Book: Outside the Lines
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Cover Artist: LC Chase
Publication date: December 18, 2017
Length: 255 pages
Miniature artist Ian Meyers has one week to rebuild his damaged set. Needing help, he goes to End o’ Earth, the local comic and gaming shop. Owner Simon Derry pushes all of Ian’s buttons, and he also has steady hands and the skills Ian needs.
Before they can even grab a beer, Ian meets Lydia Derry, Simon’s wife. If Ian had any interest in women, he’d suggest a threesome, but then Simon explains that he and Lydia are polyamorous, and if Ian wants Simon, neither of them will complain. If anything, Lydia encourages the relationship.
Ian’s all in, and it’s fantastic working with Simon to piece together his set and then take each other apart at night. His friendship with Lydia grows too. The only problem is, the more time he spends with Simon, the more he wants everything Simon already has with Lydia: A house. A cat. A commitment. So Ian runs, and shatters the trust he has with them both—right when they need him the most. Piecing their relationships back together might prove harder than a smashed set.
It was amazing how fast two weeks’ worth of work could be destroyed. I mean, I’m used to it—half the models I built were meant to be blown up or set on fire or otherwise obliterated in a sea of special effects. This one wasn’t any different, a lovely detailed miniature of a sacred grove, complete with altars and idols—everything the larger set had—surrounded by trees in the heart of the forest. My miniature had been destined to be burnt to the ground in a spectacular magical explosion, since the EPA kind of frowned on pyrotechnics in the forest on the Olympic Peninsula. Apparently, fire and trees didn’t mix.
At least, that had been the intended fate of my model Anderson had fallen backward into the damn thing and crushed it into tiny little bits. Stunt actors, I swear—bones made of steel. Poor set was absolutely no match for two hundred pounds of falling man.
My heart stopped, or tried to.
Would have made a great shot had Anderson been in a giant rubber suit. But this was , not some science fiction show with mecha and monsters.
Ginsberg helped Anderson up and looked at the ruins of the model in the same way someone peered at roadkill. Pity mixed with revulsion. “Oh, shit.”
“Sorry, dude.” That from Anderson.
I couldn’t speak. Didn’t know what to say. We were supposed to film the scene this evening and now my model was . . . gone. Anna was going to have kittens. Large hungry kittens with claws and teeth and a taste for blood.
You think stuff is safe on set, that people would be careful. I croaked, still looking for the right words.
Anderson scratched the back of his head. “Can you fix it?”
I met Anderson’s gaze. Behind him, Ginsberg’s eyes were wide, and he backed away, his hands raised in surrender.
“Did you . . . really . . . just ask me that?” I barely recognized my own voice. It was too calm and cool. Nothing like the litany of running through my soul.
Anderson flinched and glanced at the shards of wood, clay, and paint—he’d also managed to bend the metal leg of the table my model had been sitting on—then met my stare again and hunched his shoulders. “I mean— I’m sorry. It was an accident.”
“Tell that to Anna.” I jammed both hands into my hair, and the trembles started. Holy shit. Two weeks of work undone. I barely had any supplies left, and the production schedule was so damn tight, I didn’t know if there was any time for me to rebuild the set.
“Tell me what?” Anna Maxwell’s voice cut through the air like the thin blade of a utility knife. Her footfalls followed until she stood next to me and oh, the look she gave my ruined model . . .
. I pressed my lips together and tightened the grip on my hair.
“Um.” Anderson shifted back and forth from one foot to another. “We were fooling around with a hacky sack and I, uh, fell.”
“Hacky . . . sack,” Anna said.
“Yeah, it’s that game with that kind of ball—”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, I know what a hacky sack is.” She waved Anderson quiet and turned to me. “Don’t tell me that was tonight’s shot.”
“That was tonight’s shot,” I whispered.
Anna closed her eyes, and I could almost hear her counting down from ten. She let out an exhale. “You . . .” She pointed at Anderson. “Get your ass to Natalya for some training.”
Anderson didn’t have to be told twice. He didn’t walk away—he fled at top speed. Anna turned back to the model and rubbed her chin. “Fuck.”
I slipped my fingers from my hair. Yeah, that was about all I had too.
“How fast can you rebuild it?”
Not fast enough. “I don’t—”
Oh, man. I hated when Anna looked at me like that. It wasn’t anger, but there’s this . . . stare . . . directors got. One that made you want to cower in fear.
“Like . . . a week? Maybe?” If I worked around the clock. If I had what I needed on site, which I .
Shit. Well, it was Wednesday, so I had the weekend. “A week. Seven days. This time next week.”
She nodded. “I think we can live with that.” Some tension eased in her shoulders, and her razor-sharp expression softened. “I know this wasn’t your fault. I’ll have a talk with the crew and remind them to be careful around the sets.”
I really, didn’t want to be there for that. “Thanks.”
We parted ways; her to scare the pants off someone else, and me, after gathering the sad wreckage of the grove into a box, back to my shop.
Didn’t take long to pull out the reusable bits from the detritus—pretty much only the stuff I’d sculpted out of polymer clay. At least that was good—those had been a pain to get right.
What wasn’t good was the level of supplies in my shop—I was more or less out of . I’d used so much shit making this model that I’d burned through the bulk of my stock. I had supplies on order, but who knew when that would show up in this little backwater town.
I huffed out a breath. Bluewater Bay wasn’t bad, but shipping shit here took for some reason.
And I’d told Anna I’d have the model built in a week.
About Bluewater Bay
Welcome to Bluewater Bay! This quiet little logging town on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula has been stagnating for decades, on the verge of ghost town status. Until a television crew moves in to film Wolf’s Landing, a soon-to-be cult hit based on the wildly successful shifter novels penned by local author Hunter Easton.
Wolf’s Landing’s success spawns everything from merchandise to movie talks, and Bluewater Bay explodes into a mecca for fans and tourists alike. The locals still aren’t quite sure what to make of all this—the town is rejuvenated, but at what cost? And the Hollywood-based production crew is out of their element in this small, mossy seaside locale. Needless to say, sparks fly.
This collaborative story world is brought to you by eleven award-winning, best-selling LGBTQ romance authors: L.A. Witt, L.B. Gregg, Z.A. Maxfield, Heidi Belleau, Rachel Haimowitz, Anne Tenino, Amy Lane, SE Jakes, G.B. Gordon, Jaime Samms and Ally Blue. Each contemporary novel stands alone, but all are built around the town and the people of Bluewater Bay and the Wolf’s Landing media empire.
About Anna Zabo
Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow. They live and work in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think.
Anna grew up in the wilds of suburban Philadelphia before returning to their ancestral homelands in Western Pennsylvania. As a child they were heartily disappointed to discover that they couldn’t grow up to be what they wanted (a boy, a cat, a dragon), so they settled on being themself whenever possible, which may be a combination of a boy, a cat, and a dragon. Or perhaps a girl, a knight, and a writer. Depends on whom you ask. They do have a penchant for colorful ties and may be hording a small collection of cufflinks.They can be easily plied with coffee.
Anna has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, where they fell in with a roving band of romance writers and never looked back. They also have a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University.
To celebrate the release of Outside the Lines, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 23, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!