The Injustice of Being
Sometimes justice is worth risking everything for.
After a hung jury results in a mistrial for alleged rapist, Paul "Jigger" Robinson, victim Eric Kloiber and Will James, the detective in charge of the case, must come to terms with the possibility that Jigger may well get away with his crimes.
When Will sees the despair plaguing Eric, he becomes determined to leave no stone unturned in his search for more evidence against Jigger. In the midst of his ongoing investigation, Will begins to feel protective towards Eric and soon the two embark on a risky affair.
Despite his new feelings for the hunky detective, Eric can't stop his obsession with making Jigger pay for what he's done. If the justice system won't help, Eric vows to take Jigger down on his own, even if it means putting himself in danger. When Eric's pursuit of vengeance gets in the way of Will's investigation, the two must come to an agreement or risk losing everything, including their relationship.
When you come to the end of a ten year search, what comes next?
As an eight-year-old, Zeke Straus couldn't help his big brother Kade when their father kicked him out, but he vowed to find him no matter what it took. At the age of eighteen, Zeke struck out on his own to fulfil that promise. Now, after ten years of fruitless searching and living in rundown motel rooms, he lands yet another bartender job. The last thing Zeke expects is the attraction he feels for the club's owner.
When Fallon's on Fifth closes after its owner's conviction, Reid Jackson and his best friend Alec Demakis decide to buy the bar and turn it into Clean Slate. When a sexy as sin bartender walks through the door to apply for a position, Reid finds he has several in mind he'd like to try with Zeke.
Kade Straus overcame his past and found the love of his life in partner, Lark. Although he's often thought of the brother he left behind, guilt has kept him from contacting his family for twenty years. When he hears that a Zeke Straus with a matching birthdate was hired to work at a friend's bar, he has little choice but to leave Cattle Valley and come face to face with a past he's never confessed to Lark.
Zeke is torn between his unexpected feelings for Reid and reconnecting with the brother he's devoted his adult life to searching for. He's never found a place he wanted to settle down before, so now that his journey's at an end, how will he choose where to make his home?
Trapped by words spoken as a teenager, Chase Hughes longs for a love that touches not only his heart but also his body.
First loves are often the hardest to leave behind. For months, college student Chase Hughes has known he owes his high school sweetheart the truth about his feelings. He still loves Benny, but he has grown to realise he’s ready to move on. The problem is, he knows Benny will be crushed by the breakup, and hurting the sweetest man he’s ever known weighs on Chase’s soul.
While working as a server at Clean Slate, Chase meets the man of his fantasies. Mac Evans pushes all of Chase’s sexual buttons, and after having uninspiring sex with Benny for two years, Chase is ready to explore more than the tattoos on Mac’s muscular body.
Mac gave up everything to come clean with the people he loved, and expects nothing less from Chase before allowing things to progress between them. Chase is forced to choose between hurting the man of his past and giving up a sexy, tattooed man that may be his future.
Love is a give and take, whether shared by two men or three.
After the devastating loss of his parents, Rusty Bonham feels like he is floating through life without an anchor. The problem, he discovers, is the anchor he wants is already tied to another man, an equally hot professor.
Professors Adam Ryan and Manuel Corto Delgado believed they had the perfect life, but everything changed the day Rusty walked into Adam’s classroom and sat in the front row. Four years later, Adam and Manuel still want Rusty, but it wasn’t until Rusty fell victim to an attack that they decided to do something about it.
Inviting Rusty into their bed and lives turned out to be the easy part, but when Rusty reveals a secret, they discover the challenge will be keeping him there.
Big Man on Campus
What happens when the man you think you want isn’t the man you need?
After his high school sweetheart breaks up with him, Benny Allenbrand arrives at college intent on winning back Chase. Unfortunately, Chase isn’t speaking to him, forcing Benny to seek comfort elsewhere.
Jamie Whitmore is the son of a conservative senator from Connecticut, and on his own after coming out to his father. His life is messy enough without falling in lust with a six-foot-seven football player who happens to be in love with another man.
What starts out as a purely physical relationship between Benny and Jamie soon has both men embroiled in political controversy. Will the media coverage tear them apart or bring them together?
Reader advisory: Professor Sandwich includes a ménage relationship, and there is some racist language in Big Man on Campus.
General Release Date: 11th February 2020
Eric Kloiber concentrated on the small tag of skin he was desperately trying to remove from the corner of his well-bitten nail. He wasn’t normally a nail-biter, but his sore, bloody cuticles had suffered as much as his head and heart since the night he had been drugged and raped.
“Something’s wrong,” Eric mumbled to himself.
Eric glanced at the police officer posted outside the courtroom door. “Sorry. I was...” He shook his head. “Never mind.”
The officer went back to his post, leaving Eric to wonder what the hell was going on. What should have been a speedy trial had turned into the hardest two weeks of his life. After his initial testimony, the defence had suddenly produced a copy of the prescription Jigger had used to get the Rohypnol in the first place. According to the defence attorney, Jigger had been prescribed the sleeping aid because of his odd employment hours. Coincidentally, the prescription had been signed by Jigger’s brother, Dr Adam Williams. The prosecutor argued that the evidence should have been presented to them in the discovery phase of the hearing, but the defence claimed they’d only just obtained the copy from a mail-in pharmacy Jigger used.
The whole thing was fucked up. Even worse, everyone had told him it should be a quick deliberation for the jury, but that hadn’t turned out to be true either. Six days. What the hell was there to discuss in an open-and-shut case for six fucking days?
Eric stood and began to pace back and forth in the marbled hall. He wished he’d asked Becket to sit with him while they waited for the jury’s decision, but he couldn’t bring himself to do that. Becket had attended every day of the trial with his boyfriend, Locky. It wouldn’t have been fair to ask him to miss the verdict. Even though Jigger was being tried for Eric’s rape, Becket had also been one of Jigger’s victims. Unfortunately, Becket had kept his rape a secret until it was too late to obtain the evidence needed for a conviction.
The heavy door to the courtroom opened and Eric stopped walking at the explosion of voices filtering into the hall. Cries of outrage from several familiar voices took Eric’s breath away. He lowered himself back to the bench and stared up at the detective who had been in charge of the investigation. Will James’ light brown hair, was longer than it had been at the start of the investigation, but Eric assumed his attention had been too focused on putting Jigger away to worry about something as trivial as his appearance. The grim expression on Will’s face seemed to confirm Eric’s biggest fear.
“Not guilty,” Eric surmised.
Will nodded and sat beside Eric, his much larger frame making Eric feel small and vulnerable. “Not guilty on the drug charge. They couldn’t reach an agreement on the rape charge. The judge had no choice but to issue a mistrial.”
“Mistrial.” As he said the word, Eric’s body began to go numb. “What exactly does that mean?”
Will rested his forearms on his thighs and rubbed his hands together. “The prosecution will take a second look at the case and decide whether or not to retry it.”
“You mean they might not?”
“Trials are expensive. Evidently we didn’t have enough to convince this jury.” Will sighed. “Sorry, kid, but I honestly don’t know what Byron will decide.”
Misplaced anger filled Eric. Whether he was mad at Byron Long, the prosecutor, or the whole fucking judicial system, he didn’t know or care, but he lashed out at Will. “I’m not a kid. You don’t go through what I’ve been through and remain a damn kid.”
Will sat up. “You’re right. I apologise.”
The heavy door opened again as people began to leave the courtroom. The last place Eric wanted to be was at the centre of his friends’ pity. “I gotta get outta here.”
Before Will or anyone else could stop him, Eric jumped to his feet and ran down the hall. He considered hiding out in the bathroom, but he knew that would be the first place Becket would search. Instead, he ran down the wide staircase, taking the steps two at a time. He slowed to a walk as he got to the security station and nodded to the guards before exiting the building.
Eric didn’t realise until he was two blocks down the street that Will hadn’t told him whether or not Jigger would be freed. “Fuck!”
* * * *
“How the hell did that happen?” Will asked Byron as the prosecutor left the courtroom.
“Not enough concrete evidence.”
“Jigger’s an ex-con. His sperm was found on Eric’s jeans. Eric was sitting at the bar being attended by Jigger at the end of the night, and Rohypnol was found behind the bar, in Jigger’s work locker and in his home.” Will took a deep breath as he continued to tick items off on his fingers. “Not to mention the array of sexual tools found in the trunk of his car.”
“But no one saw Mr Williams give Eric the drug or leave the club with him, and since Eric can’t remember, it simply isn’t enough,” Byron explained. “And going to prison for six months at the age of eighteen for stealing a car to go joyriding with his friends is a long way from a hardened criminal past.”
Will’s hands curled into fists. It wasn’t the first time Byron had subtly reprimanded Will for his use of Paul Williams’ nickname. “Are you going to retry him?”
Byron stopped walking and turned to face Will. “Not unless I have more evidence. You get me that, and I’ll do my part to get a conviction. In the meantime, Mr Williams will be released on bond, pending another trial.” He leaned towards Will. “If you get me something more to take it to trial.”
The thought of Jigger out on the streets brought Eric’s safety to mind. “What about Eric, can he take out a restraining order or something?”
“The judge issued Mr Williams several warnings before he set bail. Unless he defies those warnings, Eric shouldn’t need to petition for a restraining order.”
Will inwardly groaned. The pressure to produce more evidence was overwhelming. Not only was Byron counting on him, but he knew Eric’s faith in the justice system hinged on a conviction. It was something Will didn’t know if he could deliver, because despite his skills as an investigator, he couldn’t produce evidence out of thin air. Hell, he’d worked his ass off building the case in the first place. He’d questioned every person Eric remembered seeing in the bar the night he’d been drugged and raped and...nothing. He hadn’t come up with a goddamn person who remembered seeing anything unusual the night Eric was left bleeding in the lobby of the dorm. It was something that had always bothered him.
After glancing at his watch, Byron set his briefcase on the floor and shrugged into his beige trench coat. “I’m due at the office. By the way, the jury was locked at nine to three. We’re almost there, but not quite.”
Will nodded as Byron picked up his briefcase and started down the steps. He should get back to the station, but before he dug back into the files, he needed to make sure Eric was okay. No, he admonished himself. The best way for him to assuage his guilt was to do his job. Holding Eric’s hand would make Will feel better but not because it was the right thing to do. It wasn’t the time to be selfish.
Before leaving the courthouse, he stopped in front of the Lady Justice statue in the Grand Rotunda. He’d always loved the statue and had spent hours as a kid looking up at it in awe.
Will turned to find his father, Henry. Although they resembled each other in hair colour and height, Henry’s rounded stomach was a testament to years of eating Will’s mom’s cooking. He pointed at the statue. “She let me down today.”
Laying a hand on Will’s shoulder, his dad shook his head. “I’ve cleaned this building for thirty-seven years. Watched all kinds of men and women stand right where you’re standing and curse that lady.” He turned to stare at Will. “You know what they all had in common?”
“They lost,” Will guessed.
“Just because someone doesn’t get the verdict they want, doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right one.”
Will looked away from the statue and studied his father for several moments. His dad loved the law, was fascinated by the entire process and even after thirty-seven years of sitting in on trial proceedings every break and lunch hour, Henry James’ faith in the system had never wavered. “Did you catch any of the trial?”
“Sure,” his dad replied.
Although his captain would probably kill him, Will trusted his dad over all others. “What went wrong?”
His father shrugged. “I didn’t know Mr Williams. Byron Long sat a handsome man in front of five women and seven men and tried to convince them he’d committed a heinous act, but he didn’t have the evidence to back it up.”
Although his dad was using Byron as the scapegoat, Will knew his father was talking directly to him. “What would’ve convinced you?”
“History. Did he torture cats, look into the bedroom windows of his friends? A man who would drug and rape young men didn’t start overnight. If I was sittin’ on that jury, I’d want to know for sure that the man I’m putting away is bad.” Will’s dad grinned. “So prove to me he’s a bad apple and a danger to society.”
Will had checked for priors on Jigger, but he hadn’t dug very deeply into the guy’s past. His attention had been on Eric and making the entire process as easy as he could on the guy. Not that he would ever cross the line with a victim, but he’d admitted to himself shortly after meeting Eric that there was something special about the young man.
Fuck. It wasn’t Byron’s, Lady Justice’s or the jury’s fault the trial had ended the way it had. The majority of the blame could be squarely put on his shoulders, but he refused to carry the entire load. Vince, his captain, had assigned the investigation to Will because of its nature. He didn’t feel the other cops would be comfortable with the victim or the subject matter, and he’d been right. Still, Vince had scrutinised the time Will spent interviewing people who were at the club and dorm the night of Eric’s rape. “I don’t know how much more time Vince’ll let me spend on this,” Will admitted.
“It won’t really matter if it’s important enough to you.” His dad met Will’s gaze. “Is it?”
Will thought of Eric and his struggle to find balance in his life after being outed in such a horrific and public way. “I think Eric needs it. I’m not sure he’ll be able to move on if we don’t get a conviction.”
“That’s not what I asked. Is. It. Important. To. You?” his dad asked again, stressing each word individually.
Will had been one of the lucky few. He’d come out to his parents at a young age without fear of reprisals, so he knew what his dad was really asking. He ran his hands through his hair, feeling the slight curls wrap around his fingers as he did. “Yeah, I like him, but it would be unethical to take advantage of the situation.”
His dad grinned. “So do what you have to do to nail that sonofabitch, and the two of you can meet on a level playing field.”
Will didn’t even know if Eric would be interested in going out with him. “He’s been through a lot.”
“Of course he has. I didn’t say it would be easy, but I’ve never known you to back away from something you wanted just because it wasn’t.”
Hell, he needed to get away from his dad before he talked him into running to Eric and confessing everything. “I’d better go. It seems I have a past to dig into.”