Guest Blogger – Meg Harding

Will You Be My Escort, #2 in The Carlisles Series
200 pages
Dreamspinner Press
Cover by Reese Dante


A Carlisles novel
Jackson Carlisle has rotten luck with men and women, and after an especially bad situation, he takes a step back from romance. But with a two-week family reunion in Hawaii looming, his mom is determined to set him up with one of the sweet singles she knows would be perfect for him. A normal person would tell her no and be done with it. Instead, Jackson tells her he has a boyfriend. The only problem? He doesn’t.

Aaron Wilkes is an escort. He’s a little surprised when a friend’s girlfriend hires him to date her brother, but he’s had stranger jobs. Jackson is cute, and he thinks a fling with Aaron might be just the kind of no-strings-attached fun he needs to get over his dry spell. As they explore the islands together, their carefully laid plans begin to get away from them. Feelings aren’t supposed to come into play, but that shouldn’t be a problem. After all, you can’t fall in love in two weeks….


Part of being in a large family means everyone knows everything. And it’s never forgotten, because inevitably someone remembers it. So Jackson doesn’t know how he hasn’t heard about the family reunion until he’s staring at the ridiculous card on his dark-cream tiled counter. Someone has taken the time to make a collage of the entire family’s faces and merge them into lettering that reads “You’re invited to the Carlisle Family Reunion.” He’s not sure whether to be impressed or appalled.

His phone starts to trill. He picks it up without looking. “Are you seeing this?” asks James. “I think I’m hallucinating it.”

“No,” says Jackson. “I’ve got it in front of me. It’s painfully real.”

The last thing in the world he wants to do is attend a family reunion. It’s a two-week-long affair at a resort in Hawaii (which would be lovely if the family reunion aspect was removed), occurring in three weeks’ time, during which they’re going to be surrounded by obnoxious extended family. It’s like something from a horror film.

“I don’t know why you’re complaining,” he says to James. “You’ve got a boyfriend.” He thinks about it. “Can Bastien not come?” He runs two businesses and works a lot, but he’s got a partner who can probably take things over.

“Bastien can come,” grumbles James. “He’s annoyingly excited for it.”

“He’s in for a rude awakening,” mutters Jackson. Bastien hasn’t met anyone outside of their immediate close-knit group yet—he wasn’t around for the last reunion. He’s probably expecting everyone to be like their particular branch of Carlisles. The extended family isn’t like them. Well, in some ways they are, but in others… no. They’re an eclectic group of people who mostly only bother to get together and converse for a period longer than a two-word holiday or birthday card every five years.

There’s a reason for that.

His call waiting goes off. He pulls the phone from his ear. “Mom’s calling,” he says on a sigh. “I’ll call you back.”

“Don’t bother,” says James. “I’m coming over, and we’re going to drink till we forget we’ve been invited.”

Jackson rolls his eyes. “You’re a drama queen.” He drops the call in the middle of James’s indignant squawks. “Hello,” he says to his mom.

“Hello, sweetie,” she says. “Did you get the invitation?”

He glares at their obnoxious collaged faces. “I did.” He looks closer. Someone has photoshopped a curled mustache onto James’s face. He holds the phone away from him as he snickers. Their cousin Bobby must have made the card. He hates James. “James has a mustache in the picture,” he tells his mom. “Did you see that?”

Her sigh is long and pained. “I did. I’m calling to let you know you have to go. You can’t get out of this.” She goes silent, but there’s something about it that makes Jackson feel like there’s more coming. He has a feeling he’s not going to like it. “I know things have been rough, since you had to move and all….”

And he called that.

“But I have a friend, she has a delightful daughter, and I think you two would really get along. She might take some of the pressure off the reunion? And I think it’ll be good for you. I don’t mean to worry, but you haven’t dated anyone since Angel.” He winces at the name. “It’s time to try again, don’t you think? Move on? We’re all worried about you, dear. I have a friend with a son too, he’s a bit older than you, but he’s got a nice job.”

The last thing he wants is to be set up by his mother. A sane person would tell her to butt out and hang up. Politely of course; this is his mom after all. Jackson has a short supply of sanity, though, and he’s been running on very little sleep for the last month. What comes out of his mouth, instead of “no, thank you” or “I don’t need someone else to be happy,” is “I’m already seeing someone.”

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Meg Harding is a graduate of UCF and Anglia Ruskin University. For as long as she can remember, writing has always been her passion, but she had an inability to ever actually finish anything. She’s immensely happy that her inability has fled and looks forward to where her mind will take her next. She’s a sucker for happy endings, the beach, and superheroes. In her dream life she owns a wildlife conservation and is surrounded by puppies. She’s a film buff, voracious reader, and a massive geek.


Rainbow Snippets

This should be the last from the short story Modified and Sacred for a while (the anthology has been delayed due to health reasons on the publishers end so I won’t know if it’s accepted or not for months).

In this scene, Addison and Deveral’s ship has crashed into a lake. Deveral’s unconscious and Addison’s secret is about to be exposed (in this universe, modifications like this are illegal for humans).

Water poured in. Addison blinked hard, forcing his nictitating membranes out of hiding. They slid over his corneas, protecting them. Addison hoisted Deveral again and swam out. The webbing between his toes caught the water and his powerful legs propelled him upward.

His eyes, designed for dim light, picked out the sunlight barely filtering down through the murk. Gill slits hidden on his neck opened. It had been a long time since he’d been down in deep water. Granted, the lake water wasn’t as deep as he was used to. Addison swam like he’d been born to it. He hadn’t been but renegade scientists more interested in money than morals had fixed that for him.

If you’d like to play along, Rainbow Snippets is a Facebook community where we post up 6 sentences of one of our LGBT stories every Saturday. It’s been fun and you can find it here. Be sure to check out all the offers! It’s been a great supportive group!

Sunday Small Talk

Very small this time as I have tendonitis in my left hand (my good hand) so badly I can barely use it. I need to get it under control asap.

I didn’t do much writing because I had a lot of RL stuff to do in the evening hours which is my writing time. That said I also went festivaling and spent tons of money and had fun and got writing ideas especially after last night’s jaunt into a haunted railroad tunnel in a ghost town in the middle of a forest.

I got back the second edits on More than His Scars that I need to get my butt moving on.

I’ve also signed the paperwork to get my rights back on Ghosts of Jupiter as the Cross bones anthology is going OOP as I mentioned last week.

Speaking of reversions, I think I’ll be taking back Cassadaga right now as that publishing house’s driving force is having health issues and everything is on hiatus (understandable). I will leave Modified and Sacred there for now as I have no other anthology for it any how. That seems fair to me.

Rainbow Snippets

I picked a little more from the short story Modified and Sacred for this week. Addison is now taking Deveral to the negotiation he is to preside over and taking his first good look at Deveral and contemplating his alien nature.

Fryians like Deveral have chromatophores in their skin as camoflogue. (part of what I couldn’t fit into a short story was that Fryians, early in their evolution, faced a dangerous apex predator and much of their physiology has evolved to evade that predator). It works something like this video (and at some point Addison will see it being very fun, he has to learn to read Deveral’s skin coloring).

Addison left Deveral watching the view screen in silence as Fryia fell away. It had been in the dossier that the Sacred Kin had not been off-planet except for a few times to the moon. His odd, goat-like eyes with their spooky horizontal bar pupils grew bigger and bigger the smaller Fryia became. Deveral’s opalescent skin started turning gunmetal gray, blending him into the shuttle seat. The only thing that didn’t seem to change was his hair. It remained the same fiery opal his skin had been.

If you’d like to play along, Rainbow Snippets is a Facebook community where we post up 6 sentences of one of our LGBT stories every Saturday. It’s been fun and you can find it here. Be sure to check out all the offers! It’s been a great supportive group!

Sunday Small Talk

A very short one this week since I have accomplished next to nothing. I’ve been out playing around and plotting my nano (which will under my other pen name). I was at a Halloween party until after midnight last night and at the renn fest all day.

In fact I heard something there that I have to use in a story. An artist was telling someone about a friend who thought her house was haunted and one of the things that happened was when they moved in there was a fire pit out back. In it, they found dozens of half burned photos and negatives including one of a little girl with half her face burned away (which he then hid in her bathroom as a prank).

I did get the first scene of mySpook_me story started so that’s something.

And the rights of my short story Ghost of Jupiter have reverted back to me as the pirate anthology Cross Bones is going out of print. I always did want to do more with that universe some day.

Rainbow Snippets

I picked a little more from the short story Modified and Sacred for this week (and probably next). Still waiting to hear if it’s been accepted for the anthology.

In this snippet Deveral (coming out of the dark cave) meets Addison for the first time. (I think it’s one sentence over).

His escort stood less than average height but muscular, his short black hair almost razor sharp. Deveral’s vision wasn’t cleared enough to pick out any more details other than the man had a bland expression on his handsome face.

“Kinsman Deveral, this is Lieutenant Addison Hunt. I know he’s early but he seemed interested in the First Temple. I hope it’s all right I brought him here,” Weyba called.

Deveral smiled. He loved people with curious minds though he wished he had on more clothing than the sodden waist wrap. Enough water had wicked up the linen to make it cling to his thighs and ass.

If you’d like to play along, Rainbow Snippets is a Facebook community where we post up 6 sentences of one of our LGBT stories every Saturday. It’s been fun and you can find it here. Be sure to check out all the offers! It’s been a great supportive group!