Available Again – Prince of the Sea by Jon Michaelsen

A gay paranormal mystery/suspense novella

2017 BEST GAY MEN’S FICTION AWARDG/G Goodreads’ Reading Group

EXCERPT:

Chapter Two

A lone gnat buzzed about Jonathan’s face. He swiped the air in frustration, more at Paul than with irritation at the pest. He had agitated the insect, which fought to escape and yet managed to fly up his nostril. He plugged the side of his nose and tried to flush the pest without success. Finally, and with apprehension, he swallowed to clear his throat.

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Driven by need deeper than thirst, Jonathan ducked inside through the doorway of the single-story cottage and crossed the threshold to the parlor of the west wing, filled with nautical trimmings and reproduced coastal collections. He tore past the cold fireplace and a sofa draped with an old patchwork quilt. The antique double-door bar cabinet nestled in the far corner reminded him of the days his mother had carted him through the vintage shops peppering the Southeastern Coast. In spite of his mood, he smiled at the memories. He snatched a fresh bottle of booze from the shelf below, tossed a couple cubes of ice into his glass, and filled it half-full of scotch.

Jonathan slugged the beverage, refilled his glass, and then shuffled to the floor-to-ceiling windows facing inland. He thought about being stood up by Paul, the knot in his chest traveling up his neck like a hand closing around his throat. Typical. Paul had become more distant of late and the excuses he tried to pass off seemed contrived at best. They were nearing the end of the relationship, perhaps. Jonathan didn’t know anymore, and it drove him crazy.

Stop with the melodramatics, Jonathan chided himself as he sipped his drink and stepped out onto the porch again. He set his cocktail on the railing, reached high above his head, and stretched his arms before crossing them over his chest and gripping his shoulders. The ocean breeze caressed him as he watched the waves rolling in, whitecaps bustling with the fury of stampeding cattle before crashing headlong into shore. Why did it bother him this much? Should he be surprised Paul chose career goals over their relationship yet again? Jonathan should have seen it coming months ago, but he’d ignored the signs, desperate to rekindle the passion slipping away after years of happiness.

A large cargo ship sailed in line of the horizon. Seagulls and pelicans floated along the shoreline searching for food. Jonathan dreamed of a relationship devoid of friction and financial strain, absent of business dinners filled with false hope and weekend interruptions. He savored his career as a successful scriptwriter, but he abhorred the Hollywood lifestyle.

His drink empty, Jonathan began to turn when something caught his eye. Glancing beyond the beach, he scanned the ocean’s surface searching the whitecaps. Someone was bobbing and swirling about in wide circular motions, dipping beneath the waves and resurfacing. Jonathan observed the head and shoulders of a man who seemed to be struggling to remain above the surface. Adrenaline shot through him like a bullet and panic clutched his chest.

He’s in trouble!

Jonathan scanned the beach for help. A few beachcombers walked in either direction along the sand, some strolling hand in hand, as others huddled in groups with a child or two darting out from the pack to race toward the water’s edge. No one seemed to notice the swimmer in distress. Most followed their downcast eyes, searching the beach for the ocean’s treasures washed up in the tide.

“Hey…hey!

Jonathan raced toward the water’s edge and kicked off his loafers, flailing his arms and screaming trying to attract attention. He ripped off his shirt as he ran, the fabric falling behind in the sand. Pausing to strip off his slacks, he trudged into the sea.

Waves battered him in violent succession, pushing him back, forcing him to lift his knees high to stab his feet into the water to stay righted. When the water reached his hips, Jonathan dove headlong into the churning surf. The smack of cold water against his face and chest sobered him as he pinwheeled his arms through the strong current toward the struggling swimmer.

Where did he go? Jonathan eased up to get his bearings, dogpaddling around and looking for the man. He called out, “Can you hear me? I’m here to help.” He swiveled his head back and forth, searching for the swimmer.

I’ve gone too far, he thought. Jonathan whipped around, turning back toward the beach. The cottage stood farther up the beach than his current position. Fearing the swimmer had disappeared beneath the surface, Jonathan ducked below the water and aimed his body deep, opening his eyes to take a quick peek. The sting of the saltwater forced his lids shut and he retreated.

Jonathan angled his body upward and kicked his feet hard against the strong current. Reaching the surface proved elusive, as the undertow sucked him down. Disoriented and terrified, his lungs begging for air, Jonathan clawed at the wall of seawater to no avail. No matter where he aimed, he couldn’t find the surface. The harder he fought the farther down he sank. Desperate for oxygen, his heart pounding, Jonathan’s life flashed before him.

Is this it? Am I doomed to be another tragic drowning?

Jonathan drifted into a quiet calm from lack of air, his thoughts a random jumble. Why had he charged forth in the first place, foolish considering all the alcohol? What about Paul? Would he be stunned to learn of his death, perhaps feel guilty about refusing to join him sooner? Would his family ever forgive his carelessness?

His chest compressed, expressing the last bit of air from his lungs. He wrestled an onslaught of convulsions as brackish seawater invaded his nose and mouth, his lungs. Arms and legs became lead. He lashed out, each stroke pulling him down until he finally hit the ocean floor.

The undertow snatched him away as his awareness waned. He lashed out in a futile attempt to right himself but grasped onto something slick and supple instead. His fingers slid over the soft object.

Huh?

Something large and powerful slammed into him from behind. He felt an incredible tug against his body, a whoosh that snapped him back like a bungee cord before he blacked out.

Blurb:

Island myth, or guarded secret…destiny lures Jonathan home.

Jonathan’s ten-year relationship with Paul has lost its spark, so in a last-ditch effort to rekindle the passion they once shared, Jonathan rents a seaside cottage in his boyhood hometown; Tybee Island, Georgia, a quaint, tiny coastal islet he abandoned more than a decade or so ago.
But, the romantic surprise backfires royally when his partner rushes off to woo a high-profile client in Chicago, leaving Jonathan alone and broken-hearted. While killing his pain with loads of alcohol the afternoon of his arrival on the beach, nothing seems to ease the gut-wrenching pain.
That’s when Jonathan notices a swimmer caught in a riptide, desperate to stay afloat. Without hesitation, the west coast transplant races to the water’s edge, trudging through seawater before diving headlong into the raucous surf. Soon, he too, falls victim to the fierce undertow, struggling to reach the surface and fearing the worst.
Then a mighty force slams into him from behind, causing him to blackout. When he regains consciousness, Jonathan realizes he is surrounded by horrified beachcombers, all staring at his half-naked body.
How did Jonathan get to shore?
What happened to the drowning man?
And, who is the mysterious old woman gaping at him from afar?

Buy Links: 

Amazon: Prince of the Sea in ebook and Kindle Unlimited

Amazon: Prince of the Sea in print

Audible: Prince of the Sea in audiobook

Smashwords: Prince of the Sea in e-book

About Jon Michaelsen

Jon Michaelsen is a writer of fiction in the mystery, suspense and thriller genres. 
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A born southerner born near the Chattahoochee River, his family moved to Atlanta, Georgia when he was a young boy; where he remains today. His debut mystery novel, Pretty Boy Dead, was selected as a Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Gay Mystery. He is currently writing the second Kendall Parker Mystery, The Deadwood Murders, expected in early 2019.
He lives with his husband of 32 years and two monstrous terriers.

Contact him: Michaelsen.jon@gmail.com

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Find Jon Michaelsen on the web:
http://www.jonmichaelsen.net
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Exclusive Excerpt: Pretty Boy Dead (A Kendall Parker Mystery Book 1) by Jon Michaelsen

Blurb:

2014 Lambda Literary Award Finalist – Gay Mystery

A murdered male stripper. A missing go-go dancer. A city councilman on the hook. It’s a race against time for veteran Atlanta Homicide Detective Kendall Parker to solve the vicious crime, but when the investigation takes a sudden, disastrous turn resulting in the death of a suspect in custody.  But when a local print reporter with ties to the beleaguered cop threatens to expose a police cover-up, Parker will be forced to make a life-changing choice; stand firm for law and justice, or betray the brotherhood of blue.

Cover Design: Elizabeth Leggett; Publisher: Lethe Press

Exclusive Excerpt

“I need to see you.” Slade had whispered loud enough so his editor could hear. Slade stopped short of entering the room.

“Not now, Calvin,” Marsh snapped, gesturing with irritation at the others at the meeting table. “Can’t you see I’m in a meeting?”

Slade disregarded the group and rushed to the editor’s side. He leaned down close and whispered a few words into the man’s ear. The two men engaged in whispered conversation and ignored the aggravated stares of the other executives. Marsh had heard enough.

“Who covered the Crater case?” Marsh blurted out to the men seated around the table. “The death of Councilman Keyes’ aide?”

“Greenfield,” said the Metro editor from the end of the table.

“Get him. Adams.” Marsh barked orders. The city deputy editor snapped his head up from his doodling on the pad. “I need two of your best junior field reporters, a couple of top-notch research assistants and throw in a few green clerks. We have a hell of a lead to authenticate before word leaks to the other networks. Have everybody meet in the war room in fifteen.”

Marsh capped his Waterman pen, picked up the papers on the table before him and shoved back from the table, signaling the end to the meeting.

The war room was a large conference room on the same floor as most of the staff clerks and journalists. Used for departmental meetings and occasionally reserved by print staff thrown into crisis where timing proved critical, it was a think tank for senior field reporters, editors, copy writers, researchers and common clerks working together at breakneck speed to draft a blistering front-page story, a scoop that required swift action and exceptional writing skills. An eight-foot table with folding metal chairs, topped with dual triangle-shaped speaker-phones for conference calls, filled the center of the room. Flat screen monitors tuned to local and national news programming were hung on the walls.

Everyone gathered as requested, poised for instruction and ready to roll up their sleeves. Young clerks were brought in to run errands for the troupe during what might become a multi-hour marathon of making photocopies, getting coffee, fresh donuts, fetching take-out, distributing afternoon snacks, everything to keep the group focused and on track.

Slade perched at one end of the table and outlined the events responsible for bringing them together. Reading from typed pages with scribbled highlights, he brought the assembled staff members up to speed on the story. Based on the facts presented, those gathered believed the victims indeed knew one another, and the video from the fundraiser proved they both had connections to the councilman. Their job now was to confirm and source all the facts, authenticate the details, and fill the gaps for tomorrow’s front page.

Slade organized his pages of notes under the managing editor’s direction, who doled out the assignments to each participant. Everyone relished the adrenaline rush associated with what might well be the hottest story of the year. Covering the city councilman had proved mundane of late, but connecting two dead bodies to the man would fire his unpopularity factor into the ozone. By 9: 00 p.m.,

Marsh approved the third draft and gave Slade the okay to contact Councilman Keyes at his home in Buckhead for a comment. The top brass listened in on extensions as Slade dialed the number. A recorder engaged before the first ring and Keyes answered.

“Councilman Keyes, this is Calvin Slade with the Journal. Can I have a moment of your time?”

“I told you before I have nothing more to say, Mr. Slade. How did you get this number? You know what this is? It’s harassment. I’ll have you thrown in jail if you don’t stop pestering me.”

“I am required to inform you, councilman, this call is being recorded. I think you’ll want to listen to what I have to say.”

“Are you serious?” “We’re running a story in the morning detailing a connection in the murders of Jason North and your office aide, Lamar Crater. We’ll be including a photo of you taken at the Fox Theatre fundraiser speaking to the Piedmont Park victim. We’ll also be running down the young man’s affiliation with the male strip club, Metroplex. It’s our assertion you have knowledge of their deaths, enabling you to be blackmailed to kill your proposed legislation banning alcohol sales in nude dancing clubs in the city.”

Silence. Slade heard a few heavy intakes of breath as what sounded like a drawer opened and closed before he spoke when it became clear that Keyes still remained stunned. “Councilman Keyes, with all due respect, you must know I am calling you out of professional courtesy. I want to give you an opportunity to share your comments with the public who elected you. We will be going to press soon—”

Keyes’s words exploded through the receiver. “Your assertion is preposterous! Who put you up to smearing my name with the primary coming up? What gives you the right to call my home with such an asinine claim? My lawyers will hear about this!”

Slade steadied himself and repeated his offer. “Councilman Keyes, with all due respect, I am calling you out of courtesy. I want to grant you an opportunity to share your comments with our readers. We will be going to press soon…”

“You can go straight to hell, Mr. Slade.”

Slade felt his face burning. “We’re going to press soon, sir. Just give us your side of the story and I’ll personally guarantee—”

“You’ll hear from my lawyers!”

 

Buy Links:

Lethe Press: http://tinyurl.com/Lethe-Press-Pretty-Boy-Dead

Amazon

eBook: http://tinyurl.com/Ebook-Pretty-Boy-Dead

Print: http://tinyurl.com/Print-Pretty-Boy-Dead

 

 

CHANGES to DRAWINGS for FREE, SIGNED COPIES of MYSTERY novels; 4-Year Anniversary Celebration Continues!

WE’RE CHANGING IT UP TO HELP CELEBRATE the 4-year Anniversary of the Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction group, autographed copies of selected Gay & Lesbian mystery novels will be offered up to our devoted members who each will have a chance to win via drawing! Twenty authors and Matthew Moore’s, Buy More Books, contributed over 50 books to give away FREE!!

word murder written with an old typewriter

How Do I Enter to Win?

Easy – just watch for a notice posted in the group to enter and win a SIGNED Copy of one of the titles being offered in the drawings.

Enter – to enter the drawings, simply provide a COMMENT WITH THE TITLE of the mystery novel you want a chance to win FREE. (Likes, etc., will not be considered as entering the drawing since some folks simply like to acknowledge their appreciation for the novel/author featured, etc.)

It’s that simple!

How Long Before Winner Announced? 

That depends. There are over 50 novels to be given away, so I want to give every member in the group a chance to see the drawing, so usually about three-five days depending on activity.

A few rules:

  • Only members of the group can enter the drawing; all members are eligible, including authors – they are readers/fans, too!
  • Members can enter as many drawings as you like, but keep in mind, the goal is to award as many members as possible, so multiple-winning members ay be avoided unless participation in the drawings dictate otherwise.
  • Please do not forward this announcement of the drawings to non-members as they are not eligible at this time. Though I welcome new members to the group, this 4-year birthday celebration is to thank all the current, loyal members of this group.
  • Non-USA contiguous & Canada will receive e-book alternative due to postage costs. Gay Mystery-Thriller-Suspense Fiction is a non-revenue, fan-based group and does not have the funds for the additional postage.
  • Substitutes may not be available, but not guaranteed.

If participation is low, remaining books will be held for later in the year. Any remaining books I have in my possession will be donated to the library of Lost-N-Found Youth, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to take homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths up to age 25 off the street and transition them into more permanent housing.

BOOK PROVIDED BY BUY MOORE BOOKS – (Matthew G. Moore)

Jackson Square Jazz – Greg Herren 

(2) Mardi Gras Mambo – Greg Herren

Bourbon Street Blues – Greg Herren

Murder in the Rue Delphine – Greg Herren 

Flight Dreams – Michael Craft

Bitch Slap – Michael Craft 

Shock to the System – Richard Stevenson

Third Man Out – Richard Stevenson

Death Trick – Richard Stevenson

Why Stop at Vengeance- Richard Stevenson 

(2) Lat Your Sleeping Head – Michael Nava

Assault with a Deadly Lie – Lev Raphael

An Echo of Death – Mark Zubro

Filmed to Death – Meg Perry 

No Escape – Nancy Sanra 

ALL OTHER BOOK TITLES; 

 (2) Pretty Boy Dead (A Kendall Parker Mystery) – Jon Michaelsen

(1) Time’s Rainbow: Writing Ourselves Back into American History (Volume 1)– ed; Lori L Lake & Christopher Hawthorne Moss

Death by Pride – Mark McNease

The Couple Next Door – Rick R. Reed

Criminal Gold Mystery series – Any one of copy of the series – Ann Aptaker

The Laconic Lumberjack (A Nick Williams Mystery – Book 4) – Frank W Butterfield

Hidden Identity – (The Jimmy McSwain Files – Book 1) – Adam Carpenter

Calvin’s Head – David Swatling

(2) A Very Public Eye (Book Two in The Public Eye Mystery Series) – Lori L. Lake

You Can Never Walk Away – Edward Kendrick

Body on Pine – Joseph R. G. DeMarco

Cited to Death – Meg Perry

Stacked to Death – Meg Perry

Researched to Death – Meg Perry

Boystown: Three Nick Nowack Mysteries – Marshall Thornton

Lay Your Sleeping Head – Michael Nava

Fever in the Dark: A Jane Lawless Mystery – Ellen Hart

(2) False Confessions (Doug Orlando Mystery – Book 1) – Steve Neil Johnson

(2) Final Atonement (Doug Orlando Mystery – Book 2) – Steve Neil Johnson

Alien Quest – Mark Zubro

Alien Home – Mark Zubro

Alien Victory – Mark Zubro

A Conspiracy of Fear – Mark Zubro

Pawn of Satan – Mark Zubro

Black and Blue, and Pretty Dead, Too – Mark Zubro

Another Dead Republican – Mark Zubro

Gentle – Mark Zubro

Dying To Play – Mark Zubro

Dying for a Thrill – Mark Zubro

 

Exclusive Excerpt: Lethe Press presents: Prince of the Sea by Jon Michaelsen

I thought I’d offer a taste of the thriller/suspense aspect of Prince of the Sea for those who’ve not yet read my latest novel. This excerpt has never been seen before, so I hope you enjoy!

Short blurb:

Island myth or guarded secret?

Jonathan Lemke thought spending two weeks with his partner, Paul, in a beachside cottage on Tybee Island would rekindle the lost passion of their ten-year union, but a vengeful assailant intent on exposing the island’s secrets soon sets his sights on Jonathan and his mysterious childhood friend.

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Exclusive Excerpt:

Jonathan approached the northern tip of the island before dusk for his rendezvous with Lucius. Climbing onto the boulders of the breakwater, he sat and watched the waves at his feet lap the jetty. Sea foam churned through the crevices, bubbling up through the breaks in the rocks. The ocean smelled of salt and seaweed and a hint of fish. He watched the broad beam from the lighthouse sweep the gloomy surface in rotary precision.

Inhaling the ocean’s scent, Jonathan loosened his shoulders and arms, letting the gentle breeze brush against his skin through his open shirt, trying to relax before his friend arrived. Not long after as Lucius appeared beside him like a chameleon from the shadows.

They made small talk for a while, reciting memories from their childhood together, hours of carefree adventures and the many misadventures of note, both glancing out into the abyss when Lucius asked an unexpected question.

“Are you happy, Jonathan?”

Had Lucius sensed his argument with Paul? he wondered. Happy? How does one respond to such a question? Sure, Paul had pissed him off, but he didn’t want to think about it as he hugged his knees and contemplated an answer of his happiness. Had he rushed to judgment before giving Paul a chance to explain? His partner likely had a very good reason for lying, for not wanting to come to the island in the first place. Ten years was a long time with the same person. At least in gay years, he thought.

“Yes…I am happy.” Jonathan flashed a smile that held a moment. He plucked a shell caught between the rocks and rubbed its inner surface between his fingers. “I’m only thirty-two, so I’d like to think there’s much more ahead to achieve in life.”

Tybee Beach2

Lucius appeared dour as he gazed out to sea. Same as last night, he’d shown up wearing white cotton chinos rolled to the calves and nothing else, the fabric fluttering in the breeze like his hair. The glow of the moon bathed his caramel skin in a luminescent sheen, a striking ruddiness that summoned the god of light.

Hugging his knees and turning his head, Jonathan admired the sheath of corded muscle layering his friend’s broad shoulders. Lucius’s back flared like a manta ray, wide at the top and narrow at the waist. Jonathan moved his eyes over the gentle giant, appreciating the sculpted body earned from sheer physical exertion, and not from some gym stocked with high-tech gear or a syringe. The kind of labor required to perfect such a physique eluded Jonathan as he clutched his knees tighter to disguise his growing approval.

He’s fucking gorgeous.

Lucius turned his head and flashed a heart-melting grin. Warmth spread through Jonathan’s cheeks as his embarrassment ignited. If what Lucius had said about reading each other’s emotions and thoughts was true, then Jonathan felt incredibly self-conscious. He struggled to suppress his grin like a goofy teenager out on his first date.

He felt young and virile again when he was with Lucius, livelier than he’d been in a very long time. In fact, his manner bordered on euphoric while they perched on the boulders of the breakwater shoulder to shoulder. They sat in the darkest region of the island near North Beach beneath the light of a thousand stars, glistening like tinsel hanging from the sky. Lighted structures sprinkled the shoreline for miles inland on either side of them.

The giant eye of the lighthouse swept across the water for miles.

“What about you, Lucius?” Jonathan asked. He spoke in a hushed tone, a soft melancholy settling over him. “Have you achieved all you’d hope?”

Lucius frowned, bringing his large hands together. “Jonathan, I have something to acknowledge, an important part of me I should have shared with you long before fate has brought us together again.” He swallowed hard, and Jonathan sensed a tightening in his chest, felt the pain of his friend’s confession.

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“I should have revealed my secret when we were young pups still in the care of our elders, but I feared the anguish learning my secret would have caused you at the time. I am sorry to have betrayed your trust.” Lucius blinked away the moisture in his eyes. “I yearned to share my secret with you, Jonathan, to open my soul like a weeping siren caught on a jagged rock. Alas, my immaturity prevailed.” He swallowed. “You should understand, in my youth I feared my own shadow, unaware of my condition, of my own heritage.” He turned and the moonlight caught a flash of green in his eyes. “Selfish yes, but I feared losing your friendship should I disclose my secret.”

Jonathan listened quietly, the torment of his friend’s words like a mallet to his heart. Lucius had said they could read each other’s thoughts, and yet he felt nothing beyond the misery and despair of his friend. Listening to Lucius spill his truth made Jonathan want to pull the man into his arms and forever soothe his worries. Nothing Lucius could reveal would ever alter Jonathan’s love for the man. He was sure of it.

“Once I matured, my desires grew ever stronger, tougher still.” Lucius turned away and stared ahead. The muscles tensed in his thick neck. “I avoided revealing my troubles to my family. I should have gone to them sooner, but I didn’t understand what I was going through.” He lowered his chin to his knees. “I needed to unburden my heart, and confiding the truth eventually to my family helped banish my soul of its burden.”

Jonathan placed his hand on his Lucius’s shoulder, a gesture of comfort that produced a spark singeing his arm. “It’s okay,” he offered, grinning wide to reassure Lucius. Still, the sensation trailing his arm lingered. “Relax, will you? I think I know what you’re going to say.”

“Do you?” Lucius turned toward Jonathan with brows furrowed, fear and anguish shaping the features of his angelic face.

A spark flashed from behind them. Jonathan started a second before the rock nearest him spit bits of gravel and dust into the air. The next crack sent something sailing past Lucius as it split the water with incredible speed.

Did somebody just shoot at us?

Jonathan didn’t have time to react before Lucius hooked him under the arms and chucked them both into the waves with the speed of a harpoon. The shock of cold water biting his skin paled in comparison to the power now propelling them through the ocean at incredible speed. He had not grabbed enough air into his lungs before plunging beneath the surface and fought to hold onto to the precious little oxygen he had.

What the hell?

***

Fuck. Damn. Shit-fire!

Billy Wayne dove behind the pillars supporting the boardwalk. The walkway led out to the jetties from the public lot at the end of Gulick Street. His back flush against the rough, weathered wooden supports, he sucked the blood oozing from the wound on his hand. The rifle’s trigger had nicked his skin and jammed before he fired off another shot at the two men sitting on the jetty. No matter, he’d seen what he came for.

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After taking a couple of wild shots at the men, the larger of the two, the darker skinned, long haired one, had pulled both men into the ocean with unbelievable agility. They had quickly disappeared beneath the water. Despite the pain pulsing through his hand, Billy Wayne grinned and savored the thought of getting the proof his daddy never got

He’d never doubted his old man, not one bit, but Billy Wayne had needed to see the abomination with his own eyes. All his life he’d heard about what could happen when they were provoked, and now he’d seen it with his own eyes. No human could have leapt from the boulders with such lightning speed and sprinted through the water like a barracuda.

Billy Wayne had to confirm his father’s legacy more than ever. He peered beyond the boardwalk, out toward the jetty. The two men hadn’t surfaced as he’d figured. He zippered his rifle in its gun case and trotted back to his old Ford truck. Pumping the gas pedal, he started the engine after a couple of turns of the key. He slammed the vehicle into first gear and shot out of the lot, fishtailing onto Gulick Street then taking a left onto Meddin Drive. He sped past several cross streets, hung a right onto U.S. 80, the island’s main thoroughfare, and then headed for Tybee Island Marina.

The dock crawled with deckhands in from the days’ haul when he arrived. They were weighing their catch as captains of the boats barked orders. Billy Wayne made his way to a small runabout boat moored in a slip far away from the chaos of the larger vessels. He was known to troll the waters for clams and shrimp to sell to the town’s restaurants, so no one paid him any mind. He glanced over and grunted toward the men working. Most had simply ignored him over the years, fingering him as the senseless offspring of the town crazy. He often arrived at all hours of the day and night, so his appearance after midnight tonight went unnoticed.

Billy Wayne checked out the pouch containing the harpoon gun and several stainless-steel-barbed rods. He sat down hard on the ragged cushion at the stern of his boat and pulled the crank-cord. The motor sputtered to life in a burst of blue smoke when the engine caught and he clicked it into gear. Passing Cockspur Lighthouse at Lazaretto Creek, he headed out the mouth of the Savannah River to the wide shadowy ocean. He was intent on proving once and for all the ancient island myth that had haunted his family for years was real.

Exclusive Excerpt: Prince of the Sea by Jon Michaelsen: Romance Mystery/Thriller from Lethe Press

Blurb:

Jonathan Lemke thought spending two weeks alone with his partner in a beachside cottage would help to rekindle the lost passion of their ten-year union. He’d chosen Tybee Island, a quiet seaside community on the Georgia coast east of Historic Savannah. Jonathan had spent his childhood growing up on the pristine shores of the barrier islet which continues to hold a special place in his heart.

The romantic surprise backfires when Paul, Jonathan’s partner, rushes off to Chicago for the chance to woo a high profile client, leaving Jonathan alone and brokenhearted until a chance meeting with a mysterious and seductive stranger linked to a beloved island legend provides a chance at discovering forever love.

But someone with strong familial ties to Tybee Island is desperate to expose its secrets and avenge a grudge decades in the making. An assailant so threatened by the forces of nature that defy explanation, he will stop at nothing to unmask ancient island lore…even if he must kill to prove it.

Excerpt:

Jonathan slipped on a pair of board shorts and headed out shirtless for a stroll beneath a clear night sky. The balminess skimming off the ocean reminded him of the nights as a boy he’d lain awake in his bed staring out the window at the stars. His window had faced east toward the sea, providing a stellar inky-black canvas for spotting the constellations his grandfather had pointed out to him. Jonathan smiled at the thought of his grandpa who had taught him more about the earth and its natural beauty than any textbook ever did.

Meandering down the beach about half a mile before walking to the water’s edge, Jonathan dug his toes into the sand and felt the granules beneath his feet erode with the retreating water. Moonlight bathed the beach in incandescence as the ocean lapped the shoreline, depositing tiny crabs and shells in the recoil of the waves. His eyes adjusted to the darkness of the sky when he glanced up. He spotted Polaris, the North Star, right away, the first luminary he’d discovered with Grandpa; Ursa Major, more commonly known as the Big Dipper, opposite and more difficult to spot, Ursa Minor, the Little Dipper. Snaking its way between the two was Draco, the dragon, Jonathan’s favorite constellation of them all. Every night before falling asleep, he used to fantasize about the mighty dragon racing across the inky blackness at lightning speed slaying Leo the lion and Taurus the bull. “Ever diligent,” his grandfather used to say, all those years ago. “Protector of the stars and planets.”

That feeling again. Goosebumps fanned out across Jonathan’s chest and snaked along his arms.

The stars shine bright tonight, no?

Startled by the deep, melodic voice, Jonathan jerked around, but the dunes stood alone. A sudden awareness, like a sense of déjà vu washed over him. The hair on his arms prickled. Seeing no one, he shrugged off the strange feeling as having had too much scotch. He turned around to head back toward the cottage.

Jonathan.

He spun around like a frightened animal. Syllables drifted through his mind, forming words into inner thoughts, the sound not his but a voice of long ago. Jonathan saw no one on the beach with him. “Who’s there?”

It is I, Jonathan. Your old friend.

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The voice caused his heart to skip, a warm flush to his cheeks as he stood frozen. “Lucius?” Jonathan said. “Where are you? I can hear your voice but I don’t see you.”

I am here, my friend. The familiar voice urged him forth. Near the palm.

Jonathan spotted a tree with its trunk jutting out of the sand like a giant rocket impaled in the sand. A large image emerged from the shadows. He saw it was the man he’d tangled with before, the same person he’d tried to rescue from drowning. Lucius wore white slacks and nothing else, the fabric fluttering in the breeze. His torso shimmered in the moonlight, the sheen highlighting the toned muscles of his chest and the tautness of his stomach. A simple leather cord hung around his neck, bearing a lustrous stone of intermediate shades of white, pink and brown that fell in the hollow of his throat.

A voice cooing in Jonathan’s head beckoned him closer. The moment seemed surreal, dreamlike. “Lucius, is that really you?” He took a few tentative steps forward. “It’s been so long.”

It is I, Jonathan. The voice wafted. I am here now.

“I don’t understand.” Jonathan stood, disbelieving the voice drifting in his head. “How is it possible I can hear your words, but your lips aren’t moving?”

Lucius chuckled, that same wonderful melodic echo that had warmed Jonathan’s heart all those years ago. I speak in your consciousness, my friend, as can you. I perceive your thoughts and you mine, but only if you allow. Lucius moved forward, his arms outstretched and welcoming. You feel the connection, do you not?

Jonathan stood still. Since returning to the island, he’d sensed something tugging at his psyche, an outpouring of passion eluding explanation, one he had chosen to ignore. Images of the two boys exploring the north shore flashed in his mind. Heat flowed through his body in a large burst, sparking awareness unlike anything he’d ever experienced before.

Seeing his childhood friend ignited a familiar fire within Jonathan. He moved forward like a kid again, the years melting away like ice cream on a beach.

“I think I do.” Jonathan closed the distance between them. He felt giddy and childish. “I feel you and sense your thoughts, yet I don’t understand how that’s even possible.”

“As do I, my dear friend.” Lucius moved his lips for the first time. “We share a mystical bond, you and I, unlike any other.”

Lucius stood well over six feet tall, blessed with wide shoulders and muscular arms, and a trim torso lined with ribbed abs. His brooding eyes caught the moonlight and sparkled like emerald fireflies.

“Was it always so?” Jonathan asked.

“Yes, since we were young pups. You don’t remember?” Lucius laughed and grinned at him. “Your return has brought me much joy, Jonathan. I have missed you terribly, my friend. I always knew you would return home one day.”

Jonathan felt dumbfounded. His family had worked hard to convince him Lucius did not exist all those years ago. They’d said he was Jonathan’s imagination. And now this.

He sensed the mutual attraction. Little had changed between them it seemed, save for their physical size. Lucius stood taller and more muscular, his face blunt and masculine, offset with a straight Nordic nose and razor-sharp jaw, no longer the boy with plump cheeks and a pudgy middle. Long dark hair wisped about his face in the breeze and shimmered in the bright moonlight.

“I trust your lungs have cleared since…”

“What…yes, thank you. It was stupid of me to have gone into the surf, much too rough. But I thought you were in trouble.”

“Jonathan, I meant you no harm. I admit I came inshore to gain a better view, to confirm my intuition that you had indeed returned.” He cast his eyes down. “I did not anticipate you would see me and enter the tide.”

“It’s okay,” Jonathan said. “If not for you, I might have drowned.” He smiled and faked a punch to the man’s right shoulder. “Enough of this. I’m just so damn glad to see you.” He wanted to pull the man into his arms, but sensibility won out.

Lucius offered his hand instead. “Walk with me.”

Jonathan took his friend’s outstretched palm and immediately sensed his incredible strength. The gesture was natural and innate, the act needing no words. He remembered when he and Lucius used to explore the rocks and dunes together for hours on end, forever seeking new adventures or sneaking into the island’s marine preserve to snorkel or skin-dive. Once, they had stowed away on a cargo ship docked in the Savannah harbor bound for China and jumped from the bow of the vessel before it sailed out to sea. He recalled their laughter, guiltless and blithe as they had howled all the way back to the island that day, oblivious to the dangers of their stunt. Thinking back, he cherished those days of naiveté, far from the expectations and responsibilities of adulthood.

They strolled hand in hand along the shoreline. Jonathan was transported back in time and immersed in the reminiscences of their childhood, running and laughing along the sand. He remembered swimming in the green water beneath the pier at Mid Beach and yanking on baited hooks, giggling at the surprised fishermen reeling in empty lines.

A keen perception passed between them after a time. Jonathan felt vibrant and alive, and light on his feet. He didn’t want this moment to end.

Is this happening? Am I actually walking hand-in-hand with the boy—now a man—who once stole my heart, my first crush?

He held the hand of the most beautiful man ever. The touch felt genuine and real, not obligatory or forced, like strolling along with Paul. Joy filled his heart as a sense of belonging that had eluded him of late rushed in like the coming tide. It felt right to be here with this man. Nothing else in the world mattered.

They came across the trail of a loggerhead sea turtle and followed the reptile’s tracks. Lucius spotted her a few feet up the beach and motioned Jonathan forward. She pushed at the thick sand using powerful back flippers to burrow a nest for her eggs. They observed in silence as she worked, witnessing the beauty of nature firsthand. Over the next hour, she spawned a hundred or more white oval shells before covering them with sand and crawling back into the sea, leaving a trail in her wake.

“Tell me something,” Jonathan said as they resumed walking along the beach, at times stopping to marvel at a shell or the shimmering of the moonbeam across the ocean. “Why did you stay? Most of us youngsters went off to universities or moved to bigger cities for better paying jobs, yet you chose to remain on the island.”

“This is my home.” Lucius gestured at the wide expanse before them, the tiny white lights of Little Tybee twinkling in the distance. “Generations of my clan have been reared here, and many more to come. I cannot imagine residing elsewhere. Why should I want to leave the home of my father, my ancestors?”

Jonathan nodded. “What do you do,” he asked. Lucius turned with furrowed eyebrows. “You know, for a career.”

“I am unsure what you mean.”

“You work, don’t you?”

Lucius stared at him, emanating a radiance that clutched Jonathan’s heart.

“Your livelihood. How do you earn a living, you know, pay the bills?”

“Ah, I understand now.” Amusement flashed in Lucius’s eyes, and he appeared coy. “I protect the ocean, its inhabitants and environment. My family has safeguarded the waters and the island for centuries.”

“Oceanography, how cool. It makes sense,” Jonathan said. “You always knew way more about the ocean than I ever did, and you always were an excellent swimmer. Are you affiliated with the Skidaway Institute over in Savannah?” Lucius nodded. “Wow, I’m impressed. That facility is world renowned for its marine research.”

“And you?” Lucius asked. “Did you discover your dreams inland?”

The question seemed odd, though sincere. Jonathan considered a moment before answering. “I suppose so,” he said. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be an accomplished writer. I studied creative writing and dramatic arts at the University of Georgia. After graduation, I took out for L.A. after landing a job writing copy for an independent network. After a few years, I was awarded a gig as a screenwriter for Destiny Road. Have you heard of it? It’s this tawdry melodrama chronicling the lives of two feuding families with far too much money for their own good. The show runs on cable, not one of the major networks, but it pays well. We’ve been picked up for another two years, so not bad in a business where ninety-five percent of new pilots each season fail to impress the viewing audiences.”

They slowed and turned toward the sea. “In my spare time, I develop screenplays to pitch to the networks. I’ve got boxes full of rejections to prove it.” Jonathan snickered. “Oh, and there’s this great novel I’ve been working on for years that I’ve got saved on my computer’s hard drive.”

“What is a screenplay?” Lucius asked.

“You’re serious?” Jonathan hoped the shock on his face hadn’t offended his friend. “You know, movies, television, that sort of thing.”

Lucius smiled without a hint of understanding.

“I write stories which are then acted out on film.”

Recognition swept across his friend’s features. “Do you mean Hollywood?”

“Yeah, I guess you could say that.” Jonathan sensed fire below his navel. The man’s innocence was more than sexy, ridiculously tempting. Jonathan struggled to ignore his carnal desires. Lights on a cargo ship headed out to sea flickered on the darken horizon. “You don’t get out much do you?”

“Perhaps not,” said Lucius.

“Are you married now? Have a girlfriend?”

Jonathan actually surprised himself by venturing into personal territory so quick, unsure why he even broached the subject. The syllables crossing his lips sounded lame to his ears, very seventh grade. He wanted to take his words back. He had pried into the man’s love life as if testing the waters of possibility, looking to hook up. No longer available and off the market for a decade now, he wondered why the hell he felt the need to snoop into Lucius’s personal affairs at all.

“I have no one, Jonathan.” The sadness in the man’s words sounded heavy and ominous. “I am alone…except for my family.”

Jonathan fought the urge to pull his friend into an embrace, to reassure him. Lucius must have sensed his worry because he moved in closer so that their arms and hips touched. Jonathan’s stomach somersaulted. Tendrils of delight surged through his body and he turned to shield his flushing face.

A bright star shot across the horizon.

“Did you see that?” Jonathan asked. “The most beautiful sight in the world, isn’t it? My grandfather used to say when a star fell from the sky it meant someone had fallen in love.” He turned to Lucius, pulled in by his green eyes sparkling in the moonlight. “I never understood what he’d meant as a boy, but I do now.” The energy emanating between them grew intoxicating. Jonathan leaned into his friend and drank in the oceanic scent of his skin.

The snap of twigs distracted Jonathan. He glanced back, but saw nothing moving in the shadows. “It’s probably some small animal foraging in the dunes,” Jonathan said, offering a slight chuckle that sounded shallow and unsure. Turning back, he saw the distress in Lucius’s face.

“I should go,” Lucius said.

“Okay.” Jonathan’s mood fell faster than a barroom rejection.

Lucius flinched and stood rigid. He surveyed the dunes and the beach, searching the darkness and making Jonathan uncomfortable.

“Is something wrong? You seem…”

Lucius leaned into him with ease. Jonathan lost himself in the man’s lovely scent and parted his lips to receive a kiss, a stirring caress that left his head spinning and snatched his breath.

Jonathan pulled back, somewhat startled. “Lucius. I—”

What Jonathan wanted to say, what he needed to explain, was that he had a boyfriend, a partner of ten years. Someone he loved very much. But the sensation he’d had just now left him confused. No denying it. Touching Lucius’s lips was stunning, amazing even but… Jonathan yearned for more, holding steadfast in a delirious haze.

Lucius broke the embrace. “Meet me on the rocks at North Shore tomorrow at sunset,” he said. “I will present to you the most amazing view of the stars.”

Another snap of timber caused Jonathan to turn inland. A shadow moved beyond the seagrass lining the dunes. The hair on his arms prickled.

When he turned back, Lucius was gone.

Buy links: 

Prince of the Sea – Print – Amazon http://tinyurl.com/PrinceoftheSeainprint

Prince of the Sea – ebook – Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/hxcfsml

Prince of the Sea – Discount for Print – Lethe Press: http://tinyurl.com/hw7pnlm

UPDATE: Working Through a Personal Crisis

April 17, 2016 – By now most of you know my husband and I came home to a flooded house Monday afternoon. I’ve received so many PMs of condolences, questions, offers of help, etc., and I thought the best way to update everyone is to share what happened and next steps for us and our four terriers.

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FIRST and FOREMOST, we and the dogs are fine; Rick and I were not home at the time of the flood and our dogs were on the top floor sleeping in their beds when a water supply line beneath the master bath sink ruptured. Water flowed rapidly for approximately three hours. We were out with a client and got a call from our alarm security company advising that our basement level motion detector had been tripped, setting off the alarm. Arriving home (same time as police), we opened the front door and immediately knew something had happened because water was overflowing the upper floor balcony onto the hardwoods of the living room. Rick rushed to the main water cut-off to stop the flow.

DSCF7006We had our upper floor remodeled 11 months ago; apparently there was either a faulty water supply line connection beneath one of the master bath sinks, or the contractor installed the connection improperly; either way, our home was damaged on three levels; the main level kitchen, pantry, breakfast room, dining room, part of the living room, upstairs master bedroom, master closet one guest bedroom, upper floor hallway, and our finished basement where there is a family den and our home-office space where Rick and I run our business. All electronics, computers, laser printers, color printer, fax/scanner, large partner desk set up with two opposite work surfaces and bookcases (where all my most precious clothbound, print books were kept), matching wood filing cabinets and bookcases were ruined. Part of the den was destroyed. We’ve lost so much furniture it would be easier to list what didn’t get destroyed than what got ruined!

We have insurance, so no worries there. Adjuster already visited and set our minds at ease. Basically, our plans to remodel the main level of our home to create an open floor-plan this summer, is suddenly upon us!

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As you can image, we’re exhausted from walking, climbing, tip-toeing, and stepping over all the water remediation dryers and dehumidifiers that by the time our heads hit the pillows, its lights out! I’m a little OCD (okay, more than a little) and can’t stand a dirty room, much less an entire house as the result of demolition dust, flying pieces of insulation and carpeting fibers. We literally are now living in two rooms; a small bedroom with full bath on the upper most level where the water didn’t reach, and most of the main level living room; in the kitchen, we have use/access to the refrigerator, dishwasher and sink. All kitchen cabinets were destroyed. Our possessions were either destroyed or got packed by movers Thursday and taken to dry storage. Rick located temporary office space and we’re setting up our business there and have purchased two laptops, multi-function print, router, server and modem to at least allow us to run our property management business.

We have decided to remain in our home verses relocating to temporary housing because of our dogs. Those who are pet owners/lovers will understand completely when I say that we put our babies first. Their ages are 15, 13, 10 and 6. The older dogs are so set in their ways and routine that relocating them would cause more trauma than they have experienced thus far. We also want to be here with our remaining possessions and to oversee work the contractors will be performing. Everything we lost can be replaced excerpt perhaps some of my most treasured books, though I’ve already received multiple offers from the authors of said books, and others to help replace those ruined. I’ll be compiling an inventory shortly and will make it available to anyone who would like. We don’t need any funds. Rick and I have been debt-free for almost five years now (our main goal when I lost my job of almost 20 years with American Express during the great recession in 2009) and we have that rainy day fund you’ve always been advised to have.

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Thank you all so, so much for your thoughts, prayers, concerns and well-wishes.

For obvious reasons, my writing time has been suspended. I’ll not be able to get back to working on the second Kendall Parker Mystery until late spring or early summer. I am truly sorry that you will have to wait a little longer to find out why the FBI insists the only man qualified for a risky undercover assignment aimed at luring in the homicidal maniac of young men in Atlanta is Sgt. Kendall Parker, the disgraced detective recently branded a faggot by the APD and forced out of the department. In the meantime, the first mystery in the series, Pretty Boy Dead, is still available in e-book and print.