Hero and criminal. Brute force and subtle charm. Jonathan White and Crow Belcane are polar opposites, but if they want to rescue the man they both love, they’ll have to work together.
After visiting his former lover, Crow knows only one thing: he loves Regis and he will do anything to reclaim him. But before his very eyes, Regis is abducted. Kidnapped by high-end slavers. Only Regis’s infuriating partner, Jonathan—a dangerous vigilante—is willing to help.
To infiltrate the slave ring, Jonathan and Crow disguise themselves as master and pet. As a slave, Crow is pushed to his limit. He’s chained, branded, whipped, and forced to obey Jonathan’s every order. But the longer he spends at Jonathan’s feet, the more natural his disguise begins to feel—and the more he likes it. As much as he hates Jonathan, they make a good team.
Both of them are devoted to Regis. Despite the overwhelming attraction between them, Jonathan is unwilling to betray his partner, and Crow is unwilling to come between them. But once the three of them are together again, all bets are off.
Crow joins us today to share how he’s handling the loss of Regis. It’s a little heartbreaking to read but also something many of us can relate to. Read and enjoy!
I made a list of all the reasons that Regis was right to leave me.
- I was a selfish git.
- I may have threatened to skin a man.
- Strictly speaking, I am banned from several kingdoms.
- Despite my flawless good looks, I am in fact a hideous monster who doesn’t deserve to be loved and will die alone.
I made a little theatre out of it—wept a bit, crumpled up the list and tossed it in a lake, fished it out again, dried it out, tried unsuccessfully to burn it. I admit, it made me feel better. Everybody loves a good cry now and again. But I expected to get over it in a few days, not unlike the flu.
On the tenth day, it felt like my heart was rotting in my chest. I rolled over in my empty best, grabbed a pen, and made a new list with a shaking hand.
Reasons Regis was the only man I could ever love:
- When the morning light hit his face, it gave him a glow not unlike divinity itself.
- When he spoke, his tongue cut me with its sharpness.
- He was young, and in time he would become a great man—as long as no one held him back.
The paper was rough in my hands. I stared at it. I wet the ink, then began to pen another beneath it.
Reasons I should not find Regis and beg him to take me back:
- I am a monster.
- I am a criminal.
- I did, in fact, threaten to skin a man.
I didn’t burn that list. I kept it.
The following months were fucking hell. And every time I felt weak—every time I thought of finding him and begging him to love me—I took out that list and read it. One more time.
Crow followed Jonathan to the lodging house. Jonathan looked like he was going to explode with rage the entire walk home. Crow prayed they didn’t come across anyone looking for a fight.
When they strode in, the woman at the counter scowled. “Your boy’s only been gone two days,” she said to Jonathan. “Already bringing whores home?”
Jonathan waved her away. “He’s a friend, Marta.”
“Friend,” she muttered. “Yeah, all right.” She sniffed. “Long as you send him on his way when you’re done with him. Don’t want him harassing my patrons.” She bustled down the hall. Crow stared after her in shock.
“She thought you were a prostitute,” Jonathan said helpfully. He opened the door, then locked it behind Crow. Immediately, he went to the back door and swept it open. He went into the garden and hugged Chartreuse around her neck. His grip was white, and his entire body was rigid. “Fucking slavers,” he muttered. “Fucking disgusting.”
Crow leaned against the doorway, arms folded. “Why did the innkeeper think I was a prostitute? Do you often pick up whores?”
Jonathan rolled his eyes at the joke. But he relaxed a little, and he went back inside with Crow. He shut the door. His fingers rested on the knob. “So,” he said.
“So,” Crow said.
Jonathan looked away, hands clenched. “I need a favor.”
“Will you teach me how to—” Jonathan grimaced. “How to be charming.”
“Charming,” Jonathan said, like his teeth were being pulled. “It’s just this—this thing you do. I mean, let’s be honest with each other for a moment. You’re a terrible person, and yet every single person that meets you instantly likes you. How do you do that? Show me. I need to improve my acting skills.”
Crow didn’t want to teach Jonathan anything. But they were in this mess together, and if Jonathan slipped up and ruined his disguise, then they would both be in terrible danger. Crow saw on the bed. “Fine. Come here.”
Jonathan circled the bed like a wary animal. He sat far away from Crow.
“First lesson,” Crow said. “Body language.”
“What? Why does that matter?”
“You need to relax. If you look nervous, everyone else will become nervous, too.”
“I don’t feel relaxed,” Jonathan groaned.
“You don’t have to feel relaxed. You have to look relaxed.” Crow leaned against the headboard and splayed his legs. “See? Like this.”
“I can’t fake it the way you can.” Jonathan popped his fingers, then cracked his neck. He stretched his legs out, then touched his toes. Finally, he rolled his shoulders and let out a breath. He did seem a little less tense now.
“Good,” Crow said. “Now. Lesson two. Just be nice. Observe people. Give them compliments. Listen to what they say. It’s easy.”
“Of course. I mean, that’s how I seduced you the night I met you.”
And the room became weirdly silent.
The night they’d met. Right. The night Crow had waltzed in, spent a few minutes talking to Jonathan, and then stripped his pants off. Crow winced. It was probably a raw wound for Jonathan, considering the fact Crow had—at the time—been part of a plot to kill him. He shifted to the middle of the bed. He crossed his legs. “Look at me.”
“I want to teach you about sexual tension. It’s important. We need to investigate the House of Red Silk, but if we stall too long, Madam Karis might realize we’re up to no good. You must keep her attention. If she becomes impatient, pretend to be interested in a slave.”
“Interested? How do I do that?”
“Like this.” Crow leaned in. He lowered his eyelashes and tilted his head a little. His gaze slowly went from Jonathan’s hands, to his chest, then—ever so slowly—he met Jonathan’s eyes and held them. The air between them felt thin as paper, as though if he moved one inch closer, the barrier between them would tear.
Jonathan jerked back.
His face was unreadable, but his eyes were wide, pupils blown. Crow put his hand on Jonathan’s arm, and Jonathan jerked. “Tension is a sense of anticipation,” Crow said. “Stretch out that moment. Make it clear you want him.”
Jonathan skirted away to the edge of the bed. “Oh, come on,” Crow said. “If you can’t do it with me, how are you going to do it with a stranger?”
“I keep thinking about that time you threatened to skin me,” Jonathan snapped.
“That happened once.”
The light outside had faded. Twilight lit the garden. Crow felt exhausted from his façade. He got up to draw the curtains.
“No, wait,” Jonathan said. “I….”
Crow glanced back.
Jonathan had a painfully awkward look on his face. He blew out his breath. “Sorry. You’re right.” He got up. He rubbed his face. When his hand moved away, his expression was cool again. He scanned Crow’s face, then—hesitantly—touched Crow’s jaw, then his collarbone. He crowded Crow against the wall. Their chests didn’t touch, not quite.
Heat flickered through Crow’s body, and he was aware, powerfully aware, of how long it had been since he’d trusted someone to touch him. He shuddered.
Then Jonathan pulled away. “Like that?”
“Yeah,” Crow said. “Like that.”
Jonathan shut up and went to bed. He lay fully clothed on the mattress, alone by himself. Crow swept up a pile of blankets and dumped them on the floor by the wall. He burrowed into his little nest and closed his eyes. He didn’t sleep. Where was Regis? Locked in a cage somewhere? Sold?
If you encountered Evelyn Elliott, you’d see a small soft-spoken woman wearing a sundress. At first, she seems like a perfectly normal woman. Do not be deceived.
Her hobbies include watching grisly horror movies, torturing her characters, and tending to her flower garden. She enjoys long walks in the park and collecting the souls of small children.
Whenever she reads a book, she always roots for the villain.
Avoid her at all costs. Certainly do not locate her Goodreads. Do not dare friend her on Facebook, either. She will only corrupt you.
22-Apr: Oh My Shelves, V’s Reads
25-Apr: My Fiction Nook, A.M. Leibowitz
26-Apr: Kirsty Loves Books, The Dark Arts
27-Apr: MM Good Book Reviews, Full Moon Dreaming
28-Apr: Alpha Book Club
29-Apr: Sinfully Addicted to All Male Romance, Elisa – My Reviews and Ramblings
2-May: Havan Fellows, Inked Rainbow Reads
3-May: Outrageous Heroes, Bayou Book Junkie
4-May: Love Bytes
5-May: BFD Book Blog, Molly Lolly, The Novel Approach
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