Search Results for: "pain"

It Might Have Been My Birthday… 🎂

I’m 36, bitches!

Hey, babes,

I’m going to try to keep this clear and concise, but we’ll see how the brain lets me go today. It’s been a terrible week… two? Three? It is amazing the cushioning effect on time when it comes to pain. I feel like I’ve lost months, but I’m sure it’s only days. Key points; it’s an allergy response. To what, I’m not 100%, but when I leave my house—and I do mean enough distance—the pain stops. The allergen was in my room. It was either the bed or the mattress, or something that got caught under the bed—or more than one allergen in the bedroom and house. @[email protected] When I got the bed moved out, I evidently moved the allergen throughout the house so the last week has been particularly excruciating with no safe space to escape the pain.

But before I get into all that shit, Jackie North has a new book out!

Heroes for Ghosts – $0.99

Soulmates across time. A sacrifice that could keep them apart forever.

A male/male time travel romance, complete with hurt/comfort, French coffee, warm blankets, fireplace kisses, the angst of separation, and true love across time.

For a limited time (until June 24th) you can get it for just 99 cents, so be sure to grab your copy.

 

 

Pain: the greatest motivator ever invented

I would like to give a shout out to pain. It has been the motivating factor that has gained me so freaking much these last months. I am apparently a slow learner, but pain is ready to change that. What doesn’t kill you can either inspire you or eventually destroy you; I’ll take the inspiration.

It’s easy to slip in life. To adapt down to shit. This isn’t just health, but abuse, oppressive work environments, bad relationships, etc. People survive, and they do that by forgetting—or for some, never knowing—that life can be lived differently. Pain is one of those things that we learn to ignore. I know because I have been living a half life for years and each step out of it felt like the biggest one. It’s only when I looked back I realized how little I had actually gotten free. I got used to the pain; I adapted to being sick and thought it was normal.

Pain has come in to remind me, no, this is not fucking normal. Thank you, pain.

I have learned more about what I’m suffering from these last weeks than I have the entire time of my illness, and I owe it all to pain. I don’t look for answers to problems that don’t exist. I don’t waste time trying to understand something that ultimately won’t change anything in my life. Pain is amazing in how it flips that perspective every time it rears its bitching head.

If you need motivation, create some damn pain in your life. Not the type I have—you don’t want to feel like you have an infected tooth, or ear, or that your immune system is going to kill you, but only after driving you batshit crazy. But yeah, make it so if you fail at something it’s going to hurt—poverty is a great motivator—and you will find you’re far more interested in reaching a goal than before.

If life becomes more than uncomfortable, you might actually ask for help, or go outside your comfort zone (because where the hell is that when it all hurts?) or try something you’ve been putting off for years. This is the bucket list but instead of dying at the end, you just keep living because it’s only pain. Pain is fleeting (ideally @[email protected]) but it can be a great motivational tool to change your life.

What pain has taught me lately

So, here’s a quick list of the shit I’ve been learning this week (month?) instead of writing.

  • I can be a living dowsing rod. I walked around my current apartment and used the throbbing in my face to let me know what the triggers were. Once the teeth started itching in pain, I had a suspect. That’s how I discovered the culprit was in my room. When I moved the bed out, I could literally feel a hot spot in the air where it used to be from whatever the hell has been triggering me. I don’t know what the hell it is, but it is oppressive and pain inducing, and really, that’s all I need to know to get it the fuck out. No more bed until I can afford one of those overpriced eco mattresses.
  • I’m getting better. Instead of ending up freaking comatose 24-7 and unable to lift my limbs or think straight, I had a pain response. It’s different—shitty—but I’m calling it a win. I actually got less work done on the writing front—pain is extremely distracting—but I stayed on my feet. No sleeping my life away, but instead pacing it.
  • The dopamine precursors are working and my skin isn’t flaking anymore, my tongue has healed, I’m not in constant muscle pain or slow down, and apparently I was missing the fact that I had distinct tremors connected to Parkinson’s for years now. I didn’t know it was the weird twitching that happened when my body was at rest; I always thought it was supposed to be when you were moving or something. So yeah, supplementation has taken care of that, which I didn’t realize until I was hit with enough pain to stop supplementation to ensure it wasn’t the dopamine precursors at the root of all this. In two days of stopping, a deep crack appeared in my tongue, the twitching came back, and I began to slow down physically and mentally. So, yeah, I quickly chose the pain over that slow, living death and started looking for more useful answers.
  • Allergy shots work. I have been terrified to be outside the house. We can call it a remnant of the PTSD where I was just used to spending every day hiding away, or what have you, but once I found out I was allergic to, well, life, nature was definitely on the ‘do not visit’ list. Except I just had a lovely nap on the lawn where I didn’t have any pain, no allergies, and yeah, whatever I’m allergic to, it’s not this beautiful fresh air. My cats were crawling all over me—they apparently thought I was one of them… or dead =_= —and my allergies weren’t triggered at all. So maybe this will be the motivator I need to go outside into fresh air every day. Maybe being inside every day has been the key as to why I’ve been so sick so long.
  • Indoor chemical exposure can hurt you. So the previous apartment I was living in (the one where I was bed bound for 4 years and decided to be an author—how’s that for pain motivation!) that apartment was covered wall to wall with new carpet. I got a new memory foam mattress during that time; both these products gas out formaldehyde for months to years. They had construction in the other apartment on the same floor, and the apartment below us, and new construction material has this same problem of gasing out chemicals. We also had the cat litter boxes (ammonia and formaldehyde) in the house with us in this small, poorly ventilated space. We kept the windows closed because the air dynamic was so strange that the street exhaust would blow in and flood the place every time a car went past. When the downstairs neighbors smoked pot, that would flood out apartment (windows open or not.) The place was a fucking chemical trap. I’ve always had an intense sense of smell compared to other people, and now I’m wondering if this is why; my body has been over-actively telling me about the things things that triggers my immune system but I wasn’t listening. Given since this burning mouth pain started and I can’t taste and smell things like I used to, it seems even more obvious now.
  • Dopamine receptors are key in chronic pain. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is linked to dopamine downregulation. Being exposed to one chemical in a low dose constantly can have the same shitty impact as one big dose, and results in the body overreacting to any contact at all later. It can turn your immune system into an overactive minefield where everything sets it off, and is very likely why I’m allergic to everything instead of just a few things. The targeting system was triggered, and although you can take an allergy shot for pollens and molds, there doesn’t seem to be one out there for formaldehyde or ammonia or the scent of those damn rubber car mats. >_<
  • It hasn’t killed me. The supplements I take to support my body are keeping me going. I focused on a few things; repairing the dopamine system, supporting the cellular and specifically brain detoxification systems, and supporting the liver and adrenals. It doesn’t stop the pain by any means, but it does keep this body moving instead of being so overwhelmed with cleaning its filters, so to speak, that it ends up sleeping life away. I am improving. I would like to find a way to stop my immune response, but for now, I’m supporting what I can and cleaning what’s around me.
  • You can rent an industrial strength air scrubber from Home Depot for $300 a week. Once I realized I was still dealing with an allergen—potentially a chemical based one—I needed a solution. We only just got the filter today, and I’m not in the house, but I have hope that it will be able to handle this job. If it does, I’ll probably be buying one in the future and just hitting the house with it once a week. If it doesn’t, well, I guess I’ll be camping out in the backyard until we can get enough money to move. I refuse to live like this. (I just found out the backyard was safe to breathe—I’m so excited! Cuz I can live out here for the summer at least and get some fucking writing done already.)
  • I can still art. I was avoiding making real art because of these insecurities of having lost my ability after being sick so long. Pain to the rescue. XD I couldn’t focus on something as complex as language while like this, but I could fuck around with little colorful marks on a screen. I’m remembering as I go along. I even tracked down the old brushes I used to use and had moments of playing, and not just seeking escape from misery. But that was what art always was for me; an escape from the insanity of the world around me (or the insanity of my brain in reaction to the world around me.) It is a lifeline, and even if the results are fleeting, the process of creation can give you so much.

  • Listen to the body. If you don’t listen when it’s quiet, it will get really fucking loud until you do. Better listen early on.
  • Letting go. I’m getting better at accepting that sometimes I really can’t control what I want no matter how much I want to. I feel far less guilt for not updating my writing than I would have half a year ago. I’m not happy about not getting things done, but I have no interest in ruining my writing or killing myself over things out of my control. I still have my goals for what comes next, I still know how I’m going to reach them, but they are pushed back until I solve this problem. Because pain is forcing me to get better than I was before this bizarre misery hit me like a repeated punch to the face so many years ago, and I will take that win of improved health and understanding of my illness and use it every day moving forward to live a full, complete life.
  • You don’t always get to choose what happens in life, like, ever, but you can choose how you want to deal with it. Everything can be a win, a lesson learned with new tools to help you kick ass later.
  • If I knew then what I know now, I would be twice my age. 😀

I’m not giving up, babes. On the contrary, I’m adapting and seeking every answer I can find. I’m sorry it has resulted in no writing, but limitations are what they are at the moment. I hope you all are having a far happier, enjoyable summer not needing to learn a damn thing. But if you’re not, and you find pain haunting you, I hope you listen to your body and seek the answers you need. Being alive is more than pain (no matter how it feels to be the contrary some days.)

Peace, luvs. <3

Brain Sparks 💥 And Other Random Stuff

Tired, babes

Sorry I haven’t gotten back to any emails and stuff. I don’t even know if I want to go into the last week and all the shit that happened. It’s probably depressing… I dunno. I’m wiped. The skin on my nose looks like a cheese grater got it (it’s from wearing the mask too much.) I’ve been apparently fighting an infection (possibly for weeks now.) Uh, the cats peed on the AC unit outside, which we found out when we turned it on and flooded the house with ammonia + cat allergens (proteins found in their urine.) My brain felt like it was sparking for 3 days, easy. The decent back into madness overnight was pretty fucking terrifying, but at least I still had my grounding of this is chemical sourced.

I spent that time desperately painting the basement floor because we didn’t know it was the AC. We thought it was coming up through the concrete because of the temperature changes now that summer heat has hit. Ended up in the ER cuz I wasn’t peeing—thought my kidneys were dead or something @[email protected]—but yeah, just an infection in an already overtaxed body. Thought the basement was leaking last night but apparently it’s just humidity up in the 70s and condensation pouring like a waterfall off the pipes, so now I gotta find a way to dry it up before mold sets in. I’m currently building a fence for around the AC unit, which cannot be turned on for fear of gassing us dead, and, uh, yeah, being tired.

That’s my thing this week. Just being tired. No writing done (only a little—but I’ve been plotting one of the later books in The Paranormal Academy For Troubled Boys series. It just suddenly hit me.) All my money went into paint and chicken wire and enzyme based urine cleaners (there goes anything birthday related,) and I’m still wondering how my brain is and if it’ll come back fully. Whatever. I shall persevere. I’m reading a collection of short stories for the first time in ages. Stephen King. I’d been meaning to read him forever. He’s good—I mean, he jumps all over the place for seemingly no reason, time traveling in the character’s mind to the point I want to shake him, but I love the immersive experience he creates, not to mention that ever present nostalgia. It’s like I can smell the dust when I pick up the phone to read… Uh, anywho… Focus…

Texas-Based Cat Lovers

Random, but if you’re in the Texas area and have room for a cat or three, Sharon has found herself in a sudden pickle and she needs to find loving homes for her rescued cats, asap. Here’s a poster of everything you may need to know.

Sharon’s awesome; she opened her home to save all these animals. She’s a total survivor, and right now the world is kicking her ass. These cats need homes really soon. Even if you can’t help, sharing this poster may help down the line and I know she’ll really appreciate it. It’s hard enough to lose your home, but when you feel responsible for those little furry buggers who depend on you, it can be heartbreaking to think of your own survival when theirs is in jeopardy.

#cockygate

So they just had the first of a hearing in this trademark debacle this… Friday(?) pretty sure. It wasn’t even the trademark validity, but instead 2 authors and a publicist fighting a lawsuit brought up against them by Hopkins, who claims they’re causing her harm by ignoring her trademark. It’s been crazy, and I can’t imagine the stress these poor people are going through just fighting to be allowed to use a word—one author having published her books before the trademark was even created. @[email protected] It’s bullshit.

From what I can tell of the tweeting, the judge who saw the case doesn’t see much validity in the trademark (but it’s not his call to make on that level) and he’s turned down the injunction filed by Hopkins. Yay! More info about the filed lawsuit

This is the recent book in question. Cocktales It’s an anthology written by romance authors in protest to Hopkins’s Trademark. If you’re interested in finding an easy way to help some of the authors facing legal fees to battle against this cocky atrocity, you can do so by purchasing Cocktales, written specifically to ‘raise funds to fight against obstruction of creative expression.’ Also, here are some links to T shirts and stuff to support the legal fight —All proceeds go to a legal fund established for those affected by suits regarding the #cocky TM and to the RWA (Romance Writers of America) advocacy group.

Uh… I’m going to bed. 3 in the afternoon and I don’t feel bad about it at all. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Cocky Virgin Prince: (of Android City) – $0.99

MM romance novella. A human drama on a futuristic backdrop set in an unknown time.

You are about to enter the Exalted Sacred Chamber of Pleasure. You are about to participate in the Rite of Ecstasy. All humans of Android City must go through this rite to honor the body-temple while they are still young and have all their natural human attributes.

But…

You are unwilling, unsure, unhappy, and you are a cocky, defiant prince who hates his life.

Your story began when your one true love left when you were twelve and you barely knew what love was. You never got over it. You named him your number one archenemy. And you have decreed, as Prince Night of Android City, that no one touches your royal ass. No one.

Nevertheless, your father the cyborg king forces you into the Sacred Chamber.

And who should appear after nine years of sorrow, grief and loneliness but your very best friend from childhood. Yes, the one who left you. The one who entered the Academy of Sacred Pleasure to become one of the sexiest and most talented Guides for leading others in the Rite of Ecstasy.

Your number one archenemy. He is a beautiful man now, and you hate him even more than you can imagine. Though by law you cannot leave the Chamber until your virginity is forfeit, you don’t care.

You will never let him touch you.

The River City Chronicles

Everyone in the River City has a secret, and sooner or later secrets always come out.

A group of strangers meets at Ragazzi, an Italian restaurant, for a cooking lesson that will change them all. They quickly become intertwined in each other’s lives, and a bit of magic touches each of them.

Meet Dave, the consultant who lost his partner; Matteo and Diego, the couple who run the restaurant; recently-widowed Carmelina; Marcos, a web designer getting too old for hook-ups; Ben, a trans author writing the Great American Novel; teenager Marissa, kicked out for being bi; and Sam and Brad, a May-September couple who would never have gotten together without a little magic of their own.

 

His Grey Eyes – $0.99

My pulse pounded against my eardrums. My mind short-circuited. I could feel the adrenaline pouring into my veins. I didn’t check to see if the door was still closed, if anyone was peering in. No, my normal cautiousness didn’t occur to me that day. I guess, if anything, I was supposed to push him away, to say how inappropriate this was, to suspect that he was only using my affection for something more devious.

Instead, I wrapped my arms around his waist, and pulled him closer. I heard a small squeak escape from his lips, and while I felt him stiffen, eventually, he placed his arms around my neck, and clung to me.

Something overcame me then. I yanked his head back, pushing my tongue into the caverns of his mouth. I could hear those subtle whimpers bubbling up from the surface of his lips, so I pressed harder, no longer caring what he thought of me.

A C💥cky Protest To A D🍆ckish Injustice

Hey babes,

Today I’ll be talking about #cockygate and what can be done in protest. I was hoping to have a book out—the next Demon Bonded is nearly done—but it just didn’t happen. My face hurts. =_= That burning mouth syndrome bullshit connected to dopamine levels is back and it’s extremely hard to focus, blah. But that doesn’t mean I can’t fucking rant about shit!

Before I jump in, just a heads up that there are new wallpapers on the website. Trying some mobile wallpapers too. Also, prettied up the front of the site and I’m looking at making some animated images. I don’t know what they’re called… they’re like these little short movies of moving images and text for books. We’ll see if I can conquer this damn software. I’ve had it forever (adobe after effects) but it’s like relearning photoshop. Fun, but probably time consuming. @[email protected]

Also, if you’re at Boston Fantasy Fest right now, I’m fucking jealous!!! I live like an hour and a half away, but yeah, not driving like this. Have fun, you lucky bitches. <3

Okay, so most of you have probably heard about cockygate in passing. I want to give you some steps that can be taken to not only fight back against what’s happening, but also create a market that will punish anyone else who tries this bullshit in the future. That’s the key to a proper protest. It’s not about making your voice heard while people continue to trample on you; it’s about making shit expensive and annoying and counter productive for the person infringing on your rights. Leverage is key.

But first, a summary of events, aka, wtf am I talking about.

Cocky. A word no longer for everyone.

So, for the non authors out there, there is a process when it comes to writing a book and publishing it on Amazon. Part of it is coming up with the title, handing that title over to a cover artist, and asking them to put it on your new book. This, depending on your author, can be arduous as fuck. Titles are damn hard, and neurotic minds abound in those who write for a living (or worse, edit!) But it’s cool because once you have that title and pay for a cover (which can be up to thousands if you get a professional artists,) everything is fine.

Sure, it might be the same title as someone else’s book, but that doesn’t matter. The author’s name is different as is the damn story inside. The cover might look similar to another cover out there, but that doesn’t matter because there aren’t a shit ton of cover artists out there, and they repeat certain styles to fit into the genres. This is basic practice in the self publishing industry. If you think you’re being super amazingly unique on your cover, you’re probably not going to sell a book because readers won’t have a clue what they’re looking at.

So, you smack your shiny new book up on Amazon after throwing down cash to get it ready (unless you’re a do-it-yourselfer like me) and you go off to write a new book. Done. A few months back you never had to worry about someone coming along with a DMCA notice and taking your book and livelihood from you because you used the ‘wrong word’ in your title. That’s no longer the case. No, not because of a new law, but because of one territorial, uncreative author.

Who’s the bitch?

I want to be clear that I’m not going to name the romance author who has done this. Not to protect her, not to ‘be nice,’ but because I don’t want to give her any free publicity. I will not be linking to her for the same exact reason because I don’t want to push her SEO up (which we’ll get into later.) She knows what she’s doing with this bullshit and I’m not feeding it. She’s making about $40,000 a month on a series she claims she needs to protect from sniping competition who use the word ‘cocky.’

And let me just say, you made it girl. You are at the top of the fucking dragon horde right now. You’re looking at nearly 1/2 a million a year on passive income. You don’t need to fight to be there; you made it on merit. So maybe chill and realize you don’t have to take a word away from everyone else to try to get any higher. The word ‘cocky’ didn’t make you that cash. You’re just scorching the playing field for everyone else in your clinging fear that you will drop to the bottom of that cash pile, and you’re looking like a total asshat while you’re doing it.

Seriously, you look like an asshat right now.

Anywho, I will mention the series in question in the hopes readers won’t support the books being used to justify infringing on free speech within the free market—but that’s a choice on your part, not a request or demand. I’ll be blunt; I don’t care if you read her books or not. We’re all grown ups here, and I get it, you shouldn’t have to feel like shit for liking what you like. It’s not the books’ fault an author is human and flawed (like all humans.)

It’s the Cocky series, and yeah, I know, hardly a unique, inspiring series title that stands out on its own. Just how the fuck would you even know if you’re looking at one of the books in this poorly named series? Well, for starters it has a ® right next to the word cocky. This is the only distinguishing way to know based on title alone if a book is in this series.

You know who has trademarks on their intellectual property and don’t feel the need to smack an ® on their books? Harry Potter. Star Wars. Star Trek. You know who didn’t feel the need to steal a common word from public use and call it their series’ title and prevent other authors from using it? Every other fucking author out there.

This woman fucked up. She wrote a bad series title—I mean, seriously bad. One word series, unless you crafted that word out of other words such as hey, Hellcat (and there are many out there with this name,) are not good names for a series. Maybe she didn’t know it would get big and make her money, I dunno, but this is when you suck it up and rename your series like a professional artist. You fucking change instead of trying to make all the other books with the word cocky disappear.

The cocky series title is not unique, it’s not inspiring, and it doesn’t stand out as memorable. Well, except for the bullshit of it being used to suppress creativity all around the web with this cockygate fiasco. Maybe not the thing you want your series to be associated with. Just saying.

A free market ideally is an equal playing field made for all, not one.

You might notice parallels to this if you’ve heard my rants about censorship on Amazon. How erotic and romance books are banned and disappear with no reason. A silencing shame-based culture is still being perpetuated in this modern world around sex, as free thought is attacked and hidden away because some repressed assholes have the power to legally discriminate because they’re at the top of the food chain. In this case, cockygate is about owning words. It’s about one author saying I own this word and no one else can use it, and the trademark laws backing her up. The results—books being removed and disappearing—are the same even if the intention is different. This is censorship of our books to suit the needs of one stubborn person.

This suppresses creativity, it suppresses free thought, and all and all, it creates a hostile market. When someone ‘owns’ a word and aggressively goes after all other individuals to have them remove that word from their title with the threat of a lawsuit and their books removed, the marketplace changes. It becomes defensive or aggressive in response. Authors start looking for ways to protect themselves, like trademarking all their titles (because we really want to add on another fucking fee to publish a book. Motherfuck!) or they start trademarking words to mimic this shitty behavior so they can prey on the hard work of others.

It pits us against each other and tears down the community of authors we could be. Because—a reminder to those who think they ‘own’ readers—readers love all kinds of books and no, they are not required to just read yours. They are more than happy to read a ton of great authors than just one, and trying to crush other authors out of the game doesn’t benefit those readers at all. When authors are too scared to write for fear of their books being taken down and a lawsuit coming at them, readers suffer.

This author took a word away. She went through the dictionary and chose a word and said no other romance author is allowed to use that word in a title. She stole a word from everyday speech and said we can’t use it just so she could sell her books. Not only that, she got the law involved to force compliance to her irrational demands. This author sent out legal DMCA notices to take down books with the word cocky in the title, including books copyrighted before her trademark. (Or so the Internet has told me. Let’s be clear, the Internet makes up a lot of shit, so check your sources before you start burning your pitchforks.) This behavior is aggressive, exploitative, and totally dickish.

You don’t get to own language. Take it from a writer of many words and a damn horde of the same in the romance genre, or just everyone you know who has a name the same as you do; you don’t get to own a fucking word! You gotta share that shit. This isn’t something she came up with all by herself. Some time in our past some person came up with the word cocky, and then other people started using that word, and all of a sudden, hey, it’s part of our language—because if other people aren’t using that word, it’s not language; it’s just nonsense mouth sounds. Words only exist because of a collective acceptance that the concept behind that word is real—aka, we have multiple languages made up of many mouth sounds. You need multiple people for that. One mind isn’t enough. So fuck the one mind who says they can own our words.

This is basic branding 101. Don’t suck at it this much and then defend like a fucktard. Create an actual series title like ‘My Little Pony,’ or an actual unique word like ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,’ or just any fucking thing but one everyday word. This is easy shit, but she got lazy, and then she got territorial. Cocky belongs to everyone, as does language, and we don’t have to give it away because of a bully.

But the law says…

Now you may say, but Sadie, you do get to own the words. The law says so. If the law says so, then we have to listen and obey because laws are good.

Fuck the law. Yeah, you heard me. With a 12-inch dildo studded in rhinestones (I rewatched Deadpool last night in anticipation of seeing the sequel, so you know that dildo is attached to a unicorn. XD And hey, Deadpool–there’s fucking branding.) Let me tell you about some upstanding, society building laws that America has had to deal with over the years—some we’re still holding onto like fucktards.

Jim Crow laws were not moralistic inspired poems of equality and social justice, they were racist, oppressive bullshit used to suppress an entire race of individuals, but, you know, not before the fucking slavery laws where people were stolen from their homes and bred like cattle for manual labor, or the laws that supported the genocide of the Native Americans who lived here first, and then forced them onto small pockets of shitty land like it fixed anything. Laws are not made (in majority) for the people, but for the people with money. Rich people aren’t being forced out of their homes and onto the streets because of our laws (no matter the atrocious crimes and treason the White House is seeing since Trump moved in.) Do you think Puerto Rico would still be waiting for the right to vote if they were brimming with diamonds? Fuck no.

As the middle class is swallowed into the higher levels of poverty and renamed the working poor, more and more people are going to see just what it’s like to be fucked over by the legal system because the laws are not there for them. When a prisoner’s or ex-prisoner’s right to vote is stripped from them, and people end up in prison still because of bigotry, a system of poverty that leads to crime, and the simple fact they can’t afford the huge money it takes to get a lawyer who can actually help them, you’re not looking at justice. You’re looking at the ruling class suppressing the population so they can stand on their backs.

Society fucks things up all the damn time. There is no higher power managing all these fuck ups; people just fuck up. Businesses have laws made to suppress people, not raise them up. Big Pharma can hand out highly addictive opiates like candy, while marijuana can still land a person in jail. The Supreme Court just ruled to allow the contractual prevention of class action lawsuits, because, hey, corporations are more people than real people, and how dare real people band together to get enough money to fight back against a corporation. Laws, just like the fucked up humans who write them, are full of flaws, some more outrageous than others.

A law doesn’t automatically mean something is right or good or even remotely justified. It merely means you face consequences where the ruling class will punish you for your actions while ignoring ideas of equality, morality, and social justice because those concepts don’t line their pockets. In some states you can still rape your wife and the law supports it. We’re currently facing a disgusting, soul crushing epidemic where human beings are being rounded up and detained against their will in privately built prisons without legal process or humane conditions because their country of origin is different from the country they’re found in. Oh, and hey, if you’re born here or a DACA dreamer recipient but you’re still too ‘ethnic’ to pass for bleached white bread, the law doesn’t protect you from the racist, sick fucks who think being born outside of America means you’re not a human being.

Laws are not agreements of society, but agreements among the top of society, and no one else is included in those decisions. Unless you’re rich and part of the majority race/religion/creed of wherever the hell you live, you’re not going to have laws support you. And if you’re a woman, you’ll still get thrown under the bus while men remain free—Martha Stewart made some nice jail crafts, I’m sure. For those who bitch about affirmative action making life hard; every fucking law out there in America is basically affirmative action for rich, straight, white males. Don’t talk to me about laws being ‘good.’ Wake the fuck up and grow a fucking brain.

Whoo. Rant mode disengaging. XD

Laws are only as powerful as the people who obey them. It is your choice to agree to an injustice or not. That’s what a protest is, to say no, this law, this injustice, this repeated bullshit again and again where everyone else looks the other way isn’t going to fly this time. Fuck you and the unicorn you rode in on.

So, how do you protest this bullshit effectively? Surprisingly enough, with keywords.

How To Get Cocky—An Action Plan

As of now it is trademark infringement to have a romance ebook with the word ‘cocky’ in the title—which is just painfully retarded. I’ve actually been avoiding this entire thing because, my fuck, what the hell is wrong with some people? Why, once again, must some authors crush others in their pursuit of the same damn thing; to have their book read? Why be that douchebag? What a fucking stupid, stupid thing I have to focus on.

Yeah, I said it. This is so fucking stupid that we have to fight for the right to use the word ‘cocky.’ But if we don’t, then we’ll be fighting for the right to use the word ‘paranormal’ or ‘vampire’ or ‘werewolf’ or ‘lover’ or ‘bride’ or ‘MM,’ or ‘forever’ (this one is already happening,) or whatever big keyword catches the eye of some selfish fuck. This is not idle rebellion/anarchy; this is the prevention of more bullshit down the line. Trademarking is not highly expensive and anyone can do it. Without some push back to this kind of bullshit, it just takes one person to snatch it all up and ‘own’ our words.

So, since I perceive this to originate as a blatant move to eliminate competition when someone searches for the word ‘cocky’ while in the romance category on Amazon, there is a simple solution. If you’re an author and you want to fuck this shit up because you believe no one has a right to own a word, all you have to do is add Cocky to the title, subtitle, or series title of your romance book. Hey, add it to all three. That’s it.

If you want to make an impact and not even shout it out, just add cocky to one of your keywords—or all seven of them (not sure if that helps or not.) You can go through every romance book you have and change one of your keywords on each to ‘cocky.’ If you have advertising on any of your romance books, just add cocky as one of the keywords to relate to your title.

Make that search engine work overtime counting a million cocky titles and let that trademark series get lost in the tide (or at least have to swim like everyone else.) Competition is good for the soul, and hey, it’s funny as fuck to think this is all it takes to ruin a mean spirited plan to steal a word from everyone else. (I mean, for real, what a grinch.)

Authors, use your keywords to fight back!

This is pretty simple if you understand a little about SEO (search engine optimization.) Amazon, at the end of the day, works because it’s a search engine combined with algorithms that reward popularity, newness, KU enrollment, and sales. If you want to overshadow a cocky series of books, then you need to get enough people pushing the keyword ‘cocky’ on Amazon to draw eyes that way instead. I’m literally calling for beating this with the tools used that are available to every author out there. Use keywords to fight back.

This is the same with the Internet. Don’t mention this woman’s name. Don’t attach her name to the word cocky on webpages, but instead attach other authors’ names. If the Internet perceives that this woman ‘owns’ this word because of a high association, then we could be contributing to the justification for her later on to legally keep this word. So separate cocky from this author every time you bring it up.

This is strategy. I know some people want to bash the fuck out of this person, but on a long term level, when you add her name combined with cocky, you’re giving her more power, and every other person a reason to trademark words to get the same results.

People like drama, they like a fucking scandal. Ask yourself how many people will be looking up this author just because they read this newsletter? What better way for some ambitious, scrupulous free author to make a buck, than by trademarking the word ‘Potter’ and making a big fuss with JK Rowling in the news? It’s important not to feed these cocky asshats because they’ll just grow stronger.

Only one person in this situation should be changing the title of their book, and it’s this author who can’t sell hers without needing to trademark the word cocky. If you’re that desperate, change your fucking title. You’ve already failed in naming that series and the world won’t bend for you.

What can readers do to help in this cocky fiasco?

A lot. Seriously, you guys are the force behind this because it’s all about numbers. Here are simple things you can do.

  • Buy a non trademarked cocky book to push it higher on the popularity scale. Many of them are priced $0.99 to help this very thing.
  • Share cocky books and the word of this annoyingly stupid injustice—so stupid! Sharing cocky books will boost the SEO and make those books look more legit and therefore valuable to search engines like google. The more people are sharing links that go to non trademarked cocky books, the more those books will be pushed to the top of search results when someone searches for ‘cocky’ on the web.
  • Post your favorite cocky book in the comments below (trademarked books not welcome and will be deleted.) Create a space where others can quickly find cocky books so they can share them easily.
  • Write a cocky book—or fanfic, or blog post, make a video, what have you—and share it. Share it in the comments too; I want to know who’s cocky! The more people get SEO points away from this author’s books, the harder it is for her to own what isn’t hers to begin with. That’s the beauty of the Internet. Make those search engines work for free speech. #cockyfreespeech

Just Sayin

To be clear, this is not a malicious intent to bring someone down and destroy her life. If she’s the amazing, popular author that her stats say she is, then she shouldn’t even have to worry about something like the word cocky being the reason she got her books sold. This is a fun, easy way to protest the infringement of free speech while raising your middle finger high and proud to a person so focused on only one thing, she would steal a word from use from all other authors and set a precedent for others to follow.

Let her chase around some cocky prankster authors who don’t give a flying fuck how many words she trademarks. Make her have to pay her lawyers to deal with all the people she’s crossing by pulling this bullshit. Yeah, make this shit annoying, expensive, and counter productive to getting books sold so that everyone who sees will think twice before following in her footsteps of trademarking our words. Keywords are 100% legal and everyone can use them.

I gotta say, there is a lot of shit that pisses me off currently happening in the world I can’t do anything about. I mean every damn day it’s something new, something atrocious and shitty and rage inducing. And the old stuff hasn’t stopped at all; it’s just under the pile of outrage and bullshit that keeps building up. I spend a lot of time finding my ‘happy place’ just so I can write and live my life and not turn into a raving crazy person—it would be so easy to be a crazy person these days. =_= At least for this one fucked up thing I can show solidarity to all the romance authors out there getting hit with take down notices by slapping a big cocky on my next Demon Bonded book and sharing a blog post about it. #cockyfun <3

Even if you can’t write a book, share those non trademarked cocky books all around so they get more play than the bully who thinks she alone has a #righttobecocky. Post your favorite cocky books in the comments and all around the Internet so other people can find more cocky books that support free speech instead of the ones who try to limit. This is a MM newsletter, so I’ll only be sharing gay cocky books in the main text, but all cocky books are welcome here unless they’re a #cockyblockoffreespeech —Oh, everyone will regret my discovery of the hashtag by the time I’m done. XD

I urge anyone interested to post their favorite cocky books in the comment section be it gay, straight, 4th wall breaking, whatever, as they come out and are published. I want to see this page filled with cocks… *cough* Let me rephrase that; filled with your favorite cocky books. And yes, this can include #cockybeforeitwascool and #cockybeforeitwasillegal Because even books made before this trademark are being hit with take down notices.

Some more information for those still wondering what the hell I’m talking about:

I don’t know this woman, but I love her! XD Brace for the abundant use of the word cunt.

A more calm, detached explanation

And the text and law explored of everything behind #cockygate

Cocky MM Books

Wendy just came out with a cocky book (and I have to say, I adore this sexy premise!) and Cole McCade has one out this month and the reviews are spectacular. Some have done variations of the word cocky to get the point across while also avoiding lawsuits—because yeah, every non trademarked book has to fear a lawsuit right now or have their book removed because of the companies who comply with injustice. Fucking bullshit.

#getyourcockyon peeps and lets #cockyprotest

Cocky Virgin Prince (of Android City) – $0.99

His Cocky Valet (Undue Arrogance Book 1)

The C*cky Alpha of Rooster Hills

Noncocky books, but full of cock, cuz hey, it’s a MM newsletter. XD

The Alpha’s Omega Mate – $0.99

Lover’s Journey Omnibus Edition

Only Time Will Tell – $0.99

The Reaper’s Blessing – $0.99

 

 

A Demon Arms Surprise! 💥

Babes, I’ve got a treat for you this week

New Demon Arms Cover!

Wylie’s got his arms out (so sexy!), Dorian’s sparking hot, and yeah, that’s Beck in the background cuz why the fuck not? He’ll be back in later books so might as well see him now. (I could so see Adam with the help of Beck ending up leading one of the magical gangs that hang in Orphic District…)

I’m Not Breaking It…

Lol, so if you’re guessing given the epic nature of this cover, I have plans for the series. Part of those plans is an extensive rewrite of the first book. Before anyone freaks, I’ll be releasing it as a second edition (ideally the same time or right before the sequel.) The original Demon Arms will remain untouched. But this series is changing to suit a different type of pacing—and to be quite blunt, as I recover my health, my brain is changing and turning me into a different type of writer. Hopefully, a better one, but eh, that’s completely subjective. Hence leaving the original Demon Arms alone. I want to create a more immersive, detail oriented experience without my moldy brain making things confusing, but I get it. Some people like things just the way they are and I’m not about to punish them over it. I published it and it’s no longer mine to fuck with.

I had a lot of ideas for Demon Arms when I first conceived that book, ideas I tossed to the side because I felt restricted by the whole mold toxicity, and by the format of a romance novel. I rushed the beginning because meeting the love interest late into a book just wasn’t done, and I hid a lot of details, and didn’t flesh out the world because, well, I wasn’t good at world building and settings and descriptions. I couldn’t visualize and I was just tired and wanted to finish the damn book. >_< I felt those format restrictions even more when I found myself over 160,000 words into Sorcerer Slayer trying to tie up all these ends that weren’t ready to be tied up.

I want this to feel like a TV series, where books are seasons where you have this overarching plot line pushing everything forward while we get to really explore the world and characters living there with smaller plot points and events. It can’t just be one relationship focus book to book because it’s about a cast of people interacting, not one neat, tidy a+b=c kinda format. I had to let go of that romance ideal of getting the perfect, neat ending by the end of the book when love lines didn’t match plot lines. That, or Sorcerer Slayer was going to end up being like 400,000 words. @[email protected]

I’ve actually broken Sorcerer Slayer into 3 books—Shiny Thief (Raider), Sorcerer Slayer (Vincent), and Manic Fool (Fox)—which are mostly outlined and being fleshed out while I finish up the first out of what I’ve already written for Shiny Thief. And I’m working on the Demon Arms rewrite—my fuck, it feels like a draft. I remember getting pissed when someone said that in a review, but now I see it. My broken brain was limited and no, you really can’t see outside of your own damn brain no matter how hard you try.

It’s been a lot of work. I love every moment of it, but it’s taking my time and I’ll probably be doing less newsletters until I learn to balance. I need to find more effective ways to write while also having a life. I was burning myself out again and lost my happiness. A big decision I made is to put aside a lot of other stories for now. I have three main series focuses as I move forward, which is Hellcat, Demon Bonded, and The Paranormal Academy For Troubled Boys. Everything else will have to wait until I get these series finished. I’m practicing outlining techniques on a few rogue stories, but that’s it. These three are my main focus.

Lol, if you want a visual as to where this book has been in relation to the health of my brain at the time of writing it, the covers paint an interesting picture.

It’s like watching the fucking neurons restore in my brain. I swear I used to be an artist before I got sick. Now I’m terrified to try a painting from scratch for fear of all I’ve really lost after years of learning how to paint and draw… Anywho.

It’s been over two years since I got Demon Arms out. My priorities were very different back then. I was very different—how weird to not live overwhelmed with anxiety anymore. I can remember clearly just spending a week freaking out when I went in and did an edit for Demon Arms to clean up the biggest complaint which was my use of terms like ‘the boy’ and ‘the blond.’ XD Now I’m all, fuck it, and I just take the time it takes. Good writing takes time and I’m not a computer.

I wanted the sequel to already be done and published a year ago, but that said, I’m really glad I gave it the time to grow. It’s one thing to not obsess and be stressed out by writing; it’s totally another to refuse to put the work in and learn from every book that came before. I want to be better. I want to create a series I can be proud of—one that people are never going to want to leave. It might not come as easy for me as how I was writing before, but I feel better for trying and pushing my limits. I’m growing instead of that stagnant place of just hoping to stay afloat, and I want my creations to fit that too. Growth is good.

Fan Service <3

Ah, before I forget, the fabulous Jess has gone through the trouble of setting up a Discord fan group thing for any Sadie Sins fans out there (I know, I sound like a dinosaur. @[email protected] Computers are what now?)

If you enjoy chatting with peeps on the Internet, you may like doing so about the odd things I write or just mm topics in general. I will not be observing these chats (aka, bash me if you like. XD) I wish I had it in me to be a particularly sociable person and all, but eh. I’m happily an introvert who peeks out of my shell once in a while to answer emails or bitch on facebook. But that doesn’t mean properly sociable people can’t have fun!

If you’re interested, I have some pretty wallpapers to go with the new Demon Arms book cover.

Desktop Wallpaper

Mobile Wallpaper

Oh, also, if you’re expecting something from me in the mail, I’m getting to it this weekend, promise! Sorry I’m such a flake. I’ve been cleaning, dealing with a sick cat (my neighbor’s dog ate my homework. XD) Sending it out asap.

First Time Seller

Free!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dusk to Dawn – $0.99

Since he was thirteen, Sebastian’s every precious moment was connected to his first crush, Edi. His protector through his toughest school years, Edi has always guided Sebastian’s choices. Love, lust, the realization he was gay, his passion for sports and karate, his studies and career of choice, everything in Seba’s life is somehow linked to Edi.

Sebastian’s love never faltered over the years, not as he challenged himself to catch up to Edi. Nor when Edi’s on and off boyfriend, Robert, showed up to wreak havoc in their lives.

Sebastian has shaped his life to revolve around Edi—his friend, roommate, and occasional lover. But is that the right path for him, or should he start a new journey, one that takes him away from Edi all the way to another country? And will running away solve anything in the end?

My Favorite Sin – Preorder for the 15th

Alejandro Del Bosque has always known he wanted to be a priest, but when he gets his letter of acceptance to seminary school, he is anything but excited. Suddenly every doubt he’s ever had about his path in life comes to the surface and he’s no longer sure of anything at all.

He could turn to Cyrus, his childhood best friend, to help him figure out. Cyrus Brand is self-assured and ambitious and Alejandro is almost sure Cyrus can help him figure out what he wants for the rest of his life—since Cyrus knows what he wants to do for the rest of his.

He could turn to his mentor, Lawrence Faulkner. Almost twice his age, Lawrence wanted to be a priest before he settled down with his wife and became a university counselor. Now widowed, Alejandro is almost sure Lawrence is the perfect person to guide him through this difficult process—if he can avoid developing feelings for him.

Or he could turn to his roommate, Montgomery Banks. The man might have no idea what he’s doing with his life, but at least he knows how to have fun and that might be exactly what has been missing from Alejandro’s life.

He needs to make a decision. He needs to choose his favorite sin.

Dear reader: In this story, you’ll be the one to make decisions which directly affect the outcome of Alejandro’s story. This is a romance and does not end in a cliffhanger.

rewrite 2

DEMON ARMS

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CHAPTER 1: SCENE 2

The autumn night air outside was considerably cooler than when they left the city. Wylie lingered at the open back of the van as he got used to the new smells and sounds of the area and peered through the dark at the surrounding houses on the other side of the gate. They parked close to the side door nestled between the garage and main house. It was the entry point into the downstairs lounge and bar and was sheltered from view. The outside lights were shining, along with a few internal ones, and none of the crew were wearing masks. Wylie wasn’t sweating it. Adam had taken all the cameras down before cracking the gate, and there was little fear of being spotted with the house pushed so far from the street.

The neighborhood was silent, but that was the rich for you. They went to bed on time, didn’t look out windows, didn’t think anything could touch them. They were the kind of people who kept all the lights on and thought that was enough to make thieves think you were home. Wylie scoffed under his breath. When you had enough money to keep the monsters out, anyone could sleep at night.

Wylie braced himself as he started walking toward the front of the van where the others were milling. This was money, real money. A future. He was an eighteen year old freak who was never going to have a shot at a job with his fucked up arms. He needed to get this initiation right and prove to Roth he was useful, even if it meant stealing and thugging for a living.

Shit, he had to be good for something.

“How’s it look?” Beck asked as he came up next to him.

“It’s all quiet.” His gaze drifted to Beck and the flush to his cheeks. Wylie gripped his shoulder and leaned down to whisper, “Don’t forget what I said. If things go wrong, you run.”

Beck’s smile was guarded when he pulled away. Wylie could tell from the sparkle in his eyes he was loving every moment of the heist so far. Beck wasn’t fearless but he got off on adrenaline, and it made him reckless. Wylie had his own ass to worry about, and he took a slow breath as he eyed the door he was there to break through. Diego was done ordering Adam around and was waiting impatiently for things to start.

“You can do this, yeah?” Beck took his black sweatshirt when Wylie shrugged out of it. “I mean, it’s just metal. You can cut that.”

Wylie smiled grimly. “Yeah. Easy.” Out of all the uncertainties the night presented, his abilities didn’t factor in.

Wylie raised his muscular arms and focused on his hands. As he watched, his pale pigment began to darken. His skin hardened and black scales erupted from his flesh in a bloodless rush that started from fingers and flowed up his forearms. Wylie hissed sharply and took a step from Beck who was edging over to watch. His scales grew longer and pointed out from his arms at jagged angles. They might have been beautiful, like a dark ruffled bird, but each oil slick blade had a razor sharp edge that ruthlessly sliced fabric to flesh when touched.

Wylie had no clue what the hell he was. A shifter, probably, but his demon arms didn’t look like any animal out there. Most days he felt like a monster. Tonight, he might actually be useful.

He held his arms up over his head and let Beck tie his sweatshirt around his waist so it wouldn’t be shredded. “For good luck,” Beck whispered and leaned close to peck a kiss to his lips. Wylie kept still, too aware how easy it would be for his scales to slice Beck up to be able to relax.

Adam threw himself backward when he approached the door. His eyes were wide as he stared at Wylie’s scaled arms like he was some bloodthirsty demon there to murder everyone. Wylie kept his gaze focused on Diego, whose expression was full of undisguised hate. Diego growled and pointed to the door just in case he was too retarded to figure out the reason he was there.

Wylie glared as he watched Diego chew his gum. The no smoking policy was totally bullshit. If they could grab DNA off a cigarette, the cops could do the same for a piece of gum. “Alarm dead?”

“Of course it’s fucking dead. Open the shit up and shut your freak mouth,” Diego snapped.

Wylie ran his tongue along the edges of his teeth. His fangs itched to bite the aggressive fucker on the face. Wylie forced himself to turn from Diego and focus on the door. It was misleading, made to look like every other pretty door on the rich houses in the area. Just on this house, the wooden mahogany finish varnished to perfection was hiding a solid steel security door beneath. Wylie reached across and drew a long, black talon down between the seam of the door and the reinforced metal molding. He found the bolts, four in all, and scratched the paint to mark their placement.

“Stand back.” Wylie shot Diego a glare when he found him peering over his shoulder. “Unless you’re looking to eat metal.”

Diego grunted defiantly, but moved a few steps away. Wylie really didn’t care if the guy ended up with his elbow in his face, but he needed the space to work. He ran his right palm along where the door met the molding over the alignment of bolts, and braced his other hand to help muffle what he was about to do.

His first slam was experimental to give him an idea of what force was really needed. The door yielded beneath his palm and the solid bolts were a soft bulge in the covering wood. Wylie abruptly clawed down the surface and scraped the glued on wood away to give him a better look.

He was definitely over-thinking it, Wylie realized when he saw how close together the bolts were and how they couldn’t be more than three inches into the reinforced molding. He sank his claws into the door with his braced hand, pulled his right back, and punched forward with an open palm. The metal buckled from the blow and there was a shearing sound under the loud slam. Wylie kept pushing forward, and the door bent and warped from the molding around his hand. With a final slam, the mechanism holding the bolts tore through the other side of the door and clattered to the floor.

“Fuck, yeah.” Wylie smiled smugly as he turned the now broken handle and the metal protested loudly when he wrenched the door. Wylie pushed it open wide with a flourish and waved the scowling Diego in. His gaze fell to Adam, whose chest was heaving and face pale as he stared at Wylie’s impossibly strong arms.

“Hurry the fuck up, you little bitch,” Diego snapped when he saw Adam frozen in shock.

Adam jolted and his eyes flew to Wylie’s face. Without a word, the kid scurried past and quickly darted inside the dark room after Diego.

Wylie shook his head. He had only met Adam once before, and he reeked of so much fear it was hard to understand what the hell he was doing running with Roth. Maybe Adam was one of those types who didn’t want to be afraid anymore. Wylie sure as fuck didn’t have that problem. He stopped being afraid years ago once he realized no matter how many foster families treated him like shit, he could still survive on his own. Even if he didn’t get into the gang tonight, Wylie knew he’d be fine.

“Baby, you got this,” Beck whispered excitedly as he carefully stepped up beside him while avoiding his scales. “Fuck college; you could be robbing banks. You’re made for this.”

Wylie pasted on a smile he didn’t feel. “Yeah, sure.” His boyfriend thought he was destined to be a career criminal. Great.

Wylie eyed the gaping door the other two disappeared through as lights flickered on inside. Adam’s fear scent made the hair stand up on the back of his neck, and Wylie suppressed an annoyed sigh. Adam was too waif-limbed to carry shit and too skittish to trust not to bolt if things got tough. Beck was at least a sweet talker. If some nosy biddy stuck her head over the fence, Beck could come up with a lie and a smile on his pretty face in a second flat. Still, neither of them had the judgment or nerves suited to rob the place, and Wylie was questioning again why they brought four people for this job.

He was in it now. Breaking and entering, trespassing, burglary, and damage to private property. Damn, Beck might have a point about this being a career.

Wylie squared his shoulders and stalked toward the door. “Watch your ass, B.”

“Yours and mine both, babe,” Beck said with a wink as he whirled back to the van.

Wylie paused as he stepped inside. He was expecting a great room, something relaxed with a television and couch. What he found was a space clinical and cold in both style and temperature, one with a purpose he couldn’t quite place. The floor was a hard tile, and the walls were stripped of any personal touches or embellishments. It was a flat, white empty room all around, and Wylie’s ice blue eyes narrowed as he took in the strange, bulky machinery made of shining chrome and sleek plastic that dotted the large space in an obvious grid pattern. It could have been storage, or maybe some weird, artistic installation. Whatever it was, Wylie immediately didn’t like it.

“Start grabbing anything that looks worthwhile,” Diego ordered the trembling Adam.

The air was stale and practically void of natural scents, which only made Adam’s fear scent all the more intense. Wylie eyed the short teen after taking in the wall of electronics and a dividing curtain of plastic to the right. He didn’t know shit about computers and tech, but there was a lot of big equipment. If he were to go by Adam’s expression, none of this was the run of the mill stuff you’d find in some normal rich fuck’s house.

“This is military grade,” Adam whispered as he hovered next to a machine that looked heavy enough to crush him.

“Figure out what’s important, and we’ll be down to move what you can’t lift.” Diego jerked his head impatiently at Wylie. “Come on, freak. The safe is upstairs.”

Wylie followed, but his eyes were locked to where Adam was flicking on something that looked disturbingly like a laser. His scales puffed up as a chill zapped down his spine. The sooner they got out of there, the better.

Diego stalked through the long maze of hallways with absolute confidence. It made Wylie wonder if they had gotten the house plans in advance or if Diego had been there before. Had the coarse, crude gangster convinced some unassuming maid or arrogant executive to let him see the place? Diego moved like he knew exactly where he was going and didn’t turn a light on even in the dark hallways. Wylie admitted a mild appreciation the gangster wasn’t bumbling around like an idiot. He could put up with the asshole just so long as Diego didn’t get them thrown in jail.

Wylie slowed his steps when the corridor they were traveling down opened up into a large entryway connected to a sweeping flight of dazzling stairs that could have fit an orchestra and still have room to walk. It was such a different feel from the sterile environment they just left, and Wylie felt lost as he climbed the huge, wide expanse of steps. The front door was on the marble tile landing that split the two levels, and Wylie could see just with a glance how the security was even more beefed on this door. His echoing footsteps were muffled by the runner as he climbed the second flight and took in the art and luxury that was the top floor of the mansion. It felt like stepping into a completely different world, and Wylie couldn’t help but drink it all in like a starstruck tourist.

Diego snapped his fingers and Wylie blinked and stared impassive in the face of the scowl directed at him. If the fucker whistled at him like a dog, he wasn’t sure what he’d do, but he doubted anyone would blame him. Wylie continued walking and expanded his senses to take it all in. He could hear Diego’s breathing now, and the very distinct muttering of being ‘saddled with a bunch of snot nosed, piss for brain, fucktard kids.’ In the living room—one of many—a grandfather clock ticked, housed in a tall, cherry wood stained case. It all felt larger than life and completely surreal to think people lived in a place like this.

Something prickled through him, and Wylie stopped short. It took him a moment as he tried to figure out what was wrong. He breathed in deep and turned his head when he caught the scent of flowers sitting in a vase on a sleek, mahogany table down a connecting hall. Wylie’s scales ruffled again and without a word, he turned and walked to the scent to investigate.

They were daffodils mixed with small, white daisies in a classic, ornate vase. The flowers were fresh with no drooping or touch of brown on any petal and Wylie’s stomach churned.

Diego snarled when he discovered he wasn’t behind him. He stomped over to where Wylie was glaring at the flowers. “What the fuck are you doing?”

“Fresh flowers,” Wylie said tightly. He rolled his eyes when Diego looked ready to flip out for wasting time. “They’re not even wilted,” Wylie stressed and plucked one of the petals free. “Who puts flowers out in an empty house?”

Diego’s eyes narrowed and he stepped forward to briefly sniff the flowers. He straightened and with a shrug, waved at the elegant hallway. “Look at the fucking place. Do you really think someone this rich does normal shit? Maybe the fucking maid put them out just in case they got robbed and wanted to make things look nice for us. Stop thinking and hurry the fuck up.”

Wylie’s nostrils flared as Diego stalked back to the main hall. The downstairs was full of military tech, the gate had a code they barely got through; who the fuck knew what else they missed? It was midnight and whoever was there—maid, butler, guest—would likely be in bed in one of the many rooms in the giant place. Wylie had no issue with stealing shit from someone who had more than enough, but he drew the line at terrorizing people.

Diego turned and waved his hand in an exaggerated movement to get Wylie the fuck over there. Damn it. Fucking damn it. His scales were twitching so much, it felt like a bug was digging beneath his skin as Wylie followed after the gangster.

Fuck, for all he knew, the fucking rich put flowers out ever damn day even when no one was home. Rich people were fucking crazy. Money lifted them so far from reality the same way drugs did for a strung out crackwhore. Whoever lived there had rooms for their stuff, not for people. Who the hell was he to say what went on in the minds of the ultra-rich?

Diego led them surefooted down a branching corridor, and Wylie kept close this time. He wanted this over with so he could get the fuck out. Wylie’s stress grew with every tap of tattooed fingers to doors they passed by. Diego finally stopped in front of a dark wooden door where dim light greeted through a narrow gap.

“The office. There are jewels and bonds in here and some cash.” Diego pulled a black rectangle from inside his leather coat and unfolded a large canvas duffel bag. “The safe’s on the wall past the windows and desk. A bunch of books open up like a door.” He glared into Wylie’s eyes as he placed the strap of the bag into his clawed hand. “Just empty the shit and meet me down the hall. No fucking around, no touching anything that’s not in that safe, and no running off. Empty it and meet me five doors that way, left side.”

Wylie couldn’t help but wonder what Diego was going for alone. If he was stealing shit without Roth knowing, Wylie sure as hell didn’t want to be the guy to blab. He was there for one purpose; to do what needed to be done to get in with Roth. If Diego wanted to screw himself with the boss, that was his business.

Wylie kept his mouth shut and waited for Diego to start down the hall before he pushed the door open. He paused on the threshold and his gaze darted around the lush, sophisticated study. Unlike the clinical looking basement, this room was brimming with ancient sculptures and artwork collected from all over the world. A single table lamp shone a warm glow from the walnut desk on the far side of the large room, and illuminated the warm brown tones of leather furniture, deep red walls, and the dark oriental rugs. It was overwhelming compared to the the kinds of places Wylie usually spent time in, and he took a steadying breath before he slipped inside.

It still felt strange being in someone else’s house when he knew he didn’t belong. Wylie spent his teenage years living in houses where he wasn’t welcome, taking what was lent until he was sent somewhere else. This time, he was in a house to steal, not borrow. As much as Wylie tried to brush it off, his chest was tight as he walked the length of the room. He did his best to ignore the signs of recent life around him. He picked up the stale scent of human flesh. An older male… cigar smoker…

The butler, Wylie told himself briskly as he moved toward the bookcase on the far wall. Whoever left those flowers probably checked the rooms during the day to dust or some shit. He wasn’t sure exactly what it took to keep a mansion nice, but it probably meant staff came by daily.

The false wall of books was easy to find. The hinges hadn’t been hidden, and although the books were real, they were placed as if an afterthought over the swinging door. Wylie raised a pierced eyebrow at the ridiculousness of it all. The house screamed money, and anyone looking would know there would be cash to find inside. The owner must have thought no one would ever get through the front door.

Wylie clicked a claw into the wooden groove and nudged the false door open. It swung wide and he eyed the matte black safe critically. It was more a vault than what he was expecting. The safe was encased completely in cement and nearly as tall as he was. In the center was a dial waiting for a combination, and beneath that a handle meant to be turned. Wylie considered the metal contraption in silence.

The door downstairs had taught him a lot for his first break in, and Wylie didn’t bother trying to finesse this time. He punched his fist into the door and ground his knuckles in hard until he felt the metal rip. Wylie slammed his other hand in just as hard, and slipped his claws into the torn opening beneath jagged edges of metal. He gripped tight and grinned as he slowly curled and bent the heavy door down. Even though it was made of steel, it twisted like a thin tin of spam beneath his palms. Shit, he really was made for this.

The darkness within the safe hid nothing from Wylie’s piercing gaze. He couldn’t say what bonds were exactly, but he knew the large, colorful pieces of paper kept in neat piles up high were them. There were flat boxes he figured must hold the jewelry Diego mentioned, while all the other shelves held cash separated into bundles and kept in tidy piles. It was the most money he’d ever seen, and Wylie didn’t have to count it to know it was a fortune.

Wylie wrenched the door down to his knees and reached to sweep the lowest shelf into the duffel. The scales on his wrist caught and tore right through the metal shelf and shredded half a bundle of money. “Fuck.” Wylie froze as ripped hundred dollar bills fluttered down to his sneakers. Any sudden motion could end with all the money shredded. On the best of days, his palms were the only safe part of Wylie’s hands when his scales were out. When he was shaking—not that he would admit to the adrenaline coursing through him—his demon arms became even more of a hazard.

Wylie took a steadying breath and glared down at his hands. His scales ruffled but refused to retract. “Come on, you fuckers,” he whispered harshly. Everything about his arms pissed him off, including how temperamental they were. He was pretty sure the demonic things hated him just as much, seeing as they made his life hell. “Just the claws, then,” Wylie pleaded while wiggling his fingers. “I just need a damn hand.” His scales refused to relent, and Wylie growled in frustration. He peered into the paper treasure pile waiting in the safe while his mind raced. He didn’t have time for this. There was no fucking time.

“Fuck it.” Giving up on his hands, Wylie’s eyes lit on a thick, hardcover novel on the wall shelves. It didn’t matter if his claws shredded the book just so long as they didn’t touch the money. He pulled it down and with a sweeping motion, used the book to clear the first shelf into the duffel bag, which he held gingerly by the strap with a knee raised to brace the bottom.

Things went faster after that, and it was difficult to truly understand the stacks of money sailing into the bag. Seriously, fucking rich people. If they put their money in a bank, no one would be walking into their house to steal their shit. But what the fuck did he know? Maybe the hundreds of thousands flipping past his view was the equivalent to spare change in the couch for normal people. It was a giant mansion with crazy tech and huge amounts of dough; the rich were just too fucking large to comprehend.

Wylie was glad Beck was stuck in the driveway playing lookout. He would have been swimming in this vault like it was a damn orgy. Beck had big dreams he was looking to buy if he could only get enough cash. Wylie didn’t really understand it, but then, he stopped dreaming a long time ago. Freaks didn’t get to reach their dreams. No, they got stuck doing the grunt work behind the scenes while ambitious crooks like Roth made a fortune.

The bag was nearly bursting at the seams by the time the safe was empty. Wylie tossed the now shredded hardcover book aside and flexed his shoulders as he tried to coax his damn scales to push up his arms. His demon arms were limited in ways he still didn’t quite get. His muscles and bones changed to something beyond human, but only up to where the scales reached. Wylie was built, but a bag full of hundreds and twenties wasn’t the lightest fucking thing. Wylie held still when he felt his biceps bulge and more scales erupted through his flesh. Sight, sound, and scent flooded him all at once as his senses responded as well.

A vibrant rush of information greeted him with his next breath. Yeah, there had been a man in there recently. Really recent. Wylie could smell the sweat now. He carried the bag one handed and wandered to a stand of glittering bottles where a discarded glass of brandy rested. He sniffed, picking up the sour hint of clinging saliva and bacteria off the rim. If it was the butler, he sure as fuck wasn’t afraid to leave his booze stealing ways out for all to see.

Wylie didn’t need his scales to twitch this time; his heart was racing in understanding. He could smell someone. He had slammed through the downstairs door, and the sound of shearing metal when he tore through that safe wasn’t quiet. Fuck. They could have already called the cops. Fucking whore, they could already be on their way. Maybe sneaking up the driveway even now…

Wylie didn’t bother counting doors as he booked it from the room. He followed Diego’s scent down the hallway while trying to keep his cool. There was no watch his scales wouldn’t destroy, but they couldn’t have been there more than ten minutes. He winced when he thought of how long it took to get through the downstairs. Fuck, maybe fifteen. Maybe twenty—the hallways were so damn long in the place. Shit, they needed to fucking fly.

“Diego.” Wylie palmed the door handle and used his knee to push into the room the gangster had disappeared into. He stopped short with a sharp inhale when scent and sight revealed an absolute shit storm of trouble.