Please say hello to Ethan Stone and
Seattle is being plagued by a string of gruesome murders. For Detective Peter Tao, it’s a career-making case, but he’s struggling to find a lead. How is the killer choosing his victims? What is he trying to prove?
With a long list of suspects and nothing to connect them, Peter is more determined than ever to apprehend the murderer. Then Peter gets the one vital piece of evidence that ties everything together. Now he’ll have to look beyond the obvious to identify the killer before anyone else is murdered.
Solve the mystery in this fast-moving crime thriller by Ethan Stone.
Thank you for joining me on my Hacked Up Blog Tour. Today I’m going to share an exclusive excerpt featuring the main characters of Detective Peter Tao and Bryce Carrick. This happens after a stressful time at work for Peter so he’s a bit on edge. The push-pull between Peter and Bryce is dynamic and intriguing. I hope you feel the same and will consider buying the book.
I'd just poured myself a vodka and cranberry juice and taken a sip when there was a knock on the door. I wasn't in the mood for company, so I'd decided not to answer when Bryce's voice came from the other side.
"I know you're in there, Peter. I'm not going away so don't even try ignoring me."
Realizing he was indeed a persistent bastard, I opened the door and stepped away without greeting him.
"What're you doing here?" I growled.
"Hello to you, too."
I stomped into the living room and flopped down on the couch with Bryce right on my heels.
"So the case is closed?"
"Why didn't you tell me yourself?"
Without looking at him I answered, "Not my responsibility."
"I thought we were…"
"What?" I demanded with a glower. "You thought we were what?"
He shrugged and peered at the floor. "I don't know. Friends at least."
"Not sure why you thought that," I said coldly.
He stared at me incredulously for a moment. "Damn, you run hot and cold, don't you? Excuse me if I thought there was an attraction between us. Especially after last night."
I chuffed and rolled my eyes. "I was out of it last night. Call it a case of temporary insanity."
"You kissed me, Peter. I didn't imagine that."
Meeting his gaze, I shot him an exasperated expression. "Christ, Carrick, what do you want me to say? You're attractive. I admit that. That doesn't mean anything."
"Doesn't mean anything?" He threw his hands in the air. "I can't stop thinking about you. You fascinate me. You're strong and one helluva cop. But there's pain and hurt deep inside that you don't want to let go of."
I bounded to my feet and got in his face. Our chests bumped, and I could smell his woodsy cologne and minty mouthwash. "Don't act like you fucking know me! Because you don't. Not at all."
His face reddened, but then he took a deep breath and said in a low voice, "No, I don't. But I want too. If you'd just give me a chance."
Part of me wanted to let go of the anger I was feeling, but I just wasn't ready to let down some of those walls. They were there to protect me, after all. I tore them down when I was with Darren and had ended up regretting it. The one other person I'd let get close to me was Jamey. And he was dead.
"You're nothing but an arrogant, entitled, rich son of a bitch," I snarled. "I'm just another of your conquests. You want me because you can't have me."
His eyebrows knitted together in a furious scowl. "That's not true. Not even close."
I turned away from him and shrugged a single shoulder. "Whatever. Go find someone else to screw over."
"God, you're a stubborn asshole," he snapped. "Why am I wasting my time?"
"That's a good question." I faced him again with a daring expression.
"Fuck off, Peter." He spun and stormed toward the door.
"Bye. See ya never."
He turned back to face me.
"I thought you were leaving," I said with a smirk.
"I have just one more thing to say." He took slow, measured steps back to me. His eyes bored into my skull, but I refused to be the one who looked away first, even if it did make me extremely uncomfortable.
Bryce didn't stop until he was less than inch away. For a moment, he said nothing, just peered at me with those enthralling hazel eyes. Then he put his hands on either side of my face and pulled me into a kiss. It took me a second to react, to realize what was happening. Once more, I was torn about how to respond. My body and mind warred with each other. The kiss was amazing, and my cock responded, but my brain told me this wasn't what I had wanted, not consciously anyway.
I put my hands on his chest and shoved him away. "What the fuck are you doing?"
"Trying to get you to drop your defenses. You need to see I'm not here to hurt you."
"I'm not going to sleep with you. If that's what you're after, you might as well give up now."
He sighed dejectedly. "I don't care about that. You are not some conquest I'm out to seduce. Do I want you? Hell, yeah. You're sexy as fuck and turn me on so much. But it's not just a physical thing. I've had plenty of guys in my bed over the years but it's always been lacking something. Would I love to take you to bed right now? Hell, yeah. But if that's not in the cards, I can accept whatever you can give me."
"I don't know if I can give you anything." I spoke softly. So low even I almost couldn't hear it. "There might not be anything to give."
He took my hand and rubbed it. "That's not true. I know it isn't. You need something right now. Your emotions are just under the surface. I can be whoever or whatever you need right now. A friend. Someone to talk to. Someone to lean on. I can be that person, Peter. Just let me."
Damn it, he was right. I'd been holding my emotions in since Jamey died. I'd sworn I wouldn't grieve until the killer was caught, and it seemed that had happened. Tears welled up in my eyes, and one escaped, rolling down my cheek. Bryce reached out and wiped away the single drop.
"I'm not going anywhere," he said. "Might as well accept that." He wrapped his strong arms around me, and I breathed in his intoxicating scent. I didn't return the embrace, but I didn't push him away, either. I felt safe and secure in his arms. Comfortable. Home.
The dam broke, and I began to weep. Large tears poured out as I sobbed. He patted my back and guided me to the couch where we sat with me resting against his chest. Bryce caressed my back in a soothing motion. "Yeah, that's it. Let it all out."
"He was my best friend," I murmured between sniffles. "Jamey was like a brother to me. I can't believe he's gone."
Whispering calming words into my ear, he held me until I could breathe normally again. He left me for a minute to get me a bottle of water, and then we were back in the same position on the couch. He didn't care that I cried like a baby and slobbered onto his expensive silk shirt. There was no judgment, just comfort. I dozed for half an hour or so and woke with a start, momentarily forgetting where I was or who I was with.
"You're okay," he murmured. "I'm here."
Why did that make me feel better? He was a virtual stranger, yet it felt as if I'd known him almost forever. It made no sense at all, but being around him made me feel better. His words and his touch soothed me in a way no other man's ever had. I wanted to feel more of him and even considered violating my rule of no sex with married men. A good fuck would make me feel even better. Make the pain go away at least for a short time. But I'd made my line in the sand, and I wasn't going to cross it. Even if the sex was marvelous, I would regret it afterward. I'd felt used and degraded before, and it wasn't going to happen again.
I was glad when he didn't try to get me to change my mind. There was no pressure from him whatsoever, but he didn't leave me. He ordered pizza and we ate while watching Avengers. Afterward, we snuggled and watched Age of Ultron, arguing over whether that version of Quicksilver was better than the one in X-Men: Days of Future Past. I thought the X-Men one was far cooler, but Bryce said the one in Avengers seemed more realistic. We argued about it for at least twenty minutes, and it was enjoyable to have a discussion not about a life or death matter.
I fell asleep in his arms watching-what else?- X-Men: Days of Future Past. At some point I woke up and Bryce had also dozed off. I sat up and jostled him. "C'mon, let's go to bed."
"It's not an invitation for sex, but I'd like it if you stayed. Can we share a bed like we did last night without you wanting to have your way with me?"
"I can't control my desires," he said with a smile. "But I can control my actions. I promise no unwanted touches. I assume spooning is allowed."
I nodded. "Yeah, I'd like that."
We both stood, and he took my hand as we shuffled to the bedroom where we both stripped down to our underwear and climbed under the covers. He pulled me close and I felt his hard-on pressed against my ass.
"Sorry," he murmured embarrassedly. "But like I said, I can't control what I want."
"It's okay," I replied. Knowing that he wanted me made me feel warm inside. I also realized that he was going to respect my wishes and not ask for more than I was willing to give, and that made me like the man even more.
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Meet the author:
Romance on the Edge Ethan Stone doesn’t write your typical boy meets boy stories. With a combination of love and suspense he makes his characters work hard for their HEAs. If they can survive what he puts them through, then they can survive anything. He enjoys Romance with an Edge.
Ethan has been reading mysteries and thrillers since he was young. He’s had a thing for guys in uniform for just as long. That may have influenced the stories he writes.
He’s a native Oregonian with two kids. One of whom has made him a grandfather three times over; even though he is way too young.
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Promotional post. Materials provided by the author.