Leading a double life can be challenging, as Reaper well knows.
Take one self-styled vigilante—Reaper. Add his alter ego, successful forty-one-year-old, investment counselor, Zack Ward. Then throw in Dallas Comstock, thirty-two, a beat cop, Zack’s lover and the only person who knows Zack is Reaper. The result is men on a mission. They protect homeless kids living on the streets while trying to find a new building for a soon-to-be demolished shelter belonging to Zack’s mentor, Brian Foster—the man who helped Zack get off the streets.
Someone seems to be kidnapping streetwise young girls. Reaper pulls together a team of street kids—Zip and his boyfriend, Colly, Raven and Sway—to stop the predator. At the same time Zack, with the help of his business clients, sets up a charity ball to raise money for the new shelter, Off-the-Street.
What happens next may strengthen Zack’s and Dallas’ love—or destroy it.
General Release Date: 13th October 2015
“Get behind me, kid,” Reaper ordered. When the obviously homeless teen seemed ready to argue, Reaper pointed to the two toughs coming toward them down the dark street. “You want to deal with them, be my guest.”
The teen swallowed hard as he did what Reaper had told him.
“Looking for trouble, boys?” Reaper asked, his arms crossed over his chest.
The larger, muscular punk sneered. “You gonna give it to us, old man?”
“Try me and see.”
The smaller guy pounded the bat he was holding on the ground while the bigger one tossed a knife from hand to hand. Then they attacked. Reaper grabbed the bat as it swung toward his head, twisting it out of the punk’s grip. Then he used it to break the wrist of the knife-wielding assailant, smiling when the punk’s scream shattered the relative silence.
“Next time—well, there’s not going to be a next time, is there, boys?” Reaper said, looking at them with contempt. “You”—he jabbed a finger at the smaller of the pair—“get your buddy out of here before I decide to do some real damage.” He held up the bat, eyeing the one he was talking to. “Maybe a couple of blows to your thick skulls will teach you to stop preying on street kids who can’t defend themselves.”
“Who the hell are you?” the muscular teen asked, his words a mixture of pain and defiance as he held his broken wrist to his chest with his free hand.
“The name’s Reaper. And I’m someone who doesn’t like thugs like you going after kids like him.” Reaper glanced behind himself and shook his head. “Guess he decided to find a safer place to be while he had the chance. You might want to as well.” He bent, keeping an eye on the smaller guy as he picked up the fallen knife. “Nice one. I think I’ll hang on to it. Now, beat it. Oh, you might want to see a doctor about your wrist.”
The punks took off.
The injured one called back, “You’re going to regret this.”
Probably not. Reaper moved into the closest alley, broke the bat over the edge of a dumpster and tossed the pieces into it.
How the hell could he afford this? Reaper folded the knife, clipping it to his belt. He knew it cost well over a hundred and fifty bucks, if bought legally. But then, considering what he planned on doing with it, he probably stole it.
Reaper went back to the sidewalk, keeping an eye open for any more trouble. He came to another alley and glanced down it to make sure everything was normal. Well, as normal as seeing kids and adults huddled in doorways or behind dumpsters could be. He moved on, the false dawn beginning to lighten the sky ahead of him.
* * * *
“Mr. Ward, your next appointment is here,” Ms. Burke, Zack’s secretary, said. She stood in the doorway to his office.
“Please show him in, Alice.” When his secretary did, Zack stood and crossed the room, to greet the older man. “A pleasure to see you again, Mr. Rawlins. Please have a seat.”
After his client was seated, Zack returned to his own chair and they began discussing Mr. Rawlins’ investments. Zack suggested a few changes that would bolster the man’s retirement account, and twenty minutes later, he was ushering Mr. Rawlins out of the office.
The rest of Zack’s day continued on in the same vein, either with personal meetings with his clients, or with phone calls to them. As a respected investment counselor, his client list included some of the wealthier members of the community, as well as those with smaller incomes who wanted to have money to retire on when the time came.
Zack made a good living at what he did, as evidenced by his house. He looked at it with appreciation now while he waited for the barred entrance gate in the high stone walls surrounding the property to open. When it did, he went through, closed it again and drove up the driveway to the attached garage.
It was more house than he probably needed, but it suited his desire for privacy. And there was a panoramic view of the Rockies from the second floor balcony that kept him from feeling as if he was imprisoned within the confines of his well-secured estate.
He unlocked the door from the garage to the kitchen and inhaled the aroma coming from the kitchen. “Pot roast. Mrs. Cook must have read my mind.” It amused him that the cook-slash-housekeeper’s name was Cook. If he was honest with himself—and he usually was—her name was one of the reasons he’d hired her. That and her ability to make fantastic meals and keep the house clean—and do it all before she left at two.
Walking through the living room and the recreation room, he then went upstairs to his bedroom.
After kicking off his shoes and hanging up his suit coat, he stepped out on the balcony to watch the late afternoon sun silhouetting the mountains. “Another beautiful evening,” he murmured. “But then they usually are this time of year.” He spent a few minutes savoring the view then went back inside to change into jeans and a comfortable, well-worn work shirt before going back downstairs to eat.
I swear, Mrs. Cook has it in for me. I bet I put on ten pounds, as good as that was. He chuckled, knowing he’d work it off. He always did. After he finished, he washed the dishes then mixed a drink, picked up the book he was reading and went out onto the rear patio to enjoy the cool early evening. An hour later, he was back upstairs, where he showered then went to bed.
* * * *
Reaper walked down the dark streets on high alert for potential trouble. The bars had closed less than fifteen minutes earlier and the patrons—some drunk, some relatively sober—were heading to their cars or roaming the area in search of something more to keep them occupied.
He saw three young men, obviously very intoxicated, huddled together, watching two young women entering a parking lot. As the trio began to follow them, Reaper stepped into their path.
“If I were you,” he told the oldest one, “I’d call a cab for you and your friends and go home to your wives. Assuming any woman would be stupid enough to marry you.”
He got the reaction he’d wanted as the men forgot their intended targets to focus on him.
“What do you mean, stupid enough?” one of the trio said, fisting his hands.
“Exactly what it sounded like. Look at you. You all smell like a brewery. If I hadn’t seen you coming out of the bar, I’d figure you spent the night sharing a bottle of rotgut behind a dumpster.”
“Motherfucker! Where do you get off talking to us like that?” one of them said, taking a swing at Reaper.
Reaper caught his arm and shoved him into the second man, who seemed intent on rushing him. They went down in a heap, leaving just the largest man to be dealt with. Apparently being large did not equate with being reckless. The man took one look at his companions, turned tail and fled.
Born and bred Cleveland, I earned a degree in technical theater, later switched to costuming and headed to NYC. Finally seeing the futility of trying to become rich and famous in the Big Apple, I joined VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), ending up in Chicago for three years. Then it was on to Denver where I put down roots and worked as a costume designer until just recently.
I began writing a few years ago after joining an online fanfic group. Two friends and I then started a group for writers where they may post any story they wish no matter the genre or content. Since then, for the last three years, I've been writing for publication. Most, but not all, of my work is m/m, either mildly erotic or purely 'romantic', and more often than not it involves a mystery or covert operations.