Author Genna Donaghy stopped by today to share a bit about her new M/M book, “Touch Me Not.” I just picked it up and can’t wait to read this one!
In an alternate universe, where gender is less important than how dominant a person is, Jake Alric is the odd man out. While other subs spend their days trying to find their one true mate, Jake goes out of his way to avoid dominants. He’s seen the dark side of soul bonds, and all he wants is to be left alone to tend his small Montana cattle ranch in peace.
When an oil company starts buying up land all around town, Jake comes under increasing pressure to sell. A chance encounter brings him into contact with one of his potential mates, Henry Waterstone, son of the man trying to buy Jake’s ranch and a handsome dominant who pushes buttons Jake didn’t know he had. For the first time Jake is tempted by the true pleasure of being a submissive. But as Jake and Henry grow closer, a new player in the oil company rises up and threatens to sever their fragile connection. Suddenly the person Jake was most afraid to find becomes the one he’s most terrified to lose.
Four shots of whiskey and one beer on an empty stomach meant Jake was feeling no pain.
Stella tried to get him to spend the night in the back office, crashing on the couch she kept there for friends. She even threatened to call Sam down to take his keys, but Jake promised on his mother’s grave he’d sleep in his truck and wouldn’t drive home. Finally, she relented.
The joke was on her. As far as he knew, his mother was alive. If anyone could call it that.
Still, when he missed putting his key in the door lock a total of four times in a row, he had to admit she had a point.
His balance wavered dangerously as he leaned behind his seat to fish out a thick blanket he stored there for emergencies. His truck bed was littered with hay from his last haul, and he could see his breath in the air, but he’d slept outside in worse before. He’d sleep a few hours to sober up before he drove home.
He walked around the truck to climb to the bed and paused as the bar door slammed open. It looked like Mr. Fancy Suit hadn’t suffered too badly under the twins’ attentions. Or maybe he had. Jake watched as he stumbled unsteadily around the parking lot, patting his pockets for keys. But Jake’s truck was the only vehicle left.
Mumbling to himself, Mr. Fancy Suit wobbled to the edge of the intersection of the two-lane roads and made to put his hand on the stop sign but fell short and hit the ground.
Blind drunk, Jake thought. He was tipsy himself, but at least he wasn’t stupid about it.
The man didn’t get up, and Jake frowned. “Hey!” Jake called.
Well, damn it. The man couldn’t sleep on the side of the road. Temperatures around Tamarack fell fast, even in late summer.
Jake walked up to the downed figure and carefully toed his side. The man murmured but didn’t rise. He was lying flat out on the ground. Jake could see his tie was loosened around his collar, and one glove was missing.
Jake bent to search his pockets but didn’t come up with a cell phone or a wallet. He scowled. Sometimes the town hosted business conventions, which brought in outsiders. The MacKenzie twins were not above showing a tourist a good time, but he’d never seen them resort to robbery before.
He was going to kill the both of them next time he set eyes on them. It was one thing to do what you had to in order to survive, another to leave someone—especially an unmated dom who couldn’t quickly heal himself—out to suffer exposure.
Going back to the bar was not an option. The neon OPEN sign in the window had gone dark. It was past closing time, which was probably why Mr. Fancy Suit had been kicked out. Stella wouldn’t thank Jake for darkening her doorstep with a drunk stranger.
Jake was tired enough to lie down on the road himself, and had he been more sober, he would have been able to fight against the sub instincts to nurture. He knew he should walk away, but he couldn’t. He really hated himself sometimes.
The Timberline Motel was open across the street, though it was the type of place that rented rooms by the hour. Probably not where Mr. Fancy Suit would like to wake up. Too bad for him. With a long-suffering sigh, Jake bent to grip Mr. Fancy Suit under the arm. “C’mon, partner. Rise and shine.”
Mr. Fancy Suit stirred and struggled to his feet. Gritting his teeth, Jake slung his arm over his shoulder—Mr. Fancy Suit’s gloved side, thank you very much—and started walking him to the motel.
“Where’re going?” Fancy Suit slurred. His breath was sweet with brandy, and he leaned on Jake with every step.
“Getting you somewhere soft to sleep.” Jake was none too steady on his feet either, and they both nearly toppled over a curb.
The man hummed under his breath, his head dropping, presumably to watch his feet.
“Tell me if you’re going to upchuck,” Jake warned. “You get any on me, and I’ll leave you right here, you understand?”
“My room’s 204,” he answered thickly.
Jake rolled his eyes. They were far away from whatever nice hotel room Fancy Suit probably rented for the night. The Timberline Motel was one level and had maybe twenty rooms, tops.
It was a comedy of errors trying to maneuver them both into what passed for a lobby. Fancy Suit’s knees wobbled at the worst times, and he reached out to a nearby car door as they passed, as if to climb in. Feeling his patience run short, Jake swung the man around and picked him up under his knees and arms, bridal style. He would have gone for the fireman’s carry but was afraid Fancy Suit would just throw up all down his back.
“Hey!” Fancy Suit kicked out, and Jake nearly overbalanced.
“Shaddup,” Jake snapped, tightening his grip around the man’s solid frame. Like most doms, Fancy Suit didn’t lack muscle. He weighed a ton. Sometimes Jake was too nice for his own good.
Karen, the dom manning the desk, widened her eyes when Jake staggered into the lobby. “Hey, Jake. Caught someone at last?”
He ignored that. “He got worked over by the MacKenzies pretty good. He needs a room for the night.”
“Who is he?”
“No idea. They took his wallet.”
She pursed her lips. “We don’t let just anyone in without ID. You know that.”
“Karen, look at him.” He glanced down as he spoke. Fancy Suit’s head lolled to the side, his dark eyes half-open. “Look how he’s dressed. You know he’s good for the money.”
She gave a quirk of a smile. “You got a point. Tell you what: I have a niece in 4-H who’s looking to raise a steer next year. Teach her how to spot a healthy calf, give her a good price, and I’ll overlook the ID just this once.”
“Deal,” Jake said, and she slid a key into his gloved hand.
Luckily the room wasn’t far away. His shoulders burned from the weight of the man. He almost dropped him while opening the door and accidentally bumped the man’s head on the way in. Fancy Suit swore and woke with a start, hands and feet flailing. It was too much, and they both fell in a tangle of limbs as the door closed behind them.
“What?” Fancy Suit looked around blearily. “Where…”
“You’re drunk.” Jake had had about enough of this. He pushed him away and stood. “I got you a room for the night. Stay put and sleep it off.”
“What’s goin’ on? I don’t…”
Jake sighed and pulled him back to his feet with every intention of propelling him to the bed.
“Wait,” the man said. Before Jake could stop him, he reached out to place a hand on the back of Jake’s neck. His ungloved hand.
A tingle of warmth went through Jake, from the point of contact, through his skin, and down to pool in his heart. He looked into the man’s—Henry’s—smoky black, confused eyes, and deep affection stole over him.
Henry’s face broke into a wide, drunken smile, and Jake felt himself returning it.
“Stay,” Henry told him and pulled Jake to the bed. “Stay.” It was a direct order, and Jake couldn’t have refused it, even if he’d wanted to.
* * * *
Jake woke feeling warm and comfortable. He opened his eyes to an unfamiliar room with a stale smell and terrible 80s decor. He tried to move, wincing as his head gave a painful throb. His mouth tasted foul, like he’d been sleeping with it open.
There was a warm presence pressed up against his back. A sigh of breath drifted over his nape. The memories of last night rolled over him, and he tensed.
Oh, no. Oh, God, no, please…
A quick look down confirmed he was fully clothed, gloves and all. An unfamiliar bare hand wrapped around his torso, holding him possessively close. Other than that—
They weren’t bound together. Not yet. The initial connection between them had been made, but that wasn’t permanent. Slowly, Jake turned to see the man who could be his mate.
He was…handsome. A little shorter than Jake’s six feet, but his tailored suit clung to his broad shoulders and muscled torso. He looked to be part Asian, maybe Vietnamese with his high cheekbones, almond-shaped eyes, and the bronze sheen to his skin. His dark hair was cut short but styled, or at least had been before bed head had tweaked it in all directions. There was something strong in his face, something that spoke “dom” to Jake’s instincts. A powerful one. As Jake watched, the man—Henry, he knew his name was Henry—turned on his back, his mouth dropping open to let out a long snore.
And God help him, part of Jake wanted to lie down and tuck himself up against that muscled chest. He’d be safe with Henry, he knew. Taken care of.
Jake didn’t want to be safe or taken care of. He wanted to make his own decisions and determine his own course in life. He didn’t want to belong to anyone.
Jake clenched his gloved hand into a fist, then spread his fingers again, hovering them over Henry’s exposed neck. He’d have to move fast, because if Henry woke up, Jake knew he would be lost. Henry, like any dom who could be his mate, had utter power over him. He could override Jake’s objections, order him to take off his clothes, and then bind them together. After, Jake could never say no to any direct order ever again. He’d be nothing but a puppet to his mate’s wishes.
Just like his mother had been to his father.
Jake’s fingers rested on Henry’s neck. Through his gloves, he felt Henry’s pulse, steady and strong.
Make it quick, he told himself. Close your eyes, squeeze, and don’t stop until he’s dead.
The seconds ticked by, but Jake remained frozen. Eventually his shoulders slumped. He couldn’t do it. Not in cold blood. Not like this.
Jake pulled away from Henry, stifling a gasp. Losing contact, even through clothing, felt like he was grating his teeth on tinfoil. A worried line formed between Henry’s slack brows, and Jake knew he had only seconds before the dom became agitated enough to wake up.
Taking the first step away from Henry hurt deep inside, like something was wrenched in his soul. A loneliness he hadn’t been fully aware of suffused his heart. The sound Jake made was half a sob as he shook his head, staggering to the door like he was drunk all over again.
He thought he heard a murmur behind him as he shut the door, a slurred, “No, wait…”
Jake slammed the door before Henry’s words became an order. He turned and ran as fast as he could across the street, nearly getting killed by a passing car that blew its horn at him. His truck was parked at the bar with the keys hanging out of the lock. He jerked the door open and climbed in, gulping air.
He didn’t dare look back at the motel as he pulled out of the parking lot, driving like the hounds of hell were after him.
Here’s where you can get it!
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I love the premise of this book! Thanks for visiting, Genna!