Greetings and salutations Liz fans and others.

I am here to present to you my very own take on the college football hotness quotient. I'm ever diligent in this pursuit to find the best looking dudes on the sidelines of the D1 gridiron. You are welcome.

So without further ado, Liz's Top 5 College Football Coaches--Merely a Pre-season ranking you understand:
Number 5




Jim Mora--UCLA Bruins
Arguably the "second generation" is not quite as hot as his silver fox of a dad. But Jim L. has a lot going on. And who doesn't love a football dynasty?






Number 4
Bob Diaco--Connecticut Huskies
Sort of a "boy next door thing" happening here, which has Liz's full approval. He has a thing about rivalry invention, but who can blame him really? UConn has a FOOTBALL TEAM? 






Number 3
Charlie Strong--Texas
This may come as a surprise to some of you. As a Louisville fan I'm used to defections given that up until now, the Cardinals program is a stepping stone to the Big Time. I don't necessarily blame Charlie. He looks nice. I would have preferred him in his 'Ville gear. But nevertheless he makes the Liz list. 









Number 2
Kliff Kingsbury--Texas Tech 
Some call this lovely, Ryan Gosling look alike the "bro king" of college football. Well....ok....I'll admit to not giving 2 shits about Texas Tech but can admire the hell out of THIS. Something about him screams "lawsuit" though. Hope the Raiders are lawyered up. 








Number 1 (and yes, you knew this was inevitable)
Jim Harbaugh--Michigan
Oh bless his khaki-wearing, dad-bod, Ann Arborite soul. The whole "shirtless-gate" had me at "it's hot out here."
We are proud of this man. Here's to him, making it the Real Deal when and where it counts. 
Go Blue.


Yours in shameless man-coach objectifying,
Liz

Damn it's Hot....so I'm reviving one of the more popular Books, Beer & More posts before I collapse under a ceiling fan and wish for fall.....enjoy!




I'm taking a moment to channel one of my all time favorite comediennes and personalities so as to capture your attention…because Liz haz a confession to make….
 But not until you take a second and let me make my confession. It's been a long time coming, about 6 years to be exact, from the moment I received my very first email that contained the words "We would like to publish your…." to just about right now.


You see, I'm jealous.

Yep. I am.

I know we've discussed this before and you think "Oh Liz, spare me your tiring lectures about how not to be a jealous whiny baby on Facebook. We GET it already. Pass us a beer."

But I would say to you, hold up a sec and let me finish.


I am really envious of all you serious romance writers out there. You guys are utterly badass and I truly envy your abilities and talents not to mention your fan bases. 

 Let me give you a little history. Before about 2005 or so I had never read a book in the "romance" genre before. But, in an attempt to do a little "marriage revival" Mr. Wench ordered up a bunch, all of them on the Way Sexy side of the book shelf, from the 'Zon that arrived on my doorstep much to my surprise. I'm a voracious reader as most authors are but I simply never considered books with half nekkid people on the front of them as "options" I wanted to spend time on. 

Silly me.

Yes, the books accomplished Mr. Wench's goal but they went a step further. They finally got me off my "I'll write a book someday" high horse and got me writing. I wanted to craft stories that focused a bright light on relationships like some of my early favs did. Several of the books I read were published by a future publisher of my own, but that, as they say, is a whole 'nother story , rant, blog post.

 I read some really great books and some really horrendous ones and along the way came up with a concept for a series that, after being multiply rejected and pondered for self publishing (which I am SO glad I did NOT do at THAT stage of my fledgling career) found a home with a small but determined publisher: Tri Destiny.

I had a few things published before that, including several books I have since made "no longer available" (see: THAT stage of my career--the one where I thought I was the shit only to realize I needed about 6 more weeks of editing work). I collected my fair share of agent rejections, with good reason as the crap I sent them wasn't worth the digital paper I put it on. 

But somehow…something eluded me, no matter how much I got edited by fabulous, patient, yet firm editors. And I think I get it now!

I just can't do it.

I can't write romance.

Now, we'll save the long drawn-outs about "what is romance/what is erotica" for someone else to get all red-faced about. I'm not here to diss ANYTHING about this genre. It is a literary juggernaut that draws millions of readers and fans and allows tons of earnest, eager writers to live the dream: Making Money Doing What You Love.  

The success stories are myriad, but of course there are still thousands toiling away, trying to Do What The Big Girls Do, and managing to eke out a few bucks a month at it. Say what will about the "thriller genre," in my humble, observatory opinion no fans get fired up about their favorite books quite like romance readers--which has been both good and bad for yours truly.

I'm among those who volley between "eking it out" and "jumping up and down and scheduling a facial" when it's royalty payment time (but for That Book with That Publisher, but as we have already established: whole 'nother story). 

But I will be damned if I can write a decent romance novel. I really wish I could. I know I'd have more fans, more squees, more facials, all of the above. But I sit down to write something that might resemble any one of the successful romance novels out there and I just get all…dysfunctional. 

I could blame the beer, but I won't. 

I'm just screwed up enough to admit it: I'm too cynical to be able to conjure much in the way of "happily ever afters." I tried. I really, really tried. A bunch of times. Phrases like "this doesn't fit what our readers want" clanged around in my head for quite some time but I kept on trying only to come to the conclusion that I just don't have the skills. And a tip of the hat to the amazing(ly snarky) advice of Kristen Lamb to help me just embrace this fact. If you, as a writer or future writer follow no other blogs about writing, you should follow hers.

Let's put it this way, when I set out to write my first self published series (The Love Brothers, coming January and March 2015) my goal was to Just Do It. Just write the dang novel that had elements of realism (the "Liz-ness" as one of my fans put it) but that gave readers what THEY want…characters and endings they expect. Because as I read somewhere in some advice blog or another, letting go of making the book what YOU want and making it what READERS want is the key to millionaire-ism…well, at to least garnering more fans.

But…you know, those dang narratives started sliding off the romance rails too and before I knew it, I had (have) 3 books in various stages of editing that will be "categorized" by the Great Categorizer In The Sky (a.k.a. "Amazon") as Romance but also as Family Saga. And I'm preparing myself for another onslaught of new readers who feel cheated and pissed off and have no problem letting me know that because my characters and plots don't do what they expected they would do.

Sigh.

I use the tagline: Romance For Real Life to describe my books a lot which is apt,  but there are still readers who claim that the "R word" should be no where near my books, which leaves me with a real conundrum. I don't have an agent or a big publisher to help me push the books out there as "mainstream" with elements of romance and humor and…well…beer.  So I'm going up on my Welcome to October Confessional and just saying it now: if you want a book you can predict, I'd advise you not to read mine.  


BUT if you enjoy something that will challenge your expectation and PINKY PROMISE not to judge any of my books against the standard set by so many great romance authors, well….I've got 20 or so books for you to choose from.

As an aside, as I was trying to come up with a catchy catch-phrase for my self published books I thoughts of: 
Romance on Training Wheels (nope)
 Romance that Needs a Breathalyzer Test (double nope) 
Not Your Mama's Romance (uh, no)
Beer Goggles Romance (uh-uh although I am riffing on that with a monthly post called "Beer Goggle Book Reviews")

Whew. I feel better. Again, let me be 100% clear: I WISH I could write romance. I wish I could conjure characters and worlds that millions of readers flock to and turn into TV series and movies. These writers are amazing, talented, prolific, and savvy. It's a club I would love to join but I just don't have the creds.

So by way of ending my confessional, I would invite you to try something for me. GOOD FAITH is (ostensibly) the final stand alone novel of the Stewart Realty Series--a book that is a "best seller" in (go figure) Family Saga and (somehow) Urban Fiction. It has a mixed bag of hardcore, stalwart fans, many of whom are also giant fans of The Giants in Romance. But this novel contains so many elements I could easily categorize it as 


New Adult, Multi Generational, Family Saga with Elements of Romance and a Serious Dose of Eroticism (not Erotica---some of the sex in this book is "awkward" and decidedly not "sexy" but it is real and there is NO rape or any of that nastiness). It's about mature marriages, challenging teenagers, addiction and the strength of friendships in the face of all of the above.

Yeah. You see that the 'Zon has no category for this.

But, by way of "give it a try," it's ONLY .99 (for 520+ pages) until my birthday on December 17 of this year. If I reach a pretty modest milestone of 1000 copies sold by that date my hardcore fans get a sequel. You'll see for yourself that you can easily read this and ONLY this as part of your "Stewart Realty experience." But it's the 9th book (including a prequel) of the series and while I wrote to be a stand alone, your experience with these multi-dimensional (read: sometimes annoying and rant-inducing) characters will be richer if you grab it now for a buck then snag the others and read them in order.

*****YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE READ ANY OF THE OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES TO APPRECIATE THIS NOVEL I PINKY PROMISE****

Forget the rules...
Forget the formula...
Pick up a Liz Book, grab a craft beer, and enjoy the ride!

Now **cracks knuckles** on with the contest.
Please, feel free to read a free chapter by clicking here.

I'm giving away a Kindle Fire loaded with Liz books, gift certificates and ebooks to celebrate this, Liz's Month of Confession!





Play along here:


And remember….park those expectations at the door BUT know this novel is meant for adults, or the adult-minded anyway (I read Valley of the Dolls at 16 myself). 

And my challenge to you: if you have a cool tag line or an idea about how to categorize Liz Books for Successful and Easy Marketing, feel free to email me! And once you do jump into pool of Stewart Realty and start swimming around, feel free to reach out and let me know what you think. I am also real happy to share a list of my favorite books and authors, some of whom may not be "romance genre" categorized but contain some of the most romantic stories ever.



BUY IT NOW!
Blurb:
Strong personalities—volatile marriages—stressful careers—conflicting goals—difficult children.

Contemporary challenges facing close-knit families form the crucible that forges a new generation.

Brandis, Gabriel, Blair and Lillian emerge from the entanglement of their parents’ longstanding emotional connections, but one’s star will burn brighter – and hotter – than the others.

With a personality that consumes everyone and everything in its path, Brandis Gordon struggles to maintain control as he ricochets between wild success and miserable failure. His life proves how even the strongest relationships can be strangled by the ties that bind.

Brandis and Gabe Frietag are as close as any brothers, bound by both loyalty and fierce rivalry. The strength of their ultimate alliance is tested time and again by Brandis’ choices.

Companions from birth, Blair Frietag and Lillian Robinson share loner tendencies, but come to rely on each other through adolescence. As they mature, both are forced to confront their feelings for the men they knew as boys.

Somewhere between the tangle of good memories and bad, independence and addiction, optimism and despair, the intertwined destinies of the new generation finally collide, leaving some stronger, others broken, but none unscathed.

As a chronicle of three families navigating the minefields of teen years into the turbulence of young adulthood, Good Faith holds up a literary mirror to contemporary life with joys and temptations unflinchingly reflected. Its fresh, real-life voice portrays the sheer volatility of human nature, complete with the hopes, dreams, and unexpected setbacks of marriage, parenthood and “coming of age.”


Get this full-length compelling novel for only .99 for a limited time!
GOOD FAITH BUY LINKS

















Happy Release Day Declan!


Today you can meet the newest member of the Detroit Black Jack Gentlemen soccer team and help celebrate the women's national soccer team's kick-ASS win in the World Cup final!

Inspiring, to say the least!



Here's a little about Declan's story....

Detroit’s expansion pro team has a hot star forward, fresh from the English Premiere League. Thanks to a series of fatal misunderstandings coupled with his famous temper, Declan MacGuire only has one thing left to him—soccer—and he’s determined not to make the same mistakes in his new life stateside. 

Emily Keller, an accidental low-level PR flunkie for the team watches as Declan gets sucked into a whirlwind romance with Cassandra Dean, the team’s Queen Bee groupie, trying not to be jealous while the woman maneuvers him into a sickeningly familiar situation. 

When things escalate, the team is forced to take sides, and Declan faces the toughest choice of his life.




Get your copy today!
Amazon
B&N
Ibooks
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Ripped from headlines, Declan's story is not in any way to be considered a "traditional romance," but that's what I do...challenge you to accept that Liz Crowe novels are worth the risk!

Check out the compelling original novels of the series....on sale for ONE MORE DAY!




I leave you with this amazing bit of inspiry......


Meghan March – Beneath These Chains


About Beneath These Chains
I was raised on the streets, so I know things are rarely as simple as they appear—especially this rich girl showing up at my pawnshop demanding a job.
She’s the most tempting thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ll be damned if I can make her leave.
Shit just got complicated … but when it comes to her—I want complicated.
We’re both fighting our own demons, and our only chance at a future is to let go of the past.
But will we be strong enough to break free from beneath these chains?


Preorder Now at:
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beneath-these-chains-meghan-march/1122103246?ean=2940151507950

SNEAK PEEK:
Chapter 1
Lord
I fucking hated people who stole from me. Which was ironic, considering the only thing that had kept me from starving as a kid had been picking pockets and snatching purses. I dropped my elbows to the desk and rubbed a hand over my buzzed head.
“Goddamn, karma’s a bitch.”
“She the bitch you fucked last night, bro?” The leather of my office couch creaked as Mathieu sank his tall, lanky frame into it.
“How many times do I have to tell you not to call women ‘bitches,’ boy?”
My words were met with a long sigh from Mathieu. Ever since he’d walked into Chains and tried to grab a guitar and run back out the door—only to be tackled to the ground by yours truly—he’d been a fixture in my life. To be fair, his choices had been to work off the price of what he’d attempted to steal, or go directly to the nearest cop shop. The entire situation had been such a blast from the past, I’d caught myself smiling when I should’ve been glaring and scaring the piss out of the kid. But apparently I’d done an okay job of it because he’d decided starting a rap sheet at seventeen wasn’t a good plan. Thank fuck. Almost two years later, the kid was my right hand.
And now that Chains was mine, someone was stealing from me—but not just someone. An employee. Someone I should’ve been able to trust. The cameras I had installed on her day off had already paid for themselves.
I rolled my head from side to side, cracking my neck. I hated firing people. It never got easier. And this time? This time it was going to be even worse … because there would be tears. And quite possibly claws.
Pushing up from the chair, I strode to the door without looking at Mathieu. Over my shoulder, I tossed, “You might want to stay here; Brianna’s ass is about to get canned.”
“For real?” His words followed me out, but I didn’t bother to reply.
Every time I stepped foot onto the shop floor, a feeling of pride surged through me—pride that I’d helped build this business into one that was not only honest, but profitable. At least, it was profitable when one of my employees wasn’t skimming off the till and messing with my bank deposits.
Finger twirling in her long, dark extensions and gum snapping between her teeth, Brianna flipped the pages of a magazine with a giant black Sharpie in one hand, circling shit. Probably shit she wanted to buy with the money she’d been stealing from me. The store was empty, which made what I was about to do a little easier.
“Bree, need a few minutes.”
Her head popped up, lips pursing as she took me in. “You can have all the time you need, boss.” Her gaudy fake eyelashes batted at me in what I assumed was supposed to be a sexy move. I stowed the urge to tell her to save it for someone whose dick got hard at the sight of her … but since I was about to fire her, why add insult to injury? The woman had been unsuccessfully trying to add her notch to my bedpost since I’d hired her. Bringing her on had been a mistake, and I’d known it from the minute she’d walked in the door, but a friend had called in a favor.
“Boss? You had something to say?” she prompted.
I watched her, not speaking.
She stopped the hair twirling and capped the Sharpie, resituating herself on the stool and folding her hands in her lap.
“Lord?”
“You’re done.”
Bree’s dark eyes flew wide. “Done? You mean done for the day?”
“Done. For good. Get your shit and get out.” 
Bree lost the innocent pose as she crossed her arms and stared me down. “Not until you tell me why.”
In two long strides, I closed the distance between the register and me and pressed my hands to the counter.
“I gave you a job. Gave you a paycheck you didn’t have to suck a dick to get. But that wasn’t enough for you. You had to have more, and instead of coming to me and asking for a raise, you decided to make it happen yourself.”
The color faded from her face, leaving her mocha-colored skin sallow. “Wh-what?”
“Get your shit.”
“I swear, I didn’t—”
“Don’t fucking lie to me. I can show you the tape if you want to see what I saw.”
Her lower lip started to wobble. It wasn’t going to work. I’d given her the benefit of the doubt, hoped I was wrong or it was just a one-time thing. But she’d gotten too bold.
“But I need this—”
 I cut her off. She wasn’t even going to deny it. Not that she could. We both knew she’d done it, and I wasn’t in the mood to listen to her beg or justify her actions. Even though she didn’t know it, I’d already given her a second chance. And all that had done was cost me even more than I could afford to lose. “I needed someone to work the shop—someone who wasn’t going to fuck me over and steal from me. You weren’t capable of that, so you’re out. Now get your shit.”
“But—”
“Save your breath, Bree. I ain’t listening unless you’re here to tell me you’ve got all the money you’ve taken, and you’re putting it right back where it belongs.”
Her face twisted into an angry glare even as the tears started falling. “You … you don’t understand.”
“No, I really don’t understand.” I crossed my arms and waited her out. When she realized the water works weren’t changing my decision, she spun off the stool, grabbed her giant purple purse from behind the counter, and stalked toward the door.
“You get all self-righteous with me about a little cash while you basically steal from people? Giving ‘em twenty dollars for their shit? Like you’re one to judge.”
A little cash? She’d skimmed enough to buy a nice used car, and I’d been too trusting to even realize it until the numbers hadn’t added up in a big way.
She slowed near the guitars at the front of the store and malicious glee lit her eyes.
She wouldn’t.
Oh, but she did.
Bree grabbed a guitar and swung it toward the rack as the chimes above the front door jangled. Wood crashed against wood, and two female screeches erupted.
Shit … if she injured a customer…
I charged Bree and ripped the guitar from her hands before she could swing again. A swirl of red hair caught my attention as the other woman dodged out of the strike zone.
Bree struggled against my hold, and I wondered if I was going to end up with a face full of the acrylic claws tearing at my arms. “Let go of me, you asshole!”
 “Whoa, boss. Getting the door for ya.” Mathieu bolted across the shop and yanked the door open again. I hustled Bree out and set her free on the sidewalk.
She spun to face Mathieu and me. “You’re gonna regret this,” she hissed. “I swear, you will.”
A soft laugh came from the open door. “From what I’ve seen, I highly doubt it.”
Bree opened her mouth to spew something else, but I shut her down. “Get gone. I don’t ever wanna see you near my shop again.”
Bree’s flinty eyes narrowed as she shouldered her purse. “Fuck you, Lord. You think you’re better than me? Not a chance. You’re just thievin’ street scum. Fuck you.”
“And now she’s getting repetitious,” the husky female voice commented from behind me.
Lip curling in disgust, Bree turned and marched toward the corner, never looking back.
“Her exit could totally use some work, but all-in-all, that was one hell of a welcome.”
I turned to survey the woman standing in the doorway of Chains. Even without a photographic memory, I didn’t think I’d ever forget this particular pose: one arm braced on the doorframe and the other propped on her hip, a green dress hugging curves that had my entire body sitting up and taking notice. Matched with her long, curling red hair, she was a goddamn knockout. What the hell is she doing here?
“You lost, sweet thing?”
She stepped onto the sidewalk and tore the HELP WANTED sign off the bottom corner of the front window. Holding it between two fingers, she smiled. “Nope. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’m your newest employee.”



 About Meghan March:
Meghan March is the author of contemporary and erotic romance novels.
Meghan March has been known to wear camo face paint and tromp around in woods wearing mud-covered boots, all while sporting a perfect manicure. She’s also impulsive, easily entertained, and absolutely unapologetic about the fact that she loves to read and write smut. Her past lives include slinging auto parts, selling lingerie, making custom jewelry, and practicing corporate law. Writing books about dirty talking alpha males and the strong, sassy women who bring them to their knees is by far the most fabulous job she’s ever had. She loves hearing from her readers at meghanmarchbooks@gmail.com.



Catch Up on the Beneath Series:
Beneath This Mask (Beneath #1)
He loves me, and he doesn’t even know my real name. 

The limelight that follows him could expose everything I’m hiding. But even knowing the risks, I can’t force myself to stay away. 

I’m going to break his heart, but mine will shatter right along with it. 

Will we lose it all when I reveal what’s beneath this mask?

Goodreads:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22458416-beneath-this-mask

Buy Links:

Beneath This Ink (Beneath #2)
I’ve always known she was too good for me, but that never stopped me from wanting her.
And then I finally had her for one night.
A night I don’t remember.
I figured I’d blown my shot.
But now she’s walked back into my life, and this time, I have the upper hand. I want my second chance.
Will she be able to see the man beneath this ink?

Buy links:



Contest Alert!
Starting June 16th, readers can enter the contest to win a Coach Purse from Meghan March!


MILD SPOILER WARNING! If you have read Man On you will adore this poignant full circle scene. If you have not, feel free to read it and then jump into the novel for only .99!




MAN ON blurb:
ONLY .99 during the 2015 Women's World Cup!


Bad boy of European football, Nicolas Garza is about to hit American shores with a vengeance. Signed by the Detroit Black Jack Gentlemen as lynch pin for their expansion club, Nicco only half believes he’s making the right move. But with a past full of ghosts and rotten behavior chasing him from his homeland, he has no real choice.

Parker Rollings is a college soccer superstar, but his parents’ plans for their only son do not include professional athletics. When the Black Jacks approach him to finalize their roster, Parker leaps at the chance to keep playing, leaving behind medical school, stability and his first and only college sweetheart.

Nicco and Parker face off as bitter rivals for a coveted starting spot at midfield and are forced to channel their negative energy into something positive for the sake of the group—and themselves.

All eyes are on the fledgling team in its debut season. It’s crucial that the Black Jacks prove all the doubters wrong. They must make a good showing in the league and with new fans. But player drama, club dynamics, and misplaced priorities may tear it apart before it even begins 


And now.in honor of Father's Day…..a special deleted scene!


Happy Father’s Day!
Black Jack Gentlemen Style

by Liz Crowe   All Rights Reserved

*****************************************



“You realize that this is gonna be tough. I mean, World Cup level, final game, in the rain and heat against a stacked Brazilian national team level of impossible.” 
“You realize that does not make me feel in any way prepared to help her, right?”
Parker glared at Nicco for a split second before turning his attention back to his simultaneous obsession with the current World Cup match they were watching and his phone, which he clutched in one hand so hard his fingers hurt. He glanced at it, then back at the huge TV screen.
“Boys.”
The group of players huddled together on the large leather couch looked up at the sound of a female voice. Sara Gordon stood there clutching a bunch of sweating brown beer bottles. As the wife of the man who’d basically conjured the Black Jack Gentlemen expansion pro soccer team for Detroit, she’d never developed a full appreciation for the game, or so she claimed. But she knew how to host a party. 
The team was gathered at the Gordon’s expansive Ann Arbor home to watch the semi finals. They’d eaten burgers, kicked the ball around with the kids that hovered around the edges of any Gordon party and now sat clustered around the huge television, cheering, in a solid fifty-fifty split for either Turkey or Uruguay in a surprise pairing. Neither team had been expected to get this far. Their coach, a Turk named Metin Sevim was pacing and cursing. Every man in the room was mesmerized by the action.
Everyone but Parker.
He smiled at Sara and started to stand, excusing himself for the thousandth time. Nicco put a hand on his leg, attempting to calm him but he was claustrophobic, antsy and Nicco’s little pep talk had not helped him in the slightest. 
“She’ll be all right,” Sara whispered as he passed by her. “It’s soon, right?”
Parker’s face flushed red. He hated being so obviously beside himself. Hoping to deflect some of the attention focused on him by pretty much the entire room, he held out his hands. “I can take those around,” he said. 
“Over here then, hurry up,” Jack Gordon said from the far side of the huge room. “She’s been serving everybody but me for the last hour.”
Sara stuck her tongue out at her husband as she handed the bottles over to Parker. 
“You’re just spoiled Gordon,” a voice called, Parker couldn’t tell from where. His ears were ringing and his heart thumped with anxiety as he passed out the beers, making the politically correct call to get one over to Jack first. 
The room erupted when a near miss drive came up just short inside the Uruguayan goal. Beers dispersed, Parker leaned against the wall in the back of the room, trying to let the vision of his favorite game played at the highest possible level distract him. It didn’t work. Sighing, he slunk back into the hall and headed upstairs with the sounds of cursing and cheering in his ears. He must really be off, he thought. He didn’t even care who’d scored. 
The brightly lit kitchen beckoned from the end of the hall so he headed there, smiling at the sight of the various kids in the living room, watching some cartoon or another. His chest constricted on the heels of that, reminding him of his terror level. 
“Hey there,” Rafe said on his way past him towards the basement door. The team’s co-manager, a former Argentinian star, put a hand on his shoulder. “Is it time?” 
Parker shook his head, unwilling to talk about it even to the one guy who’d been his biggest supporter during the past months of insanity and drama. Thankful when Rafe read his  “leave me the hell alone” body language and kept going past him, he headed into the kitchen, needing space to breathe and think.  
“Hi,” Sara said, as she loaded dishes into the washer.
“Can I help?”
“Not ever gonna turn that down.” She smiled and pulled her hair back into a ponytail and plopped into a chair. “Thanks.”
“No problem.” 
After about twenty minutes he had all the dishes loaded, the counters cleared off and wiped down. Sara had stayed quiet, sipping a glass of wine and reading something on her tablet. He sat across from her once the busy work was complete. She glanced up at him, her deep green eyes thoughtful. “The patio could use a sweep,” she said, nodding towards the wall of glass between the kitchen and outdoors.
He leapt up, never more grateful for her spot-on intuition that he required something to do that would keep his mind off the fluttering, impending panic attack. Grabbing the broom he found leaning in the mud room he headed out into the warm June night. Once the patio was spotless, he dropped into a cushioned lounge chair, heart in his throat again. 
What had he been thinking? He was not ready for this step. Especially considering the convoluted nature of how it would go down. He leaned forward, elbows on his knees and counted his blessings for a brief moment. He and Nicco were out. They were a couple. They’d weathered the many storms of media coverage both good and very bad. The Black Jacks organization had been supportive of their decision not to be the “face of gay men in sports.” But they’d also fully supported Nicco and Parker by not forbidding them to be seen together in public.
He sighed and lay back, staring up into the twinkling stars nestled into the velvety night sky. At that moment, he would have given anything he had to talk to his father. The milestone moment in his life that loomed terrified him. He wanted to hear his father’s deep, reassuring voice. 
But since he’d thrown off his parents’ plan for medical school and marriage to his college sweetheart, they’d pretty much absented themselves from his life. His mother sent him emails, keeping him up to date on the various cousins he still felt close to and who’d made it to some of his games. But his father had not spoken to him in over a year. And Parker had never felt the giant, gaping hole the most important man in his life had once occupied than he did right this minute. 
He must have dozed off because the next thing he knew, there was a hand on his face, startling him awake. He sat with a grunt, almost tumbling off the side of the wide seat.
“Relax baby,” Nicco said. “Scoot over.”
Parker made a concerted attempt not to yell at the man he’d finally admitted he loved not that long ago, right on the heels of one of the most alarming conversations he’d ever had with the last woman he’d had sex with.  Nicco kept a  firm hand on his thigh, calming him almost instantly. He shifted so Nicco could slide in next to him. He grabbed the man’s hand and threaded his fingers through his.
“God damn I am freaking out,” he said, putting Nicco’s knuckles to his lips. 
“You think?” Nicco’s white smile gave him something to focus on not his own creeping panic. They sat in silence a while, comfortable, side by side and Parker sensed his pulse calm, finally.  
“Who’s winning?”
“Not Turkey,” Nicco said, taking Parker’s hand and putting on his zipper. “I’m bored.”
“No, you’re not. You’re just as nervous as I am. You just like to fuck to distract yourself.”
“And that is a problem because…” Nicco flipped up onto his side and slid his hand under Parker’s tee shirt.  Parker sighed, shivering when his lover’s fingertips teased his flesh. He sensed Nicco’s full lips on his neck, then his jaw. He let the man turn his face towards him with the hand that had made it all the way up under his shirt. 
“I love you,” Nicco said, his mouth mere centimeters from Parker’s. 
“I know,” Parker said, suddenly desperate for a connection. He gripped Nicco’s face, let his hand slide up into the other man’s hair. “Kiss me.” 
“No problem,” Nicco said as he did as he was told. For a few seconds, Parker was one hundred percent distracted from what was about to happen to him, to them. He knew nothing but his lover’s lips and his body pressed close on the lounge chair in the soft, Michigan summer night. 
“Hey!” A voice broke into their increasingly inappropriate groping. “Yo, Rollings! You out here?”
In the process of disentangling from Nicco’s embrace Parker dumped himself onto the hard patio surface. “Shit,” he muttered, scrambling to his feet. 
Nicco rose gracefully, as usual, pulling his shirt tail out over his jeans in the dim light thrown by the kitchen. 
Si, we’re here. What d’you want.” Nicco said, irritation clear in his accented voice. 
“Uh, you left your phone in the kitchen,” the voice said. “You’re getting a lot of calls…”
Parker ran past whoever was talking, he never found out, snagging his phone and breaking into a freezing cold sweat. Sara stood with Jack by the front door, holding it open. He stood, utterly frozen for a few seconds. Nicco breezed by and snagged his arm.
“Let’s go Papa. Time to make this thing for real.” 
Parker glanced up in terror. But the cool, calm, dark gaze held him, calmed him and he nodded.

They made it to suburban Detroit hospital in record time. Parker barely remembered it. He’d placed two calls, one to his mother. She’d been excited, and promised that she’d relay his good news the family, reminding him to call the second he know more. The other one had been harder. He’d heard the fear and pain in Ashley’s voice. 
“Hurry,” had been the one word he’d said to Nicco. 
They burst out of the elevator onto the maternity floor, skidding to a stop at a nurse’s station long enough to bleat Ashley’s name. The nurse had taken one look at the two men, shook her head, then lead the way down a long hall to a closed door. He heard it then, the distinct sound of female screaming. He stopped, stepped back and sensed himself sliding the floor.
“Oh no you do not,” Nicco said, yanking him up. “Hold it together Parker. This is where she needs us.”
Parker nodded but knew he was gonna fade. He couldn’t bear it. Ashley was crying now, on the other side of that damn door.  The nurse handed them papery gowns and masks. Then opened the door and shoved them into the very depths of hell. 

Five hours later, Parker sat huddled in a chair holding a tiny infant who was staring at him in such a way that made his heart pound and his eyes burn with unfamiliar tears.  Ashley was knocked out, having endured hours of screaming, blood, shit and pain before they just cut her open and took the damn baby out.  But at that moment, all Parker knew was the small boy who was memorizing him with his earnest, dark blue gaze. 
Nicco perched on the chair arm and touched the boy’s face making him blink and shift his gaze up, seeming to take in both men who were so transfixed by him.  “Wow.” Nicco said, his voice hoarse. “Just…wow.”
“Yeah,” Parker croaked out, unwilling to admit how very much in love with the tiny boy he already was. “Ross. He’s for real.”
They both looked up when the door opened, revealing a tall, suited, handsome and very stressed out looking man. Nicco got up and walked over to him holding out a hand. The man took it but kept looking over Nicco’s shoulder at Ashley’s immobile form on the bed.
“Congratulations Anthony. It’s a boy.”
The man blinked. “Thanks. Um…she’s…”
“She’s exhausted. But fine.”
Parker looked up when he sensed the other man nearby, looking down at the infant. “Go to her,” he said, knowing that was all the man wanted right then. 
A nurse came in to check Ashley’s vital signs then turned to Parker. “Okay let’s take baby Ross to the nursery now. You have more visitors.”
Parker felt himself clinging to the boy, not willing to surrender him yet. Nicco was back at his side, hand on his shoulder. “Can we share the good news first?”
She frowned, obviously wanting to get the baby back. But Nicco was not about to let that happen. 
“Sure. But not for long.”
Nicco put a hand under Parker’s elbow and helped him up, keeping his arm around Parker’s waist as they walked out the door and into the bright morning light of a busy maternity wing. Parker blinked, certain that his fatigued brain was playing tricks on him when he caught sight of the people standing there. 
“Mom?” he said, almost stumbling. But Nicco kept a firm grip on him. “I’m…it’s….” He turned to the man he’d been missing so much it hurt. “Dad?”
“Give him to me Parker,” his mother said, tears streaming down her face. “Please let me hold him.”
Nicco bumped his hip, breaking him out of his stunned silence. Parker’s tall, austere, patrician father stood there with tears in his eyes. Nicco whispered something in his ear, making him smile. 
“Happy father’s day, Dad,” Parker said, staying close to Nicco, unwilling to hide or pretend anything about what he was anymore. 
“Happy father’s day to you, son,” the man said as Nicco took the baby from his arms and gave him to Parker’s mother. Parker stood, staring at the man who’d raised him. To his utter shock, the man grabbed his arms, hesitated a split second, then tugged him into a tight hug. 


Happy Father's Day Liz Fans.