“This is not the night you die.”
After years of working for a loan shark, Robert is done with blood and violence. All he has to show for it is a bag of money and a lifetime of regrets. There’s no other way out of his line of work than in a body bag.
So Robert decides to die.
But on the night he chooses to seal his own fate, destiny offers him a chance at redemption. When Robert saves a handsome young escort from a terrible death, he has no idea he is setting in motion much more than one last attempt at proving that inside the hardened shell, he is a decent human being.
Charming, quick-witted, and full of smiles, Nathan is all Robert could dream of. He’s also ready to fall into the arms of his gruff protector. Robert, on the other hand, has never been with a man and will first need to fight his own demons if he is to accept that his whole being wants to make Nathan his.
With his former boss hunting them both, time is ticking, and Robert might just not get the chance to decide before it’s too late. More importantly though, Robert will stop at nothing to protect the man who’s made him feel alive again, the man who is the only thing between him and the abyss.
“I never had to think much about death before, but I did yesterday. I thought I would die. In a hole. Covered with dirt. Suffocate underground. But then you saved me.”
WARNING: This story contains scenes of violence, torture, mentions of suicide, offensive language, morally ambiguous characters, homophobia and homophobic language.
Robert slowly lowered himself next to the man and watched the thick fabric move with the hurried rhythm of his breath. “How much do you owe Vogel?” He’d seen so many people in this position before that in Robert’s mind this guy was somehow melting into a collection of them all.
The fabric pulled close to the stranger’s face, making his nose poke at it. “If anything, he owes me! I did what he asked of me. I don’t belong here. It’s all lies!”
“What does that even mean?” Robert asked and nudged the body. His tongue was dry, and he groaned when he realized the bottle was now out of reach. How could this night have gone off the rails so rapidly?
Nathan went quiet for long moment. “Have you ever seen Spartacus? You know, the gladiator TV show?”
Robert frowned, thrown aback. “Are you drunk?”
“No! No… I’ve been sober for a while now.” To Robert’s surprise, Nathan crawled a bit closer in his direction, so dangerously close to the hole that Robert had to stand in his way. “It’s just that there’s this one gladiator there, and if you’ve seen the show, I was wondering if you thought he was gay or bi. I promise this is going somewhere.”
Robert rubbed his flushed face, kneading the flesh and letting his scruff scratch his palms. “Are you trying to tell me you’re gay? Yeah, because this is very important right now.”
Nathan inhaled a deep breath. “I… it’s just that it’s my only fault here, you know? I mean, if you don’t want anyone to know you’re gay, don’t put your dick in a man, right?”
Robert rolled his eyes and pulled out a switchblade. It was dark, and he wasn’t in the mood to look for the zipper. The sleeping bag would join Robert’s former colleagues under the dirt.
He lost balance, falling to his knees instead of just leaning down. Grabbing a handful of the thick fabric, he tore a hole in the sleeping bag. “You propositioned one of Vogel’s men?”
“No! He was the one doing the propositioning! I stayed at his lakeside villa for a week! I thought we’d have a good thing going, that he liked me. And then he flipped and turned into a murdering psycho!” Big blue eyes looked up at Robert from the opening he just created. Pretty like a doll, but the dry blood marring the pale skin under Nathan’s nose reminded Robert that the young man was most definitely made of flesh and bone. His lips were swollen under the red smear, but that didn’t make Nathan any less attractive. If anything, their plumpness made Robert want to lick, nip, and part them with his fingers. Nathan’s cheekbones were the kind you were more likely to see in a magazine than in real life, and the slight dimples to the sides of his lips suggested he used to smile a lot before whatever got him here.
He was a toy thrown away by someone who got tired of playing with it, but it was hard for Robert to imagine how anyone could toss such a gem into the dirt. If this boy were his, he’d—What? What would he do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Because Nathan wasn’t the kind of toy Robert was allowed to have. He wasn’t a kid anymore, and his self-control never slipped.
Robert tore the bag with a strong tug to both sides of the cut and offered Nathan his hand. In the blurry light, and looking back into the incredible blue of Nathan’s eyes, it almost felt as if he were the one begging for Nathan’s attention.
K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are taken for sisters with surprising regularity. Katís the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnesís ass when sheís slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite pushing thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.
They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, thereís one thing you can be sure of ñ it will be full of surprises.
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