Tag Archives: crime

New! Vasquez Inc #6—A Shot of Courage

A Shot of Courage


Kink and wedding vows can’t stop danger
but love gives a Dom and his sub
courage to fight.

Get it at Changeling Press—15% off, download now!

Or your preferred retailer—preorder now, download 8/7!



After too much time apart from his lover and sub, Brian Harrison is thinking kink, a cowboy hat, and one more marriage proposal. When Jackie Vasquez finally says “yes” to a wedding, he also says, “why wait?” But their vows and the toasts to the happy couple have hardly faded when a phone call reminds them that trouble still awaits.

Despite his best intentions, Brian broke the law in his efforts to stop a powerful criminal from harming those he loves. He could go to prison, or he could risk his life going undercover to help bring one of Europe’s most nefarious citizens to justice. Friends and smart thinking can help him do the right thing. But only love can supply the courage he and Jackie need to prevail against schemes and guns and, if they’re lucky, stay alive to enjoy a honeymoon.



An Exclusive Excerpt:

For Brian, Jackie’s unfaltering love and a quiet session showing him how beautiful he was in ropes had resulted in a settled mind and a good night’s sleep. By the time he sat at the table with his early morning coffee, though, he was worried again. His anxiety had taken a new tone. One good thing: Jackie loved him. Bad things: he was in trouble with the law and on mandatory leave from his job. The worst thing — or so it seemed at the moment: Luki probably didn’t trust him anymore, and he still hadn’t told him everything.

Jackie had gone out already, wanting to check in at school and with Dr. Holland, and maybe see Esi. Brian hadn’t wanted him to go, but Jackie understood the risks, and he was all grown up, and neither love nor Dominance, nor even marriage gave him the right to keep him from making up his own mind. He listened to Brian’s pleas to “be careful, don’t go places alone, and if you see something or someone that seems wrong, call me or the cops, depending.” And then he kissed Brian, said, “I’ll be careful,” and left.

As a result, when Luki arrived in LA and came up to the apartment, Brian was home alone.

He sat down on the couch looking exhausted. Brian felt bad, knowing he was about to lay some more trouble on him, but he was determined. He made coffee, poured two cups, and said. “Luki, there’s more. I meant to tell you all of it, but… well, I’m not sure why, but it just didn’t happen.”

Luki looked at him either forbiddingly or inquiringly — Brian wasn’t sure which.

“I’ve agreed to… work for Vintner.” Tempted to go on and pour out the whole story, Brian swallowed down the flood of words and guilt, and waited for Luki’s initial response.
Luki barely reacted. An eyebrow went up, and clearly gears were turning, but he didn’t ice down, and he didn’t snap. He didn’t even make one of his snarky comments. After a moment, he said, “I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t take that statement at face value.”

“Uh, well, there is more to it, yes.”

“Speak. No wait. I need more coffee. You?” Without waiting for a reply, he stepped into Brian and Jackie’s tiny kitchen retrieved the pot and the sugar bowl and brought them to the table. “Sit down here,” he said, while shoveling sugar. Once he’d taken his seat and fetched a toothpick from his pocket, he said, “Go.”

Brian picked up his cup and sipped, intending to stall and collect the right words but only succeeding in burning his lip, so that all he really said was, “Shit!”

Luki got him ice water.

“I am afraid of Vintner, which I already told you. Last thing I wanted was to end up like Espen, but he managed to blackmail me, I guess. He hired me… I mean, he came in pretending to be a customer — pretending either of us believed that — and wanted me to look into the hot cars he sold that were then stolen from his customers. I said no, but he let me know he could hurt people I loved. And well, I believe him Luki. Ruth and Jade, what happened to Lonny, that’s not coincidence.”

“No. It’s not. And you’re right to be scared of him. So you… agreed. You didn’t think of telling me.”

“It was the first thing I thought of, but that was part of his warning And I half-convinced myself I could just do it, and he’d let us alone. I know that was stupid.”

“Maybe.”

“That’s all there is. Except I went to jail…”

“I know.”

“Not that time. Before.” Brian told him about Jackie’s search for Esi, about the trip into the tunnels with Dr. Holland, and the weird fight with Roscoe Lieb, or Gerald Roscoe. “Whatever his name is. We both got arrested. I got released. Apparently there’s no record of it, because it didn’t turn up in the fingerprint match the other day.”

Luki stayed calm and cool, but there was a strained edge to it, and he said nothing until he’d finished his coffee and started in on the toothpick. “Anything else, Brian? Anything at all?”

“Um… I demanded data from him, info on his customers. Told him I couldn’t do the job without it. I thought maybe we… I… we could use it to… I don’t know. I got it. He sent files.”
Luki’s eyes widened and he nodded, but the silence was deep enough for Brian to count the muffled ticks of the clock on the kitchen stove.

“Just so you know,” Luki finally said, his tone casual, “He’s not blackmailing you.”

“Well –”

“It’s called coercion, not blackmail. Two different beasts. And you realize that by working with Vintner — even superficially — you’ve become at the very least an accomplice in his crimes, if perhaps a case couldn’t be made for conspiracy.”

Brian closed his eyes, part of his struggle to maintain his balance. Bullshit. I am not a criminal! He knew that, and he was convinced that Luki knew it too.

“You could try, as a defense, to point out that you were coerced — feared for your life, even. Unfortunately, while coercion can get you out of a contract, it can’t really get you out of a guilty verdict. So we’ll have to try something else.”

“We?”

“Of course, Brian. Think about it. You are my nephew’s husband. If you get hurt, he’s hurt. And you’re my employee. If you get convicted my business is seriously fucked. And you’re my friend. Someone I care about. Love like family — you are family. I might not be happy with things you’ve done, but I’m not gonna hang you out to dry.”

“Uh, well. Thank you.” In reality, Luki’s kind words did more to undo Brian’s composure than any threat or angry snarl could ever have done. He couldn’t meet Luki’s eyes, so he drank coffee, then wiped an imaginary spill with the heel of his hand. “So then, you have a plan?”

“Yes. I’m going to disappear, at least as far as most eyes are concerned. I’m going to take some important people with me to keep them safe — including Jackie.”

Brian wanted to break down and cry. Everything he was facing was already overwhelming. The last thing he wanted to hear was that he’d be facing it alone, with no help, and no Jackie to claim his attention once he got home — and yes, to find comfort in, even shelter.

“Objection?”

“No,” Brian said, and even though it came out like a poisoned breath, he meant it sincerely. He wanted Jackie safe above all else. And if Jackie was at the apartment behind VSI — or anywhere Vintner could find him easily — safe is what he would not be. After swallowing to try and fix his voice, Brian repeated, “No, Luki. Jackie being safe is the most important thing in the world. Hiding with you seems like a safe place.”

“Good. To be clear, he and Sonny and whoever else close enough to either of us to be in danger — if I can get them to join me — will be ‘hiding’ on vacation. And I’ll have some people around, keeping eyes out. People who know how to deal with bad guys.”

He stopped speaking, and when he caught Brian’s eye, smiled softly, his eyes kind and reassuring in an expression Brian thought wouldn’t have even been in Luki’s repertoire before Sonny, before the cancer.

Brian breathed a little easier, and smiled back, although truthfully it only made the desire to weep a little stronger. He still pushed it back, though. He didn’t want Luki to think he was caught up in self-pity.

“You won’t be alone in whatever’s coming your way. I’ll make sure you have a way to get in touch with Jackie, and possibly more important in the circumstances, me. I’ll help you in any way I can that doesn’t endanger our people more than necessary. I’m going to seem to disappear, but I’ll be around. Does any of that help?”

Brian nodded emphatically, almost knocked the chair down, getting up, and started viciously rinsing out his cup. “Though I’d feel even better if I was one of them.”

“One of who?”

“People who know how to deal with bad guys.”

“You are, Brian. Why do you think Vintner feels a need to make sure you’re handled?”

Luki brought his cup to Brian for a wash, leaned in, and said, “Anyway, I’m glad the measures I’m taking make you feel a bit better. Because, I now need to pull the rug out from under you.”

“What?”

“I’m going to report it all to Jesse Douglas.”

At the word ‘report,’ Brian dropped the cup. Fortunately, nothing broke. “Jesse Douglas — State Department, they’ve already had me charged with a crime.”

“Yeah, well. I think we can stop that before it becomes a trend.”

Thanks for reading! Comments welcome below, and if you are typically do reviews, review copies are still available.

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Cover Reveal! A Shot of Fear—Lou Sylvre’s Vasquez Inc Series, Book 2

A Shot of Fear


Lou Sylvre’s Vasquez Inc series—the story continues (and the suspense gets deep in London)


Seen here for the first time: the all new cover by Bryan Keller at Changeling Press.



Links—preorder now!


Changeling Press and Universal: https://www.changelingpress.com/a-shot-of-fear-b-2952(Live links to all markets are available here.)
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081BDX3BZ
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-shot-of-fear-lou-sylvre/1134864037
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-shot-of-fear
Apple/iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/a-shot-of-fear/id1487545012?ls=1

The story:

A Dom learns to love while Scotland Yard claims his time and a sociopath lays a trap for his sub.

Jackie Vasquez knows he needs to submit to a Dom he can trust—just as much as he needs to manage his own life. He found the right Dom in Brian Harrison, and then romance beckoned them both beyond bindings and safewords. They take the first steps toward a life together in London, where Brian is pursuing his dream career at Scotland Yard, and Jackie is working toward a master’s degree. Their private hours deep in the night brim with both heat and beauty as Brian’s artful vision for bondage makes a masterwork out of Jackie, body and soul.

But time together becomes scarce as a series of horrific gaslight crimes keeps Brian at work and out of reach for Jackie much of the time. Though Jackie is faithful, he isn’t the type to sit and wait for his lover’s attentions. His self-assured ways and his geocaching hobby lead him to a dangerous discovery—all is not as it seems at the University. Trapped in the Gaslighter’s web, he’ll need to use every trick he knows to stay calm and buy time. But will Brian unravel the knot of mystery in time to save the man he loves?

Three Excerpts

#1—Jakcie
It wasn’t too many days before Jackie realized his place in the life of Brian the Scotland Yard Detective Constable accurately set the tone for their relationship. He couldn’t say he would have chosen that type of existence, but if it was part of the package to be with Brian, he’d make it work. Once he could move into his apartment, he got busy settling in, and shortly after found himself up to his neck in preliminaries and basics for his graduate study. At that point Brian’s always-on-call status didn’t matter quite so much—Jackie wasn’t available most of the time, anyway.

He had a key to Brian’s apartment, though, and over the next few weeks he went there some nights, climbed into Brian’s bed, and slept until Brian came in. Usually, Brian woke him up with kisses, but this time Jackie woke to the smell of leather and the feel of silky ropes teasing his skin.

He opened his eyes, to find Brian standing by the bed, fully dressed, looking very serious. “Sir,” Jackie said.
“Safewords?”

“Yes, Sir. Red and yellow.”

“Use them if you need to, starting now.”

Jackie had left his long, thick hair loose, and now Brian wrapped it around his fist and pulled Jackie to a sitting position. He tilted Jackie’s head back, then bent to kiss him, hard, tongue and teeth fully involved. “Out of the bed,” he said when the kiss was done, keeping his grip on Jackie’s hair as he complied.

“Kneel, right here, facing away from the bed.”

Jackie did as told, doing his best to assume the perfect position, knees wide, posture proud, head up, but eyes demure. And his cock had already gone more than half-hard.

Brian stepped away and came back with—of all things—Jackie’s hairbrush. When he showed it to his sub, Jackie had all he could do not show his surprise. A frisson of fear snaked through him—his father had beat him with a hairbrush once. But he kept his position and neutral expression and hoped that he wouldn’t end up safewording already.

Then Brian sat behind him on the bed, long legs straddling his back, and began to… yes, brush his hair. It felt good, but Jackie found himself feeling a bit unsettled.

Perhaps Brian heard an odd sound in his breathing or felt his tension somehow, because he asked, “Something to say, baby?”

“Sir, yes please?”

“Go ahead.”

“I… why are you brushing my hair, Sir?”

Brian yanked hard enough on a hank of hair to pull his head back and tilt his face up. “Look at me.”

When Jackie raised his gaze to meet Brian’s eyes, he saw something there he didn’t expect—sadness, perhaps? Brian kissed him, this time slow and sweet, still pulling at his hair enough to hurt if he tried to pull back.

“Because,” Brian said after he ended the kiss, “it’s beautiful. You’re beautiful, and at the moment it pleases me to enjoy your beauty..” He repositioned Jackie’s head, so that Jackie was looking down at the floor beneath his knees, and started working his hair with his hands. “And because I’m going to incorporate your braid into my binding.

#2—Brian
One morning after four hours sleep at home, he headed back to work feeling just as tired as before he closed his eyes, and bummed that even Marley refused to forgive him for his neglect. He was prepared to hate everything about work that day, but then he was sent to investigate a crime scene—Detective-in-Charge for the first time. Senior Inspector Petra Shiells, the small, female, British version of Luki Vasquez, had told him it would be a good place for him to practice fieldwork.

“Our troublesome string of crimes doesn’t involve murder,” she said. “Not yet, at least, so they’re not quite as critical as some others on our roster. The press hasn’t caught wind, so the cases aren’t high profile either. Besides, we’re spread thin right now. All that means I can’t assign my tried and proven officers out there. I’ll have to send you, but I think you’ve given me reason to hope for the best.” She handed him a stack of thin file folders. “Simple enough scene. Call just came in so everything and everybody is still there—except the criminal, of course. Upton, Green Street, Pakistani immigrants found something that scared them in a transit shelter. Hocus-pocus, or the like.”

Inspector Shiells looked him in the eye for the first time and said. “The only reason we have a call on this incident is that it resembles the other Gaslighter crimes. You know from the data end of things that means it seems to have no purpose but to scare people. I question that—I think there’s more going on than meets the eye. In my experience, people who like to scare others usually like to harm others, too. As good as this gaslighting arse is at knowing just what will scare his targets the most, we’d best make our catch before it escalates. So, listen to me, detective….”

She paused, staring him down, and Brian was pretty sure her purpose was to make him feel like he was about a foot shorter than her, instead of the other way around. It was all he could do to keep his gaze steady in return.

When she finally spoke, she added only four words. “Don’t screw this up.”

#3—The Professor
The professor slowly went through her office, ferreting things that she wanted to be sure and keep with her in her summer travels. She went each year to the Netherlands, where she’d been bred and born, and endured the entire first seventeen years of her life. She thoroughly loathed her elder brother, who totally deserved his paralyzed, weak body, as she saw it. She’d had a little something to do with putting him in that wheelchair, and she did not regret it.

She admitted, however, that it was largely to him that she owed her interest in the human psyche, especially in the element of fear. She had endured for years, reluctant to rise in the morning for fear of what new torture he’d arranged for her. To her everlasting shame she’d been so cowed at one time that she would piss her bed rather than get out of it and have him confront her. But one glorious day, cold hatred had arisen in her, replacing both mindless anger and fear, freeing her mind. In an instant she’d seen how precariously he leaned on the bannister. The wooden posts had been just as rotten as the rest of the rundown house their parents had abandoned them to. It had taken one quick shove with her ill-clad foot to break it and topple him.

At the time, she’d been disappointed that he hadn’t died, but she soon realized that his helplessness rendered her revenge even sweeter than his death would have. She provided for him now, hired a nurse and a housekeeper, and kept him in that same, horrid building. Two months out of each year, in the heat of summer, she went “home.” She paid the help vacation pay and thanked them profusely for taking such good care of him. She sincerely did feel grateful, for if they hadn’t kept him alive and built up his health through the ten months they tended to him, she would not have been able to pursue her research, using brother dear as her favorite guinea pig.

Oh, how beautifully he cries!

And don’t forget where Jackie and Brian’s story began: A Shot of J&B: https://www.changelingpress.com/a-shot-of-j-b-vasquez-inc-1-b-2946?series_id=576

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Filed under cover reveal, M/M romance, suspense, Upcoming release