Three weeks after solving his old boyfriend’s murder, bounty hunter Derwin Bryant is trying to let go of the past and embrace his new life with Elliot Leed, a former rentboy and fellow Oddity. Elliot, meanwhile, is trying to adjust to working at Bob’s Bail Bonds and having a real relationship despite his strange power of Object Reading. Hanging over the couple is the fear that Roy Yoshiro, notorious gang lord, will make good on his threats to claim Elliot. If that happens, not even Derwin’s superhuman strength will be enough to protect the man he loves.
Their concerns are overshadowed when Derwin’s friend asks for help finding her missing son. It’s not long before the case takes Derwin and Elliot back to the crime-ridden underbelly of the city and straight into Yoshiro’s clutches. Two gangs are vying for power, and Derwin and Elliot get caught in the middle of their very public fight.
Derwin and Elliot must find a way to thwart both gangs’ plans and escape alive. This time, one misstep could spell disaster for all the inhabitants of Nis.
A Wonderful Day
Elliot Leed liked filing criminal records.
He sat in the little office chair behind the desk at Bob’s Bail Bonds, sifting through manila folders, organizing them by court dates. In the corner of the room, Bob was speaking with Derwin Bryant, one of the bond agents hired to capture fugitives who failed the provisions of their bond. Elliot smiled, warmth flushing through his body as he watched the dusky-skinned, muscular bounty hunter speaking with broad gestures and a loud voice.
Derwin also happened to be his lover. An actual lover; not a client, not a john.
“So let me get this straight,” Derwin said, taking several folders from Bob. “You let Bernie the Hack post bond? Again? Bob . . . dude . . .” He shook his head, smiling sadly. “Why do you cover these rats? You know he’s going to skip bond.” He gave Elliot a wink.
Elliot grinned back. He couldn’t help but glance down at himself, wearing khakis and a buttoned shirt, of all things. He had a job. A real job, and not one where he had to follow a Madame’s orders and suck off jerks to pay for food.
Bob shrugged amiably. “I’ve known him for fifteen years, Derwin. Yes, he’s failed to appear before . . .” He rubbed his mouth, perhaps unconsciously. According to Derwin, he’d started his business years ago. An older guy, half-bald, with a friendly face and laugh lines around his eyes, Bob was a softie, but it was hard to get mad at him about it. After all, how many guys would be willing to hire a former rentboy to file paperwork in their office? Elliot couldn’t think of anyone.
Derwin was staring at him. “Three times.” He crossed his arms.
Bob chuckled, nodding. “But you have to admit that last time was a pretty good excuse! I mean, fleeing from a yokai is not something you do every day.” He winked. “Well not most people, I should say.”
Elliot smiled. Yeah, running from a yokai—a supernatural spirit, or demons as most people called them—might be a good excuse to most people. Except for Derwin, who hunted the otherworldly creatures. “What was his crime?”
Bob glanced over at him. “Burglary. The warehouses.” He glanced at the folder in Derwin’s hand. “You’re familiar with that part of town, right?” By his blank expression, it was obvious he was clueless he’d just stepped into a land mine.
Elliot flushed, looking down. “That part of town” was associated with his former life; he’d been living in a warehouse storeroom. In addition, he’d been kidnapped and tortured near those fucking warehouses.
“Yeah, I’m familiar with it,” Elliot muttered. He tried to keep his tone respectful. He’d only been on the job for a week and couldn’t afford to alienate a guy who’d been willing to hire him without past experience or identification.
Derwin came to his rescue, like he always did. “The warehouses are where Grady’s murderer kept Elliot, Bob. So anyways, you just have these little ones for me today? Shouldn’t take me long.” He glanced at the calendar on the wall near Elliot’s head, before turning back to Bob. “By the way, where’s Connie been? I haven’t seen her in days.”
Bob had winced at the reference to Cole Murphy, the guy who had murdered Derwin’s old boyfriend, but he recovered quickly, shrugging. “She says she’s been sick.”
Derwin frowned. “That’s not like her. How many times can you remember her calling out sick before? I hope she’s okay.” He looked at Elliot, and his dark-brown eyes softened.
While Elliot hadn’t had a chance to meet Connie yet, he’d heard all about her. She sounded loud, brazen, and funny, not unlike Derwin’s mother. It was because Connie had complained of having too much work that Elliot had this job at all. “What if we swing by her place later?”
“Good idea.” Faint lines of concentration showed on Derwin’s brow, as he went all businesslike again. Gods, Elliot couldn’t wait to get him home, to strip that tough heroic exterior off and ignite the fiery passion that smoldered beneath.
Elliot had to rein in his imagination, sobering as he watched Derwin checking his gear—bulletproof vest, utility belt with cuffs and pepper spray, his pair of blessed knives, and his gun. The weapons were more for demons than human fugitives. As far as Elliot was concerned, Derwin was a walking arsenal, and that was just fine. Anything to keep him safe. Elliot found himself clutching a folder, and forced himself to set it down. “Be careful.” He wasn’t sure he’d ever get used to the fact his boyfriend risked his neck every day for the job.
“Always.” Derwin grinned and strode over to kiss Elliot on the cheek. Then he headed out the door, the little bell jangling as he left.
Elliot opened the file cabinet, aware that he was blushing. Bob chuckled, but Elliot didn’t turn to see what kind of expression was on the guy’s face. I’m still not comfortable being out and proud and people not caring. As a rentboy, he’d been both attacked and sought after for his proclivities.
He avoided talking to his old Madame, Theresa, now. Every once in a while she sent one of her boys to check up on him, and that was enough. None of the boys had mentioned whether Roy Yoshiro, the city boss of the Tatsu gang and one of Elliot’s former clients, had asked for another booking. Most likely Theresa knew he’d say no.
To celebrate the release of Fraud Twice Felt, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide credit and an ebook from J.T.’s backlist! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on June 3, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!
About the Author & Links:
J.T. Hall has been writing for many years under this name and others, and has appeared in magazines, anthologies, and online books. She earned her BA in creative writing from the University of Arizona, her Master’s in education from Argosy University, and works as an independent technical writer for state and federal programs. In her free time, she volunteers for the LGBT community and is active in the leather scene. She has a teenage daughter and a partner of over ten years. They live in sunny Arizona with three adorably cute dogs, three black cats, and a hamster who loves peanuts.