Cover Reveal for Painted on My Heart by Kindle Alexander

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Title: Painted On My Heart
Author: Kindle Alexander
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: Coming Soon
Artist Kellus Hardin let love and loyalty cloud his past decisions, a mistake he definitely won’t make again. Now, lost and alone, he’s left to pick up the shattered pieces of his broken heart while facing the truth of his reality. 
Arik Layne exudes power, confidence, and determination. But when an encounter with the guarded artist shakes him to the core and alters all his future goals, he finds more than just his heart on the line. 

For Kellus, opening himself to love isn’t an option. 
All Arik wants is to make the artist his. 
Can love create a masterpiece when it’s painted on your heart?

Chapter 1

The shrill ring of his phone should have startled him awake, but Kellus Hardin was just too damn tired to do much more than roll in the direction of the irritating sound and throw a hand out to half-ass search around his mattress for the device. When he came up empty handed, he managed to turn the other way and do the same. By the time his exhausted sleep-hazed brain identified the phone wasn’t anywhere around him, he heard the chirp indicating a voice mail. He cracked an eyelid and lifted his head enough to look over at the alarm clock. Four thirty in the morning. Seriously? Nothing good could come from a call that time of night. He collapsed back to the bed with an annoyed groan. He’d been asleep less than an hour after working the fifteen before on the pieces he had due for the art gallery opening.
“Fuck,” he growled out, turning over again. He tucked a soft pillow into his side and decided he’d deal with that call in the morning. His exhausted state gave a solid thumbs-up on the plan, and he easily drifted back to sleep. What had to be a mere second later, the ringing started again. Stupid cell phone.
Kellus threw the covers away from his body and darted off the bed, angrier than he’d been in a very long time. He was fucking tired—tired of his fucked-up life and tired of this motherfucker who wouldn’t leave him the fuck alone.
Fuck!
With a vengeance, he zeroed in on the location of the noise. He marched to his laundry basket by the bedroom door and began tearing through the clothes to find the stupid phone, no doubt still inside his paint-spattered coveralls where he’d dropped it not fifty-three minutes ago before he’d finally managed to crawl into bed.
Palming the device, he glared at the caller ID. John. Of course. Who else would call in the middle of the fucking night?
“What?” he shouted as he connected the call.
“Come get him.” A deep masculine voice with a Spanish accent had him pulling the phone from his ear to look down at the screen in confusion.
Wait. Great. Even fucking better—John’s dealer.
“No,” he said firmly as he stood tall and fisted his free hand at his side. His chest bowed in defiance as if the guy on the other end of the phone were right there in his darkened bedroom. “You give him that shit, you deal with him.”
The harsh laugh on the other end of the line held what might have been genuine amusement. “I deal with him and it won’t end well.” The line went dead. Kellus shoved his fingers through his hair to help push the long strands out of his eyes.
“Fuck!” he bellowed to the empty room, spinning in a complete circle, gripping his phone in his hand and punching his fist through the air. Thank God he was alone, because if anybody had witnessed that little outburst he’d have been carted off to the nearest mental facility. He was just so fucking sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Breath heaving as anger and dread coursed through his veins, Kellus stood there, staring absently at his bed. The fatigue of the day settled heavy on his shoulders. He had responsibilities. He couldn’t take on more of John’s bullshit. He jammed the heels of his palms against his tired eyes and released an exhausted sigh. After so many hours holding a brush for the fine details of his painting, his hands cramped with the movement, and the muscles in his neck and back protested the long hours he’d put in today. He needed sleep. More than the fifty-three minutes he’d gotten.
“I’m not fucking doing this again. I warned him the last time. I made it clear. No more!” Kellus sliced the hand still holding his cell through the air with finality. With that decision made, he stalked across the room and tossed his phone on the nightstand. He climbed back in his bed, whipping the covers over his exhausted body.
He hadn’t heard from John in six days.
Six glorious, productive, happy days.
Staring up at the ceiling, unable to get his mind to shut off, he told himself he’d made the right decision. John needed to stay away. Kellus forced his eyelids closed. At this point, he’d still get a few good hours sleep before he had to start his day. The longer he lay there, the more guilt crept in.
It always did.
Images of his best friend came to mind. Happier times. Memories of his and John’s younger days and all the trouble they’d managed to get into. Those thoughts actually calmed his breathing. His mind drifted to the summer of their senior year. He hadn’t thought about that time in so long. He and John had gone to the lake with some friends. A healthy, glowing, handsome John had teased him unmercifully until he had finally agreed to skinny dip…
“Fuck!” Kellus whipped off the covers and rose, angry and worried.
He couldn’t leave John in that place.
Kellus stopped dead center in his bedroom, fuming; he was so pissed at himself, at his own indecision, at John. What the fuck was wrong with him? John had destroyed both their lives, shit on him over and over with absolutely no regard for his feelings whatsoever. He’d lost everything because of John. He swore he’d never do this again.
But he couldn’t leave John there.
Not there.
Dejected, Kellus ran a frustrated hand over his face, sighed, then went for his closet to dress.
~~~
Topping out at max speed, Arik Layne flew down the Dallas North Tollway. Being the only one on the highway might have been the only benefit of flying home in the middle of the night from his Escape Del Mar property.
God, he was past exhausted.
Less than five minutes later, Arik parked and wearily made his way through the private entrance of his downtown Dallas high-rise, shrugging out of his hand-tailored suit jacket before he reached the elevator. At the elevator, he tossed the garment over his arm and entered his exclusive security code into the wall-mounted keypad, effectively locking the car for his personal use. The doors opened immediately. The technology didn’t require him to do anything more than step inside before the doors closed and the overhead floor-indicator light displayed each passing floor, a soft ding sounding repeatedly as he traveled non-stop up the forty or so floors to his penthouse. Arik rested against the back wall, forcing a finger into the knot of his necktie to loosen its tight hold. He then removed each cuff link at his wrist and absently dropped them into his slacks pockets. The more he removed now, the faster he could hit his perfect Vera Wang mattress and shut his tired eyes.
The entire building was quiet. Another benefit to relocating to this area. Well, sort of. Dallas as a whole was quieter than any place he’d ever lived. He walked the few steps to his front door, pulling out his wallet to wave in front of the security pad when the doors didn’t unlock at his arrival. Strangely, the key card inside his wallet didn’t trigger the lock to release. Arik let out a yawn as he entered his code into the attached keypad. He’d have to remember to check his card in the morning.
The overhead lights automatically lit as he entered his front door, and the motion sensors continued lighting his way the deeper he ventured inside his home. Arik absently tossed his suit jacket on a chair in the living room, never straying from the direct path to his bedroom. He pulled his shirttails from his slacks, his level of sheer exhaustion rising with each step he took. Honestly, that had to be the only reason he didn’t register the glow of lights coming from underneath the closed door until he’d already turned the handle.    
“What the fuck?” His heart almost leaped out of his chest when he stepped inside his bedroom to find someone sprawled across his bed in what probably qualified as a seductive pose. Recognition took another second to seep in.
“Surprise!” A small pop sounded and confetti flew into the air, scattering across his bed.
Arik’s brows snapped together. Oh hell no. He loved that bed.
“What the hell are you doing?” Arik asked as he moved farther inside the room. He registered the slight look of indignation and the flip of that long, black, silky hair before Boy Toy’s face morphed again into a pleasant smile.
“I came to surprise you.” BT wiggled his sexy ass and gave a cheeky little smile.
Even as tired and annoyed as he was, Arik experienced a stir below his belt. He was human after all, and this particular BT was especially skilled. He stopped at his dresser, reached inside his front slacks pockets and casually tossed the contents on the small tray. He didn’t like surprises of any kind, and BT, short for boy toy number one hundred and—hell, he’d lost count of the willing men he’d bedded—had just shocked the hell out of him.
This one was way too pretty and so deliciously tempting that for a split second he almost gave in…almost.
No, he had to stay firm. This was utter bullshit. He couldn’t have random BTs breaking into his home, surprising him at every turn, desecrating his perfect bed with confetti.
“How did you get in here?” he asked, leaning against the dresser, casually crossing his arms over his chest.
“I’ve been planning this since you left me last week. I swiped your card from your wallet when you were in the shower.” Boy Toy lost the erotic pose, probably too much strain for his delicate body.
“I guess I need to keep a closer eye on my wallet in the future.” Arik shoved away from the dresser and headed toward his closet.
“I’m beginning to think you’re not happy that I’m here. You know I’d look good on your arm for the opening of Escape Dallas.” BT hopped up from the bed and trailed after him, following him into the closet.
“Are these your things?” he asked, nodding toward the garment bag hanging in his closet with luggage settled beneath. Arik’s things had been pushed aside and replaced with BT’s, as if the guy planned to stay awhile. First the bed, now the closet. He didn’t allow anyone to breach his private space. That crossed every line he had.
Fuck, he’d known when he first saw this guy he’d be trouble. The gorgeous ones always were. Arik shook his head.
“Yes, I put them next to yours. I arrived late and didn’t have time to unpack.”
Arik abandoned his silk tie on the built-in dresser and began to grab BT’s things. The level of pissed off coursing through him now superseded any desire he might have mustered.
“You can’t ever do this again. I told you from the beginning,” Arik said, shoving the garment bag toward BT as he went for the two suitcases, then he tossed the strap of one over his shoulder and grabbed the other by the handgrip. How long had he even planned to stay that he needed all this?
“Be careful with that. It’s got my mink inside!” BT carefully draped the bag over his arm, allowing Arik to take him by his other arm and forcefully guide him from the closet.
“Why in the hell would you bring a fur coat to Texas?” Arik kept his grip tight, even when BT tried to worm his way out.
“Why would I leave home without… What are you doing?” BT actually held on to the doorframe to keep Arik from removing him from the bedroom.
“You’re going to the guest room, BT. We’ll talk—”
A solid outraged screech cut him off.
“Stop calling me that! I hate that. I have a name.” The guy went into full-on diva mode right there in the middle of his hall.
“You’ve known the deal from the beginning. I don’t like these kinds of surprises. I was very clear,” Arik said. When he realized it might take two hands to deposit BT into the guest bedroom, he went for that door, pushed it open wide, and tossed the suitcase in his hand across the room. For a second there, he’d thought the guy planned to go back to Arik’s bedroom which would have turned things pretty shitty real quick. Luckily, BT came toward him with a very calm, patient look on his face.
“If you would just go with it, we could have a very special relationship,” BT said, placing a delicate hand on Arik’s dress shirt, letting his fingers trail down Arik’s chest as he took a step closer. “I’m good at attending events with you. I look good on your arm. Besides, I’m tired of modeling. It takes up so much of my time. And if we came to some sort of arrangement, with all my extra free time, I could take care of you any way you saw fit.”
“Not gonna happen.”
BT’s words couldn’t have been better deterrent for giving in and indulging in a quick hook-up. Arik preferred his fun with no strings attached. Not that he had anything against the whole finding Mr. Right concept. But the boy toy currently groping his ass was not anywhere close to his idea of relationship material. Arik stopped the hand at his waistband and shrugged the case off his shoulder, dumping it right inside the guest bedroom door. He left the gorgeous but clearly crazy man standing there as he headed back toward his bedroom.
“I need to leave here by eight in the morning. Be ready.’’
“Seriously? You’re just leaving? I stretched myself to be ready for you.”
Arik looked back to see BT stomp his foot for good measure, his now flaccid dick swinging in the process. BT was certainly beautifully put together, tall, lean, chiseled abs, a perfect body that Arik knew from past experience could bring a lot of pleasure.
No, Arik. That was how he’d gotten in this situation in the first place. Stop. No. Walk away.
“Goodnight, BT. Don’t come back to my room,” he said at the door.
“Stop calling me BT! I’m not just your boy toy! My name is Steffan.”
Steffan—yeah, he remembered that now. Steffan twirled around and stalked into the guest bedroom, that long hair floating out around him. The door slammed shut in his wake.
Arik closed his door and reached down to twist the lock when he heard something crashing against the guest room door. Arik chuckled at that one and quickly opened his door again.
“Be ready by eight in the morning. I won’t be happy if you make me late,” he yelled before closing and relocking the door.

He staggered to the bed. His bed. Even with taking the time to rid the bedspread of the confetti and change the pillowcases where that overly strong cologne lingered, he’d still, hopefully, get at least a couple hours’ sleep.

Best Selling Author Kindle Alexander is an innovative writer, and a genre-crosser who writes classic fantasy, romance, suspense, and erotica in both the male/male and male/female genres. It’s always a surprise to see what’s coming next!

I live in the suburbs of Dallas where it’s true, the only thing bigger than an over active imagination, may be women’s hair!
Usually, I try for funny. Humor is a major part of my life – I love to laugh, and it seems to be the thing I do in most situations – regardless of the situation, but jokes are a tricky deal… I don’t want to offend anyone and jokes tend to offend. So instead I’m going to tell you about Kindle.

I tragically lost my sixteen year old daughter to a drunk driver. She had just been at home, it was early in the night and I heard the accident happen. I’ll never forget that moment. The sirens were immediate and something inside me just knew. I left my house, drove straight to the accident on nothing more than instinct. I got to be there when my little girl died – weirdly, I consider that a true gift from above. She didn’t have to be alone.

That time in my life was terrible. It’s everything you think it would be times about a billion. I love that kid. I loved being her mother and I loved watching her grow into this incredibly beautiful person, both inside and out. She was such a gift to me. To have it all ripped away so suddenly broke me.

Her name was Kindle. Honest to goodness – it was her name and she died a few weeks before Amazon released their brand new Kindle ereader. She had no idea it was coming out and she would have finally gotten her name on something! Try finding a ruler with the name Kindle on it.. It never happened.

Through the course of that crippling event I was lucky enough to begin to write with a dear friend in the fan fiction world of Facebook. She got me through those dark days with her unwavering support and friendship. There wasn’t a time she wasn’t there for me. Sometimes together and sometimes by myself, we built a world where Kindle lives and stands for peace, love and harmony. It’s its own kind of support group. I know without question I wouldn’t be here today without her.

Find out more by visiting http://www.kindlealexander.com or email me at kindle@kindlealexander.com

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NEW COVERS for More Than Friends & Drunk In Love (More Than Friends Series #1 & #2) by Aria Grace (giveaway)

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Enticing Journey Book Promotions presents…
Cover Reveal Week
More Than Friends Series by Aria Grace
Day 1: More Than Friends & Drunk in Love
Available Now

 

Tired of moping around after the breakup of his long term girlfriend, Ryan knew he needed a hookup to get him out of his funk. When he met Drea, he hoped she might be the one. But when he felt more chemistry with her gay cousin Zach, Ryan felt more confused and terrified than he had in his life. He wasn’t gay but he wanted to be with Zach. How could it possibly work?

 

Zach and Ryan have a good thing going. After eight blissful months together, they’re both ready to take their relationship to the next level. When a romantic weekend away turns into a wild night with Zach’s ex, things change forever. An experience they thought they could handle could break them up for good.
“Sensitively written erotic fiction..” – Amazon Customer More Than Friends

 

“A steamy and hot, man-on-man love affair!” – Amazon Customer Drunk In Love

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Born and raised in beautiful California, Aria enjoys the year round sunshine and laid back environment of the west coast. Her career started out in tech writing and web development and has evolved into all things marketing with fingers in everything related to book publishing. 

 

She lives with her husband and two children and more pets than she can keep track of. Despite her crazy schedule, she loves the time she carves out to read and write. Whether it’s on the beach or on the couch at 2am, she is a woman obsessed!

 

She loves to hear from readers so please feel free to drop her a note or visit her at www.ariagracebooks.com.

 

If you’d like to know when Aria’s next book is coming out or where she’ll be signing, join her mailing list at: http://bit.ly/AriaGraceFanList

Cover Reveal Week
More Than Friends Series by Aria Grace
Day 2: Choosing Happy & Just Stay
Stay Tuned..Coming August 23, 2016


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Release Day for ‘Counting Daisies’ by Nicola Haken (Excerpt and Giveaway)

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Title: Counting Daisies
Author: Nicola Haken
Genre: MM Romance
Release Date: August 1, 2016

Dylan Roberts and Cameron O’Neil were good kids. Growing up together, they shared everything. By the age of fourteen they were more than best friends – they were in love. They dreamt of their future, of success, marriage…happiness. They were going to grow old by each other’s side.
But… “Kids are stupid.”
When tragic circumstances forced them apart, Dylan discovered that life wasn’t the fairytale he dreamed of; it was dark, difficult, saturated with pain and shame. Life wasn’t meant to be enjoyed, merely survived, but even that became a challenge.
Damaged, worthless, and disgusting, he saw no point to his pitiful existence…
Until he came face to face with the boy he used to love.
Successful, honourable, and happy, Cameron had achieved the future they planned. He was good, positive, popular…everything Dylan would never be. What would happen if Dylan let him back into his world? Would he destroy Cameron too? Would his poison push him away like everyone else?
“Everybody leaves.”
“They leave or they die.”
But what if…what if Cameron didn’t?

“This is a deep and powerful book with the main theme which is refreshing less about the path of a relationship and way more about the real life gritty obstacles that come on the way of their HEA.” – Reader Review

 


 

“This book was phenomenal. I cried so many tears. Story was heart breaking and heartwarming all at the same time.” – SiKReviews

 

 

 

“This was a beautifully crafted story of friendship, love, bonds, addictive behaviour and heartache. It was hugely emotional in parts, and Nicola doesn’t hold back.” – 2 Girls & Their Kindles


He clung to my shirt, his knuckles turning white. “Make it s-stop.” 
“I…I don’t know how.”
Fuck this. Fuck heroin. Why the hell would someone do this to themselves? I’d never seen this level of pain before that hadn’t resulted in death, and even that was only on TV. 
Dylan sobbed into my chest and I held him while he did. My arms were all I had to offer. He remained so cold despite my palms rubbing up and down his back, and he was dirty, too – dried up vomit sticking to his skin and hair. I’d never felt so helpless in all my life.
Needing to do something, anything, I climbed to my feet, lifting his body with me. “Come on,” I encouraged, struggling to take his weight on my own. “Try and walk for me.”
He whimpered and mumbled but made little effort to move. So, sliding one arm behind his thighs, I scooped him up like a baby, carrying him towards the bath. He clung to my neck, his grip weak, while I turned on the water. I turned the temperature down to barely warm, worried the heat might burn his shivering skin, before lowering him into the bathtub, under the fine spray of the shower. 
His muscles twitched and his eyes closed as he hugged his knees to his scrawny chest. Taking a sponge and some shower-gel, I scrubbed softly up and down his trembling body, gently manoeuvring his arms and legs when needed so I could clean every inch of him.
“I’m tired, Cam,” he barely whispered, dropping his head to the side.
My heart ached, like it was trapped inside a vice that was trying to crush its ability to beat, as I lathered some shampoo into his fair hair. “You can sleep soon. Nearly done.” 
I tried not to cry as I massaged his scalp. I wanted to be strong, but I’d never felt more vulnerable. Removing the showerhead from the hook on the wall, I hovered it over his head, rinsing away the tea-tree scented suds, before doing the same to the rest of his skin. After shutting the water off, I grabbed a large towel from the heated rail next to the toilet and rubbed it over his skin in the bathtub before lifting him out and doing the same to his back.
“I-I can’t d-do it anymore,” Dylan cried as I wound my arm around his waist, urging him to take a step.
“You are doing it. It’s almost over.” I had no idea if my words were the truth, but I had to hope they were for both of our sakes. Honestly, I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore either.
Nicola lives in Rochdale, England with her husband and four children (six if you include the dog and cat!) She is the author the author of the m/m romance Souls of the Knight series, and is currently working on a standalone with new boys, James and Theo, due for release early 2016. When she is not busy playing with her imaginary book friends (or talking about them with real life friends!) she can usually be found carrying out her ordinary mum/housewife/all round slave duties. Oh, and if the kids ever ask, she moonlights as the Pink Power Ranger while they’re sleeping…

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RJ Scott’s Bodyguards are Back in Undercover Lover (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Undercover Lovers
Series: Bodyguards, Inc. #4
Author: R.J. Scott
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Release Date:  July 31, 2015
Even if Ross and Kyle make it out of this alive, will the secrets in Kyle’s heart stay safe?
Kyle gets caught up in a case that is entirely unrelated to Bodyguards Inc. Not only does he abruptly need time off, but he has to have absolute trust and complete support from Ross without being able to tell Ross a thing.
CIA Agent Stefan Mortimer needs Kyle’s help with a case of a geneticist and a missing formula. Trouble is being led right to Kyle’s door, endangering the life of the team he has built and the man that he loves.Going undercover, with Ross as his husband, is the worst kind of torture in so many ways, but it is the only answer. Kyle and Ross may well live through this but Kyle is convinced his heart won’t survive.“…Sensual and sexy, RJ Scott delivers another winner in the Bodyguards Inc. series. Undercover Lovers hit the mark…”



“Sensual and sexy, RJ Scott delivers another winner in the Bodyguards Inc. Series. Undercover Lovers hit the mark.” ~Evelise from S.E.X. Reviews

“This is easily my favourite book of the series so far. We have waited for Ross and Kyle’s story and in all honesty that wait was more than worth it!” ~Prism Book Alliance

 

Chapter 1 

 

As soon as Max left the room, Kyle reached for the phone. He hesitated, with his fingers an inch from the handset, and listened to its beep indicating a call waiting.

 

Stefan Mortimer was at the other end of the call. That was a name Kyle hadn’t expected to hear again for a very long time, and the fact the man had contacted Kyle didn’t bode well. Especially considering Kyle thought, his and Stefan’s association had been put to bed a long time ago. A twinge of guilt accompanied the memories. He’d been the one told to leave, he was the one who’d had no choice but to go, but leaving Stefan behind had never sat well with him.
A combination of anxiety and fear fluttered in his chest as he picked up the handset and pressed the button to connect.
Only to be offered a line that was dead.
“Stefan?” Kyle said to the empty air. For a second he held the receiver to his ear, then, very deliberately, replaced the handset in the cradle. Kyle rested his head on his hands, scrubbing his face to clear the tension. When the door opened, he knew it was Ross. He always knew when it was Ross.
“He got cut off,” Ross announced.
Kyle nodded. “So I see.”
Ross sat down in the visitor’s chair directly opposite. “Is he a new client? Should I start a file for him?”
“No, an old….” How could he describe Stefan? Ex-lover, partner, old friend? “Someone I knew.”
Ross eased forward in his chair, his gray eyes bright with interest. “Knew? Like you used your experience as a spy to know?” he asked in his usual inquisitive tone.
“From before,” Kyle said. He was deliberately vague. As he was every time anyone at Bodyguards Inc. skirted near what Kyle used to do for a living. Ross loved to tease that Kyle had been CIA black ops. To be honest, Ross wasn’t that far from the truth—but that had been a long time ago now.
Ross frowned but didn’t keep it up.
“So, Max, then,” Kyle said. Changing the subject was probably the way to go. He couldn’t believe he’d just had Max in here telling him that he and Prince Lucien were an item. How the hell could the same thing happen to Bodyguards Inc. again after Ben and Adam had both fallen for their charges? “He crossed the line.”
“Seems like it’s getting to be a habit around here. First Adam, then Ben, and now Max. And I hear Lorna has a new boyfriend from her last case. Next it will be you.” Ross looked down at the iPad in his lap. “Or me,” he added.
The words were a knife through Kyle’s heart. Imagining Ross with anyone other than him was something guaranteed to put him in a bad mood. “Don’t have time for that,” he lied. If Ross took even one second to notice his boss as anything other than his boss, then Kyle would make time. But that was as likely as a snowy day in hell.
Ross chuckled. Like that was a joke. Like Kyle didn’t mean every syllable of it.
“Anyway,” Ross continued. “Max seems happy, and his prince is a hundred times cute. Did you see Lucien’s eyes? I’ve never seen eyes that dark before, and his hair. Can you imagine burying your fingers in hair like that? And he’s a prince.” Ross threw up a hand and smirked as he did so.
There was that stabbing again. Jealousy for real. Kyle didn’t have to analyze what he was feeling. Ross was talking about how sexy another man was, and abruptly, Kyle was in a headspace that screamed possessiveness. The idea of Ross finding himself a guy like Prince Lucien? Someone who pressed all his buttons? Someone Ross could fall in love with? That was enough to have the anxiety of Stefan’s phone call twist into something much worse. Jealousy.
“I have a solution,” Ross announced. “We need to vet all our clients, and if there’s any hint they are gay and single, we don’t take them on. But, that wouldn’t work for Lorna—she’s straight, and she still met someone. Hmm, we should relabel ourselves. This could be a good marketing thing.”
“Ross—”
Ross ignored the warning in Kyle’s single word and instead drew an imaginary banner in the air in front of him. “Hire a bodyguard: meet the man for the rest of your life.”
Now it was Kyle’s turn to ignore Ross. He had too much on his mind to find Ross as sexy and cute as he normally did; he had to focus. “Take a note. We’ll need to do some research and dig up a couple of new bodyguards,” Kyle said. He needed to concentrate on the company—on BI—and making sure what he had built was stable and secure.
“Take a note?” Ross muttered as he thumbed through his iPad. “Who even does that kind of thing?” Then he stopped at a page on the screen. “So yes, that is what I wanted to talk about. We have two new applicants you need to meet up with and do the usual due diligence. One is ex-MI5.” Ross raised an eyebrow at that and turned the screen so that Kyle could see the face that went with the application. “Look at Mr. Tall, Dark and Ripped,” he said.
“Ross, Jesus…”
Ross coughed to hide a laugh. “In summary, we are mostly down to the wire. I’ve turned down that reality show we worked on last year. And—” Ross sighed. “—Michael’s wife called in. He’s broken his leg.”
“Broke his leg how?”
“Skateboarding.”
“What the hell?”
Ross shrugged. “Maureen said he was teaching his nephew how to—” Ross peered at the screen. “—air and backside, whatever that means.”
Kyle sat back in his chair. He’d need to do the usual. ‘The usual’ was flowers, or chocolates, or whiskey, or something useful, along with a personal note from him and the reassurance that the operative would still be paid enough to keep going. All the operatives at BI were self-employed, but Kyle considered himself a good boss, and he had the finances to back up any support needed. “I’ll write something up.”
“Well, hang on. Listen to this before you decide. Michael then called in, straight after his wife. Turns out he can’t stand the idea of being at home. Apparently all four grandkids are staying for the summer holidays, and he’s desperate to get out, so he’s coming into the office.”
“You’re okay with that?” Kyle asked. Ross hated people interfering with his systems, and his stationery.
“Yeah, Michael’s okay. I’ll give him rules, and he’ll stick with it. He’s not like Adam.”
Kyle was too stressed to listen to another of Ross’s reasons why Adam was a wanker, as Ross so succinctly put it. Nor did he want to hear further elaboration as to the most recent place Adam had put Ross’s stapler. He resolved to change the subject, but he didn’t need to when the phone rang again. Before Kyle could reach it, Ross leaned over and picked it up.
“BI, how can I help?” There was silence, and Ross cast a glance at Kyle. “I’ll just pass you over.” He gave the handset to Kyle. “Stefan Mortimer.”
Without being asked, Ross left the room and pulled the door shut behind him, and abruptly Kyle had no excuse not to talk to Stefan.
“What’s wrong?” he said, cutting to the chase. There was no need to use his name. Stefan and he had been closer than lovers for three years, and they knew each other like no one else ever could. Under fire, behind enemy lines, undercover—they’d done it all.
“Thank fuck,” Stefan said. His voice was shaky, or was that the phone line? “I’m in the hospital,” he added. Then he coughed, as if his body wanted to underline such a defining statement.
Kyle and Stefan had done their time in hospital beds, and both had the scars to prove it, but why was that something Stefan needed to break protocol to announce? Something awful, earth-shattering… something important.
“Talk to me,” Kyle demanded without elaboration.
“K, Jason is dead. I fucking killed him.”
Stefan’s partner was dead? “Shit, Stefan—”
“I sent you it all. It’s been a week, fucking hope it gets there. I need your help.”
Kyle quickly went through the list of possible delivery options in his head. There was no email from Stefan, no voice message, nothing on the boards—which left the one thing that could work: good old-fashioned snail mail. Sent as something that may not make sense to anyone else. A standard spook-type thing.
“Okay.” He didn’t have to say anything else. If Stefan was contacting him after all this time, if Stefan needed his help, if Stefan was in trouble…. “I’ll look for it.”
“K?”
“Yeah.”
“Thanks.”
Then the phone was dead. Kyle realized he had been gripping the handset so hard that his fingers were numb. He uncurled his grip and replaced the handset in the cradle, then pressed the intercom. “Ross, can I get the mail?”
“You’ve had it.”
“I need the other mail.”
Ross didn’t argue. “On it.”
Company protocol was to have what Ross called “other mail” stored for a few months. Ross never argued with why Kyle needed to look through it every so often. He probably put it down to his boss being an eccentric American. Just like he did with most of the other things Kyle did that Ross called weird.
A couple of minutes later Ross backed into the room. In his arms was the recycling box. He placed it in the center of the table and then left. He didn’t ask why Kyle wanted it in his office.
Methodically, Kyle worked his way through rejected CVs, some marketing letters, even a pile of pizza menus. Although how junk mail had made it up the driveway in the middle of nowhere to the manor house, he didn’t know.
Right near the bottom, in familiar writing with a Los Angeles stamp, was what he was looking for. A letter from a marketing company talking about search engine optimization. There, in a flimsy business card, was a tiny chip. Sometimes the old ways were the best ways.
Kyle stood and locked the office door as quietly as he could, then crossed to the wall safe and opened it. Pulling out the chip reader, left over from a much earlier time in his life, he inserted the chip and waited for it to read. Wiring it to the printer was a little more problematic, but finally he managed it, and before too long he had a sheaf of printed information. His blood ran cold at page one, and by page ten he realized what he had agreed to would be something a little more involved than “just helping out.” He pulled out his Glock and the cartridges, putting it into the top drawer of his desk, then locked the chip and the reader into the safe. He retook his seat to reread what had printed.
Grasping the papers in his hand, he unlocked his office door.
“Do we have anyone not booked out?”
Ross looked up from his desk, a frown on his expression and black ink on his cheek. The same black ink spread over his desk, and he looked flustered. “Fucking ink cartridge exploded on me,” he said.
“Do we have anyone free?”
Ross blinked at Kyle as if he couldn’t believe Kyle wasn’t taking the ink situation seriously. “No,” he said. “I told you, we’re backs to the wall at the moment. Unless you want to push up interviews for new operatives.”
“Fuck.” Kyle cursed and thought on his feet. Not even Jen was here at the moment. His sister and her husband were on a second-honeymoon, trying-for-a-baby thing that had her out of touch for a month of love on a beach.
Timing sucks.
Kyle thought on his feet. He had no choice. It was Ross or nothing. “Okay, get Michael in here.”
Ross sighed visibly, then wiggled his fingers in front of him. “Ink,” he explained. Then added, “Michael’s coming in tomorrow—”
“Jesus Christ, Ross! Just get Michael here today.”

 

Kyle went back into his office and shut the door. He hoped to hell that Ross would do his regular thing and just get on with it, that he wouldn’t come in and start asking questions.
The cover was simple—a couple on honeymoon. He’d done it before. But this case was different. This time he needed to blend in, in a very different way. This time he was a newly married man, and he needed a bride. Or a groom. Someone who would be his backup in an extremely toxic situation.
It could only be Ross.
Ross wasn’t just his PA. He wasn’t quite as well trained as the bodyguards on BI’s books; he just found his peace in paperwork and running BI alongside Kyle. But he knew how to handle himself.
Not with guns. Not with the CIA. Not with this. It’s too much. He argued with himself. Ross will be okay.
Then it hit him. What would he do if he had to spend time with Ross away from the office? How many of the secrets he held inside would come out? But there needed to be more than just Kyle himself on this; he needed someone else. And that someone else would have to be Ross, which was where the problems began. Ross wasn’t interested in Kyle; Ross didn’t want anything of what Kyle could give him.
Ross didn’t know Kyle was in love with him. Wanted him. Had wanted him since the first day they met.
Ross didn’t know that Kyle had tried and failed to find someone who actually looked back at him with anything like affection.
So how could he ask Ross to do what needed to be done?
He turned the sheets of paper one at a time and made notes on a pad, not looking up when Ross came into the office and took his regular seat.
“Michael’s coming in,” Ross announced.
“Thank you. And I’m sorry I shouted.”
Ross shrugged one shoulder. “You want to tell me what’s going on?”
“I need to take a case.”
“What case?” Ross asked. He sounded confused, and Kyle wanted to explain, but he couldn’t look up at Ross, let alone make words that explained what the hell was going on. “You don’t take on cases. What happened?”
“There’s something I have to do.”
“Is it a something that is connected to Stefan Mortimer? You looked really shocked to hear his name.”
Kyle glanced up at the question. Ross’s gray eyes looked troubled. “What I can tell you is that this is a job for the two of us, me and you.” He held up a hand to stop Ross talking. “I need you to back me up on this. For a week, maybe ten days tops, we need to go undercover.”
“I don’t know how… I mean… I’m not….” Ross began. Then he sighed. “I don’t understand.”
“All I can tell you is that we’re needed, and this is a matter of national security.”
Ross’s eyes widened. “Like James Bond-type national security?”
“Not as dramatic as that. We need to get to a place called Stratton Bridge, and I’m sorry, but we have to leave today.”
“What about my clothes? My laptop?”
“You can go home, get some clothes, take a laptop to stay connected to the office. When we get there, though, you will have a cover.”
“Wait. Is this a bodyguard job? You’re looking out for someone and you need me there to run the information side?”
“No, yes, and no.” Kyle sighed. “You have to trust me on this when I say it’s important, but I need something more than information.”
Ross sat forward in his chair and looked deadly serious. “I do trust you, Kyle. You know that.”
“Then all I can say is we’re going undercover, both of us. I’ll be with you every inch of the way.”
Ross smiled and pushed his hair back off his face, leaving a streak of black on his forehead; evidently, he hadn’t managed to wash off all the ink. “Undercover. Cool. What as? I could be a doctor or a teacher. Probably more a teacher, I guess. Not sure I’d be able to handle—”
“My husband,” Kyle broke in. “The room we have, it’s more of a suite.” He recalled the information Stefan had given him: the block booking of the only available room, which had just been renovated. “We need to be on our honeymoon. Trust me, it’s the best cover.”
Ross’s lips were in a round O, surprise on his face. “We’re acting—” He coughed to clear his throat. “—married?”
Kyle focused in on the streak of black, trying not to let any emotion show on his face. “They only have the one room, just open after renovation, the honeymoon suite. I need your decision now.”
While he waited tensely for Ross’s reply, Kyle considered. He could go on his own, and when asked where his husband was, he could easily pretend he was getting divorced from his pretend husband. But why would he still need a honeymoon suite? He’d nearly talked himself into that one when Ross looked at him directly.
“Okay.”
So many emotions passed over Ross’s face that Kyle couldn’t identify them all. He saw confusion, excitement, disappointment, the whole gamut of emotions. Then he saw Ross pull himself straight, and the smile returned. “We need a magnificent back story,” Ross said. And with that he’d agreed to play his part, and his and Kyle’s cover story was in place. “I’ll get some stuff. Give me thirty.”
Ross left, and Kyle listened for the distinctive growl of Ross’s black and red motorbike. He couldn’t help himself; he looked out of his window to the parking area below and saw Ross astride the beast of a machine that allowed him to zip around the country roads here.
“You’ll kill yourself, Ross,” he’d said when Ross had pulled up a few months ago as proud as a mom with a new baby.
“This, old man, is a Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade, and it’s not dangerous, it’s fun.”
Ross reminded Kyle far too often that there were ten years separating them, but being thirty-five, Kyle didn’t feel like an old man. He just preferred his Jaguar to the danger of the open road in nothing more than leather and a helmet.
“Says the man who moaned all last Friday that he had a paper cut.”
And now, there he was. He’d pulled on his leathers, and fuck, he looked like sex on legs. That gorgeous ass in leather, a black biker’s jacket hugging his slim figure. So different to the patient, organized, stapler-loving Ross that Kyle had in his head. This Ross, the one on the bike, was wild and sexy and asking to be—
Kyle had to stop himself, and he cursed Stefan for dropping him in the shit from a great height. He and Ross, in a honeymoon suite, for a week—maybe more—and with Ross wanting a magnificent backstory when Kyle couldn’t imagine what this case was going to bring him.
Espionage, agents, attempted murder, a favor to a friend thousands of miles away, and a new line in environmental disaster. Not to mention being undercover as married: with the man he was head over heels in love with in real life.
Just how wrong could this possibly go?
RJ Scott has been writing since age six when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies and was told to write a story. Two sides of A4 about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born. She reads anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror; however, her first real love will always be the world of romance. From billionaires, bodyguards and cowboys to SEALs, throwaways and veterinarians, she writes passionate stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and more than a hint of happily ever after.


 


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