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Monday, April 2, 2018

Cover Reveal Blitz: Plummet To Soar by Z.A. Maxfield



A brand new story from Best-selling author Z.A. Maxfield!



Plummet To Soar
by Z.A. Maxfield

Blurb:

Feckless, luckless, and charming, Mackenzie Detweiler is the author of a self-help book one reviewer calls “the most misbegotten motivational tool since Mein Kampf.” He’s maneuvered himself into a career as a life coach, but more often than not, his advice is bad. Really bad.

It’s even getting people hurt… and Mackenzie sued.

It falls to Mackenzie’s long-suffering editor, JD Chambers, to deliver the bad news. He chooses to do so face-to-face—to see if the spark he senses between them is real when they’re together in the flesh. Unfortunately, a snowstorm, a case of nerves, a case of mistaken identity, and finally a murder get in the way of a potential enemies-to-lovers romance.

There are many, many people who have good reason to want Mackenzie dead. JD must find out which one is acting on it before it’s too late for both of them.



Release Date:
May 8, 2018


Available for pre-order at

Also available to pre-order paperback!


Excerpts


Mackenzie Detweiler lived between the throw of a die and the outcome. He gave no fucks for things in the rearview. He gave no thought to anything occurring too far in front of his car.

He had three loves—to eat, to surf, and to screw.

Except for the single, remarkable day when he fell out of a helicopter—and lived—no one would have heard of him. He’d had a lot of days, so he didn’t take that one too seriously. He often wondered why other people did.
Only one person mattered to Mackenzie Detweiler anymore. Only one person could cause him to glance back. He knew what happened to people who did that.... Nevertheless he checked his new phone a third time. Useless. It had been weeks. He should give up on JD, but that wasn’t in him. He’d blamed losing his phone in Indonesia, but he’d gotten a new one and... nothing. Maybe the phone problem was JD’s? He was hopeless with electronics. It was as though they saw him coming and died on purpose. Elevators, escalators, cell phones, garage door openers, even his sonic toothbrush fucked with him on occasion.
He swallowed back disappointment and resentment and bitter despair because those things weren’t relevant to the situation at hand, and they didn’t build on his brand in a positive way.
The least that could be said of him was he showed up when people paid him to, even when things had gone horribly wrong, even when half his plummeteers were unable to join him due to freak weather.
So far, there were five people beside him. The airport was closed for the duration of the blizzard. Except for their party, the resort was closed. Only a skeleton staff remained, solely to service his group if anyone showed. He knew that would be the case before he landed in Los Angeles and changed planes, but he had to try.
All plummet events required his full participation, no matter what. They were rife with inconveniences. This time it was the weather. His late arrival made things worse. But each and every time he did one, he came away with new resilience. Pretty soon people would catch on and start charging him.
The weather was unlikely to get better. Whiteout conditions were imminent. Seconds counted. There was only one taxi and— like a word problem in math—it could only take a certain number of passengers at a time.
But Mac liked snow and people. There was a bar, and the bro- tender kept drinks coming despite the airport closure. Guests who didn’t understand in the beginning what a plummet really was—well, they’d know by the end.
A plummet simply is. Whatever happens, happens. And that’s okay.
Mac put on his brightest smile and prepared to love his tribe harder than usual, because he had a feeling—based on spending the last hour drinking with the plummeteers who arrived early—this particular brohort could use it.
Mac showed up ready to give everything he had.
As it turns out, that’s the only important thing. #Spoilers.
Plummets had rules. Mac didn’t allow the exchange of names before a plummet officially began. He had a habit of nicknaming his students, and those usually stuck anyway. In his head, even if they never came out of his mouth.
He normally started with a talk about name meanings and such, but it was mostly because he wanted to form opinions without names getting in the way.
If, for example, Mom’s name were Ilene, he’d end up with all the Ilenes he knew in his head and not actually her. A name gave a person baggage. It could create false impressions.
An Imprudent Prudence. An Impatient Patience.
Calling the woman Mom kept her in a nice safe box until he knew who he was talking to. Wait—
If he thought about putting people in boxes, that itself was problematic. How had he never seen that before? And wasn’t that exactly how these things always went? There were breath-stealing new patterns to observe—and he’d probably have to act on them too, goddammit—every time he stopped to looked around.
The youngest guy at their table—about nineteen, Mac thought—hunched over his food. Pretty and dark, wearing all-black clothing unsuited to the weather, except maybe to facilitate finding his frozen corpse in the snow, he hadn’t spoken a word since he arrived. Sharp straight nose, sharp cheekbones. A guy could cut himself on the boy’s eyebrows alone. They looked like the Patriots’ logo, except made of hair.
Pretty boy. Too quiet, though. As Mac watched, thoughts seemed to surge into the dude’s consciousness. His eyes would light up, he’d look for an opening, and then someone else would speak.
Usually it was the man in the high-tech parka and gloves—the one with the broken leg and the unexpected gray eyes. He’d been holding forth for some time, talking about the book, Plummet to Soar, and about actual philosophers—Nietzsche, Hegel, and Kant. And he talked about how he was hoping he would find what he was looking for and how really problematic it was going to be for him if he didn’t.
Oh, great. A wannabe convert. Those were the absolute worst.
Mac got especially concerned when he said something and people twisted it to mean something else, and the converts did that all the time. Since Mac’s entire body of work was his actual body, his philosophy was all theoretical. Mac had no idea what he was putting out there. And he knew who the bona fide philosophers were—he’d read a whole lot of them—but he didn’t much care for the kind of comparisons this dude was making.
Or when they expected his philosophical system or whatnot to make sense.
“’Kay, guys.” He tried to slow them down. “This weekend— these plummets—are supposed to be organic. They’re supposed to be raw and intuitive.”
“That sounds like you’re saying the events are unplanned.” Gray eyes pinned him like a cat sighting a particularly juicy mouse.
“Nah, man.” Sit, Raleigh. Gray Eyes was totally someone who’d sit if you said, “Sit, Raleigh.”
Aw.... Mac got angry at himself for putting people in boxes again. How hard is it to change a habit, huh?
He told the man, “You’re supposed to come prepared to be surprised by your questions. Appalled by some of your answers. You come ready to work if those answers aren’t what you expect from yourself.”
The kid tried to speak, and he got cut off again.
 “If you say so.” Sit, Raleigh’s gaze fell back to his drink. “I was hoping there’d be a little more structure, is all.”
The sweet, hesitant spark animating Quiet Kid died out. The moment was lost. It was agony, watching any moment die. It was criminal.
N’oubliez jamais!
Mac gave whatever he was going to say a moment of silence. The kid didn’t seem to want them to provide him with either the emotional feedback Mac called “heart time” or the intellectual observations he’d termed “head time,” although a couple of his tablemates made friendly overtures.
Mac wanted to check the insensitive clod on his bullshit, but he did have a nice, if privileged manner—a prep school voice, a silken voice—like what you’d expect if a Cavalier King Charles spaniel started to read some very reassuring bit of news.
But Gray Eyes didn’t pay attention to any subtle warning, like Mac’s friendly tip of the head in the kid’s direction or the stage-whispered words, “Let him talk,” from Mom.
My point,” the guy with the opinions stated, as if Quiet Guy had never spoken, “is that most people find safety in structure.”
Gray Eyes dared him to argue, and he—he wanted to do more than that, truth be told. For the first time in a long, long while, somebody’s looks turned his crank hard enough to cause worry. He wanted to unleash his full “yeah, it’s on” smile because it would probably be reciprocated. But unless and until JD said it was a no-go... he wasn’t free.
Plus. A plummet is no place to fall in lust.
Three of the six people at the table nodded slowly and gave the dude permission to go on. Inwardly Mac groaned. Did Raleigh not see? Did he not care that he’d crushed the nascent, trembling word flowers emerging from Quiet Guy’s lips?
The word-flower-blocker thumped his heart—one, two, three times. Oh God. He was so sincere.... This was going to be a significantly tougher group than the last one.
“Most people,” Raleigh said, never taking his eyes off Mac’s, “find safety ‘in boundaries, in rigid limitations. It’s the box we all end up in, one way or another. And we must, we absolutely must, explode that box if we want to authentically live.’” Live was italicized.
Mac’s skin heated under Raleigh’s challenge. “No fair quoting me out of context,” he said.
The Quiet Guy finally blurted, “Do you really have to face death to understand life?”
Wow. All eyes turned to the not-talker formerly known as Quiet Guy. He’d plunged right in, hadn’t he, talking about facing death. As a way to break the ice, Mac liked the Hokey Pokey better. Poor lad. He simply trembled with youth, like a virgin in a hurricane where the winds were made of sex.
“Sh-ugar. No.” Mac was determined to nip that asinine bit of nonwisdom in the fucking bud. “That’s not what we mean by facing death. Not at all. If—”
“Oh my God.” The girl wearing the Heidi hat covered her lips, and only her lips, with both hands. From behind the Quiet Guy, she said, “It’s already starting, isn’t it? And I’m just so excited I can hardly stand it.”
Mac smiled. Mac always smiled.
He loved his plummeteers—the men and women who paid him cash money to come and give his plummets.
He loved the uncertain ones, the ones who knew everything, even the Sit, Raleighiest of Sit, Raleighs among them, because they were all just like him, made of the exact same raw materials. It still blew his fucking mind.
Everybody was as big of a dumbass as him about something.
Mac billed the weekends as “Jam Sessions About the Whole True All of It!” He offered himself as a sort of human antenna. His internal goal—to achieve a signal-boosted human outcry of joy and suffering and compassion and courage. His external goal—the great Yawp of the electronic age or, you know, other stuff like that.
He scratched an ugly bug bite on his arm. Fucking Burmese mosquitos dug his new cologne.
It took him more than a minute to come back from that thought because he’d been in Thailand and Myanmar being eaten by mosquitos only, wow... was that yesterday? Or did the international date line fuck things up? Was it still today? Or, oh God. Was it tomorrow already?
No. Today was Wisconsin. In February. Where no mosquito could survive. Or did they just hibernate?
He made a note on his phone to look that up at some later date. He finished, glanced back up, and found Sit, Raleigh’s gaze focused intently on him. He made a deliberate tour of Mac’s face—eyes, to lips, to eyes. Ooh. That felt good. Being felt up by someone’s brain again was awesome. He used to feel that way all the time when he was working with JD. Now, his phone was an open wound in his pocket because JD was ghosting him.
Where you at, motherfucker? Goddammit.
He missed JD so much sometimes. Like air. Like waves and the way sun and water droplets blinded him. He missed JD like beauty. And nothing was going to be beautiful again until he knew what happened, because—
Because none of it could be okay without JD.


JD was pissed because he felt goddamn nothing.
Stupid for hoping that, if he embraced the worst, his fears would go away.
Stupid for asking for more than he had when he was arguably the richest, luckiest person he knew.
Stupid for trying out any advice he got from a dumbass like Mac, who had turned out to be just another fucked-up human being after all—even if he was a delightful one.
They were all lucky no one had gotten killed. Yet.
Everyone from editorial to corporate had put in a word. Plummet was going to be pulled off the shelves the following Monday. Press releases had been written. Lawyers were on standby. And he had to tell Mac about that too.
Sorry. I’m the man you trusted with your career, and I’m here to pull the rug out.
It wasn’t right to keep it from him. Years back, they’d pulled a book on canning while the author reworked the section on food safety. Those things happened. But they wouldn’t offer Mac a chance to rewrite and rerelease. The ideas JD had embraced so fully only alarmed them after his ludicrous brush with death, though it had nothing to do with the book.
No. The board didn’t want anything to do with Mac anymore.
JD had argued at first. Thrown his weight around. What happened to him didn’t result from Plummet to Soar. All he’d done was attend a contentious co-op board meeting. Those were a bore but not normally dangerous. It wasn’t like he’d run with the bulls in Pamplona. No one could have foreseen his ex catching him in the parking garage alone.
JD absently rubbed his knee. And why, when his leg was broken on one side, did the other knee hurt so much? JD made a mental note to call his doctor and find out.
His eyes snapped open when the water shut off. From the other side of the door came the sound of more humming and rustling noises. Curiosity was killing JD truly. Killing him.
How did connecting doors in hotels work, anyway? Were there two doors or just one? It seemed kinda old-school—a knob, a dead bolt.
Is the lock engaged?
As though it heated before his eyes, the lock seemed to glow with some inner fire. The knob was the only thing he could focus on.
God, his leg hurt. The buzz from the fight, from the bar, was fading. If he took a pain pill, it would knock him out too hard.
JD laid his cheek against the door and put his hand on the knob. Nope. Nope, Nope. Nope. The door between their rooms felt cool. He let go of the knob, as though it would brand him, but that was just more melodramatic bullshit. He could hear his mother’s voice telling him to get a grip on himself. Which, really, anyone who ever met him would have known that having a grip on himself was part of the goddamn problem.
Try the door.
It was almost as though the door were talking to him—or was that wishful thinking?
He wanted to try it anyway, and what was it they said about confirmation bias? You generally fall in with the data that supports what you already believe?
No. It wasn’t all a scam.
The doorknob turned in his hand. The door opened in his direction. He had to step back to get out of its way. And then he was standing there, staring at Kenzie Detweiler, who wore nothing but a towel.
He looked like a tanned monster, pieced together from scraps. His skin, a patchwork of scars from the dozens of surgeries required after his accident.
Christ, he was beautiful. He had a warrior’s body—lean and weathered, hard from surfing and hiking and biking and sun. He smelled like coconuts, as absurd there in the frozen tundra as Kenzie himself, as absurd as a man created entirely from sunshine and disaster. It was agony to be with him in the darkened room. But JD only had to smile to make Kenzie come to him. Kenzie offered a small, courageous smile in return, and that was it.
They came together sloppily, with more heat than finesse. Lips crashed, teeth clacked together, hands found purchase on skin. There was only hair for JD to grab on to—hair or the rigid, well-defined muscles of a mature athlete. Kenzie got hold of JD’s clothes and dragged him close, his cock rampant, shocking both of them with the fierceness of his need.
JD fell back against the doorjamb, dizzy with lust and shock and the utter wrongness of Kenzie kissing a man he didn’t know was him.
He let his head fall back. “Wait—”
As soon as the word was out of JD’s mouth, Kenzie dropped his hands and stepped away, red-faced and sweating.
“No.” Kenzie’s eyes were too bright. “Shit, shit, shit. I’m so sorry.”
“No worries.” All JD could think about was how to get rid of the towel. He reached for it.
“Wait.” Both hands up, Kenzie confessed. “I left the door unlocked on purpose. I’m such a fucking dog. But the way you acted, I thought you’d want to talk, not—”
“My fault.” JD worked to unstick his tongue. His mouth was bone-dry, his heart racing. He was so turned on he hurt, and fuck—no way. He’d have to tell Kenzie everything. Now. “I’m not who you think I am.”
Mac laughed. “Duh, secret squirrel. There’s no Douglas on my flight manifest. Who the hell are you?”
“Er—” Having Kenzie’s body against his robbed him of speech, of breath, of functional brain cells. He couldn’t think of anything he wanted more than he wanted to feel that lightly furred athletic body against his, without a towel, without clothes, or a goddamn broken leg. He’d have to keep his boot on if they fucked, and suddenly he felt vindicated for all those scenarios he’d placed his anatomical drawing figurines in since puberty.
Kenzie cupped his face. His thick, hard cock proved JD’s desire wasn’t one-sided. The contact made him squirm, and when Kenzie finally stiffened with resolve to pull away, JD wanted to collapse at his feet and sob.
“I can’t do this.” Kenzie let him go. “I’m sorry. You have no idea. If there were any other way, I’d totally be down. But—”
JD tried to follow him and stepped wrong. Oops. There went the pain again, and the sweat, and his body was so confused. He was hard, he was hurt, he was hungry too, goddammit. He wondered if taking a pill after all the alcohol was even safe.
“Oh God, Kenzie.” He practically threw himself at Kenzie. “It’s me. JD. Just... don’t flip out. Okay? It’s JD.”
“JD?” Kenzie pulled back, pale with shock.
He swallowed. “Er—”
This is how you do it?” Kenzie asked. “This is how we meet? You lie to me?”
“No. Not really. My name is Douglas. Middle name.” It was time to come clean, but it was harder than he’d thought. “I... I had to see you. I missed you so much. But there’s... umm... a business problem we need to talk about.”
“My God, JD. I thought you’d been downsized or something.” Apparently oblivious to his near nudity, he caught both of JD’s hands and peered deeply into his eyes. “Are you all right? Jesus, you’ve got a broken leg, and you’re probably angry with me, and I’m not even sure—”
“I’m not angry—”
“Don’t lie. You came here to give me hell. I could see it when we met.” Kenzie glanced at JD’s leg in horror. “What did you do? Please tell me you didn’t go skydiving or something stupid like that.”
“It’s nothing to do with Plummet.” Still in the doorway between their rooms, still throbbing with unaccustomed lust and shame, he waved off the question. “It was a total fluke. I was just—”
“Were you mad at me about something? Because all of a sudden you were just—gone. Breathe with me.” Kenzie stood on tiptoe to brush their cheeks together while they breathed in that familiar way. Count to four on the inhale. Count to eight on the exhale, which felt so much nicer in person. A text with the words Breathe with me had nothing on the feel of Kenzie’s body, flush against JD’s—the sharp angles and crisp hair and pebbled brown flesh of his nipples. “You can tell me. Did I piss you off somehow? I do that. Most people—”
“Oh, no.” His heart was going to break if Kenzie thought he’d been faithless.... He pressed his forehead to Kenzie’s. “It’s nothing like that. I was an idiot.”
Kenzie’s smile was hesitant. “Was it because I pressured you to talk on the phone? To meet me in person? I shouldn’t have—”
“It’s not that either, Kenzie. I—”
“I felt like we really had something, JD. You and me were Lamplighters. We were gonna light up the world. You haven’t changed your mind, have you?”
Oh, when Kenzie said the words that way, how could he? Of course he was Kenzie’s man. #RideNDie. No choice anymore, really. Not since he’d fallen in love.
His heart hurt. Whether it was because it wasn’t going to be easy, or because Kenzie felt the need to ask, he didn’t know.
“It’s seems pretty cheesy, now.” JD’s turn to blush. “Considering.”
“Waging love and peace is not cheesy,” Kenzie said softly. “It’s more essential than ever in a frightening world. We have to be brave and strong and uphold our principles.”
JD cleared his throat. “I didn’t have the confidence to meet you. I’m sorry about that now. That was the one thing I did think, when”—he tapped his boot with his crutch—“this happened. I wished I had.”
Kenzie’s smile was radiant, glowing with warmth and humor and wickedness. “Never too late.”
“Please?” JD was taller by half a foot, and yet it was Kenzie who wrapped him in his arms and Kenzie who bruised him with the most exciting kisses he’d ever received. Kenzie shoved his back into the doorjamb again. Switzerland, he guessed. Between the rooms was neither Kenzie’s nor his territory yet.
Soon, though. Soon he’d let Kenzie roll past his borders and over his hills and valleys. Kenzie could plant his flag on anything of JD’s he wanted, anything in the world he asked for, everything JD had.
“Please,” he whispered again as he pressed kisses to Kenzie’s face, his neck, and his jaw.
“On it.” In Kenzie’s impatience, he broke a belt loop pulling the buckle loose. JD let his hands play while he memorized the mesmerizing sweep of muscle that was Kenzie’s back—strong, tan, ripply, sure.
He was warm and alive and there. Oh God, Kenzie was right there, and he was real, even if the plummet things were the saddest little parade JD’d ever seen.
“Where?” Kenzie asked. “Wing chair? Bed? I’ll suck you. Where would you be most comfortable?”
“I—”
“Fuck it.” Kenzie dropped to his knees and mouthed JD’s cock through his boxer briefs.
“Oh—” JD’s mouth stayed in that shocked, round O of perfection that is the surprise of hot breath on your dick through cotton fabric— and also the sound of glass shattering when the curtains blow in, along with a massive gust of wind and snow.
Boom, crack, crack, crack. Kenzie’s paper cutout flew across the room—head full of holes and smoking—to land on the bed.





About The Author

Z. A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back.  Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.

If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.” 

Readers can visit ZAM at her





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