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"Books in Series:The Protectors Series by Sloane KennedyBooks by Author:Sloane Kennedy Books
Excitement flooded all my nerve endings as I worked to pick the lock in front of me, but that wasn"t a good thing. I needed the familiar numbness back. I needed to not feel anything at all.
Excitement in my line of work accomplished one of two things. It either left you open to making a mistake that could end up getting you killed, or it meant you were so far gone that you"d become as soulless as the men you"d been sent to rid the earth of. In my case, it was still the former, but I often wondered if there would be a point where I"d actually look forward to taking a man"s life. Where I thought less about the life or lives I was saving in the long run and more about the satisfaction of finally having some of the power back that I"d lost so long ago"that had been stolen from me when they"d stolen her.
But unlike the countless lives I"d taken in the last decade for both the army and for the underground organization I now worked for, this kill would be about pleasure. I was going to enjoy watching the man"s frantic eyes pleading with me as he desperately promised to give me what I wanted. And I"d let him believe up until the very end that he had a chance of walking away without a bullet in his brain.
He wouldn"t. Nor would his partner. They would die the same way she had died. Slowly and painfully. And they would suffer the way she"d suffered. They"d beg the way she"d begged. And I"d finally be able to keep the promise that I"d whispered in her ear as her heartbeat had slowed, the pauses between beeps on the heart monitor she"d been hooked to growing longer and longer.
I"ll find them. I"ll end them and then we"ll be together again.
A sigh of relief went through me when I heard and felt the lock disengage. But as I reached for the knob, I heard the elevator open behind me and I yanked my tools out of the lock and hurried to the stairwell door that was just around the corner from the apartment I"d been about to enter. I didn"t hear voices, but I could tell that there were at least two people heading in my general direction. And when I saw two men stop right in front of the door I"d been about to open, I felt a rush of energy surge through me. I"d hoped and prayed I"d find both of my wife"s murderers at the same time, but it had been just that"hope. But my hopes were dashed when I realized one of the men wasn"t old enough.
"Um, thanks for the ride," I heard the one guy say. His back was to me so all I saw was an average build and a head of thick, brown hair that had a little bit of curl to it. He was wearing a beat up leather jacket and a loose pair of jeans.
"My pleasure," the man with him murmured. He was about the same age as the first guy who I guessed to be in his mid-twenties. But whereas the other guy looked very blue collar, the guy with him was white collar all the way. His suit looked custom made for his tall, muscular body and I had no doubt the thick watch on his wrist cost more than my car.
Even from where I stood, I could tell by the first guy"s body language that he was uncomfortable. But if the second guy noticed, he didn"t care because he pressed against the first guy until the man had nowhere left to go, since the door was at his back.
"I should get going," the first guy said. "I"ve got an early morning." Suit guy ignored the clear signals the other guy was sending and leaned down to kiss him. The brown haired guy turned his head away, but that didn"t stop suit guy from kissing the man"s exposed neck. I couldn"t say why the whole thing bothered me, but I didn"t dwell on it. Brown haired guy deserved whatever he got because he was clearly the one who lived in the apartment"he was the man I was interested in, but for a whole other reason.
"I could use you again tomorrow night," suit guy said as he took a whiff of the other guy.
"Yeah, sure," brown haired guy said, but he didn"t move at all. He clearly wasn"t enjoying the other man"s attentions, but seemed reluctant to stand up to him.
"Okay, I"ll see you tomorrow." Suit guy placed a kiss on the other man"s cheek and then pushed back and strode away. I heard the elevator ding but my target didn"t move right away. At some point, he"d closed his eyes and leaned his dejected frame against the door. He looked"done.