Skin Deep

Book 1 of the Fae series from Loose Id

(M/M, erotic romance)

Will Ambrose knows everything about love – except how to find it himself. He hosts a popular GLBT relationship radio show, but his own affairs have been rocky and abusive. With sexy, seductive tattoo artist Cobalt, it’s lust at first sight. Unfortunately he’s already involved … until that night, when his late arrival home sends his cop partner into a jealous, violent rage.

Cobalt is a Fae, banished to live among humans. His studio, The Grotto, is both a hot spot for the NYC body art crowd and a haven for other Fae seeking protection. Though he’s given up on relationships, since his human lovers tend to go insane when they discover his true nature, he can’t help his lustful reaction to Will when the radio host visits The Grotto. He tries to dismiss it, but is compelled to get involved when a cab deposits a battered, broken Will at his door, with Cobalt’s name on his lips.

Can their powerful attraction – and phenomenal sex – overcome an abusive closeted cop, a traitorous Fae who tries to divide them, and an ex-lover with inhuman powers who’ll stop at nothing to take Cobalt back … including going through Will?

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, male/male sexual practices, violence.

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An excerpt from SKIN DEEP:

Three immense panels stood spaced apart at the far end of the room, peep-show-style windows that showcased the artists at work. One contained a completely nude female having her back inked. In another, an older man grimaced through a Prince Albert piercing. But it was center stage that grabbed Will completely and refused to let go. Behind the glass, a tall and imposing artist worked on his subject with a knife.

He knew a little about scarification. Popular with the BDSM crowd, the method had recently gained some popularity in the general public. He’d even considered it himself, but there were few skilled artists and too many risks involved. And it hurt. Still, he’d heard nothing negative about the Grotto.

And that artist was a piece of work himself. Even from a distance, the man exuded sexuality in the curve of his stance and the fluid grace of his hands. At once, Will longed to see the face that went with the body.

Malik caught him staring and smiled. “That’s Cobalt.”

“Jesus. That’s his name?” The idea struck him as intensely sexy. No Tom, Dick, or Harry for this guy.

“Yes. He owns the Grotto. The rest of us generally bask in his glory.”

Will looked at the kid, trying to decide whether he was being sarcastic. He seemed completely sincere. “Right,” he said. “Well, I think I should take Tess home now.” He held his breath and hoped she wouldn’t protest. He really didn’t want to drag her out.

She blinked a few times at the mention of her name. “Gonna sit down,” she murmured—and promptly slid to the floor.

“Damn.” Will crouched beside her and touched her shoulder. “Tess. C’mon, we have to get going. Can you walk, hon?”

“Unngh.”

“I’ll take that as a no.” He sighed, glanced up at Malik. “Sorry about this. Give me just a minute, and I’ll get her out of here.”

“I’ll help you.”

“No, it’s okay,” he said. Tess would be mortified enough as it was, if this little story got back to her brother. He should’ve insisted on not coming here.

Will flexed his injured wrist. The pain wasn’t as bad as he feared—a good thing, since he’d need both arms to move her. He slid the knotted end of the bandanna sling off his shoulder, stuffed it in a pocket, and braced Tess with his good arm around her waist. “Up we go, darlin’,” he said gently. “Ready?”

She didn’t reply. He hadn’t expected her to. He rose slowly, bearing her up with awkward jerks, and finally straightened with a grunt of effort. She moaned, leaned her head on his shoulder. And vomited all over him.

“Oh God.” Will fought the violent urging of his stomach to follow her example. “Oh, shit. I’m so sorry. I’ll clean this up. Can she just…?”

“Let me take her.” There wasn’t a trace of anger or disgust in Malik’s voice. He scooped Tess away as though she weighed nothing, and guided her to a nearby chair. Once he’d settled her in, he turned and walked toward the back of the room.

Will stood frozen in place for a moment. Sensations battered him: the hot gazes of staring patrons, the rapidly cooling liquid soaking his shirt and pants. The stench of half-digested food and alcohol mingled with bile, and the throbbing burn of his embarrassment. He would never live this down.

He forced away the shock, determined to salvage what he could of his dignity. At least she’d mostly missed his jacket. He peeled it off, then lifted his soiled shirt up his back and over his head, turning it inside out. That done, he shrugged back into the jacket and gave the front of his pants a futile swipe. At least they were just wet. He knelt, tuned out his lurching stomach, and attempted to mop the thick puddles on the polished wood floor with his shirt.

“What are you doing?”

The voice behind him didn’t belong to Malik. Will stiffened, grateful for the darkness that hid his flushed face and neck. “My friend wasn’t feeling too good,” he said with hollow cheer. “So I’m playing nurse.”

“Don’t bother. We’re closing. Malik will clean that up.”

The harsh words were knives twisting in his chest. He bunched the sopping shirt as best he could and slowly got to his feet. “I’m really sorry about this,” he said. “Honestly, I don’t mind taking care of it. If you have a mop, or…” He turned to face the angry voice and immediately wished himself dead.

Cobalt.

He’d never seen a more beautiful man. As exotic as his name suggested, the artist possessed waves of blue-black hair and dark blue, glittering eyes in a sculpted, golden-skinned face. Tribal tattoos graced the sides of his neck and caressed his jawline. One ear was studded with hardware from upper edge to lobe, while the other sported a single silver hoop. A lower lip piercing, a position Will had always found slightly repulsive, looked natural and stunning on him. Especially with his full, firm mouth set in such a deep scowl.

Next to this dark god, Will felt like a pile of shit. Probably smelled like one too.

Cobalt’s brow furrowed, and then his features relaxed in surprise. “Will?”

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