Do you review Audio books?

Do you review Audio books?

Bloggers / Reviewers

I have the following books available in audio:

Guarding Morgan (Sanctuary 1)
The Only Easy Day(Sanctuary 2)
Face Value (Sanctuary 3)

The Christmas Throwaway

For a Rainy Afternoon

Coming soon - New York Christmas (late November)
If you are a blogger/review site and you'd like to review them, please email and we'll send you a code for a review copy.

The Fitzwarren Inheritance - Out Now for the first time in one volume

The Fitzwarren Inheritance - Out Now for the first time in one volume

Cover Art by Meredith Russell
One Curse, two families, three stories - The Fitzwarrens face yet another tragedy. But the man who cursed their line centuries ago left three cryptic conditions that would lift the curse. Now the Psychic, the Soldier, and the Lord, must each find their own path to the gripping conclusion.

Book 1 - The Psychic's Tale by Chris Quinton

Four hundred years ago in rural England, a mob burned two men to death, but not before one of them, Jonathan Curtess, hurled a dreadful curse at the mob's leader, Sir Belvedere Fitzwarren. The curse has followed the family through the centuries, bringing grief and loss to each generation.

Mark Renfrew is a closeted psychic and openly gay. When his grandmother discovers a family link to a 17th century feud and a still-potent curse, she insists he investigates and do his best to end it. When he travels to the village of Steeple Westford, he meets and falls for Jack Faulkner, an archaeologist. He also meets the Fitzwarrens, who are facing yet another tragedy.

Then Mark learns that the man who cursed them had twisted the knife by leaving three cryptic
conditions that would lift the curse, and he knows he has to try to break the curse his ancestor had set.

Book 2 - The Soldier's Tale by RJ Scott

Corporal Daniel Francis has returned to his childhood home in England to heal; the only one of his unit that survived a roadside bomb. His reasons for skipping medication are based on a stubborn refusal to become an addict, and he is overwhelmed with survivor's guilt.

Doctor Sean Lester has joined his father's surgery and when he is held at knife point by a patient high on drugs it is Daniel that leaps to his rescue-much to his horror.

When Sean nearly runs Daniel down in the dark he finds a man who needs help, and resolves to be the person to show Daniel that it is possible to live through guilt and find happiness.

Set against the backdrop of the Fitzwarren family curse, The Soldiers Tale is a story of one man's fight to find his place in a new world outside of the Army.

Will Daniel and Sean fill the second of three cryptic conditions that can lift the curse?

Book 3 - The Lord's Tale by Sue Brown

Phil Fitzwarren is surrounded by death and tragedy as a result of the curse imposed on his family by Jonathan Curtess. The estate is riddled with debt, his parents and brother killed and his young nephew and much-wanted heir to what is left of the Fitzwarren estate fights for his life after being born prematurely.

Phil also has to admit that as his friends and family pair off and marry, he is lonely, and maybe a little jealous. He takes his anger and frustration out on the climbing wall, only to be picked up by a gorgeous guy when he freezes twenty feet up.

Lee Curtis is a force of nature, inserting himself into Phil’s life before Phil has time to breathe. But there is the third part of the curse to break, “when the one who seeks in danger is sworn to the landless lord”. Phil realises that Lee is the final piece of the puzzle and the curse which has plagued his family for centuries may finally be broken.

Please note, the three books included in this title have been available to purchase separately since 2011.  

Buy Links

Amazon (US)  |  Amazon (UK)  |  All Romance  |  Smashwords  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes

Cover Reveal: Exchange of Hearts by N.R. Walker

Cover Reveal: Exchange of Hearts by N.R. Walker

N.R. Walker has a new book, Exchange of Hearts out on 13th November. Look at that cover art by Sara York.
Buylinks to follow.
Eighteen-year-old Harrison Haddon has grown up alone. Surrounded by wealth, nannies, and material things, all he craves is the approval of his father. Sent away to the boarding school his father and grandfather attended, it’s assumed he will follow in their footsteps from Sydney’s prestigious Ivy League school straight into medical school.
But Harrison doesn’t want to be a doctor.
He dreams of music and classical piano. His only true happiness, his escape from the world expected of him, is downtrodden by his intolerant and emotionally detached parents.
Levi Aston arrives from London for a three-month student exchange program. Free-spirited and confident in who he is and what he wants to do with his life, Levi convinces Harrison not give up on his dreams.
But convincing Harrison not to give up on his family might not be so easy.
Exchange of Hearts is a 38,000 word novella, and will be available at all the usual ebook outlets, and later in paperback. 
Promo 2

New Release: Best Friends Perfect by Liam Livings

New Release: Best Friends Perfect by Liam Livings

Best Friends Perfect: Book Three

Best thing a cabbie has said to you?
When I was a poor student in London, I didn't used to get taxis very often. Why would I, when I could get a night bus all the way home for £1? I was with a friend of a friend, who was legendarily very tight with money and he'd offered to pay for the taxi for a group of us, rather than getting the night bus. We'd at first all protested and said we were fine to catch the night bus, but when you're tired and the prospect of an hour on a crowded night bus can be replaced with half an hour in a taxi, you don't look a gift horse in the mouth. So, we soon agreed. Anyway, when we arrived back to our little corner of south east London the friend asked how much he owed, and it was £20. The friend scrabbled through his wallet and handed over two ten pound notes, then he fished further for some one pence, two pence and five pence coins from the bottom of his wallet and passed them to the driver. For those of you who aren't from the UK, we don't tip in the UK like you do in America. You really don't have to tip here. Not tipping is fine. But if you're not going to give the amount asked, and are going to tip, it should at least be another pound or maybe 50pence, not, as in this case 13pence in small change. I either give the exact amount, or round up generously, with this sort of thing in the UK, there's no middle ground. Anyway, as we were getting out of the taxi the driver threw the 13pence in small change and said loudly, 'I can get me own matches,' and drove off in a cloud of diesel fumes.

Favourite shops?
I enjoy a bit of high street shopping. When I came to London I discovered H&M, which hadn't, then reached outside central London. In Best Friends Perfect, Kieran uses shopping as a time to relax, and talk about his worries with his friends – retail therapy I suppose. Who hasn't discussed their latest relationship disaster over a sparkly T shirt with a friend? There's a scene in Best Friends Perfect series where Kieran and his cross-dressing friend Kev go dress shopping in the biggest H&M in the country, the one at Oxford Circus, in London. Bold as brass, Kev tries on dresses, asking the shop assistant to pass different sizes to him. I watched an interview with Eddie Izzard a few years ago talking about how he tries on women's clothes in shops. He said it's unfair that women can wear 'mens' clothes without anyone blinking an eye – trousers, suits, T shirts, shorts, trainers etc. But if a man wears a blouse, or a skirt, or dress, or high heels for some it's like the world is ending. I wanted to play with this a bit, and Kev is exactly the sort of character who would march right up to a shop assistant and ask to try on a dress in the window. That was a bit off topic, but anyway… my favourite shops are: Top Man, River Island, H&M for clothes; I love Ikea for home wares but it can get a bit silly when you're accidentally impulse buying a throw, a sofa and a vase even though you were shopping for some kitchen ware; Amazon is a great shop for books and other media, and I've just discovered ebay for all sorts of random stuff. I'm having to ration myself or I would fill the entire house with loads of clever, useless, unneeded stuff.

Best Friends Perfect Book Three
What happens when your perfect new best friend isn’t so perfect after all?

1999, Kieran, 18 is at uni searching London for Prince Charming with new best friend, Jo. Between his new uni friends, American students Julie and The Sarahs, his work at the hospital and his studies he’s keeping himself busy.
But all Kieran wants is to share this with Jo, but he’s disappeared with his boyfriend, Irish student Andrew.  Why doesn’t Sean call Kieran back?
And then something happens to turn Kieran’s world upside down, when he really needs his friends around him.
How far can you really push a practical joke? How many frogs does a boy have to kiss, until he meets his Prince Charming? And what do you do when your friend can’t see what’s in front of his face?
If you'd like to win a copy of one of Liam's ebooks, please comment below about your favourite shop, or a good story a taxi driver has told you, and include your email address and a week after this post is live, he'll draw names out of an electronic hat. Good luck!
About Liam Livings
Liam Livings lives where east London ends and becomes Essex. He shares his house with his boyfriend and cat. He enjoys baking, cooking, classic cars and socialising with friends. He escapes from real life with a guilty pleasure book, cries at a sad, funny and camp film – and he’s been known to watch an awful lot of Gilmore Girls in the name of writing ‘research’.
He has written since he was a teenager, started writing with the hope of publication in 2011. His writing focuses on friendships, British humour, romance with plenty of sparkle.
You can connect with Liam
Twitter @LiamLivings

Focus On... Full Circle (Sanctuary #5)

Focus On... Full Circle (Sanctuary #5)

Cover Art by BitterGrace
Sanctuary Series 

Book 1 - Guarding Morgan
Book 2 - The Only Easy Day
Book 3 - Face Value
Book 4 - Still Waters
Book 5 - Full Circle
Book 6 - The Journal Of Sanctuary One
Book 7 - Worlds Collide 

The Book

Manny Sullivan is the backbone of Sanctuary, and involved in every mission. After rescuing Josh Headley, his skill helps Sanctuary to solve the Bullen case. When Manny risks his life could it be time for Josh to risk his heart?

Manny Sullivan has his fingers in every pie and when he spots Josh Headley where he shouldn't be, it is Manny who goes in and rescues him. 

Josh is in Sanctuary witness protection after his dad turns on the Bullens. Not only is his dad a murderer but his ex is a liar who was using him for information. With his skill in information retrieval, he hopes to make a contribution to the solution. 

What started with the death of Elisabeth Costain is drawing to a close and Josh and Manny are in the middle of it all. 

When Manny risks his life could it finally be time for Josh to risk his heart?

Buy Links - eBook

Love Lane Books | Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | All Romance | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Buy Links - Print Book

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)


Joyfully Jay - 4.75/5 - "....With Full Circle, Scott brings the investigation of the Bullen family to a close and gives us a 5 star couple to finish it off.  Scott’s wonderful talent for characterizations shine with both main protagonists...."

Dark Diva Reviews - 5/5 - "....Once again, Ms. Scott has another winner to add to her ever-growing list of accomplished works. Full Circle does not disappoint; with suspense, intrigue, as always, great sex, and a very interesting twist at the end of the story. Of course this twist leaves the door wide open for more of this hit series.

MM Good Book Reviews - 4/5 - "....So I highly recommend this if you like intrigue, a touch of action, adrenalin rushes, some really hot sex, guns, computers and a happy ending...."

Chapter 1

Manny Sullivan was way past pissed and straight on down the road to furious. Sean freaking Hanson had infected the system, sent a worm digging around in Manny's protected-to-hell private files.

"What did it do?" Jake asked. He was watching as Manny stripped the viral attack from file after file. Leaning against the desk next to Manny, his expression still held that disbelief that was all pervasive in the office at the moment.

No one had ever managed to get close enough to the hub and ops to actually get inside Sanctuary files. Considering it was Manny who was in charge of security and that what he didn't know about the Sanctuary system wasn't worth knowing, the attack had been one huge clusterfuck.

"I'll give Sean fucking Hanson this," he said grudgingly. "It's damn good coding. Gave him back door access to lower-level stuff. It's odd though…" Manny paused and peered at the screen closest to him.

"What's weird?"

"It could have been so much worse. Whoever created the code knows their stuff. The infection itself is clever and Sean could have taken so much more than he did. Instead he's left a trail here like a pair of size tens in fresh concrete."

"Which means what?" Jake leaned even farther in, his gaze flicking from screen to notes and back again.

Manny laughed inwardly. Billionaire owner and creator of Sanctuary, Jake Callahan was a lot of things. Computer programmer wasn't one of them. To Jake the code scrolling on the screen would look like something out of The Matrix. Manny checked the percentage done, nearing seventy-two percent and painfully slow. He had an awful lot of sitting around time watching the clearance programs run and thinking on why Sean had left such an easy to follow audit trail to locate the infection. The suspicious side of Manny immediately assumed the worst. That the easy stuff had been telegraphed to find so that anything deeper down would be ignored. Thing is, he had completed an incredibly deep clean and there was nothing untoward other than this shit curling and edging its way into comms. He wasn't normally hesitant to bring his thoughts to Jake's attention but he was honest enough to admit to himself that he was suffering from acute embarrassment that Sean had even gotten this close to Manny's baby.

Jake had said nothing. Accused Manny of nothing. But Manny's pride was dented.

Manny pressed the escape button to halt the scrolling and pointed at the screen. "Look," he said. "This part here is almost as if the interruption to comms was simply designed to hide what happened at the cabin. Then it began to self-delete. As if it had a sell-by date."

"Just to cover Sean killing Adam and Lee?" Jake leaned back and away and the familiar bitterness laced his voice. He hadn't been the same since Sean had exposed himself as the FBI mole, working for Alastair and Greg Bullen. Sean was now in Federal interrogation. He hadn't put up much of a fight when Adam and Lee had confronted him but in an ensuing altercation between two other gunmen accompanying Sean, Lee had been shot. Sean and Jake hadn't exactly been friends but Manny had seen a defrosting in the iciness caused by Jake having to accept an FBI rep trailing his every move. Jake had given in to the request that Sanctuary and the Bureau should have close ties. That went well, considering Sean turned out to be one of the bad guys.

Manny shrugged. "I wish I knew. All I do know is it was easy to find once the event happened. Markers showed up on every part of my system. Inconsistencies and warnings. As it was, comms were down for little more than ten minutes."

"That was enough though. To ensure Adam and Lee were dead."

Manny looked up at Jake. His boss looked exhausted. Pale and with dark rings around his eyes, he was rough around his normally very straight edges. He'd taken Sean fucking them all over very hard. He hadn't had much choice in having a Fed liaison mirroring his every move and auditing procedures but he still blamed himself for letting Sean anywhere near operations.

"From the reports he wasn't exactly going in guns blazing to take our guys out. Also, a trail in the computer still doesn't tell us why he was involved with the Bullens or with Headley."

"He's still not giving the Feds anything." Jake yawned widely behind his hand. "At least nothing they are sharing with us."

Sean Hanson had been secreted away by the FBI and was currently being, in their words, vigorously debriefed. They were as stunned as Sanctuary that one of their own had turned quite so spectacularly. Information was not being streamed to Sanctuary. So much for cooperation.

"And still no chance of us having a chat?" Manny had been all for getting up in Sean's face with a well-thought-out 'what the fuck?' Jake had shot that one down instantly.

"It's not our remit," he commented softly. Repeating what he had said before was more telling than he realized. The first time Jake had said it had been full of anger. This time there was only sadness and resignation.

"I'll keep going with the digging," Manny offered. He had to say something to break the tension. "Maybe he'll show up on some surveillance feed. Do we really not know anything of what the Feds have on him yet?" Manny huffed a laugh. The FBI putting barriers up and not sharing was so not going to be a problem to Manny. "You want me to hack into their systems?"

Jake laughed. "Not today. I'll let you know when."

Jake pushed himself up and away from the desk. "Do we have any reports back on the Headleys?" he asked. The Headleys were the wife and son of the guy who started this whole mess. The cop who had shot Elisabeth Costain in an alley. Only because Sanctuary offered them safety away from FBI involvement did Gareth Headley finally agree to turn state's evidence on Gregory Bullen.

"Jennifer reported in a few hours back. Everything's clear but Josh Headley is getting antsy."

Josh Headley was a really bright guy—some kind of genius-level criminology student with an added layer of brilliance in computers, apparently. Although Manny doubted the guy's expertise was at his own level it was an interesting fact about an otherwise on the surface boring kind of guy. Good-looking. Tall. Dark-haired. Green-eyed. Gay. But the son of a murderer and likely to be disappearing off into witness protection sometime soon.

"We need to get them moved on," Jake said absently. He was gazing into the distance with a thoughtful look on his face. He was probably contemplating what Sanctuary could finance and where would be best. Sanctuary wasn't just a foundation to Jake. It was his life.

"You should go home, boss," Manny said firmly. "Make decisions tomorrow."

"Says the guy who may as well pitch a tent in the corner of the comms room."

Manny ignored the comment. How could he keep on top of everything if he wasn't here? "I'll come find you if I track anything down." He concentrated on the screens and the code that was being stripped and barely noticed when Jake left. The lines of code were actually very intricate and he again felt that wash of admiration for Sean if indeed it had been him who had planted the code. Someone brought him coffee. People did that. He tended to get so buried in his work that he forgot to eat. Inevitably he would turn to do something and a plate of sandwiches would be next to him, or a coffee, or a soda. Sometimes all three. He suspected Abbey in accounts or Cain in ops, but had never actually been able to catch either of them at it.

Sitting back in the seat he checked the time—a little before midnight. By habit he scrolled through each individual camera feed on the eight locations that Sanctuary was keeping tabs on. He didn't really need to, ops was on a twenty-four hour watch alongside their normal work. The cameras and feeds were focused tightly on the senator's house and office, the Bullen mansion in the Catskills, and several other key positions including the house owned by the Bullens' lawyer. Of course none of this observation was strictly legal; it was Manny hacking into government feeds and street cams. The picture was sharp in the clear night and all was quiet. The mansion was empty as far as Manny knew. Intel had the senator in his own house and of course Greg was dead and Alastair was under arrest. As for the Bullen lawyer—he was a quiet guy with two sons who seemed to spend his entire working life nixing cases against the family. He was probably incredibly well paid for that as well.

There was no link between him and the senator—he worked to protect the other two Bullen brothers. But given what Morgan was presenting to the masses tomorrow it paid to be watching everyone. Midnight came and went and Manny drank cold coffee. The bitter taste was something he was accustomed to and he wasn't hungry so the chicken sandwich joined a half-eaten banana in the bin. Settling back in his chair he reclined it and lay back. To settle at Sanctuary and fall asleep was not an unusual occurrence. Ops had his back and would inform him if anything came up. Hell, traipsing all the way across town to his place just to sleep seemed to make little sense to him. Anyway. He was happy here with his computers and his statistics. He felt important and that the job he was doing was worthwhile.

He yawned widely and stretched. His neck was aching from being bent over printouts of code but after some sleep he should be relaxed enough to be able to concentrate on the tasks at hand again.

A small movement on one of the scrolling screens caught his attention and he blinked away tiredness to focus. At the lawyer's house? He paused the rotating screens on that feed. Was that someone hovering by the back wall? Climbing over it? No one would be that stupid. The house was walled, secure, and gated. Going over said wall was the work of an idiot. He clicked to zoom in on the feed. The closer the zoom the more pixilated the image but there was no denying who the hell it was taking his life in his hands.

"Shit." He pushed himself to stand and within seconds he was in the ops room.

"Manny, we have movement at location K," ops reported. Cain was on rotation and sat at the desk already tapping away at a keyboard. Doing his job. Finding out who was in the locale and trying to pull as much information as he could.

"Who do we have in the field?" Manny asked quickly. The question in itself was stupid. It didn't matter if any of the Sanctuary operatives were available, none of them would be able to get to the house as quickly as he could.

"Thirty out for two operatives." Cain blinked up at Manny as he reported, his eyes wide behind large round-rimmed glasses.

"Forget it," Manny said brusquely. "I need comms."

Cain passed Manny a small box that contained an ear bud and he grabbed it quickly. Pushing it in his ear he left comms at a run. He took the stairs three at a time and was in the parking lot in the space of maybe two minutes after seeing the figure climb the wall.

Calling details in as he started his car, ops were booking everything and finally Jake was there on the line with him.

"Talk to me, Manny."

The roads were quiet and Manny pulled out on to the main road from the business district to the outskirts of the city. "Punch in the lawyer's house," Manny instructed comms and didn't check as the soft tones of the sat nav filled the car. Cain knew what he was doing and Manny glanced at the screen. Eight miles out. Eight minutes with no traffic and sticking to the speed limit. Six if he pushed it.

"Manny?" Jake asked again.

"Just saw Josh freaking Headley at the lawyer's house."

"Wait." Jake was firm and the line was quiet for a second. Downtown Albany sped past the car and Manny narrowly avoided running a red in his determination to find out what the fricking hell was going on. "Jennifer says he's gone from the safe house and that security was down."

There was no time for argument as to how the idiot had managed to get out of a Sanctuary cabin lockdown and away from a bodyguard as switched on as Jennifer. "I'm three minutes out," Manny confirmed.

"Nik's on his way. He's twenty out now. Fuck." Jake paused. Manny concentrated on winding his way past cars parked in the first lanes of the housing outside the city limits. "We can't let the lawyer get Josh. It'll blow everything up that we have with his dad. Can you get Headley without being seen?"

Manny imagined the layout of the house and the walled garden as he narrowly avoided a parked Toyota with its ass too far out onto the street. To cross the garden would take mere seconds but it would be longer to break security. Could Josh even do that? What was Josh doing breaking into the house? Was he after some kind of revenge on the Bullen lawyer? Was this a misplaced sense of justice? Why did he leave the safe house? Why was he screwing everything up?

"I'm on it, Jake," Manny answered instead. No point in rehashing fears, concerns, and his own questions. He pulled up a street down from the house and was out of the car and at the wall in little more than a minute. The property was set back from the road, entirely walled, and had security on the house itself. He calculated Josh had been on the lawyer's property a good ten minutes. Fuck. Anything could have happened.

Inhaling and centering his focus, he pulled his gun from the small of his back, the weight of it in his hand was settling him. He wasn't entirely sure what he would find inside the gardens or the house. The lawyer could have muscle. Hell, the lawyer could have Josh at gunpoint. Checking the chamber, he imagined the path from here to the house. He was very aware of the cameras put in by the owner's security company. Facing away from the camera that formed part of the Sanctuary feed he briefly gave ops the thumbs up. If comms crashed again he wanted them to be sure he was on-site but there was no sense in having his photo plastered everywhere. He turned up the collar on his jacket, took a few more calming breaths and then he was up and over the wall and dropping noiselessly to the grass on the other side. He listened carefully but couldn't hear anything.

"It's all quiet, guys," he reported to the mic that sat in his ear. "No guns. No police. No dogs. No shouting."

"Get him. Get out," Cain said quickly. "Three entrances," Cain interrupted. "One front, two rear. All alarmed."

Manny passed over entrance one and stopped outside two as the breeze that moved the leaves in the trees made the flimsy door move slightly. It was open and the security panel to one side was unhinged. Clearly Josh wasn't waiting around with this one. Although why anyone would spend money on A, such a crap system and B, on a door as fragile as this one, was beyond Manny. He moved in as quietly as he could, gun at chest level and every nerve ending in him alive.

"Don't get caught," Cain said very carefully.

I never get caught, Manny thought. He followed the sound of a raised voice. Seemed like one person had a lot to say and get it off his chest. Manny stopped outside the door that was open. He chanced a quick look but all he could see was the back of tall, dark, and handsome whom he clearly identified as Josh. Josh was the one doing all the talking.

"…naive to think I wouldn't find out. What was it? That day at the club? Was that you muscling in on someone who you could keep your eye on?"

"Josh, please—"

"What did you do, E?"

E? Eric Santez. The lawyer's eldest son.

"He's my dad. He said it was important—"

"Did you report back to him every time I let you bend me over the sofa? Or the night we fucked in the back room—"

"He'll hear you—" Eric was sounding way past overwrought and working his way up to really damn worried. "You need to go."

"Did you ever mean it?" Josh's voice again. "When you said you loved me?"

Manny thumped his head back against the wall. Shit. Why had no one joined the dots? The boyfriend Josh wanted to say goodbye to was the Bullen lawyer's son? That made an awful lot of shit-filled sense. Josh had been played. Clearly he'd found out.

Cain's voice echoed in his head. "Jennifer called in. There's a load of intel that Josh has pulled together on Emilio Santez and Eric Santez. It's all on the PC. Josh wasn't hiding what he found. He broke the code on the shutdown."

"I didn't," Eric was saying. "I couldn't love you. It was never going to amount to anything—"

Manny heard the sound of a fist hitting flesh, followed by the noise of someone falling back on maybe a table. Fuck. Josh was going to be bringing down a rain of crap if he didn't cool it.

Taking a deep breath and exhaling, Manny entered the room gun high. He catalogued the room in an instant. Eric Santez sprawled on the floor, his chest rising in a breath and blood trailing from his nose. Josh Headley stood over him with cold fury etched onto his face. Then Josh looked at Manny with glassy-eyed shock.

"I hit him," was all Josh said as he raised his hand and shook it disbelievingly at what he had done. "Shit."

Shit indeed.

"Hands where I can see them."

"I'm not going anywhere—"

"We're leaving," Manny instructed brusquely. He indicated with the gun and Josh got with the program fairly quickly. He strode out of the door with his hands high and Manny followed. Only after they passed out of the main room with the unconscious Eric did Josh try his luck. With a move worthy of a man who watched too many action movies he twisted on his heel and grabbed for the gun. Manny allowed him to move his balance and in a practiced move of his own he had the other guy face to the wall and one hand pushed up and held hard with the barrel of the gun in the small of Josh's back. Six foot of man was effectively imprisoned between wall and hold. Manny felt a small thrill that yet again someone had underestimated him based on his size and felt he would be an easy target.

"Manny Sullivan," he whispered harshly. "Sanctuary. Stop fucking fighting me and get yourself out and over the damn wall."

Josh relaxed in Manny's hold and without turning he moved out of the house as soon as Manny released him. Lights began to switch on as they reached the wall and as they dropped to the other side the sound of an alarm from inside the house interrupted the silence. Manny put his gun back in the space at the small of his back and started to half jog to his car. Josh was on his heels and without argument he climbed into the passenger seat.

Within a minute they had moved away from where Manny had parked, and the car was pointed back to Sanctuary.

"I'm sorry—" Josh started.

"Shut the hell up," Manny snapped as he exited the housing area and entered the city again. Josh did as he was told and in a few more minutes they were back in Sanctuary's underground parking and out of the car to the elevator. Josh remained quiet when Manny pressed in the code for the right floor and then leaned back against the wall.


"I said shut up." Manny was pissed. Why did Sanctuary bother with any of this shit when people like Josh screwed it all up?

Josh bristled and stood away from the wall. Clearly he had something to say. Manny simply pulled his gun from where he'd placed it, made a show of checking it and refused to meet Josh's eyes. Josh in return heaved a sigh and relaxed his stance.

Face Value Audio now available

Face Value Audio now available

Face Value is the third in the Sanctuary series and is now available in Audio.

More details here...

Beckett Jamieson, AKA Robert Bullen, has been rescued by Sanctuary from a situation in which he nearly died and is left temporarily blind.

Doctor Kayden Summers is the Sanctuary operative assigned to look out for him.

It soon becomes clear Beckett is the key to evidence left by his mom. Evidence that may well destroy the Bullen family. The two men become involved in a critical retrieval situation and when bullets start to fly there is only one thing between Beckett and death. Kayden.

Book 1 - Guarding Morgan
Book 2 - The Only Easy Day

Focus On... Deefur Dog

Focus On... Deefur Dog

Cover Art by Meredith Russell
The Book

For over a year, widowed Cameron Jackson has tried to juggle his business with childcare for his two year old daughter ...all while living with Deefur, a Great Dane who believes he rules the house.

Nannies last a day, some don't even make it through the front door if the self-proclaimed ruler doesn't approve. Something has to give.

Enter Jason Everson, nanny, teacher in training, apparent dog whisperer, and the only man who seems to make it past the initial scrutiny of the king.

Can Jason help Cam put his house in order and help to heal his heart?

"....Deefur Dog by RJ Scott is an emotion filled romance that will make you laugh and cry. It is a feel-good read that will have you cheering as they fall in love and sighing when they finally make love. And it will leave you a little wistful when you have to say goodbye to this delightful family. Definitely a book for the keeper shelf...."

Buy Links - eBook

Love Lane Books | Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK) | All Romance | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Buy Links - Print Book

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)


Hearts On Fire Reviews - 5/5  - "...True to her romantic style of writing, RJ winds a tale of lost love and love found again. Don’t look for a lot of hot sex in this book because you won’t find it. Pick this book up if you’re looking for a feel good romantic story and you will not be disappointed in the least...."

Top 2 Bottom Reviews 5/5 - "....Deefur Dog is a touching and heartwarming family story filled with warmth, humor, and the belief in the power of love. Finding one soul mate in a lifetime is a gift; finding two is a miracle, and that wonder is wrapped up in a story revolving around truly wonderful characters...."

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Dark Diva Reviews - 5/5 - "....Deefur Dog is wonderful. There were times I wanted to cry but most of the time I was smiling and falling in love with characters. In Deefur Dog, Ms. Scott finds love in the unlikeliest of places and carries us along for the breathtaking journey. I could not put this one down...."

BlackRavens Reviews - 4.5/5 - "....Deefur Dog by RJ Scott is an emotion filled romance that will make you laugh and cry. It is a feel-good read that will have you cheering as they fall in love and sighing when they finally make love. And it will leave you a little wistful when you have to say goodbye to this delightful family. Definitely a book for the keeper shelf...."

Rainbow Book Reviews - "....This is a wonderful love story which portrays that a nontraditional family has the same joys, sorrow, problems, angst, and love as any other family and does it extraordinarily well. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a wonderful, emotional love story with a happy ending...."


Chapter 1

"That's an impossible deadline," Cameron Jackson snapped, aware of the frustration and exhaustion running through his voice. So much for staying calm he thought. He shifted the phone to his other ear, balancing his fractious daughter on one hip and pushing his Great Dane away with his other. He tried to concentrate on what his brother and business partner said but found it damn near impossible above the noise of barking dog and over-tired sobbing daughter.

"Dadda, wan' chocca," Emma whined, tears in her eyes, her small hands twisted in his hair, pulling just this side of painful. He wished one more time she would give in and have her nap. He needed an hour—only an hour—to make some decisions, to actually get some vital work done.

"Shhh, baby, Daddy's on the phone," he muttered, trying to jiggle his hip without losing hold of the phone clamped between his shoulder and ear.


"Not you, sorry—I have Emma here—"

"I thought your new nanny—Elsa or something—y'know, the one with the mauve hair, was working well?" Cameron winced at the evidence of a mix of surprise and disappointment in Neal's words

And therein lay the problem. Yet again, for another one of those highly reasonable reasons his nannies gave, he and his daughter had been left in the lurch. Elsa "Purple Rinse" Saunders, highly recommended by the agency as being able to manage the most fractured and difficult of households, had lasted exactly three days.

"It was fine until Emma realized her mauve hair was actually a wig and pulled it off." The mousy brown curls thus revealed had looked okay to Cameron, but Elsa had pitched a fit. "Em gave it to Deefur who buried the damn thing in the garden." And Elsa had pitched another fit. He sighed, wishing he could see the humor even as Neal snorted down the phone. "She left yesterday."

"Jeez, Cam, I can't believe you let Deefur anywhere near her. I thought we talked about this?"

"I didn't let him. He got out of the boot room somehow."

"What? He can open locked doors now?"

"No, Neal," Cam had to rein his natural instinct for sarcasm, "he cannot open locked doors, I think the dog walker must have—I haven't got time for this. All you need to know is she said it 'was an impossible working environment' or some excuse—said she loved Emma but she couldn't…" his throat tightened with emotion, "and then she just left." The need to absolve himself of responsibility for her leaving asserted the urge for a fight. He needed to take his frustration out on someone, why not his baby brother? God knows since everything had hit the fan his brother had borne the brunt of his bad temper, on the job and off. Neal was used to it by now.

"Could you not have—" God, Neal is insistent.

"I didn't ask Emma to pull the wig off, or for Deefur to bury it."

"Okay. Okay… devil's advocate here bro—is you being pissed at the world in general the reason why you think we can't meet this new deadline?"

"No, it isn't the freaking reason!" Cameron swore. Immediate guilt filtered through him at cussing in front of his daughter, disappearing as soon as Deefur tried to push past him. He leaned harder against the dog to get him to stop rooting through the newly delivered groceries still sitting in piles by the door. A cabbage rolled tantalizingly around the floor just out of Deefur's reach. The sable haired Great Dane, easily the size of a small pony, pushed back, whining low in his throat, clearly wanting the damn cabbage. "Look, this is Adamson playing us off against the others. Neither of the rival bids they say they have, are gonna hit the target any more than we can. Certainly not without further off-plan changes, so whatever they threaten, they would be stupid to take the project elsewhere. We're two months into this. Why go out of state for a local job? It's not as if asking for bids from Seattle will be any better than what they get here in homegrown Tacoma."

Cam winced at the analogy although not an exceptionally good one. Tacoma was not a small town with one set of traffic signals, but a freaking urban Washington city. The third largest in the state in fact; a port hub and located right on the Puget Sound, and an area teeming with local color and history. Cam and Neal both believed strongly when customers wanted new builds, they wanted people who lived in Tacoma and had a feel for the work that needed doing. Someone who could design and build sympathetically, not some fly-by-night construction company without heart.

"Still, the threat is there, Cam, and to be fair…" Neal's voice tailed off. The brothers had been having this conversation on and off for months now and Cameron braced himself for the continued hurt. "I want to make this easier for you. Bro, I don't think your eye is on the ball here. Maybe we should re-evaluate things?"

"Re-evaluate what? This is our company; you shouldn't have to shoulder all the responsibility."

"Listen C, I said I wouldn't blame you if you needed a break from all this. You're grieving and you're going to make yourself ill." Neal's brutal honesty was delivered in the way only a family member could do. Cam appreciated how his brother had his back. Neal would, and could, run their thriving construction company on his own if push came to shove.

"No. Just—no." The company grounded him, and he refused to give up the only thing appearing to be working right. Besides, Neal warranted more from Cameron on a personal level and certainly more in the business as co-owners. He deserved someone who pulled his weight, whatever the stresses and strains in his life.

"Dadda…" Emma had a particular whine in her voice only a tired toddler could pull off to perfection. The right amount of cute mixed in with a teaspoon of impatience and a pint of attention-seeking monster. He shushed and jiggled her gently, allowing Deefur to move, because his leg alone could not hold back one hundred and forty pounds of dog intent on some great cabbage-eating adventure in the hallway. Half closing his eyes and shaking his head, he watched Deefur pounce on the cabbage with all the agility of a ten-week-old puppy, wide jaws closing around the vegetable with ease. Bang goes vegetables for dinner. Cam sighed. Neal continued talking, only now he had moved on to super-sympathetic-brother speak which Cam hated.

"It's not been long—"

Cameron reacted instantly. "Nearly two years, Neal, I'm fine." He wanted to stop this train of conversation at the source, not prepared, yet again, to go through all the whys and wherefores of his being a widower.

"You need a nanny, Cam. You can't keep letting them slip through your fingers."

"I didn't let her," he huffed irritated. Was Neal not listening here? "She hated Deefur, she refused to feed Emma fruit yogurt, and didn't approve of my lifestyle," he listed her faults quickly, shushing Emma when his raised voice started her whimpering into his neck.

"How the hell did she find out about your lifestyle? Did you tell her?" Neal used the same old argument, allowing sadness to overwhelm the rising temper. Neal counted himself as Cam's greatest supporter, but sometimes he could be so obtuse.

"There's pictures of us all over the damn house, what do you want me to do? Put away all the images of me and Mark? Of Mark with Emma? I'm not concealing who I am, and I am not hiding the man I loved from view."


"Anyway, she turned out to be worse than useless. Deefur never liked her, wouldn't let her within five feet of him from day one."

"Deefur? Shit, Cam. He's a freaking dog. His opinion—"

"Dogs know."

"The dog you shouldn't even still have."

"He's Mark's dog." A simple statement, filled with all the emotion for what this meant. Quickly he realized what he had said. "Was Mark's—he's my dog—our dog. Emma's dog…" He tripped over his words and his voice tailed off in a hopeless way, the result of not really knowing how to defend what he had started to say. Yes, Mark had brought Deefur home as a puppy. Yes, Mark had the idea to have a dog, but Deefur was the family pet, Cam's and Emma's.

"He's an extra in your house you don't need." Neal had said this before and would undoubtedly say it again. "We talked about this. You need to get him re-homed. Make your life easier and put him up for adoption—"

"You want me to put Emma up for adoption as well?" The irrational response spilled from his lips before he could gather his thoughts. What did Neal want him to say? It seemed that the nannies would use any excuse they wanted, be it about him being gay, or Emma having an unconventional surrogacy birth, or having to deal with Deefur. All reasons why not one nanny lasted more than a few days.

"I never said you should put Emma up for adoption." Neal sounded way past hurt and Cameron grimaced. He had been way out of line. No one could question Neal's love for Emma, and Cameron didn't know why he had said what he had.

"I know. I'm sorry." Cameron let out another noisy exhalation and continued louder over the sound of crunching cabbage and snuffly woofing. "The Agency said they were sending someone else over. She  should be here soon." Even as he said the words, the sound of the doorbell startled him, and he stumble-tripped over a family size box of Tide, righting himself with a shoulder against the wall and exclaiming down the phone, "She's here!" A flood of relief nearly overwhelmed him.

Deefur did his infamous imitation of what Mark had always called his 'The Hound of the Baskervilles imitation'; hurling himself at the door and baying like a lunatic. The whole door frame shook as the huge dog repeatedly tried to reach the person on the other side, pieces of cabbage being flung from his open jaws. The sudden barking started Emma off again with pitiful and very wet sobs into his neck, while she choked out "Daddy" and "chocca" over and over and over and—

"I'll call you back," he shouted down the phone to Neal, ignoring the faint, what the hell? before he disconnected the call.

Cameron lunged for the door, trying to pull back Deefur and at the same time not squeeze Emma to death in the current forty-five degree hold he had on her. He reached the handle past the confusing mess of panting, barking, swirling, jumping fur, and opened the door.

Only to see a small Toyota screeching away from the sidewalk in front of his house. He couldn't believe his eyes, looking up and down the deserted street to check again. Surely the woman leaving in the car couldn't be the last nanny on the agency books, leaving as soon as she'd arrived? His heart sank when the truth of what had happened hit home, and sudden, furious, self-pitying thoughts squirmed into his head. Damn it. Another prospective nanny bites the dust. This time Deefur was well and truly to blame; damned nanny didn't even get past the threshold.

"Chocca Dadda pwease?" Emma continued to squeeze out more tears as Deefur shouldered past them both to stand at the tall fence in the front yard, barking heroically at the retreating car. Thank God the escaping woman had shut the gate; otherwise, there would have been another trip to rescue Deefur from the pound after he chased the car clear across Tacoma.

"Chocca," he said helplessly to his clinging daughter, ignoring the disapproving looks from Mr Perkins at number fifteen, and shouting over the barking to get Deefur back indoors. Deefur showed no sign of stopping the deep and frantic baying. From Deefur's point of view, the perceived intruder needed to be well and truly told off.

Deefur snorted and let out a few extra oofing barks, almost under his breath, getting in the last word. Clearly satisfied his work was done, Deefur turned round and trotted back inside, finally as obedient as you like, to take his place in the pool of morning sunlight filling the kitchen, the remains of the cabbage between his huge paws. Cameron waited at the still-open door, in a daze. There went his last chance, the last suitable nanny on the Agency's list, a list that wasn't that long to start with. Emma buried her tears in his shoulder, her murmured "chocca" getting quieter and less there, to his intense relief. He closed the front door behind them, effectively closing them off from the world outside. He leaned against the door and slid down to sit, legs stretched in front of him and cradling his whimpering daughter in his arms.

Deefur remained quiet. The big, largely friendly giant took up most of Cam's tiled kitchen floor, and not for the first time in the past few months Cam's knifing resentment rose at the chaos in his house. He didn't mean to. He loved Deefur, he really did, and he didn't want to resent Mark's dog, but it was getting so damn hard not to. Mark. He had been the one to decide they needed to be a family, declaring a dog a good start. As much as Cameron tried, he couldn't forget the day they brought him home.

"Deefur dog," Mark had declared.

"Look at the size of his paws. He's gonna be huge. What about Hercules, or—I don't know—something for a big dog, like, we could be ironic, call the puppy Tiny or something?"

"Nope. Deefur is so much cooler," Mark responded cheerfully to what Cam knew was a blank expression, "D-for-Dog, get it?"

Cameron was in love enough to go with the flow. For both the mixed breed dog with the uncertain parentage—Great Dane and who knew what else—and the huge paws and the equally stupid name. In no time at all the puppy with the sticky-up ears, the melting chocolate eyes, and the irrepressible doggy grin had become an adult dog.

Still, with the eyes, he could worm his way out of many a bad situation with a single doleful look. Cameron loved dogs—he considered himself a dog person—but with his company growing so fast…

They were a victim of their own success, clients demanding more for less, and then the whole surrogacy thing had happened so damn quickly; sometimes everything had been too much. They had muddled through though, Mark and Cameron, as they did with everything; with a lot of laughter, a few arguments, and one hell of a large amount of dog poo bags. Deefur became Mark's dog, and the damned idiot fur-frenzy absolutely adored the older man, following him everywhere, earning the nickname Shadow. Mark's shadow. Mark's dog.

"Maybe you should think about loaning Deefur out somewhere for a while?" his mom had suggested on her last visit. She had been picking cans, boxes, and other recycling items from the hedge where Deefur stored them for some weird purpose. "Just maybe until Emma goes to preschool?" Cam agreed at the time. She made one hell of a lot of sense. Yes, handling work and Emma would be easier if he didn't have to deal with Deefur too. But who the hell did you lend dogs to?

Deefur had literally become the one part of his life Cameron couldn't reconcile. Mark had been gone a long time now. Taken on a frigid January morning when black ice, soft snow and an oncoming semi meant Mark never made it home from an overnight trip. Eighteen long months—a year and a half—with Emma doubling in size and passing her second birthday, her long brown hair and blue eyes so much like Cameron's. There would never be one hint of Mark's wheat-blond hair or his beautiful, hazel green eyes. Eyes which constantly sparked with emotion and enthusiasm for life. Nope, she was only ever going to get Cameron's dark hair, his blue eyes, or maybe lighter brown hair like the birth mother, because Cameron's genes had been used in this surrogacy. The plan had been for Mark's turn to be next. Whatever obstacles they had to overcome, they were determined to have at least two children if they could. Mark worked from home, an accountant, the least boring accountant Cameron had ever met. He was there for the baby, for Emma… most of all he dealt with Deefur on a day to day basis, walked him, groomed him, trained him. His death left all three of them at a loss.

Cameron believed it was only luck that got him through each day so he could take care of Emma and meet her needs. Grief kept a bubble of isolation around them, but the biggest loser always would be Deefur. Cameron gave into everything he wanted and paid the dog enough attention for Deefur to remain healthy. Walked. Fed. Brushed. But when it came to discipline? Well, that became non-existent. Cameron had neither the time nor the inclination to worry. So now Deefur ruled the damn house, and Cameron had no control in the slightest over the one-hundred and forty pound Great Dane cross. Walks involved Cameron being dragged down the street, pulled like a small kid on the leash. Peace in the house involved locking Deefur out in the yard, or in various rooms to keep him out of Emma's and his stuff. He was exuberant, playful, a big, overgrown, hairy puppy who single-handedly cleared a room with his over-excitement.

No, today had been the final straw. He couldn't deal with Deefur's behavior, and the dog reminded him too much of the man Cameron had married, the man he wanted to raise children with. He couldn't handle it. He couldn't. Not anymore. He struggled enough with the breath-consuming grief on his own, looking after a two-year-old daughter and a business partner who relied on him. Deefur needed a family with acres of land, people who had time, a family who was more than just scraping by on a day to day basis. When he weighed up the pros and cons in his head, the con column was about a foot long and no other choices remained. He wasn't capable of giving the high-spirited dog a good home anymore.

Deefur had to go.

Chapter 2

"I'm sorry, Mr Everson. We are fully aware of your skill set, but we don't have any matches."

Jason sat and listened, refusing to let the news get him down as he sat in the administration office of the Agency. Sitting here at the best of times with no hope of possible employment was hard enough. Added to this, he had to listen to his shortcomings being listed by the officious official who officially told him he was completely unemployable.

"I've said this before, young man. I'm sorry, but people don't always want male nannies. Especially young male nannies with little or no actual experience." Add the unspoken 'gay nanny', and there remained no job or even the slightest prospect of a job. The fact he had helped his momma raise his five younger brothers and sisters, plus his qualifications, criminal checks, and references didn't appear to matter one little bit.

"Anyway, Mr—erm," she checked her paperwork and he winced. Jeez, not even important enough to have his freaking surname recalled. "Everson. Surely it can't be long until you graduate?" The helpful Agency owner had an enormous amount of optimism and expectation on her face. He imagined the forced smile was used to hide the relief the unemployable would be leaving their books soon.

"Another year. I only need something for the year. There must be—something?"

"Have you thought of advertising as a babysitter in the papers?"

"A babysitter?" Jason flinched inwardly, horrified at the word. His qualifications and experience put him way past odd nights here and there as a babysitter. Okay, so much of his experience leaned towards the informal, but he had been a nanny for the Mitchener's kids for four months and they loved him. Unfortunately, they had emigrated to Canada and had taken his position with them.

"I'm sorry. We have your details, and as soon as there is a suitable match…" Her voice trailed off and she glanced towards the door expectantly. Clearly his cue to leave, and with a singular disappointment knifing through him, he thanked her for her time and left.

Glass half full was how he looked at the world. A positive kind of person normally, the world around him consisted mostly of a sunny, happy, positive place, and generally he saw the good in everything. Today though, leaving the Agency office, two days before his twenty-fifth birthday, there was no good to see in an eviction notice, an empty bank account, and no job. The words of the Agency's dismissal ringed in his ears. Moodily he scuffed at the grass underfoot as he walked, realizing he had reached his shabby, barely-holding-it-together truck without even remembering the walk to get there. This was stupid. He needed to get a grip. After all, if everything went seriously wrong, if he had really run out of options, then he could always go home, back to his parents' house. The door remained open to him, always.

Other twenty-five-year-olds got help from their parents; he wouldn't be the first. His mom would jump at the chance to have her eldest child back at home, and for a moment, the prospect made his breath catch. Back to his family, his siblings, well, the ones still at home anyway, made a pang of self-pity curl in him. This is silly. I'm not giving up now. So close to passing the requisite teaching exams, so damn close; three terms remained, and there must be something he could do. A part-time job at Joe's Pizza Parlor filled most of his spare time with minimum wage pay and pathetic tips. He had to find something paying well enough so he could leave the pizza job and concentrate on the final three terms. Otherwise, he may as well kiss his career hopes goodbye.

Always a late starter—Jason took a long time to decide what to do with his life and now, at the last hurdle, everything was going wrong. There were so many different paths he had tried to take; baseball-guy, advertising agency trainee-guy, writer-guy, all the time being pulled back to what instinct told him he would be good at: teaching kids. Not teenagers, but younger kids with their eyes full of wonder, little sponges thirsty for knowledge. His second brother Nathan had often said Jason appeared little more than a kid himself, anyway, which was why the kindergarten kids loved him so much. Said comment had caused the usual Everson pile-up with Nathan victorious—again—damn his extra weight and sneaky poking-in-the-eye maneuvers.

Thinking of his family left Jason feeling decidedly blue as he peeled out of the parking lot and found himself heading to Billy's on automatic pilot. Right then he couldn't think of anywhere else he wanted to be, and eventually he turned his old truck into the pot-holed staff parking and left it there. Then, not fit for human company, he bypassed the office and went straight to the dogs. There would be coffee and sympathy from Billy if he wanted, but at this point in time, he wanted to wallow in the unfairness of life. Always ready with coffee, Billy had a wealth of understanding and a wise word for any situation. Jason wasn't ready for someone being nice to him, not until he calmed down, allowing the total adoration and love of the rescued dogs to work their magic on him.

He found rare peace in his volunteering at the animal shelter and wished he had more time to offer his canine friends. Pulling down leashes, he started the daily cycle of dog walking. He scrambled and ran; enjoying the quiet acceptance of the rescued dogs. From Lacy the King Charles, to Bear the Husky, he walked them in the fields behind the sanctuary, while uncomfortable thoughts raced through his head. He anticipated the eviction notice on his rooms. The landlord had plans to remodel and sell up. Jason's money to live on had run low. He didn't earn enough for a deposit or monthly rental, and he had to keep some back for his college courses. He already juggled a part-time job with his studies and still had nowhere near enough money to cover everything.

Billy had said he could stay overnight in the office if he got desperate, but he couldn't employ Jason. He didn't have the money. Jason wasn't stupid—the dog rescue didn't have excess funds to support any staff and relied on volunteers like him and donations of food and money. He had thanked Billy for the offer of the pull-out couch in the office as a last resort, his pride dictating he would rather end up sleeping in his ancient truck.

With a degree in child psychology and a teaching qualification as near as damn it in the bag, finding a  position looking after kids should be easy. Maybe slightly easier if he hadn't been so honest about his sexuality during the informal first interview. Shit, why the hell he should hide? Being gay didn't make him some kind of sexual deviant. Frustrated by his thoughts, he slumped down next to the nursing pen. The Retriever dumped at Billy's last week lay on her side, panting with exhaustion and heat. She had been discarded pregnant and close to birthing. Now there were ten puppies crawling around her, searching for milk.

Instinctively Jason leaned over to help. He smiled down at the tiny blind creatures, guiding them to the source, lifting one tiny pup where two could fit in his palm, and he wished he could take one of them—two of them—all of them, to a home. His home. His own home. There was a peace in having a dog, a natural love you could only get from a dog, and he missed owning one.

Here with the animals, Jason didn't feel so helpless, or out of control. After allowing himself the ten minutes of self-pity he needed, he pulled off his t-shirt, wiping at the sweat on his face and neck, and moved back out into the sunshine to walk the next group of dogs. His mood lingered, but had lightened considerably, and for the perspective, he was grateful.

Chapter 3

Neal flew to Cameron's rescue, taking Emma for the day and carrying her off to the site with him. Their fledgling business teetered on the edge of being big and couldn't handle at least one of them not being on site. Neal rationalized it all for Cameron—made what Cam had to do easier.

"If Deefur has a new home, a big house, maybe with more space, owners at home all day, and then, without Deefur, you know it will probably be much easier to find help with Emma."

Cameron and Mark had split their time equally. Childcare had been an important thing for them, they both wanted to be hands-on parents. Now with it being Cameron on his own—it was damn hard. He had tried several local agencies by recommendation, nannies with impeccable references. All of them had bravely sat through the interviews, until the whole Deefur thing had been introduced, or his lifestyle came into the discussion, or his opinion on Emma's upbringing had been mentioned. Not one of them stayed longer than a week, and the last one, well, that one quite clearly hadn't even made it through the door. Neal's advice made sense.

Which was why, on this hot Saturday, under a clear blue sky, Cameron sat in his truck with Deefur panting and drooling in the front seat next to him. He willed himself to get out of the cab and to actually go into the place his mom recommended.

Billy's Dog Rescue.

"The best place, Cam," Neal had agreed softly. "It has a good reputation, and they don't put the dogs down. It's this huge ranch-type place, and they re-home. They spend time finding the right families, the right owners—"

Cameron looked at Deefur, who stared back at him, his mouth wide in a doggy grin. His brown eyes were sparkling and excited by the journey in the truck, said journeys generally ending up in a walk of some description. In his mind's eye, Cameron saw Mark standing at the door, a bundle of sable fur in his arms and a huge bashful smile on his face. Full of ideas for walks and eager to buy puppy food, bedding and a crate. The same crate Deefur grew out of in three months, the same crate that still sat in the garage complete with bite marks and missing hinges; the result of the great Deefur escape attempt of Christmas Eve.

"Don't look at me like that," Cameron said softly, burying his face in Deefur's soft fur, the smell of freshly shampooed dog in and around him, and the nuzzle of a cold, wet nose against his skin. He wanted a way to explain; to make this huge dog with a heart of gold understand why he needed him to go to a new home, why his very presence made Cameron's and Emma's lives so damn difficult. "I'm sorry," he murmured into the fur. Then he clipped the leash to the collar and opened the door, encouraging Deefur out and across the grass, which Deefur promptly scent-marked, and then spent time exploring on the long lead as Cameron locked up the truck.

Cameron stopped under the ranch-style sign and tugged on the leash. Deefur happily jumped ahead, his joy in the summer day in every sniff and whine as he discovered the grass and the dusty path. Finally Cameron stood at the door to the cabin-like office, with the words "Welcome Dogs and People" carved into old wood. With a determined straightening of his shoulders, he pushed open the door making an old-fashioned bell jingle. He hesitated only for a moment, the words, the reasons, and the excuses suddenly tumbling out of his mouth in a heated rush to the white haired man sitting behind the desk.

"I need you to take this dog his name is Deefur he is four, my daughter is two I have my own company he is too big, too big for us I can't handle him and I can't find a nanny to help with my daughter when he is there. He was my partner's dog but see he's—my partner— he passed away, and I'll pay his board until you find a home for him, a good home, but I need you to take him, so—please." Cameron hadn't even stopped to breathe or to even look at the person who stood patiently staring over the desk at Deefur.

"You wanna take a seat?" he asked and Cameron sat, quickly and suddenly. Every ounce of energy had left him. "Coffee?" asked the same gruff voice, and Cameron found himself saying yes; found himself looking out of the window at the kennels and dog runs behind the office, found himself drinking hot, almost-black coffee as the other man sat back down and listened. Finally finding himself telling this man, this nodding, understanding man, the whole problem from start to finish. The reasons why he sat here, even as he sat desperately holding onto Deefur's lead with his right hand, absently stroking the huge shaggy head with his left, coffee abandoned, his knuckles white with the grip on the lead.

* * * *

Billy Pearson looked carefully at this man who sat clinging desperately to the long leather leash, this Cameron Jackson. He focused on the other man's left hand buried deep into his dog's fur, took in the dog's wet nose, the brushed coat, the clear eyes. Through narrowed eyes he read the body language, at the man's own eyes, suspiciously bright, and he made the decision there and then. With no hesitation on his part, Billy stood and opened the back door, the one marked Staff and shouted two words out into the dust beyond.

"Stretch, office!" He tapped his fingers, watched the man and refilled his coffee, offered a biscuit to Deefur, and glanced repeatedly out the window until finally he saw Jason jogging this way.

He wondered how much to tell Jason. Should he mention Cameron had a male ex-partner, or would he be seen as being some kind of matchmaker? He decided it might be better coming from this Cameron Jackson himself. He smiled as the office door flew open; Jason never did anything quietly. The young man's worn jeans were covered in mud, his t-shirt off and tucked in his belt, his chest bare to the sun, and his hair damp and plastered back on his head. He looked impossibly young and fresh from exercising the boarders, jumping up the final steps and banging in through the door. Billy smiled at his entrance.

"Wassup?" Jason smiled, dropping to fuss at the dog sitting in the middle of the office, crooning a hello, and then standing up to look at Billy and Cameron expectantly.

* * * *

Cameron sat dumbstruck, startled at the entry and at the young man who stood in the open doorway. The young half-naked man, the young half-naked, impossibly gorgeous, sweaty man with the muscles. Really tall, probably five or so inches taller than him and clearly not a stranger to the gym. Short, dark, sweat-damp hair clung flat on his head and his gaze skittered from dog to him, and then back to Billy. He pulled his t-shirt from his jeans to wipe his face, and in the time it took him to do that, Cameron lost the power of rational speech.

"Jason, we got us a reject. This here's Deefur," Billy said firmly, crossing and taking the lead from Cameron and handing control over to the tall newcomer. Who switched from affable youth to pissed-off man in an instant.

"A reject? What is it?" Jason drawled, talking directly to the dog, scruffing the fur around Deefur's huge floppy ears. "Did he get tired of you now you're not a puppy?"

"I'm not—" Cameron started to splutter. That wasn't fair, but the new guy dismissed excuses.

"Whatever. It's nothing we can't handle," Jason snapped, guiding Deefur towards the exit door.

"Don't I get to—" say goodbye? Cameron wanted to say. He wanted to stop them, to grab back the lead. Deefur wasn't their dog yet, and as the owner he had rights—surely—

Jason turned back, waiting expectantly for Cameron to finish the sentence. When Cameron could think of nothing to say and the pause grew too long, Jason shrugged. With disappointment and anger carving his face, he opened the door and started to leave the office, Deefur following calmly.

"Wait—no—" Cameron said, standing and taking a single step towards his dog, "I didn't reject him—I can't—it isn't as simple as it seems—please—"

Jason, tall guy, stopped, a simple softening in his expression, as he waited, looking again between Billy and Cameron, clearly waiting for guidance.

"Jason," Billy began, "can you stay for a bit?"

* * * *

Cameron stood uneasily outside the office, his head still spinning. This sounded like a set up. Or too good to be true. To find someone who loved dogs and in a position to nanny, even temporarily for a year, added up to something way beyond his expectations.

"So, you're like a nearly qualified teacher? For real?" Cameron realized he probably sounded like he didn't believe him, "and you just happen to be in your last year at college, you like dogs, and you volunteer here?"

"Yes." Jason nodded, his own face marked with caution. Cameron knew it was too good to be true and actually anticipated a punch line of some sort.

"And you are looking for work?"

"I need something to help me finance my thesis, allowing me to study from home, and I'm looking for somewhere to live."

"Where are you living now?" Cameron didn't mean to sound so damn suspicious but hell, either luck had landed finally on his side or he'd become the target in one hell of a practical joke.

"My landlord is relocating and developing the place I rent to sell." Far too late Jason attempted to look like he didn't care. Cameron had already heard the disappointment in the other man's voice.

"You sure you could handle a two year old and a dog? A big dog, a Great Dane." Cameron emphasized the big dog part, his instantaneous reaction, and his immediate worry. Deefur had become such a handful. Then he felt guilty almost straight away. Emma. Could this half-naked guy actually be the right person to look after Emma? Shit. Half-naked. Cut. Clearly worked out, looked after himself. Emma… Focus on Emma… Emma…

Jason laughed, dropping to his knees next to Deefur, who instantly rolled on his back showing his belly for a rub. "Yeah, no worries, man."

"I would need references—for Emma—" Cameron said a little desperately.

"I have them." Jason answered simply. "I have all my police checks, and I am actually registered in town with the Adams Nanny Agency."

The Adams Agency? The same agency he had tasked to find him a nanny? Cameron wondered why the agency hadn't sent Jason out on an appointment for the position, but swiftly put the thought to the back of his head. Maybe the guy had a homophobic streak and the agency knew this? Perhaps he had specified he wouldn't work with a family once comprised of two dads. Should Cameron tell the prospective nanny about Mark now rather than later? No, he should leave it until he had more of a handle on this whole thing. He didn't have to offer this Jason a job today. He could check references, ask around, and make sure this six-three, tight-bodied man fit the job.

Cameron pressed fingers against the ache forming in his temple, wondering what the hell he could be thinking, trying not to look at delineated muscle-tone and sun kissed skin, or focus on spiky, dark brown hair and the hint of dimples in a wide smile. He tried desperately to imagine how life could be easier if only he could find a nanny, and how this solution, this Jason guy, would mean he could hang on to the only link he had left to Mark.