Jude has a tender heart. Yet he was born into a criminal empire and groomed from childhood to step into his father’s violent footsteps. To survive, he created a second personality. Ras is everything Jude isn’t—cruel, remorseless, and utterly without fear, as incapable of love as Jude is of malice.
But when Ras meets a ruthless socialite, he begins to feel a strange stirring of emotion, a brush of Jude’s passion against his own dark heart. Meanwhile, Jude finds himself with a knife in his hand, the evil in Ras’s soul bleeding into his own.
As the walls between them crumble, they could lose everything—their lovers, their family, and their hold on the dark city itself.
Coming together could break them…or make them whole.
Publisher: Ninestar Press
Pairings: MF, MM, MMF
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Bisexual, Gay, Polyamorous
Protagonist 1 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Protagonist 3 Age: 18-25
Tropes: Antihero, Coming of Age, Coming Out / Closeted, Criminals & Outlaws, First Time, Friends to Lovers
Word Count: 74200
Setting: a dark city
Languages Available: English
I walk by a porn store, one of many flourishing in the Warrens, fluorescent insides glowing luridly, and then a liquor store, the brilliant neon signs trapped behind the bars in the windows. Across the street, Bancroft Square is cast in shadow, its once-idyllic pond now a stretch of blackness, harsh lights shining on the graffiti-stained statue at the west corner.
I don't see Ash on the street, so I cross over into the park, slipping quietly from shadow to shadow. I don't usually venture here to find him, where he might be with someone in a dark, secluded alcove.
We've been friends for more than a year now, a friendship that would be as simple as breathing if it weren't for the constant yearning to ask for more. It would be so easy, a handful of pills, a flash of cash, and I could have him. I often wonder how much it would cost, how much money, how many drugs, to make him love me as much as I love him.READ MORE
But tonight, it doesn't matter. After lying to my mother and father, trying to make myself a chameleon conforming to the pattern they want to see, I'm left furious and ashamed and lonely, all the emotions tangled together in a messy knot in my chest.
An older man, clean shaven, crisp gray suit, hurries by me without looking up. A few paces past him, I pause outside a curved alcove that leads to a little intimate space beneath a set of stone stairs. When I hear only silence, I turn the corner and step inside.
Ash is leaning against the wall, running his fingers through his tousled hair. He sighs softly, then notices me and smiles.
I don't speak, and for once, I don't think, striding toward him and pushing him back against the wall.
I tilt my head upward to meet his lips, pressing my hand to the cool stone wall behind him. At the brush of his tongue against my lips, I open my mouth, and the rest of the world fades into a gray background, washed out and meaningless, and only we are in color, a vivid red-orange like flame where our lips touch, and spreading from there all through me.
The bite of winter air on my face, the sweet, wet taste of him, sweep away thoughts of everything but this, now, here.COLLAPSE