Angels and Demons ( Phoenix Club 9) by C.J. Bishop

Title: Angels and Demons Word Count:137 pgs
Genre: Dark Gay Romance

Blurb:ANGEL, Part 3

Desperate to save Maddy from the growing dangers, Angel must defy Wade’s threats and risk everything to escape with his younger brother.

But when hope betrays him yet again, and Maddy disappears into the night – Angel is left alone to face his abusers and struggle to determine truth from lie.

Warning: This book contains homosexual relations and language not suitable for readers below 17yo.

NOTE: For those coming across the ‘Phoenix Club’ series sporadically, they were written in this order, and if possible, should be read accordingly, due to story lines that run through all the books :

ABEL
CALEB
ANGEL
GABRIEL
MAXWELL

My Review: The never-ending cycle of Angel’s abuse continues. Angel tries to placate Wade and Byrd by taking on more high paying customers. He almost succeeds in hiding some of the money , so that he and his younger brother Maddy can run away. It doesn’t go well for Angel when Wade finds out of his ‘ treachery’. He punishes Angel by letting Byrd have his wicked way with him. Byrd brutalized Angel sexually and threatened to do the same to innocent Maddy the next time.

As much as Angel would like to give up , he knows he can’t let anything happen to his sweet baby brother. Angel continues the farce that is his life and keep on turning tricks in the club. Angel’s boss Max frowns on prostitution in his club. When he hears a rumour that such illicit acts are happening, he is furious and can’t wait to find out who’s the culprit. Max sets Gabe and Cole to keep their eyes and ears out. It doesn’t take long for Gabe to figure out that the pimp is Wade. Gabe tries to seduce him so he can find out who his boy is.

Meanwhile, Dane is drowning his guilt and sorrow in a bottle. Not only is Angel being abused, but his personal life is in the toilet when the truth is revealed about Dane. Angel is devastated that Dane is one of the masked men from his nightmares. The one true hell that started his life on this treacherous slope of abuse and rape. Angel blocks out the feelings he has for Dane as he knows that there can be no future with someone who he believed has hurt him this way. Even though Angel knows that Dane wasn’t a part of the gangbang rape he experienced in the past, he just can’t forgive him. To Angel , Dane is guilty by association and by not helping him when he needed it the most.

Dane has gone MIA and everyone can see Angel is hurting. Angel pushes all his so-called friends away. He knows it will only cause him more pain to get attached. His focus is on getting enough money to run away with Maddy.They are all so shocked when they find out that Angel is the one turning tricks. Gabe and Cole corner Angel in order to help him, but the fear in Angel is so stark that he ran away while he could. He ran straight into the arms of his high paying client who pays him a whopping five grand. Angel sees salvation for him and Maddy finally. He is soon disabused of this notion when Byrd and Wade catches them. Maddy is able to run away , but this time Angel knows he is going to die when Byrd starts raping him.

Everyone is frantic at Angel’s disappearance. Dane has been found finally and he tells his friends the whole sordid mess of his part in Angel’s past. They forgive him when they see that he is just as much a victim as Angel was. Angel is able to get in a phone call to the Phoenix Club before his horror show starts. All his friends can hear Angel being raped. Dane is going crazy , not knowing where to begin looking for Angel. He is devastated hearing Angel’s cries. When Maddy shows up on their doorstep looking for help for his brother, they hope they can make in time.

Dane goes ballistic When He gets to the apartment and not much of Byrd is left when he is done. The horrible men who made Angels’ life hell is put behind bars. Angel needs serious medical attention and is rushed to the hospital. When Angel wakes to find a tear-stained wrecked Dane, his heart aches for all he sees. He forgives Dane wholeheartedly. It’s been a trial for both these men, but they are learning to forgive each other through their love that’s forged in the fires of hell. I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear.

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When Angels Cry (Phoenix Club 7) by CJ Bishop

Title: When Angels Cry         Word Count: 131pgs
Genre:Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb: ANGEL, Part 1

18-year-old Angel’s sudden arrival at the Phoenix throws Dane’s heart into a frenzy.

But after losing out so recently with Caleb, he is in no hurry to feel the heartache again and resists his own rapidly growing feelings for the young man, unaware that what Angel needs most right now is someone he can trust and feel safe with.

Caught up in an abusive situation at home from which there seems no escape, Angel’s prime objective is to protect his little brother from the same hellish existence he himself has been thrust into at the hands of their sick minded stepbrothers.

Warning: This book contains homosexual relations and language not suitable for readers below 17yo.

NOTE: For those coming across the ‘Phoenix Club’ series sporadically, they were written in this order, and if possible, should be read accordingly, due to story lines that run through all the books :

ABEL
CALEB
ANGEL
GABRIEL
MAXWELL

My Review: All Angel has ever known in his life is pain. Him being the new member of the Phoenix Club is a way to lessen some of that pain. Angel lives with his two step brothers, Wade and Axel. Wade is a horrible human being who started exploiting Angel’s innocence from an early age. Wade knows that Angel would do anything to keep his little brother Maddy safe from the harsh realities of their world. He uses that to keep Angel in line. Angel has struck up a deal with his brother that as long as he brings in good money, they will leave Maddy untouched.

Angel tries to sharpen his skills on the dance floor , by getting one of the other dancers help. It is going good with Ricky, but Angel only has eyes for Dane. Dane is one of the sexiest men Angel has ever laid eyes on, but for some reason Dane keeps his distance. Dane is intrigued by Angel’s innocence, but he doesn’t want to fall in the same trap like before. Dane fell a little bit in love with Caleb before and that unrequited love killed him. Angel knows he needs to be focused in order to make enough money to get his brother away from Wade and Axel.

Max and Horatio are still pining over each other, but seeing the turmoil that Max is in, Horatio decides to go away. This kills Max, but this is what he needs to separate himself from the overwhelming feelings. Horatio is half way around the world entertaining another young doppelganger of Max. Even though it is not ideal , he still finds a friend in Seth. Gabe and Cole are still very much in love, but Gabe starts being furtive and taking secret phone calls. Cole has caught on and it makes him very nervous that Gabe is keeping secrets from him.

When Angel is hurt by one of Wade’s friends Byrd, he becomes desperate. He enlists the help of Dane to give him some lessons for sensual dancing. The chemistry between the two is off the charts and soon leads to something more. Angel seduces Dane with his innocence and Dane’s guards around his heart are pushed away. After they fall into a blissful sleep, Angel is caught in the grips of one of his nightmarish memories. Dane sees that loving this boy could be the thing to go break him. He is running scared and pushes Angel away, telling him that their hook up was a one off thing. Angel is heartbroken and leaves in tears, knowing that yet again he was nothing special to another man. To be continued….. I give this my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

Louder Than Words( More Than Words 3) by T. T. Kove

Title: Louder Than Words              Word Count:210 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:Life might be good now, but that’s all about to come to an end soon, and what then?

I’ve had a turbulent few months; surviving a gay bashing, dealing with my abusive parents, and getting used to my new life with my equally as new boyfriend. I could do without his best friend who doesn’t like me—or maybe he does? 

Life’s about to become even more turbulent though. The last term of our education is well underway, and it’s time to figure out what I’m supposed to do next. Only I don’t know what I want to do with my life. Andreas knows, and he’s got it all figured out, but I don’t. 

Can our new relationship survive what lies ahead? More importantly, can I survive it?

My Review: The story of Andreas and Alex continues. Alex has had a rough time in life starting with his neglectful abusive parents. He self-harms as a way of coping and was ready to end it all when he meets Andreas. Andreas means the world to him , he has given him a reason to live. This is almost taken away from him when he is gay-bashed by Andreas’ best friend’s brother Marcus. For awhile there Alex lived in fear,  but therapy has helped both him and Andreas to recover from this trauma.

Andreas and Alex are looking forward to finishing up school and embarking on college. They have a few trips planned before Andreas has to go to the army for a year. Alex is worried about what life will be like while Andreas is gone. He feels like he only just started living. Andreas tries to reassure him that they will be fine. It is fun to watch how these two have grown as a couple and especially Alex as an individual.

Alex has stopped cutting and even though he  hates his scars , he is being more open about his issues. There were lots of sexy times with Alex and Andreas when they start exploring their sexuality during their vacation. They visited a sex shop and bought some great toys and handcuffs. Alex explores his submissive side and Andreas was only too happy to indulge him. 

Alex definitely feels less socially awkward, he now feels a part of Andreas’ friends. He sees himself in a new light and this bolsters his self confidence. Andreas’ best friend Glenn opens up to Alex about his conflicted feelings towards him and Andreas. It seems that Glenn is a bit in love with both of them. This boggles Alex’s mind, but it certainly makes him happy to know that Glenn doesn’t hate him.

Their summer is filled with lots of sex and some truly passionate moments. Andreas gives Alex a night to remember before he goes off to the army. However, Alex is still sad when he wakes up to find Andreas already gone. He sobs uncontrollably and it’s Ben, Andreas’ cousin who picks up the pieces. In that moment, Alex realizes that he has friends to help him through their year apart. 

Alex only lasts three days before going back to his coping mechanism. He cuts thin lines into his wrists and it seems to hurt more since he is out of practice. He feels thoroughly ashamed and he cries at the hopelessness he feels. He befriends another of Andreas’ cousin Jorgen and this helps a little. Jorgen misses his boyfriend Geir who had to go away as well. They commiserate together and Alex knows he will be fine. He knows for sure that he has found another friend. 

Alex soon goes away to school where he shares an apartment with his brother Leo. He is overwhelmed his first day,but Andreas calls and reminds him how strong he is and this helps him a lot. Alex acknowledges that he is dependent on Andreas , but Andreas is his lifeline the one that showed him the true meaning of love. He gets stronger day by day. It is the passion they share together that helps Alex in the end. Andreas encourages Alex to use the toy he got him before leaving while thinking about him. Alex is a bit uncomfortable and embarrassed at first , but he relishes trying new things.

It is two months before Andreas comes home for a few days. It is clear to see the growth in Alex as he has made a new friend from school. He is happy to see Andreas and they make the most of the few days reconnecting and reinforcing their love. It is definitely not easy for Alex, but he lives day by day with a stronger support system than ever. He is counting down the days to embark on their forever love and life together. I really enjoyed this and I give it my ratings of 5- bring out the vibrators.

More Than Anything 1 by T.T Kove

Title: MoreThan Anything                 Word Count:276pgs

Genre:Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb:He might’ve been the right person—if I hadn’t been so damaged and he hadn’t been so young.

The first time I met him, he had a seizure on the pavement in front of my flat. When my efforts to find someone who could take him off my hands failed, I let him spend the night. He was already asleep anyway, so it wasn’t like I had any choice. 

What started out as helping someone in need, slowly turns into something much more when he keeps appearing in my life. But how can he want someone like me? Someone so damaged and traumatised from my past that it keeps on messing up my present? When just one simple touch from someone is enough to bring on a flashback, a relationship with another person isn’t exactly within reach.

My Review: When Jorgen first sees the young man in front of his home , he is not sure what to expect. He immediately understands the signals as soon as the young man falls to the floor and start having a seizure. Jorgen is familiar with epileptic seizures since his uncle used to have them frequently. He takes the young man inside who he now knows is Geir from his ID. Jorgen lets Geir sleep in his bed , while he watches over him. Geir wakes disoriented, but he is met by the most handsome man he has ever seen. Jorgen is a little bit un-communicative, but Geir sees the kindness through his action.

Jorgen meets Geir by chance a few more times and it seems that he has become his self professed rescuer. Geir is being bullied at school on their second meeting and Jorgen runs off the bullies. Geir is a lonely young man and all he wants is just a friend. Jorgen is concerned about their 5 yr age difference and he knows he is a bit attracted to Geir. Jorgen is in no position for any type of intimacy though as he experiences flashbacks and panic attacks from being touched.

Geir is very attuned to Jorgen and realizes certain triggers and topics that make Jorgen quite uncomfortable. He tries his best not to push too much or be too inquisitive. Geir is wise beyond his 17 yrs and he knows for sure their is something traumatic in Jorgen’s past. The friendship between these young men blossom, but they don’t get very intimate. They are perfect for each other. Jorgen is scared of physical intimacy , because of his past sexual trauma from his childhood. Geir is not the typical teenage boy who constantly has sex on the brain. He thinks that his sex drive might be muted because of his epilepsy medications. With the lack of sex , they definitively get to know each other better through their conversations.

Their relationship doesn’t go any further than a few passionate kisses , but they both know they are thoroughly in love with each other. Their love is certainly a special brand and they have something real.This is soon torn apart when Geir’s father announces that they will be moving in with his girlfriend in another city. Geir is devastated and he feels like his father is being unfair and trying to ruin his life.

They promise to stay in touch and continue a long distance relationship. Jorgen tries to remain strong for Geir, but as soon as Geir leaves, he falls apart. Geir’s uncle is a therapist and he sees the common signs of PTSD. He encourages Jorgen to get help and Jorgen knows its time for him to get back to therapy if he wants to be the man that Geir needs. I really enjoyed this, for the heat level I will give this my ratings of  3 -If you are not all about the ‘sex’, give it a try.

Joker (Executioners 2) by J.M. Dabney

Title: Joker                    Word Count: 150 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb: Joker, what a misnomer, but Jackson Webb’s friends were idiots. He’d joined Executioners almost three years earlier after the lead singer King caught him playing his guitar behind his garage. It broke up the monotony of his life, but once he got bored, he’d move on to another distraction. He wasn’t nice. He sure as hell wasn’t friendly. He was what he was, his friends handled his attitude and standoffish nature just fine. At thirty-eight he was pretty sure he was too stuck in his ways to change shit now. 

Demetri “Dem” Urban was settling into a new life in the middle of nowhere. Okay, he was hiding from everyone in a kitchen as far removed from his five-star kitchen back in New York as he could get. Gideon invited him to stay with him and his wife for a while just until he could get everything back on track. He didn’t see it happening, but he had to admit the scenery wasn’t bad even if the man had the personality of a rabid, man-eating bear. Dem did like a challenge and that fit Joker Webb perfectly.

Author’s Note: This story contains scenes of a violent nature, mentions of rape and torture (All off page from characters pasts) and severe abuse. If you, as a reader, find this objectionable or triggering in any way, you can skip this story without losing the transition to the next book.

My Review: From the moment of conception Joker’s life has been embedded in violence. Joker is the product of a rape, where his father kidnapped his mother and continued to abuse her for years. That physical abuse turned into torture for Joker, especially when  his mother disappeared. His father perpetuated the cycle of violence that was passed on from his grandfather. Joker fears the blood that runs through his veins has tainted him and will cause him to be the same kind of man. He has always shyed away from touch, learning to live with the bare minimum of everything. Joker leads a very structured life where he sticks to routine as a means of controlling all the rage and anger he is filled with.  

Gideon’s best friend Demitri needs a change after he breaks up with his boyfriend of two years. From the moment he sees a picture of Joker, he feels a certain spark. Demitri leads a pretty upbeat life and he doesn’t allow anything to get him down. He was borned with a degenerative disease that has gotten progressively worse and causes him to use arm crutches.Demitri loves being in the kitchen and is currently working at the diner where Joker eats all his meals. Demitri forces his way into Joker’s life by disrupting his monotonous routine. When he purposely messes with Joker’s breakfast, he is pissed and storms out. Dem realizes that he needs to nudge Joker in the right direction rather than  push him over the edge.

Dem starts inserting himself gently into Joker’s life and even though Joker balks, he still ended up taking Dem on a date. Dem is definitely the aggressor in this relationship, pursuing Joker at every turn. Dem even goes to Joker’s isolated cabin, drops in unannounced and stays two days. This is unheard of, everyone usually just leaves Joker when he needs his space. When Dem leaves the cabin , he tells Joker he will be staying at his home. Even though Joker is a bit standoffish and skittish, he doesn’t push Dem away.

Joker gives Dem one night of unadulterated passion. Dem has needs and he begs Joker to give it to him hard. He is tired of everyone treating him as less than because of his disability. Joker becomes swept up in the passion and gives in to both of their desires for the first time. Joker is understandably conflicted and he flees for 3 weeks. Joker doesn’t have the proper framework when he thinks about sex. He associates any type of rough sex with rape.

Dem was worried sick and he thinks he might have pushed Joker too hard. Joker acknowledges to himself that he wants their relationship to work. Their friends give them both advice , but what resonates with Joker is Sheriff Pelter’s advice to be honest. Dem understands that they will never have a touchy feely traditional relationship, but what they have is real and very promising. After being together for more than 6 months , Dem spits out a wedding proposal that is quite untraditional. Joker gladly accepts, hoping that he will be the man that Dem needs. I give this my ratings of 3- It was ok, give it a try.

Bruised (Book 1) by T.T Kove

Title: Bruised                     Word Count:142 pgs

Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance
Blurb:Everyone says he’s bad, but to me, he’s been nothing but good.

Everyone says Wynn is bad news, but from the moment he came upon me crying, he’s been nothing but good to me. He took me home, comforted me… and he took me to bed. Which I technically shouldn’t have done, but the kindness he showed me makes me wish for something I’ve never had before. 

I’m afraid to tell him the truth though like I’m afraid to tell everyone the truth. The whole stipulation of my abusive relationship is to keep it a secret, and no matter how much I want to get away, it’s hard to talk about something I’ve had to keep quiet about for so long. 

They say Wynn doesn’t have a heart, but I know it’s not true. I know Wynn has a big heart, he’s just protecting it well—and maybe, just maybe, he can help me out of my unbearable situation before it turns violent. 
My Review: Kasey is devastated when he finds out he didn’t get into the London Contemporary Dance School. He is heartbroken and breaks down at the end of his shift outside of the club he works. His boss finds him torn apart and to his surprise Wynn offers comfort. Kasey is shocked to see his big tattooed stoic boss in  this new light. Wynn offers him a shoulder to cry on and a place to dry off after they walk in the rain. Kasey is pleasantly surprised at the kindness Wynn shows him and it draws him in like a moth to a flame.

Wynn is one of the sexiest, most intimidating men that Kasey has ever known. Kasey lives with a ‘friend’ who demeans him constantly and slaps him around. To the outside world, Alistair is perfect, but only Kasey knows the monster that resides in the man. Wynn has watched Kasey for some time , but he doesn’t want to scare the skittish young man. Kasey brings out all of his protective instincts, even though he is not quite sure what makes Kasey so nervous.

Heat sparks between these two men and Kasey gives in to the attraction that he feels for the sexy ‘bad boy’. It’s the first time that anyone’s ever cared for all of his needs. Wynn cherishes Kasey and shows him what it means to make love. He appreciates Kasey like no other and Kasey feels safe in his strong arms. Kasey grabs this moment for himself, but he knows he needs to come up with a plan to leave Alistair so he can’t hurt him no more.

Reality starts to set in for Kasey when he is at work the next day. Just thinking about Alistair starts causing a panic attack. He is clearly having a breakdown when his friend Adam sends him for a break. This is how Wynn finds him, Kasey having a meltdown. Kasey is embarrassed, but he accepts Wynn’s warm shoulder to cry on yet again. Wynn gives him the keys to his place and sends Kasey home. Kasey is super comfortable in Wynn’s space and even though Wynn doesn’t know the full story he asks Kasey to move in. 

This is a lifeline for Kasey and he now feels free to conquer the demon with Wynn by his side. He opens up to Wynn and tell him the horrors and the emotional turmoil that he has experienced at Wynn’s hand. Wynn is furious on Kasey’s behalf and he vows to protect his new boyfriend. It is fast, but they both know that they have something great that is worth exploring. Kasey starts feeling a newfound confidence with Wynn.

When Alistair shows up at the club , he gets Kasey outside and hurt him before Wynn even knows anything is wrong . Wynn goes ballistic on Alistair when he sees the bruises on Kasey. It is Wynn’s best friend Chad who pulls him off. Kasey is shook up , but he knows now that Wynn, his sexy strong boyfriend will always treat him right and protect him. They know that they are not in love yet but they have a solid foundation  to build something really special. I really enjoyed this and give it my ratings of 4- lose the underwear.

Unbroken (Phoenix Club 6) by CJ Bishop

Title: Unbroken               Word Count: 191pgs
Genre: Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb: CALEB, Part 3

Can damaged hearts be unbroken? Betrayed love learn to trust again?

Samuel’s discovering of Caleb’s extra-curricular activities with Brock incites a confrontation that leaves Caleb broken and in despair.

With only the hope of freeing Nick to cling to and give him a purpose to live, Caleb is devastated when his brother suddenly tells him to stop trying to get him released. Angry, hurt and confused – and feeling as if all he’s endured was for nothing – Caleb feels abandoned by those he loves most and is willing to do whatever it takes to make the pain inside go away.

Warning: This book contains homosexual relations and language not suitable for readers below 17yo.

NOTE: For those coming across the ‘Phoenix Club’ series sporadically, they were written in this order, and if possible, should be read accordingly, due to story lines that run through all the books :

ABEL
CALEB
ANGEL
GABRIEL
MAXWELL

My Review: Caleb acknowledges that his life has now turned into hell. It is not until Samuel confronts him with so much rage and pain in his heart,that he wants to just die. Samuel is so disgusted and feels so betrayed that he hurts Caleb by saying horrible things. Caleb thinks about suicide, but its the thought of his brother that keeps him going. Caleb feels so bereft and all alone, but Dane proves him otherwise. Dane checks on him and tries to get him to talk, but Caleb just sobs uncontrollably until he falls asleep.

Dane meets up with Samuel to figure out what’s going on with his friend. He is shocked at what Samuel reveals. Dane is the one that watches the video with an objective eye and points out certain idiosyncrasies that he sees. He puts the puzzle all together and realize that Caleb is doing all of this under duress as a way to help his brother. Samuel sees how despicable he acted to the man that he said he loved. Dane comes up with a plan to get the two lovers back together.

In the meantime, Caleb suffers emotionally and physically. Brock abuses Caleb and shows how reprehensible he is by raping him repeatedly without conscience. Brock slaps him around and he is angry that Samuel seems to know something. Caleb can hardly walk when Brock is done with him. Once again, its Dane who finds him curled up in his bed. He can see that Caleb is in pain , but he says it’s just the flu. Shortly thereafter , Caleb gets a call from his brother Nick wanting to talk to him urgently. Before he can even finalize plans to go to the prison, Brock calls him saying that he has a few questions for Nick so they should fly there together. Caleb is very tensed around his abuser, but he would do anything for his brother. Nick notices Caleb’s despondency, but Caleb plays it off and they try to work through the case.

It turns out that Nick has a few secrets he is ready to reveal to Caleb. When the two brothers are alone, Nick suggests that Caleb just drop his case. Nick has a new boyfriend Chrisian in prison and he is loathe to leave him unprotected. This pushes Caleb over the edge when he believes that all the atrocities he has endured is all for naught. He believes that this kid’s life takes precedence over his. Caleb leaves the prison feeling angry and like his brother threw him away.

Samuel calls Dane in tears when he stumbles upon the newest video of Caleb being raped and brutalized by Brock. Dane calls in reinforcements in the form of Gabe, Cole, Max and Horatio. They are all enraged and ready to kill for sweet Caleb. They realize they have to be tactical in how they deal with this situation as Brock has a lot of pull in the legal world. Their plans include Nick , since this is the only person who Caleb loves and trust unconditionally. Nick is incensed about what has happened to Caleb, and when he finds out his own boyfriend has been taken by another inmate ,he unleashes his fury.

It is Samuel who sets things in motion, enlisting the help of a seasoned lawyer at the same firm as Brock. To Brock, reputation means everything. Samuel exposes him for the monster he is and gets him arrested. He knows Brock will make bail soon enough, so there is a back up plan in effect. The dangerous air surrounding Gabe is put to the test when he promises Caleb that the boys of the Phoenix Club takes care of their own. Brock is introducedto the ‘cowboy’ and ‘Indian’ who mete out punishment befitting the crime. No man will ever be raped by Brock again.

Finally, Caleb understands how much he is loved by his friends. Dane finds him in the nick of time to pump his stomach after he has attempted suicide. He takes him to the hospital where Devlin takes care of him. Samuel apologizes to Caleb and tells him how much he still loves him. The fear soon starts to recede for Caleb once he realize that his hell has come to an end. Caleb and Nick have a tearful reunion where they each meet their respective boyfriends. Samuel is in charge of dealing with both Nick’s and Christian’s appeals. Horatio and Max are in turmoil as Max keeps pushing away his love. We are introduced to a new boy Angel who will continue the saga. I give this my ratings of 3-it was ok. For some reason I just couldn’t feel connected to Caleb, maybe because he was cold and standoffish for so long.