Subscribe to my newsletter and never miss an update.
This is a sneak peek from Pet (MM, political romance, M/s) a Governor Trilogy novel and book 5 in the series) coming 12/21/20. This is Eddie’s book (from Chief and mentioned in Yes, Governor.)
You can pre-order it now!
Some promises can’t be kept…
From birth, my life has been a series of wrong turns and dead ends. Only one person truly loved me, and I walked away from them. Now, they’re unavailable.
I have a dark soul. That’s what I’ve always been told. Makes me good at my work, though. It’s kept me alive, even when I haven’t cared if I lived or died. Even when I welcomed death, and it still eluded me. Makes it easy not to get attached. I guess I’m lucky.
Until an unexpected reversal of fortune thrusts me into an unwinnable situation. Now, I’m not so sure I want to die.
But a brother’s unkept promise might be the only thing that keeps me alive.
“We know who you are.”
Based on the sound of his voice and where it’s coming from, I assume the man is standing on the other side of the table from me. He’s probably around my size, maybe an inch or so in either direction of my own six-foot frame.
Although, from the feel of the table, the way it gives and wobbles under me when I lean on it with enough weight to test it, it’s probably some old Soviet-era military surplus metal folding table and not something more substantive, like an interview table in a police station, or in a military base holding cell.
Or a metal butcher’s work table.
Hey, you’d be surprised how many human bodies get disposed of with a batch of ground beef or sausage. The forensics alone would be a nightmare to untangle, if you even could.
But I digress. He was talking to me. And the acoustics in this room make it sound like it’s too small to be the back of a butcher’s shop in some tiny Hungarian town.
I lick my split lips. “Do you, now?” I can’t see him. Even if it wasn’t for the hood I’m wearing, both my eyes are nearly swollen shut underneath it from the face punches I received when I was first captured and the subsequent initial interrogation session.
He chuckles. I hear the sound of something flat and plastic being set on the table and I assume it’s a tablet. Top Secret folders dripping with paper dossiers are passé, I suppose. But you could slam those fuckers down on a table for a little emphasis. You do that to a tablet, you’ll break it.
“The world has moved on and no one gives a shit about you being here,” he says. “Why are you fighting so hard?”
“Maybe I have a death wish.”
“I believe that’s the first honest thing you’ve said to me.”
He’s right. “Bored with me yet?”
“Nah.” A chair slides out across from me, its metal legs scraping along what sounds like a bare concrete floor.
I can’t move because I’m securely manacled to my chair. Whoever chained me up knew what they were doing. I don’t know who that was because I’d already been knocked out and awakened slumped over the table before me. This was after I’d been snatched, dumped in the back of a van, beaten, transported, drugged…
You get the idea. I’ve had better days.
I’m not even sure how long it’s been since they grabbed me. I’m still alive, so less than a day. It’s been at least twelve hours, I think, but it’s difficult to say with the hood completely shrouding me in muffled darkness.
I could really use a cheeseburger, though. Fuck my life for skipping breakfast.
At least I haven’t pissed myself yet, and no breakfast means I’m not about to shit myself, so yay, winning.
I think there’s at least three of them, total. I heard Russian spoken at one point. This man is doing most of the talking, and the only one I’ve heard speak English. He does so with an American accent. Definitely not a Northeastern accent, and too soft of a drawl to be deeply Southern. Virginia, if I had to guess. It’s very familiar.
Quickly, I shove away the reason I would think that, because that’s not helpful.
I’m assuming he doesn’t know I speak fluent Russian.
“How’s your face?” he asks.
I run my tongue over my split lip again and relish the pain even as I taste hints of my own blood. “How’s your knuckles?”
Another chuckle from the unseen man. “I didn’t hit you. But you were fighting pretty damned hard.” I hate that his voice makes my cock harden as much from what happened to me as from the rich sound of his tone, the familiar inflections to his word. So…familiar.
It’s a conditioned response. Especially since this guy sounds so damned much like a man, another Virginian, who’s forever in my past, even as he’s forever imprinted on my heart and soul.
Guess I do have a death wish.
“Why do you insist on doing this the hard way?” he asks.
“You’re going to kill me whether I make it easy or hard on you. I know how this works. Life’s finally caught up with me. The only question remaining is how hard am I going to make you work for it?”
“Are you now?” He sounds amused, like maybe he’s smiling.
Fuck. Even his voice sounds like—
I know it’s not Him.
It can’t be. His voice is similar, that’s all. For starters, He would never do something like this to me. He would do everything in His power to protect me. It’s just stress and fear warping this man’s voice into one from my past.
I really need to stop thinking about Him with a capital H, but old habits die damned hard.
Besides, He has a life, a wife, children, a job. All safely in Florida.
He has everything He ever wanted.
And that, unfortunately, doesn’t include me.
Not anymore. Although, at one point in the past, it could have.
Maybe if I hadn’t let Him walk away way all those years ago, if I’d chased Him, forced myself to open up and admit how much I needed Him, I could have been part of that equation.
Why shouldn’t I have a death wish? Is my life really worth anything?
I’m beginning to think it’s not.
Add to that, with the last nagging, open chapter in my past firmly closed by Him during His recent trip to Berlin only a few weeks earlier…do I really have anything left worth living for with my revenge now vicariously completed?
Apparently, I must not think I do, because I fucked up my peaceful retirement by being an utter dumbass, which got me into…this.
A noise as the tablet scrapes against the table, followed by the soft, dull, rapid thud of blunt, hard fingers moving over a tablet screen.
“Tsk. Edward James Fowler. Or do you prefer Ed?”
That’s the first time he’s addressed me by name, or even asked to verify my name. He damned well knew exactly who I was and what I was up to when he snatched me, based on the questions he’s already asked. The guy’s now toying with me, maybe even trying to build rapport. A one-man good-cop/bad-cop routine.
I know the drills. I learned them. Even taught them, once upon a long damn time ago.
If he is trying to build rapport now, that means he still wants intel from me, or thinks I’m moderately valuable. The longer I stay alive, the more of a chance I have to escape. I’ve been in tight spots before, but this is the worse by far.
And at fifty-one, I’m no spring chicken. If I manage to get out of this, it’ll be through my wits and sheer, dumb luck breaking my way, not because of my busted-up body suddenly pulling a Rambo moment out of my ass. “Might as well call me Eddie.”
“Is that what your friends call you?”
My bitter laugh fills my ears under my hood. “What friends? Guy like me doesn’t have friends.”
“Business associates, then?”
I can’t help how my mind weighs every inflection of his tone, especially since I can’t see him. It’s automatic. I assess and process every incoming bit of information I have to formulate my reply.
“What kind of business do you think I’m in?” Let’s see how much he really knows about me. Knowing my name doesn’t mean he’s got my full jacket.
His chair softly creaks, like he sat back. I imagine I’m right that he’s not a huge man, or it’d be making a lot more noise. When he speaks, his voice hits my ears at a slightly different angle than before, so I’m certain I’m right about his change of position.
“I think it’s awfully suspicious a man such as yourself has been implicated in helping a dangerous splinter group from Magzykstan get their hands on some pretty serious hardware. Surface-to-air missiles. Nuclear material, even.”
His earlier questions didn’t mention them, so I thought he’d caught up with me through working his way up the grapevine that led me to that job in the first place. I’d already made the delivery, so I had assumed coincidentally bad timing, on my part.
Unfortunately, I also default to a coping mechanism I tend to fall back on at the worst possible time, and that’s get snarky.
“Everyone needs a hobby, you know.”
Instead of him punching me, which I would expect after a smart-assed answer like that, the man actually chuckles again.
Fuuuuuck. As hard and deep as the sound of it drills inside me, I’d almost prefer to feel his fists.
Not to mention, I thought the Magzykidiots were joking about the nuclear material. Had I known they were serious, I wouldn’t have gone near the deal in the first place. Once I took the deposit, however, I was sort of obligated to see it through. At least to give it my best effort. These aren’t the kind of people you jerk around like that. Not when they were closely connected to the son of a Russian oligarch hooked in
Besides, do you honestly think I gave them radioactive material so they could make a dirty bomb? No, of course not. They ended up with chunks of iron a buddy of mine painted with some special paint that had enough trace amounts of plutonium in it to make a geiger counter register.
I’m apparently suicidal, but I’m not stupid.
More soft sounds of the man working on his tablet. I don’t understand his methodology here. Unless he’s trying to knock me off-balance emotionally. If so, he’s already succeeding in that, even though he doesn’t know why.
The silence is preferable to his voice.
Or that chuckle.
Maybe my mind’s now fixated on those sounds because it senses I’m close to death. Regrets flow and maudlin memories assail me.
It’s a lot to process.
Doesn’t mean I’ll start begging for my life or anything that melodramatic. I have standards, you know. And like hell will I offer up my nest egg in exchange for my life.
Not worth that much, for starters.
My life, I mean. My nest egg would likely support a small third-world country for a couple of years. Which, I suppose that is proof positive I’m a dumbass with a death wish. I already had more than enough to comfortably support me for the rest of my life, and here I went and threw it all away.
Secondly, offering up my nest egg means he’d only keep me alive long enough to get a payday and then kill me. If he’s going to kill me anyway, like hell will I pay him to do it.
I guess I’ve had a pretty good run throughout my years considering I started life as a throwaway kid who grew up to become a disposable soldier. Making it to fifty-one is an achievement I never dreamed possible when I left the foster care system and enlisted in the army at the age of eighteen.
That’s after my life almost ended in my twenties in an Afghani desert, too. It was luck and His love that saved my life.
Serves me right getting caught up in this. When a door slammed shut for good on that past chapter of my life just a few weeks ago, it’s like a switch inside me firmly flipped to “gives no fucks” mode. I’ve been living life like that ever since. Very dangerously, too, given my line of work.
Taking risks I normally avoid, like accepting this job in the when I damned well knew better. But it could have made me eight million dollars. Despite the slightly sketchy circumstances I normally would have refused to fuck with, I opted to go for it.
One really lucrative final job, right? Then I could retire for real this time and decide what to do with the rest of my life and that very hefty payday.
My line of work’s proven increasingly difficult over the past few years, which is one of the reasons for my semi-retirement. More sophisticated computer systems and CCTV cameras mean surveillance has improved. Facial recognition software and AI can catch you even when you don’t realize someone’s watching. Banks and security forces and law enforcement are linked via computer networks. Thanks to the EU, European passports are damned near impossible to forge anymore without deep connections and a whole lot of money.
The Pentagon, CIA, and other American alphabet-soup intel services choose to go with pork-barrel contracts that benefit their cronies running “security companies” rather than use lone-wolf freelancers they themselves trained and turned loose on the world to reduce their liability. Back then, we got all the perks with none of the guarantees a formal rank provided.
Now, even the CIA handler I dealt with for a decade won’t return my calls.
I quit being a young man a long damned time ago, and this is a game for people far younger than me.
I’m left without a country, without an official history, or a future. Money was the only thing left to me.
Now, looks like that’s off the table, too.
Maybe I ignored my instincts on purpose.
Maybe I hoped to be extinguished.
Maybe because, a few weeks ago, I wish I’d dropped to my knees on that busy sidewalk in front of that hotel, wrapped my arms around His legs, and begged him to take me with Him.
The man sets the tablet aside and lets out one of those “I’m really disappointed in you” kind of big-brother sighs.
Just like the ones He used to use.
Well, fuck me. This really was going to be torture.
“Well, Eddie. Let’s get started, shall we?”
Fuck. This man truly is a doppelgänger for His voice. I wonder in what other ways he’s like Him.
I do wish my cock wouldn’t harden like that. He might get the wrong impression of me.
Worse, he might get the totally right one.
~ ~ ~
You can pre-order it now!
Do you have the other books in the Governor Trilogy?
Governor – http://books2read.com/LR-governor1
Lieutenant – https://books2read.com/LR-governor2
Chief – http://books2read.com/LR-governor3
Yes, Governor – https://books2read.com/lr-yesgovernor
- Fierce Radiance (re-release)
- Acquainted With the Night (re-release)
- How Many Times Do I Have to Say I’m Sorry?
- All Souls’ Night (a Midnight Doms Boxset)
- Her Vampire Obsession
- Saudade (Maxim Colonies)