by L.J. Hayward
Published February 26th 2018 by Riptide Publishing
Genre: MxM Adult Romantic Suspense
Jack Reardon, former SAS soldier and current Australian Meta-State asset, has seen some messy battles. But “messy” takes on a whole new meaning when he finds himself tied to a chair in a torture shack, his cover blown wide open, all thanks to notorious killer-for-hire Ethan Blade.
Blade is everything Jack doesn’t believe in: remorseless, detached, lawless. Yet, Jack’s only chance to survive is to strike a bargain with the devil and join forces with Blade. As they trek across a hostile desert, Jack learns that Blade is much more than a dead-eyed killer—and harder to resist than he should be.
A year later, Jack is home and finally getting his life on track. Then Ethan Blade reappears and throws it all into chaos once more. It’s impossible to trust the assassin, especially when his presence casts doubts on Jack’s loyalty to his country, but Jack cannot ignore what Blade’s return means: the mess that brought them together is far from over, and Ethan might just bring back the piece of Jack’s soul he thought he’d lost forever.
Fuck, fuck, fuck. This wasn’t how a guy was supposed to celebrate his thirty-fifth birthday. He was supposed to be in a pub, listening to a drunken rendition of “Happy Birthday,” or at a BBQ being introduced to so-and-so’s cousin with the great personality, or out to dinner with a slice of wheat-free, dairy-free, taste-free cake. Hell, anywhere but here.
Here was a twelve by twelve of raw cinder block, roofed in rusted, corrugated tin and in the middle of God-knew-where. The only furniture was the folding chair in the centre of the room, bolted to the cement floor. The chair Jack was tied to by wrists, ankles, thighs, and chest. They hadn’t gagged him, which meant there was no one to hear him scream; hadn’t blindfolded him, which meant what he saw wouldn’t matter.
It was cold, but not as cold as it got closer to dawn, so only a couple of hours had passed since he’d been jumped, at least. The shivers running along his spine aggravated the shallow knife wound under his left kidney, to say nothing of the potentially broken ribs creaking each time he moved. His right wrist was either badly sprained or fractured; the plastic restraint was biting into the swollen tissue. All of it hurt enough to make his teeth ache. Or maybe that was from the repeated blows to his jaw.
“Hey!” Jack couldn’t help but try. “What’s going on? I didn’t do anything. Come on, what’s the deal?”
Like before, no response.
The icteric light of a dozen fluorescent glow-tubes hanging overhead gave everything a sickly yellow tinge. Behind him, the wall with the door. To his left, a wall with a set of shackles. It was easy to imagine himself strung up, hanging there defenceless, while the tools on the wall to his right were taken down and used. Knives, pliers, straight razor, a shock-stick, what was possibly a cat-o’-nine-tails. All of them were hung on a backboard, the type with an outline of each tool so you knew where to put them. Someone had made sure each tail of the whip hung in its precise place.
Still, it was a nicer scene than that on the wall in front of him.
A poster stuck up with aged, yellowed tape. An expanse of turquoise water, a curve of golden sand, a row of perfect palm trees, a peerless blue sky arcing over it. On the beach, four young ladies in bikinis played volleyball.
It had a caption: Wish you were here.
The truly disturbing thing, though, the one thing in the entire room that really concerned him, was that someone had used what was probably blood to smear a question mark at the end of it. That one, perhaps joking, addition did what nothing else in the room could.
It made Jack think he wasn’t going to get out of here alive.
He really didn’t want to die here. Not in this goddamned place, not for this bloody job. ”
To celebrate the release of Where Death Meets the Devil, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 3, 2018. 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:
L.J. Hayward has been telling stories for most of her life. Granted, a good deal of them have been of the tall variety, but who’s counting? Parents and teachers notwithstanding, of course. These days, the vast majority of her story telling has been in an honest attempt to create fun and exciting ways of entertaining others (and making money).
As such, she is still a mad (always provoked!) scientist in a dungeon laboratory (it has no windows—seriously, the zombie apocalypse could be going on outside and she’d have nary a clue) who, on the rare occasions she emerges into the light, does so under extreme protest and with the potential hazard of bursting into flames under the Southeast Queensland sun.