Author A.E. Via
Title: Promises Part 3
M/M GAY CONTEMPORARY/ACTION
Edited by: Tina Adamski
Cover Artist – Jay Aheer
PAGE COUNT – 260
Release Date: June 16, 2017
A bounty hunter’s partners to lovers’ story.
The hunt is on… and he’s the prey.
Bradford (Ford) King was sure he had the rest of his life mapped out. Though he was no longer a SEAL Lieutenant, his brother was home safe and he had a job that still allowed him to satisfy his hunger for hunting bad guys. Life was simple, no distractions or complications – at age forty-six – that’s all Ford wanted. What he didn’t want was his work partner, sniper/watchman, Dana, giving him s**t all the time.
Dana Cadby had grown up labeled a roughneck from the wrong side of the tracks. He’d fought, scrounged, and survived despite a father that constantly told him he couldn’t. Dana pulled himself up by his own boot straps and made a name for himself in the marksman community. He’d been Duke’s bounty watchman for five years. It was his job to ensure their safety, watch their backs. At thirty-three, he was trusted, well respected by his peers, his bosses, his friends… so why couldn’t he earn the same respect from his partner?
Dana knew he was bisexual before he graduated high school. He also knew he was attracted to the huge, 6’3”, SEAL from the moment he and his brother came to join their team. It wasn’t easy for him to tamp down his immediate reaction to Ford’s thick muscles, full beard, and dark eyes. Still, Dana exhibited nothing but professionalism towards him, not wanting to make his ‘straight’ partner uncomfortable. So why did Ford constantly give him hell?
After Dana took back his ex-girlfriend, he’d noticed an intensification in Ford’s bad attitude. One that turned aggressive and downright antagonistic, and Dana was damned if he’d just lay down and take it. He was gonna make that man respect him if it was the last thing he did.
When Duke sends Dana and Ford out to track down their most dangerous bounty yet, they both embrace the fact that they make one hell of a team… but they fight tooth and nail against the powerful intimacy brewing between them.
Beware: If Ford and Dana connect completely, god help the fugitive who’s in the sights of the hunter and his watchman.
This story is a part of a series but can stand alone. It does not end on a cliffhanger and has a HEA.
He wasn’t in the mood to be out tonight. He’d had two bond hearings this morning and a huge recovery today that left him irritable and sore. All he’d wanted was to go back to his apartment and have a stiff drink and a freshly delivered pizza. So when Jessica called and asked him to take her to happy hour, he’d refused, but she was nothing if not persistent. They’d gotten back together after an amicable break up last month. They’d both decided that he was too busy and she deserved a man that could shower her with the kind of attention she demanded. Imagine his surprise when she called him last week, claiming she’d made a mistake and she still loved him. Even now, Dana didn’t know why he’d agreed to give it another shot. He couldn’t make her happy their first go around no matter how hard he’d tried.
His job as a bounty hunter was demanding and time consuming, but he loved every minute of it. Working for Duke and Quick at Duke’s Bail Bonds and Recoveries was a dream come true for a once-hoodlum like him. His father used to tell him he’d never amount to shit, but look at him now. He was an awarded marksman, worked for two of the most revered men in Atlanta’s criminal justice community, owned his own condo, and had a team that backed him up in every way. More than that fucker ever accomplished. Only thing he’d like to add to his successes was a loving wife… or husband.
Dana could almost feel Ford’s commanding presence when he walked into the crowded restaurant. He was sitting in the bar area with his brother, Brian, and appeared to be in the middle of another one of their heated exchanges. He couldn’t help but think, what has Brian done now? Ford was always on his younger brother about something. Dana knew this because he was with them so much. When Ford and Brian were first brought on by Judge – one of Duke’s business partners – Dana didn’t know what to think of the two ex-SEALS. One didn’t talk – not couldn’t talk, and the other was brooding and unapproachable. Dana wasn’t a small man. He could hold his own. He had broad shoulders, muscular arms, and a fit body, but Ford was in a whole other category. Fucking massive.
“What are you looking at, honey?” Jessica squeezed his hand, looking up at him.
Dana swallowed when he noticed Ford wipe his mouth and sit back in his chair, those midnight eyes glaring at him from across the room. Like he was daring Dana to bring his ass over to him.
What the fuck is his problem now? He’d be damned if he let Ford intimidate him. He never had and he wouldn’t now. He started walking, his long legs eating up the distance between him and his co-workers, Jessica’s short legs double-timing to keep up. He kept his eyes locked on Ford’s. When he got to their round, high-top table he saw they were almost finished with their meals.
“What’s up, fellas? Didn’t expect to see you two here. What’s going on?” Dana asked, ignoring Jessica’s tight clamp on his arm.
“Eating,” Ford said drily.
Dana stared at him for a couple tense seconds. “No shit.” He liked the way Ford’s jaw tightened and his eyes narrowed. Jessica eased back a little when Dana widened his stance. “Um. This is Jessica. Jess, this is Ford and his brother, Brian. You may not remember me mentioning them.”
“Oh, yes I do,” she said a little too cheerfully. She could sometimes overdo it and come off as fake and insincere. “It’s nice to meet you both. Sorry for the intrusion.”
Ford didn’t say anything so Dana turned his attention away from him and spoke to Brian. “I’ll let y’all go ahead and finish up. I’m trying to eat and get back home soon.”
“What happened to the game?” Brian signed.
“He said, ‘What—”
“I know what he said.” Dana sharply cut Ford off and turned back to Brian and signed in not-so-perfect ASL. “She got mad.” Dana shrugged. Brian had been teaching him a little sign language during their long days on surveillance duty or waiting at the courthouse for a bond. By the stunned look on Ford’s face, it was obvious he didn’t know why Dana bothered to learn.
Dana wished he’d learned more. He couldn’t say what he wanted to out loud and he didn’t know how to sign, “My girlfriend whined and pouted until I agreed to take her out. Yes, I had every intention of staying home and enjoying the game… alone.”
“I didn’t know you knew sign language, honey. Awww. That’s great that you can talk to him. Can I speak to him? Can he read lips?” she said innocently, not realizing her words were a bit insulting. Brian was a grown-ass man, not a toddler.
“He’s not deaf, Jess. But let’s go eat, I’m starved,” Dana said quickly. He had to get Jessica away from them because Ford looked like he was about to chew his own face off he was grinding his teeth so hard. Dana was sure Jess didn’t mean anything by it, she simply didn’t understand Brian’s disability. Dana waved, getting an ‘it’s all good’ look from Brian and a pissed off grimace from Ford before he left.
He moved to a table a few up from Ford’s and sat down. He picked up the drink menu, needing something to cool him off. He didn’t know why Ford got under his skin sometimes. He jerked his head up when he heard Jessica loudly clear her throat. She stood there in front of her chair with her arms folded in front of her chest. “Do I have to pull out my own chair, Dana? Geez. Be more rude.”
Dana ignored the snickers from a couple guys at the bar, got up and walked around to the other side and pulled her chair out, trying to ignore Ford’s eyes, which were still on him. Jessica sat daintily in the seat and placed her expensive bag in the chair next to her. He scooted the chair in and looked up at the amused smirk on Ford’s face. Dana mouthed “fuck you” and sat back down.
He took a large gulp of his Miller draft as soon as it was set in front of him. He wouldn’t mind something stronger but he was driving. He ate his burger rather quickly, wanting to get home by at least the fourth inning. He wiped his mouth and signaled the waiter for another beer while Jessica gracefully ate her salad. He cut his eyes to the television over the bar and back to her while she talked non-stop. When they first got together, he thought it was cute the way she rambled on, thinking she was nervous around him. But he soon found out that she was simply in love with her own voice. He groaned internally. He and Jessica had very little in common. He admitted that he’d gone out with her because she was gorgeous, educated, and came from a cultured family. He never thought a woman like that would be interested in a simple man like him. A man that knew more about the new A22 long rifle that was coming out next year than he did about the recent presidential election. He could talk all day about rimfire cartridges or the shoo-ins for the American Marksman competition but he was clueless about pop culture, which was Jessica’s current topic of conversation.
“I still can’t believe she would let Brad go. I mean, her standards are a tad high if you ask me. I guess you reap what you sow. She did steal him from Jennifer.” She elegantly wiped the invisible dressing from the corners of her mouth and sipped her wine. “You’re sexier than Brad, honey. I love it when you wear that leather coat and those boots. Makes me feel like I’m dating a bad boy.”
“I’m not wearing it as a fashion statement, Jess.”
“Obviously. Otherwise, it’d be designer.” She pushed her half-eaten salad away and quickly pulled out a little compact mirror from her purse.
Dana ran his fingers through the long hair on the top of his head and looked down at his worn jacket. It’d seen better days, especially after this afternoon’s recovery.
She spoke to him while applying a fresh coat of lip gloss. “We have some new Vervatos leather jackets coming in next week. They’re only six-fifty, I could put one to the side for you. You could even use my twenty percent discount.”
“You’re shittin’ me, right?” Dana said, feeling even more exasperated and tired. “Six hundred and fifty dollars. For a coat?” That’s half my mortgage!
“That’s on sale. It’s a great price. No need to thank me on the discount.” She smiled like she’d really done him a favor.
“I appreciate it, but no thank you.” Dana tossed his napkin onto his empty plate. He waved to the server for the check since Jess appeared to be done with her food.
“Oh, wait. I wanted another glass of wine. It’s been a day, sweetie. Two of my deliveries were late and one of my employees called out with the flu. Unbelievable. Where’s the dedication?”
“I’m ready to go, Jess. It’s been a fucked-up day for me too, ya know.” Not that you asked. “I wrestled with a three-hundred-pound man today. I’m really beat.” Dana turned his mug up to down his last gulp when he was hit in the center of his back with a massive hand hard enough to leave a bruise. Most of his beer flew out his mouth from the surprise, jerking him forward so hard the table rattled. Jessica gasped, her eyes looking upwards at the hulking figure behind him. Dana knew who the fuck it was.
“My fault,” Ford grumbled. His tone flat and bored. He clamped his thick hand down on Dana’s shoulder and squeezed but Dana didn’t give him the satisfaction of the pained grunt that threatened to escape between his clenched teeth. “You two have a good night, hear.”
Ford walked away, Brian right behind him. Brian gave Dana a quick nod and kept moving, the few people at the door hurrying out of their path. One guy even opened the door for them.
“Well that was childish and uncalled for,” Jessica said, looking wide-eyed and confused. “Are you okay, sweetie?”
“Of course. I’m fine.” Dana kept his growl low. He wiped the beer off his chin with the back of his hand, glaring at Ford’s broad back. Motherfucker.