part of the EE Ltd. Universe
Sometimes falling in love is the most dangerous thing of all…
Blue’s a thief who lives for adrenaline and danger. When he meets Mick, a mercenary and a hitter, he feels an immediate attraction. But Mick reneges on a bet they’ve made, leaving Blue pissed and confused.
When they meet again a year later, Blue’s in terrible danger after having walked into the middle of one of Mick’s jobs. Mick saves him, and although the two men have fallen for one another, they have no idea how to handle that kind of intimacy that’s been forced on them.
But when Mick goes missing on a job, Blue’s the one to go after him, determined to save the man he loves no matter the cost.
Connected Books: EE Ltd. Universe
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Read an Excerpt
One year earlier
Blue had the hotel safe open and the necklace tucked into his palm when a big hand moved gently over the back of his neck. He stilled, barely breathing, until Mick murmured, “Caught you, fair and square.”
“Not the time,” he said through gritted teeth.
“I think it’s the perfect time.”
“If you fuck this up—”
“I don’t expect you to put it back. Come on, Blue—take your punishment for losing our bet like a big boy.” The bastard was smiling—Blue could feel it as the unease gnawed at his gut.
He never got caught. Never liked giving up control, but for this man…
It would still be hard. But shit, he’d never welched on a bet in his life and he wasn’t about to start now.
They’d been circling each other for business and for the threat of pleasure. And Blue was finally caught.
“Do you remember the terms?” Mick asked.
“So do I.” Mick’s eyes glowed and Blue’s heart lodged firmly in his throat, even as his cock hardened.
Fucking traitor. He closed the safe, shoved the necklace into his jeans. “Where are you staying?”
Mick handed him a key card. “Cape Grace. Room 433, eleven o’clock.” And as Mick walked away toward the balcony, he called over his shoulder, “The whole night—that was part of the agreement.”
Blue slid the card in his pocket so he didn’t have to watch his hand shake. Waited a few beats until he was sure Mick was clear and then went out to the balcony as Mick had in order to climb down the side of the hotel.
Blue blended in with the staff leaving from the rear exits, broke off toward the back alley. No one followed. No one ever caught him.
Maybe you wanted to be caught.
“Or maybe I just got sloppy,” he muttered to himself as he walked the two miles back to his own hotel, through the side streets of Cape Town, blending in with the scenery.
There was lots of jewelry in that Bishopscourt neighborhood hotel tonight, what with the society ball being held there, but he’d only taken the piece his buyer wanted, a yellow diamond pendant, eight carats, no flaws. He’d figured most of the guests would feel comfortable enough in the luxury hotel to not use the hotel’s main safe – and his mark hadn’t. For someone like him, both that and the room safe were as easy to open as a bottle of soda.
Easy always made him restless and irritable.
He made the call, watched the money go into his account, and left the package with the night clerk who really wasn’t the night clerk, but rather worked for his client. A perfect exchange. As untraceable as you could get these days.
Upstairs, he ordered room service, then lay on the bed, staring at the ceiling. He figured the two hours left before his meeting with Mick would fly by and he wasn’t sure if he wanted time to slow or speed up. That had been his dichotomy with Mick from the start.
The first time he’d met Mick was when they were both working for the same millionaire—Barry—on a job involving priceless statues that needed to be acquired and shipped cross country.
Blue stole; Mick provided protection. My retrieval experts, Barry had called them as they stood side by side, before he’d introduced them.
Mick was huge, his face seemed like chiseled stone, the rugged kind of handsome Blue definitely got off on, and he’d simply stared when Blue extended his hand and said hello. Blue had wanted to squirm under his gaze, but forced himself to pretend otherwise. He’d been hit with a surge of electricity when the man finally shook Blue’s hand.
Because of that, Blue purposely hadn’t made small talk as Mick drove them to the estate Blue would steal from. He had to keep his head in the game.
Mick parked a block away and Blue had slid out of the truck, telling Mick, “I’ll be back in twenty.”
But Mick had already turned the truck off. “I’m coming with.”
“No. I work alone.”
Mick blinked. “You don’t give the orders around here.”
“Neither do you. You’ll fuck something up. At the very least, you’ll hold me back.”
“I’m a retrieval expert too, remember?”
“A different kind.” Mick was what they considered a hitter—he could get in and out of tight spots by forcing people to hand over their valuables and occasionally he might get lucky and crack a safe quietly, but he was no thief.
It had been obvious Mick wasn’t used to being spoken to like that. Blue knew the man was pissed but he’d stood his ground and finally Mick said, “I’ll cover you from out here.”
“I don’t need that, either. And if Barry thinks I’m going to double cross him, he shouldn’t’ve hired me.”
Mick reluctantly relented, and Blue suspected it was only because they were losing their window of opportunity as they stood arguing. He also knew it would come at a price. On the ride home, the merchandise he’d acquired in eighteen minutes carefully wrapped and stowed in the trunk, Mick had grilled him. At one point, he’d stared at Blue and he felt like he was being memorized. “Blue is your name?”
Blue didn’t want anyone inside his mind. “Problem?”
“I don’t like dealing with aliases.”
“Tough. I don’t live to make your life easier. My middle name is Blue. First and last aren’t up for grabs.”
“First, at least.”
Mick’s voice was low—but the command caught something in Blue’s gut and he heard himself say, “Fine—Jedidiah,” and cursed himself immediately for giving that away. Mick smiled as if he knew that, but simply asked, “Bible belt?”
“Yes. I didn’t quite fit in.”
“Because you’re gay?”
“Because I like to steal.”
Mick had laughed and Blue had liked that sound too much, liked making the big man smile. “Did they kick you out?”
“I left before they could. I figured I’d given them enough trouble. Haven’t been in contact since, although I’m pretty sure the police and other authorities have.” Blue could only imagine what his parents thought when they heard about his exploits. It hadn’t been the happiest of households, and having a son who was both gay and a thief was a double whammy his parents couldn’t accept. Then again, his sister had been pretty much perfect and hadn’t been able to do anything right in their eyes either.
He was quite proud of what he’d achieved, based on how little he’d known when he’d started. Now, he could pick and choose jobs as he pleased.
So why’d you pick a job in the same city you met Mick in, genius? he chided himself from the comfort of his hotel room.
He’d told himself that it was because he loved it here, but that would only be a half-truth. He’d been too sure of himself, picked the wrong job…but would end up in the right bed.
The knock on the door signaled his room service order had arrived. He accepted it, even as he realized he was too nervous to eat much of anything. After picking a little at the food, he put it out into the hallway as he left for Mick’s hotel. He’d waited as long as he could stand it, not wanting to be too late but also not wanting to appear over-anxious.
He got to the room twelve minutes after the hour, and he was alone. He checked around the suite, finding complimentary fruit and champagne, and a giant bed in the other room.
Resigned, but already hard, he pulled back the comforter, and found the handcuffs there—part of the agreement—but Blue couldn’t bring himself to put them on.
It wasn’t the lack of keys that bothered him—there were few cuffs that could actually hold him—but there was something intriguing about letting Mick be the one to cuff him. Or maybe it would be hot to have Mick actually standing over him, giving the orders for Blue to cuff himself…
Maybe he’ll punish you for being bad.
“Idiot,” he told himself but fingered the cuffs. His cheeks flushed hot as he stripped, climbed in and lay back against the impossibly soft sheets and comfortable pillows, as Mick the terms of their bet dictated. And yet he was very much alone, contrary to those terms they’d discussed five months earlier when he and Mick met again on another job for Barry.
He’d been deplaning, while Mick had beenpreparing to board after he checked the space for their extremely—and for good reason—paranoid client. Barry paid well and it had been worth it for Blue to work for him again. But he hadn’t been able to shake his disappointment when Mick wasn’t sent with him on the thieving portion of the new job. He guessed it meant that Barry trusted him…but he would’ve given anything not to have been trusted. And if he was reading Mick right, he’d been disappointed too.
“Ships in the night,” Mick had murmured.
“That’s how I like it.”
Mick smiled. “One day, you won’t be so lucky. You’re not as hard to track as you think.”
“You’re hunting me?” Neither Blue’s expression nor tone had belied any kind of nervousness.
“Is that what you want?”
Blue had felt his cheeks flush. “You wouldn’t be able to catch me.”
“You sure about that?”
Blue snorted. “No one ever has.”
“Is that a dare?”
“If you want it to be.”
“If I catch you, bed for a night.”
“Then all I have to do is keep working the way I work and I’ll win,” he’d said with an assurance that had made Mick smile.
He was no virgin, but for him sex was never as good as flying down an elevator shaft. Hard, fast, messy were okay, but he always expected more. Wanted to be taken harder, faster, higher, the way he felt when he was stealing. When it didn’t happen, he’d chalked it up to his own failure, his own oddness.
But when Mick had first touched him, just that simple handshake, the pressure had been perfect. He’d wanted the big man to touch him. Everywhere. And that scared him.
He’d assumed when he made the bet that Mick would never catch him. It seemed simple enough. All Blue needed to do was leave no trail. AKA: normal, everyday living.
Until you pushed things and got caught, he reminded himself, alone in the hotel room waiting for Mick. Half an hour had passed, his erection long gone and he slammed the bottle of champagne against the wall. Let the asshole pay for any damages.
“Hope he’s getting a damned good laugh about this,” Blue muttered as he viciously dragged on his jeans. He checked the room for cameras, hoping Mick wasn’t somewhere watching—or worse, taping—his whole humiliation and thinking “Poor, pathetic Blue.”
Never again would he let someone take advantage of him like this.
Figured you’d learned your lesson about trusting anyone a long damned time ago.
iBooks New Zealand
March 8, 2014