--- Fight to the death. Love to the bone. ---
Jason is back in his home town and trying to make money the only way he knows - in an illegal MMA fight. Bare knuckles. Hardly any rules. All he needs to do is... lose.
The Rabid Mongrels Motorcycle Club bet against him, and they are set to make a killing, but when Jason spots his high school crush in the audience, he can’t bear to lose. All he wants is to have Hyde notice him. He gets more than he bargained for when Hyde turns out to be the president of the MC, now out for his blood.
To survive, Jason will have to make a deal with the blond devil. No matter how manipulative and vicious Hyde can be, he is a dark wet dream come to life, and Jason can’t keep his hands to himself. Soon enough, the self-destructive lust he has for Hyde becomes a dangerous obsession that takes Jason to the most forgotten corners of his soul.
Themes: Outlaw motorcycle club, criminal activity, abuse, sexual orientation issues, second chances, enemies to lovers, first time, coming home, alternative family, blackmail
Genre: M/M dark erotic romance, suspense, drama
Length: ~34,000 words
WARNING: Adult content. Explicit gay sex, strong language, violence, mentions of past animal abuse, mentions of past child abuse. Reader discretion advised.
- 4 To Be Read lists
- 1 Read list
Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 5
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Alpha Character, Antihero, Blackmail, Coming Out / Closeted, Criminals & Outlaws, Enemies to Lovers, Families/Raising Kids, First Time, Hurt / Comfort, Marriage of Convenience, Mind Games, Opposites Attract, Second Chances, Sex Buddies Become Lovers
Word Count: 34000
Setting: small town, USA
Languages Available: English
Fight or die. It was what his father taught him. But only the winners counted in his father’s eyes, and Jason wouldn’t be winning tonight. Tonight was all about money. Something his father loved almost as much as power.
Blood pulsed in Jason’s ears as he drank coppery-tasting water from a bottle. The crowd around him roared battle cries of bloodthirsty cannibals, but their voices were only background noise in the cramped space of a downtown basement. Jason breathed in deep, clenching and unclenching his fists as he watched his opponent across the cage. Though he wasn’t sure whether “opponent” was the right word in a situation where the match had been rigged.READ MORE
Titan was what they called him, the nickname very fitting to someone so huge and ugly, but in a real fight, the guy wouldn’t be that much of a challenge. Mass and strength alone weren’t enough, and if Jason were trying to win, Titan would have been sweating blood like a pig in an abattoir by this point. But life demanded money for rent, food, and the occasional beer, and it wasn’t like an underground fight could affect Jason’s future job prospects. If he had any in the first place. All he wanted right now was to settle back in his hometown of Southport, Washington, which happened to be the county’s center for illegal activity thanks to its harbor and lenient police force. The local motorcycle club, the Rabid Mongrels, organized the fight, and it seemed they had a very good relationship with the police to pull off such stunts.
As Titan approached him, there was some satisfaction to be had from breaking a law his father had enforced. Jason was on his own, and he would do as he pleased, even if the voice at the back of his mind was waiting to scream at him for not playing by a real man’s rules. Titan’s scent crawled toward Jason inch by inch, and the man’s acne-scarred face tensed up, but when Jason glanced over Titan’s shoulder, ready to take the last few punches, his mind went completely blank.
The pale shape of a familiar face emerging from the dark background was like a beacon shining through the fuzz of the fight, through the pain in Jason’s bloodied knuckles, from a time much darker than now. Hyde stared at him from across the cramped room, his longish blond hair in disarray, brows low over his eyes, luscious mouth sucking in cigarette smoke. He was even more handsome than he used to be in high school; the past ten years had added definition to his features.
The punch to Jason’s face completely threw him off-balance and made his jaw crackle. It was as if someone pushed Play on an MP3 player that had stopped. The world was loud and vicious again. Sure, Jason was back in his hometown, but the last thing he expected was to see the guy who made him realize his sexuality all too clearly. Not that he’d ever done anything about it, but he was not about to lose in front of Hyde.
“Fuck the money,” he muttered to himself through the mouthguard and pirouetted back to Titan. He struck the side of the guy’s jaw, the punch sending a tremble all the way down his elbow.
The crowd roared all around him, tuning in with the stampede of blood pumping through Jason’s brain. Titan tried to hook him, but Jason stepped away, only to deliver a punishing blow to the side of Titan’s jaw and send him on the mesh.
“Motherfucker,” mumbled Titan, with bloody spit spilling out of his mouth as he charged at Jason again. But with Titan’s movements slow and unfocused, it was clear the power of Jason’s last punch still gave him seconds of advantage.
All Jason could think of was the shame of Hyde seeing him lose. Maybe Jason’s life turned out shit, but there was one thing he was good at, and that was fighting. One skill that he could show off to the object of his wild teenage fantasies. But with another glimpse of Hyde’s handsome face behind Titan, all of Jason’s senses scattered, leaving a blind spot for Titan’s fist on his ribs.
With air forcefully knocked out of his lungs, he stumbled backward, squeezing his fists tighter. The bandages on his hands and wrists were already soaked through, but even with his mind hazed by pain, he sensed the thumping of a giant approaching from across the mat.
Jason put his fists up. Fight or die. He was not losing, no matter what it took. He tensed his muscles and dodged a few more blows, managing to deliver a punch to Titan’s side. The fight was going nowhere fast, so he decided to risk it all. He didn’t block the next powerful punch, but when it left Titan open, Jason was ready and put all his strength into a kick to the fucker’s shin. Titan fell to the floor with a choked scream, but the plan went sideways when Titan grabbed Jason’s leg and flipped him over to his back with a loud thud.
Jason’s muscles tensed reflexively under the beast of a man who pushed him to the floor. Titan’s sweat was sharp and penetrated Jason’s nose like it was fucking menthol, but at least it gave him enough of a clear mind to move his head away when that giant fist smashed into the mat right where his nose would have been. Titan’s eyes burned with fury as he clearly realized the earlier agreement was off.
Jason would not be the one tapping out. He’d win or die. Hyde used to watch him at the gym sometimes, so maybe he’d be impressed by how Jason’s skills had developed. Rage filled his bloodstream when he realized Titan had pinned him down with his whole weight, but the bastard still managed to sneak in another hit to Jason’s face.
His nose was right above Jason’s, the mouthguard sticking out from between his beaten lips, and the wetness Jason felt on his chin just had to be spit. A spasm of revulsion went through his body. He would not be fucked by this ugly mongrel. His body took over, leaving his brain buzzing with silent rage. He spat out the mouthguard and bit into the raw flesh above. Titan’s muffled scream blew into his ear, almost busting Jason’s eardrums, but he chewed on, his jaw locked like he was a pit bull fighting for its life. Each time his victim tried to pull away, his mouth was flooded by more of the sharp, salty flavor, spiced up with the stubble trailing over his tongue.
Screams around them were so loud Jason couldn’t even hear his own thoughts. It was all about the flesh, blood, and bone now, as his jaw closed over a fragment of Titan’s cheek. Titan was distracted, too busy screaming. As much as the fucker tried to get away, Jason locked him in with his legs and began punching his face into a pulp.
He wasn’t sure when Titan stopped struggling, but eventually Jason realized the fight was over. Lights shone bright on him from above, and he was down on the mat, with another guy between his legs, their pulses synchronized and powerful, with nothing to rival its sound.
Jason pushed Titan off, and the surrounding crowd was strangely quiet as he got up. Only now he remembered to spit out a piece of Titan’s cheek. He desperately looked around for Hyde. Did he see Jason win? Did he?
Maybe he lost it during the fight and somehow couldn’t get the direction right, but he didn’t see the familiar face anywhere. The judge stared at him from his spot in one of the corners of the cage, along with his female assistant, whose bright eyes shone with lust, as if the animalistic finale of the match switched on a new program inside her brain. She breathed fast, playing with a thick string of beads that was the only covering for her breasts. She nudged the judge, who immediately went forward, as if her touch broke a spell. The small man took Jason’s hand and raised it without locking eyes with him.
Jason dared a smile, but barely anyone cheered, so he wiped it off his face along with Titan’s blood. When his gaze fell to the edge of the ring, to the man he’d made the arrangement with, reality dawned on him, and it was as sharp as the taste on his tongue.
The dark beard couldn’t hide the murderous expression behind the man’s steel-gray eyes. He mouthed something, and cold sweat spilled down Jason’s spine when he realized it was “You’re dead.”
Without taking another second to think, he darted for the other side of the cage and rushed outside. The crowd parted in front of him, leaving safe passage for the man-eating madman.
A scantily clad woman stumbled over her monster stilettos. With no one to grab her, she rolled into a ball and screamed out as Jason jumped over her and rushed through the double doors, only to stampede up the metal staircase, his only way to freedom. Suddenly, being two floors underground wasn’t that much fun anymore. He needed air. Needed it now. How could he have lost his mind like that? Hyde wasn’t even available— he got fucking married in the last year of high school and already had a kid by graduation.
Jason swore beneath his breath as he sprinted up the first flight of stairs, followed by someone’s screams. The staircase rumbled with noise as the chase closed in on him, a mass of black and gray ready to tear him apart if they got the chance. Did he actually kill Titan? Fuck, maybe he did.
Forcing his muscles to work at their top power after five rounds of an exhausting fight seemed like an impossible feat, and yet he managed to speed up and soon burst into the kitchen of the Greek restaurant serving as cover for the business downstairs. He dove past one of the cooks, who dropped a pan with a shriek, but all Jason felt was hot droplets on his forearm.
He sped for the emergency exit, not looking back. The dark, salt-scented night swallowed him into a narrow alleyway between buildings with no windows.
“Get back here, motherfucker!” someone yelled behind him, but Jason was not about to follow the order. Maybe he really was crazy and just hadn’t realized it before? He’d lived on the fringe of society for far too long to be sure.
Jason ran through the narrow alleyway, blindly passing trash containers. He could hear the sounds of the traffic, the meowing of stray cats, but nothing was as vivid as the men ready to hunt him down like a wild boar in some stupid fantasy movie. He stumbled over something and ran further with his foot stuck in a plastic bag, trash rolling around with his every move.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” he mewled to himself when he hit a dead end. He slammed his palms against the wall. It was a good thirteen feet tall. This was it. Sink or swim. Fight or die.
Jason turned around and pulled his fists to his face. He was not going down without at least giving it his best shot.
With his eyes now used to the dark, he clearly recognized that he was up against three men. His heart beat furiously against his ribcage, but he refused to back down.
“You’re coming with us!” growled one of them, but the whole group kept their distance.
Jason assessed them one by one. Three men. All wearing leather vests with patches, which could only mean one thing— they were members of the motorcycle club responsible for the fight. Maybe he could play up the crazy and scare them off that way? Win some time to leave town?
“Yeah? You gonna take me on?” he asked and took two steps their way. He knew to show no fear. People always look for your weakness, ready to eat you alive if you make a mistake.
He smiled when every single one of his opponents made at least the tiniest shift back. None of them wanted to be bitten by a rabid pit bull like him. They’d all seen what he’d done to a man with a crowd watching on, and none of them wanted to find out what he was capable of when cornered.
“You broke our agreement, fucker!”
“You wanna try me? See how fucked in the head I really am?” he hissed and took another step forward with his fists up high. He bared his undoubtedly bloodied teeth at them. He could still taste the tang of Titan’s blood, and it made his skin crawl with thirst for more. Maybe he couldn’t take them on all at once, but he was prepared not to sell his flesh cheap.
A loud thump made Jason’s mind hit reverse when he realized there was someone behind him. But before he could even think of punching the guy’s nose in, his jaw clenched, and every muscle in his body turned into wood. He believed he screamed when he inevitably fell face-first to the ground, but he could be sure of nothing after endless heat tore into his flesh like burning tongs.COLLAPSE
Purple on Way Too Hot Reviews wrote:
"(...) it made me cry twice. That very rarely happens in most M/M stories I read and the fact that it's rather dark in places--more like patches--makes it extra unusual. (...) There was a darkness to it but I really liked Hyde. The way he sort of tried to stop too bad a thing happening to Jason after he lost them the money made me melt a little."
"Dark, raw, thrilling, emotional & deliciously dirty."