Woohoo! I did it! I typed "The End" today on Saving Ren (Barretti Security Series, Book 3) (M/M/M). Hopefully there won't be a ton of edits to deal with and the cover will be ready soon. Until then, here's an excerpt from the Prologue.
Declan Hale searched out the doorknob to the interview room with one hand while he flipped open the file he’d been holding with the other. It was well past quitting time but his fuckwad of a Captain had jammed the folder into his hand just as he’d been shutting down his computer and told him to deal with the suspect in Interview 3 before he left. Bastard didn’t give a shit that he’d been on for more than twenty hours straight or that he’d been too busy to even take a piss in the last six hours.
“Mr. Varos?” Declan said as he scanned the information on the intake form. No response. Declan glanced up from the file and paused at the sight that greeted him.
The man was huge which was saying something since Declan himself was 6’2 and heavily built. This guy looked like he belonged in the wrestling ring, not handcuffed to the steel table that was bolted to the floor. Of course, the shaved head, heavily tattooed arms and leather wrist cuffs didn’t make him look like an angel and the ragged scar running across his right cheek was proof that he probably wouldn’t be nominated for sainthood anytime soon. And between the last name, the slight olive tint to his complexion and the heavily muscled body, Declan was guessing the guy had an interesting group of people running through his family tree.
Unsurprised by his new customer’s lack of response, Declan closed the door behind him and dropped down into the metal chair across from him. There was a slight jangling of chains which told Declan that Varos was cuffed at the feet as well as the hands. He supposed the man’s intimidating bulk and dark expression had had the arresting officer pulling out all the stops to ensure he walked out of the interview room in one piece.
“I’m Detective Hale,” Declan muttered as he studied the form in front of him and paused at the first name that jumped out at him.
“Jagger?” Declan said with a dry chuckle. “Your folks big Stones fans?”
Still no response. Declan left the file open as he leaned back in his chair and studied the intense man sitting across from him. He was caught off guard by the stirring of lust that suddenly went through him as he took in the firm, full lips and wide jaw. Silver-gray eyes stared back at him and the contempt he saw there unnerved him. Which was saying a lot since he could count on one hand how many suspects had ever actually made him physically uncomfortable. Sure, there’d been plenty of sick fucks that had brought out a visceral reaction that he’d had to work hard to control, but that had to do with the twisted, obscene crimes they committed. His reaction to this man was something else entirely and he didn’t like it one bit.
“I understand you had an altercation with a Mr. Jason Sutter-” Declan said as he glanced at the file.
Jagger remained silent, his hands folded together in front of him.
“Mr. Sutter is insisting that charges be pressed against you and your friend-”
“Leave Connor out of this.”
The deep, rumbling voice sent a shiver running down Declan’s spine and he looked up once more. “That’s not likely to happen Mr. Varos, since Mr. Talbot appears to be the reason for the incident that occurred.”
Declan paused for a moment and noticed the slight flaring of Jagger’s nostrils at the mention of his friend’s name. Perhaps more than just a friend.
“Although ‘incident’ probably isn’t the most appropriate term since Mr. Sutter is currently being prepped for surgery. The doctors say he’ll be lucky to regain full use of his hand after it somehow got slammed in a car door. Twice.”
Jagger slowly leaned forward. “Fucker touches Connor again, it’ll be more than just his hand that needs attention.” The deadly tone should have had warning bells going off in Declan’s head, not sparks of electricity shooting through his dick.
“Are you saying Mr. Sutter was assaulting Mr. Talbot?”
“You catch on quick, Detective,” Jagger drawled. “They teach you to ask such insightful questions in detective school?”
Declan ignored the jab. He was too hungry and too tired to deal with this shit. The guy wanted to be a disrespectful son of a bitch, so be it. A night in lock up might improve his disposition. Declan began to close the file but stopped when another name jumped out at him. Shit.
“You work for Barretti Security Group?” Declan asked. “You’re one of Dom’s men?”
The use of one of the cofounders of BSG’s first name had Jagger stiffening, but he finally nodded.
“You’re new,” Declan declared. A statement, not a question, since he knew most of Dom’s security personnel and he sure as hell would have remembered a man like Jagger.
“I joined the firm a couple of weeks ago. Vin brought me on board after I got back to the States.”
Declan froze as his mind connected the dots. Ren.
“You were on the team that brought Ren Barretti home?”
If Declan hadn’t been so distracted by his own discovery of just who this man was, he would have enjoyed watching the confusion that overtook Jagger. He suspected the guy didn’t enjoy not being in the know. But Declan was too preoccupied with a vision of the younger Barretti brother to pay much attention to Jagger at the moment. Ren Barretti had been in this same interview room three days earlier, though he hadn’t been the same man Declan remembered.
“How do you know the Barrettis?” he heard Jagger ask, his husky voice thick with curiosity.
“Dom was my brother-in-law,” Declan answered, only half-aware of the other man now as all his thoughts drifted to the same place they’d been in the three days since Ren Barretti had re-entered his life and changed it yet again.
Jagger Varos wasn’t someone that surprised easily but the enigmatic Detective Hale had managed to do just that. At thirty-four and with more than a dozen years of working around the worst kind of men humanity had to offer, Jagger considered himself to be pretty good at reading people and figuring out their weaknesses. He had, after all, learned early on in life that the true nature of a person rarely matched the packaging they cloaked themselves in. Vin Barretti and his brother Dom had been among the rare exceptions so when they’d offered him a job that meant setting down roots in the city he’d spent most of his life trying to escape from, the choice had been easier to make than he thought. For all the reasons he’d come to hate Seattle, he’d finally found some that might make it worth staying.
So to learn that the gruff looking cop was actually related to one of his new bosses was a surprise. Since Vin had never married, that left Dom’s deceased wife as the link between the two men.
“Sylvie was your sister?”
The raw pain in Declan’s eyes was so gaping and obvious that Jagger nearly reached out to try to offer comfort to the other man before he realized what he was doing. Not to mention the cuffs which he was suddenly grateful for since they prevented his hands from moving more than an inch or two from the huge bolt they were fastened to on the tabletop.
Declan managed a nod and his gaze dropped to the paper in front of him. But the agony in the bright blue eyes was shuddered by the time he looked back up at Jagger.
Jagger guessed the detective to be in his late thirties and he looked exactly like every other cop Jagger had dealt with since the first time he’d been hassled for being in a place that he wasn’t deemed good enough to be in. He’d been only fifteen when he walked into a fancy department store with a wad of cash that had represented every penny he’d managed to scrape together from his job stocking shelves at the corner grocery near his and his mom’s apartment. It had been the first time he’d been able to afford an actual present for his mother for Mother’s Day and he’d settled on a bracelet.
He’d been lurking around the jewelry counter for almost thirty minutes trying to pick out the perfect one when a hand had clamped down on his shoulder and he’d been shoved down on the glass counter. A heavy voice had started accusing him of theft and handcuffs had snapped around his wrists before he’d even managed to get a word out. And as the cop hauled him out of the store, not one of the clerks or patrons who’d seen him just minding his own business had spoken up for him. The police officer had lambasted him as a thug and when his mother had shown up at the police station two hours later, that same cop had held up a bag with three watches in it – watches he’d never seen but had supposedly stolen from the store. Three fucking watches and one dirty cop and his whole life had changed.
Jagger forced his attention back to the man in front of him who seemed to be lost in thought. The guy wasn’t classically handsome but there was a certain ruggedness about him that had Jagger’s dick standing up and taking notice. He didn’t usually go for men that were his near equal in size and strength but there was something strangely appealing about the man. His dirty blond hair was short and neatly groomed and the suit he was wearing was somewhere right between cheap and expensive. Thick fingers brushed over a slight five o’clock shadow as he rubbed his jaw absentmindedly and Jagger had to stifle a groan at the thought of the rough stubble scraping over his skin as those wide lips wrapped around his cock.
“Sorry for your loss,” Jagger managed to get out as he tried to get his libido under control. “I never met her but Vin told stories about her…”
Declan waved him off with a brief motion of his hand.
“Tell me about your encounter with Mr. Sutter this evening, Mr. Varos,” Declan suddenly said, his demeanor all business again. Jagger went instantly on alert as the cop was back and he cursed himself for being foolish enough to forget first and foremost who the man across from him really was.
The mention of Sylvie’s name had managed to push thoughts of Ren to the back of his mind for the moment but hearing the pity in Jagger’s voice was a stark reminder that the man on the other side of the table wasn’t his friend. He may work for Dom and Vin, but Declan had a job to do. But whatever progress had been made in the few moments since Declan had mentioned Dom and Vin were gone and Jagger fell mute once more.
“Look Mr. Varos, personally I don’t give a fuck if you spend tonight in lock up or not but I really don’t need Dom and Vin crawling up my ass right now. Not to mention they’ve been through enough shit this past week so let’s get on with this,” Declan snapped. “Tell me what happened tonight.”
A look of anger passed over Jagger’s features and Declan suspected if the cuffs were gone, the man might have physically come after him. He was so keyed up that the idea held a certain, sick appeal and he bit out, “You know what, fuck it,” as he pulled the keys to the cuffs from his pocket and reached for Jagger’s hands.
He ignored the surge of energy that slammed into him at the brief contact with the man’s heated skin as he removed the cuffs. He dropped the key in front of Jagger so he could undo the cuffs around his ankles because there was no way in hell he could trust himself to drop to his knees anywhere near the other man.
Declan leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms and waited. Jagger eyed him for a long moment before he finally leaned down to remove the cuffs and then unceremoniously tossed the key back to him.
“Jason Sutter has been stalking Connor for months,” Jagger finally said.
“They were in a relationship?” Declan asked.
Jagger nodded, his sharp eyes never leaving Declan. “Connor broke it off a while ago but Sutter wasn’t taking no for an answer. Tonight I made sure he got the message once and for all.”
“So you and Mr. Talbot are-”
“No,” Jagger interjected. “Not all fags want to fuck each other,” Jagger snapped.
The crude remark gave Declan new insight into the man sitting across from him but he kept his mouth shut.
“Connor and I served together. We’re friends.”
Declan nodded. “What happened?”
“Connor was coming to pick me up so we could go get a couple of drinks. Sutter followed him to my place. He got rough with Connor so I got rough with him.” Declan was unsurprised at the lack of apology in the man’s tone.
“You can’t hold Connor on anything – he didn’t touch Sutter. Bastard’s lucky Connor was there to pull me off,” Jagger added.
“My colleague is interviewing Mr. Talbot as we speak. Charges won’t be determined until witness statements have been collected as well,” Declan added.
“You’re the one who let Ren leave, aren’t you?” Jagger suddenly asked, his eyes dark with anger. Declan ignored the question and grabbed the pad of paper that had been stuffed into the file folder and slid it across the table to Jagger and then snagged a pen out of his shirt pocket.
“Write down your statement, then sign and date it,” Declan said as he tossed the pen to Jagger. “I’ll be back in a bit.”
As Declan stood, the pad and pen were shoved back across the table. Any patience Declan had left disappeared and he leaned across the table and stuck his face in Jagger’s. “Write down your fucking statement here or in a jail cell. Doesn’t matter to me either way,” he snarled as he reared back and thrust the pad forward once more and turned to go.
“I can’t you asshole. I’m dyslexic.”