There’s a dead man in Miki St. John’s vintage Pontiac GTO, and he has no idea how it got there.
After Miki survives the tragic accident that killed his best friend and the other members of their band, Sinner’s Gin, all he wants is to hide from the world in the refurbished warehouse he bought before their last tour. But when the man who sexually abused him as a boy is killed and his remains are dumped in Miki’s car, Miki fears Death isn’t done with him yet.
Kane Morgan, the SFPD inspector renting space in the art co-op next door, initially suspects Miki had a hand in the man’s murder, but Kane soon realizes Miki is as much a victim as the man splattered inside the GTO. As the murderer’s body count rises, the attraction between Miki and Kane heats up. Neither man knows if they can make a relationship work, but despite Miki’s emotional damage, Kane is determined to teach him how to love and be loved — provided, of course, Kane can catch the killer before Miki becomes the murderer’s final victim.
The cold never left his bones, or at least that’s what Miki felt like. Long, thick curtains and double-paned windows took the chill off of the San Francisco air, but the fire he finally coaxed to life in the narrow fireplace barely seemed to generate enough heat to warm its own hearth, much less the enormous open living space. Even with the central heating turned up to a comfortable seventy-two, the shuddering roils of cold rocked him with every other breath.
His knee throbbed with the fire of a thousand suns, but the memory of the infuriated man on his doorstep a couple of days ago burned Miki more. A tingle resonated in his cock when he thought about the man’s deep blue eyes, and the reaction startled him. His dick hadn’t shown an interest in anything or anyone since the accident. He wasn’t hard, not by a long shot, but the awareness was definitely there.
“Great, now I’m getting a kink for someone who wants to beat me,” he muttered, his voice rough with disgust. There’d been no lingering appraisal in the man’s eyes, only fury and then a dash of pity. Pity was the last thing Miki wanted or needed. “Like I can’t do that to myself. Fuck him.”
Curled up on the couch he’d brought from the apartment he’d shared with Damien, Miki drew a thick quilt around his shoulders, tucking the ends in under him. The flames lulled him, and he stared into the flickering heat, his mind drifting from the too-chilled warehouse and the echoes of his thoughts. He didn’t feel like gaming, even though he’d turned on the large-screen TV and the game systems. Food was out. His stomach rebelled at the mere suggestion of heading to the kitchen.
Miki caught a fragile tune wrapping through his thoughts and reached a notebook from the pile he kept on the coffee table. Too focused on the page, he almost jumped out of his skin when a chirruping scared the hell out of him. Floundering to free himself from the quilt, Miki nearly knocked himself off the battered couch before realizing it was his phone.
The handset rang again, chittering across the flat storage container he used as a coffee table. He knew the number flashing across the phone’s display, and for a long moment, he debated letting the call to go the voice mail he never listened to.
“Hello, Edie,” Miki said softly into the phone.
“Hey, kiddo.” She exhaled breathily, and Miki wondered if she’d just let go a sigh of relief or if she’d taken up smoking again. “I’m glad you picked up.”
“You’d just keep calling back until I did.”
“You know me so well, Miki dear.”
He did know her and hated that she knew him as well as she did. Grabbing his coffee cup, Miki ruefully discovered it’d gone cold. Disappointed, he set it back down and cradled the phone against his shoulder. The sofa cushions dipped as the dog jumped up and settled down next to him. A spit-damp tennis ball rolled from the dog’s mouth, and he snuggled down into the quilt, twisting until he lay on his back with his feet in the air.
“What do you want, Edie?” The dog gave off some heat, and he shifted, sliding his feet under the mutt’s body.
He knew why she called. The business end of Sinner’s Gin still needed tending to, and she’d held those reins before the accident. It made sense for her to continue managing the group, even if Miki was all that was left. Back then Edie dealt mainly with Damien, but now she was stuck with the band’s gutter-raised singer. Every week the phone rang, urging him to pick up some of the pieces of his former life. Often he’d let it go unanswered, ignoring the outside world for another seven days.
“I wanted to see how you—”
“What do you need, Edie?” Miki said through gritted teeth.
The woman didn’t understand how her voice reminded him of the long weeks he spent on the road, complaining about the bad food, weather, and their bus drivers’ aversion to bathing. She shadowed them through the ups and downs, either soothing their nerves or pushing them past their fears. The others griped constantly as they dragged themselves and their equipment from city to city, but Miki had never felt more alive.
Living in each others’ pockets strained their tempers at times, but they became tighter as a whole. He agonized over the loss of Damien’s bossiness or Johnny’s cocky, swaggering boasts of his hookups from the night before. Miki longed for a few more minutes of Dave’s quiet faith as he murmured thanks to some god before they hit the stage.
Hearing Edie made him miss them all the more, and his heart couldn’t take any more breaks in its already fragile shell.
Dear Pants Off Readers:
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