Hey everyone! I’m thrilled to be invited to Amber’s Birthday Bash (Happy Birthday, Amber! Anyone who has a birthday month is my kind of girl!) And I brought along a present—reader’s choice of one of my Men of Honor books in Kindle or Nook format.
Here’s a little background on this short piece. Back in 2011, I wrote a book called Bound By Law for the Men of Honor series, about Law, Styx and Paolo. At the end of that book, they opened a PI Agency called Phoenix Inc. My newest book, No Boundaries: Phoenix Inc. Book 1, revisits Law, Styx and Paolo, but follows the story of Marcus and Cole. Marcus works for Phoenix Inc., and Cole starts off as a client but quickly becomes much more. In this birthday surprise, you’ll get a quick glimpse of these men—I can’t seem to stay away from them!
Peace by SE Jakes
Law had been planning the damned surprise for weeks now. It made him grumpy—grumpier than usual, Styx told him wryly, which made Paolo laugh. And then Law had chased and caught Paolo and then Paolo wasn’t laughing anymore.
Now Law stared at the brochures in front of him, frustrated. All of the places, showcased with glossy pictures and promising words looked fine, but he didn’t want fine.
“Seriously, Law—anyone would kill to go to these places,” Paolo kept telling him. “You won’t make a wrong choice.”
But Law had waited until the last minute. “I should’ve let you plan this.”
Paolo would’ve started six months ago. He wasn’t the last minute type, not like Law or Styx, who’d both learned early to live life on the fly. Their childhoods necessitated it, their careers in the military and the CIA demanded it, and Law typically rolled with that. Usually, it kept things exciting.
Today, he simply felt stressed and unprepared.
Styx’s hands came down on his shoulders. “You know exactly what to do. Listen to yourself. Get rid of this shit and listen to yourself.” With that, Styx swept the brochures off the table and into the garbage before Law could protest…or punch him.
Law stood and walked outside, to the backyard and the stone wall that separated their well tended backyard and the rest of their wild land beyond. He sat there and stared into the tangle of brambles and bushes, even as snow started to fall around him. Until Paolo came out and brought him some Advil for the aches and pains in his bones, the ones he’d had for days, warning him of the impending storm.
Finally, after several hours, he came inside, made a phone call and hung up, satisfied.
“Can we go to bed now?” Styx asked impatiently, beginning to drag both Law and Paolo upstairs without waiting for an actual yes.
Cole parked his bike behind Marcus’s truck and walked inside the house. Marcus was in the kitchen, and at the same time, both of them held out their envelopes, asking, “Did you do this?”
And then they both laughed and shook their heads.
“I have a week’s vacation,” Cole started. “I figured you must’ve planned it.”
“I have a week’s vacation too. I figured the same thing,” Marcus admitted. Then he held up another envelope. “I found this on the kitchen table, with both our names on it. Didn’t want to open it until you got here.”
“Who do you think planned this?” Cole asked.
“One of those three—maybe all of them,” Marcus answered.
Cole moved forward and watched Marcus slide his finger under the flap, then pull out a sheet of paper. And tickets. “Looks like we’re headed to a remote island off the coast of Africa.”
“Law,” Cole said. “Definitely Law.” Because Law knew him so damned well. They’d grown up in similar ways. Both “lost boys,” as Law liked to call them. He knew that, before anything else, all Cole wanted was Marcus, and peace, in that order, but hell, if he could have both together…
Heaven. And it was. Because less than ten hours later, they were on a plane and within a day’s time, they were on their own deserted beach. There was some staff there, but they weren’t intrusive. Invisible, for the most part, simply laying out meals and other offerings, but Cole and Marcus were really, truly alone for the week. No distractions. Just each other.
Which was distraction enough, since Marcus had Cole’s clothes off from minute one. And then Cole was ripping Marcus’s off too and Jesus Christ, this was all Cole needed. All he ever had. The location didn’t matter as much as Marcus.
Marcus, who had him pinned against the lounge chair, under the sway of the shading trees, the sound of the ocean all around them. Marcus, who was making him come faster than he wanted to, but hey, they had plenty of time and no reason to slow down.
“This is fucking heaven,” Marcus sighed, as they remained wrapped around each other on the cushioned double lounge.
“Are you really going to be able to sit still and do nothing for a week?” Cole asked.
“You’re my nothing,” Marcus told him. “Wait, that didn’t come out right.”
Cole laughed. “Yeah, it did.”
He felt lazy. Content. The peace and quiet of togetherness settled over him. They were back to the way they started, the two of them, isolated. Granted, that had been for a different reason, as both men were in danger.
But now, this was a choice. They were together. It was easy.
“Stop thinking,” Marcus told him.
For the next week, Marcus did just that.
No Boundaries: Phoenix Inc. # 1 by SE Jakes
When your past closes in, running isn’t always an option
The jobs Marcus Lowry works for at Phoenix, Inc. Investigations are quick and easy, and they don’t give him the nightmares his days as a CIA operative did. That is, until he gets involved in a case that grabs him by the throat and won’t let go.
Cole Jacobs left behind his old life on the streets to make a name for himself rebuilding high-end and vintage cars and bikes. But when a stalker threatens to kill him—and to hurt anyone who stands in his way—his past closes in on him, and he’s not sure where to turn.
The last thing Marcus wants to do is take on a charity case, and to say that he and Cole don’t see eye to eye at first is putting things mildly. But when the first attempt on Cole’s life nearly kills them both, Marcus realizes that Cole is in real danger, and Cole is forced to reveal everything. Almost everything. Because Cole’s deepest secrets could destroy them both.