The Protectors Book #4
Abandoned. Abused. Betrayed.
Ex-cop Maverick “Mav” James needs only three things. His Harley, an open road and his work in an underground organization that delivers justice when the law can’t.
Family? They left him long before he left them.
Friends? A liability.
A place to call home? Doesn’t exist.
Mav’s motto is simple: Get done and get out. Work, sex, doesn’t matter. No emotional connections. Simple.
Until he meets him.
Alone. Hiding. Broken.
At fifteen years old, Eli Galvez had nothing. No family, no friends and only his body as a means to make enough money to survive. But a chance meeting changed all that and eight years later, he’s well on his way to having the life he could once only dream of. He’s been accepted into medical school and he’s finally returned home to Seattle to be closer to the men and women who don’t share his blood, but are the only family he’s ever really known.
Only things aren’t what they seem and the secrets Eli has been hiding are about to come to the surface with dangerous consequences.
One final chance at a real future.
Guys like Eli just aren’t Mav’s type, period. Yet he can’t deny his intense attraction to the younger man who only looks at him with fear in his eyes. Until the day there’s something else in those eyes too. Something that draws Mav in and refuses to let go. Something that makes him want to forget his rules. But Mav’s learned the hard way what happens when you get too close to something. And while he vows to protect Eli after a violent attack leaves the younger man shaken, protection is all he’ll offer.
Because anything else would just cost too much.
I didn’t see him at first because unlike so many of the other times he’d been walking down the busy hallway towards the hospital room I was guarding, his head was hung and he didn’t speak to any of the various nurses and other staff who greeted him. In fact, he was so distracted that he nearly slammed into me as he turned to enter the room. I managed to grab him by the upper arms just before he walked into me and I didn’t miss his startled gasp as he lifted his eyes to meet mine.
The young man was nothing like the men I usually went for. First of all, he was just way too young. He was in his early twenties at best. Second, I liked them a little on the sturdier side. This man was so lean and slight, I would have had to worry about breaking him if I put all of my weight down on his back while I was fucking him from behind. And third, and most importantly, he was skittish. Exceedingly so. I didn’t mind a little shyness here and there, but I wasn’t into fucking guys who were terrified of me. And with the way his whole body seized up when I’d first grabbed his arms, I knew that was exactly what he was.
“Sorry,” he whispered, though it was hard to hear him over the din of the people coming and going through the hallway.
“No problem,” I responded, though I had yet to let him go. With it being summer, he was wearing a short-sleeved shirt so my fingers were in contact with his bare skin which was wreaking havoc on my senses. Not to mention his big, luminous dark brown eyes and his slightly parted lips that looked so full that I couldn’t help but wonder if he’d just been kissing someone or if they were just naturally that plump and supple looking.
I’d first noticed him a couple of weeks earlier when the young boy I was keeping an eye on, Matty Travers, had been readmitted to the Immunocompromised Services Unit of the children’s hospital. I’d only met the little boy about six weeks earlier when my boss, Ronan Grisham, had asked me to keep an eye on one of my colleagues, Hawke, in case he decided to single-handedly pursue the men who’d murdered his wife. Under normal circumstances, Hawke wasn’t the kind of guy who needed backup, but when Ronan had learned that the murderers had taken up with a Mexican drug lord, all bets were off and he’d ordered me to stick to Hawke like glue.
Weeks had passed, but Hawke hadn’t gone looking for the men as expected and when the man he’d lost his heart to, Tate Travers, and his five-year-old son had shown up to visit him at his ranch in Wyoming, I’d been there to witness the reunion and I’d known then that Hawke had chosen a future with them rather than seeking vengeance for the rape and murder of his wife and unborn child ten years earlier. I’d ended up sticking around town for a couple days so I could explore the mountain ranges surrounding Rocky Point, but on the day I’d finally gotten on my Harley to head to my next assignment, Ronan had frantically called me and told me to get back to Hawke’s house because the men he’d given up on hunting had found him instead.
I’d made it back to Hawke’s ranch just in time to save him from the bullet one of the drug lord’s lackeys had been about to put in his brain, and then he and I had managed to get Tate and Matty to safety. For someone so young, little Matty had been beyond brave as a gun had been held to his head and I’d felt a kinship with him from the start. So when Ronan had asked me if I’d stay in Seattle for a while to keep an eye on the family in case the drug lord made a play for them, I’d readily agreed.
And that was when I’d seen the young man.
He arrived every day like clockwork to spend time with Matty and I’d learned from Hawke who had given me the okay to let the guy past me, that he was someone who had just started volunteering in the pediatric oncology unit. I hadn’t missed how beautiful he was with his dark skin tone that hinted at Hispanic heritage and pretty, expressive eyes, but I’d dismissed my intense attraction to him because of the way he’d looked at me that very first day when he’d told me his name as he’d sought entry into Matty’s room.
I’d let the name roll off my tongue as I’d automatically flirted with him, but when he’d looked at me like I was going to jump him, I’d let him pass without further comment and I’d done my best to ignore him all the other days that he’d stopped by. But it had been an almost impossible task because there was always this inevitable moment when Eli stepped past me, that his eyes would lift to look at me for the briefest of moments and I wouldn’t see fear in them…I’d see something different. Something that had my stomach knotting up with anticipation and my fingers itching to reach up and stroke over the smoothness of his cheek.
But now as I held on to him, he wasn’t only looking terrified, he was practically shaking in my grip, so I quickly released him.
I knew I wasn’t the safest looking guy in terms of appearance, especially considering the tattoos that covered my arms, torso and back, my large build, long hair and the leather motorcycle pants I wore, but it wasn’t like I’d overtly come on to the guy or anything that would cause him to be so fearful of me.
I expected Eli to quickly move away from me and rush into the room, but other than taking a step back, he didn’t do anything else. His eyes held mine as he tried to get control of his breathing and then he shook his head slightly. “I’m sorry,” he said again, a little louder this time, but still very low and quiet.
I had no doubt the second apology had nothing to do with running into me and I desperately wanted to ask him what he was sorry for. But then I saw it.
My breath caught in my throat as I realized what the look meant, but before I could question Eli or even respond, he stepped past me and into the room. I heard both Matty and Tate happily greet him and there was no fear or tentativeness as Eli greeted them in return. The idea that Eli might actually be attracted to me was an unexpected distraction and it took everything in my power to keep from looking through the glass walls into Matty’s room to see him and Eli interacting. My job was to focus on my surroundings and keep the little boy inside that room safe.
It was only about a half an hour later that Eli left the room and I willed myself not to look at him as he passed, but I failed miserably when I sensed his gaze on me. Our eyes met briefly and I felt my cock harden uncomfortably in my pants. Eli was the one to tear his gaze away first, but I kept my eyes on his slim back as he hurried down the hall towards another room and it wasn’t until he disappeared inside of it that I finally managed to snap out of whatever spell I’d fallen under. Irritation flooded my system and I cursed both my own traitorous body, as well as the young man who’d fucked with my head for those few seconds with just one look.
My shift outside Matty’s door lasted only another hour and when Hawke arrived to relieve me, I said my goodbyes to Matty and Tate and hurried towards the parking garage so I could get my Harley between my legs and use the massive bike to work off some of the tension that was still lingering in my system. It took just a few minutes to get to the garage and I automatically bypassed the elevator for the stairs that would lead to the lowest floor of the garage where I’d left my bike. But the second I opened the door, I went on high alert when I heard someone yelling, “Stay the fuck away from him, do you hear me?”
The sound of flesh striking flesh had me moving and when I heard someone let out a small cry, I leaned over the stair railing and yelled, “Hey! What’s going on down there?”
There was another distressed cry and then a door was opening and closing. I knew the assailant would be long gone by the time I reached the bottom landing, but I took the stairs as fast as I could anyway so I could make sure whoever had been struck was okay.
I saw the young man immediately before I even reached the last step. He was sitting on the concrete floor, his back to the wall and his arms over his head. I could hear him crying softly.
“Hey, you okay?” I asked as I knelt on the floor in front of him. He flinched when I carefully tried to pull his arms away from his face. “You’re safe now,” I murmured as he finally relaxed his muscles enough to drop his arms. And when I put my fingers under his chin to lift his face, I held my breath as I realized who it was under the bruise that was already forming along one cheek, the blood trickling from the split lip and the tears streaking down his face.
But what I felt most was the perfection of what these two men were giving me. And I knew in that moment that I would do anything to keep it. Anything. –Cole
After four years abroad, artist Jonas Davenport has come home to start building his dream of owning his own art studio and gallery. But just as he’s ready to put the darkness of his past behind him forever, it comes roaring back with a vengeance.
The only thing keeping ex-cop Mace Calhoun from eating his own gun after an unthinkable loss is his role in an underground syndicate that seeks to get justice for the innocent by taking the lives of the guilty. Ending the life of the young artist who committed unspeakable crimes against the most vulnerable of victims should have been the easiest thing in the world. So why can’t he bring himself to pull the trigger?
After years of fighting in an endless, soul-sucking war, Navy SEAL Cole Bridgerton has come home to fight another battle – dealing with the discovery that the younger sister who ran away from home eight years earlier is lost to him forever. He needs answers and the only person who can give them to him is a young man struggling to put his life back together. But he never expected to feel something more for the haunted artist.
Cole and Mace. One lives by the rules, the other makes his own. One seeks justice through the law while the other seeks it with his gun. Two men, one light, one dark, will find themselves and each other when they’re forced to stand side by side to protect Jonas from an unseen evil that will stop at nothing to silence the young artist forever.
But each man’s scars run deep and even the strength of three may not be enough to save them…
I lifted my gaze to tell Seth no but then I saw it. The thing I’d feared I’d lost. It wasn’t hero worship or the wayward emotions of an innocent child. And it wasn’t some distorted reflection of a man who no longer existed. All I saw was me…the way he saw me. –Ronan
Trauma surgeon Ronan Grisham lost everything the day the man he loved was stolen from him in a brutal attack. Driven by a thirst for vengeance, he turns his hatred into building an underground group that can do what he couldn’t that fateful day…take the lives of the guilty to save the lives of the innocent. But years later, he’s forced to confront the one link to his past that he can’t sever.
Seven years after the loss of his parents in a violent home invasion that left him permanently scarred both inside and out, 21-year-old Seth Nichols is trying to put his life back together so he can take over the reins of his father’s global shipping empire. But the last person he expects to come back into his life is the man he drove away with one innocent, stolen kiss.
With one brush of his lips, Seth managed to do to Ronan what no other had since the day Ronan watched the light in his fiancé’s eyes go out forever. He made him need again. But Ronan can’t need anyone, least of all his dead fiancé’s younger brother. Because even one touch from Seth could shatter Ronan’s carefully constructed world and Ronan knows there’s no coming back from that a second time.
But when a series of escalating attacks against Seth forces Ronan back into his life, Seth knows it’s his last chance to show Ronan he can be the man the broken surgeon needs. Only the Ronan who returns isn’t the Ronan Seth fell in love with so long ago…
Can Seth be Ronan’s salvation or will he end up destroying them both?
“You’re a hero every fucking day,Tate,” I said softly. “Don’t ever forget that.” –Hawke
Ex Special Forces soldier Michael “Hawke” Hawkins has spent every day of the last ten years waiting for the moment he would get to watch the life fade from the eyes of the men who brutally murdered his wife, but when he finally gets the break he’s been waiting for, the trail leads him to someone he wasn’t expecting.
After nearly two years of running, 24-year-old Tate Travers has become an expert at hiding…until the day a dangerous stranger shows up looking for vengeance and threatens to destroy the fragile life Tate has managed to build for himself and his five-year-old son. Except the life Tate has been struggling to hold on to started unraveling long before Hawke showed up looking for the same men Tate has been running from…his own father and older brother.
Retribution – it’s all Hawke has wanted since the day he held his wife’s hand as she took her last breath. And he won’t give that up for anything or anyone…not even the tormented young man trying to give his little boy a better life. Because Tate is the only one who can lead Hawke to the men he’s been searching for. And if it means forcing the young man to confront the past that nearly destroyed him, then so be it.
Only the last thing Hawke expects to feel is something besides the hatred that has driven him. And he definitely never expected to feel it for a man.
But when it comes down to choosing between the unwanted feelings Tate stirs in him and the revenge he’s finally close enough to taste, will Hawke be able to give up the one thing that has kept him going for a second chance at a future he gave up on ever having?
*ALL AVILABLE IN
Although Sloane Kennedy always dreamed of being a writer as a teenager, she didn’t take the plunge until March of 2015 when she released her first novel as an independent author. Since then, she has released more than a dozen books including the Amazon best-selling “Barretti Security” series, “Finding” series and “Protectors” series. While she initially began writing M/F romance, she found her true passion writing gay romance and all four of her most recent releases reached the #1 spot on Amazon’s Gay Romance bestseller list and Freeing Zane, her final book in the Barretti Security series, made it to Amazon’s overall bestseller list. Sloane was born in Germany and grew up in Virginia and Wisconsin. Although she currently lives in Wisconsin, the place where she has always felt most at home is Seattle and many of her books take place in the Emerald city. Although she is unmarried, a menagerie of 2 dogs and 3 cats keeps her busy enough and 3 young nieces take care of the rest of her free time. Sloane loves being able to share her passion for romance with readers and she is truly humbled by all the support she’s received from fans and fellow authors alike.
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