He was the Beast without the escape clause.
Francis "Liv" Livingston was a beast. No matter if he wore a perfectly tailored suit or if he was in his tactical gear, people avoided looking at him. He was always first to volunteer for the jobs only a person with a death wish wanted. Tomorrows weren"t guaranteed. His boss had come to him and told him he needed him for a job. Linus knew the jobs he liked, but when he opened the file, it all went to hell.
Beauty was only skin deep.
Fielding Haskell made his way in the world on his looks. He"d earned his first film role before he could read a script. He didn"t want the fame. He wanted to go to college. He wanted a man who didn"t look at him and see how pretty he was. Unfortunately, a so-called fan only cared how attractive he was, and it earned him a personal bodyguard and a vacation. He looked forward to the break until he met the man in charge of his safety and wondered if the danger he left was worth dealing with a sudden attraction to a man who was colder than ice.Books in Series:Trenton Security Series by J.M. DabneyBooks by Author:J.M. Dabney Books
Granger, Wyoming 1994
"Livingston, we"ve done all that we can. More surgery would just""
Francis Livingston tuned out the doctor"s voice. The same conversation on fucking repeat and it always ended the same way. He was stuck with the scars that covered seventy-five percent of his body. He fisted his hands on his thighs and tried not to take a swing at the older man. It wasn"t the guy"s fault. His mind wandered as it always did when he didn"t want to hear the bullshit and it never went anywhere good.
"Go to bed, Francis, I"ll be up to tuck you in," his mother ordered, her hands in the soapy water.
He"d thought it strange at the time. His mother never tucked him in"she barely acknowledged he existed. He remembered he"d walked through the living room. His siblings and the sister-wives were there, and they didn"t pay attention to him either. Mr. Teller was indisposed with one of the other sister-wives. This one was due to be cursed with another child, but she was the oldest, and she hadn"t given Mr. Teller a child in almost two years. He was born before the man his mother married had that fucked up ceremony. That bastard and his harem of plain, broken women, even at eight, he"d recognized it. Mr. Teller was quick to use his fists and belt to keep order in his house. He swung that leather punctuated with The Word and cowed the brainwashed occupants of the man"s home.
He"d earned his mother"s revenge. For every beating she received, he"d gotten the same, but only more severe. He could still clearly see the crazed look in her eyes and the way her hair came undone from her bun in her fury. Wasn"t that what mothers did" He was evil, and he deserved his punishment. Love came in shades of blue and black, fading to a deceptively pretty purple and a sick greenish-yellow like the infection from his wounds in the early days of his treatment. All she required was him to repent, but for what" What had he done but be born"
When he"d reached his room, he"d changed into his pajamas, simple plaid and crawled into bed. He"d studied the cracks in the ceiling, discerned shapes from the flowing lines then again where they broke at another small fissure. He shared his room with his mother. Two iron beds, nightstands with their ever-present bibles. The unfinished floors with their cracked planks cut into his knees where they bowed as he read to his mother from that book. He never recalled a time he believed in those words"God so loving and kind, but that book told of horrors and people dying for so-called sins. Pretending became second nature, but he no longer feigned faith and never would.
His mother walked into his room that night with a smile, and that should"ve warned him of the hell to come.
"Francis, have you repented for your sins today""
"I believe you are lying to me and you know what happens to sinners."
Her voice so calm and serene, almost happy and apprehension had pooled in the pit of his empty stomach. They had deemed him ungrateful for the scraps they provided him and ordered him to sit at the table to watch the worthy eat. He remained silent. He didn"t beg or move as she secured each ankle and wrist to the bed with the softness of scarves. He could take the pain"he"d survived it his entire life. His mother"s first kind act could"ve been not letting him being born at all, but her selfishness won out. He knew she"d hoped to trap a man she thought was wealthy"who"d take care of her. When she"d left that city, she hadn"t anticipated the other wives and children waiting or the house which practically crumbled around them.
She ranted as she beat him. Placed blame and he could repeat every word from memory"even eight years later.
He"d braced for the first strike, fist or leather"it hadn"t mattered"it was just his life. It was his fault Mr. Teller wouldn"t sleep with her anymore. No matter how many times Mr. Teller tried, Livingston"s mother couldn"t carry another baby.
He hadn"t started begging not even when she turned off the light and disappeared. Minutes or hours could"ve passed, but by the time she returned the house had grown quiet. The click of the light beside her bed drew his attention, and he"d watched her, the laziness of her movements and still with that happy expression on her face. The scent of gasoline thick in the room, the odor burning his nose.
"Do you know why I"m doing this, Francis""
She"d never called him anything other than his name, no son or cute nickname.
"I was bad."
It was the last words he spoke before a rag was shoved deep into his mouth, choking him as he tried to breathe. His clothes became soaked as his mother poured the contents of the small red container over him and the bed. After the sulfur and gas stench, everything went fuzzy, and he was all screaming agony as his sheets and clothes ignited. Before he"d passed out, all that was left was that peaceful smile.