call” for anything before ever in my life. That meant they would phone in the morning from 9 to 10 a.m. and send me out. Usually the next day although at times it would be the same day. Often I’d get a call in the late afternoon for the following morning. To a writer who is – in the words of my sexy dentist –“master of his own time,” this being on call was more than annoying.
As a rule, I’d be sent to well known and heavily used casting offices, with a dozen or more rooms for auditions. I’d sign in at the front desk, get my “part” and my room assignment, and then sit or stand in a sort of pool of other actors and hopefuls also awaiting their names to be called.
Once called into one of the casting rooms, I’d be facing one or two people who were casting the commercial. Above the camera was a blackboard or a white tag paper sign holding the same script I’d read and attempted to memorize. After the briefest of chats, I’d be given the vaguest of directions –“you’re in a car, and there is someone in the next car you’re ignoring ” or “you step into the room, and there’s a giant ogre sitting there, but you’re cool about it.” I would do two to five takes. They’d take my headshot/resume and I’d leave. I knew that others, i.e. the art director or copy chief, would watch all the filmed auditions and they would decide.
I was never ever called back for any of these auditions. And that was okay. I wasn’t taking it seriously. I did have time on my hands. It was a way to get out and around. Also I was learning more about Los Angeles. Because while a solid half of the auditions were in these half dozen audition factories around town, the other half definitely were not. And so I would end up far north, in Tujunga, for example, in a tiny dance studio someone had rented for the day. Or at a local radio station in Encino, again being rented that day. Or in a mostly vacant photo studio in Bixby Hills, just north of Long Beach.
My friends Dave and Chris visited during this period from Philadelphia and they happened to overhear the phone message from the agency one afternoon sending me out on a call. After their primary astonishment, they were propelled into gales of hilarity by the assistant saying, as she did at the end of every assignment, “If you encounter an audition emergency, please call this number.”
“An audition emergency?! What’s that mean? Not enough facial concealer?” And so on and so forth for the next ten minutes.
I’d already encountered more than one emergency and I had actually phoned that desperation cell number. First one: I arrived at the address given for what I’d been told was “Baby Boomer Commercial Shoot,” entered the office and every waiting person around me was twelve years old or younger. “Oops!” the assistant said when I called in: “Yours is across town. I’ll call and tell then to wait for you.”
Then there had been the time I entered a room filled with obviously Hispanic people, albeit mostly my age. “Estas aqui for l’audition?” the clerkLlama me Aurora” her button read asked. “Claro!” I replied. Donde esta los ‘ partes’?” My high school and college Spanish language courses helped me out that time. Later, the agency assistant had said, “My error completely. So your languages are what besides English? Russian and French?” I told her I could probably fake the French but “Nyet! Nyet! to the Russian.
Another emergency situation had arisen when, as I entered a big office filled with waiting people sitting with their “parts,” I couldn’t help but notice that several burly moving men were busily emptying out one office and had begun taking the chairs potential actors were actually sitting on. Outside was a large furniture rental truck. “Who cares if I get the part?” I reported by cell phone to the agency. “Neither of us will ever see a check. These folks are totally fly by night.”
Given all that, you’ll assume I never got any work. You’d be wrong. In fact I got three, count’em, three paying jobs. One was dressed as a doctor and photographed in various poses with various other folk in medicallike situations. This was for a five page catalogue being handed out by a sizable hospital in Kern County, where I drove two hours to do the photo shoot. Once I’d arrived there and put on my glasses and whites, the publicity director checked me out and with great relief said, “I chose you so I was nervous. But you’re perfect.” So if you ever find yourself in an emergency room just east of the Sierra Madres with an icepick bobbing out of your forehead or a 106 degree fever, check me out in the catalogue.
The second time was at a local arts college with a solid reputation. One of their photo students had seen my photo on the agency’s web site and called me in. He was shooting a cover photo for the school’s magazine in which I would be portraying, and I quote, “Kronos—the Billionaire Money Controller.” That was a fun set up. He put me in a tuxedo and silver hood, and shot me behind a giant fake open book with various other props. After he got his shots he computergraphic-fiddled it so that objects like Bentley car keys, deeds to mansions, wads of bills, etc were floating in the air around my head. The final image was terrific.
The third however was the best and after that I stepped away from show biz for good, well for a while at any rate. It was one of those massive, casting room auditions. I had gotten my “part” and been called into a room, with two folks giving me directions and the video camera there but not yet rolling when one of the casting people got a phone call. He took it outside the room. The other one joined him and they vanished from sight.
I sat there twiddling my thumbs for a while, when suddenly a two week old, black, tan and white kitten popped its head into the doorway of the casting room and meowed at me.
I meowed back and it left. Then I thought, wait, what’s a small kitten doing here?
Thinking it belonged to some one at the desk and had escaped, I went after it.
No. No one at the call desk or offices knew anything about a kitten.
So I went looking for someone who might. I’d looked into maybe ten casting rooms, when I spotted another kitten, possibly the sibling to this one, coming out of a casting room doorway.
I scooped him up too and went in. The room was set up for a casting audition, but was otherwise empty. Wait, empty of people. Five more kittens of various colors and ages were in a little open cardboard box. What the....?
I couldn’t leave them alone. So I sat down and began playing with the kittens who were cute and just old and active enough to crawl all over me.
Suddenly two casting people came in, took a look and said. “That was fast!”
The other one said, “Up here’s the part. Hold it. Hold it. Okay, we’re rolling.”
By this time I had one kitten inside my open necked shirt, and one on my head swatting at another one crawling up my ear and two in my lap rolling over to be petted on their tummies. I read “Down at the Pasadena S. P.C. A. we’ve got too many cats and kittens.” I brushed the tail of one of them out my mouth and continued. “This weekend, from nine in the morning until six at night, you can get free kittens. All the kittens you want. We’ll even give them their shots.”
“Cut! That was perfect,” Casting agent #1 said. “Now you are who?” He had a list. “What agency are you from?”
I had to explain that I wasn’t on their list; I’d never been on their list; I was there for another casting session entirely. All this, while one kitten took up residence in my shirt pocket while another had decided to take a nap on my bald spot.
“We stepped out to call in more people,” Casting Agent #1 explained. “The kittens didn’t like any of the other folks we tried,” Casting Agent #2 added.
Clearly the kittens liked me. So, I got the job. In fact, The S.P.C.A. so liked the demo shoot itself, that they used that, and sent my agency a check.
Of course, the agency assistant was completely befuddled. She kept on saying, “I can’t find that demo session here at all. That casting wasn’t one of ours.”
“Don’t worry about it, Sandra. It’s done and taken care of.”
And while she was trying to figure out how to enter it on her calendar, I added. “Oh, and by the way, tell your bosses I’m going to be out of town for a while, so you can take me off their active casting list?”
Surprise in her somewhat green eyes: “Where are you going?”
“It’s in Europe. Central Europe. Terrible phone service and no internet service at all. I’ll be away indefinitely.” Then I added, “I’ll check in when I get
“Wait a min....”
But I was already out the door, knowing that I had lied to her with a sincerity, a fluency, a professionalism that only many, many hours of auditioning could have prepared me for.”
Jake couldn't decide if he was in the middle of a fantasy or a nightmare. Throughout the journey from his lab to his apartment, he felt like he was phasing in and out of reality. One moment, he could convince himself that he had imagined the entire thing, that he was rolling home after another boring shift and he could look forward to a night of correspondence with other League fans, a bland meal, and a bit of a movie. Then Atmosphere would make a comment to Starlight, or ask Jake a question about the station, and he was thrown back into a dream world where a piper had just hauled him out of work and was very determinedly following him home.
Taking Atmosphere on a tour of the Ham Lin was one thing, but this was enough to give Jake a mild panic attack.
"Now is not the best time," he tried again to dissuade Atmosphere. He fought himself to say it, when he really just wanted to burst into hysterical laughter and hug him around the middle.
"You wouldn't believe the places we've seen," Atmosphere replied amiably, his expression open and casual. He seemed to have reverted to the genial version of himself, with only brief moments where Jake caught a distant look on his face. "I'm sure your quarters can't compare to the rat-infested fertilizer holds of an Epsilon Class Stardriver."
"Ugh." Starlight stood on Atmosphere's other side, her gaze constantly roving over the other pedestrians in the transfer tube. "Don't remind me. But the kid's right, Atmos. You shouldn't just barge into his home. It's unseemly. And kind of weird."
"Do you think so?" Atmosphere's warm brown eyes turned down. "Is it unseemly or weird?"
This would have been an excellent opportunity to get rid of him.
Jake couldn't do it. "I suppose it's all right," he finally agreed. "Until my Director can find a safe place for us to talk." He dropped his attention to his tablet. No incoming messages, though he had sent about seven since leaving his lab. Come on, Eden. Help me out here.
Having Atmosphere in his home wasn't such a bad thing, really, but Jake wasn't looking forward to having to hide his profusion of Atmosphere-related memorabilia, still piled up after his aborted efforts to sell it all.
"Good man, Mr. Tucker," Atmosphere chuckled. "I need something more exciting than rats to think about."
"Jake," Jake said. "You can call me Jake. I mean, if you want to. Are you bored?" He couldn't decide how to feel about that, except maybe confused. How could piping be boring?
"Not right now."
Even dressed down—in black and silver clothing, his short, chunky hair a very normal brown, his face free of paints—Atmosphere glimmered around the edges. His charisma was overwhelming. Though Jake knew that he couldn't have been telling the truth, he felt compelled to offer a faint smile in return.
“Then why didn’t you get separate meals?”
She threw a scrap of food at me. “It started off well but someone commented that we would make a great couple.”
I frowned. “I thought you were there with that other doctor. What was her name—?”
“Susan,” Llys answered. “And yes, I was.”
She went back to cooking while I stared at the floor. For some reason what she had told me made her feel on edge. I couldn’t figure out why. “A couple of what?”
She stared at me, looking as confused as I felt. “What?”
I frowned. “Agents, hairdressers, doctors?”
“Aeron, what are you talking about?”
I folded my arms. “You’re the one who didn’t finish your sentence. You said someone thought you and Susan would make a great couple.” I raised my eyebrows. “A couple of?”
“Oh hell, you have no idea, do you?”
“You trying to confuse me on purpose?”
Llys went back to cooking and I could see the feelings whirring around her. She was quiet, deep in thought. So I waited, hoping I’d get where she was going or this could be a long conversation.
“Is there anyone in town who is a little . . . different?” she asked.
“You mean like me?”
“More like two guys or girls who happen to live together.”
“Like me and Nan?”
Llys rolled her eyes. “Not related.”
I thought about it, real hard. I could feel her watching me.
Llys muttered under her breath. “Well, what would you think if there were, don’t you think it would be . . . different?”
“I’d have to know what the hell normal was first.”
She beamed at me with such warmth that I wondered what I’d said to cause it. My head was starting to hurt with the twisting conversation and I just didn’t get it. What did people living together have to do with a cocktail dress?
“Okay, I’m going to be blunt,” she told me.
I nodded, focusing on her gray eyes and bracing myself for the nugget of wisdom she was about to unleash.
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