Grand prize is open internationally. You must be 18 or older to enter. The hunt will only be open for 72 hours so play fast! Entries sent without the correct phrase or without contact information will not be considered. All entries must be received by May 28 at noon Central Time.
On with the hunt!
Today, I have the pleasure of hosting Katrina Stauss, one of the very first authors I read in the m/m genre and still one of my favorites!
Katrina Strauss discovered her love of romance novels with childhood peeks at her grandmother's paperbacks. As an author, she pays homage to the timeless genre with her own dark, daring twist. She currently lives with her family in Savannah, Georgia. When not writing, she watches entirely too much anime. Find out more about Katrina on her WEBSITE or her BLOG.
It was a bit challenging, as Dusty is blind, so I really had to put myself in the character's shoes. In fact, I wrote it three years ago as the opening chapter to Dusty's spinoff book before other projects forced me to set it on the back burner.
Maybe someday I'll finish writing that particular book. In the meantime I thought I'd publicly share this chapter, for the first time ever, as a Blue Ruin outtake.
** Exclusive outtake from Blue Ruin 4: Need You Tonight -- Dusty's POV **
Dusty knew when they'd left the city. He could tell by the cooler breeze against his face, the fresh scents of pine and grass. Even the faint hint of manure proved a refreshing change. Born blind, he'd never seen colors, yet he associated these scents with the sound of the word "green" and the pure, clear chime of crystal. The city, on the other hand, had always struck him as being a drab-sounding brown or gray. He'd mentioned this impression earlier to his friend Blue, whose colorful name held its own special connotations, while they were stuck in a traffic jam. Blue had told him those colors perfectly described the smoggy haze that had laden the city that past summer. Dusty hadn't known how to explain to Blue it was more than pollution bogging down the crowded metropolis and casting its hue on all that fell in its shadow.
Yes, it was cleaner here outside of the city, not only devoid of the stench of exhaust and fumes, but Dusty's mind was cleaner, less cluttered by the constant buzz he picked up, like radio static, of too many souls packed in close proximity, their thought-streams often as congested as the city streets, the negative ones too often tainting the good. Yes, life in the city could prove unhealthy not only for the body but the mind and, especially, the soul. It was because of this that he'd accepted Blue's offer to arrange a much-needed vacation in a smaller town, about two hours free of the tangled urban sprawl.
That, and Dusty was intrigued by the impressions he picked up whenever Blue mentioned his soon-to-be host, Cameron Carter. Although they'd never met, the mechanic had graciously agreed to let Dusty stay with him a few months, allowing Dusty time to recharge from the drain of the recent murder case he'd helped solve, one which had nearly cost him and Blue their lives. Dusty shuddered, remembering the sheer evil he'd felt as the killer's soul had risen from the shell of its former host and whispered and slithered around him, one final taunt, before taking leave. Some souls were at peace once they left the mortal realm, but not that one -- that one would be back, to wreak havoc and discord elsewhere, as would others, and so Dusty must regain his strength before he was called upon to help again.
A slight change in atmosphere charged the air. "We're almost there," Dusty said.
"Yeah," Blue confirmed. "Just passed a sign that said Bethel Ridge, one mile." When they'd first met, Blue's tone had often rang of surprise at Dusty's offhanded, accurate observations. Now, Blue seemed to accept such moments with bemused curiosity. "How'd you know?"
"I can feel the people." Unlike the city they’d just left, however, the congregation of souls Dusty sensed down the road were fewer, quieter, more relaxed and at ease with life in their simpler surroundings. Yes, Bethel Ridge could prove a welcome break.
"I'll call Cam and let him know we're close." Dusty heard the click of the cell phone being opened, the musical tones of keys being thumbed. "Hey, Cam. Yeah, we're almost there. You said turn left past the McDonald's on Wildflower Drive, fourth house on the left past the row of mailboxes." Blue paused, and his voice softened. "Yeah, it'll be nice to see you, too."
Dusty never searched inside his friends' thoughts without permission, but between plain old intuition, and the details he'd gleaned in conversation, Dusty knew that Blue trusted Cameron, although it had been a hard-earned trust, one which didn't come lightly, and that knowledge was assurance enough that he'd find sanctuary in this stranger's home. Dusty also knew Blue had been intimate with Cameron and cared for him as more than a friend, but that he held those feelings at bay, even lying to himself, so as not to hurt Derek, the man who held the strings to Blue's heart.
Dusty himself had indulged in certain pleasures with both Blue and Derek, but he also understood that no matter how open their relationship, no one could touch what the couple shared. To bask in the love that burned between them, even for only a few passionate encounters, was privilege enough. Not to mention it had been the hottest sex Dusty had enjoyed in his life.
But now Cameron -- Cameron had tried to come between them, and he'd failed. Dusty couldn't help but speculate as to how this made the mechanic feel, to have been left out in the cold, to know he could have Blue on the side but would never be Blue's first choice. It also left Dusty to suspect an ulterior motive on Blue's part in bringing him to Bethel Ridge, but again, he wouldn't pry into his friend's mind. For a born psychic, surprises were few and far between, and sometimes Dusty liked to be surprised.
The car gradually slowed. Dusty knew the choppy puffs of wind paired with intermittent engine sounds meant they were passing buildings and being passed by cars. The tires rolled to a near stop, and he felt the bump of railroad tracks before Blue sped back up.
A familiar, welcome scent filled his nostrils, making his mouth water. "There's the McDonald's," Dusty nodded in the direction of the smell.
"Okay, how the fuck did you know that?"
"I can smell the burgers. Can't you?"
"Not from two blocks back, no," Blue muttered. "And how do you know it's not some other burger place?"
"They have their own unique aroma." Dusty laughed and rubbed his stomach. “Mmm, McSmell."
Blue laughed. The McSmell came and went, but Dusty's hunger remained. He heard the rapid clicking of the turn signal, felt the car veer left. As he swung with it, the butterflies that had tickled his gut since leaving the city now hit full-force with mad flurry. His breath left him a moment, his head spun, and he knew, just as sure as his name was Dusty Sterling, that his life had veered in a new direction as well. Ah, a surprise. Dusty smiled to himself, ready to embrace and explore whatever path had just opened before him.
*** Copyright 2009 by Katrina Strauss
Dark romance for daring readers http://www.katrinastrauss.com ***
The next stop on the Erotic Romance Scavenger Hunt is... Angel Martinez! Good luck!