Today on the site, we’re celebrating the re-release of (Un)Masked by Anyta Sunday and Andy Gallo, a gay paranormal NA romance, which was previously published by Dreamspinner Press but now has new editing and a new cover! Here’s the blurb:
Walker has two wishes: to perform the play of his dreams alongside his best friend at Wellington’s Tory Street Theatre, and to meet that special someone. Someone he’d go to the ends of the earth for. Someone who might only exist in fairy tales.
When Jay meets accordion busker Lethe Cross, it’s like living a dream come true. Lethe’s music captivates Jay, and he resolves to meet the man who plays so beautifully. But then he discovers Lethe’s life is more like a nightmare. The phrase “down on his luck” can’t begin to cover it. Determined to help, Jay does some snooping for answers—and winds up on the wrong end of a centuries-old curse. The good news is there’s a way to break it. The bad news is it might cost Jay his life.
Aaaand here’s the cover!
But wait, there’s more! Check out this (long!) exclusive excerpt!
From the sidewalk, I spied Lethe cutting strokes through the rippling water. The gray glow of morning made it look as if he swam through satin waves. A cool breeze reminded me just how cold those satin waves would be. I zipped up my jacket, dropped the bag with my towel in it, and perched on the concrete wall.
His arms arched over his head in firm strokes, his head twisting for air on every third stroke. He stood up suddenly, whipping the water from his hair and running a hand through it. He searched the length of the beach several times before he caught sight of me.
He beckoned me over. Each move of his hands pulled me toward him.
“You’re here,” he said.
“Gristle just about killed me for waking him up so early. You always up at this time?”
“The beach is deserted now.” He glanced toward the sea, worrying his bottom lip. “Who’s Gristle?”
“Flatmate,” I blurted a little too quickly. “My best mate.”
His shoulders loosened and he looked at me. “Did you come to swim or watch?”
I stripped down to my swimming trunks and tiptoed into the sea. “I should have stuck to watching.”
Lethe laughed and kicked water at me. “You would deprive your other senses of all this?”
I stared at the gently lapping water and not the rivulets of water dribbling down his bare chest. “This is quite the sensory feast.”
“Dive in before I pounce on you.”
“I’m not sure you understand how threats work, Lethe.”
“Who said it was a threat?”
My breath caught, and I waded toward his soft, beckoning smile.
When I reached him, Lethe kicked onto his back. His gaze flickered to me before landing on the clear sky above. His green eyes glittered. If one could see a soul, then his was deep, haunted yet determinedly hopeful.
It reminded me of Gristle at the zoo, living life to the fullest because he claimed death danced in his shadows.
I dove under the water, letting the shock of it numb a sudden shiver. I came up under him and tackled his waist.
Lethe twisted under water with me, bubbles bursting out of his smiling lips.
We messed about in the water for only a few more minutes before Lethe dragged us out. I’d grabbed my stuff and drifted to his towel.
Lethe scrubbed his face. “Haven’t done that for ages.” He smiled at me. “Thanks.”
I choked on my own thanks. I’d not had so much fun with anyone other than Gristle for, well, I couldn’t even remember when.
“Maybe we could do this again?” His voice wavered, and he vigorously rubbed at his hair.
“I am all about indulging in sensory feasts.”
Lethe grinned. “On the discussion of feasts. What about breakfast?” He gave me a once over, lingering at my scrawny waist. “You shouldn’t skip breakfast.”
I forced a laugh and hurriedly pulled on my top and pants. Grabbing my bag, I twisted the street. “See you, then.”
He clasped my shoulder and steered me back around. “I think it came out wrong.”
I raised a brow.
He looked at me, gaze flickering nervously from my eyes to my shoulder. “Will you have breakfast with me?”
* * *
I arrived earlier than the four previous mornings, in time to see Lethe wading into the sea. His muscles flexed with each step, and once he hit waist height, he dove under.
Dropping my bag and towel next to his, I followed after him. My body exploded in goose bumps as the first cold waves cuffed my ankles. Sand sank underfoot as the water dragged itself back in. I quickly dunked into the water and gasped from the cold.
Lethe caught sight of me and waved. I swam over. A hand glided over my back, and I jerked upright, treading water.
“Morning,” Lethe said, smiling, as he circled me. “What brings you here so early?”
You. “I wanted to repay the favor, so I made us breakfast this time. It’s more a picnic, but I wasn’t sure of your schedule. How long do you have?”
Lethe flipped onto his back. Water rippled around him, and I threaded my fingers through the tiny waves. “Have I told you the perks of working as a street musician? Other than the stellar pay?”
I laughed. “In that case, sign me up.”
Lethe splashed water on my face and pointed to the fountain. “Want to race?”
I kicked off, taking my advantage and swiftly made it to the fountain, not too far behind Lethe.
“You’re improving,” he said with a smile. “Another couple weeks, and you’ll be a match for me.” He ducked under the water, only to pop up on my other side. He sliced the top of the water with his hand so it sprayed in my face, then whacked my upper arm. “You’re it.”
I lunged after Lethe, managing to jump on his back halfway to shore. I dunked him under the water.
A rueful grin quirked his lips when he came up gasping for breath. Barely two steps away, Lethe leaped onto my back. His knees locked around my sides and hands pressed my head under water. He didn’t hold me under long, letting go with a little tap to my shoulder. Breathing out a bunch of bubbles into the water, I came up. Lethe remained jammed against my back, his chest expanding against me as he breathed.
When he loosened his grip, I twisted and faced him. Water dribbled down his hair, over his scar, plopping on his lips. I pulled my gaze away from his mouth and combed a hand through my wet hair, pushing the locks off my face. “Up for another race?”
He stared into my eyes and my heart exploded into a gallop. I imagined him leaning in, brushing his lips against mine with the murmured words I like you too, Jay.
I slammed my eyes shut and water stirred as Lethe backed up.
He stroked toward the fountain, and I followed, the ghost of his touch still curved against my back.
“You look hopeful.” Lethe stroked over to where I clung to a jutting edge in the fountain base. He latched a hand on the same edge and pulled himself closer.
Although salt water dominated my sense of smell, I detected a hint of something peppermint and spicy coming from Lethe’s hair.
Lethe tilted his head, watching me. “Really hopeful.”
I dipped my head forward and lightly pressed my lips against his. The taste of salt flowed into my mouth; he felt softer than I’d imagined.
It lasted less than a couple of seconds before I pulled away. “Really, really hopeful.”
His breath caught and he grabbed my arm and kicked a leg around mine. His mouth met mine again. Our lips parted, and a gentle tongue flicked against mine. A gasp left me, and Lethe’s lips curved into a smile.
I let go of the fountain, wrapping both arms around Lethe, and deepened the kiss. We sank under the water, limbs entangled, gripping at each other. Salt stung my eyes as I looked at Lethe underwater. His hair swirled upward around him and light glowed around him. We broke our kiss and stared at each other. A cloud of bubbles burst from Lethe’s mouth as he laughed, and it sounded like music.
We pushed our way back to the surface and both hauled in air. I sucked in a good third breath, and Lethe splashed water in my face. I spluttered and coughed. His merry laugh taunted me and I chased after him, dunking him under when I got a good hold.
“We’d better go in.” Lethe looked back toward the shore, a frown forming between his brows. “We’ve stayed out here too long.”
Grabbing our bags and towels, we dashed for the outdoor shower. Lethe hurriedly scrubbed seawater from his hair.
I stepped under the spray with him and tentatively touched his chin, lifting his head. Water beaded at the ends of his eyelashes and trailed over the tips of my fingers. “What’s going on?”
Lethe bit his bottom lip. “Nothing.”
“Nothing doesn’t hightail out of the water every morning.”
“Which eyebrow is my scar?”
I gently drew my thumb over the cut in his eyebrow and he sighed and leaned into me.
“What are you running from, Lethe?” I whispered into his ear.
Anyta is a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. She loves to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love. Some of her favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.
Anyta writes a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy. Her books have been translated into German, Italian and French.
Member of Romance Writers of America.
Andy Gallo’s stories capture how he wished he’d spent his formative years, instead of how it really happened. Unfortunately for his characters, they find themselves infused with some of Andy’s less noble qualities.
A hopeless romantic, Andy writes seated next to a hundred year old Smith Brothers typewriter he inherited from his grandfather. He also dreams of superheroes and wizards and sees no reason why two men with superpowers can’t fall in love just like everyone else. Although not all of his stories have a paranormal bent, a touch of the supernatural never derailed a good read in his mind.
Married and living his happy every after, Andy helps others find their happy endings in the pages of his stories. He and his husband of more than twenty years spend their days rubbing elbows with other parents as they raise their daughter. Embracing his status as the gay dad, Andy sometimes has to remind others that one does want a hint of color even when chasing after their child.