Saturday, December 22, 2018

Happy Holidays By S.C. Wynne

Image result for merry christmas

Good Morning, all!

This is my last post before Christmas, and I wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday!

I hope you have family or friends you can spend time with, and I hope you get a few days off during this season. It's important that we remember the good things in life because there are always plenty of reminders about the bad. Why is it we have to work harder to focus on the good? I'd love to change that about myself.

I'll spend Christmas day with my whole family, and we will no doubt eat too much. I hope everybody gets along, and that there is much merriment to be had. :) As I get older Christmas truly isn't about the gifts, it really is about spending time with the people I love.

So from my family to yours, Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 20, 2018

Narrator Interview with Drew Bacca

Good day in the cafe!  This week we get the chance to talk with narrator Drew Bacca.  We'll be giving away one of his most recent (and favorite) narrations, Suzi Hawke's "Peppermint Spiced Omega."  A sweet treat just in time for the holidays! We'd also like to wish you a fun, happy and safe holiday season!

FSC: What is your coffee house beverage of choice?

Drew: Does making coffee at my house count? My prescription: Peet’s Aged Sumatra, dark roast, whole beans. Grind a cup’s worth, heat water to 180°, brew in a press pot for 3 minutes stirring frequently. Add two sugars, and half & half or evaporated milk until it’s roughly the color of milk chocolate.

FSC: Can you talk a little about your professional background? What are some of your favorite projects you've worked on?

Drew: I actually have very little formal training at any of this—I’ve had to learn by trial and error what works as I went along. I’m kind of awed that people have responded so well.

As for favorite projects, right now it’s probably Peppermint Spiced Omega from Susi Hawke’s Hollydale series. One of the leads, Tom Collins, is a total force of nature who goes from being this kind of puckish scene-stealer in the other books to being a three-dimensional character in his own right. Learning to cultivate my Inner Tom has been very good for me.

FSC: How did you get started as a narrator?

Drew: One moment I was delivering pizza to you guys at Falcon, the next I was in a recording booth in front of a mic and a screen. I’m still not sure exactly what went down, my therapist says it’s probably best not to dig too deep.

FSC: And you haven't brought us pizza since! One thing that surprises many audiobook listeners is how long it takes to create an audiobook. What's the longest day you have spent recording?

Drew: Actually sitting in the booth talking? Maybe three hours max. My voice starts to conk if I try to push it, and my performance goes pfft because then I’m thinking about technique instead of letting myself be the character moment to moment. But then my workflow is unusual in that whatever I record any given morning, I like to have it done and mastered by the time I knock off for the night. Makes for an 8-10 hour workday, depending on what else I’ve got going.

FSC: How long did your most recent project take you, and how long is the finished book?

Drew: My most recent project came out around 3 hours of finished audio. Production was done over the span of 5 workdays or so, in between podcasts and doctor appointments and critter-sitting for my mom.

FSC: When you record, how do you break it up? Do you, for instance, read multiple chapters in one sitting?  

Drew: Single sitting, absolutely. It’s a lot easier for me to wake up, caffinate, and get right into the zone than if I tried to have other parts of my day happen first. And once I get in I’m staying there, cause who knows what baggage I’ll bring with me when I come back? If I need to clear my mind between chapters I’ll pick up my bass or a video game for 10 minutes or so, but nothing too thinky.

FSC: How do you decide what kind of tone to take with each new book? What is it like reading different characters' dialogue lines?

Drew: Really, everything I need to know is already there on the page. The author made those decisions when they created the world and story, I just try to pick up on their voice and interpret it. And sometimes they’ll leave room for me to improvise which is one of my favorite things to do, but it’s always within the context of this is the author’s show. I’m just a player in the band.

With dialogue, I make a pretty detailed set of notes for each character—where the sound resonates from, facial expressions, even body language sometimes. It’s the voice actor’s version of getting into costume. So when I cock an eyebrow just so, put on a warm smirk, and murmur “Very good. I must say, I’m amazed,” that gives my mind the signal that Hot Daddy Colin is about to speak and it’s time to get out his way and let it happen. I really try to think about it as little as possible while I’m narrating.

FSC: What do you enjoy the most about narrating?

Drew: Sheesh. What don’t I enjoy? I enjoy having the freedom to be creative every day, and the flexibility to lead the strange life I do. I enjoy the challenge of learning how people think who aren’t necessarily like me, and the profound empathy that engenders. I love the way narrating has brought me together with so many amazing people, authors and listeners included. It’s awe-inspiring, and humbling.

FSC: When can we expect to hear from you with a new book?

Drew: As I type this I just wrapped on Champagne Spiced Omega, the fourth book in Susi Hawke’s Hollydale series, yesterday. I’m not sure exactly how the wheels turn at Audible, but the thought is that it’ll be available in time for New Year’s.

We're giving away a copy of "Peppermint Spiced Omega!" Tell us on Facebook What your favorite holiday tradition is, spicy or not, for your chance to win. Thanks for playing, and as always, happy listening!

Find Drew and Falcon Sound Company on Facebook, or at To find more of Drew's work, check out his narrator page on Audible.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Should Ghostwriters Be Revealed? By S.C. Wynne

Good morning!

I saw an interesting poll being distributed by N.R. Walker the other day. You can find the poll HERE on her Twitter page. (I'm linking this because she encouraged sharing the poll.)

The poll asked if authors who use ghostwriters should be made to add a disclaimer in the front matter of the ghostwritten book, or on the cover, to alert consumers to the fact the listed author did not write the book.

Let me preface this by saying; I don't pretend to have the answers to any of this. What follows will simply be me rambling about my opinion on this subject.

I think it's an interesting question; should ghostwriters be disclosed to the consumer? My gut reaction is, yes. I think if you establish a brand, then people who buy that brand should get the real deal. But it's kind of more complicated than that. Some author names are groups who write under one pen name. In that case, the brand was never really one person to begin with. Was a brand ever really even established? Maybe group pen names should disclose that they are a group?

Writing is a creative art, much like painting. If I bought a painting by an artist, I'd expect that painting to have been painted by that actual artist. If for some reason that artist didn't paint it, I'd expect that information to be disclosed to me.

Some respondents to the poll didn't care if the ghostwriters were disclosed or not. They didn't care that there might be an inconsistency to the books because different people are writing them. They felt that if it got too much, or the voices were too different, they just wouldn't read that "author" anymore.
That is certainly a fair point of view. No one is making anyone read anything. (Unless you're in school, and then you must listen to your teachers girls and boys!) :D

Anytime the subject of ghost writing comes up Carolyn Keene is always mentioned. I can admit to being surprised to learn that the books I'd read as a kid weren't written by the same person. It was a bit unsettling to discover that truth so long after the fact. But did that make it wrong that it was kept a secret? I don't really know how to answer that. It was surprising, but was it wrong?

I think what I find most baffling is why anyone would want to pretend to be an author? I write books because I love writing books. It wouldn't occur to me to publish someone else's book and pretend it was mine. Interaction with readers would be so odd. For me. Maybe the authors who use ghostwriters rewrite the books enough that they feel the books are theirs? Again, I don't have the answer.

Maybe these authors who use ghostwriters consider themselves to be more of a publisher than an author? I know there are many authors on YouTube who brag they've made excellent money putting out books they purchased, written by other people. If you're just in this business to make money, maybe that makes sense to you? (There are easier ways to make money, just FYI)

If you use ghostwriters, are you really an author? Maybe you're an editor and business person? A distributor of books? To me an author slaves over the books and puts their heart and soul into the stories. I don't want to buy ideas or outlines from others, like I've seen other "authors" do. I want to come up with my own ideas. Make my own mistakes. That's what creativity is all about, right?

I'm curious to see the result of NR. Walker's poll. When I last checked, most people seemed to feel ghostwriters should be disclosed. I don't know how that would ever be enforced, and I'm not sure it should be. As I said, I don't pretend to have the answers, and I don't think this is a black and white issue.

The one thing I am adamant about is if you buy an S.C. Wynne book, it's written by me. Every word. Every line. Every story comes from my experiences or imagination. Good or bad, it's all me.


Thursday, December 13, 2018

Narrator Interview with Seb Yarrick

Good Thursday morning to you!  This week we get a chance to chat with the newest narrator to join our merry band of romance recording readers, our friend, Seb Yarrick.  We're going behind the scenes on recording an upcoming release, and giving away a copy of his most recent. It's a great day to curl up with a good book! And also, cake. 

FSC: What is your coffee house beverage of choice? 

Seb: I have to confess, I quite often fail to remember the differences between all the different types. Usually it’s a simple latte or flat white. They’re warm and comforting. I’m not into particularly strong or strange coffee. I just like something warm, comforting, caffeinated and that tastes good with cake.

FSC:  Can you talk a little about your professional background? What are some of your
favorite projects you've worked on?

Seb: I got started on community radio here in Scotland (though audiobook listeners will note by my accent I’m actually English) where I was thrown in the deep end with a five day a week chat show. I then went to do traffic and travel on national stations, and moved over to doing my dream show on radio playing rock. As for favourite projects, I really enjoyed working on The Missing Ingredient audiobook. It was my first time working with Falcon, and I was trying to learn a new DAW, Reaper, as I went. John and Jodi were so chilled and helpful with me, despite the fact I was struggling to get the correct settings on Reaper. They guided me through not only the Falcon process but also gave me loads of help on how to actually use Reaper. It’s the perfect example of how a working relationship should be, and I feel like I’m transatlantic friends with them because of it.

FSC:  How did you get started as a narrator? 
Seb: Guess what? It turns out doing traffic and travel radio is as brain-meltingly boring as actually being sat in it, especially when you’re doing the nightshift. I was having a dreadful time with it, so sacked it off. My partner had a friend who’d been on ACX and suggested I try that. I had the production skills and always liked to play with my voice and characters on the radio, so I took a crack at it. I got the first book I auditioned for, and a VO job on a fairly high profile advert the same week, and that really gave me the confidence to just leap into it full time.
FSC:  One thing that surprises many audiobook listeners is how long it takes to create an audiobook. What's the longest day you have spent recording? 
Seb:  A good solid 9 hour day. Which might not sound particularly excessive, but that’s a lot when you’re only taking a half hour break for food and talking almost non-stop. I had to recover for a few days after as I pushed my voice to breaking point.

FSC:  How long did your most recent project take you, and how long is the finished book? 
Seb: I time all my work on Toggl to help me work out how much future projects might take, so I know The Nerd and the Prince took me 25 hours, 32 minutes and 39 seconds. That includes going back through and doing my own quality control, which Falcon usually does for me. The final book is 5 hours and 19 minutes. I’d say this book took me longer than usual though, as there’s a lot of Italian in it, which lead to a lot of language and accent research.

FSC:  When you record, how do you break it up? Do you, for instance, read multiple chapters in one sitting?
Seb:  I work what I thought was the pomodoro method, which is traditionally 25 minute intervals, separated by 3 minute breaks, and after four of those, a longer 15 - 20 minute break. I only found this out after I’d started working for 1 hour, followed by a 15 minute break, but it really works for me that way. I do multiple chapters, and if a pomodoro is finished but I haven’t completed a chapter, I work through to the end of the chapter.

FSC:  How do you decide what kind of tone to take with each new book? What is it like reading different characters' dialogue lines? 
Seb: You can tell a lot about the tone of a book from the blurb alone, as that is specifically designed to convey it to a potential reader/listener. The overall book informs the tone though, but the tone can vary a lot during it. I’ve never come across a book that’s one tone all the way through and I’d think it to be pretty dreadful if I had. With characters, unless there are written signifiers, I just do the voice that comes naturally. I try to keep them pretty different and I use a lot of accents to make sure listeners can differentiate between them. I don’t randomly make someone who is probably local Afrikaans but I’m happy to make a minor character in London Scottish as I’m aware of plenty of Scots who’ve moved to London.

FSC:  What do you enjoy the most about narrating? 
Seb:  Just being able to tell stories for a living. I’m so privileged that I’ve been able to make this my full time job. I’ve always wanted to be a professional artist in a narrative medium, and this allows me to be so in my own time, in my own home, in my own studio. I love working with Falcon as well. It’s literally how all workplaces and relationships should be in any industry. It’s precisely why I can’t go back to the 9 to 5! And when I do my own QC nobody sees my mistakes!

FSC:  What can we expect to hear from you with a new book?
Seb:  I take a naturalistic approach with my dialogue, so you’ll hear my delivery more akin to what you’d expect in an audio drama or screen performance. If a character sounds like they’d be struggling with or fumbling their words, I’ll do that convincingly.

Warning: I’m about to get arty farty here; I also like to make unexpected decisions with my reads sometimes, just to make it a more compelling and deeper listening experience. I very much see audiobooks as their own artform, they’re not just an alternative, convenient straight reading out of the book. You could get a text to voice programme to do that. They’re an adaptation for a different medium, just like a film or TV show is an adaptation of a book, not just filmed scrolling text of the words. Audiobooks have the luxury of being able to stick incredibly close to the source material, but as an artist a narrator should be allowed to interpret a book their way and as such it makes for a more valuable finished piece. How’s that for arty farty?

FSC:  When is your next book coming out?  
Seb:  The next book is "The Nerd and the Prince," by B.G. Thomas. It's a modern fairy tale romance with secret identities included.  This should be releasing beginning of January from Dreamspinner Press. 

This week, we'll be giving away copies of Seb's first book with us, "The Missing Ingredient,"by Brian Lancaster.  What's your favorite, famous, oldest, or newest recipe? Tell us on Facebook for your chance to win!  

Find us on Facebook or at
Check out Seb's narrations available on Audible

Happy listening!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

What to get the person who has everything with BA, Sean and Julia

Hey y'all!

We thought long and hard about what to get someone who had everything...

BA decided on this:

Check out this amazing thing!

Sean Michael thought this would work. Clicky!

And I came up with this one.

OMG see it here.

We've got you covered for Christmas, huh? Or maybe you just want books...



Visit our websites:

Sean's is

Julia’s is

BA’s is

Kiernan's is

Evil Plot Bunny:

Julia's Etsy Shop:


Sean --

Julia --

BA --

Kiernan --

Friday, December 7, 2018

A Sea Change and a new release by Felice Stevens

I remember when I received the release date from the publisher for my first novel. I was nervous, excited and scared. I was also clueless because back then, in the ancient years of 2014 the way to get  yourself out there on social media was to send your books to bloggers. People didn't run Facebook or Amazon ads, reader groups were pretty much non-existent and there was no KU.

I recall getting my tour set and waiting to see if any blogs would sign up and then what my reviews would be. At that point there were quite a few MM blogs: Joyfully Jay, The Novel Approach, Rainbow Gold Reviews, MM Good Reads, and some whose names I honestly can't remember. But I knew, if I wanted to succeed, the blogs were the way to go. 

Fast forward to 2018 and the publishing world is a different animal. Many publishing houses have closed, reader groups are all the rage, authors spend thousands of dollars on Facebook and Amazon ads and KU dominates in many genres. And sadly we have lost many of our blogs.

This past week The Novel Approach announced it was closing. It saddened me not because they reviewed my books but because I respect Lisa Horan so deeply and all she's given to this community and I'll miss it. Lisa promised she's going to be around so we are holding her to that. TNA was such a quality blog that gave us thoughtful and honest reviews. It is a loss we will truly feel. 

The USA Today Happily Ever After blog also announced it was closing and that was bittersweet for me. I have had one book featured there—One Step Further. Again, it's a blow to romance in general. 

Earlier in the year, Sinfully closed it's doors and that was a huge blow as well. They were a blog I checked daily and truly enjoyed reading their reviews and recommendations.

Other smaller blogs have faded away as well Running a blog is hard work. When I was still exclusively reading Historical Romance, I ran a blog. It had over five thousand followers and it was damn hard. Through it I met the top authors in the genre and became a reviewer for Avon books and an Avon Addict-someone given exclusive reviewing privileges. I always looked at reviewing books as an honor the author or publisher gave to me and took it very seriously. When I saw I could no longer give it the attention it deserved, I shut it down with regret. 

I personally still get a thrill when I see blogs reviewing my books. Am I always happy with the reviews? Of course not. But the purpose of the blog isn't for the author, its for potential readers to see our books and maybe, hopefully pick them up. I remember my scariest moment when Rescued came out was waiting for Joyfully Jay's review. I don't even remember what the review was but I remember a reader telling me she saw it on that blog and decided to give it a try.

So I'm a little sadder that we are losing touch with readers in this fashion. Authors are now required to be social media experts for the most part and self-promote. Yes there are authors who don't have a large social media presence and are hugely successful but that isn't the norm. Readers want to connect with authors. I personally love it but still find myself needing to step away from the merry go round every once in a while as it can get exhausting. Blogs used to fill that void and I'm thankful Joyfully Jay, Love Bytes, Gay Book Reviews and the other LGBTQ blogs are still here to keep the genre informed.

In other news I have a Christmas release—Two Daddies for Christmas is a short story in the Breakfast club universe that also has glimpses of some other favorite characters. It si only 99 cents and answers the burning question: Will Marcus and Tyler ever get married?
Here is the blurb:
Two clueless men.
One determined little girl
A whole circle of friends who've grown tired of waiting.
You are hereby invited to the wedding of the king of New York City nightlife who's finally marrying his prince charming.
Too bad neither of them know it's happening.

It is available at all retailers:

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Narrator Interview with Nick J. Russo

Happy Thursday to all you beautiful people in the Cafe!  This week we are bringing you an interview with narrator Nick J. Russo: a little "behind the scenes" behind the mic.  Then clear your schedule and check out all the great books he's narrated on Audible.  Enjoy!

FSC: What is your coffee house beverage of choice?

Nick:  Until recently, I would have said pass on the whole place. But I only just discovered the magic that is coffee and I don’t know what I was doing with my life before it. I’m a simple

man - I like it good old fashioned black!

FSC:  Can you talk a little about your professional background? What are some of your favorite projects you've worked on?

Nick:  While I was involved in theater projects throughout school, (and many musical ones during and after), I have no formal education in voice acting. I started about five years ago doing it more as a hobby and it took off from there. Now, it is very much a full time job that I spend most hours of my life doing (and loving!). As far as some of my of favorites, there are too many to list! I really enjoy stories with a lot of emotion. The more times I get to angrily or theatrically argue with myself in the booth, the better.

How did you get started as a narrator?

Nick:  As mentioned before, I started doing it as a side hobby along with my day job. Over the course of the next two years, it grew into its own full time job, and I couldn’t be happier.

FSC:  One thing that surprises many audiobook listeners is how long it takes to create an audiobook. What's the longest day you have spent recording?

Nick:  These days I try to limit my sessions to no more than four hours a day, but there have been times in the past when I’ve done longer sessions. I think the most I’ve spent in the booth for any one session was close to nine hours! What a day that was!

FSC:  How long did your most recent project take you, and how long is the finished book?

Nick:  It takes us on average between 4-5 hours of work for every finished hour of audio. We recently completed a book that was about eight finished hours, (which is pretty average), which clocked in total work on that one around 40-50 hours.

FSC:  When you record, how do you break it up? Do you, for instance, read multiple chapters in one sitting?
Nick:  I’ve got it down to two separate sessions throughout any given work day - a morning one and an evening one. Each session is about two hours long. Depending on the length of the chapters I’m recording, sometimes that gets me through several chapters, sometimes it gets me through just one!

FSC:  How do you decide what kind of tone to take with each new book? What is it like reading different characters' dialogue lines?

Nick:  Tone is heavily dependent on the emotion the author is conveying. If the story is dark or heavy, a light jovial tone would sound very awkward, or vice versa. As long as I’m on the same wavelength as the author, it usually comes pretty naturally. Reading different character’s dialogue is one of my favorite parts! I love switching back and forth between two people in any given conversation.

FSC:  What do you enjoy the most about narrating?

Nick:  There are so many things, but if I had to pick one, I’d say the joy and contentment I’m able to bring others. It’s so satisfying knowing that I’m enhancing already excellent writing with a full blown performance of my author’s works.

FSC:  When can we expect to hear from you with a new book?

Nick:  Check my audible page regularly- it’s always got something new! My most recent release was Christmas Homecoming by the talented LA Witt, but new books from Suzi Hawke, more from LA Witt, Ed Davies, and Alex Miska should be out very soon!

We are certainly excited to hear more from Nick!  You can find that Audible page here, or find him on Facebook. Also, find Nick and other great narrators at Falcon Sound Company.  

Have a great week, and, as always, happy listening!  

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Ask Andrew - Where's Dominic

Dear Andrew

Is Dominic shy or do you two just like to keep him out of the spotlight. It'd be nice to hear more about him and your relationship if he's agreeable. Long term relationships are nice to hear about.


Dear Leandra

Dominic trends to be a private person and he isn't social media savvy at all.  I do talk about him sometimes, but he isn't comfortable with a great deal of information about him being included in social media.  He sometimes goes to conferences with me and has done a few videos with me, but mostly he's more than content to stay in the background.

There are times when this frustrates me because I'd like to share more, but I really know that I need to respect his wishes.  Dominic is an amazing man who supports me in so many ways that they're too numerous to mention.  That would be an entire column of its own.

Thank you for your question and I hope everyone has an amazing holiday season

Hugs and Love

Ask Andrew is your chance to ask questions of a gay romance author.  The questions can be about the writing process in general, writing sex scenes, gay men, sex, characters in romance, characters having sex... okay you probably get the picture.    I promise to answer your questions as frankly and with as much humor as I possibly can.

So if you have a question, please send it to  This is different from my usual email so your questions don't get lost.  I will answer one question a week.

Please remember this is meant to be all in fun.  (I was going to say good, clean fun, but who wants that.)    So send me your questions and let's see what mischief we can get into.

Visit Andrew on Facebook:  and you can join Andrew's fan group All The Way With Andrew Grey.

Follow him on Twitter:  @andrewgreybooks

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Christmas Story Coming Soon By S.C. Wynne

Good Morning! 

I have a new release coming December 12th. Its an Mpreg Christmas story that I hope you'll enjoy. Here's a sample chapter and blurb to give you a taste! :)

Tyler Sly was born unable to conceive, and when you’re an omega, that’s a problem. When his brother convinces him to join him on a singles tour of the wine country, Tyler grudgingly agrees. But when he gets there, his brother is a no-show.

Ronan Blade is just freshly divorced from his wife of two years, and he’s trying to get back into the dating scene. When he meets Tyler, something clicks inside for him. He’s drawn to the quiet omega and begins to spend all his time with Tyler.

Tyler is equally drawn to Ronan, and soon the two men are inseparable. Once the tour ends, the men decide to keep in contact. By now, Ronan is realizing his feelings toward Tyler are not simply those of a friend.

When Ronan comes clean to Tyler about his true feelings, the two men give in to their physical need. But Tyler doesn’t trust that an alpha who’s only been with women his whole life can suddenly love a man.

It’s no wonder then, that when Ronan’s ex-wife shows up, her appearance sends Tyler into a tail spin of fear and doubt.

Chapter One

“What the hell do you mean you’re not coming?” I hissed into my cell, trying not to look as shocked as I felt. “I thought this trip was about brotherly bonding. Did you forget?”
His rough exhale came across the line. “I know. I know. I’m sorry. But there’s no way I can ride on a bus for hours and not puke, dude. It’s not happening.”
“So, let me get this straight; you guilted me into coming on this trip, and now you’re bailing?” I asked through gritted teeth.
“I can’t help it. I’m sick.”
“Unbelievable.” I shivered against the chill morning air, wishing I’d never even entertained the idea of this trip. Why had I listened to him? I should have known he’d pull something like this.
“How bad can it be? You get to visit Golden Valley and drink wine. You love wine.”
I sucked in a breath, trying to control my anxiety. “Yeah, and I can drink all the wine I want at home. I don’t need to hang out for seven days with a bunch of strangers to drink some vino.”
“Look, they’ll love you.”
“And you know this how?”
“Everyone loves you.” He laughed.
I wasn’t sure where he got that idea. “I’m going to murder you the next time I see you.” I met the eyes of a pretty female omega, and when she waved, I forced a stiff smile. So far everyone I’d made eye contact with seemed perfectly nice, but that wasn’t really the point. I had no interest in spending the next week with people I didn’t know. I loathed things like this, and had only agreed because Steve had badgered me relentlessly to join him.
“Look, you’ll fit in just fine.”
“I’m still going to kill you.”
“I’m sure they’re all super nice.”
I glanced at the group of twenty something men and women milling near the door of the tour bus. The omegas were in one circle and the alphas in another. Both groups were eying each other, but not interacting yet. “I have a ton of shit I should be doing, but instead, I’m standing here freezing my ass off with a bunch of people I don’t know.”
“Look, Bro, I’m really sorry.”
“You don’t sound sincere.”
He laughed gruffly. “I didn’t plan this.”
“I wouldn’t put it past you.” I scowled. “Why didn’t you call me sooner?” Trying to leave now would be awkward as hell. “If you’d just called me twenty minutes ago I could have just not shown up and no one would have even noticed.”
“I called as soon as I woke up.”
“Yeah, well, maybe you shouldn’t have gone out drinking the night before this trip.”
Another long sigh came over the phone. “I know. But it’s too late now.”
“I can’t believe this is happening.” I squeezed my fingers around my cell.
“Just relax and have fun.”
“Sure. No problem.”
“What’s the worst that can happen? You might have to talk to someone and make a friend?”
“Friends are overrated.”
He snorted. “You’re the most antisocial person I know. Why do you think I dragged you on this trip with me?”
“You mean the fucking trip you’re not on?” I grumbled.
“Now don’t be bitter.”
“Oh, I am bitter. This is complete bullshit.” I glanced around, stress bubbling in my gut when the bus engine roared to life. “Maybe I can slip away and no one will notice.”
“What?” Steve yelped. “No. Don’t do that.”
“Why the heck not?” I watched people climbing into the bus, laughing and buzzing with excitement. They looked so happy to be going on this trip. Me? I would have preferred a dentist appointment. At least a root canal would be quicker.
“Come on man, look, I fucked up and now I’m not well enough to travel. But the trip will still be good for you. You need to socialize with people more. All you do is hang out with dogs all day. That’s not healthy.”
“Says the man who is bailing on me because he soaked his liver in booze all night.”
He sighed. “I’m sure you’ll have a great time. Maybe you’ll even meet someone.”
I pulled my brows tight. “I’m not looking for anyone.”
“Sure. I know. But it’s a whole group of single people around your age. The possibility to meet someone is there.”
A feeling of dread washed over me. “Wait a second… how do you know everyone is single?” As the silence stretched, anger sparked inside me. “God damn it, Steve. You fucking set me up?”
He gave a nervous laugh. “Not exactly. I planned on coming too.”
I closed my eyes, attempting to keep my voice even. “But you knew all along this was a singles thing, and you purposely didn’t tell me?”
“Jesus, Steve. Why would you do this to me?”
“Because you never go anywhere or do anything. You’re going to die alone dude. I had to do something to get you out among the living.”
“My social life is none of your business.”
“You’re my baby brother. I need to look out for you.”
“No. You don’t.”
I opened my eyes, noticing the bus driver poking his head out of the doors and looking straight at me.
“Time to head out,” he called to me congenially.
I held up a finger, smiling weakly. “Give me one sec.”
He waved and went back in the bus.
“Just go on the trip and try to enjoy yourself.” Steve sounded uneasy.
“You and I both know that no alpha will be interested in me. Not long term.”
He sighed. “Not all alphas want kids.”
I winced. “Bullshit. And even if they don’t want them, they still have them. It’s expected. You know that as well as me.” Time was running out, and as I spoke, I stepped toward the doors of the bus. I had two choices; get on the damn bus, or ask the driver to grab my bag, and I could skulk away to my car.
“Fine, so don’t go expecting true love, but you can still get laid.”
“Yet another thing I could do without going on this trip,” I snapped.
“Give it a shot. What could it hurt? You’re already there now. Just get on the bus and try to be open minded.” He sighed. “Come on, Ty, do it.”
Fuck,” I growled. “I literally hate you right now.” I hung up on my brother, and shoved my phone in my pocket. I strode to the doors of the bus, and stepped up the steep stairs.
The driver smiled at me. “Welcome aboard,” he said cheerfully. He was an attractive alpha; honey blond hair and warm brown eyes.
“Thanks.” I hung onto the metal pole in the aisle, my palms sweaty against the cool aluminum.
“Thought maybe you were having second thoughts about joining us.”
I didn’t respond. I just shrugged and faced the row of seats in front of me. Christmas music came from the speakers, and there was silver and gold tinsel draped above the windows, dotted with small red bows. The omegas and alphas were still separated into groups, I assumed that would eventually change as everyone loosened up. The pretty female omega who’d smiled at me earlier met my gaze with a wink. Feeling self-conscious, I made my way toward her seat because she seemed so amiable. She patted the seat next to her as I approached, and I sat beside her with a feeling of relief. I was thankful to have someone to sit with. Climbing on the big vehicle brought back the anxiety of riding the school bus in the mornings as a kid, dreading no one would want me to sit with them.
The girl I’d sat next to held out her hand. “I’m Bree Fitzgerald.”
“Tyler Sly.” We shook, and I settled into the plush brown leather upholstery. At least this was a nice bus. There was plenty of leg room, and I’d even noticed it had a bathroom on board. I met the drivers gaze in the rear view mirror, and looked quickly away. He was cute, but I wasn’t ready to start flirting with anyone.
Bree shifted to face me. “Are you as nervous as me?”
“I hate this kind of thing.”
“God, me too.”
“So why are we here?” I laughed gruffly.
She sighed. “I guess everyone wants to find love, right?”
I grimaced. “What are the odds of that happening in seven days?”
“Yeah, I know. But sitting at home wouldn’t improve my odds.” She smiled again. “So here I am.”
I smiled politely. A love connection was most likely not waiting for me on this trip. But I wasn’t about to dump my sad history of reproductive issues on her the second we met. She didn’t need to know that I had no trouble attracting alphas; it was keeping them around long term that was the challenge. Maybe if we got to know each other better, I’d share a little about my fertility struggles with her. However, for now we were merely seat companions, and whether I could have kids or not wasn’t her problem.
As the driver revved the sputtering engine, I tensed, feeling a sense of panic. If I jumped up right this second, I could still get off the bus. Instead I sat where I was, my stomach in knots and my mouth dry. Maybe I stayed in my seat because a part of me knew Steve was right; I did need to try and get out and meet people. I’d probably never find an alpha to settle down with, but I could still have some fun occasionally. I needed to tap into the carefree side of myself that had been missing for years. I hadn’t always been so antisocial, but did I even remember how to just relax and have fun?
Glancing around at my fellow travelers, I attempted to stamp down my uneasiness. I’d do my best to be open to whatever possibilities came my way, and if nobody interesting was along for the ride, I’d simply enjoy lots of good wine.

See you next week!