GENRE: Gay Thriller Erotic Romance (MMM)
LENGTH: 46,537 words
When his lover is killed while they're on a job, Kegan goes into seclusion, vowing never to return to the Agency, the covert organization they worked for. His handler has other ideas, tricking Kegan into coming back, then partnering him with Gage to find and eliminate Ash, a rogue operative.
Kegan and Gage locate Ash only to discover he's on the run because he found out that Patterson, the head of the Agency, is not what he seems. When the three men team up to bring Patterson down, will their budding personal relationship save them -- or get them killed?
Note: may contain sexually explicit scenes of a homoerotic nature.
"Still no sign of him," Morse said when Gage came into his office, four days after the James murder.
"He'll show eventually. He'll want to know who the hell is trying to --" Gage stopped talking when Morse's intercom beeped.
"You have a call on line two," the receptionist told Morse. "He wouldn't give me his name. Instead he said to tell you he was an old acquaintance who hasn't talked with you in a couple of months."
Morse thanked her, then answered the phone. "How may I help you?" he asked.
"Find out who the bastard is who's impersonating me," a rough voice replied.
Smiling, Morse said, "Welcome home, Kegan."
"I'm not home," Kegan told him. "Far from it."
"Then welcome back."
There was a low laugh before Kegan said, "Same song, different words. I'm not back—yet. I might never be."
"Would it be too much for me to ask if you're in the city?"
"Can we meet somewhere? You name the time and place."
After a brief pause, Kegan said, "The boathouse at the park. Ten P.M. Any tricks and I'll be gone before you know I was there."
Genuinely puzzled, Morse asked, "Why would I try to trick you?"
"Because you're you. It's what you do."
"Good point. All right, I'll be there at ten. Alone."
* * * *
Kegan watched from the trees on the other side of the lake, scanning the area around the boathouse. He wanted to be certain that Morse hadn't planted someone to witness their conversation -- and perhaps do more. The park had closed to vehicular traffic at nine-thirty, meaning anyone approaching the boathouse had to do so on foot. Morse did, precisely at ten, going up the steps then across the main room to one of the arched openings that looked out over the lake, resting his hips against the railing.
Moving stealthily, Kegan rounded the lake -- ever aware of his surroundings, and any possible watchers -- until he was at the steps. Sensing that they were alone, he joined Morse, staying in the shadow of the arch.
"It's been a while, Kegan," Morse said with a nod of his head. "From the look of you, you've been keeping fit."
Kegan shrugged. "It gave me something to do."
"Bored?" Morse asked, almost smiling.
"I had my moments," Kegan replied before getting down to why he was there. "What do you know about the murder of the drug company VP?"
"I know who did it, if that's what you're asking. Gage Dekker. At my orders."
"Yeah, I figured you were behind it. Why Dekker?"
"The man needed to be eliminated. The company he worked for was manufacturing and selling counterfeit drugs to several dealers in the city." Morse pointed one finger at Kegan. "I decided, why not kill two birds with one stone. Get him out of the picture and hopefully bring you back at the same time. I was well aware, if you learned about it, and how he was killed, you would want to find out who was impersonating you."
"Damned straight." Kegan shook his head. "And I fell for it." He paused, looking out across the lake. "Why Gage?"
"He knows your style well enough to imitate it accurately."
"Nope. I would never kill someone so publically. At least not up-close-and-personal, the way he did."
"True. But if he hadn't done it that way, the method would never have been made public. We needed witnesses who would tell the cops, and the press, what they saw. We got what we were aiming for; although it took you long enough to react."
Kegan nodded. "I rarely kept up with the news -- the outside world. No phone. No computer or TV. Sometimes I'd pick up a newspaper. It was just luck that I did this time and saw the story."
"You really did go into seclusion. But then I knew that. If you had kept your phone and used it, or gone online --"
"You'd have found out where I was before I hung up or shut down." Kegan began to pace, pausing to look at Morse once or twice. "Why do you want me back? I fucked up my last assignment and Tony died because of it." He heard the pain in his voice when he said Tony's name, and felt the ache in his heart that had never truly left him.