Love and the Floppy Musketeer Hat

Romance can blossom in any genre: contemporary, suspense, fantasy, or paranormal. Hank Edwards has dusted off eleven of his favorite Story Orgy tales and gathered them into a brand new collection. For those new to Hank's work, the Story Orgy was a group of authors who crafted stories based on writing prompts. Some of Hank's stories from that time period are already available, such as With This Ring, Mistletoe at Midnight, or Cross Country Foreplay. The stories in this collection have only appeared once on Hank's blog, so if you've been following his work for a while, hopefully you'll enjoy revisiting these freshly edited gems. But if you weren't a Story Orgy follower, kick back and read about love showing up in a wide variety of places.

Excerpt:

From the story Pressure:

A fine autumn sunrise greeted me, and I cracked the kitchen window to let in the crisp air. I set up the coffeepot and then glanced at the wall calendar to see what I had planned for the day. My smile came from nowhere, surprising as it arrived before any caffeine. Written on the day's square was this lovely note: Winslow's Sprinklers.

I had used the same sprinkler service for the last five years, and every year I looked forward to one visit. It wasn't the young, cocky kid who came out to set up the sprinkler system and inspect the heads and make sure everything was aimed right. He was cute, but he wasn't my type. Too young, too brash, just home from college and eager to show off his "guns" and start on his summer tan. Oh, he was fine to look at, and I’d probably giggle like a schoolgirl if he ever gave me a second glance, but I wasn’t into the young hotshots of spring and summer.

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I liked the autumn visit the most. Hal Winslow himself would come to blow the water out of the lines. All the young guys he employed for the summer would have fled our area for college once again, leaving him to close up shop with his customers.

And Hal Winslow was a fine, furry hunk of man beef, just the way I liked 'em.

He was at least six foot four, usually sporting two or three days of red-gold whiskers on his square jaw. Clad in a blue flannel barn coat, faded jeans, and scuffed work boots, he would stomp through the yard, all business, his bright blue eyes noting every nicked mower and misaligned sprinkler head.

And for forty five minutes every autumn, he was all mine.

I showered and dressed butch-casual, hoping to attract Hal's attention. The year before we had talked about how badly the Emerald Ash borer was decimating the trees in our area, Hal looking at the barren branches stretching toward the sky. Then there had been a moment, a quick, quiet pause in the conversation in which our eyes had locked. A flutter had started low in my belly, and I had just opened my mouth to invite him inside for a cup of coffee when his cell phone had rung with an emergency call.

Dammit.

This year, I was determined not to miss my opportunity. I was going to invite Hal in for coffee before we started talking. And maybe I'd offer to blow out his line.

COLLAPSE

Walkin’ After Midnight

Walkin' After Midnight

Floyd Burland tends bar at Dudebaker’s, one of the city’s hottest nightspots. He’s something of a serial dater, but nowhere near as bad as his boss, club owner Shawn Frost. Floyd is trying to figure a way out of an entanglement with Trevor, a Dudebaker’s bus boy, when Gavin Hunt steps into his life. Handsome, outgoing, and just Floyd’s type, Gavin is there to talk with Shawn about a singing gig.

On a moonlit night, Floyd discovers Gavin in the club’s parking lot with a car that won’t start. He walks Gavin home and, during their conversation, Floyd realises he could very easily fall in love with the man. Later, however, Shawn begins to brag that he and Gavin are dating, and Floyd, in a rash moment of jealousy, kisses Trevor the bus boy right in front of Gavin. Soon everyone is pointing fingers and demanding answers, and before Floyd can even try to fix things between him and Gavin, the singer leaves town to pursue his dream of cutting an album.

Will Floyd follow his own dream and pursue Gavin in an effort to win him back? Will Gavin even give him the time of day if Floyd shows up at his door?

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Kindred Spirits

A Salacious Single

Homicide Detective John Decker spends his nights cruising dark gay bars and his days tracking down killers. Because of this, he maintains a distance from men, though he longs to be with someone. And then one night he meets a handsome, pale man named Alexander Holt. Decker sees reflected in Alexander’s eyes his own world-weariness and invites the man back to his apartment. In the days following the encounter, Decker experiences vivid, erotic dreams about Alexander as he suffers from a sudden bout of what he thinks is the flu. But then the crazy homeless man outside his apartment accuses him of having been tainted by the Dark Master, and Decker notices strange marks on his throat. As the evidence of what Alexander truly is comes into focus, Decker realizes he’s gotten more than he expected from his kindred spirit.

Stroking Midnight

A Salacious Single

Cameron is mistreated by Rodolfo, his father's new partner, and Avie and Ty, Rodolfo's stripper house boys. When the rich and handsome Godfrey Prinze throws a party to find the best dancer to move into his house on the hill, the town's gay population is whipped into a frenzy. Cameron dreams of going to the party, but knows he could never hope to be included. Then he meets Norbert, his fairy god-daddy, who has a very special way of working his magic. Norbert outfits Cameron in retro cool stripper clothes, including a glass codpiece, but warns him the magic only lasts until midnight. Cameron gets into his stretch limousine that used to be a trash can and heads off to the party to try and woo Godfrey Prinze, though he's never performed a day in his life.

Vanity Loves Company

A Salacious Single

Eric Franklin is a handsome and intelligent bio-genetic scientist, and he’d be the first one to tell you so. Working in a remote, island laboratory for a private investor, Eric has discovered the secret to cloning an organism’s exact replica, with no need to raise the life form from infancy to maturation. Before he passes the news on to his investor, however, Eric decides to try the process on the perfect human subject: himself. Having always felt as if he lacks an equal to his sexual desires and intellect, Eric is intrigued at the idea of talking, working, and having sex with an exact replica of himself. All health concerns would be moot, and his partner would know his every desire before he spoke it aloud. To Eric, it’s the perfect solution to his lonely situation, but a scientist should realize that nothing is ever, truly perfect.

Wetlands

A Salacious Single

When Gordon Westbrick learns the park he jogs through is being considered for the site of a new shopping mall, he joins a group intent on putting a stop to it. He volunteers to spend a night in the park to insure the corporation does not conduct any unseemly acts, and is assigned to partner up with Ivan, one of the conservation group founders. Gordon expects Ivan to be much older, he is a group founder after all, but when he arrives at the park on his assigned night, Gordon is pleasantly surprised to find that Ivan is a hot stud his own age, who not only enjoys nature, but doing what comes naturally when out in the wilds.

Sacked

A Salacious Single

After his sack of the opposing team's quarterback helps his team win the college football game, Mike cruises the local gay bar. There he discovers the quarterback he sacked, Will, sulking in a back corner. Mike invites the man back to his apartment where the two men take turns showing each other a whole new meaning to the term "sacked."

Finding North

A Salacious Single

Lance and Eric get separated from their co-workers during a team building event in the woods of Michigan. Forced to camp on their own overnight, the two realize a mutual attraction and set about building some intimate trust of their own under the stars.

Hotel Dick

A Salacious Single

Harry works as a hotel detective -- a hotel dick -- at The Bradford. During one late night shift, he is called on to quiet down a suite rented by Jester Maddox, a well-known rock star. Jester Maddox is nothing like Harry expected, and even through his hangover, he can see that Jester likes what he sees in Harry. Can this hotel dick and hairy chested rock star come to some terms of agreement to keep the peace?

Exchange Rate

A Salacious Single

Bill treats himself to a trip to Ireland in an attempt to get over his cheating ex-boyfriend. When he meets Sean at the exchange rate window, something clicks between them. Can this butch Irish lad be the very thing Bill needs to help him move on?