Photography by: Sara Eirew
*** Mature Content; Strong Language; Strong Sexual Content***
“Life is like an easy little lick, a signature flourish of my drumsticks to make a song my own. Something I can do in my sleep. Effortless and smooth. No drama… until I met her.”
Cody Driscoll cruises through life with a constant, steady beat. Mechanic by day, he’s the drummer for the Bangin’ Mofos at the Copperline Bar by night. Tearing it up on the drums provides an outlet, a release that soothes the stress of the world around him.
But when the withdrawn and reticent Ilsa starts working at the Copperline, Cody catches a glimpse of something nobody else seems to see – a beautiful, tenuous heart. Someone to shelter and shield. Her loneliness strikes a chord that resonates through his soul, no matter how much she tries to push him away.
As her past comes to light, the promise of their love unravels. Cody realizes the extent of her tangled and tumultuous fear. Her secrets test his conscience, and he stumbles, unsure how to make sense of his stubborn honor in a world that isn’t always black and white.
The pulse of life can shift in the blink of an eye, and ugly fallout can bring a man to his knees. But can the lies that break him make him stronger?
“What’s wrong, Ils?” I asked after a while.
She sniffled and shook her head, pressing her face into my neck.
“What happened out there? You can tell me,” I urged.
But her fingers gripped me tighter. Her voice was barely audible, muffled and low.
“Will you just hold me for a minute?”
She asked me to hold her.
This was incredible… other than that she was in the midst of a full-blown panic episode and clutching me as though she was drowning. That part kind of sucked. A lot.
But I was holding her. She wanted me to hold her. She admitted that she wanted me to hold her.
So I did. I wrapped my arms around her, sheltered close to my heart, and her trembling began to ease.
One moment, I only wanted to comfort her… and then she shifted. Just a little.
The awareness of her pressed tightly against me began to bloom in my chest, opening like the roses in my mother’s garden. Layer by layer, like the petals curling back to reveal the sweet beauty of the blossom.
Her fingers, clenched ever-so-slightly against my ribs, flexed the tiniest bit, her nails scraping against the soft cotton of my T-shirt. Her breathing changed. The short, stilted inhalations took on a different sense, spectral wisps that caressed my skin. Almost simultaneously, we pulled back just a tiny bit, just enough to meet each other’s eyes.
“What happened?” I asked, intent on getting some kind of explanation out of her.
“He hit you,” she whispered, brushing my question aside with a shake of her head as she lifted her fingertips up to the swelling bruise by my eye. Sweet, but also avoiding my question.
“Better me than you, right?” I offered with a sad smile. “But what happened? What freaked you out so bad?”
Her watery eyes looked luminous in the dim light of the store room, and as she blinked, another tear broke free and trailed down her cheek. “I’m so sorry that he hit you.”
Still trying to put me off.
“Ils,” I murmured, “don’t. I’m fine. I’d do it again in a heartbeat, but seriously—”
“Why? Why did you do that?”
Oh for fuck’s sake… she wasn’t going to tell me shit. Not now anyway.
“You needed me.”
I fixated on the feral look in her eyes. She’d been hurt, but how? By who? She reminded me of a scared animal, as though any sudden movement would send her darting away.
Yet there was a sudden heat, a hunger that pushed through her trepidation. Maybe it was born of avoidance, something to distract me from asking her anything more. Hell if I knew what fueled that burn, but the air became heated and thick. Her cheeks tinged pink and her heart rate increased. Her breathing became choppy and the heat between us magnetically pulled me towards her.
I knew I was a fucker for doing it, for taking advantage of this moment, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself.
My fingers paused for only a moment as they sifted through her silky hair, cupping the back of her head. As they combed through the long, silky strands, her eyes rolled back and she leaned into me, drawn closer by the undeniable pull between us. My other hand slipped down to the small of her back and unconsciously coaxed her more firmly against me. The pull of lips seemed too strong—too natural—to resist.
“Fuck,” I groaned, lowering my head to kiss her.
I tentatively touched my lips to hers, brushing them lightly. As she leaned into me—as she cautiously kissed me back—my arms tightened around her. The tip of my tongue flicked out to taste her kiss, and she emitted a tiny moan that did crazy shit to my insides.
My lips teased and toyed with hers, and her movements became bolder. She began to press into me of her own volition. Her nails dug into my back in a rhythmic, wanting manner. Her hips flexed against my groin, and the hard-on I had going started raging. Burning. Aching.
My hand on her back moved lower, cupping her perfectly rounded ass, and my other dropped, tracing down her neck to brush along the side of her breast. My fingers skated down her ribs as her arms came up to my shoulders, wrapping around my neck. Like lightning in a dry storm, she seemed to ignite around me. Her gentle caresses left a scorching trail in their wake.
*** Mature Content; Strong Language; Sexual Content with m/f, m/f/m, and a taste of f/f/m***
“She was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. Pure class. Old money. I never stood a chance… until she broke up with her dickhead of a boyfriend and went off the rails.”
Brannon Forrester doesn’t expect much from life. He coasts through aimlessly. No real ties. Nothing to hold him back. Hanging out with his best friend, lead singer of a local bar band, he lives for pleasure, out of the spotlight but with all the excess of the band’s small-town fame. After all, why should he be good when the only woman he really wants will never give him the time of day?
Then, one night at an after party, Sophie Buchanan walks through the door. In an attempt to throw caution to the wind and dream out loud, she looks to him as a guide to the wild side. As someone who can show her all the excitement and recklessness her world has been missing. He plunges her into a reality of fervent passion… and heartbreaking betrayal.
Their roles have been set. He has only ever been a good time. She has only ever been a pretty face. It would be insane for them to fall in love. But when emotion complicates lust, can the caution of the mind suppress the will of the heart?
*** Mature Content; Strong Language; Sexual Content with m/f, m/f/m, and exhibitionism/voyeurism***
“She is the forbidden fruit. The one girl I want and the one I can never have. Never mind that I saw her first. That I met her first. That I wanted her first.”
Denny Byrne is Dublin-born, but found his life and his music in the Rocky Mountains. He arrived in Montana on a student visa where he met the rest of his band, the Bangin’ Mofos… and where he met Felicity Williams.
She was so very tempting, but just young enough to be untouchable. Their brief encounter tortured him for months, only to leave him bereft when a friend swooped in to claim her. But a traitorous envy consumed him. A hunger that never faded. An overwhelming ache that caused Denny to pull away just when his friend needed him the most.
After four years of denial, ‘Fliss’ is once again before him. In a moment of weakness, she relies on him in a way he’s always coveted, but never expected. Hardened by tragedy and wary of his assistance, she forces his hand, causing Denny’s control to slip.
Contrition and conscience have kept them apart for far too long. But when a simple agreement is eclipsed by an undeniable yearning, can he let go of the past and finally seize what has always really been his to take?
Sibylla Matilde grew up in the mountain valleys of Southwest Montana exploring the dusty Old West gold country on the back of a horse. She attended a two-room schoolhouse beginning in 1st grade & had the same teacher until she changed schools after 7th. Beginning at about age 12, Sibylla discovered historical romance, feeding off of work of Jude Deveraux & Lisa Kleypas. She loves a book that can make the reader run the gamut of emotions, from the sweet glow of new love to gut-wrenching heartache. She is a true romantic & always has stories floating around in her head, living in a fantasyland until she writes them down to free them.
Music is her emotional trigger. Growing up with a Wagnarian-loving mother, Sibylla was raised to treasure music that digs deep into the psyche, drawing out elation, sorrow, grief, desire. The soundtrack to her life includes many genres spanning centuries. She looooooooves Thirty Seconds to Mars (rather obsessively, actually… but, really, how can you NOT be crazy about this guy!? Jared Leto. Shhh. ) & pimps them out to all her friends through Spotify. She also delights in Met Opera HD broadcasts at her local movie theater & hopes (listening Met?) to someday see Diana Damrau reprise her role as Mozart’s Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte. Sibylla lives with her husband and hero who saved her from her own calamitous, young-adult self. He makes her laugh daily, even when things are tough. He’s proved to her that love really can heal a shattered soul. In 18 years, they have never had a fight, although argue regularly with their two teenage kids who have, unfortunately, inherited their father’s quick wit (unfortunate as it is a quick wit that Sibylla, herself, definitely does not possess – there is a reason she is a writer & not a stand-up comedian). They live a quiet life with their two weird little rescued Chiweenies. Wait… teenagers & little yap-dogs? OK, maybe not so quiet.