Queen Wolf Cover Reveal!

QUEEN WOLF – Releasing May 22!

Rubenesque, Menage, Shifters, May/Dec, Erotic Romance
Word Count: 51,600
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

 

Avery is resigned to solitude. She can’t shift, she’s overweight, and her ex cheated on her, but when Alpha Fletcher and his best friend, Mitch, return to Boulder Pack after years of traveling, she’s shocked at how much she wants them.

Fletcher doesn’t expect to meet his mate within moments of coming home, but he and Mitch are nothing if not adaptable. Avery makes their beasts howl with need, but can she accept two wolves instead of one? Triad mates haven’t been allowed in ages.

Mitch is happy to bond with Avery and Fletcher—he has room in his heart for two mates. What he isn’t happy with is Avery’s father threatening her, and making her doubt her worth. Avery is a Queen, but she has no idea what that means. Will instinct be enough to push them together, or will Mitch and Fletcher need more drastic measures to convince Avery that she’s their destiny?

 

Story Excerpt:

Mitch stopped just behind Fletcher. He stared for a moment at the woman backlit by the window. He could tell she was curvy. He could tell she had serious muscles under the curves. And he could tell she had grey eyes, because they were practically glowing as she looked at him and Fletcher, but he could not, for the life of him, figure out what the hell his wolf thought he was doing. The beast howled like the full moon was about to fall in on them, and his fucking heart felt that way, too. When he realized that Fletcher wasn’t able to move, he reached back and shut the door. He didn’t give a shit if this was the Alpha’s suite. Right now, he didn’t want an audience for the arousal that rocketed through him.

“Nine years is a hell of a long time,” Fletcher said.

Mitch didn’t know how he got his voice to work. He inhaled, and the scent of her—floral and musk combined—drove all rational thought out of his head. He growled under his breath as his cock shoved hard against the placket of his jeans.

Fletcher twitched, and Mitch clamped his mouth shut. He didn’t trust himself to speak right now.

“Nine years ago, I was sixteen,” the woman said, and Mitch abruptly realized who she was. Avery Tate. Paige’s best friend,his brain told him. His wolf didn’t care. The beast wanted out.The beast wanted her.

Fletcher reached out his arm, pushing against Mitch’s chest as if to ground him. Mitch exhaled, sensing Fletcher’s Alpha power slide into him like a warm, familiar hand. A bit of his normal calm returned, thank fuck. “Avery,” he said, voice so low he barely recognized himself.

Avery turned her brilliant light eyes on him, and he almost stepped back when he saw the power floating in her gaze. She’s a Queen,he thought, shocked, and then, She’s ourQueen.He reached up and gripped Fletcher’s wrist, pressing his fingertips into his best friend’s bones.

Fletcher didn’t even flinch. He glanced at Mitch, and the knowledge in his expression told him that they were on the same page.

“Mitch,” Avery replied. Her gaze shifted back to Fletcher. “And Fletcher.” She licked her lips, and Mitch felt the rumble of Fletcher’s growl on his skin. “Welcome home. It’s been a very long time.”

Fletcher dropped his arm and strode forward. Avery stepped back, but there was nowhere for her to go. Her back was at the window. Mitch followed his Alpha and stopped just as Fletcher sank his hands into Avery’s long, red hair. She gasped, eyes flashing silver, and Mitch felt her desire like a punch in the gut. She was just as aroused as they were.

“You’re all grown up,” Fletcher said to Avery. He jerked his head, short and sharp, and Mitch knew Fletcher wanted him to move in on Avery’s other side. He did as Fletcher asked, not needing words, and put his hand on Avery’s shoulder. Her skin was so hot it burned his palm, but his wolf liked it. The creature snarled, and Mitch sucked in a hard breath, fighting to keep himself from just grabbing her and throwing her down on the floor where they could fuck her easier.

Dear God, help me,he thought, half shocked by his thoughts, but also grateful. He hadn’t been able to have sex in over a year, and this woman obviously had something that both he and Fletcher needed. He didn’t mind sharing. Hell, he wantedto share with Fletcher. He neededit. He could already feel the tenuous thread that tied them together strengthening. This woman is a catalyst,he realized, but he had no idea how or why her,instead of any of the other women he and Fletcher had tried to hook up with.

Avery blinked, but astonishingly, didn’t try to get away from Fletcher’s grip. “Yes. I’m twenty-five now.”

“Thank God,” Fletcher said, and then he dipped his head and kissed her.

****

Avery froze, stunned when Fletcher just leaned down and kissed her, as if it were perfectly normal to kiss a woman you’d just met again after nearly a decade apart. She hadn’t minded the hands in her hair, or Mitch’s hand on her shoulder, because the touch soothed her wolf in some unfathomable fashion, and she wasn’t about to complain when the prickles in her skin calmed down. However, the kiss was another thing altogether. She lifted her hands, about to push him away, and then his tongue slipped into her mouth and all rational thought fled her skull.

Oh my God, he tastes like the wind,she thought absurdly, and then Mitch pressed up against her side, and she turned her head, gasping. Before she could take a breath, hekissed her, too. He tasted like a storm, all roiling clouds and lightning, and she realized that the two men tasted the same.She wrenched her head back, and stared at them in shock. “Oh my God. What’s happening?” She had neverfelt this way with Brian. Or anyone, for that matter.

“I have no fucking idea,” Fletcher said, staring with those golden eyes as if he could see into her soul.

Avery reached up and tugged her hair away from his fists, then moved so that Mitch’s hand fell away. Her wolf immediately howled again, and she flinched, feeling behind her for the window. She knew there was a small balcony of some sort just below this suite, and she knew she could survive the jump down. But I’m not sure I can survive another second with the two of them,she thought, panicking. How could Paige have been so right about her wanting Fletcher? And Mitch? How could her wolf suddenly go crazy, pushing her to want things she shouldn’t? She wasn’t anyone important. She couldn’t even shift.She wouldn’t bring anything helpful to the pack. Heirs usually married the daughters of Alphas, or Betas, and quite often, the pairings were politically motivated. She was nobody. I have to go,she thought, as fear speared through her arousal.

“Avery—” Mitch said, reaching out.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured, and then she let herself twist backwards and down, rolling onto her feet as she landed. She risked a quick glance up—Fletcher and Mitch stared down at her—and then she pushed off and ran away.

QUEEN WOLF coming May 22! #TeaserExcerpt

QUEEN WOLF – Releasing May 22!

At long last, my writing must has returned to menage! Who would like to read about an Alpha and a Beta and their mate, who has no idea she’s a Queen Wolf?

Rubenesque, Menage, Shifters, May/Dec, Erotic Romance
Word Count: 51,600
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

Scroll down for an exerpt.

Avery is resigned to solitude. She can’t shift, she’s overweight, and her ex cheated on her, but when Alpha Fletcher and his best friend, Mitch, return to Boulder Pack after years of traveling, she’s shocked at how much she wants them.

Fletcher doesn’t expect to meet his mate within moments of coming home, but he and Mitch are nothing if not adaptable. Avery makes their beasts howl with need, but can she accept two wolves instead of one? Triad mates haven’t been allowed in ages.

Mitch is happy to bond with Avery and Fletcher—he has room in his heart for two mates. What he isn’t happy with is Avery’s father threatening her, and making her doubt her worth. Avery is a Queen, but she has no idea what that means. Will instinct be enough to push them together, or will Mitch and Fletcher need more drastic measures to convince Avery that she’s their destiny?

 

Teaser Excerpt:

Mitch stopped just behind Fletcher. He stared for a moment at the woman backlit by the window. He could tell she was curvy. He could tell she had serious muscles under the curves. And he could tell she had grey eyes, because they were practically glowing as she looked at him and Fletcher, but he could not, for the life of him, figure out what the hell his wolf thought he was doing. The beast howled like the full moon was about to fall in on them, and his fucking heart felt that way, too. When he realized that Fletcher wasn’t able to move, he reached back and shut the door. He didn’t give a shit if this was the Alpha’s suite. Right now, he didn’t want an audience for the arousal that rocketed through him.

“Nine years is a hell of a long time,” Fletcher said.

Mitch didn’t know how he got his voice to work. He inhaled, and the scent of her—floral and musk combined—drove all rational thought out of his head. He growled under his breath as his cock shoved hard against the placket of his jeans.

Fletcher twitched, and Mitch clamped his mouth shut. He didn’t trust himself to speak right now.

“Nine years ago, I was sixteen,” the woman said, and Mitch abruptly realized who she was. Avery Tate. Paige’s best friend,his brain told him. His wolf didn’t care. The beast wanted out.The beast wanted her.

Fletcher reached out his arm, pushing against Mitch’s chest as if to ground him. Mitch exhaled, sensing Fletcher’s Alpha power slide into him like a warm, familiar hand. A bit of his normal calm returned, thank fuck. “Avery,” he said, voice so low he barely recognized himself.

Avery turned her brilliant light eyes on him, and he almost stepped back when he saw the power floating in her gaze. She’s a Queen,he thought, shocked, and then, She’s ourQueen.He reached up and gripped Fletcher’s wrist, pressing his fingertips into his best friend’s bones.

Fletcher didn’t even flinch. He glanced at Mitch, and the knowledge in his expression told him that they were on the same page.

“Mitch,” Avery replied. Her gaze shifted back to Fletcher. “And Fletcher.” She licked her lips, and Mitch felt the rumble of Fletcher’s growl on his skin. “Welcome home. It’s been a very long time.”

Fletcher dropped his arm and strode forward. Avery stepped back, but there was nowhere for her to go. Her back was at the window. Mitch followed his Alpha and stopped just as Fletcher sank his hands into Avery’s long, red hair. She gasped, eyes flashing silver, and Mitch felt her desire like a punch in the gut. She was just as aroused as they were.

“You’re all grown up,” Fletcher said to Avery. He jerked his head, short and sharp, and Mitch knew Fletcher wanted him to move in on Avery’s other side. He did as Fletcher asked, not needing words, and put his hand on Avery’s shoulder. Her skin was so hot it burned his palm, but his wolf liked it. The creature snarled, and Mitch sucked in a hard breath, fighting to keep himself from just grabbing her and throwing her down on the floor where they could fuck her easier.

Dear God, help me,he thought, half shocked by his thoughts, but also grateful. He hadn’t been able to have sex in over a year, and this woman obviously had something that both he and Fletcher needed. He didn’t mind sharing. Hell, he wantedto share with Fletcher. He neededit. He could already feel the tenuous thread that tied them together strengthening. This woman is a catalyst,he realized, but he had no idea how or why her,instead of any of the other women he and Fletcher had tried to hook up with.

Avery blinked, but astonishingly, didn’t try to get away from Fletcher’s grip. “Yes. I’m twenty-five now.”

“Thank God,” Fletcher said, and then he dipped his head and kissed her.

****

Avery froze, stunned when Fletcher just leaned down and kissed her, as if it were perfectly normal to kiss a woman you’d just met again after nearly a decade apart. She hadn’t minded the hands in her hair, or Mitch’s hand on her shoulder, because the touch soothed her wolf in some unfathomable fashion, and she wasn’t about to complain when the prickles in her skin calmed down. However, the kiss was another thing altogether. She lifted her hands, about to push him away, and then his tongue slipped into her mouth and all rational thought fled her skull.

Oh my God, he tastes like the wind,she thought absurdly, and then Mitch pressed up against her side, and she turned her head, gasping. Before she could take a breath, hekissed her, too. He tasted like a storm, all roiling clouds and lightning, and she realized that the two men tasted the same.She wrenched her head back, and stared at them in shock. “Oh my God. What’s happening?” She had neverfelt this way with Brian. Or anyone, for that matter.

“I have no fucking idea,” Fletcher said, staring with those golden eyes as if he could see into her soul.

Avery reached up and tugged her hair away from his fists, then moved so that Mitch’s hand fell away. Her wolf immediately howled again, and she flinched, feeling behind her for the window. She knew there was a small balcony of some sort just below this suite, and she knew she could survive the jump down. But I’m not sure I can survive another second with the two of them,she thought, panicking. How could Paige have been so right about her wanting Fletcher? And Mitch? How could her wolf suddenly go crazy, pushing her to want things she shouldn’t? She wasn’t anyone important. She couldn’t even shift.She wouldn’t bring anything helpful to the pack. Heirs usually married the daughters of Alphas, or Betas, and quite often, the pairings were politically motivated. She was nobody. I have to go,she thought, as fear speared through her arousal.

“Avery—” Mitch said, reaching out.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured, and then she let herself twist backwards and down, rolling onto her feet as she landed. She risked a quick glance up—Fletcher and Mitch stared down at her—and then she pushed off and ran away.

The Fixer – First Chapter Fun!!!

Want to know what you’re getting when you 1-Click on THE FIXER? Scroll down for a First Chapter excerpt!

buy links: EvernightAmazon – BookStrand –  SmashwordsKoboiBookstore

  

Gay Romance, Suspense, Erotic Romance, Lawless, May/Dec
Word Count: 42,500
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

Scroll down for an excerpt.

When Zero Graham wakes up in the hospital, he has only one thing on his mind: revenge on the mastermind who shot him and trashed his home. He’s the best fixer in the business, and that means he has a reputation to uphold.

Julian Amon doesn’t want to check up on his mother’s patient, but he can’t say no to her, and he finds the older man intriguingly hot. His decision to tag along when Zero checks himself out of the hospital borders on crazy, but the older man interests him, and Julian has always enjoyed a good mystery.

Zero doesn’t want or need a babysitter, but Julian’s physical competence and lack of fear push all of his buttons in exactly the right way. Violence is his kink, and the younger man doesn’t seem to mind the scent of blood, but will Julian be able to handle the pressure when Zero closes in on his enemy?

 

First Chapter Excerpt:

Some big motherfucker was sitting on Zeke Graham’s chest, and he didn’t like it one bit. He opened his strangely groggy eyes, about to use his considerable strength to shove the fucker onto the floor, when he realized that he couldn’t move his arms. Or breathe on his own. A horrible tube stretched from his lips down into his throat, hurting his esophagus. He couldn’t swallow. Beeping sounds from his left pierced his skull, setting off a headache worse than any he’d ever had before.

“Zero? Can you hear me? Try and relax. You’re in the hospital, and you’re on a ventilator. Don’t fight it. You’re waking up from surgery,” a female voice said. Something cool touched his arm.

Zeke, known to most everyone as Zero, struggled to order his thoughts, but everything seemed to float away from him before he could make sense of it. He tried to turn his head, but the room he was in was dim and blurry, and he couldn’t see much. He tried again to lift his arms, but he couldn’t move at all. His limbs felt like they’d been squashed underwater, and the sound of the machine breathing for him freaked him the fuck out, not that he’d show it. He counted to ten in his head. In his experience, counting slowly did more to calm him down than any fancy meditation exercise. And given his shit luck for most of his life, he needed something to keep himself from flying off the handle every other day.

“Okay, try and cough as we pull out the tubing. On three,” the voice said.

Zero counted silently as the woman counted aloud.

“One, two, and three.” She smoothly pulled the tube out of his throat.

Zero choked, then gasped as a searing pain in his chest made his headache seem like a joke. “God,” he croaked, but no sound came out.

“Easy. Your throat is still trying to figure out how to work,” the woman said, easing an ice chip between his teeth.

Nausea swept through Zero, and he frowned, clenching his teeth. The ice chip cracked in half, then melted. “Sick,” he managed to whisper.

“It’s from the anesthesia. Hang on, and we’ll get you something for that. We don’t want you vomiting with that chest wound,” the nurse said.

Zero concentrated on lying perfectly still. He must have dozed or something, because when he opened his eyes again, something burned in his arm.

“That’s the Zofran. It should help with the nausea,” a male voice said. “As soon as it kicks in, you’ll feel better.”

Somehow, Zero knew that he should be more worried about what was going on, but he couldn’t seem to focus. He closed his eyes, and drifted off. A long time later, he woke up again. The pain in his throat was better, and he could see clearly. He was in a hospital bed, in a room with a window on his right. A row of what looked like cloth cells stretched down the left-hand side of the antiseptic space and around the perimeter of the room.

“Hello there.” A male nurse bustled into his room, pushing back the curtain. “I see you’re awake. Can you tell me your name?”

Zero licked dry lips. “Zero. Zeke to my dead mother.”

“Excellent.” The man nodded, eyes on the monitor above his bed. “You’re awake, and your vitals are stable, so we’ll be taking you to your room, now.” The man turned to Zero and smiled. “How are you feeling?”

“Like a truck sat on me.” Zero tried to lift his arms, and was happy to find that they worked. Sort of. He hadn’t liked being so drugged that he couldn’t control his body. Nearly all his life, he’d had no one to depend on but himself, and he hadn’t been this vulnerable since he was a kid. He needed to be able to defend himself if necessary. “Like shit.” He tried clearing his throat, but the pain in his chest put a quick end to that action. He concentrated on breathing, counting in his head until he felt a bit calmer.

The nurse nodded. “I know you feel like crap right now, but believe me, you came through major surgery better than I’ve seen most people.” His gaze flicked down Zero’s body. “It’s a good thing you’re in excellent shape.”

Zero wanted to snort, but he had a feeling it would hurt like hell. “What did they do?” He hadn’t expected to feel so bad after surgery. He’d thought the bullet had simply slipped through his body, no biggie. He knew he had an exit wound on his back.

“You had your lung reinflated, and a fragment of a bullet removed. Apparently, a tiny piece had lodged up against one of your ribs. You’re a very lucky man.” The nurse began to unpeel the stickers and leads stuck to Zero’s “Your heart is strong though, so there’s that.”

“How long?” Zero struggled to make his mouth work. He really needed a drink, but he had a feeling that was off the table for a while.

“How long what? How long were you under? Several hours.” The nurse bundled up the EKG wires and shoved them into the cabinet under the machine.

“No.” Zeke clenched his teeth in frustration, then tried again. “How long before I can get out of here?”

“It’ll be a few days.” The nurse smiled. “Depends on how quickly you can be up and walking around. As soon as you can use the toilet by yourself, you’ll be good to go.” He undid the blood pressure cuff. “They took the catheter out while you were still under, so that’s good. As soon as you start to feel like you have to use the toilet, just let your nurse know and they’ll help you get there.”

“You’re not my nurse?” Zero swallowed again, wincing at the soreness in his throat.

“No, I work on the recovery ward. I’ll be helping you down to your room, and that’s it.”

Zero nodded, and let his eyes close again. Where the hell is Felix? And Ariana? he wondered. He’d been helping his friend out, protecting Jenna, the sister of Felix’s boyfriend, Nick, and then all hell had broken loose. That little prick Quincy Edwards had busted into Zero’s warehouse bunker, probably with the help of both intel and men from his mobster uncle. Zero had taken a shot to the chest, and Jenna had died. He grimaced. The girl had been a sweet thing, and she certainly didn’t deserve to lose her life like that. He might’ve died, too, if Felix and Nick hadn’t shown up in time to call Ariana, his doctor on call. She was another one of his favors. He’d helped her out with a problem years ago, and she owed him a house call. She’d shown up, no questions asked, thank God. He’d been in the service with her husband, too, so the connections with her family were tight. He grimaced. He didn’t like to call in the favor, but it was a good thing he knew her.

“Ok, there, Mr. Zero, hang on and we’ll wheel you down.”

“Please, it’s just Zero,” he said as he opened his eyes to find out that a hospital aide and a new nurse had appeared out of nowhere. A frisson of fear shot through him as he took in their unfamiliar faces. Hell. I’m really out of it. I’m going to bite it if I don’t get my shit together. He couldn’t afford to be drifting in and out of life like this. He had enemies. He had a business to run. Contracts to place, and goods to sell. He wasn’t used to being so weak. It wasn’t safe.

“So, what do you do for a living?” the nurse asked. Her cheerful demeanor told Zero she didn’t mean anything by her question. She unlocked the wheels on the bed and nodded to the aide. The man pushed gently, and the bed began to roll toward the double doors at the end of the ward. “Are you a cop?”

A cop? Amusement rushed through Zero. She’s just making small talk, he told himself so his mind wouldn’t go zooming off into what-ifs. He had no capacity to plan for an exit right now, so he needed to make do with the situation as it was. “Not a cop. What would you say if I told you I was a fence?” he asked, smiling slightly. He flexed his fingers and toes, gratified to feel the weird, groggy tingling recede. The more awake he became, the better he felt about his situation. He could think again, which was what had bothered him more than anything else. Pain he could handle. Not having his brain work was a disaster he couldn’t bear to contemplate.

“You like to tell tales, don’t you?” The woman laughed, and her braids bobbed as she smiled down at him. “Since you’re not a policeman, I thought you’d say you were a bouncer. You look like you could bench press a horse.” She guided the bed down the hall. “Next you’ll be telling me that you’re a world-famous assassin, or a spy, like James Bond.”

No, being a contract killer is my best friend Felix’s job. Zero smiled wider, despite the pain starting to bleed through the fading anesthesia. “I did work as a bouncer once, my dear.” If he’d been feeling better, he’d flirt a little. The ladies enjoyed it, and somehow, they always knew he didn’t mean anything serious with it. “And I can mix a delightful martini.”

“You’re a sweet talker, aren’t you?” The nurse grinned as she punched the button for the elevator. Her dark skin gleamed even in the harsh hospital light, and Zero suddenly wished he had his camera. He liked taking pictures of people.

Everyone should have a hobby, he mused, thinking about how he’d light her face. Of course, the handsome male aide silently pushing the bed from behind was more his type, but Zero wasn’t one to discriminate when it came to art.

“I’m Jacinda. You just lie back and enjoy the ride,” the nurse said.

Zero nodded, frowning when the last remnants of the anesthesia made him dizzy. “Will I have a private room?” he asked as they wheeled him into the empty elevator.

Jacinda looked at him in surprise. “Of course. Doctor Amon arranged everything for you. I thought you knew. They told me you were conscious when you came in for treatment.” The elevator binged, and the doors opened. They pushed his bed out.

“I am still waking up,” Zero said, wondering if Ariana would make an appearance at his bedside. It would probably be better for her if she didn’t. He made a mental note to call her and make sure she stayed far away. If Felix had completed matters like he’d expected, that disgusting twit Quincy would be dead by now, and his uncle, Robert Edwards, would be out for blood. Zero didn’t want Ariana getting caught in the crossfire when he eliminated the man. He wasn’t keen on anyone breaking into his home. Not only was it bad for business, he also had a reputation to maintain.

“Ah, it looks like you have visitors already,” Jacinda said, pushing him into a room. She arranged the bed near a bank of monitors on the wall, then locked the wheels. The aide helping her wandered out, and Jacinda busied herself with letting down the side rail of the bed nearest the bathroom. “Whenever you feel up to it, just push this button and I’ll help you to the bathroom.”

“Of course,” Zero said, and she patted his arm before heading out of the room. He turned his attention to the two men waiting by the window. “How interesting. I thought the two of you would be too busy to come check up on me.” His voice still had a hint of rasp to it, but he made an effort to speak clearly. He didn’t want anyone to know how weak he felt, even his friends. Felix scowled at his words, and Nick frowned. Zero sensed their exhaustion, even through his own post-surgical weariness.

“We’ve completed our business,” Felix said, not elaborating.

Judging from the shadows under Nick’s eyes, Zero knew precisely what that business had been. Quincy Edwards was dead. “Heading west, then?” He thought briefly about apologizing, but the two men already knew how deeply regretful he felt about Jenna’s death. Nick looked like a man floundering on the edge of drowning, and didn’t need to rehash the circumstances of his sister’s death.

“Yes. I don’t really want to stick around,” Nick said, rubbing his eyes. “Especially since Felix won’t let me go after Quincy’s uncle.”

“Felix knows that villain is my problem to solve,” Zero said softly.

“Even though he helped his nephew kill my sister?” Nick demanded angrily. He took a step forward, but then stopped when Felix put a hand on his arm.

Zero sighed, and the pain in his chest reminded him that he wasn’t up to hunting anyone at the moment, damn it all to hell. Patience, he told himself. “Even so. He invaded my home. He is my responsibility. I don’t take kindly to men breaking into my sanctuary. Clearly, he wanted me dead because I would not work for him. Vindictive bastard.”

Felix nodded. “We understand.”

Zero knew his friend Felix truly did get it. He wasn’t so certain about his friend’s new boyfriend. “I promise that he will not enjoy my justice, dear Nick.”

Nick glared at him, then shrugged off Felix’s arm. “I don’t have the resources to do what needs to be done, despite my skills. I’d need your help anyway. I’m a thief, not a killer.” He started pacing at the foot of the bed.

Zero watched him for a moment, feeling the exhaustion from his surgery dragging at his limbs. “You need rest, and to grieve. I will properly dispose of the criminal, and we will all live happily ever after, yes?” He hoped Nick took the hint. The only thing Zero wanted right now was to sleep some more, and maybe take a piss.

Felix, inscrutable as always, leaned back against the windowsill. “Nick. Let it go. Zero will do what he said.”

“Fuck, Felix—” Nick began, but Zero cut him off.

“It is regrettable, what happened to your sister. I will tie up all the loose ends as soon as I am on my feet. Do not fret over it. You know my word is good, and that is precisely why I will handle the situation. My reputation is my business.” Zero pushed the button on the side rail, elevating the bed a bit more. He needed to face Nick properly, so the man could see his intention on his face. “We’ve worked well together for several years, haven’t we? We have made a great deal of money.”

Nick stopped pacing and stood in the center of the room, hands clenched into fists. “Yes.”

“Then trust that I will take care of it,” Zero said. He glanced at Felix. “You’ve explained to him how we met, correct?” He still remembered that day vividly. He’d been barely fourteen, an early freshman in his new high school. The bleachers had stretched above his head like prison bars. The boys holding him down thought it would be funny to rape a “fucking faggot”, as they liked to call him. Felix, a senior at the same school, had discovered the boys assaulting Zero, and used his fists to convince them that it was a very bad idea. Since then, Zero’s loyalty to Felix for saving him from a brutal had never wavered, and he wasn’t about to let the man down now, despite the recent debacle.

Felix nodded.

“Good. Then you understand that I keep my word.”

Nick shoved his hands into his pockets. “You didn’t keep Jenna safe, though, did you?”

Zero would have liked to shake some sense into Nick, but he didn’t have the energy for it right now. And, too, the man was clearly grieving deeply. “You know what happened, and you know how deeply I am sorry for her loss,” he merely said. He couldn’t have predicted that fucking Robert Edwards would give his nephew the manpower to break into Zero’s warehouse, especially not when the older Edwards wanted his nephew dead. He cocked his head, thinking about the situation. “I believe that Edwards was simply trying to ensure his nephew’s death, above and beyond the contract that he took out on the boy. What better way to do that than to break into my home? Though very few people know where I lived, everyone knows how I feel about threats against me and mine. He would know that I’d retaliate swiftly. Even better if I died during the process. The elder Edwards has never liked my independence, and I would never work for him directly.”

“Edwards didn’t pay up yet, I noticed,” Felix murmured.

Zero nearly smiled at his old friend’s single-minded thought process, but held back when he looked at Nick again. The poor man was doing his best to hold it together, but he had a way to go before his grief over his sister’s loss ran its course. “I will check into the situation tomorrow,” Zero merely said.

“You still expect him to pay for the contract he put out on his nephew’s head, after all that happened?” Nick asked.

“But of course,” Zero said, surprised that such an experienced thief would need an explanation. “Business is business. The circumstances of the kill do not invalidate the matter of Quincy’s death. Felix is owed his money for the job. If Edwards does not pay, the contract will be declared void, and Edwards’ ability to do business will be damaged. He dare not risk it.” Zero reached up and rubbed his face. He was beginning to feel a lot more pain. He glanced at the nurse’s button, then decided against calling her. Pain never killed anyone. Spiraling down into a hole of opioid medication could very well mean his end. He had no intention of becoming addicted to any substance. He would endure, and he would heal, as he had so many other times in his life.

“You act as though Edwards will be able to continue doing business at all. Dead men don’t get to fucking do business, Zero,” Nick bit out.

At that, Zero had to let his smile out. He knew he didn’t look healthy, or happy, and that the smile was more of a baring of teeth than anything else. “I want him to suffer before he dies, Nick.” He looked at his old friend, Felix, and saw understanding in his expression. “And for him to suffer, he needs to not quite understand what is coming for him.”

The Fixer Release Day!!!

buy links: EvernightAmazon – BookStrand –  SmashwordsKoboiBookstore

  

Gay Romance, Suspense, Erotic Romance, Lawless, May/Dec
Word Count: 42,500
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

Scroll down for an excerpt.

When Zero Graham wakes up in the hospital, he has only one thing on his mind: revenge on the mastermind who shot him and trashed his home. He’s the best fixer in the business, and that means he has a reputation to uphold.

Julian Amon doesn’t want to check up on his mother’s patient, but he can’t say no to her, and he finds the older man intriguingly hot. His decision to tag along when Zero checks himself out of the hospital borders on crazy, but the older man interests him, and Julian has always enjoyed a good mystery.

Zero doesn’t want or need a babysitter, but Julian’s physical competence and lack of fear push all of his buttons in exactly the right way. Violence is his kink, and the younger man doesn’t seem to mind the scent of blood, but will Julian be able to handle the pressure when Zero closes in on his enemy?

 

Story Excerpt:

Zero couldn’t help it. He leaned in and cupped Julian’s cheeks. Fine auburn stubble pricked his palms. He loved it. “Darling, how enterprising of you,” he murmured. He really liked this man. Julian’s delightful combination of youthful innocence married to a startling level of self-confidence flat out did it for him. Instead of jerking his head away from Zero’s hands, Julian’s skin heated more. Zero watched while the younger man’s face flushed a deeper pink. “Lovely,” he murmured.

“What the hell, Zero?” Julian stared at him.

Aw, fuck it. Zero moved closer, crowding Julian up against the bathroom door. It didn’t take much movement to pin the younger man there. His motorhome might be a luxury model, but it was still a small space for two large men. “Are you quite certain you want to stay here with me, Julian?” he asked, giving the man one last exit possibility. “I can’t guarantee that you will remain innocent under my care.”

“Innocent?” Julian laughed. “I’m not innocent, and neither am I in your care. For the last time, I’m a grown man. I choose where I want to be.” Julian leaned into Zero’s touch, eyes going heavy lidded. “You keep making the assumption that I don’t know what I want.” He put his hands on Zero’s wrists. “I’m bisexual. I’ve never been in anyone’s closet, let alone my own. Stop pretending that you’re in charge of my life, Zero.”

Arousal slammed into Zero, despite his exhaustion. Most men looked at his size and ran the other way. The ones who liked their lovers big ran away when they discovered Zero’s brain was just as impressive as the rest of his body. Julian, however, hadn’t shied away even once. Delight warred with the violence Zero worked so hard to keep in check. He wanted to grind himself into Julian until they were both dirty and aching. Zero hummed under his breath, and leaned in. “I’m going to kiss you now. And you’re going to like it.”

“So much talk,” Julian whispered, but Zero’s mouth shut him up.

****

Julian froze the moment Zero’s lips touched his. Instead of devouring him, Zero coaxed him open gently. Instead of biting, Zero licked and nibbled until Julian’s need for a solid touch burned through him. He yanked Zero closer, groaning when the man’s heavy body pressed him to the wall. “Fuck, Zero. Stop with the teasing.”

Zero lifted his head. “Oh, but teasing can lead to such delightful things, Julian.”

Julian answered by biting Zero’s bottom lip. “You talk too much.” He knew he was asking for trouble by hooking up with a guy recovering from a gunshot wound, who also had a lot of unfinished and probably illegal business to deal with, but fuck if he cared right now. He wanted Zero. He hadn’t felt this revved up by a simple kiss, like, ever. So what if I get myself in trouble? I gotta live my life, right? He licked inside, chasing the fading taste of beer on Zero’s breath.

Zero shuddered, hands going around Julian’s neck. He threaded his fingers up into Julian’s hair. “Mmmm. You taste like a very, very bad idea.”

Julian groaned, then ground his cock into Zero’s hip. “Don’t overthink this, Zero. We could have a good time together.” He wasn’t a small man, and he knew he was in fantastic shape, but his lean muscles were no match for Zero’s bulky frame. Decades of some kind of weight lifting had given Zero enough mass to shoulder his way through just about anything. He locked one hand in Julian’s hair, and then he used the other to jerk Julian closer. Julian let him. Hell, Julian liked it.

“Someday we’re going to fuck and nothing will be the same ever again,” Zero murmured.

“Promises, promises.” Julian smirked, grinding against Zero until his dick hurt with the pressure. “You feel like a guy in need of some relief.”

“Fuck.” Zero’s eloquence seemed to have completely deserted him. Julian let Zero manhandle him down the hall to the master bedroom.

“You’re going to get us both killed,” Zero muttered, muscles bulging as he moved.

“But what a sweet way to die,” Julian replied, not giving a shit about Zero’s paranoia. “You talk too much.” He inhaled, catching a hint of the man he knew lay under all the hospital scents.

Zero grunted, lips busy along Julian’s jawline. “You don’t know what you’re fucking with.”

“I know you’re going to fuck up your incisions if you keep that up,” Julian said when Zero shoved him up against yet another wall.

“Shut up.” Zero kissed him again, savagely this time.

When the kiss ended, Julian gasped for air. “We definitely doing this then?” he asked, trying to get his bearings.

Zero stared at him, dark eyes gone black with lust. “You better be very sure, my dear.”

The Fixer Cover Reveal!!!

Releasing February 15th!

  

Gay Romance, Suspense, Erotic Romance, Lawless, May/Dec
Word Count: 42,500
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

When Zero Graham wakes up in the hospital, he has only one thing on his mind: revenge on the mastermind who shot him and trashed his home. He’s the best fixer in the business, and that means he has a reputation to uphold.

Julian Amon doesn’t want to check up on his mother’s patient, but he can’t say no to her, and he finds the older man intriguingly hot. His decision to tag along when Zero checks himself out of the hospital borders on crazy, but the older man interests him, and Julian has always enjoyed a good mystery.

Zero doesn’t want or need a babysitter, but Julian’s physical competence and lack of fear push all of his buttons in exactly the right way. Violence is his kink, and the younger man doesn’t seem to mind the scent of blood, but will Julian be able to handle the pressure when Zero closes in on his enemy?

 

Story Excerpt:

Zero couldn’t help it. He leaned in and cupped Julian’s cheeks. Fine auburn stubble pricked his palms. He loved it. “Darling, how enterprising of you,” he murmured. He really liked this man. Julian’s delightful combination of youthful innocence married to a startling level of self-confidence flat out did it for him. Instead of jerking his head away from Zero’s hands, Julian’s skin heated more. Zero watched while the younger man’s face flushed a deeper pink. “Lovely,” he murmured.

“What the hell, Zero?” Julian stared at him.

Aw, fuck it. Zero moved closer, crowding Julian up against the bathroom door. It didn’t take much movement to pin the younger man there. His motorhome might be a luxury model, but it was still a small space for two large men. “Are you quite certain you want to stay here with me, Julian?” he asked, giving the man one last exit possibility. “I can’t guarantee that you will remain innocent under my care.”

“Innocent?” Julian laughed. “I’m not innocent, and neither am I in your care. For the last time, I’m a grown man. I choose where I want to be.” Julian leaned into Zero’s touch, eyes going heavy lidded. “You keep making the assumption that I don’t know what I want.” He put his hands on Zero’s wrists. “I’m bisexual. I’ve never been in anyone’s closet, let alone my own. Stop pretending that you’re in charge of my life, Zero.”

Arousal slammed into Zero, despite his exhaustion. Most men looked at his size and ran the other way. The ones who liked their lovers big ran away when they discovered Zero’s brain was just as impressive as the rest of his body. Julian, however, hadn’t shied away even once. Delight warred with the violence Zero worked so hard to keep in check. He wanted to grind himself into Julian until they were both dirty and aching. Zero hummed under his breath, and leaned in. “I’m going to kiss you now. And you’re going to like it.”

“So much talk,” Julian whispered, but Zero’s mouth shut him up.

****

Julian froze the moment Zero’s lips touched his. Instead of devouring him, Zero coaxed him open gently. Instead of biting, Zero licked and nibbled until Julian’s need for a solid touch burned through him. He yanked Zero closer, groaning when the man’s heavy body pressed him to the wall. “Fuck, Zero. Stop with the teasing.”

Zero lifted his head. “Oh, but teasing can lead to such delightful things, Julian.”

Julian answered by biting Zero’s bottom lip. “You talk too much.” He knew he was asking for trouble by hooking up with a guy recovering from a gunshot wound, who also had a lot of unfinished and probably illegal business to deal with, but fuck if he cared right now. He wanted Zero. He hadn’t felt this revved up by a simple kiss, like, ever. So what if I get myself in trouble? I gotta live my life, right? He licked inside, chasing the fading taste of beer on Zero’s breath.

Zero shuddered, hands going around Julian’s neck. He threaded his fingers up into Julian’s hair. “Mmmm. You taste like a very, very bad idea.”

Julian groaned, then ground his cock into Zero’s hip. “Don’t overthink this, Zero. We could have a good time together.” He wasn’t a small man, and he knew he was in fantastic shape, but his lean muscles were no match for Zero’s bulky frame. Decades of some kind of weight lifting had given Zero enough mass to shoulder his way through just about anything. He locked one hand in Julian’s hair, and then he used the other to jerk Julian closer. Julian let him. Hell, Julian liked it.

“Someday we’re going to fuck and nothing will be the same ever again,” Zero murmured.

“Promises, promises.” Julian smirked, grinding against Zero until his dick hurt with the pressure. “You feel like a guy in need of some relief.”

“Fuck.” Zero’s eloquence seemed to have completely deserted him. Julian let Zero manhandle him down the hall to the master bedroom.

“You’re going to get us both killed,” Zero muttered, muscles bulging as he moved.

“But what a sweet way to die,” Julian replied, not giving a shit about Zero’s paranoia. “You talk too much.” He inhaled, catching a hint of the man he knew lay under all the hospital scents.

Zero grunted, lips busy along Julian’s jawline. “You don’t know what you’re fucking with.”

“I know you’re going to fuck up your incisions if you keep that up,” Julian said when Zero shoved him up against yet another wall.

“Shut up.” Zero kissed him again, savagely this time.

When the kiss ended, Julian gasped for air. “We definitely doing this then?” he asked, trying to get his bearings.

Zero stared at him, dark eyes gone black with lust. “You better be very sure, my dear.”

The Fixer Teaser Excerpt!

THE FIXER will be coming soon! Here’s a little tidbit for you:

Gay Romance, Suspense, Erotic Romance, Lawless, May/Dec
Word Count: 42,500
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

When Zero Graham wakes up in the hospital, he has only one thing on his mind: revenge on the mastermind who shot him and trashed his home. He’s the best fixer in the business, and that means he has a reputation to uphold.

Julian Amon doesn’t want to check up on his mother’s patient, but he can’t say no to her, and he finds the older man intriguingly hot. His decision to tag along when Zero checks himself out of the hospital borders on crazy, but the older man interests him, and Julian has always enjoyed a good mystery.

Zero doesn’t want or need a babysitter, but Julian’s physical competence and lack of fear push all of his buttons in exactly the right way. Violence is his kink, and the younger man doesn’t seem to mind the scent of blood, but will Julian be able to handle the pressure when Zero closes in on his enemy?

 

Story Excerpt:

Zero couldn’t help it. He leaned in and cupped Julian’s cheeks. Fine auburn stubble pricked his palms. He loved it. “Darling, how enterprising of you,” he murmured. He really liked this man. Julian’s delightful combination of youthful innocence married to a startling level of self-confidence flat out did it for him. Instead of jerking his head away from Zero’s hands, Julian’s skin heated more. Zero watched while the younger man’s face flushed a deeper pink. “Lovely,” he murmured.

“What the hell, Zero?” Julian stared at him.

Aw, fuck it. Zero moved closer, crowding Julian up against the bathroom door. It didn’t take much movement to pin the younger man there. His motorhome might be a luxury model, but it was still a small space for two large men. “Are you quite certain you want to stay here with me, Julian?” he asked, giving the man one last exit possibility. “I can’t guarantee that you will remain innocent under my care.”

“Innocent?” Julian laughed. “I’m not innocent, and neither am I in your care. For the last time, I’m a grown man. I choose where I want to be.” Julian leaned into Zero’s touch, eyes going heavy lidded. “You keep making the assumption that I don’t know what I want.” He put his hands on Zero’s wrists. “I’m bisexual. I’ve never been in anyone’s closet, let alone my own. Stop pretending that you’re in charge of my life, Zero.”

Arousal slammed into Zero, despite his exhaustion. Most men looked at his size and ran the other way. The ones who liked their lovers big ran away when they discovered Zero’s brain was just as impressive as the rest of his body. Julian, however, hadn’t shied away even once. Delight warred with the violence Zero worked so hard to keep in check. He wanted to grind himself into Julian until they were both dirty and aching. Zero hummed under his breath, and leaned in. “I’m going to kiss you now. And you’re going to like it.”

“So much talk,” Julian whispered, but Zero’s mouth shut him up.

****

Julian froze the moment Zero’s lips touched his. Instead of devouring him, Zero coaxed him open gently. Instead of biting, Zero licked and nibbled until Julian’s need for a solid touch burned through him. He yanked Zero closer, groaning when the man’s heavy body pressed him to the wall. “Fuck, Zero. Stop with the teasing.”

Zero lifted his head. “Oh, but teasing can lead to such delightful things, Julian.”

Julian answered by biting Zero’s bottom lip. “You talk too much.” He knew he was asking for trouble by hooking up with a guy recovering from a gunshot wound, who also had a lot of unfinished and probably illegal business to deal with, but fuck if he cared right now. He wanted Zero. He hadn’t felt this revved up by a simple kiss, like, ever. So what if I get myself in trouble? I gotta live my life, right? He licked inside, chasing the fading taste of beer on Zero’s breath.

Zero shuddered, hands going around Julian’s neck. He threaded his fingers up into Julian’s hair. “Mmmm. You taste like a very, very bad idea.”

Julian groaned, then ground his cock into Zero’s hip. “Don’t overthink this, Zero. We could have a good time together.” He wasn’t a small man, and he knew he was in fantastic shape, but his lean muscles were no match for Zero’s bulky frame. Decades of some kind of weight lifting had given Zero enough mass to shoulder his way through just about anything. He locked one hand in Julian’s hair, and then he used the other to jerk Julian closer. Julian let him. Hell, Julian liked it.

“Someday we’re going to fuck and nothing will be the same ever again,” Zero murmured.

“Promises, promises.” Julian smirked, grinding against Zero until his dick hurt with the pressure. “You feel like a guy in need of some relief.”

“Fuck.” Zero’s eloquence seemed to have completely deserted him. Julian let Zero manhandle him down the hall to the master bedroom.

“You’re going to get us both killed,” Zero muttered, muscles bulging as he moved.

“But what a sweet way to die,” Julian replied, not giving a shit about Zero’s paranoia. “You talk too much.” He inhaled, catching a hint of the man he knew lay under all the hospital scents.

Zero grunted, lips busy along Julian’s jawline. “You don’t know what you’re fucking with.”

“I know you’re going to fuck up your incisions if you keep that up,” Julian said when Zero shoved him up against yet another wall.

“Shut up.” Zero kissed him again, savagely this time.

When the kiss ended, Julian gasped for air. “We definitely doing this then?” he asked, trying to get his bearings.

Zero stared at him, dark eyes gone black with lust. “You better be very sure, my dear.”

Chapter One of The Nullifier!

In honor of THE FIXER (The Criminals 2) coming sometime in February, I wanted to share Chapter One of THE NULLIFIER and possibly tease you into buying the first book of The Criminals. Enjoy!

Buy links: EvernightAmazonBookStrandSmashwords – Kobo – iBooksBarnes & Noble

Gay Romance, Suspense, Erotic Romance, Lawless, May/Dec
Word Count: 44,225
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

Contract killer Felix Zamaro isn’t looking for love—at his age, all he wants to do is retire. When he interrupts a robbery-in-progress, he stumbles into a mess: Nick Banner is in town to help his sister kick her loser boyfriend to the curb.
Nick never thought he’d meet a hot-as-hell assassin in the middle of a random coffee run, but watching Felix take down a couple of thieves in a crappy gas station has him questioning his rule against playing with straight guys.
When Felix’s next mark turns out to be none other than the boyfriend of Nick’s sister, all hell breaks loose. When Nick moves into the house next door to Felix, both men think fate is messing with them. However, it’s Nick’s unexpected career choice that really throws Felix off his game, and for a killer, that could be a fatal mistake.

Chapter One Excerpt:

“I’m too old for this shit,” Felix Zamaro muttered, setting down his binoculars. He rubbed his eyes, wishing he’d managed more than four hours of sleep last night. He peered through the open window tiredly. His target loitered at an outdoor café across the street drinking his sixth cup of coffee, two floors below the apartment building in which Felix currently sat. How the hell could one guy drink so much caffeine? Felix didn’t get it. If he did that, he’d be fucking pissing every half hour.

He picked up his binoculars and resumed staring at the man currently on the top of his to-off list. He hated this part of the job— the constant surveillance really fucked with his mood these days. Didn’t matter if it was sunny or rainy or fucking three below. The boredom really got to him. It hadn’t always been this bad. He wasn’t a man given to strong emotions, but he remembered enjoying the chase just a bit more when he’d first gotten into this business. That sense of satisfaction had long worn off. Now it was just a job, and a tedious one, at that.

The guy finally waved down a waiter for his check, and Felix breathed out a sigh of relief. “Fucking finally.” He had no idea why the contract stipulated the man had to be taken out at this particular café, and he didn’t much care as long as the money went into his account in a timely fashion. He squinted down at the mark. The guy’s hair had fluffed up in the slight breeze. He’d have to take the wind into consideration when shooting, but that was nothing new.

He exchanged his binoculars for his Ruger M77. He’d been using this type of rifle for so long, he didn’t even have to think about

what to do with his hands. It slid into position on his shoulder almost automatically, and when he squeezed the trigger, his target went down in a fraction of a second. Felix stood up and stepped back from the peeling windowsill, already shoving the rifle into its soft case. He scanned the room for any stray speck of evidence, then grunted in satisfaction. As per his usual, the place held no sign of his presence. The occupants of this grimy apartment would never even know he’d been here.

At least not until the police come knocking on their door, looking for a killer, he thought, resetting their deadbolt with his lockpicks. He walked down the hall of the apartment building at a normal pace. He felt no guilt over what they’d go through. There was enough drug paraphernalia in their nasty little place to choke a horse and his rider. The people that lived there deserved everything that would happen to them. He looked at the elevator, then decided to take the stairs. He needed the physical exertion after all the sitting around. He pushed open the door, then peeled off his gloves and shoved them into his pockets. When he reached the ground floor, he opened the outer door with his hip, careful not to touch anything with his bare hands.

“And that’s three frigging days of my life I’ll never get back,” he said under his breath, readjusting his bag on his shoulder. He spared a glance for the commotion across the street, ducking his head so the security camera on the corner wouldn’t get a good bead on him. The bullet they’d find in the guy’s head would be completely unremarkable: it was one of the most common rounds used worldwide. His rifle wasn’t expensive, either, and could be easily replaced, and therefore not easily traced. In fact, he’d replaced it several times over the past twenty years. He didn’t get attached to his equipment, not like some people did. No sense in it.

Two and a half hours later, after traveling out of the city and dropping off his gear at his storage unit, he entered the small mini mart near his latest house rental, looking for something quick and easy to eat for dinner. They had decent sandwiches and coffee. He’d only lived here six months, and he’d be moving on soon, but even so, he recognized the cashier. She smiled at him, and he nodded, friendly and unassuming. It wouldn’t do to get pegged as a loner creep. Two shoppers on their way out, an old lady and her husband, took no note of him as he walked through the store, which was just how he liked it.

He decided to fill up the tank on his pickup while he was there, and headed toward the rear refrigerators to get his dinner first. The rattle of the bell over the door told him some new people had entered, and he automatically checked the exits at the rear of the store. It wouldn’t do to get lazy. When he turned around, hands full of turkey salad on rye, he cursed under his breath. A stupid young punk had a gun pointed at the forehead of the girl behind the counter.

“Empty the drawer and no one gets hurt.” The guy looked around nervously, hoodie falling half off his head. He shoved it back up impatiently, red shot eyes bright with adrenaline and some other illegal substance.

Felix put his sandwich down on the shelf holding bright rows of chip bags. He didn’t have any weapons on him except his pocketknife. He didn’t like to carry when he wasn’t working because men with guns had a tendency to use them, and he didn’t need the temptation or the hassle. He eased forward. The idiot with the pistol couldn’t see him from this angle. Just as he reached the end of the row of snack foods, he noticed another guy with a shotgun. Felix’s stomach growled, and he pressed his lips together. He wanted his dinner. He wanted to fill up his damn gas tank. He did not want to be dicking around with two loser punks in a mini mart. What a clusterfuck, he thought, irritated.

“Hurry up,” the one with the shotgun growled, swinging it around. “We don’t got all night.”

Felix narrowed his eyes. Mr. Shotgun didn’t have a fucking clue what he was doing with his equipment. Didn’t even have the safety off. He wasn’t sure if he felt more annoyed at the lack of professionalism, or at the amount of time it was going to take to deal with this bullshit. He edged forward, eyes on the robber with the shotgun. The moment he rounded the end cap, the guy would see him, so he’d have to act fast. Sobs from the cashier told him that she wasn’t too happy at the way her night was going, either. He paused and centered himself, pushing away the fatigue of a long, boring day. Just as he was about to crouch down and take out shotgun guy, the front door opened.

“Fuck.” His options suddenly narrowed, Felix rushed forward, grabbing the shotgun and wrestling it out of the man’s grip. He reversed it, then clubbed the asshole over the head. The guy staggered, but didn’t go down. “Stupid ox.” He tossed the shotgun

down the aisle, and it skittered under the rear refrigerators as he blocked a wild throw to his face. From the corner of his eye, he saw the man who’d opened the front door freeze, eyes wide. “Gonna be collateral fucking damage if he doesn’t move,” Felix muttered, grunting when Mr. Shotgun managed to land a punch on his hip. “Stupid.” Twisting, he swung cupped hands at the man’s head, and Mr. Shotgun screamed as his eardrums burst. He went down, writhing in pain.

A shot rang out and glass shattered, but Felix was already moving. He grabbed the guy with the smoking handgun in one swift move. Two seconds later the robber had a fractured wrist, and Felix was breaking down the gun into pieces. He put them on the counter in front of the sobbing cashier. Mr. Handgun slumped to the floor, holding his wrist and moaning.

“Jesus. Shut the fuck up. You’re not dead,” Felix said, shoving at the punk’s thigh with the tip of his boot. “It’s just a simple fracture.”

The guy blinked, but he shut his mouth once he got a good look at the annoyance on Felix’s face.

“Oh my God,” the cashier said, trembling and staring at man on the floor. “Oh my God.” She gripped the counter as if that was the only thing holding her upright.

And maybe it is, Felix thought, exasperated. “You’re all right. It’s all over,” he told her, tossing the magazine of the robber’s weapon onto the counter. “Call nine-one-one,” he told the girl, and then he turned to the front door. The man coming in hadn’t moved. Felix let his eyes catalogue the guy: jeans, a soft pullover sweater, keys in hand. No weapons. Shaggy blond hair falling across his forehead, blue eyes. Broken glass all around him. Good looking. Not a threat.

Felix turned back to the cashier. “Did you call the cops?”

She hiccupped, shaking her head. “What?” Mascara ran down her face in thick black streaks.

Felix inhaled deeply, then let it out again slowly. He couldn’t afford to lose his cool. Not now. Not ever. “Call nine-one-one,” he said again, more gently this time. The girl picked up the phone near the register with shaky hands.

“All I wanted was some damned coffee,” the blond guy near the door said, staring at the carnage. He held his right hand over his

left shoulder. Blood dripped down through his fingers. “Shit.” He grimaced.

Felix sighed and strode over. He was really fucking hungry, but he knew he wouldn’t be eating anytime soon. “Let me see.”

The blond frowned at him.

Felix impatiently pulled the man’s hand away and inspected the wound. “Grazed you. Might need stitches.” He craned his head, then nodded in satisfaction when he saw the round stuck in the column just outside the door. “It’s a clean in and out. You’ll live.”

The guy blinked. “I never thought I wouldn’t.”

Felix put the man’s hand back over the wound. “Steady pressure.” He paused, more than a little surprised by how irritated he was that the bullet had hurt an innocent bystander. The guy didn’t deserve it, but it wasn’t like Felix gave a shit. He didn’t dwell on random bullshit much. “Sorry. I had to deal with the shotgun first, or we would’ve had a bigger mess in here,” he offered, not sure why he was talking to the man.

The blond guy stared at him. “I’m not angry with you.”

Felix stepped back, inexplicably distracted. The blue sweater the guy wore was a perfect match for his eyes. “Good.” He turned as the punk with the broken wrist tried to struggle to his feet. “Stay down, dumbass.” Felix walked over and loomed over him. The other robber was still on the floor, hands over his ears. Felix knew how much burst eardrums hurt, so he wasn’t surprised that guy wasn’t trying to get up.

“Fuck you,” the guy at Felix’s feet said, glaring.

Felix sighed, then put his boot on the man’s thigh. “I can break your knee, too.”

The man’s eyes went wide with rage, but he went still. “Asshole,” he muttered.

Felix shrugged. “Yeah. Yeah, I am. So, don’t push me. I’m already in a bad fucking mood.” He looked towards the door as the sound of sirens in the distance grew louder. “You doing okay?” He asked the guy with the arm injury. “Not feeling dizzy?”

The blond shrugged, then winced. He’d slumped against the doorjamb, and looked tired. “I’m fine.”

Felix glanced at the cashier. She nodded at him, phone still against her ear. He looked back down at the jerk at his feet, tempted to break the man’s knee just because. He really just wanted a fucking

sandwich. And then he wanted to go home and crack open a cold beer while he checked to make sure all the money he was owed went into the proper accounts.

“We’re going to be here a while, aren’t we?” the blond guy asked.

Felix stepped back from the man on the floor, taking himself away from temptation. The cops were already going to be all over him for breaking the guy’s wrist. “Yeah,” he said, resigned to going hungry for at least a few hours. “We are.”

****
Nick Banner’s left arm throbbed, even after the shot of

anesthetic the EMT had given him before she’d sewn him up. He hadn’t wanted to go to the hospital, so she’d stitched him up and told him to get himself to his doctor for antibiotics. Now, he sat on the curb outside the mini mart, waiting for the cop grilling his hero to stop being an asshole.

“I told you, I saw the guy with the pistol first. When the guy with the shotgun tackled me, I grabbed it and hit him over the head with it. He kept coming. My training kicked in. End of story,” the man was explaining. Again.

Nick watched the expression on the guy’s face grow increasingly colder as the idiot cop repeated the same questions for the fifth time, as if that would get him a different answer. Nick needed his caffeine fix. And he desperately wanted to be the hell away from here, preferably with tall, dark, and handsome joining him. The guy was just his type: thick, dark hair a man could grab onto, and a beard that highlighted the dude’s excellent jaw line. Piercing hazel eyes held a multitude of secrets. Nick shook his head. He had to stop staring, or the guy would catch on to how badly he wanted in his pants, and he was almost one hundred percent sure the man was straight. And if Nick had one rule it was this one: don’t fuck straight guys. That was a good way to get your heart broken.

And very possibly my face, too, he thought, remembering that one time in college and the black eye it’d taken weeks to heal. He wasn’t likely to lose a fight these days, but he still preferred to avoid confrontations if he could. He was more of a silent but deadly type than a showman.

“Look, I’m done here. You have my info.” The guy walked away in the middle of the cop’s question.

Damn. Guy’s got balls to spare, Nick thought, amused. When the man neared him, he struggled to his feet, trying to ignore the pain in his bicep. “Hey,” he said. His voice cracked. The guy stood at least four inches taller than he did. He cleared his throat. “Thanks for saving my life.” He held out his right hand.

The guy frowned at him. “I didn’t save your life.”

Nick persisted. “Okay, but you probably saved the cashier’s life. That guy looked seriously tweaked out on something.” He kept his hand extended. He wanted to see what the man did. Nick was an excellent judge of character, especially when he had the opportunity to interact with a person. “I’m Nick. Nice to meet you.”

Slowly, the man reached out and shook his hand. “Felix.”

Nick smiled. Felix’s hand was warm and slightly calloused, as if the guy did a fair amount of work with some sort of tool. Golf? Weights? A shovel? he wondered, making sure to not clasp the guy’s hand for too long. Nope. Probably military something or other, with those moves he pulled on the robbers. He resisted the urge to ask the man out for dinner. He hadn’t moved back to his hometown to start dating. He was here to help his sister for a few months, and then he’d be gone again, long before the homophobic gossips could start anything. “Anyway, thanks, man.” Before Felix could respond, the cop that had been questioning him interrupted.

“Mr. Cooper, we aren’t done speaking with you yet.” The policeman grabbed Felix’s arm and hauled him around.

Nick could barely believe the fat policeman had the strength to budge the guy. He glanced at the cop’s partner slowly stepping closer. She had the sense to look nervous in the face of so much muscular testosterone. She took a deep breath and marched over determinedly.

“Arnold,” she said, clearly working to keep her tone calm. The cop ignored her. She glanced at Nick.

He shrugged, then immediately wished he hadn’t when the wound in his arm throbbed, even with the numbing medicine.

“You didn’t answer all of my questions,” Fat Cop said to Felix, as if his partner wasn’t even there. He thrust his chin out belligerently.

Nick watched anger flash across Felix’s face, but almost immediately, his expression smoothed into a perfectly controlled mask. Interesting. That’s some impressive self-control there.

“I told you I was done answering questions,” Felix said,

shrugging off the cop’s grip.
The fat cop’s face reddened. “Now, see here—”
“Is he under arrest?” Nick asked, opening his mouth to insert

his foot. What the hell am I doing? No drama, remember? That’s your motto, he told himself, even as he continued talking. “I mean, this guy saved us from those losers.” He gestured to the cop car where the two robbers sat handcuffed in the back. Total amateurs, he thought, disgusted. They were due to head to the hospital, but since neither man’s injuries was life-threatening, the police had opted to question the witnesses before driving the men to the emergency room. “You’re questioning the wrong guy. You should be asking them why they thought robbing a mini mart and terrorizing the poor girl who works here was a good idea.”

“I don’t need any advice on how to do my job.” The cop turned to Nick, scowling. “We already have your statement.”

Nick blinked at this example of utter stupidity. “Yes. I know. Are you going to answer my question?”

The female officer intervened again, this time putting a hand on her partner’s arm. “I think we’re done here, right, Arnold? If Mr. Cooper or Mr. Banner—” She nodded at Nick. “—have any more information, they’ll call us. Right?”

Not even if all the pigs in New Jersey learn to fly, Nick thought, but he nodded, eager to not be involved in some random clusterfuck with the cops. “Of course.” He stepped back before Fat Cop could get any ideas about his involvement in the situation.

Felix didn’t nod. He didn’t retreat. He just stared steely eyed and controlled right at Fat Cop’s face until the moron backed up, readjusting his utility belt as if that gave him some sort of authority. His face had turned red with anger or embarrassment, or possibly some unsavory combination of the two emotions. Nick didn’t much care. He was busy enjoying the way Felix loomed.

Fat Cop doesn’t have a chance. Nick bit back a smile.

“Don’t leave town,” Fat Cop warned, then pivoted and stalked away, handcuffs jingling from his belt.

His partner sighed. “Thanks for your patience,” she said, and then she followed her partner back to the patrol car.

Nick rolled his eyes, amused. “I didn’t know I was going to end up as a sidekick in a bad cop movie when I woke up this morning.”

To his surprise, Felix laughed. “You never know when a situation is going to go sideways.”

Nick blinked. The smile had transformed Felix’s face from handsome to stunning. He swallowed, willing his dick to behave. “Truth, man.”

Felix rolled his shoulders. “All I wanted was a damned sandwich.”

“I just wanted a coffee.” Nick grinned. Suddenly, Felix didn’t seem so unapproachable. “Shit happens.”

“That it does.” Felix nodded at him, then turned back towards the mini mart. “Take care.” He strode away before Nick could respond.

Well damn. He sure knows how to end a conversation. Nick watched him head inside and grab some food, drop a few bills on the counter, and head out to a black pickup in under five minutes. On his way out of the parking lot, Felix tapped his forehead in a rough salute to Nick from the open window of his truck, and then he drove off down the road.

“And there goes any chance at ever asking out the man of my dreams,” Nick said under his breath, half smiling.

“What did you say?” Fat Cop asked him.

Nick startled, not realizing the cop had walked back over to him. Shit. Pay attention to your surroundings, Nick. You know better than that, he told himself. “Was just wondering if there’s anywhere else I could get a coffee around here. It looks like the cashier isn’t going to be able to take my order anytime soon.” He nodded to the girl still quietly sobbing on the back of the ambulance rig. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in town.”

Fat Cop frowned. “Try Daisy’s. That’s where I go.” He held out a small business card. “Call me if you remember anything more from today.”

Nick took the card and pocketed it without looking at it. Given his line of work, it’d be a cold day in hell before he’d call the police, but there was no need to be rude about it. “Daisy’s. Got it.” He’d been there before. In fact, he’d been there plenty of times, all throughout high school. He remembered the old red and white checked tile and the shiny leather booths quite well. He remembered that one winter when he’d come home on break from college, boyfriend in tow, eager to show his new guy his favorite childhood places. And he also

remembered being thrown out of the diner, bits of egg literally stuck to his face, when his buddies from high school had discovered he was gay. Yeah, nope. Not a fucking chance am I going to set foot in that place.

Fat Cop nodded. “Take care, Mr. Banner.” He walked back to his patrol vehicle and got in on the driver’s side.

Nick stared at the cop car as it pulled away, remembering how the local officers had done absolutely nothing to help him when he’d tried to file assault charges all those years ago. “Good times,” he muttered, abruptly feeling a lot less optimistic about the next few months.