Tested in Fire (Art Medium #2)
by E.J. Russell
Genre: MxM Adult Paranormal Romance
Six months ago, Stefan Cobbe was at rock bottom: grief-stricken, guilt ridden, debt laden, artistically blocked, and living on charity in an isolated mountain cabin. But after reconciling with his first love, Luke, and moving to Sarasota with him, Stefan is preparing for his first major show. Yes, he still has debts, and no, Luke doesn’t understand Stefan’s desire for independence. But compared to last year? No contest.
Luke Morganstern ought to be happy. After all, his art-investigation business has recovered and he’s got his boyfriend back. But Stefan stubbornly refuses to move in with him or accept Luke’s financial help, and it’s really starting to bug him. Who knew that the biggest test of their relationship wouldn’t be time or distance, but his own insecurities? After Luke’s next job—a trip to Italy to retrieve a mysterious artifact—he plans to convince Stefan that it’s time to totally commit.
But when Luke returns, he changes, and Stefan begins to suspect that the person in Luke’s skin isn’t Luke at all. He can hardly go to the police and claim his lover is the victim of a supernatural hijacking though. He needs alternative help to find Luke and get him back, because he refuses to let anyone—or anything—come between them again.
“It’s time, Morganstern.”
Sweat broke out on Luke’s forehead at the implacable edge to that voice, and he wiped his damp palms on his chinos. He’d been played. No question. “Can’t we discuss this? Negotiate? I’m sure there’s another option—”
“We had a bet. You lost. I’m collecting.”
Luke ground his molars together. He shouldn’t have lost. He never lost. He glared at his boyfriend. “You must have cheated. The old Stefan Cobbe couldn’t beat me at poker to save his ass.”
“Meet Stefan Cobbe, new and improved.” Stefan grinned at him over his shoulder as he sharpened a drawing pencil with his pocket knife. “Come on. You agreed to the stakes.”
“Because I knew I was going to win,” Luke muttered.
“That might have been true seven years ago. Which, by the way—” Stefan pointed the blade at Luke before he tossed it on his worktable. “—I don’t concede. But didn’t you consider that I might have learned a thing or two since we played last?”
“I didn’t think you could have changed that much.” In the six months since Luke had found Stefan in that godforsaken haunted cabin in Oregon, they’d rebuilt their relationship, brick by stubborn brick. They found far more common ground than they found differences.
Except, apparently, for Stefan’s newfound cardsharp proficiency.
Stefan pointed at the dais at the far end of the cavernous studio, under the sleeping loft that was still a point of contention between them. “Stop stalling. Strip.”
“Can I at least use the changing room?”
“Suit yourself. But the end result will be the same. You. Naked. So get to it.” He picked up a giant sketchpad. “If I could stand around bare-assed in front of first-year life drawing classes three times a week for four fucking years, you can drop trou long enough for me to sketch you.”
Luke yanked his shirttail out of his pants. “You were used to it,” he grumbled, as he unbuttoned his Oxford and tossed it on a wooden chair.
“Now you’re just whining. If you had agreed to pose for me when I asked the last hundred and seventy-two times, I wouldn’t have had to resort to desperate measures.”
Luke scowled at Stefan and hauled his undershirt over his head. “I have to be at the airport in a couple of hours, you know.”
“All the more reason to move it along.””
To celebrate the release of both books in the Art Medium series, E.J. is giving away a $25 Amazon credit and an ebook copy of both titles in the Legend Tripping series! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Contest closes at midnight, Eastern time, on April 7, 2017 and is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Don’t forget to leave your contact info!
About E.J. Russell
E.J. Russell holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business-intelligence consultant. After her twin sons left for college and she no longer spent half her waking hours ferrying them to dance class, she returned to her childhood love of writing fiction. Now she wonders why she ever thought an empty nest meant leisure.
E.J. lives in rural Oregon with her curmudgeonly husband, the only man on the planet who cares less about sports than she does. She enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.
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