The Promise is Available in Kindle Unlimited and For Purchase

M.D. Gregory and I have been working hard this year. The Promise was a bit of a surprise to us. We didn’t intend to write it, actually, but our go-to cover artist at Sinfully Sweet Designs made the most luscious artwork that inspired the story of Shane and West.

The fun part about writing with someone else is that the story evolves in ways that are shocking and surprising to both of us, so while we knew we were writing an age gap story (West is older than Shane by about eighteen years), at first we had no clue it would also be a mild Daddy Kink story, but low and behold, that’s what those two sneaky characters did.

I’m proud to announce that The Promise, written in the world of New Gothenburg, is available in Kindle Unlimited and for purchase.

We hope you enjoy the book as much as we enjoyed writing it!

The Promise (1)

Widowed Before Forty
Lawyer Caleb “West” Weston loses the man he loves, Carter, to cancer. When Carter dies, not only is West left hurting, but Carter’s younger brother, eighteen-year-old Shane, plummets deeply into grief. Both men bury themselves in their pain and forget to support one another. West feels hollow, and Shane’s life goes off the rails.

The Lost Boy
Shane’s parents reacted badly when he told them he was gay, but he had Carter and West to run to when things got tough. They gladly took him in. After Carter dies, Shane feels like he has no one to love him, until one tearful moment between Shane and West turns into something passionate. Afterward, consumed by guilt, both men become more isolated than before.

Second Chance at Love, First Chance to Be Himself
West has never fully embraced the darkest parts of his sexuality, but he knows one thing for certain—he wants Shane as his. Even if being with his dead lover’s younger brother is wrong, fighting his attraction to Shane is hurting them both. He decides to step up and become the daddy he has always wanted to be, one who helps guide his boy back into the land of the living. One large problem remains, during the months Shane was left to his own devices, he made a wreck of his life. West and Shane both need a lot of love to heal. Can they learn to live a new life together, free of shame and guilt?


King’s Criminals is now Available

M.D. Gregory and I have been working hard this year. If you weren’t aware, King’s Criminals, book three in the Kings of Men MC club series is out!

King’s Criminals was a lot of fun to write because M.D. and I write together, so what we do is one of us starts the book and then we send chapters back and forth to each other. It’s a lot of fun because during the writing process, we get to surprise each other too.

We hope you enjoy the book as much as we enjoyed writing it!

King's Criminals


Fresh Meat In Prison
Charley Hughes never imagined he would find himself in lockup, but when King promises that his brothers-in-arms will protect him, Charley expects his time on the inside to be easy. He doesn’t factor in Scar, his mean as hell—and handsome—cellmate. Scar seems to have one goal only, to get into Charley’s pants. Charley has never been with a man before and doesn’t plan to start.

Driven By Isolation
Colton “Scar” Hebb went to prison years ago. He willingly took the fall for his motorcycle club. Scar is as loyal and brutal as they come, but he’s also lonely. The moment he sets eyes on Charley, he wants him. Charley is playing hard to get, though. It’s a good thing Scar enjoys a chase.

Predator and Prey
The longer Charley holds out against Scar’s advances, the more dangerous prison life gets for him. Between rival MC clubs and guards, he’s constantly on high alert. Scar is rough and scary, but at least he’s on Charley’s side. The more time Charley spends with Scar, the weaker his resolve becomes to hold out against him. What will happen when Charley no longer wants to resist the attraction?


Meet our main characters.

Rainbow Advent Calendar Day 2: Christmas Isn’t The End

Christmas Isn’t The End

By Ki Brightly

© Ki Brightly Christmas 2019


Wyatt Benson

“No, Daddy, I hate this costume!” Bella broke out into tears, and her chubby face turned Christmas red. She scowled, and the adorable gap between her front teeth made me want to smile, but I knew better. That would send her into a full-fledged tizzy. Her long brown hair, almost black like my late husband’s, was piled up on her head in a bun with a ribbon securing the cute mess.

“Aw, baby doll, don’t be this way.”

She jumped up and down in place, her tap shoes clacking loudly in her irritation.

Dan had been better at all this stuff. Having Bella had been his dream, and I’d supported him the entire way, and I also loved Bella far more than I’d been prepared for. He’d been over the moon when we brought her home from the hospital with promises to send our surrogate photos through our may long years of joy. From the time she could walk, he’d had her in every activity under the sun, but dance was the one she loved best, so here she was, at the ripe old age of seven, already a four year Christmas show vet. Dan had gloated to every person he ever met about his little ballerina.

My heart squeezed. It had been a year since we lost him, and I didn’t know if I would ever feel the same about Christmas. If I never had to spend another holiday in a hospital, I’d be grateful. He’d gone from a mild chest pain at Christmas dinner, while I drank an extra glass of wine that I shouldn’t have as he convinced me the twinges he felt were nothing, to dead in under two hours.

“Daddy, it itches,” Bella whined. She looked so much like Dan, too, wearing her obstinate little scowl on her pretty bow mouth. She tugged sadly at the flipper of her penguin costume. Her tap shoes stuck out from the bottom of the long skirt, black with shiny red Christmas bows on them. The red rouge glowed too bright on her cheeks, but it was stage makeup, so I couldn’t say anything against it. My cowboy boots hurt my toes when I knelt down in front of her.

“You always love the Christmas show, baby. Are you sad because Papa Dan isn’t here?”

She shook her flippers like she might take off flying and nodded. I’d had to stay backstage to help her into her costume, thank goodness. What if I’d been out in the audience when this happened? Her makeup ran as more tears flowed from the corners of her deep brown eyes, and I had no idea what to do, so I pulled her into a tight hug and held her close. If the costume got wrinkled, I didn’t give a damn.


Jace Weber

“Stars and feakin’ garters,” I grumbled. I was in my black tights with a short Santa-esque top on that barely covered my butt. The fake fur tickled my wrists and neck. I couldn’t show off too much or the parents would have a fit. Normally I only directed, but we could not find any older boys to dance this year, and my most advanced class of girls, fifteen-year-olds, had begged me to be the male lead in their number. They wanted to show off some jumps. I’d agreed, because how fun, but now I wished that I wasn’t in costume for this moment.

Wyatt was the dance dad every mom in the studio wanted to comfort—in all ways possible—but the man was queer as a three dollar bill, just like yours truly, and had not realized he was causing a hoopla all season long. He was a widower and didn’t need that mess. I’d been ready to drag some of the hussies out of my studio by their har to give them a talking to, most of them were married for cripes sakes, but every single one of those women backstage who’d been drooling over the six-foot-wow muscled hunk who trained horses outside of town for a living, averted their gaze as he crashed to the floor next to his little girl bawling his eyes out. He sat there on his butt and just sobbed.

I’d heard the sad story directly from Bella herself, how her Papa had dropped dead at Christmas dinner. It was shocking enough that I’d gone home that night and texted Wyatt, just to ask how things were going. He’d assured me they were fine, both he and Bella were in therapy and moving on with their lives. That had been in January of last year.

Clearly, things were still not okay at the ranch. Poor man.  

I carefully walked over, trying to make some noise, but I was naturally light on my feet in and in slippers. “Wyatt?” I murmured, “let me get Bella ready for her number, okay?”

He leaned back and glanced up at me. He was classically handsome, rugged and manly in the jaw, wide shoulders—the whole outdoorsy thing really worked on him—but with tears on his face he was touchable and human. I went gently to my knees right beside him and gave him a stage hug. Barely there. What if he didn’t want one? He laughed and leaned into my arms.

“Mr. Weber, I didn’t miss the number, did I?” Bella’s eyes went huge and she pouted her bottom lip in my direction.

I glanced out toward the stage. We were in the wings off to the side, and the other penguins were out there under the sweltering lights, getting into their spots. “No, there’s time. Run, darling.” She did, rushing right out in all her waddling glory, and Wyatt sat there, shaking his head and wiping his eyes with the sleeve of his red-and-black plaid button up. He looked like he’d come directly from the pine forests of the Arctic my stage, but he radiated musky amber cologne.

“She’ll be okay.” I rested my hand on his shoulder and he glanced at me with a fragile smile. “Will you?”

He swallowed and nodded hard. “Eventually.”

The look he gave me was so lost, I leaned in and hugged him again. “You loved him a lot?”

He nodded with his face pressed to my neck. His warm breath gusted there and stirred things in me that were inappropriate for the moment. I took a deep breath and tried to breathe out my tension.

“What a lucky man, your husband was.”

He sat back and we both turned, right there, to watch Bella dance her number to the tune of Winter Wonderland. The people in the audience laughed, and I knew there were parents and grandparents out there snapping pictures of my penguins, even though I’d told them, repeatedly, that the flashes distracted the children.

Wyatt smiled at me when the number was winding down. “Thank you. You and the studio kept me sane.”

I gasped and rested a hand on my chest. “How so?”

“It gave us someplace to go. It kept us in a routine. And I’ve noticed, how you take extra care with her. It means a lot.” He held out his hand. I thought he was going to be all manly and shake, but he took my hand and pressed it between both of his own. “So thank you.”

My heart kicked in my chest. The dimples he flashed were killer. “Wyatt, I know you’re still raw, but when you’re finally doing better, call me honey. You’re a good guy, and there’s a shortage in the world.” I leaned over and pressed a quick kiss to his cheek. He stared at me, wide-eyed, and I winked as I rushed out on the stage along with my older girls dressed as sugar plum fairies. The little ones toddled back toward Wyatt and slipped past him to their changing room. They were giddy, and giggly, and tried to be serious, but failed miserably.

When the girls and I were done with our number, I was exhausted and sweating, and swearing to myself that my New Year’s resolution would be to spend more time working on myself in the studio. I made my way backstage to my small dressing room. Being the only man, I got to use the small storage area that housed the cleansers and extra chairs as my transformation space. To my surprise I found a single rose on the folding chair I’d opened up earlier to drape my clothes over, along with a note folded under it.

Touched, I picked up the rose and rolled the cool, soft petals against my overheated cheek. I opened the paper.

You’re a good guy, too. Call me sometime.


If you missed it, here’s last year’s story!

Here is Ki Brightly’s New Holiday Book!

December 15th, 2019. 

On preorder now:


Previous years: 



Recovery is a Lifelong Process, Ryan

I suppose I should entitle this: ‘In Defense of Ryan D. Buell’

Now hang with me. I’ve always had a soft spot for him because we were at Penn State at the same time. We’re the same age, we’re both from Pennsylvania, we’ve both had hectic lives, and we graduated staring down the barrel of the same shotgun: a recession and a horrific economy.

The recession alone primed people my age, in the thirty-six-year-old range, to be very aware of money. We’re always hustling in one way or another. Most people my age have a main job, a side job, and a back up job. We’re all paranoid, we rarely indulge ourselves with unnecessary comforts, and a lot of us are still struggling to get by. In short: I understand “the pursuit of more money” as a safeguard against generalized anxiety. A lot my peers, especially those I went to school with at Penn State, have found themselves dealing with depression, anxiety, lack of opportunity, and overall haven’t found the success we thought we would based on the promise of the holy grail of a ‘good degree.’

I would love to get into a room and chat with Ryan Buell and learn what has really been going on in his life. Police reports, public discontent, and the rumor mill of the paranormal community probably don’t do reality justice. I can only imagine what sort of hell he’s been through. Myself, I am a pagan, coming up on 24 years in the community. Every time I heard his story of a young person dealing with the strange that typically follows sensitive people, my heart squeezed.

Buell’s been called a scammer.

He is.

I absolutely believe he has grifted on a large scale. As in, his show didn’t always help the people he visited, and sometimes they faked things on Paranormal State. I’m not going to break all that down here because there are blog posts and direct quotes from people who were involved in the show to support those statements. I believe wholeheartedly that there’s a chance Paranormal State fucked up some people’s lives more than it helped—in essence meaning that Ryan Buell fucked up people’s lives more than he helped. I don’t feel that the people who spoke up about Paranormal State would have done so without good reason. On the other hand, I can understand why the people behind the show would choose to do things for ratings, and I can understand why Ryan Buell would have chosen to go against his moral code (a generous assumption on my part, to be sure) and go along with it.

At some point Ryan began to use drugs. That’s very clear if you look at the public record and timeline of his show and life. Well before this came out, several years ago when I was doing research for The Paranaturalist, I believed he was doing drugs. I didn’t make that a public sentiment at that point, but everything fit.

He’s now a year sober, according to my research, maybe more, and I have to believe some of the stress of Paranormal State and his other work played into that. Again, I’m making shit up, and I tend to believe the best in people, but I know what it’s like to get phone calls in the middle of the night because something weird is happening in someone’s house and then be compelled to help. I’ve gone out into the middle of the night with candles and sage and a fuck off attitude to settle people down so we can all get some fucking sleep. I know what it’s like to sit up with someone facing a dark night of the soul. I know what it’s like to do mystic work. It’s fucking shit, is what it is, and it can get to you real quick if you’re not in a good place.

Back to Ryan: He stole about $80,000 USD by taking money for a tour that didn’t happen, he had a blow out with his family (probably over the drugs he was doing), he pretended to have a chronic illness (well, drug addiction is a lifelong struggle), he got charged with roughing up his boyfriend (an absolute shit thing to do), and then his ass landed in jail—where it obviously belonged at that moment in time.

For addicts they like to call this point rock bottom. The clarity moment. The shit that wakes you up.

And now, thanks to my, I would say annual, research party on
Ryan Buell, it bears repeating that he seems to have been clean and sober a year or more.

So, if you’ve hung with me through everything, I would like to reiterate that I’ve always been soft for him because he’s my age, a Penn Stater (we were at Penn State at the same time), we share similar interests (we’re both writers), and I recently went through the rehab roller coaster with my spouse. I’m primed for sympathy. I also didn’t lose money to his tour.

What I would like to think, and hope, is that Ryan is halfway through his redemption arc. As a writer, I see someone on the cusp of becoming a better person, and he’s someone who has to change for the better with the public watching, which makes everything harder. I would like to think that he knows he owes people money, and apologies, and for one reason or another genuinely hasn’t been able to organize a way to repay them. I would like to hope that he will open up and be honest soon about the struggles he’s had. I can’t fully explain why I keep checking in on him, except that I feel like I’m keeping tabs on an old friend, an admired colleague who has lost his way, and someone I would really like to see make a full recovery. It also seems like he’s scheduling tours again, with one upcoming, and I would think that would be the first step in repaying his debts. If people trust him enough to go, and he handles himself well, I’d say that he deserves a second chance with the community.

Ryan looked so bad for a while I fully believed he was struggling with a disease, and to find out that it was drug addiction rather than pancreatic cancer was a relief. Drug addiction may be a life long struggle, but at least it can be recovered from.

So, for anyone out there during this Halloween season who is googling around during those Paranormal State reruns wondering, “what the hell happened to Ryan Buell?” I hope you’re going to judge him with a kinder heart than he may deserve. He still has plenty of time to right his wrongs, so long as he is alive and taking his recovery one day at a time.

Release week for King’s Killer, and More Writing Goodness

So, what’s been happening with me lately? Well, I just released a new book with Meg, who is writing dark romance as M.D. Gregory, called King’s Killer. Surprise for anyone who didn’t realize I was working on that!


Dark Gay Romance

Kings of Men MC Club

✨Available in Kindle Unlimited✨

Walking the Line Between Good and Evil
Physician’s assistant by day, doctor to the Kings of Men MC by night. Grant Arthur’s life is tough to balance, but he does what he can to help his brother, Aaron “King” Arthur, the president of the motorcycle club. Trapped as an outsider to the club by his brother for safety, Grant prefers the quiet life, until the Kings visit him in the middle of the night with an injured member. With them is Kai Woodrow, rugged and dangerous, who Grant can’t tear his gaze from.

A Killer Who Gave Away His Heart
Reaper kills for a living. He’s the man King calls when he needs to send a gruesome message. Unfortunately, Reaper’s also human, and has all the needs of a man. He’s been in love with Grant since they shared a foster home as teens, but he knows how protective King is. Reaper could never betray his president and friend, even if Grant’s the only one who sees him as Kai. He settles with quietly stalking Grant, until one night they bring him an injured club member.

One Wild Night
When Grant is nearly hurt, Kai can’t resist living in the moment, even if it’s bound to get him killed by King—or someone worse. The world doesn’t stop turning because he finally kissed Grant, but with any illegal motorcycle club, trouble comes along for the ride. When Grant is kidnapped, Kai would move heaven and hell to find him, and destroy the people who took him.


Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Amazon AU:

Right now I’m also working on the next book in the Kings of Men MC series, King’s Undertaker.

The King's Undertaker

I’m also working on a little gem with Meg that we’re tentatively calling King’s Stalker. I’m really excited about that one because I love writing “twisted bad guys.” It’s always a brain teaser to figure out how to write a morally ambiguous character and have them still be likable enough that as readers, we’re left rooting for them to get their happily ever after. We’re up to the task, though.

Last but not least, I’m still working on Jack’s Independent Omega in the Cherry Hollow series. At the moment, it looks like Meg will be releasing her next Cherry Hollow book before mine, Grayson’s Double Trouble. I worked on the first half of that book with her, but due to life, we decided she would finish it out on her own, and then we would focus on doing solo books in that series. It seems like things are going well, though, so even though we didn’t release a Cherry Hollow book in August, we’ll be back on track for September, October, and beyond.

On a personal note, we’ve had a hectic end of summer here at my place. Sugarplum’s fingers are almost completely healed from smashing them at work, though he’s still in therapy. The kids are back to school, but they’re out for Labor Day weekend at the moment, which means they’ll be home on Monday as well. Tomorrow we’re going to a local amusement park. We’re trying to get all the outside activities in that we can here in Erie because the long winter will be here before we know it. It’s not unusual for us to see the first snowfall of the year by the end of October and the last one mid May. We like snow, but it can be brutal, so… yeah. We make hay while the sun’s shining. I might be getting a few more books out this winter once it gets cold, though, so keep an eye out. I have a few small releases I’m working on at the moment that I’m excited about.

I hope all of my American friends have a happy Labor Day weekend, and everyone else has a good one as well! Happy reading!



The Paranaturalist is Now in Kindle Unlimited

The Paranaturalist is now available in ✨Kindle Unlimited! ✨

The Paranaturalist (1).jpg

As a kid, Joseph Appleyard saw things hidden from others. Now he is The Paranaturalist, an investigator and cohost of a television show that seeks to prove the existence of the paranormal. Some think Joe is crazy, but they don’t realize he knows firsthand there’s more to the world than what most perceive. The trouble is, somewhere along the way, Joe lost his vision and it left his world flat and dull. One night an investigation goes horribly wrong, and a powerful ghostly manifestation sends Joe tumbling into a river. Spirit worker Owen Watson saves Joe’s life, and once they are back on dry land, whatever has been blocking Joe’s vision has been washed away.

When a haunting goes from annoying to dangerous, people turn to Owen Watson. He hates those infuriating hacks from TV, but when he pulls Joe from the river, his mind begins to change. Joe is scared and confused, and Owen realizes he might just be the real thing. Together, they work to understand the part of Joe that has been shut away for so long. But just as Joe is reacclimating to his abilities, his career as a paranormal investigator is in danger of being ripped away. Owen would gladly battle a bloodthirsty spirit for Joe, but he’s out of his element in the world of reality television.

*The Paranaturalist is a 172,000-word novel that was previously with a publishing house, but has never before been in Kindle Unlimited. Enjoy!


Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Amazon AU:

Missing Scene from Riley’s Forbidden Omega

Click here to take a stroll over to the Cherry Hollow Series blog to see a new missing scene!

black and white cherry

Comfort and Joy: A Gay Romance Short Story by Ki Brightly

RAC2018- header900

RAC2018- 1a



Hello readers! Here’s a short story for everyone! I hope you like it. 

Happy holidays, 


Comfort and Joy

Ki Brightly © December 2018

Chapter 1


The icy wind cut through my leather coat, which wasn’t really thick enough for winter but made my shoulders look great. The steps to the front door of the cozy stone cottage were icy, because I forgot to scatter salt yesterday before I left. Clutching my huge shopping bag closer, I swore under my breath as I used my other hand to grip the metal railing until I hoisted myself onto the little porch under the overhang.

“Yup,” I puffed out, “my fault.” It wasn’t as if Robbie could get out to do it himself. My hair flopped in front of my eyes and I shoved it back. In all the chaos getting ready for the holidays I’d skipped a haircut I needed. The blazing red and green lights around the large picture window on the front of the house looked good, and the Christmas tree sitting in place of pride had been decorated down to the last icicle with Robbie giving grunts of acceptance that this would be happening from behind his laptop while I sang carols at him.

He really was a good sport. Warmth settled into the pit of my stomach that I ignored.  

Smiling to myself I fished out my keys and gave a little knock before I let myself in. “Robbie, I’m here,” I called. Somewhere toward the back of the house I heard water running, so he must be in the shower. Suppressing a little shiver at the idea,  I toed off my boots in such a hurry that I ended up stepping in wet sludge, went through the kitchen to set down my stuffed full bag on the kitchen table, and then hustled back the short hallway that ended with the bathroom. “You’re supposed to wait for me!” I tapped on the door.

I’d never seen Robbie naked, even though I was ostensibly here as a caregiver. Really, I felt more like a glorified house boy. His left arm didn’t work very well anymore and his left leg also lagged, but he was able to do most of his personal care himself. Half the time I thought he paid me just for the company, and whenever I got around to those thoughts I felt awful about it and cleaned something.

“Yeah, yeah. Well, you’re here now, so stand out there and if I die I’ll let you know,” he called, his sarcastic wit out enforce, but I could hear the smile in his words.

Huffing, I unwound my scarf and went back to the front door, hanging my things on the hook there. Robbie barely ever went anywhere, he said he hated using a wheelchair in public and walking most places was just too far for his bad leg. But we’d been working on that. In fact, he’d agreed to go out with me tonight to see The Nutcracker, of all things, and I barely believed it.

Smiling the entire time, I stood outside the bathroom door until I heard the water shut off. After he called out that he was fine, I went to the kitchen and got busy cooking his lunch. The room was small, clean, and full of stainless steel, which I loved. Cooking was one of the few small jobs he consistently allowed me to do, and I suspected it was because he didn’t know how. If he did know how to do more than reheat pizza, he’d probably not allow me near the kitchen either. Humming to myself, I dragged a quiche I’d put together last night out of my bag and put it in the oven, and then took a few presents over and sat them under the tree, to the back so they couldn’t be tripped over.

A shuffling behind me had me turning around guiltily.

“What are you up to?” Robbie asked, but I held my breath. He was older than me by about ten years, and when he wore a beard it was shot through with a respectable amount of gray, but he’d taken the time to shave. He had managed to tame his long curly hair down at the nape of his neck. Even though he had problems with balance, he stood tall and had sturdy wide shoulders. The hand gripping his cane was large and looked strong. He took up a lot of space, in the best way possible. His lips were the kind that were naturally bright and always made me stare, especially when they twitched into a smile like they did now.

I shrugged. “What would you like to me to do today?”

“Not much to do. I should have told you to stay home.” He shook his head, blue eyes unnaturally bright in the lights from the tree.

I sucked in a breath. I’d been coming six hours a day, six days a week to Robbie’s home for nearly two years now. He’d never once said to stay home, not even when I was sick last year and sneezing everywhere. “Oh,” I faltered. “I thought… you told me we were going out tonight…”

He ran a hand along his hard jaw and gave me the type of look that had me sure I’d over stepped my bounds. It had seemed so much like he was asking me out though. My heart clenched. Professional wasn’t exactly my middle name when it came to Robbie. How had I let myself hope this was going to be something more?

“It’s a nice thought, Justin, but there will be a lot of people,” he grumbled, using both hands to support his weight on his cane. Sometimes this was hard for me to wrap my mind around because who cared if a bunch of people saw a hot guy in a wheelchair?

“You got tickets for”—I wanted to say us, but obviously there was no us—“the show?”

“Sorry. I can’t,” he said.

“We don’t have to stay for the after cocktails if that’s what you’re—”

He turned and stumped back to his office, instead of allowing me to finish, his left foot dragging a bit.

Heat built in my eyes, but I cleared my throat and turned back to the kitchen. I had my suit on a hanger in my car, had brought everything I needed to look nice and smell nice for tonight so I could change here. Leaving from his house together had meant something to me. This would be the first time I managed to get him out of the house.

I’d been so sure this time it would happen. And my heart hurt, far more than it should as I stood there blinking at the tree, fighting off the water gathering in my eyes. I knew I’d been building this up way more than I should. Knew I was way too tangled up in him since I saw him almost every day. I’d let my social life sort of give way to him, coming by some evenings after I went to the gym to hang out even when I wasn’t being paid, and I’d let that turn into something else in my mind.

Robbie had never indicated he felt more than friendship at best, and employer employee when he was feeling snappish. I glanced at my watch and went to the fridge to do my daily check and make sure that he’d taken his medications. I snagged down the med container from on top. He had taken his pills, which was good, but didn’t give me a reason to go back the hall to his office and bother him at his computer.

Which was probably for the best. Sniffing gently, I sat the pill case back where it belonged. I checked the quiche and then took the cleaning bucket into the bathroom along with my phone. With the fan on so I wouldn’t make myself sick with the fumes, I rolled up my sleeves and started scrubbing down the walk in shower. There were enough things in this house to clean that I could do it for six hours. Afterward, maybe I’d download one of those apps I’d been ignoring. As much as I liked Robbie, it didn’t get much clearer than this.

He didn’t trust me to keep him safe outside of his house. He didn’t like me like that, even if he sometimes put a hand on my arm while he smiled and invited me to eat lunch with him.

I’m delusional.


Chapter 2


The gentle sound of Justin’s upbeat music wafted into my office. I glanced from the screen where I was trying to coax a line of code into doing what I wanted—for some reason the movement of this one forest elf was still jerky. Why? I’d been over and over the code a million times. Angrily, I shoved back from the desk to go tell him to turn the annoying music off, but  couldn’t bring myself to go out and do it.

The way his warm brown eyes had crinkled when I’d said I wouldn’t go, and his cute round face had fallen… he’d looked so devastated. That wasn’t a surprise. Somehow I always found myself disappointing him. My chest got tight and I carefully slid back into the desk. Justin was one of those people who did his job helping because he was genuinely kind. Slim, sweet and quick on his feet, he always took care of whatever I wanted him to do with a smile. He chatted. He sang. Relentlessly cheerful, I took it for granted that he’d be in my house every day and moped through Sundays without him. When he arrived on my front step with the help wanted section of the newspaper clutched in his hands, I’d taken one look and knew I wanted him. But not for an employee. Hiring him was a mistake I’d come to regret, but not because he was bad at his job. He made my house a home and kept my clothes washed. He went to the store for me.

The only fly in the honey was that he wanted me to do things, get out of the house, live my life, and all I wanted to do was hide here and work. Why couldn’t he just leave it alone? Why did he have to try to change anything? The fake smell of pine and clean things reached me after a while, and then the music shut off.

A soft knock on my door had me scrunching into my seat.

“Lunch,” he called quietly, not even opening my door. He always came in to bother me for a few minutes before he went back to puttering around the house, doing all the shit I didn’t want to be bothered with.

Unhappily, I leaned forward to rest my forehead against my fist, and my back twinged, but I didn’t care. Telling him I wouldn’t go with him tonight was a lousy Christmas present. He’d been so ecstatic when I said yes. The day the tickets arrived in the mail he’d thrown his arms around me and given me the warmest hug, and his body heat had gone straight to my groin. I wanted to take him out so badly, have him smile at me, kiss him, but I didn’t want him to have to be bothered about the things I needed the entire time. How would that be fun for him? Walking around the house was one thing, but to go out for real we’d need the wheelchair. He’d end up pushing me. People would look at me with frowns and raised eyebrows, trying work out why someone who looked fine was in a chair.

I put on my noise cancelling headphones, turned up my playlist to the point that I couldn’t hear the small sounds of Justin in the house, and worked. Typing with one hand was difficult, so after a while I switched to dictation and that helped me drown out my thoughts.

Eventually, I realized the room was dark and I was working in the glare from my computer screen. Stretching, I grabbed my cane from where it was leaned against my desk and dragged myself to my feet before I wandered out of my office. The house was dark except for the colored lights from the tree washing through the living room. I went the couch and eased myself down, my stomach gnawing and hungry, heaviness in my limbs that had nothing to do with my body hating me.

I knew if I went into the kitchen my lunch would be wrapped up in the fridge and dinner would be waiting to be popped in the oven. I’d worked late. Staring at the tree, I noticed the glitter of silver wrapped packages stuffed back where I wasn’t supposed to notice them. Justin, my little elf, had hidden them there. The soft lights from the tree got shimmery and I swiped at my eyes with my sleeve.

What if I had gone tonight? I already liked him too much, a hell of a lot more than I should for someone who pays his bills, and how would it have been fair to him to put him in the uncomfortable spot of knowing how much I wanted to be with him? What if it all blew up in our faces and I had to tolerate someone new in my space? We’d never really talked about much, but the way he looked at me, all heat, with his dark hair soft around his face… I think he wanted me too. In the end, this was better. I didn’t want to make him turn me down if I was wrong, and I would have done something stupid like try to hold his hand. I’d have ruined this for myself.

But his gifts were there and the tickets were still on the coffee table. I frowned. Why didn’t he take them and go by himself? I’d meant him to. He couldn’t have missed them sitting there, right?

Pulling out my phone I texted him to ask why the hell he didn’t go. He didn’t answer for a long while, and it was almost midnight, so maybe he was in bed? My phone dinged and I thumbed his message open.

I wanted to do that with you, and since you didn’t want to I went out instead.

Where? I had no right to question him. Shouldn’t have asked. But I sent it. Again there was no answer for a long time.

After a bit I got back: The Rainbow Room.

Stunned, I stared at my phone. What was he doing there? Back before, when I still went out, it was the largest gay bar in the area, but I knew there were other clubs now where people went to dance until they were too horny to take it and then went into backrooms to fuck. I couldn’t exactly do most of that stuff anymore, but the idea of Justin, on his knees, looking up at me with that crooked little grin of his went straight to my cock. I rearranged myself and continued glaring at the phone.

Torturing myself with the image of him for a few more seconds, there and ready to touch me, I wanted to put myself out of my misery, or maybe just go jerk off and tell myself it was a nice but ridiculous daydream? So what if he was gay for certain? That didn’t make anything else easier.

Either way, I knew as I sent the next query I was way out of line. Did you go to the backroom yet?

My stomach churned and my hands shook as I tossed my phone down on the couch cushion beside me. I wanted him to say no because I wanted him, but I needed him to say yes so I could let this go and stop wondering what it would be like to have him. My phone dinged again.

Not yet.

I stared at the screen. What did that mean? Not yet. Why not? Were the guys not that great tonight? But on a Saturday there were always a million people out downtown. Standing up as quickly as I could, I decided to go to bed, but when I got to my room I scowled furiously toward my closet and pulled up an app to get a ride to The Rainbow Room.


Chapter 3


“Come dance with me.” Mr. Drunk and Handsy pressed his front to my back. He was hard. Ugh. Fighting to smile, I shook my head. The music thudded so loud I could feel it in my gut.

“I’m waiting for my boyfriend. When he gets back we’re leaving.” The blatant lie escaped me easily because this guy just gave me an unpleasant crawl along my skin. He was cute, tall, and blond, but I didn’t like something about him. There was no real reason for the way my stomach flopped, but he didn’t move away.

“Been watching you all night. Try again.” There was a hard bite to his words and he slid his hands around my waist as he cocked an eyebrow, urging me off my stool. I had to grip the bar to stop myself from falling.

“Please leave me alone.” I turned enough to glare into his face.

He scowled and crowded closer bringing the smell of alcohol with him. “Who do you think you are? One dance and then we can get out of here. I’ll take you back to mine, put you ass up, and make you scream.” He seemed to think that would have me listening because when I elbowed him away his face went red.

“Fuck. Off. That clear enough?”

The guy huffed and disappeared into the crowd. Unhappily, I turned to stare at the bar top and pushed my gin and mint away. How much shittier could this night get? A firm grip landed on my shoulder and I barked out, “If you don’t keep your hands off me, you’re going to lose one.”

“Are you okay?”

“Robbie?” I froze up and then carefully turned.  

He stood there, dressed in nice jeans and a red and black flannel shirt open over a plain white T-shirt. Simple, but the clothes looked good on him. He had his cane in hand, and there was sweat popped out on his forehead. “What the hell, Robbie?”

I moved so he could have my stool, but he shook his head and smiled. “Should I not have come here?”

“I’m just confused.”

He moved closer to me and took my hand. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have made plans with you and then broken them. I didn’t… the idea of you here, by yourself…” he shrugged and looked at our linked fingers, rubbing his thumb over my knuckles. My breath caught.

“You came down here because you were worried about me?”

“That’s a nicer version of why, but partially.”


Chapter 4


He frowned up at me, his pretty lips gone soft and slack. “What do you mean?”

“I didn’t like seeing that guy all over you, for one thing.”

“You didn’t?” He shuffled closer to me and put his arm around my waist. I knew what he was up to, trying to give me something to lean against, but it was also nice because he was warm and solid and close.


Exactly what I’d predicted was happening on the dance floor. Half the guys out there looked like they’d be coming in their boxers soon. Had I missed Justin moving his narrow hips to the beat of that music? I’m not sure I would have really cared if he was pressed up against someone else while he did it as long as I got to see. But then his fingers tightened on mine. I’d have probably smacked someone out of the way with my cane to get to be that person.

“Did you get to dance?” I leaned close and whispered in his ear.

He flushed and cut a sharp glance at me. “I wanted to go to the theater with you. This isn’t… me.” He jerked his chin toward the crowded space.  

I let go of his fingers to ran a hand along the curve of his spine, and he leaned closer. “Tomorrow’s show wasn’t sold out, but we’ll have to sit in front of the stage.”

He leaned back, eyes wide, and bounced a little.

“Are you serious?”

I nodded.

“Those are the good seats!”

“Are they?”

He nudged his hip against mine, but not hard enough to knock me off balance. “You know they are.”

I shrugged.

“And you’ll go?”

“I will,” I grumbled, “but I’m taking the cane not the chair.”

He turned stern and stood up straight, baring his teeth like a puppy trying to be mean. “What if you’re in too much pain tomorrow after this tonight?”

I looked at the ceiling, but he skimmed both hands up to grab my ears and gently tilt my head down so he could give me the evil eye.

“I’ll let you push me.” With my hand on his lower back I put pressure on him until he melted against my front, his face buried in my neck. Warm little puffs of his breath sent shivers along my spine.

“Okay. Do you… want to go back to your house?”

“Yeah. I do.”

He walked with me outside. It took a while for the cab to come, and I ended up leaning more of my weight against him than I meant to, but he only smiled and slipped both arms around me so that I felt like I was standing there with my… well, boyfriend. Smiling, I held my breath while he looked like he might faint. Finally, I just did it. I leaned forward and brushed my lips to his. In the cold, the heat of him had me delving into his mouth. Mint. The tease of his tongue against mine and the little whimper that escaped him had me hard against him. When I broke away, he leaned his head against my chest, hiding from me, but that was fine. He held me tight.

“What do you think the costumes will be like?”

“Why on earth would I care?”

“I’ve seen so many productions. I danced when I was younger, but wasn’t that kind of good. Mom would only pay for one night a week.” He chatted on and on, resting against me, and while none of the show stuff was anything I gave two shits about, I liked hearing how happy he was and so nodded at intervals to keep him talking. Eventually, he laughed and rested his forehead against my temple with his eyes closed.

“Thank you.”

I tried to get myself together to answer him, but the cab pulled up in front of us distracting him away from the conversation. Once we were in the warm, dark backseat of the vehicle, he wiggled over against me. Hesitantly, I ran a hand over his on the seat and he turned it under mine so that our fingers wound together.

By the time we got home, my back was hurting and my achy leg and left arm were thudding with a familiar pain, but I ignored it as we collapsed together onto the couch, where we should have ended up all along tonight. He curled up close to me and rested his head on my shoulder just like he had outside after we kissed. I ran a hand over his soft hair.

“Justin.” He looked up, and I leaned in, giving him plenty of time to turn away.

He didn’t.

I brushed my lips against his, and with a happy little sound, he pressed closer, turning it into a real kiss. It went on for a while, a sweet warm slide of his mouth against mine. When we came up for air, I smiled at him and he grinned back.

“I think I need some help.”

He frowned, and I realized I’d fucked up when worry had him nibbling on his bottom lip. “Let me run to the kitchen and get your—”

Leaning forward, I kissed him again and he sort of melted against me.

“Need help with this,” I rasped. He shivered in my arms as I dragged his hand from where it rested with mine slowly along my thigh to a very excited part of my body. The slight pressure felt good and I rocked against his hand when he cupped me.



Chapter 5


Awe had me carefully mapping the landscape. He was large and firm and clearly ready for anything. Robbie slitted his eyes closed and the lights from the trees bathed the skin of his face with warmth. One lone curl had slipped free and was a spiral along his cheek. That, more than anything, made my heart stutter. I kissed his neck and caressed my palm on his growing hardness, getting more excited myself with every passing moment.

“How do you want to do this?” I whispered, unwilling to hurt him even if it broke the mood.

He didn’t answer with words, but instead leaned over and urged me to move with his hands on my waist until I was straddling him, my ass resting on the hard ridge of his trapped erection. Together we opened my pants while we kissed and he ground against me, every now and then letting out a satisfied growly kind of sound that made me want to melt like a snowflake. In no time, I was whimpering at the feel of his hand on my bare, hard shaft. He gently rubbed at my foreskin for a second before pushing me back with one hand on my chest. He watched me squirm, my cock dancing for him, and played with me, sending heat streaking to my balls. I rocked on his lap, rubbing my ass on him, hoping that would make him move his hand.

“Never saw someone uncut in person.”

“Play later,” I demanded and he laughed, low, rough. A sharp spike of pleasure washed through me, especially when he gently squeezed the skin over my cockhead, using it to rub the spot that had me squirming and rocking faster on him while he ate at my lips with his.

My clothes got too hot and my shirt went flying along with his. Standing, I tried to give him a little show as I stripped the rest of the way, but was in too much of a hurry. Together we got his pants off, and I flushed all over at the way he watched me while I was bent down tugging the jeans off. I settled back where I was before and rested myself against him. He ran his fingers over me again and every inch of my body tingled with the torment. All of his hot soft skin against my own naked chest chest, and his relentless teasing on my shaft had me ready to do anything. I must have said something like that out loud because he laughed.

“Go to my room. I’ve got a stash of supplies in a box on my dresser.”

“I know,” I mumbled, but couldn’t bring myself to feel guilty as he tightened his grip on my cock and pumped faster. “Cleaned in there before.”

“Snoop,” he grumped and bit at my neck. He slid his cock up to press between my cheeks. I wanted him so bad. He stopped working me over and slapped my ass hard enough to sting. “Go.”

I ran in, fumbled, came back and straddled his lap again. I wanted him so bad my cock leaked drops out onto his stomach. He kissed me and I rubbed mindlessly against his body until he made me stop with another light crack of his hand on my ass. It took almost no time for him to get me ready and together we smoothed the condom onto his ramrod erection. I couldn’t wait. It felt so good to come when I was full, and this was Robbie.

His eyes met mine as I gripped the back of the couch. My thighs had that amazing sex burn as I sank onto him, closing my eyes to revel in the stretch and slide. Knowing I would have to be the one to do most of the work got me wound up too. I wanted to please him, make him feel good. It was my job to make sure he had a good time. I don’t know if he saw some of that on my face or what, but he gripped my hips tightly and surprised me by thrusting up with one smooth motion. My breath caught and I sank back down with him. He rubbed past that spot in my ass that had me groaning and gyrating my hips and it was his turn to gasp.

“We’ll do this together. No talking, only screaming,” he said with a wicked grin that sent me rocking against him while my cock ached for his touch. I worked myself on him and he moved me back a little until he was rubbing me inside just right on every upslide and I forgot all about everything except the intense tightening of my stomach and the coil of pleasure building in my ass and sending sparks up my shaft.

Panting, I managed to get out, “Almost.”

“You make me so happy, Justin.” He kissed my ear and rocked up into me and that was it. Liquid heat spurted up my shaft and quivers of delight stole my breath. I wrapped my hands around Robbie’s shoulders and held on as he pumped a few more times and then shoved in deep with a groan that had me squirming against him, fighting for a last aftershock of joy as my cock rubbed against him smearing my cum everywhere.  

“Is this okay?” I asked quietly when we were both pressed close and breathing normally, his fingers still gripping my asscheeks. He didn’t let me go, only mouthed kisses along my shoulder.

He chuckled and then sunk his teeth into me hard enough to have me rocking on his still hard cock. “Who cares, as long as it’s what we want?” He mumbled against my skin, raising the hair on my arms. 

“You’re still ready?” I asked as he urged me to move again.

“You wouldn’t believe how long I’ve been thinking about you,” he sighed. “I’m planning to love you as many times as my body will let me.”

Laughing, my breath hitched as he hammered my prostate. My cock swelled again. It had been years since I’d gone more than once for someone, but I wasn’t about to complain. And Robbie wasn’t just anyone. I hummed “All I Want for Christmas” and he groaned, but landed a light kiss landed on my cheek, and I’d never felt happier.

If you enjoyed Comfort and Joy, many of Ki Brightly’s books can be found in Kindle Unlimited. Click here for their full catalog.

To read the next story in the Rainbow Advent, please visit the Facebook Rainbow Advent Group.

You can also find the List of Published Advent Stories and stories to come here.

RIP Anthony Bourdain and The Fears and Hopes of Those Who Love Men Like You

wineglassAnthony Bourdain lost the fight with his disease, depression, today, and was found dead while on location in France. He was working, going through what I can only assume is a usual daily routine for him.

That scares the hell out of me.

My heart bleeds for his daughter and the rest of his family and every person who loved him and knew him. Even his hardcore fans are in my thoughts.

My husband was and remains in awe of Anthony Bourdain. They have many parallels in their lives, both love good food and to cook, both have depression, and both have had serious alcohol problems in the past. My husband frequently pointed to Anthony Bourdain during a now familiar argument. The argument would always begin like this—

Me: You’re not supposed to drink on the pills that keep your brain functioning. They literally make your brain not hurt you.

Husband: I won’t drink in the house. I’ll do what Anthony Bourdain does, he only drinks when he’s out having a good time.

This always enraged me.

For a very long time I loathed and despised Anthony Bourdain. I wasn’t even able to enjoy his shows because every time I saw that silver hair and those deep eyes I thought, “You’re the reason my husband still thinks it’s okay to drink. You’re such a fucker.”

Now? Now I feel terrible. Now I see other possibilities: He was fighting hard to achieve balance and stay well, and that was his solution, to still drink sometimes so that he wouldn’t throw it all over and go on a bender one day. And in the end, no matter how hard he fought, no matter how successful he was, that horrible disease won.

And it’s terrifying. I can’t help but see my husband there, my husband lying alone in some hotel room in France, off working away from his family and the people who might have been better equipped to help him see that he needed to go to the hospital or talk him down.

It doesn’t matter that my husband never leaves the county, let alone the country, to work. I can’t help but see those similarities.

What I’m hoping, very much, is that the tragedy of Anthony Bourdain’s loss to our community will compel more understanding of depression, especially for men. For many years, most of his formative ones, my husband who very clearly displayed depression and anxiety symptoms in hindsight, was told to “man up”, “stop being lazy”, and “get his act together”, when what he really needed was a serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Unfortunately, my husband’s first year of college was interrupted by his disease. He couldn’t make himself go to classes, he dropped out, he went home. It had a ripple effect on the rest of his life. To this day he hasn’t finished school and works jobs that he might not have if he’d finished his education.

But depression is a struggle, and it steals things from people. I’m glad it hasn’t stolen his life.

My husband is doing better now, after several frantic despair filled years, but it’s better by degrees. He still has days when he comes home from work and sleeps all day. He has entire weeks where he can’t sleep more than 4 hours a night because of his anxiety, and then he wants to turn to alcohol. Which is a trap, as it makes the medication less effective, and makes everything worse, which makes him want to drink more, and on into perpetuity until he’s an alcoholic mess again, which his family helps him avoid.

And that’s what people with depression and anxiety need. Friends and family. People to be there, not smother, but people close enough to say, “Hey, you’re not doing as well as you usually are, do you need anything?”

And I wonder if that person wasn’t there for Anthony Bourdain, or if they were was he a good enough actor that they never knew how terrible he was feeling? Was his decision to kill himself a dark whim that may have passed otherwise, but since he was alone, didn’t?

My husband has us, but I do lay awake and worry some nights about what might happen to him if I were in an accident and died and he was left alone. How long would it be before he followed me? We have children and they need him. Would they be enough to keep him going? These are the thoughts of people who love the chronically depressed. We know, deep in our hearts, that sometimes the people we love think about death as a soothing alternative to existing. And it terrifies us.

And we still love them with all our hearts.

Rest in peace, Anthony Bourdain.

May the end of your struggle shine a light on all the ways we can help those we love.

Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention for Trust Trade



Trust Trade

It’s been a while since I’ve been on my blog (Wow, has life ever been a trip this summer and fall.), but that’s not what this post is about. No, I was very excited to learn that Trust Trade had already garnered an Honorable Mention from the judges of the Rainbow Awards.

How exciting is that?

Trust Trade was a hard book for me to write. It required a lot of research, both in reading books and talking to people about their lives. It was uncomfortable, and made me think about the worst parts of my city, my own life, and people I’ve known.

In the end I was glad I pushed through and finished it, and here’s hoping it finishes well in the Rainbow Awards.



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