Crash & Burn (Cut & Run, #9)
It’s been five years since Special Agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett first worked together to solve the Tri-State murders, and time has been both harsh and kind. Engaged now, they face the challenge of planning a deeply uncertain future together. Zane is at the pinnacle of his career with one last mystery to solve, while Ty is at sea in a world where he’s no longer the tip of a spear.
There’s just one more hurdle in the way of their happy ever after: a traitor from their inner circle who threatens to burn their world to the ground.
Squeezed between the Vega cartel, an unknown mole, and too many alphabet agencies to count, Ty and Zane must gather all their strength and resources to beat the longest odds they’ve ever faced. To make it out alive, they’ll need help from every friend they’ve got. Even the friends who might betray their trust.
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Zane Garrett sat in his cushy chair in the Baltimore field office, staring at the frosted glass on his door. It read Special Agent in Charge, and it was the title he’d been working toward since he’d entered the academy. Aside from a post in Washington, it was the pinnacle of any agent’s ambitions. In charge of one of the fifty-six FBI field offices.
Five years ago, Zane would have been doing a Snoopy dance behind his closed door the moment he’d taken possession.
Now, though, Zane hated—no—Zane despised sitting behind this desk all day.
He tossed his feet up and clunked his heels on the corner, leaning back in his chair. Fuck this desk.
Zane glanced at his watch. It was a gift from Ty, a surprise from last Christmas. Underneath, the engraving read simply “Yours.” Classic Grady: succinct, romantic, and not at all incriminating. It made Zane smile whenever he checked the time.
He still had ten minutes to his nebulous lunch hour, so he pulled out his phone and dialed Ty.
“Grady,” Ty said after just two rings. Even though he’d resigned from the Bureau a year ago, he still answered his phone as if he expected someone to be calling him to go kill something.
“Hey, doll,” Zane drawled. “How’s your day going?”
“Pretty good, actually. What’s up?”
“I had a thought.”
“God help us,” Ty said under his breath.
“Do you think Burns was the endgame?”
On his first day in the new office, Zane had swept it for bugs. He’d only found one, which rather surprised him. He’d already known it was there, hidden beneath the desk; Richard Burns himself had shown it to Zane and Ty before he’d died. Zane had destroyed it: an opening gambit in a game of chess where pawns were people and kings lived or died on how soon they realized they were playing.
Ty was silent for a few heartbeats. “What?”
“I sweep this office every fucking day, waiting for another bug. Nada.” Zane rocked in his chair and rolled his head from side to side. “Nothing on our phones, either. Do you think it’s possible we were being watched because of our connection to Burns? That he was the target, and I’m just spinning my wheels here when I could be in bed with you all day?”
“Well. Are we still going with your chess metaphor?”
“I like my chess metaphor.”
Ty laughed, and the sound warmed Zane to an unhealthy degree. “Okay. Isn’t chess all about patience and strategy?”
Zane groaned and rubbed at his temple.
“You’re going insane, aren’t you?” Ty asked fondly.
“I feel like this must be what your brain does all the time. Squirrels juggling knives in there.”
Ty snorted. “I think, on the larger scale, it’s our move. You know? We’ve been quiet since Scotland. You’re stuck behind a desk, I’m playing Mister Fix-It. What’s there to spy on?”
“But how would they know that if they’re not spying on us?”
Ty made a clucking sound. “Maybe they are.”
When Zane hung up a few minutes later, having secured a dinner date with his fiancé, he was still frowning. Maybe they are.
Ty’s words haunted him for the rest of the day. Maybe they are. But how? He scanned the office one last time with his device, but registered nothing. He waited until most of his agents were gone for the day, until the floor was clear, and he walked through every cubicle, methodically checking every nook and cranny. He even checked the bathrooms.
Well, at least he knew the entire fucking building was clear of listening devices now.
Finding their mole was Zane’s final mission, and it was eating him alive. The mole who’d been spying on them for God knew how long. The mole whose connections and motivations were still mysteries to them. The mole who’d damn near gotten them killed in New Orleans.
The mole who’d caused Richard Burns to be murdered.
He stood waiting for the elevators, muttering to himself as he checked the batteries in the damn detector. “You’re obsessing, Garrett. You’ve been spending too much time with Ty.”
He shoved the batteries back into the thing and tucked it into his leather satchel as the elevator dinged. He glanced up, eyes wide as he realized what he’d just said.
Why the hell would anyone bug Zane at work if half of his or her interest was in Ty? It had been effective when they were partnered; they’d been together all the time. But now? Ty wasn’t here. Ty was at home.
Home. The row house.
Ty paced through the living room of the row house, listening to Zane’s voice mail greeting for the fourth time in the last hour. Zane was hours late now. He was never this late.
“Oh, I’ll leave you a message, you son of a . . .” He left a one-word message at the beep this time: “Asshole!”
He tossed his phone at the couch as he prowled by. He hated being stuck like this. And Zane knew he hated it! Zane never did anything even remotely dangerous without calling Ty first, because he knew Ty would rain down hellfire on Baltimore looking for him if he went radio silent. The cartel was still out there, lurking. And Ty didn’t have Zane’s back now.
He stomped out to the back stoop and threw himself down on the top step. This step had seen him through many of his dark moods over the years, and now he sat out here a lot, staring at his Mustang, while Zane was at work. She was Nightmist Blue, a hauntingly beautiful and historically accurate deep hue, with two thick white racing stripes going up her center and a white interior to match. She was finally done, inside and out, and Ty had stuck with vintage parts right up until he got to the electronics, when he’d found pieces online made to look vintage but that were entirely modern. She could sync with an MP3 player, keep your ass warm in the winter, and start up with the press of a button from the comfort of your home.
She was so beautiful that Ty hadn’t had the heart to cover her up since he’d finished her, even though the weather this winter had been especially harsh and dark.
Ty was fairly certain that was more about his state of mind than the weather, though. And now it seemed that Zane was going to start disregarding their dinner plans and not bother to tell Ty when he’d be late coming home.
Ty shook his head. One pass, that was all that bastard would get before Ty threw a fit of epic proportions.
He could only sit here for a few minutes before concern and restlessness got to him again and he headed back inside, going for the cabinet under the kitchen sink where he kept his new stash of Cubans.
His sharp ears caught the scratch of keys at the door before he could reach his stash. He stomped to the front door, prepared to give Zane an earful. The door didn’t open, though. Ty heard the keys jangle and a soft curse from the other side. He threw the dead bolt and yanked the door open, and Zane stumbled inside as he tried to get his keys out of the lock.
“Where the fuck have you been?” Ty shouted.
Zane waved a hand at him, and the smell of alcohol wafted off him with the cold wind.
Ty gaped. “Are you . . . are you drunk?” he asked, voice going higher.
“If I am?” Zane challenged as he leaned against the open door.
Ty opened his mouth to respond but nothing came. He stood blinking at the man in his doorway like it wasn’t the man he’d been living with for almost three years.
“God, Ty, don’t be so fucking uptight,” Zane said with an exaggerated roll of his eyes. He discarded his wool overcoat and his suit jacket and kicked the door closed. Snowflakes wafted in with him, drifting to the wood floors as Zane tossed his satchel aside.
Ty couldn’t even decide if he was awake right now, much less what to say if this wasn’t some sort of hallucination. The last time Zane had fallen off the wagon, he’d tossed Ty through a table. The time before, he’d ignored Ty’s bid for assistance and left him alone to be hung over the side of a cruise ship by two Italian goons. Zane wasn’t exactly a good person when he drank, which was why he’d been working so fucking hard at sobriety.
Zane was digging in his pocket for something, and as he scrounged around for it, he took hold of Ty’s arm and pushed. Ty moved with him more out of shock than anything else, gritting his teeth as Zane shoved him against the wall.
“God, did you swim in it? What is that, tequila?” The smell was so strong he could have licked Zane and gotten buzzed. Anger began to boil deep in Ty’s gut. After everything that’d happened, after everything that could still happen, and Zane had just . . . decided to go out for a drink? The rage came out in a shout that echoed off the brick wall of the row house. “You don’t even like tequila! What the hell is wrong with you?”
Zane pulled a piece of paper from his pocket, then brought his finger to his lips in a shushing motion. Ty growled at him, but Zane raised the paper before Ty could rev up for a retort. Ty read the note with barely concealed contempt.
House is bugged. Play along.
Ty blinked at the paper, and then Zane kissed him. There wasn’t a hint of alcohol on his lips or tongue; the scent was coming off his shirt. Ty had taught him that trick. Zane shoved the note into Ty’s pocket, then grabbed his hip and pressed him hard against the wall to deepen the kiss.
The row house was bugged? Ty wasn’t quite sure how Zane pretending to be drunk would help with that, but he was willing to play along until he could get a better explanation. Mostly because Zane had him shoved against the wall and was kissing him like he had when they’d first met: sharp and messy, mean and desperate.
Ty returned the ferocity of the kiss, pushing back. It was rare that he could convince Zane to really manhandle him, but it was fun. Zane doing it without provocation was downright legendary.
Zane ground against him, rough gasps escaping as they kissed. It was as if he were trying to eat Ty alive, a sort of passion they’d kind of forgotten about over the years.
Zane started pawing at Ty’s shirt. “Fucking buttons.” The volume of his grumbling was exaggerated, but it worked to make him sound inebriated. He shoved his hand into Ty’s pants as he rubbed himself against Ty’s thigh.
“Hey,” Ty barked, and he swatted at Zane’s hands. He lowered his voice to a bare whisper, speaking against Zane’s cheek to further muffle his words. “Careful with the goods there, Hoss, you break it, you bought it.”
“I already bought it,” Zane whispered, smiling against Ty’s lips. “You got to fight back a little if this is going to work.”
Ty scowled. Zane went to work on his neck, licking and sucking, and Ty’s eyes drifted closed as a thrill ran through him. Zane wanted a fight that sounded bad enough for Ty to kick him out of the house without alerting anyone that they knew about the listening devices. And he apparently thought a nice violent round of sex would do.
Fair enough. If there was one thing Ty and Zane knew how to do, it was abuse each other for fun.
Ty gave Zane’s shoulder a shove and sneered at him. “Go sober up! I’m not dealing with you when you’re drunk.”
Zane nodded encouragingly, looking relieved that Ty had caught on. He mouthed the words, “I love you.” Then he shoved Ty’s shoulders back against the wall. “Hold still,” he ordered in a tone he so rarely used that for a moment Ty did exactly as he’d been told rather than putting up the fight he was supposed to.
This was some next-level role-play. Ty bit his lip against a grin. Fuck, this might turn out to be too fun. They could have accomplished the same thing by throwing shit at each other and shouting, but this at least gave them a chance to whisper to each other, to get a little bit of a plan together. And hell, when had they ever passed up a chance to maul each other?
Zane pushed at Ty’s pants, then grunted in frustration when he couldn’t get the fly undone. Ty had spent most of the day at the bookstore, tearing out its insides, and he was wearing a pair of work pants stiff enough to protect him from sharp edges and hot surfaces. They weren’t exactly made for being groped in. Hell, they were more suited to being burned alive in, as tough as they were.
Ty gave Zane a taunting grin. “What’s wrong, Garrett, got butterfingers? What else is limp tonight?”
Zane retaliated by grabbing Ty’s work shirt and ripping it open. A button flew up and pegged Ty in the chin. He closed his eyes and snorted, then let out a muffled grunt when Zane’s lips met his. Zane bit him hard enough to sting.
“Ow! Jesus, Zane!”
“Get these off.” Zane tugged at the pants.
“Get them off yourself! You can’t handle a fucking zipper, you sure as hell can’t handle me.”
Zane gave him a pointed look and tugged at the zipper again. He leaned closer and whispered, “No seriously, I can’t get these off.”
Ty rolled his eyes. So much for a spontaneous mauling. He tugged at the zipper to his work pants, but they were stuck. He glanced up at Zane, his cheeks heating as he bit the inside of his lip, trying not to laugh. “Uhh.”
Zane didn’t waste more time on buttons. He pulled his dress shirt over his head, tossed it away, and slid one of his knives from its sheath at his wrist.
“Garrett.” Ty held up a hand, trying to press himself further into the wall. He didn’t have to fake the fear in his voice. “Don’t you fucking dare! Not the knife!”
“Hold still,” Zane ordered again with a hint of sadistic glee.
Ty squeezed his eyes closed and turned his head away. If he was going to lose a chunk of himself in a sex-related accident, he definitely didn’t want to watch. Zane sliced his waistband cleanly, though, the cold edge of the knife against Ty’s hip sending a shiver up his spine.
Zane shoved Ty’s pants down his hips, his fingertips gliding reverently against Ty’s skin. The knife blade was still down there somewhere, but Ty forgot all about it when he met Zane’s eyes. They were nearly black, not their usual warm shade of brown, and filled with real heat. It made Ty’s breath hitch.
His eyes flicked to the knife still in Zane’s hand. “You think you need that?”
Zane hummed and pressed his bare chest to Ty’s. He rubbed his nose against Ty’s jaw, then ran it up to Ty’s cheekbone, his lips grazing skin. Ty’s eyes drifted closed when Zane kissed his cheek.
He was peripherally aware of Zane putting his knife back into its sheath, then removing both of them from his wrists and setting them on the table next to the door where they kept their keys, badges, guns, and miscellaneous weaponry. Ty held Zane’s gaze, though, and Zane smiled warmly. How many times had they fucked and forgotten to disarm first? It had caused some odd injuries over the years.
Zane’s hand slid down the taut muscles of Ty’s stomach, fingers grazing the juncture of his hip and the base of his cock. Ty was only half-hard, but Zane would soon remedy that if he continued in this manner. He nosed his way along Ty’s jaw again and nuzzled against Ty’s neck to kiss and nip at his favorite spot right above Ty’s collarbone.
“Zane,” Ty begged. Then he remembered they were supposed to be fighting and he was supposed to be angry, not begging Zane to touch him. He grunted in frustration. This wasn’t going to work.
Zane winked at him, his eyes sparkling with mischief and lust. God, how Ty loved the man. He had to dig deep for harsh words that would sell their little act.
“It’s going to take more than a couple licks and a sloppy handjob to get me off, jackass.”
Zane raised an eyebrow, a smirk flitting across his lips. Ty mirrored the expression, offering a silent challenge. What, Zane thought they were going to fake angry sex and not get down and dirty for this one? Please.
Zane jerked open his fly and shoved the fabric out of the way. He jutted his chin out to kiss Ty, then with one last squeeze, let go and spun him around to thump his chest against the wall. Then Zane kicked his ankles apart, gasping as he curled one hand over Ty’s shoulder and shoved his hard cock against Ty’s ass, nudging between his cheeks.
“Fuck,” Zane whispered, and they both groaned. Zane rested his forehead against the back of Ty’s shoulder, their bodies pressed tight from thigh to chest, warm and hard and familiar. When he spoke, he muffled his words by pressing his lips into Ty’s skin. “We’ve got to figure out how to move this upstairs.”
Ty nodded. If they weren’t careful, they’d enjoy this too much and forget to sell the conflict. “You think you’re fucking me without lube, you’ve lost your damn mind.”
Zane laughed almost cruelly. “Can’t have you bitching because you’re sore.”
Ty shoved away from the wall, and Zane stumbled back. He barely caught himself before he tripped over his satchel on the floor. Ty kicked out of his ruined work pants and his briefs, and then yanked his shirt off his shoulders. They were never going to find all the damn buttons to it anyway.
“Go to Hell, Garrett, go sober up somewhere,” he snarled, and he stomped off toward the stairs. When he reached the foot of the steps, he glanced over his shoulder to find Zane following him, head cocked, blatantly leering at Ty’s bare ass. Zane met his eyes and winked. Ty gestured for him to come at him. They’d make another scene here to sell the charade . . . and Ty was pretty sure there was some lube stashed in one of the kitchen drawers, within reach if they wound up getting carried away.
Zane moved in front of Ty, and then trailed the backs of his fingers down Ty’s cheek, giving him a chaste little kiss before he stepped back and shoved Ty into the wall. The rough brick bit at Ty’s skin, and Zane’s body hit him a moment later, knocking the breath out of him.
Zane kissed him, silencing him, and Ty’s fingers found their way into Zane’s mess of dark, curly hair. He hitched one leg up Zane’s hip, and Zane grabbed the back of his thigh, thrusting their cocks together. They both groaned, loud enough that even a discount listening device from Walmart could have picked up the sound.
“Right here,” Zane growled, and he raised a bottle of lube he’d grabbed from somewhere.
“Where the fuck did that come from?”
“You take lube with you to work?” Ty shouted, genuinely outraged.
Zane bit his ear and whispered, “It’s from the trip to Seattle, baby.”
Ty’s body responded to the memory of that particular business trip. Zane had taken Ty with him, knowing he’d have more downtime than work to do. They hadn’t exactly spent their free time sightseeing.
Ty set one foot on the stair railing and pushed, helping Zane to hoist him up the wall. Zane was jacking himself with one slick hand, coating himself in preparation. He bit down on Ty’s collarbone hard enough to make Ty cry out, then he did it again as if the sound had spurred him on.
Zane was either actually losing control, or he was pretending so well even Ty believed him. And Ty liked it. A lot. “Come on,” he whispered, and he rose up onto his toes, pushing harder against the stair rail with his other foot.
He tried at the same time not to tense, but it was near impossible when he was holding himself against the wall. Zane shoved one slick finger into him, and Ty gasped. Yeah, this was going to hurt a little. He scrabbled against the rough brick for something to grab, then settled on grabbing Zane.
“Okay?” Zane whispered against his ear.
“Tell me to stop if you need to,” Zane bit out before jerking his finger free and lining himself up.
Ty nodded again, and Zane started to push in. He was going to leave his mark on Ty tonight, fake or not.
Then Zane stopped, his body stiffening and the head of his cock just barely breaching Ty. He shuddered in Ty’s arms, and his cock pulsed, pushing at tense muscles. He dug his fingers into Ty’s thigh and set his forehead against Ty’s neck. “Fuck, Ty.”
“Zane,” Ty gasped. Then he grinned, nipping at Zane’s ear. “Sell it, baby, come on. Fuck me.”
Zane raised his head, his dark eyes flashing.
Ty shivered with anticipation and nodded. “Hard.”
Zane huffed and snapped his hips, once, twice, forcing himself in with a low growl. Ty banged his head against the brick wall, eyes squeezed shut, gritting his teeth through the burn of the entry. “Come on, Garrett,” he taunted even as his voice trembled. “That the best you got?”
Zane thrust in again, his cock spreading Ty open further. The brick dragged against Ty’s skin, and his muscles were screaming as he tried to hold himself up with the banister. Zane’s grasping fingers found their way into Ty’s hair and yanked his head to the side as he shoved deeper into him.
“Fuck!” Zane finally shouted, sounding frustrated when he couldn’t get Ty’s body at the right angle to sink all the way in.
Ty grunted and tried to push against him, but he had no leverage. Zane was gasping with each thump. He growled and bit down on Ty’s shoulder, his teeth dragging over bone. His thrusts grew even more frenzied as he used all his strength, taking more of Ty’s weight.
Ty threw his head back and groaned wantonly. It was as close to getting mauled as he could come. Zane gripped him tight, aiming to bruise, to maim and claim, and bit down harder as his breathing went ragged.
It seemed like Zane was close to coming, and they’d forgotten to keep up their little charade. Ty’d forgotten to make even a peep of complaint over the fake abuse, and Zane had forgotten to abuse.
“God damn it,” he ground out. He kissed Ty again, the heat banking to a low simmer, his thrusts slowing until the swollen head of his cock once again pushed at Ty’s muscles until he wanted to scream for Zane to move. Zane pulled out, loosening his hold. Without the solidity of his body or his hands holding him up, Ty had to thump his foot back to the top step. His entire body throbbed with need and pain and frustration.
He swallowed hard. “What’s wrong,” he managed to ask. “Can’t even finish?”
“Get your ass upstairs,” Zane snarled.
Zane grabbed his jaw, holding his head still as their eyes met. “Or nothing,” he said, voice pitched just loud enough to be picked up.
Ty gazed into his eyes, a smile growing. “So hot,” he whispered.
Zane’s lips twitched, and he nodded his head toward the stairs.
Ty had to slide against Zane to take the first step up. The way Zane was looking at him, all fire and desire, sweat dripping down his temples, Ty sort of felt like a squirrel slipping past a big dog. He only made it two steps before Zane’s resolve apparently went up in smoke, and he tackled Ty to the stairs.
Ty grunted when he hit. Zane was on top of him before he could even try to right himself, biting at Ty’s shoulder, dragging his teeth against the skin until he could place a kiss on Ty’s neck.
Ty cursed loudly, struggling to hold back a groan. Zane had a hand on Ty’s hip, pulling Ty’s ass toward him, and his damp belly and chest were pressed against Ty’s back.
The head of his cock pushed against Ty again, his hands digging into Ty’s ribs as he held him still, and he only waited long enough for Ty to push his ass against him before he shoved inside again.
Ty cried out, turning it into an outraged scream for the sake of the bug. Zane’s hand smacked against the step beside Ty’s head, and Ty grabbed for it, holding on as Zane moved inside him, his thighs slapping against Ty’s, his free fingers grasping Ty’s flank and leaving stinging trails behind as he tried to hold Ty’s body still for those brutal thrusts.
Ty raised his head long enough to look up to the doorway where a nice cushy bed was waiting for them. Instead, he was on his fucking knees on the stairs, gripping the iron railing as Zane fucked him into the sharp corners of the steps. Then Zane’s cock hit his prostate, and he screamed.
Zane grabbed his hair and yanked his head back, forcing Ty up onto all fours. Zane kissed his neck, then his ear. “Why haven’t we fucking done this before?” he panted.
“Broken bones,” Ty whispered back, huffing a laugh as Zane buried his face against Ty’s shoulder and groaned.
“You know you fucking love it,” Zane said, voice louder.
Ty gritted his teeth, fighting off the very real pleasure to try to find the right words. “Just get off and get out, for Christ’s sake,” he finally growled.
Zane shook his head. “Not that easy.”
His hand snaked around Ty’s body, groping, lingering in the sweat forming on Ty’s tense muscles. He pulled Ty close, then shoved his weight sideways. He wound up sitting on a step, lounging with his long legs reaching the floor, and Ty straddling him.
His hand closed around Ty’s cock, and he leaned back, taking Ty with him. Ty’s USMC ring clanged when he grabbed for the railing. Zane’s cock boring deeper into him as his weight pushed him down had him close to coming.
“Move,” Zane ordered.
Ty banged his head against Zane’s shoulder. “Go to Hell. You want to get off, you do the work.”
Zane laughed, and though it wasn’t genuine, he did a good job of selling the evil chuckle. He wrapped his slick fingers around Ty’s cock, sliding them around the head and down the shaft.
Ty groaned, not even sure what sound he’d intended to come out. He jutted his hips toward Zane’s hand, moving Zane inside him. “Fuck you, Zane. Fuck you so much,” he murmured, earning a very real, gentle chuckle that he felt against his back.
Zane jacked him harder, forcing his hips to move and his body to contort. He grabbed a handful of Zane’s hair and yanked at him, begging for a kiss. When Zane curled down to deliver, he shifted inside Ty, hitting his prostate again. Ty broke the kiss by shouting Zane’s name against his lips.
“That’s it, Grady, come on!” Zane yelled against Ty’s cheek.
Ty growled for the benefit of the listening devices, and Zane’s grip tightened on his chest, nails digging in.
“Move, Ty, for God’s sake,” Zane pleaded with short, gasping breaths.
Ty shimmied his hips, then dropped down, crying out as he reseated himself. Zane lost his hold on any remaining composure, bucking his hips and pulling Ty back to lie flat with him as he came inside him. Zane’s hand never stopped moving on Ty’s cock, though, and Ty struggled against the coming orgasm. It wouldn’t really sell their fight if he got off in the end. He turned his head toward Zane, desperately seeking anything to muffle the sounds.
Zane clapped a hand over his mouth, and that was all it took. Ty bucked his hips, squeezing his eyes shut and grasping at Zane’s hips and ribs as Zane jacked him through it. He spurted over his stomach and thighs, and his toes curled as he moaned against Zane’s hand.
They were both panting and sweaty when it was over, and Zane was straining beneath him as he tried to keep them both from sliding down the stairs. Ty’s breathing was ragged against Zane’s hand, and Zane let him loose cautiously, as if releasing a wild animal.
Ty arched his back, forcing Zane out of him. They both bit back their groans, and Ty rolled to his belly again.
“Fuck, Garrett,” he said softly.
Zane put his hand to his ear as if he hadn’t heard.
Ty growled, then pushed to his hands and knees. “Fuck!” he shouted. He slammed his hand against a step, and Zane jumped. “Fuck you, Garrett!”
Zane whirled his finger in the air, telling Ty to continue, then pushed himself to his feet and darted to the front door, not making a sound. Ty watched him for a moment before taking a deep breath and starting in on a loud, rambling rant that would cover any sounds Zane made as he moved around the lower floor. He had his bug detector in hand now, moving past all the usual places.
As Ty was bitching loudly about how Zane never did the dishes anyway and fuck him, Zane signaled to an electrical outlet near the kitchen.
“Get your shit, and get out until you can fucking handle yourself, Jesus Christ!” Ty shouted.
“Whatever, Ty,” Zane said as he headed for Ty and the stairs. “Work’s hard enough. I don’t need your whiny bullshit on top of it.” He stopped long enough to grab Ty and kiss him, whispering something unintelligible against Ty’s lips. Then he stomped up the steps.
Ty followed, silent on the balls of his feet. When he reached the landing, Zane indicated the table on Ty’s side of the bed. Ty nodded, then headed back downstairs.
A few minutes later, Zane thumped down the steps, wearing sweatpants and one of Ty’s T-shirts, a gray one with stylized pink writing that read “The 3rd rule of fight club is have fun and try your best.” He had a garment bag and Ty’s go bag full of emergency supplies slung over his shoulder.
Ty pointed at it, frowning. “Mine,” he mouthed.
“Mine now,” Zane said back, smirking as he gave Ty one last kiss and then headed for the kitchen. Their little scene ended with the slamming of the back door and the revving of Zane’s Valkyrie.
Nick O’Flaherty didn’t hear the intruder until he felt someone sit on the end of his bed. He opened his eyes, trying to shake off sleep that felt unnaturally heavy. Something was wrong.
The only two people who visited him regularly and had access to the security on the harbor and keys to his yacht were his partner and his boyfriend. Kelly was sure as hell the only one who’d risk sneaking down here and crawling onto Nick’s bed to wake him. But Kelly was in Colorado, leading a group of at-risk kids from the camp where he worked through the winter wilderness.
“Good morning, darling,” a voice said in the darkness, and that British accent most certainly was not Kelly’s.
Nick reached for the gun beneath his pillow even as Liam Bell laughed and tapped the butt of his gun against his own knee. He was sitting on the corner of the bed with his legs crossed primly, the gun pointed at Nick.
“Hands where I can see them.”
Nick withdrew his hand from under his pillow and raised both palms out toward Liam.
Liam put a finger to his lips and gestured for Nick to sit up. He kept the gun on Nick until Nick was standing in the corner, far enough away that Liam apparently felt comfortable moving.
He reached beneath Nick’s pillow, pulling the gun out first, then Nick’s phone. Nick mentally cursed as Liam held it up, one eyebrow raised. Nick had managed to hit Send on his emergency contact, and the phone was ringing, Kelly’s name and photo on the display.
Liam ended the call just as Nick heard Kelly’s distant voice mail message.
“You still tell him the vibration under your head wakes you easier than the noise?” Liam asked. “To explain hiding your phone beneath your pillow? I suppose that’s better than telling him you keep it under there to call for help when I show up, hmm?”
Nick felt the blood draining from his face. “You’ve been listening to us?”
“Only key words. And not even those after the first week or two.”
Nick cleared his throat, torn between embarrassment and rage. “How the fuck?”
“You’re not as paranoid as you used to be. Slipped you a little token of my love in your water filter to make sure you’d sleep nice and hard.” Liam frowned as he jammed Nick’s gun into the back of his jeans. “One thing I didn’t hear while I was listening was the two of you talking about your engagement.”
Nick remained silent, forcing himself not to swallow against the nerves building.
“Do you remember the time after your surgery?” Liam asked, and Nick would have sworn there was concern in his voice.
“Some of it,” Nick admitted.
“But you do remember our deal, don’t you?”
“You let the Doc believe you don’t remember proposing?”
Nick’s heart stuttered. That was exactly what he’d done. Kelly had never brought up their conver
Word Count: 113000
Page Count: 419
Cover By: L.C. Chase
Series: Cut & Run
Release Date: 03/28/2015