After Detective Jack Beckam’s partner is killed during the line of duty, Jack retreats to a small Indian casino in the Colorado mountains to deal with his guilt. There, he encounters the mysteriously hostile casino manager, Taylor Brant.
Jack is on a downward spiral. Unfortunately for him, the strange forest surrounding the casino only increases his desire to do something reckless. Something desperate. Taylor Brant is not only dangerous, he’s damaged. He’s someone Jack should steer clear of. Yet Jack, hurting and needing to pay penance, tumbles into a series of dark, highly charged encounters with Brant which threaten to shatter them both.
Amusement briefly lit Brant’s gray gaze. “You’re an interesting man, Jack. Under other circumstances I’d enjoy feeling you out.”
“I thought you hate cops. Sounds to me like you’re flirting with one.”
He was immediately embarrassed for having said it. Taylor Brant was one of the most attractive men he’d ever seen, much less had dinner with—but Jack recognized the nugget of fear rolling around in his own gut. He was in foreign territory, literally and figuratively. All his experience as a detective, all his street smarts, meant next to nothing when it came to his occasional and unwanted attraction to specific men. It was like a flare-up of a rash—unpredictable, unwelcome, and woefully incurable.
“I’d be reckless, wouldn’t I,” Brant said, “to flirt with a detective?” Brant’s gaze grew intent. “I’m not reckless.”
“Sounds to me like you’re a masochist.”
“Would it take one to know one?”
The restaurant was emptying out. Jack wished it were busier. Louder. He wished that the waiter was intrusive. He could feel himself sweating and felt ridiculous; he was only sitting there eating dinner.
Brant didn’t appear to be all that relaxed, either. The casino manager was tense. Nervous. Jack was too experienced in studying people to miss the signs. Was Brant regretting his boldness? Maybe they were both stumbling around in the dark in their own ways. It was strange to look at Taylor Brant and consider him anything other than one hundred percent sure of himself.
Or was it? He was well groomed and sophisticated, yet the broken nose hinted at his past experience with abuse. The book, too, suggested deep waters and a hint of vulnerability.
But Jack wasn’t completely sold on Brant being a man you could easily take advantage of. Maybe back then, back when Brant had dated those cops, he had been a man like that. But not any longer. The man sitting across from Jack had been honed by pain, anger, and disappointment. Brant had gone through hell and come out the other side as a more powerful man. It was there in those steely eyes, a hint of the danger he presented: he needed to control every situation he entered because he would never allow himself to be at anyone’s mercy again. He was using his fear to become something—someone—unbreakable.
Jack’s cock pulsed at the prospect of being under Brant’s control, even for an hour. It wasn’t something he’d ever experienced, and the fantasy of it was probably better than the reality. Hell, he didn’t know how he’d react to someone attempting to take the upper hand with him. There was a good chance he’d throw a punch.
Tricia Owens has been writing m/m fiction since 2000, after stumbling onto the term ‘slash’ and thinking it referred to horror stories. She is the author of the Sin City, A Pirate’s Life for Me, and Juxtapose City series, among several others. She lives in Las Vegas.