As a writer of m/m paranormal, I’m dead lucky. I’ve always lived in the southern counties of England, which overload me with inspiration. Just fifteen minutes drive to the west, I can be in the New Forest. Not only is the forest rich in legends of fair folk and ghosts. Real medieval history twines with the mystical in bloody tales of murdered kings and princes, on whom the poor folk of the forest—or the forest itself?—have repeatedly sought revenge for strict hunting laws. The New Forest inspired my Greenwood series, but when seeking a contrasting setting for my new seasonal novella, Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone, I didn’t have to look far.
Less than an hour’s drive to the north of me is Wiltshire, home to Stonehenge and Avebury, just two of the many stone circles that haunt the misty landscapes of the south of England. I’ve been visiting Stonehenge and Avebury for as long as I can remember. Around the age of five, I was creeped out by the tale of a medieval barber-surgeon whose grisly remains were found crushed beneath one of the Avebury stones (though recent investigations suggest he might have been placed there after his death—and he might not have been a barber, despite the scissors he carried and which gave him his name!) Stone circles have always stirred the imagination, and the mystical beliefs that surround them are as old as they are, often lost in the fog of time. One of the earliest known theories about Stonehenge, written down by Goeffrey of Monmouth around 1136, claims that Merlin transported the circle wholesale from Ireland on the request of the King of the Britons (I’m not up-to-date with the current Merlin TV series, but I don’t think they’ve shown him do this yet!)
Given their obscure pre-Christian origins, it is unsurprising many stone circle myths involve “immoral” activities, such as dancing, merrymaking, and even al fresco sex (always a brave activity given the grim English weather.) Indeed, many a medieval morality tale implied that the stones themselves were the unfortunate revellers. The Stanton Drew circle in Somerset is known locally as “The Wedding,” and is said to be an unfortunate happy couple and their guests. Having partied hard through Saturday night into the Sabbath, the devil turned up disguised as a fiddler and wrought his eternal punishment. A fallen stone is even said to represent a tumbling, tipsy churchman.
To this late day, the true powers and meanings of places like Stonehenge continue to fascinate millions, and provide an important focus for practitioners of earth spirituality. Given my lifelong interest, it’s unsurprising the stone circles found their way into my books. Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone is set between Thanksgiving and Christmas—with a major pit stop at the winter solstice where an important ritual is to performed at a circle, known simply as The Stones. And yeah, despite the English weather, my MCs might just be brave or mad enough to attempt a little al fresco sex.
Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone (published by Loose Id, m/m paranormal/time travel, 45k).
Blurb: Simon’s holiday season is looking grim. His boyfriend’s dumped him, and his self-esteem is rock bottom. Stuck in the UK where nobody celebrates Thanksgiving, the shy, geeky student drowns his sorrows at an ancient stone circle. When a gorgeous stranger, Aubrey, shows up and attempts to seduce him, Simon is flattered but also freaked—especially when Aubrey claims to be from an historic sex cult who’d uncovered the true powers of the circle. It’s a time machine. Aubrey intended to travel back three hundred and sixty-five days, but an error propelled him forward three hundred and sixty-five years into a world alien to him.
Simon reluctantly takes the lost time traveler under his wing, and Aubrey teaches Simon the ways of sex, love, and magic. Simon’s never felt so alive, but as their bond grows, Aubrey remains determined to perform a dangerous ritual and return home at the winter solstice. Fearing he’s no more to Aubrey than a sexual sacrifice, Simon must discover the dark secrets of Aubrey’s pagan past. Only then can Simon choose between risking all for the man he loves or a lonely Christmas without him.
Simon pointed. “So what’s your theory on this one?”
“This image,” said Aubrey, “symbolizes the relentless shift of time, the sun over the ring.” He slid his hand over Simon’s wrist, and Simon inhaled sharply. He ought to pull away, yet his skin tingled beneath Aubrey’s palm. The world beyond, even the crispness of the rain, seemed to fade. He found himself scrambling closer so he knelt on the Solstice Stone, letting the man manipulate him till Simon’s finger pointed to a carving similar to the first. Here the sun and the stone were bound together by what he took to be curling vines, but the sphere representing the sun had been torn in two.
“This one,” continued Aubrey, “shows us how the power of the Ancestors can tear the very fabric of time and undo the injustices that rip loved ones apart. This is andaga.”
“Eh?” Simon had never read anything about a ritual that tore the fabric of time. Then again, he recalled the words of the naked guy looming over him on this very Solstice Stone well enough. He’d said something about spinning back time, and that set Simon’s nerves jangling. “What evidence supports this theory?”
Aubrey looked to the misted horizon, clenching his jaw against a tremor that shook his body from head to toe. “The power of the Ancients remains alive in this place.”
Simon opened his mouth to snap that he needed a better answer than that, but his words jammed. As Aubrey moved, the lacing that fastened his white shirt fell loose, revealing a physique chiseled to lean perfection by either gym or hard labor, his carved chest adorned with soggy golden curls.
Simon’s throat tightened. So did his groin. Aubrey slid his gaze to Simon and lowered his lashes. He seemed to be begging a silent question, but Simon could not even start to comprehend.
“But let’s forget time tearing,” murmured Aubrey.
He stroked Simon’s sodden brown hair from where it had clumped across his eye, and Simon’s usually sharp mind dissolved to mush. He could hardly remember how to breathe. The man slid featherlight fingertips down Simon’s smoothly shaven cheek, setting his skin aflame and doing nothing to dissipate his growing hard-on. Simon sent a final, desperate message to his fingers to swipe the man away; he needed to say something, anything.
Next thing he knew, the man grabbed him and kissed him hard.
For a blissful moment Simon surrendered, and his senses reeled under the onslaught. Aubrey plundered deep into Simon’s mouth, and Simon slid his tongue against Aubrey’s, hot and slick in contrast to the chill of their skin, willing him to intensify their coupling. Aubrey worked the kiss like his life depended on it, scrubbing his coarse stubble against Simon’s chin. Simon relished the sensation even as the man’s hunger astounded him. Aubrey’s hands trembled as he splayed them across Simon’s back. Then he balled fists in the fabric of Simon’s coat as if he were a drowning mariner grasping a rope from the shore. Their bodies notched together so naturally, and something Aubrey wore—a belt, maybe, concealed beneath his clothes—dug into Simon’s stomach. Simon shifted, looping his arms about the man’s neck, his knee nudging between Aubrey’s. He reveled in the hardness of the man’s thighs, and—oh yes. The length of Aubrey’s cock pressed against Simon’s leg, with only Simon’s tight, wet jeans and Aubrey’s loose clothing between them.
What in heaven, hell, or any realm in between could have possessed this cross between a god and a soggy wolf pup to kiss him? And at a time like this?
Aubrey’s frenzy proved infectious; Simon grew needier by the second. Some awesome power bound them together, as surely as the carved vines wound about that phallic stone. His cock stiffened for this guy, his contact-starved body screaming for more, so much more. Aubrey lowered Simon till he lay flat on the stone, and Simon could not resist. He feared this strange man, but with fear came thrill—an awakening of desires that, since his experience at this very spot, he’d dared visit only in the dusky realm between nightmares and dreams.
When Aubrey broke away, both of them panted. Aubrey cupped Simon’s face and whispered in his ear. “That’s just the start of our offering, Simon. Shall we show the Ancestors how much we adore them?”
Simon gazed up at him, so turned on the man’s words were hard to comprehend. With Pete sex had been so complicated. They’d spent more time arguing about who should do what than they had actually doing it. With Aubrey their conjoined desires grew so stark that Simon bit his tongue against vocalizing his darkest cravings.
I want you to fuck me here and now. To heaven and back on the Solstice Stone.
Aubrey pulled away a moment, raking his hair—and Simon suddenly realized what had pressed into him as they embraced. Aubrey indeed wore a belt. It had shifted around as they’d kissed to reveal an old-fashioned dagger sheathed in black leather.
His common sense became deafening.
He didn’t fuck strangers, let alone ones who carried knives. Maybe he was finally starting to understand what he’d seen last Christmas. It had been a premonition.
The Ancestors warning him never to lie beneath another man on the Solstice Stone.
“Shit!” he yelped. “Get away from me!”
(NOTE: Kay will be giving away an e-book copy of Simon, Sex and the Solstice Stone OR a single title from her backlist to one lucky commenter!)
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