#manlovesunday #3: Hitting Black Ice

Welcome to another manlove sunday blog hop!

So, if you recall, Nick Truman is the corrupt FBI agent hunting Alex and messing with Hunter in Hitting Black Ice. He makes a cameo in Send Lawyers, Guns, and Roses, and we find out more about him and the situation that brought him to pursuing innocent Alex. But he needs his own story– to make amends, and while I’ve been going over HBI gleaning out bits and pieces of Nick and the notes that went back and forth between me and my editor, now he’s stuck in my head. So here’s a scene from the middle of HBI, Alex telling his story about his past that he’s been hiding from Hunter. Alex is in protective custody.

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The marshal was always on the phone to someone, arguing in the bathroom. John was forever talking about fishing, playing poker, and football. Nicolas—quiet, serious, kind of intense—always deferred to John when it came to control of the remote or who drove them to the next safe house or where to get takeout.

The powers that be pulled the marshal—she obviously had some family stuff going on that became urgent. Another marshal joined them, a hard-assed type, standoffish, but always on the alert. They moved Alex to a safe house that had more space than a hotel room, along with a beautifully kept pool in the backyard behind a fence as high as a stockade.

Alex fretted the days and weeks away, moved about like a chess piece on a board, the sound of his academic career flushing down the tubes a constant roar in his ears.

After a while, he just couldn’t take it.

Alex stood in the kitchen, going through the empty cupboards, sick of the smell of pizza and the cloying taste of endless cans of soda. He snapped the cabinets open and shut, growing more irritated.

“I had a cat that used to fuck with the cabinets when he wanted to be fed,” Nick said behind him. “What do you want?”

“A decent cup of tea. Chamomile or just plain black tea.” His stomach burned from lunch, though they’d eaten hours before.

“Tea?”

“Yeah, and something without a crust and a ton of cheese and pepperoni. Or dripping with grease.”

“Uh-huh.”

“French fries. Onion rings. Burgers and nachos. There’s a whole working kitchen here—why can’t I cook?”

“You never said you wanted to,” Nick said.

“Why can’t I swim in the pool?”

“Thought you were a smart guy?”

“Getting fat,” Alex mumbled, embarrassed, and tugged at the waistband of his jeans.

Nick crossed his arms and leaned his hip against the cooking island. “What’s your sport, then? You watch everything that comes on. What do you play?”

“Lacrosse. I ran a few marathons. I love to swim too. You’re eating the same crap I am. Aren’t you tired of it? Please, can’t I go running with you in the morning?”

“I wish I could say yes.”

“Shit! This isn’t fair! I’m trying to help, but I just want to—” Trapped, Alex punched the nearest cabinet instead of finishing the sentence. Bright pain burst across his knuckles. “That was stupid.”

“Jesus, kid, let me see that.”

Nick stepped closer. He held Alex’s hand in his own strong ones and ran his thumb over the knuckles. At his touch, a powerful electric current seared through Alex, and he sucked in his bottom lip in order not to cry out.

“You need a workout and a workout buddy,” Nick murmured, glancing into his eyes. “Baby, you need it bad.”

Sexual heat rushed through him, fusing their hands together in a tighter grip. Nick was so close now, a kissable distance, barely two breaths between them. Those amber eyes glowed with heat.

“See what you do to me, baby?” Nick kissed the bruised knuckles of Alex’s hand.

“Agent Truman?” the new marshal snapped. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Kissing the boo-boo.” Nick smirked at the marshal and winked at Alex. “Feel better?”

“Y-yeah,” was all Alex could manage.

***

Here’s the link to more stories and authors on our hop:

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