One. Of. My. Favorite. People. EVER.
Do you hear me? E.V.E.R. Ever.
And her books? OMFG… EVER!
Scars and Ruin. Her brand new book. Hot. Emotional. Raw.
The man known as Dutch is fine with being hated and feared. He keeps his mask on and his secrets close. There’s only one person who reaches past all that to who he used to be before the job hit too close to home. Sacrifices must be made, and Dutch steps up do just that. He’ll gladly pay the price to make sure Varun Patel is safe.
Loyalty to family expects it. His heart demands it.
And Patel rejects it.
Half of Varun Patel’s life resides in broken shadows he’d rather not remember. The other half is taken up by a man whose words push him away while his actions hold Patel close. Patel can’t forget the one night he spent in Dane Hutchins’ arms. The night promises were made. The night promises were broken.
If it were up to Dutch, Patel won’t ever know the bargains struck in his name. He won’t ever know the memory of them keeps Dutch fighting in his bleakest moments. But Dutch should’ve known that in the lonely hours, Patel would come for him.
And when that time arrives, there’s no saying no. There’s only the inevitable.
Love amid the ruins.
Warning: Contains references to sexual abuse/rape.
His heart skipped a beat. More than one, if Varun Patel allowed himself to be honest. All the noise in his head went quiet at the brush of rough fingertips over his naked chest.
Over his heart.
Gray eyes locked on his face, watching him intently, the other man unblinking.
Patel wanted to make him blink. Wanted to hurt him, shatter him. Much like Dane Hutchins had shattered him. He should stay away, and truth be told, he’d done good so far. Except here he stood, courting the destruction. Eagerly anticipating that sweet ruin. Too much time had gone by between when he’d had Dutch crying out his name and now. So much shit remained between them, all those obstacles put there by Dutch himself.
He didn’t want Patel. Dutch had spoken the words himself, loud and clear and concise.
They wouldn’t work, he’d said all those years ago with their combined sweat still on his skin. With Patel’s cum glistening on the back of his thighs. Just a fuck, with Dutch’s palm prints on Patel’s ass, and strands of Dutch’s hair still in his grip.
Those words he’d groaned when Patel slid inside him? The words they’d said to each other? Meant nothing. Spoken in the heat of the moment, Dutch claimed.
But not too long ago, Patel had stood outside Dutch’s office door, listening to him get fucked by Kyo, the silent man with death in his eyes and blood in his past. Fingers leaving inprints on the wall, Patel had listened as Dutch shouted for him.
With another man’s dick inside him.
“Ruin me,” he whispered the words again.
Dutch’s eyes darkened and a muscle ticked in his jaw, but he didn’t take the bait. Didn’t accept the offer. Maybe he saw it for what it was… Desperation.
Patel wanted to feel. He only felt when Dutch was near.
Hunger, raw and breath-stealing. Heartache. Anger, visceral and all-consuming. And sadness, too. Of all the things he felt when he came close to Dutch, the sadness scared him most of all.
“Your wife is worried about you,” Dutch told him again. Somehow he always sounded so composed, untouchable. Smooth.
Patel made himself smile. “She sent you.” Of course she did. Dutch wouldn’t be there otherwise.
“She came to me, yes.”
It didn’t escape Patel’s notice that Dutch didn’t take his hands away. Those fingertips remained, barely there, but still so present.
“She offer me up to you again?” He lifted an eyebrow. Between Dutch and Stoyan, it was a fucking wonder he hadn’t already careened off the goddamn deep end. She continued to play matchmaker, knowing full well Dutch would never go there again. Shit, Patel couldn’t survive going there again.
“Stoyan wants you to be okay.”
Patel chuckled darkly. “You think you being here helps with that?”
“I want you to be okay.” A shadow crossed Dutch’s face. “I know today’s gonna be tough for you—”
“I was doing fine,” Patel told him. “I was doing more than okay, until you showed up.”
“The hooker and the coke?” Dutch asked. “It’s not even noon. That’s your version of okay?”
“Away from you,” Patel snapped. “That’s my version of okay.” But that wasn’t even in the same universe as the truth, was it?
Any expression on Dutch’s face disappeared, and once again those gray eyes held nothing. “So I’ll leave.” He tugged his hands, but Patel held on to him.
“Too late for that now.” He shuffled closer, tipped his head down a bit so that his nose touched Dutch’s and their lips brushed.
“We’re gonna finish what your hands on me started,” he whispered. “Our mutual destruction.”
“Don’t do this.” Dutch’s words were tight, but the fingers on Patel’s chest curled. Nails scraping at his skin, a thin trail of sharp pleasure.
“Why?” Patel asked. “Tell me why.”
“You’ll regret it tomorrow. You’re not in your right mind and—”
“No!” He whipped his head up and grasped Dutch’s jaw, holding him steady. Dutch shivered and the pulse on the underside of his jaw picked up speed. Patel could do that. He could make Dutch shiver and he could make him sweat, but he could never make him stay. “Why did you make those promises to me inside that hotel room? Why did you let me need you? Why did you walk away when I know you wanted to stay?”
He felt Dutch flinch.
“I didn’t want to stay.”
“No?” Patel dropped his hand and stepped back, allowing Dutch’s hands to fall away from him. He missed that touch. Missed it, but he pretended otherwise as he circled Dutch, stood at his back. “You meant to ride me then leave with my cum dripping down the back of your legs?” he asked softly. Lips at Dutch’s nape, Patel touched him, sifting fingers through hishair at Dutch’s nape.
He shouldn’t touch. Anger consumed him. Pain, too. But lust drove him. Ruled him.
Dutch made a sound, and Patel fisted his hair, yanking his head back so that Dutch was plastered against him, his back to Patel’s so very hard front, his head on Patel’s shoulder.
“You meant to be here, years later, crying out my name as Kyo tries in vain to wipe away the imprint of me on you?”
“Varun.” Dutch’s voice was different now, full of warning and need and the hunger he probably wished he didn’t feel.
Patel could make him do that, make him feel and make him pretend. He could never make Dane Hutchins stay.
“You didn’t want to stay,” he murmured against Dutch’s ear. “What did you want to do? Tell me.”
“Let me go.”
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