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:
Elias kept to himself an encounter with two of Ranulf’s mercenaries who were carrying hangings and other items from a house. They stopped when they saw him, noted the blood on his sword, and set the things down and bowed. Leif’s quick grin assured Elias he would not put him to the test. Not this time. Thomas stood and stared at him. Elias leveled a glare at both and gestured with his drawn and bloody sword. Leif gave him a quick, sardonic bow, and he and Thomas left the goods where they lay and ran off.
Any hope Elias had of getting clean was dashed quickly. While Raymond and Blois parlayed with the commander of the emperor’s own troops for the garrisoning of what was again a Byzantine fortress, he and other knights found places in the courtyard, and some in houses, to bed down. No one seemed to have thought of how they would feed the pilgrims, and the more resourceful either co-opted cook shops and kitchens or simply moved in with residents and demanded to be fed. By the time Elias and the others who had policed the looting realized the latter was happening, they were too tired and demoralized to lift a finger. He and Albrecht bedded down in the porch of the mosque he had protected, pieced together a brazier, and cooked pigeons Albrecht had caught, plucked, and cleaned.
“Leif told me what you did.”
Ranulf stood at his shoulder as he picked the meat out of his teeth with a snapped pigeon bone.
“You mean got in the way of their rampage?” Elias snapped ill-naturedly.
Ranulf shook his head. “No, spared their lives. I thank you. If they know what is good for them, they will do so as well.” He looked about at the ruined square. “I don’t know what got into Thomas. He’s not like that. Leif is a Viking at heart and is almost impossible to control.”
Elias put his elbows on his bent knees. “I would invite you to have some food, but we ate it all.”
“No matter,” Ranulf said. “I got some grub earlier. And honestly,” he added, holding up his hands, palms toward Elias, to ward off any impression to the contrary. “May I at least sit down for a while?”
Elias slid over to make room for him. Albrecht sat on a lower step and watched them both. Elias reached for a waterskin and offered it to Ranulf. “Only water. Sorry.” He shrugged.
Sitting, Ranulf replied, “Better than the dust that’s in my mouth and throat now.” He took a swig, then glanced around at the mosque. “This looks like it was a church once. Any idea who it was dedicated to?”
Duke takes my hand and leads me up a little incline where a tree leans with the direction of the wind. Looks like a tough old tree, telling off the wind because it’s not moving from this spot. It makes me think of the kind of person Duke is, living out here in the middle…of…
My brain fumbles to a stop as I gaze over the land Duke’s brought me up here to see.
It’s so vast. I can see the horizon way out there. Is that the curve of the planet? Just gold and blue and specks of life, splashes of green and brown, the rolls of hills dotted with cloud shadows. I can hear the wind and my breath and my heart. The sun bakes down on me, and then Duke’s hand is squeezing mine.
Before now, cowboys were just sexy like denim and strength. This man beside me is so much more than any of that. I'm staring at the land, but I'm seeing him. All my life, I've been the leaves on this tree, shaking in the wind, trying to hold on.
Duke is the roots.
He moves in front of me, a soft expression on his rugged face, and wipes his thumb under my eye. I've cried. Seeing this place has made me cry.
"Happens for some," he whispers. "Gets us right in the soul."
Us. I nod. "Yeah," I quietly croak. "Got me."
"Come on." He takes my hand again. "Let's sit down here in the shade a minute."
At the bottom of the little hill, the tree's casting a spot of shadow that's enough to ease the heat of the sun. We lean back against the ground, propped up like we're reclining in lounge chairs. For a moment or two, I just watch the fat clouds slide across the sky or the horses munch the prairie grasses.
Peaceful. How long's it been since I've felt this? No rush. Just be. Breathe. This is a different kind of safe feeling. I'm not in the middle of nowhere; this is the center of everything. I look over at Duke. He gazes back.
"I think you might live in Heaven."
"Thank you for letting me stay."
He smiled just enough and tugs the brim of his hat.
He’s muscled into the house, and Andre slams the door shut behind them, swings Jeremy around and shoves him against the wall. His Master’s face is twisted with hurt, his voice a wounded hiss, “You know what I keep thinking about ... what’s really fucking grating on me? It’s that you didn’t say a word this whole time about coming out, just kept it to yourself ... made me believe you were good with this, loved our life, loved me.”
Jeremy’s heart wrenches in pain. “I do love our life, and I love you—so much it fucking hurts—and you know it, Master, so you don’t get to think that, you don’t.” He blows out a breath, hears the frustrated anger in his own voice and stops, inhales deep, doesn’t want to get punished for his stupid tone. “Just don’t ever doubt that, okay? This ... it’s been building up for months, wasn’t going to say anything, was okay with it, I was dealing, but when I touched you, you jerked away from me so fucking fast! Felt like you ripped out my gut, man, it hurt so freaking bad!”
Andre makes a choked noise in his throat, slides a hand up Jeremy’s arm as if to comfort him, but Jeremy shakes his head, pushes off the wall and shoves past Andre. He can’t look into those beautiful eyes because he’ll lose his courage, and he needs to get this out of him right the fuck now.
“S-saw you on that awards show yesterday, you and that bitch with her fake tits and her stupid smirk. It makes me want to rip her face off whenever I see it and fuck, the way she hangs off you, just— I mean, you go everywhere with her and I hate it! It’s not fair, Master.”
His anger is growing in leaps and bounds just thinking about it, remembering.
Sloane observed Dex as he made his way to the center of the mat. The guy had a nice ass too. On that note, maybe it was time for Sloane to get laid. It had been way too long since he’d picked anyone up, but then, the only thing that seemed to interest him these days was the job. Why the hell was he thinking about sex now? He followed Dex onto the blue mat and stopped a few feet away from him, pushing any and all sexual thoughts out of his mind. He had work to do. A lot of work to do.
Dex readied himself, stretching his neck and back. Despite his disastrous introduction, the guy actually had excellent poise. He balanced perfectly on one leg while he pulled the opposite knee up to stretch then swapped and did the same with the other. He bent over and grabbed his ankles with ease then slowly rolled his back to stand upright again. Rotating his shoulders, he shook himself off and hopped on his toes for a few seconds to warm up. His movements revealed he was lithe and flexible, yet Sloane couldn't understand how this was the same guy who had scored top of his class during the training run. It was true he didn't know much about Dex, but he’d read the file the moment he’d been informed of the decision.
Both parents had been killed during the riots when he was five years old. He’d been adopted by his father’s friend and work partner, Anthony Maddock. A year later, his baby Therian brother was rescued and adopted. Went to Berkeley at eighteen for four years, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Justice Studies, and joined the HPF a year later. Four years after that, was promoted to homicide detective. Dexter J. Daley, thirty-three years old, unmarried, and recently testified against his Human partner in a murder trial. Sloane was still figuring out what to think about that last part.
Dex took his stance, bending his knees, his left leg a little farther up than the right, and his fists up near his face.
“Your stance is good,” Sloane murmured, ignoring Dex’s surprised look. Taking up his own fighting stance, Sloane motioned for Dex to advance. “Okay. Come at me.”
Dex shook his head. “No.”
Sloane paused. Was the rookie messing with him? “What do you mean ‘no’?”
“How about you come at me.”
“That’s not how this works.”
“I’ve seen what attacking you head on does. You want to see what I can do? You’ll have to work for it.”
Sloane arched an eyebrow. Well, if nothing else, the guy had balls. “Okay. Remember, you asked for it.” He advanced, faked with his right to land a left hook to Dex’s ribs. A swipe to his left foot brought Dex crashing down to the mat.
“Fuck,” Dex moaned, rolling out of the way. He jumped to his feet and rounded his shoulders. “Okay.” Bouncing on his toes, he circled Sloane. “Let’s try this again.”
This match was over. Rookie just didn’t know it yet. Sloane was good at exposing weaknesses, and he was already working on discovering his new partner’s.
They slowly circled each other, and Sloane got closer to Dex with each step until he was close enough to throw a punch. Dex blocked it, his concentration focused on keeping Sloane from landing a hit. He was studying Sloane, trying to get a handle on his technique so he could formulate a plan of attack. Rookie was using his head—that was good—but he was taking too long to decide on his course of action and that was bad. Hesitation was something his Human partner couldn’t afford out in the field, not when dealing with Therians. As a species, Therians were faster, stronger, healed quicker, and had a higher level of tolerance when it came to pain.
Dex blocked a left hook to the ribs with his right elbow tucked up against his body, but in anticipation of Sloane faking a right, he tucked his left elbow in as well, leaving his head exposed. Sloane took advantage and clipped Dex under his chin. His head came up, once again leaving himself exposed long enough for Sloane to give his cheek a smack. Dex shuffled back, eyes wide.
“What the fuck was that?”
“I’m sorry. Did I smear your makeup?” Sloane held back a smile at Dex’s glare. This was too easy. Forgetting all about keeping his distance, Dex charged him.
A fierce combination of hooks, jabs, and an attempt at an uppercut were nicely executed, but still not enough to catch Sloane off guard. He blocked Dex’s advances, ducked under a right hook, and grabbed Dex’s leg. With a forceful pull, Dex was once again sprawled on his back.
“I haven’t spent this much time on my back since college.”
Sloane laughed. “It’s a good look for you, Rookie.”
“You asking me out on a date? Because I don’t date assholes,” Dex grumbled, sitting up.
“I may be an asshole, but even I’ve got standards.”
With a smirk, Dex hung his head and held an arm out.
“Giving up already? How disappointing.” Sloane reached out and took Dex’s hand, ready to pull him up when Dex twisted his torso and kicked a leg out, catching Sloane on the side of his knee and sending him down onto it. He was jerked forward and Dex’s legs wrapped around his waist. He twisted his lower body to throw Sloane onto his back. Dex landed on him, his hands pinning Sloane’s wrists to the mat beneath them, their faces inches away from each other.
“So, about that date,” Dex said, laughing breathlessly. His eyes shifted to Sloane’s lips before moving back up and his smile grew wider. The little shit was taunting him.
Sloane didn't know what pissed him off more, that he’d been caught by surprise, or that he was enjoying it. His anger started bubbling up inside him and that pissed him off even more. He didn't get angry. Anger meant the rookie was getting to him.
With a pleasant smile, Sloane jerked his left wrist free to snatch Dex’s in a tight grip. He looped his arm around Dex’s neck, forcing Dex’s arm to come up and around as well. With a swift yank, Dex spun off him and onto the mat.
That was better. Sloane casually got to his feet with a satisfied grin. He took a deep breath to regain his calm and turned, frowning at the sight of Dex on his stomach, his back arching as he let out a frustrated groan. He ignored the curve of the rookie’s spine and the way he looked when he got onto his hands and knees. Jesus, what was wrong with him? It was time to put a stop to this… distraction.
Come on,” Sloane snarled. “Get up. I’m not here to be your Xbox buddy.”
“Come on, Dex!” Cael sat on the floor a few feet away, and Sloane tilted his head, his bottom lip jutting out in a pout as he teased Dex.
“Aw, isn't that cute? Baby brother is cheering for you.”
Dex lunged at him, throwing his arms around Sloane’s waist in an inane attempt to knock him over. Sloane didn’t go down. He was bigger, stronger, and heavier than Dex, but to the rookie’s credit, he managed to get in a nice jab to the ribs. With a well-maneuvered twist of his body, Sloane was out of Dex’s grip and holding him in a headlock. Instead of punching him, he delivered another slap to his cheek. Dex let out a frustrated growl and tried to push away from him.
“Stop doing that!”
“Ooh, Rookie’s got a bit of a temper.” Sloane ruffled Dex’s hair, pissing him off further.
“Aw, isn't he cute,” Ash teased from the end of the mat.
“Fuck you, Simba!”
Rosa burst into laughter and Ash glared at her. “Are you fucking serious?” He turned back to Sloane with a scowl. “You better kick his ass.”
Dex struggled in Sloane’s grip. “Come on, Rookie. Is this the best you got?”
“This isn't fighting,” Dex spat out. “This is you being a prick.”
Sloane shrugged. “Either way, I've seen what you can do and I gotta say, it’s pretty uninspiring.”
“Uninspiring, huh?” Dex pulled back a fist and Sloane released him, jumping back and narrowly missing Dex’s fist, his knuckles brushing Sloane’s crotch. Sloane gaped at Dex.
“You were going to punch me in the nuts?”
“You said it yourself. This isn't a fight, so yeah. And I would have enjoyed it too.”
“Hey, watch it.” Sloane stormed up to Dex who held his ground, his chin lifted defiantly. Rookie had nerve, but he needed to learn his place. Sloane grabbed him, hauled him off his feet and slammed him into the mat. “Stay the fuck down, if you know what’s good for you.”
Dex ignored him, his breath coming out heavy as he got back on his feet and threw a punch. Stupid little bastard didn't know when to quit. Sloane ducked, grabbed Dex around the waist and once again slammed him back down on the mat. With a low groan, Dex rolled onto his side and pushed himself onto his hands and knees. Sloane wiped the sweat off his brow with the back of his hand as he circled Dex. He’d lost count of how many times he’d dropped Dex, yet the guy kept getting back up. Granted, each time took a little longer than the last, but he pushed himself to his feet regardless. Sloane didn't know whether to be impressed or aggravated.
“You’re not cut out for this, Rookie.”
Dex didn't reply, simply glared at him. He charged Sloane with a growl, ducking under Sloane’s right hook and landing a jab to Sloane’s exposed ribs. Gritting his teeth against the pain, Sloane used the adrenaline pumping through his veins to keep going and bring his fists down onto Dex’s back. Dex hit the mat painfully, his head smacking against it.
Fuck. Sloane touched his ribs and winced. Damn, the rookie had gotten him pretty good. “Why don’t you stay down? It’s only going to get worse.”
With a humorless laugh, Dex rolled onto his back, his chest rising and falling rapidly. “Let me guess. This is the part where I’m supposed to go crying home to Daddy. “Ooh, my new partner hates me. Boo-hoo.”’ Sloane could see the strain on the rookie’s face as he struggled to stand, sucking in a sharp breath when he straightened. “Well fuck you. Here’s a little FYI for you. I would rather fuckingbleed to death than give you the satisfaction, you prick.”
Sloane arched an eyebrow at him. “Charming.”
“I am fucking charming!” Dex shouted, his entire face going beet red. “I am the most charming motherfucker you will ever know, so kiss my perfectly perky ass!”
After some consideration, Sloane cocked his head to one side and shrugged. “I've seen better.”
“Oh, now you’re insulting my ass?”
Sloane opened his mouth when a booming voice came over the speaker system.
“Destructive Delta, please report to briefing room “A” in one hour as per Sergeant Maddock’s orders.”
“Looks like you were saved by daddy after all.” Sloane turned to his team and clapped his hands together. “Okay, hit the showers. See you upstairs.” Everyone headed out, and Sloane made his way to the towel rack. He grabbed himself one to wipe his face, and when he turned, he almost ran into Dex, his rig hanging from one hand.
“Well, let’s see it.”
Sloane threw his towel over his shoulder. “See what?”
“Are you asking me to go feral or whip out my dick?”
Dex looked like he was actually considering it. “Come on. I want to see the alpha beneath the asshole. We’ve got lions, and tigers, and….” Dex shifted his gaze to Sloane’s neck, a strange little smile coming onto his face as he looked back up at Sloane. “Jaguar. Oh my.”
Holy shit, the guy was serious.
Dex shrugged. “I don’t see what the big deal is. You’re my partner, we’re in a wide open space, and there are vending machines down the hall for post shift. We’ve got time before we need to get to the briefing room. It’s my turn to see what I’m dealing with.”
Sloane mulled it over. “Okay.”
“Sure.” Sloane circled Dex and crowded him, making him retreat until his back hit the wall. With his arms to the sides of Dex’s head, he watched Dex’s Adam’s apple bob as his new partner swallowed hard. Just as Sloane suspected, Dex was clearly having second thoughts about seeing the “big bad alpha.” He leaned in close, his lips inches away from Dex’s jaw as he inhaled deeply. “Do you know why jaguar Therians are the most lethal of the Felids?”
“My Therian bite has twice the strength of a lion’s. I can use a deep-throat, bite-and-suffocation technique where my fangs pierce through the temporal bones of your skull, right between your ears and pierce your brain.” Sloane gave a little demonstration with his fingers on Dex’s scalp, earning him a scowl. Sloane laughed then whispered in Dex’s ear. “I bet the only word you heard from all that was deep-throat.”
Dex lifted his chin, his eyes dropping once again to Sloane’s mouth before moving back up to meet his gaze. He licked his lips, his eyes clouding over. “Your pupils are dilated. Does that mean you want to fuck me or eat me? Because I might have a problem with one of those.”
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