Who’s more dangerous – a stripper, an assassin, or a serial killer?
The Stripper Ripper is stalking the streets of New York City, preying on male strippers, and the press is making mincemeat of a helpless police force.
In desperation, the police refer the serial killer’s case to the Slayers, a team of enhanced, undercover super soldiers. The commander of the Slayers puts his team on the streets to watch over the Ripper’s favorite targets.
One of these targets is Micah, a twink stripper and a desirable sub. Micah’s baby sitter is one of the newest members of the Slayers, Sorren, as cold-blooded an assassin as they come, and the last person you’d expect to harbor feelings for his charge.
True to form, Sorren is as surprised as anyone at his new infatuation, but Micah is hiding something. Will Micah learn to trust his protector, or is he destined to be the next victim on the Stripper Ripper’s list?
The premise of this story was very interesting. The follow through just didn’t deliver the way I had hoped it would. It was fascinating being in the head of the killer at points and seeing how he tried to hide himself. Then see how everyone else tried to figure out who he is with the minute clues that are left. Micah made some pretty bad decisions throughout the book that put him in harms way. Sorren was interesting in how he had his emotions removed yet could still be gentle with Micah when he wanted to be. Oftentimes he came off like a jerk when he was rough with Micah at times when he should have been more understanding. The story was a little over the top in some parts in a way that made me want to roll my eyes. There’s a good story under all of the excessive pieces. There are just more crazy pieces than I would have liked.
Club Surrender, New York
As the commander of the Slayers, Delano Briggs had his hands full controlling a unit of nano-enhanced super soldiers in a constant state of pissed. He leaned back in his office chair, glaring at the brooding form of Sorren, and cleared his throat. The six-seven hunk of muscle-bound “don’t fuck with me nasty” stared right back, unblinking.
Although Sorren had accepted his new duties without question and his professionalism was faultless, he couldn’t put a finger on the underlying uneasiness he had for him. The stripper named Snake from the leather club, Pinkies, had been under Sorren’s surveillance for ten days and nothing had occurred. The man standing before him folded thick arms across his broad chest and glared at him with intimidating menace. He would have to come down heavy to keep this alpha with cybernetic enhancements in line. “Report.”
Sorren placed both large hands on the table and pushed a long straight nose one inch from Delano’s face.
“How long do you expect me to remain sane on butterfly duty?”
“I said report, soldier.” Delano pushed to his feet then noticed Rhys, his second in command, move into the room and take a defensive stance.
Sure, Sorren was a loose cannon, but then nobody walked away from capture by Middle Eastern extremists without repercussions. His captors had not been able to brainwash him or retrieve any information by torture. His nanos had kept his secrets safe and his body in peak condition, but Sorren was suffering from three years of pent-up crazy. The nano enhancements did that to a man left alone with only his palm for company. Delano lifted his chin and repeated the order. To his relief, Sorren straightened and narrowed his unusual blue gaze.
“Nothing to report. The butterfly does his act then goes home. Guys hang around him looking for a little action but as far as I can tell, he isn’t interested. Although, he is a nervous little shit. On stage, the club bills him as Snake but his friends call him Micah, which fits him but it’s not the name you gave me. I think he is hiding his past.” He jerked a thumb over one shoulder toward Rhys. “Tell your boy to stand down unless he wants me to drag his ass downstairs to my dungeon.” He smirked. “I need a heavy scene, sending me to watch strippers every night makes me overheat – ah, sir.”
“I don’t do switch play and if I did you’re certainly not my type.” Rhys grabbed Sorren’s arm and spun him around to face him. “Why don’t you go and fuck your butterfly, then you won’t be loitering outside his apartment with a hard-on all night.”
Sorren’s wide mouth twitched at one corner then curled into a sadistic smile.
“Have you seen my five-feet-two eyes of blue?” He grasped his package. “I’d break him in half. Nah, you’ll do just fine, but just so you don’t get your panties in a twist later, you should know, I don’t do cool-down cuddles.”
“I’m bonded to Dylan and you fucking know it, but if you wanna fight, I’d be happy to grind your face into the floor anytime. Here we fight by Slayer rules, which, as you are the new kid in town, means no rules, asshole.”
Before Delano blinked, Sorren had locked one hand around Rhys’s throat.
“I like no rules just fine. Do I get to fuck you when I win?”
In a flash, Rhys cupped Sorren’s balls in his bionic hand and the color drained from the new recruit’s face.
“Wanna play?” Rhys grinned in a flash of perfect white teeth.
Delano rounded the table. Both these men could take him apart before taking their next breath and Rhys could crush an Mk.16 in one hand without taking a breath. “Stand down.” He moved closer and, standing shoulders braced and feet apart, dropped his voice to a menacing whisper, a method he employed to get his men’s full attention. “Rhys have you lost your fucking mind?”
“Nah, just teaching pretty boy here how we play in my yard.” Rhys dropped his hand and wiped it on his jeans in a repulsed gesture. “I can’t believe you trust him to guard the strippers, he’s not safe on the outside without a leash.”
“Sit down, both of you.” Delano leaned one hip on his desk and glared at them. “We run a club and the strippers who work here are good for business. These murders are bringing all strip joints under scrutiny and I’m sure you both understand why we don’t want eyes on Club Surrender. It would put the entire unit in danger. The cops have zip on the Stripper Ripper, no DNA, no witnesses, so we’ll have to find him and deal out justice, Slayer style.” He glared at Sorren. “This means surveillance and I’ve assigned a man to every local stripper that fits the victims’ profile.” He glanced at Rhys. “Small, young looking, with dark hair. From the images we were able to intercept from the local PD database it would seem the Stripper Ripper has a taste for twinks.”
Rhys grimaced. “Fuck, that covers fifty percent of the guys who work here and Jay but somehow I don’t think the fucking Stripper Ripper will be a problem for him.” He chuckled. “I guess we could throw him out as bait?”
Delano shook his head. “Not a chance in hell. Jay might be sixty percent cyborg but I’m not risking anyone until I know who we’re dealing with.” He jerked his chin toward Sorren. “The murderer is smart, very smart. It’s possible he could be a kinetic Black Ops rogue, one of Sorren’s old unit or similar. We don’t have numbers on the soldiers the government nano enhanced but we are aware of at least twenty enhanced Marines on the government’s ‘kill on sight’ hit list.”
“If they are from my unit then they’re some nasty SOBs. I can’t imagine anyone capable of catching them. I just hope they linked up and are doing much the same as you are here.” Sorren grinned. “My men are very different from your guys, although Rhys here comes close. Taking into account your unit’s compassion and adherence to the Special Ops code even though they screwed you makes me believe they added something special in the way of crazy to the nanos they shot into my guys.”
“Maybe, your blood work came back pretty fucked up. Kurt is still running tests. We all have anger management and sex-drive problems but they enhanced yours tenfold.” Delano shrugged. “It’s just as well we have Kurt as our doctor. He was on the first nano experimental team. Although, he has no idea why you carry different levels of enhancement. To date you are the only man we know of, apart from Jay, who can use mindspeak over a long distance.”
“Why didn’t Kurt ask me about mindspeak during the debriefing? Fuck! He wanted to know how many times I shit a day.” Sorren’s lips quirked into a smile. “The mindspeak distancing is a technique much the same as the one used to shield personal thoughts and easily taught. I do hope you’ve kept our mindspeak ability ‘need to know’ and the enhanced soldiers’ little weapon against Uncle Sam is still safe?” Sorren gave an exasperated sigh. “FYI, sex is used as a cooling system. Haven’t you worked that out yet?” He rolled his broad shoulders. “They didn’t enhance my anger but they did modify my brain chemistry.” His attention drifted to Rhys then back to him. “You see, I don’t have a conscience. They turned me into a psychopath – in other words when I kill I don’t give a fuck. No flashbacks, no regrets.” He rubbed his chin. “They tossed the Slayers on the trash pile because you fucking care and having feelings puts everyone in the unit in danger. The doc who treated me said it was a weakness in your nanos the government couldn’t afford.” He pointed at his face and grimaced. “The bionic eyes, well they needed soldiers who could switch from daylight to infrared without night vision goggles and with the ability to record missions.” He snorted. “I was beaming a vid straight to Black Ops the entire two fucking years I spent in prison. I had no rights because Uncle Sam didn’t classify me as human. I was one of many information-collecting drones.” He gave a cynical bark of laughter. “I’m surprised you found me, let alone got me out.”
Delano met Rhys’s incredulous stare and connected in secure mindspeak. “Fuck, just how many units are out there?”
“Sorren has been to hell and back.” Rhys grimaced. “I’m not surprised he’s crazy, but I don’t believe for one minute he has no feelings. The way he cares for the wellbeing of the stripper he’s watching tells me there is a man inside, not a machine. But I don’t like him, he is an arrogant SOB.”
Delano cleared his throat and made a conscious effort to pull back on the interrogation. “Bret, the electronics expert, picked up your transmission and we put boots on the ground. Once we got you out of that hellhole, he took over your video link and faked your execution.” He dropped back into his chair. “Don’t look so surprised. Everything in the Slayers is ‘need to know’ until you gain full clearance.” He met Sorren’s disturbing electric blue gaze. The man’s pupils moved like the lens of a camera, constantly adjusting in a circular motion.
“Need to know?” Sorren snorted. “I’m just like you, man. I’ve been here almost a year. It’s about time you started to trust me.”
“Right now, I don’t know if you’re working undercover and although we’ve destroyed all your military tracking devices, we can’t stop you communicating by mindspeak.” Delano glared at him. “And you will refer to me as ‘sir,’ do you understand, soldier?”
“What you ‘need to know’ is I’m not doing this yes, sir, no sir, three fucking bags full shit any longer. I’m not a Marine or part of some pseudo military service under your command.”
“Yeah, well actually you agreed to join the Slayers and I didn’t force you to wear our mark.” Delano indicated to the tattoo of a dollar sign on Sorren’s wrist. “We gave you a new identity, a job, and a place to stay. Not to mention all the ass you need to keep cool.” He lifted his chin and glared at him. “Right now it looks like I made a big mistake taking you into our confidence. I admire a man’s grit but I sure as hell want to keep control of my unit. Most of us are Black Ops, Green Berets or mercenaries and prefer a degree of leadership from me. I’m not running a fucking Sunday school.” He scowled at the arrogant man. “You do know Bret has devised a program to decommission you? He can take away your special vision, slow your implants, wipe your memory, and make you almost human again. That’s the only way you leave here alive, soldier.”
Delano didn’t miss Sorren’s shudder of disgust. He stared at him, waiting for a reply, and it was like watching the cogs of an old clock grind into gear. Sure, Sorren had been alone for a long time and no doubt his art of conversation had become a little rusty but he’d had long enough to adjust. He would give him time to consider the situation because he wanted to keep this man in his unit. He’d yet to see a better specimen of nano enhancement and the doctors in the complex would learn a great deal from his advanced technology.
Sorren was magnificent and he could see why he carried the handle “The Reaper” during his call of duty. He’d selected the moody Adonis for stripper duty in an effort to calm him down. Sorren was a loner. He’d taken his edge-play domination to extremes with the house subs and sure wasn’t looking for a cozy relationship. Rhys had nicknamed him “Shadow Man” because they rarely saw him in daylight. Sorren stalked the gloom like a phantom of menace. In fact, the man might just as well hang a sign around his neck with the message, “I hate everybody” printed in bright red letters. The only time he’d seen him crack any semblance of a smile was after winning an arm wrestle with Adryck.
He rolled his shoulders. “Well?”
A crack of thunder rolled in the distance as if it had come straight from the flash of disgust on Sorren’s face.
“Your decommission threats won’t work on me. I have a failsafe reboot on my system. You’ll have to decapitate me to take me down.” Sorren straightened and his menacing look flicked over him dismissively. “I understand you integrated the Fury boys into the unit without making them jump through hoops and yet, I am one of you, military – not the fucking enemy. I agreed to do butterfly duty because I want to catch a murderer not because I plan to inform on the Slayers. If I’d wanted to betray our kind I would have contacted my commander the fucking day I arrived and neither you nor your cybernetic boy would have been able to stop me.” Sorren pushed to his feet. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m late. The stripper you assigned me to protect is due to walk home alone in twenty minutes and it is twenty-two minutes to his gig.”
Delano stood and waved him toward the door. “Sure, we’ll talk again in the morning. Do you have a med kit in the car – just in case?”
Sorren gave him a curt nod and slipped out the door. He moved like a ghost, not one sound from his boots echoed on the tiled floor.
“What new intel do we have on the murders to date?” Rhys drummed his fingers on the arm of the chair. “I know they’re bloody but there must be something the cops haven’t disclosed. What has Bret dug up?”
“Nothing, the murderer is a phantom, he drops out of nowhere, strikes and vanishes. You mentioned bloody, yeah, but how does a man rip someone apart and not leave one footprint or one drop of blood?” Delano moved around his desk and sat down.
“Maybe he’s a vampire.” Rhys gave him a speculative look. “Hey, crazy scientists made us didn’t they? How do we know they didn’t experiment on cross-species DNA as well and now some guys can change into bats and fly away?”
“Scent.” Delano placed the heel of one shit kicker on his desk and tipped back his chair. “I’ve visited all the crime scenes. I would have smelled a giant bat and picked up the pheromones of anyone remotely like us. No, I’m pretty sure the Stripper Ripper is one sick human.”
H.C. Brown is a multi-published, bestselling, award-winning author of Historical, Paranormal, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, BDSM, Time Travel, Action Adventure, Suspense, and Contemporary Romance.
In 2015, she was delighted to be named Luminosity Publishing’s Bestselling Author of 2014.
In 2015, Highlander in the Mist was placed 3rd in Historical and Rock ‘n’ Leather was placed 3rd GLBT in the Easychair Bookshop Competition.
In 2011, she was delighted to receive nominations in three categories in the 2011 CAPA Awards: Favorite Author, Best GLBT Romance, and Best Science Fiction Romance.
She was nominated for Best Historical M/M in the 2013, Goodreads Book of Year Awards.
H.C writes about strong alpha male heroes and girl next door heroines in complex settings, and all her stories have happy endings.
H.C. welcomes feedback from her readers.
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/HCBrown-Author/292331631137?fref=ts
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