Ties That Bind
Men of Honor, Book 3
Can two men let go of the past in order to find their future together?
When helo pilot Glen Rhodes flies Navy SEALs into the most dangerous places on earth, he has nerves of steel. Since his trusted Dom’s death three years ago, though, the thought of submitting makes him panic.
Determined to move on and long past ready to release the adrenaline rush from his job, Glen returns to home ground—and to the bar he hasn’t had the heart to enter for three long years. There, he meets a man who seems to fit naturally into the void.
Derek Mann has suffered his own losses, and he isn’t looking for permanent. Easy conquests don’t interest him, either. One look at Glen’s proud military bearing and sad eyes tells him that he has a challenge on his hands. And that winning Glen’s trust will unleash something wild and beautiful.
The plan is to tread lightly. But from the first touch of skin on skin, there’s no holding back…except when it comes to their deepest emotions. A Christmas Eve crisis pushes them both to their limits, leaving them no choice but to let go of the past…or let it pull them apart.
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A shiver brushed the back of Derek’s neck seconds before he spotted the blond walk through the door.
The boy was beautiful—handsome, maybe mid-to-late twenties. The tattoos that ran up and down his arms were a promise of many more under the black wife-beater that he revealed when the black leather jacket slipped off.
He turned to the older Dom, James, sitting next to him at the bar. “Who’s that?”
“That’s Glen,” James said with a half-smile. He’d been watching the boy as well. “I didn’t think we’d ever see him here again.”
Derek’s gut tugged—usually that meant the boy was a pain in the ass or not a good sub at all. But typically, this bar wouldn’t allow someone like that inside. “Why not?”
James pointed to the wall and Derek turned his head toward the picture of John.
“He was John’s?” John was a legend at this place—part-owner, friend to all. A Dom who taught others what the term really meant. He’d also been retired CIA, although Derek was only privy to that because of his own time in the military.
“For five years, until John died. After that…” James shook his head.
“He’s never taken another Dom?”
“He tried. But it didn’t work. John was a hard memory to live up to.”
“Maybe he tried someplace else?”
“No way—this is Glen’s home. He knows that. John wouldn’t have wanted him to go someplace he wasn’t known to sub.” James looked at Derek. “If he’s back here, that means he’s looking.”
“Any advice?” Because Derek was chomping at the bit to approach him. The shiver touched his neck again and he rubbed the skin there and wondered why this boy hit him so hard.
James fixed him with a hard gaze. “He’s not easy. Never was, never will be. He doesn’t want the traditional relationship. But if he respects you, the submission you get…”
James didn’t finish but Derek knew—could tell by the strut the boy had, even with the sadness in his eyes—that Glen submitting would be a wild and beautiful thing. He’d had that once, a long time ago, and some said he’d been purposely picking the wrong boys since.
They were probably right.
A widowed Dom and a widowed sub typically didn’t mix well—both had expectations that were impossible to meet. But he was being tugged in Glen’s direction by something, and he glanced at the picture of John and back to Glen.
He watched the other men come up to the boy, hug him, welcome him as he drank his beer slowly. Glen looked overwhelmed after about fifteen minutes, was having trouble making eye contact with people, had his hands stuffed in his pockets, and Derek could see they were fisted. He couldn’t think of a better time to make his introduction.
He came up behind the boy and put a hand on the back of his neck, his palm tingling with the contact of the warm skin. Glen stilled immediately and Derek murmured, “Come on—you’re about to lose it.”
Glen didn’t fight, turned and walked next to Derek, not meeting his eyes, walking with his head down. Derek kept up the light rub on his hot skin until they moved to a more private area, ignoring the whispers that started immediately.
“Face the wall,” Derek told him.
“I don’t do that punishment shit,” Glen growled, tried to break away but Derek held him in place, inhaling the boy’s scent—beach and cinnamon and that pure scent of a man aroused.
“It’s not a punishment. You’re on sensory overload, headed to a panic attack. Now stay. Breathe.”
Glen gave a short nod, a flash of appreciation in his dark blue eyes, and did just that. Hung his head, stuffed his hands in his pockets again, and the men remained silent for a few minutes until Glen’s breathing became slow and steady. Derek studied his profile—his bearing was military, straight and sure, even with his head down with the kind of perfect posture of a sub. Derek had an urge to kiss him, but that would only end in disaster at the moment.
“Thanks,” Glen said finally, lifted his head and looked Derek in the eye. Half challenge, but there was also something else there…uncertainty. Lust, too.
It was enough. “I’m Derek Mann. Come sit. Have a drink.”
Glen nodded, sat next to Derek on the couch but asked for a soda when the waiter came to take their order. The waiter obviously recognized Glen, nodded at him, and Glen nodded back and drank half the Coke on his first pull. “I guess you know who I am.”
“I know who your Dom was,” Derek said. “That’s not the same thing at all.”
Glen frowned a little, as if he’d never considered that. “You’re the only one who had the balls to approach me like that.” That obviously sat well with Glen—with Derek too.
“Are you here to play?”