Within three seconds, Luc Ronan falls in love at first sight with Zain Simon, and then he was shot twice, falling into Zain's arms. Still in the hospital many days later, Luc meets Zain, the man he remembered from his recent dreams. Zain describes how on that sunny day, Zain's sister Claudia Simon Exeter was fleeing for her life from her jealous and enraged husband Scott Exeter. By unlucky chance, Luc came between them with almost fatal consequences, and Zain reveals he has been near to him since they first locked eyes.
Feeling a sense of obligation for Luc's unintentional sacrifice, while dealing with his intense attraction to Luc, Zain persuades him to recover at his Aunt Franny's Sedona estate where their shared captivation soon becomes irresistible white-hot desire. As they discover each other, beautiful and sexy Claudia, tired of hiding from her murderous husband, leaves her self-imposed exile after a spat with her Aunt Franny, exposing herself to lethal danger.
When Claudia fails to arrive at her parent's ranch, they all realize something has gone very wrong and begin a frantic search to find her. Before long, the police locate her wrecked and abandoned car with a trail of blood leading from the scene; and now they fear the worst. Old emotional scars and wanton acts now come to light, composing the perfect storm threatening to result in murder, while time is rapidly running out for Claudia.
Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Criminals & Outlaws, True Love
Word Count: 37020
Setting: Sedona, Arizona
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
A Hell of a Way to Meet
To celebrate his thirtieth birthday alone, Luc Ronan left the Phoenix Metro Area, giving himself the gift of a long weekend in beautiful Sedona Arizona, nestled in the gorgeous Red Rock country.
It was August 15 and a perfect summer day since the weather had cooled to the mid-80s, and large rolling white clouds highlighted and enhanced the stunning Red Rock views.
Anxious to start enjoying himself and get to his new Sci-fi book, yet another birthday indulgence, Luc parked in the lot near Slide Rock Park, and walked over to the path leading down to Oak Creek and the famous Slide Rock beach area.
Taking care walking down the slippery path to avoid any loose rocks, Luc finally reached the warm rocky area. He then kicked off his flip-flops, and took two more steps before he heard a muffled popping sound coming from the top of the hill.READ MORE
Without having time to think, an incredibly beautiful woman roughly pushed past Luc making him lose his balance, and then he fell against a tall striking blond man standing near to him.
Luc only had time to glance back at the retreating woman, and was about to call out but he suddenly felt a stabbing pain deep in his chest and hip. The world drifted into blackness as he fell to the ground unconscious; shot twice by an unknown assailant.
Much later that night, after a seven-hour surgery removed a bullet lodged near his heart and another wedged in his left hip joint, Luc finally forced open his eyes.
Squinting against the bright lamp over his bed, he tried to shift his uncomfortable position and gasped as a sharp wave of pain shot through his hip and echoed in the middle of his chest.
Wincing against the pain he noticed the myriad of IVs and monitors attached to his body and started to panic, sending a notification to the local nurse's station.
A nurse rushed in the room and assessed the situation, while she turned a dial to adjust his pain medication. As she finished, Dr. Alan Kenton walked into his room and smiled grimly, looking closely at his very pale face.
Luc grimaced again as another throb of pain engulfed him, and he groaned aloud unable to help himself.
"I can't move my body am I dying," he asked softly, looking at a very concerned man with reddish hair and deep blue eyes.
The doctor smiled at him and shook his head negatively, putting his hand on Luc's toned shoulder.
"I don't think so Luc, that is unless I didn't do my job correctly," he replied, lightly squeezing his shoulder.
"What happened to me, I can't remember," he asked him, frowning against the pain as he tried again to move his legs.
Dr. Kenton pushed firmly on Luc's shoulder to still him, glanced up at the nurse, and nodded.
"Just try to stay quiet. A gunman opened fire at the park this morning and several people were killed. Only three of you survived the shooting; you were severely injured, but you came through your surgery just fine and I expect a full recovery. You need to rest for now. I'm Dr. Kenton, your surgeon, but you can call me Alan," he told him.
Alan watched Luc closely to see how he followed his statements and if he could register his words.
"Okay Alan, but will I recover from this, I can hardly move at all for the extreme pain," he asked, turning even more pale with the slightest effort, as tears engulfed his eyes and then ran down his handsome face when he squeezed them shut.
Disquiet flooded Alan's eyes seeing his struggle and he glanced once more over at the nurse.
"Yes but it will take some time to get fully back on your feet, and some therapy to heal, but for now however no more questions. I'm giving you something to make you sleep and help you get past this rough time. I won't kid you Luc, your injuries will be very painful for a while, but you're safe now and on your way to a full recovery," he promised, motioning to the nurse to add the medication to his IV.
Three weeks later, the sun streaming in the hospital window woke Luc from a dreamless sleep. He opened his eyes and then squinted against the bright light, and then saw his morning nurse standing nearby.
"How are you feeling today, Mr. Ronan," the nurse asked while checking out his chart and making some notes.
"I'm still fairly sore, but that is getting much better every day, and I'm feeling super hungry for a change," he replied, still trying to move cautiously and ignore the constant nagging pain in his hip whenever he moved.
"Hungry is good, and the doctor will be in shortly to talk about discharge today and your continued therapy. After that, we'll see about getting you something to eat," he said and then turned back to his pad to write down more notes. He gave Luc a bright smile and walked out of the room.
Fifteen minutes later Alan sauntered into his room, pleased to see Luc dressed and sitting on the edge of his bed.
Luc looked up at his doctor and grinned.
"Hi, I need to ask if this pain in my hip will always stay like this. I thought the wound in my chest would have hurt much more, but that has been fading fast," Luc asked, flinching again as he moved, sounding a bit down.
Alan seemed concerned as he watched Luc's body language when he moved, and walked over to him.
"Not for that long, remember it was only three weeks ago that you were shot in two places. We were thinking for a while during surgery that we'd have to do a hip replacement but luckily it wasn’t required, but your injuries were extensive in sensitive areas. You were also extremely fortunate that other bullet missed your heart and lodged next to it instead, and missing a major artery close by. It was tricky to remove the bullet but the surgery required there was much less invasive and easier to close up; again that is in the past," he said, smiling at him for a second time.
"So when can I go back home to Phoenix," Luc asked.
Alan frowned at him, and then sat down next to him on the bed, taking his arm and manipulating it, while making a judgement about his range of flexibility.
"Do you feel capable of taking care of yourself with your painful hip movement, and how about the fatigue you keep mentioning? I know you live down in North Phoenix, but I'd prefer it if you stayed here for a while to continue your therapy where they are familiar with your case and I am nearby. I want to make sure you follow through with the entire course for a full recovery," he told him.
"I can and I will doctor, but to be honest with you I need to get back to my work. I freelance as a writer for various corporations so I don't have a whole lot extra income to depend on. Being completely frank with you, I didn't bring my work necessities along on my supposed weekend vacation so you see my predicament," he told him, glancing down at the floor feeling embarrassed by talking about his finances.
Alan nodded and again reached over to touch his knee.
"I understand that Luc, but it's crucial that you finish your therapy otherwise it might impair your future walking abilities, especially since you have refused any pain medication in the last few days, I want you nearby."
Luc looked stunned by his words, since the thought of being permanently injured had never occurred to him.
"I could be crippled by this," he asked, still in shock.
Alan shook his head.
"I said impaired not crippled Luc; you might develop a permanent limp, or not regain a full range of motion. I can't emphasize enough that this was a very serious injury and I'd like to see a full recovery here in your case, but you have to stick with your therapy," he repeated, staring intently.
Luc glared back at him for a moment, feeling helpless, and then finally dragged his eyes away.
"So what can I do, other than the obvious?"
Alan reached up to comb his fingers through his shaggy red hair.
"Look I understand the money thing, I've been there myself. I'm going to release you from here later today but I'd like you to consider something for me," Alan began, trying to choose the right words.
"And that is," Luc asked looking confused.
Alan swallowed hard and then stared into Luc's dark brown eyes, feeling an extreme pang of sympathy for the vulnerability he saw there.
"I want you to meet someone; a man who has been closely following your recovery daily, and would like to help you out. He's down the hall so give me a moment to go find him and bring him back here to meet you," Alan told him while heading for the door.
His statement left Luc with a puzzled look on his face, and he began to feel apprehensive and wonder what the hell Alan was doing.
A few moments later Alan strode back into his room followed by a tall very handsome blond man with dark green eyes.
"Luc this is Zain Simon, and this is Luc Ronan," Alan introduced them as Zain held out a tentative hand and flashed him a dazzling smile.
After taking his hand for a brief handshake, Luc looked up and gave him an odd prolonged stare.
"Don't I know you from somewhere, you seem so familiar," he asked, watching as Zain glanced quickly over at Alan.
"You may have seen me before Luc; I was the one you fell against after you were shot at the creek. Claudia and I were running and trying to get away from her husband Scott who was shooting at us and everyone else that was unfortunate enough to be nearby," he said, waiting for Luc's reaction to his account.
Hearing his words, Luc felt like an electric shock had passed through his body when he suddenly flashed back on the events of that life-changing day.
"Good to know, are you her new boyfriend, the cause of her husband playing with guns," Luc asked, unable to keep the sarcasm out of his voice.
Zain looked completely surprised and taken back by Luc's question and felt sure it was written all over his face as he shook his head negatively.
"No Luc, I'm her brother and best friend, Gay brother that is, in case you missed the memo as well," he added slowly, watching the very embarrassed reaction roll across Luc's attractive features before he looked away.
"Sorry about the uncalled for remark," Luc mumbled, feeling mortified and looking back up at him quickly.
Zain smiled at him once more and put his hand on his shoulder.
"Totally understandable under the circumstances so no worries, we are probably friendlier than most brothers and sisters so it is easy to mistake," he told him.
"So I guess I need to ask the question; why are you here and what do you have to do with Alan?"
Zain moved over and sat down near Luc, sadly taking in the walking cane and the sling to rest his arm.
"Claudia and I are concerned about you; after all you took the bullets meant for us. We want to help you in any way we can and let you know that, and that you're not alone in this," he explained, reaching over to touch Luc's arm.
Luc glanced down at Zain's large hand holding his arm, and suddenly felt offended by such an invasion of his personal space.
"I'm not sure I want to get involved with you guys considering her husband likes to try to kill people," he snapped, looking back down, embarrassed by his emotional outburst.
Seeing that Luc was still staring at his hand, he prudently withdrew it from Luc's arm and then looked up at him.
"Reasonable once more, but just the same we still want to help you if we can. Now that Scott, my sister's soon to be ex-husband, has played his hand so to speak, I'm sure he'll be careful to stay out of sight. Keep it in mind that he's not after you at all, or me for that matter; he's after my sister, obsessed with her actually," Zain told him.
Feeling sorry for himself, Luc tried to explain the reason for his harsh words.
"I was just standing there minding my own business Zain, keep that in mind. I really don't want to be around when he finds your sister again and decides to reenact the wild west cowboy routine," he returned.
Zain, still looking at him, took a deep breath before he began to speak and took a chance by once again putting his hand on Luc's knee.
"That's why I'm here Luc and why Claudia and I have been so worried about you. We want to help you any way we can, as I just said. Alan knows our family quite well, especially both of my parents, and will vouch for us that we aren't some strange people, isn't that right Alan," he said turning to the doctor who had been silently observing their interactions from his place near the door.
"Talk about being put on the spot, of course I can speak for them Luc, they are wonderful people and have been very generous with the hospital here. My own parents are close friends with them and have been for decades," he said.
Luc seemed to relax a bit more after Alan spoke and reassured him, but he still felt very awkward with this whole situation.
"I guess if my doctor who saved my life is okay with you then who am I to doubt your motives. I apologize for being so skeptical when you were only trying to reach out. I've been through a lot of unexpected things lately and along with my injuries I missed my vacation and didn't even celebrate my birthday," Luc said, feeling like a fool once the peevish words were out of his mouth.COLLAPSE
5.0 out of 5 stars 10 stars is not enough. Brilliant.
Reviewed in Australia on January 12, 2017
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Okay this author is FANTASTIC, I love reading his books and this one is just another brilliant sample of his writing. This story has it all, mystery, twist, romance, drama that all you could want. I loved reading about Luc and Zain as they got to know each other after a horrible way after they met. Luc opened his eyes in a hospital, after having gone through a 7 hour operation to remove and repair damage of 2 bullets. He remembered very little of what happened except a blond hunk before blanking out to darkness. 3 weeks he'd been in hospital and was due to be released but the Doctor wanted him to remain in Sedona for physio. Dr introduced him to someone to assist him to do that by offering him a place to stay.. Yip.. the blond god walks through Luc's room door. What comes next is a fantastic, it wont be smooth sailing not with a shooter on the loose.. you gotta grab this one. Highly recommended book..10 stars isn't enough