Sequel to Loving Luki Vasquez
Vasquez & James: Book Two
Sonny James and Luki Vasquez are living proof that the course of love never runs smoothly. Ambushed by grief, Sonny listens to a voice singing the blues from beyond the grave. While revisiting the sorrows and failings of his past, in the here and now he puts up a wall against love. Just when Luki chips through that barricade, the couple becomes the target of a new threat from outside: an escalating and unexplainable rash of break-ins and assaults.
Thoughts of infidelity rise between them, a threat that may strain their newly mended love past its limits. To come through the trials alive and together, Luki and Sonny will have to unite against enemies who were once friends and overcome crippling hatred and overwhelming fear. If they succeed, maybe then they can rekindle the twin flames of passion and love.
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
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Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 36-45
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Badass Hero, Hurt / Comfort, Rescue, Thrill of the Chase
Setting: Olympic Peninsula, Seattle San Juan Islands, Hwy 12/White Pass, Washington State,
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
DELSYN played the blues, played his frustration and grief away with old songs, heart songs, songs that did the crying for him and let him laugh. Mostly, anyway.
It was hard, and it didn’t get easier. The summer before, he’d nearly died; he’d been long unconscious, and his brain had almost starved for oxygen—lacking the blood that was instead filling the spaces in his joints. He’d surprised everyone but his uncle Sonny James when, despite everything, he lived. Perhaps he’d surprised even Sonny when his brain recovered, worked almost like normal. But his joints hadn’t been so forgiving, and every bend of knee or ankle, every bit of weight to bear meant pain, sometimes as hot and swift as lightning.
He’d just turned eighteen. This wasn’t the way the world was supposed to work.READ MORE
Del’s world had narrowed down mostly to Sonny’s acres, a beautiful place that he’d known all his life, but even there he couldn’t go wherever he wanted. A wheelchair is useless over rough, soft ground, and crutches worse, dangerous even. He loved this place and hated it for the trap that it had become. His music—his guitar and his mercifully spared hands—helped. Sonny did what he could: drove him up the coast to Neah Bay, into Port Angeles for a movie, into Port Clifton—the nearest town—for Frappuccino at Margie’s. A couple of times, Luki Vasquez—the man his uncle loved—had carried him on his back as easily as if he’d been a child, took him down to the beach, and helped him wade through the low waves at the edge of the Juan de Fuca Strait.
But he hadn’t once been in the forest, Sonny’s forest, the woods he’d grown up in—and that mattered. One night he’d felt particularly lost and frustrated, and after saying goodnight to Sonny and Luki, he’d left the house by the back door and made halting, unsteady progress on his crutches to the line of trees that guarded the thick forest beyond. The smells, cedar and dust and new-formed frost, were memory and real all at once, and Delsyn desperately wanted to be in there with the trees and insects, just breathing the same air. So, placing the crutches carefully where they didn’t sink, following one weak leg at a time, Delsyn went in.
He only made it a few steps before he needed to rest, so he propped his crutches against a familiar stump, a gigantic memory of the old-growth forest that once lived there, still rotting into red dust a century after it had been cut. He settled himself down carefully into its folds, glad he couldn’t see the bugs that were certainly feasting off the soft pulp even at this time of night. By shifting from foot to foot, he could rest his legs, and then he’d leave. But he was glad he’d come. For once, he’d go to sleep with sweet, forest-scented dreams.
He heard a scrabbling at his feet—probably a vole or a shrew, but he wanted to know just what it was that made the sound. “Light,” he mumbled. “I need a little light.” He always had his phone with him even though it was useless for making calls around Sonny’s place, where no signal could snake past the giant barrier of the Olympic Mountains. He used it to play games. He took pictures. He recorded his own music, the blues he loved to play. He planned to add the SD card to the tapes he’d made on an old cassette deck and give them to Sonny for his birthday in May, if he could wait that long. But for now he thought the phone could help him. He slid his thumb over the screen to light it up but soon realized the glow wasn’t enough to see the ground, and he knew he couldn’t bend down close if he wanted to be able to get back up. “Bummer,” he said and was about to slip the phone back into his pocket when he heard voices.
A man’s voice, rough and hard. “You’re an idiot! A fool, and if I’d known that before I got involved in your little retirement venture, I would have stayed miles away. Those twins are devious, worse because they’re stupid, too, and everyone in the life knows that—even their own daddy. You managed to pull them in, as lame as you are; that should have told you something.”
“I’m not sure it was them—”
“What an ass! They practically advertised the location. They’re the reason we had to move the samples.”
“And you’re the one who brought ’em here. Not the brightest, in my opinion.”
Del caught the sarcasm in the words, could imagine the man’s gesture encompassing Sonny’s land: “Here.”
“I know this place,” the first man said—a voice Delsyn didn’t recognize. “No one will look here. All we need is a little time when the owner—and his latest fuck—are absent, and we can move it again. Arrange it.”
“Don’t even, you bastard. You’re stupid, and thanks to your little minions, nobody’s going to touch this stuff until it cools off. We’ll be lucky to move the goods by spring.”
The men were moving now, Delsyn guessed; their conversation became obscured by a rustle through leaf-trash and brush. Then, suddenly, he realized the voices were getting closer, and all at once he felt very exposed, very crippled, and very scared.
One set of footsteps moved back into the forest, but the other seemed to be looking for an exit, and that one would pass right by Delsyn. If Del had been fully able, if he hadn’t needed the crutches, he could have held still. But he had no faith in his body, and panic sent him stumbling toward the edge of the trees. He wanted to be out before the man caught him.
He might be killed, he thought. He didn’t want to die hidden in the dark.
Too late. Aching to move legs that wouldn’t cooperate, Del shouted “Uncle Sonny!” But he was so afraid, his voice barely stumbled past the fear in his throat. And he was too far away from the house. And Sonny and Luki didn’t even know he was out here.
The voice seemed slimy, seemed to ooze up Delsyn’s spine. “Now, Del, take it easy. You know me. You know I’m not going to hurt you. All I need is for you to tell me what you think you heard so I can explain. You probably misunderstood. We wouldn’t want you to get yourself hurt, now would we?”
Delsyn tried to answer, hoping he’d be smart enough to talk his way out of it. But he didn’t because he couldn’t. Ever since last summer, when he got upset—good or bad—his throat and tongue locked up, like he couldn’t get the language in his brain to come out into the world. And then….
A blow—no more than a slap, but Delsyn felt the change. Felt the simple knot that had held his damaged brain together slip free. Not in the dark, he thought, and he pushed forward as he fell. With moonlight in his eyes and shining silver on the coastal fog around him, Delsyn began to die.
Later, he knew he was no longer home, knew they had taken him someplace machines could reach him with their long plastic arms. A place to wait. And while he waited, he heard things.
A doctor said, “… very probably will not wake up.”
Sonny answered, “But he woke up before.”
Sonny spoke to Delsyn, sometimes, discussing and scolding as if they were riding in the Mustang on the way to the store. The nurses came in, usually chattering, one of them sounding young and very sweet. Other patients, still able to cuss out loud. Even Luki, singing the blues for him in that scratchy voice when he thought no one else was around. Del wanted to smile. He wanted to touch someone. He wanted to sing too. Then his brain came apart a little more and he dreamed a little farther down in the darkness where it was far too quiet. He entered a tunnel that led to the other side of that line, that fence between life and death. He felt pretty good about it. He’d done the best he could to say goodbye.
And he thought that, after all, dying might have been his own idea.
LUKI VASQUEZ paced through rooms replete with luxury in his uptown Chicago home. Everything sparkled. While he’d been elsewhere, his housekeeper, Gerald, had taken excellent care of the condo, as well as the fortune in furniture that took up just enough of the floor space. Well, usually just enough. Now, the place would feel too big, too empty even if it was stuffed with Victorian plush and had a party going on. Not that Luki would ever have either one.
One thing occupied his mind, and it—he—stood about six two, had rich earth-brown hair and everything else Luki had ever wanted. Before he met Sonny James, Luki had not the slightest inkling that he wanted anyone at all. Now, his attachment had gone well beyond wanting. He stopped his pacing to lean against the wall of block glass that distorted Chicago’s lights into replicas of Van Gogh’s stars. “Sonny,” he said aloud, needing him, and the sound of his stressed, scratchy voice traveled through the bare rooms of his house, repeating. He wondered why he hadn’t noticed the echo before.
Since coming back to Chicago from the Northwest coast, Luki had kept himself busy. He read. He had some new suits tailored. He ran. He worked out at least two hours every day, not needing to go anywhere to do it—he had a well-equipped gym in the condo’s largest room, complete with attached sauna. Sometimes Luki did go out, though, to one of the rattiest gyms in town to practice his Tai Chi and other martial arts under the eye of his grizzled, long-time teacher. He sparred with his detectives too, or worked with his junior staff–nearly all of whom dreaded the encounters but oh-so-badly needed to study up.
And Luki threw himself into his business, pestering his incomparable admin, Jude, who mostly ignored him—as efficiently as she did everything else—and ran things as usual.
“Vasquez,” she’d say because she watched too many tacky TV shows, “take your hands off the keyboard and back away, and no one will get hurt.”
So, to get out of her way and safe from her evil eye, Luki took on some of the jobs his staff could have easily handled, at times leaving them to get paid for twiddling their thumbs. And he annoyed people in general by telling them things they already knew. His most experienced staff particularly resented his stepping in. Kim, for instance.
“Get out of here, Luki. Take some leave time.”
“I’m the boss, Kim. I get to say that. You don’t.” But he knew she was right; he even knew she cared.
His increased involvement—or interference, depending on your point of view—couldn’t hurt his business. It was, after all, his reputation as a detective, a former ATF special agent, that had driven his small security agency to the top of the heap in a matter of a few years. The wealth that success yielded was why he could pay his employees well—very well by industry standards—and hire only the best. That wealth was why last summer when some ugly hate crimes had been directed at Sonny—or so they thought—Luki had been able to drop everything else in pursuit of that one criminal. The chase had been terrifying even for Luki, even as cold, heartless, and hard-assed as he’d been before Sonny. It involved a truly sick perp, unthinkable cruelty, and a bomb. Brave and beautiful and seeming as different from Luki as the limits of possibility would allow, Sonny had matched him step for step in the chase and had surprised him at every turn. Not just in the crisis, everywhere. Weaving in his studio, walking gracefully in flip-flops, even making love… especially making love.
Now, no amount of activity, violent or not, could drive away the big Sonny-shaped shadow that dogged along beside him.
So as he wandered through his bare rooms, Luki traded the perfect, flawlessly tailored clothing he usually wore even at leisure and donned tattered jeans and a faded flannel shirt. Just what Sonny would have worn, and it helped keep Sonny alive in his mind, a man rather than a thin shade. He’d look a lot better than me wearing this, he told himself, padding over the hardwood floor to the only room in the house he ever smoked in, wondering on the way when the floor had become so cold. Once he got there, he switched on the silent fans and the omnidirectional heat, sank into the leather of the only easy chair in the house, and lit up. In his mind, he could hear Sonny clearly, as if his lover stood right next to him. Or sat by him on their love seat. Or sat on the floor at his knees making drawings for a tapestry he would weave so resplendent the world would probably weep. “You should quit,” he’d say.
Luki knew he should quit. Knew that cigarettes… cigarettes and hamburgers were the only flaws in his otherwise perfect health regime. Smoking would someday, probably soon, take a toll. Perversely, when he met Sonny he’d started smoking more than ever before, just because Sonny’s existence in the world nudged him off his solitary perch, the place where he seemingly rose above the world of emotion and let other men into his life only occasionally to practice his skills at cold but perfectly executed sex. With Sonny? Anything but cold. Although still close to perfect. He smiled at the memory of Sonny’s surprised looks when Luki showed him something new, something that, in all his gay years, he’d never felt.
“Luki, please,” he’d say.
Yet, Sonny had sent Luki away. When Delsyn lay impossibly still in that room at the rehab with tubes exchanging his fluids and instruments ticking off the seconds of his life, surely Sonny must have been glad for Luki’s love, his arms, his hand to hold. Yet just when Luki thought Sonny needed him most, that’s when he’d pulled back inside himself to be alone with his grief and fear. He’d sent Luki packing from the rainy Northwest forest and sea—to Chicago, of all places. Funny that Luki had never known how much he didn’t like Chicago until he’d lived for a few months in Sonny’s surprising and isolated home. Tasted the salt in the morning air, blown inland by the ever-present wind over the Juan de Fuca Strait. Watched Sonny dip naked into the frigid waters and rise up, sunlight flashing off his smooth, wet, brown skin like an aura of jewels. Sat before a yellow fire built of wood Sonny had cut and split, Sonny’s head on his shoulder, Sonny’s long hair falling over Luki’s bare chest—tickling, teasing, a promise.
And that promise had not been, could not have been, broken. Sonny loved him, even believed that he was beautiful, had woven that belief into an incredible tapestry, with the sky and the straits the same pale, pale blue as Luki’s eyes, with his skin the same dark tone as the wet sand on the shore. When Luki looked at it, he could almost believe that he was the beautiful man Sonny’s flawless art portrayed. That the long scar that sliced down the left side of his face—the scar that had shaped his life–had no more weight than any other piece of him—less, perhaps.
“I’m not beautiful,” Luki had said after he’d seen that weaving. Crying. Actually crying!
“You are,” Sonny had answered, more angry, more hurt, than Luki could have imagined. “I see what’s there. I always, only, ever see what’s there, and that’s what I weave.”
Now, when his forgotten cigarette had transformed into a precarious cylinder of ash, Luki squashed it in the smokeless ashtray Gerald had nagged him to get. “I’ll try again,” he said, just as if someone would hear, as if he wasn’t alone… utterly alone. For the fourth time in the last two hours, he dialed Sonny’s number. It rang… it rang… it rang and Luki left another message. He went to bed in Sonny-like fashion, wearing all the same clothes except the flannel shirt.
DARKNESS, a river, a cruel boy’s voice on the riverbank.
A dream Luki had dreamed a thousand times before. But this time….
“Luki!” Another, sweeter voice calling and a hand reaching out, impossibly reaching all the way to the water from the bridge overhead. He’s come for me, Luki thought, he’s come to help me! But then he heard the voice again, not offering help but needing it, pleading. Luki would have died in the river if it meant he could help the man behind that voice. “Sonny,” he yelled. “Sonny, hang on, just hang on, baby, and I’ll be there.” But try as he might, he could not reach that empty hand before it started to rise, and then he couldn’t reach high enough to grasp it before it disappeared into the blind, black dark above.
“No! You can’t take him!”
“You can’t take him!” Luki woke himself up with the scream. Got out of bed, drank some water, lit a cigarette even though he wasn’t in the right room. He picked up the phone and somehow punched in Sonny’s number despite shaking like a drunk in detox. “Pick up, Sonny. Please pick up.” The pleas were of no use, and after he left one more begging message, he planned a course of action. At last. He was good at action.
First, a shower. Then as the mid-March dawn broke over the windy city, he called Margie. Margie was up, and she didn’t seem at all surprised to get a phone call at 4:00 a.m. Pacific time.
“Luki,” she said. From the hollow sound, he could tell she was already downstairs from her apartment, in the street-level coffee shop she ran, and from which, it seemed, she ruled the small town of Port Clifton. “I thought you’d call sooner.”
It drove Luki nuts that she always had him figured out before he did, but this was no time to quibble about it. “Margie, I can’t get hold of Sonny. Is he okay? Do you know what’s up?”
She must have put her hand over the phone in the mistaken belief that it kept him from hearing what she said. He could hear it just fine, though the muffling annoyed him. “Ladd,” she said, speaking to the man that used to be Luki’s best detective before he struck up this late-in-life romance. “I don’t think he knows.”
Ladd’s voice came on then. “Hey, Luki. Listen, it’s about Delsyn. He’s been… he died, and Sonny’s pretty much out of it, if you know what I me—”
“I’m coming. Have Jude book me a flight leaving in the next ninety minutes and a car from SeaTac.” Luki belatedly remembered Ladd didn’t work for him anymore and added, “Please.”
Black. Black shoes. Black socks, black jeans; calf-length, tailored, black wool coat. Sonny took the clothes out of their long-stored plastic shrouds, his eyes of their own accord seeking out the white silk strips across the chest and shoulders of his ribbon shirt, the short white streamers which would be anchored over his scapulae and left loose to flutter as he moved, or danced, or stood in a breeze. Not that they would move today—they’d be buried under the black coat. And Delsyn would be buried under the black ground.
“Nephew,” Sonny whispered into the air that he’d let go cold, so cold indoors that he could see a faint shadow of his breath float into the room. So cold it hurt, which was one reason he’d let the fire die. The pain could replace the tears he would not cry. And then, too, the fire had no right to live, to crackle and sway, brighten and warm the day. No, if Delsyn had to die, then the fire would die too. Sonny would see to that.
He needed tight braids bound far back behind his ears, but braids like that are impossible to do for oneself, so he gathered his white ribbons and took his hair to Margie’s, resolving not to cry no matter how many times she tried to tell him it would be okay to do so, no matter how much she tried to comfort him.
Before minutes passed, or so it seemed, he stood at the grave, the cold March wind biting his face with sharp teeth like tiny arrows, with the man he’d called to say words at the graveside, a Lummi elder he knew from the few years he’d spent up north in Bellingham where frost was likely to coat the rooftops on a gray March day like today. Sonny knew the elder’s words, his prayers in four directions, the sage and cedar he kindled and passed to the small band of mourners around the grave—all of these things—were meant to help Delsyn’s spirit pass.
And to ease my pain.
Sonny couldn’t let that comfort happen. My nephew, my boy, is dead. And it’s my fault.
ON THE freeway, flying north to the ferry dock at Edmonds, Luki drove so fast he accused himself of driving like Sonny. It couldn’t compare, of course. Me, driving like this, it’s reckless. Him, flying through the traffic and rain, it’s just cool… so damn cool. Plus, he reminded himself, Sonny would be driving his Mustang, which even he, Luki the uninitiated, knew was a bitchin’ ride—whereas Luki driving this maroon PT Cruiser because it was the only car he could drive off the rental lot in five minutes, now that was just comical. Luki smiled. It felt good, but it couldn’t last, and he let it go.
He had his mind so focused on just driving, just moving, just getting “there” as fast as he could, that he wasn’t really sure he hadn’t missed the exit to the ferry dock. Last he’d checked, the ferry was running on time for once, which Luki had taken to be a good omen. But it wouldn’t help if he drove right past, which he just might have done. Hell, he might right this minute be the subject of hot pursuit by the State Patrol, sirens and lights and bullhorns going full blast, and he probably wouldn’t have noticed even that. All he could think of was Sonny, alone, hurting and needing him—surely needing him.
I’m coming, Sonny. I’m coming home. Home to a state he’d never seen until a year ago. Home to a windswept, rain-drenched peninsula most of the world would remain blissfully unaware of for entire lifetimes. Home near a town he might have driven straight through the first time he’d seen it—would have if he hadn’t seen Margie’s Cup o’ Gold Café and drooled for a cup of coffee, black and sweet. And he wouldn’t have stayed, not long at all, but that had changed. Everything had changed the day Sonny Bly James walked past him on the boulevard, tall and strong and beautifully brown from head to toe.
He hadn’t missed the ferry dock after all, but he might have done so while he was taking his walk down memory lane. Pay attention, Vasquez, he scolded—just in time. He slowed onto the ramp and into the line of waiting vehicles. The ferry had pulled in but was still expelling eastbound passengers and cars, so he’d have some waiting to do. He did what Luki always did while waiting—got out of the car and lit a cigarette, then another one, planning ahead for the ferry, on which, this being Washington, it was illegal to smoke. He contemplated lighting a third, even though he knew it might make him a little “green around the gills,” to quote his ex-Marine Corps dad, long since dead. But the gate opened and he didn’t have to decide.
Once on board the ferry Puyallup, bound from Edmonds to Kingston, Luki moved directly to the bow, where he stood for a while under the covered deck out of the coldest, windiest rain and watched the little spit of land that the town of Kingston rested on draw closer. It would be a short ride, but it seemed long. Long enough, anyway, to let himself succumb to the weariness he’d held off all day since waking from that dream… that bone-chilling dream early yesterday morning. For him, it was now eight o’clock a day later, though here the sky was still night dark at 5:00 a.m. He sat in one of the deck chairs with his coat over his face and let himself sleep. One hour of rest, then disgorged from the ferry in the shell of the PT Cruiser, up highway 104, over the Hood Canal Floating Bridge—quite an adventure on a rainy pre-dawn morning.
Weak, wet daylight arrived along with a need for contact. Still driving, he told his phone to call Sonny. No answer. Not even the machine. Margie, then.
“Luki, I was just going to call. I don’t know why, but Sonny’s arranged the funeral—well, really just a graveside—for 8:45 a.m. in Port Angeles.”
“Yes, dear. Now you’ve got plenty of time. Just stay right on 101 and don’t turn east to Port Clifton—”
Luki growled into the phone, “I know how to get to Port Angeles!”
Margie went silent on the other end of the connection. Luki had never known her to be silent before except once when hate words had been scrawled on her living room wall, and then it only lasted seconds. Clearly, he’d hurt her feelings, and he thought that if he didn’t patch things up, Margie might never speak to him again.
“Margie, I’m sorry—”
“No need for apologies, Luki.”
“I know how to get to P.A. What’s the cemetery? I’ll put it in my GPS.”
“Mount Angeles. I always liked that name.”
Luki milked the PT Cruiser for every rpm it could give, but still the funeral was all but done when he got there. He saw Sonny standing alone, no one near, even Ladd and Margie off to one side. Sonny with his shoulders strong but his head bowed. In black. Shirtsleeves in the rain, a long black coat over his arm, white ribbons streaming from his black shirt and wrapped through tight dark braids falling from the base of his skull straight as arrows down his back. Luki had never seen any of it—the braids, the shirt, the coat, or Sonny with his head bowed in the rain. The sight confused him for just a moment, but as the funeral ended and the mourners started to leave, Sonny stood alone, looking down into the grave as though contemplating joining his nephew there. Luki gathered his wits and stepped out to go to his lover’s side.
But before he’d taken two steps, car tires skidded ever-so-slightly on the gravel drive, doors opened and slammed, and three Sheriff’s deputies from two counties got out of two cars, all business, eyes on the grave. The burial had taken place in Clallam County, and the local deputy hung back while the man and woman from Jefferson County—home of Port Clifton and Sonny James—took a few brisk strides forward. The man had his handcuffs ready. The woman’s hand rested on the butt of her gun.
Sonny turned. His gaze slid past Luki, almost but not quite stopping. He didn’t expect me. Luki decided to wait and think about that hurt later, after whatever was about to happen was done happening. He made himself pay attention to Sonny’s expression for the purpose of security—and not the emotional kind. Sonny’s dark eyes, usually so alive and quick, stared out at the world completely flat but for perhaps a single angry spark. And dry, not even red. Where are his tears? He didn’t frown, but all the muscles of his face were set rigid, hard like stone.
The handcuffs clicked and tightened on Sonny’s wrists and his rights were being read out like an extra sermon for the dead. Finally, Luki shelved his observations for later and ran forward, planning to interfere with the law in any way he could. “Hey,” he said, in his best voice-of-command. “Wait!”
The officer who had rested her hand on her gun made as if to pull it, and Luki’s first, strongest instinct spoke up loudly, telling him to go for his own weapon, to show this cop how dangerous it was to draw your handgun when you didn’t know enough about your target. He stopped himself, realizing it wouldn’t do Sonny any good—or him for that matter—if he shot a cop or got shot by one beside Delsyn’s new-dug grave. But he had to do something. They were taking Sonny away like a criminal, which he wasn’t, which he couldn’t be, and that was so impossibly wrong.
He said, “My name’s Luki Vasquez. I’m private security, used to be with ATF.” He added that credential because sometimes it could give him an “in” with law enforcement—like comrades in arms. “This man has been a client of mine”—not a lie—“and I’m hoping you might give me some information. What’s he going to be charged with? As I said, I know him, and it looks to me like you might be making a bad mistake.”
“Step aside, sir.”
“Maybe you can just tell me—”
“Let it go, Luki.” Sonny’s eyes flashed past him once again. His coat fell to the ground but he kept walking toward the police car with the open door and the Clallam man standing next to it. Sonny folded himself past the back door, the deputy pushing his head down to clear the frame.
“What the hell, Sonny?” Luki asked—almost a shout.
Sonny didn’t turn to look at him at all, and except for a sidelong glance or two, even the deputies paid him no mind. As the law drove away with his lover, tires crunching gravel in the lot, Margie and Ladd came up next to him. Luki thought he might be sorry he ever learned to love anyone at all, much less Sonny. Because Sonny didn’t want him. Sonny had sent him away, hadn’t even called him when Delsyn died. He picked up Sonny’s fallen coat, an exquisite garment with years of service—maybe a lifetime of service—left to give. Yet Sonny had let it go, let it fall. It might be maudlin, Luki suspected, but he felt kinship with that tailored coat.
He’s letting me fall too. Pushing me away again.
LUKI had a key to Sonny’s house, of course. Unwilling to go there, he got into Margie’s and Ladd’s Volvo, folded Sonny’s coat, a tailored garment of fine black wool—how could Sonny of the blue jeans and T-shirts have a garment like this? He let Ladd drive him to Margie’s while Marge drove the Cruiser.
“You ought to get her one of those, Ladd, she seems to like it.”
“Yeah, but you looked pretty silly driving up in the damn thing, boss. If it wasn’t a somber occasion, I would have given you hell.”
Luki fought down a bubble of laughter, said instead, “I’m not your boss. You left me for a woman.”
“I didn’t say you were my boss, or even a boss. You’re just ‘boss’. Luki ‘Boss’ Vasquez.”
“Ladd, stop being funny! I don’t want to laugh, and I’m too tired to stop it. Just get up off the jokesCOLLAPSE
Monique on Sinfully M/M Book Reviews wrote:
'Delsyn's Blues' is the second book in Lou Sylvre's 'Vasquez & James' series about Luki, ex-ATF Agent and owner of a highly successful security firm, and his lover, Sonny, a reclusive weaver who lives in the woods on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. Before you ask me, yes, in my opinion, these books must be read in order for all the history and backstory that comes along in each. I really enjoyed the first book and its climactic ending which involved Sonny's nephew, Delsyn, so I was excited to jump into this installment. I wasn't very happy to begin the book and immediately be sad, but I understood where the author was taking me so I forgave her.
When Delsyn slipped into a coma after a fall, Sonny sent Luki home to Chicago, wanting only to be alone with the nephew he loved. Sonny didn't even call Luki when Delsyn died, but Luki shows up at the graveside as Sonny is being arrested for the murder of Delsyn. What?! Sonny is being accused of turning off the machines that were keeping Delsyn alive. Sonny is so depressed and despondent that he doesn't even really care. So whether he wants him there or not, Luki is going to make sure to clear Sonny's name. But Sonny does want Luki, they just have to weather some storms to get back to where they began. One of those storms is the possibility that Delsyn died because he overheard something by someone who might've been a friend.
One of the things I liked the most about this book was getting more history on Sonny and Luki. Discovering Sonny's drug addicted youth and Luki's painful memories of clubbing almost broke my heart. Sonny has spent his life just ignoring the bad stuff and Luki has gone one better by trapping all emotions behind an icy wall. So when these two men hit a rough patch, neither can help their ingrained and instinctual responses. But I wanted to smack them both upside their heads. Men. Hmpf. Luckily they came to their senses and realized what the important things in life are.
I think I liked this second installment even more than the previous. Once again there was a mystery to solve and a whole lot of action adventure, but there was more understanding of these main characters and I responded very well to that. The tempo and pace of this book seemed to flow better and I really enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to reading the next adventure with Luki and Sonny.
NOTE: This book was provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review on Rainbow Book Reviews
Lou Sylvre, once again delivers a compelling, exciting and suspense filled slice of Luki and Sonny’s world, in Loving Luki I fell in love with her beautiful prose that endeared me to these two flawed and broken characters who are still at the fledgling stage of their relationship. The prologue to Delsyn’s Blues is heart breaking, and the consequences of this are the back bone to the story and our boys are once again embroiled in the middle of all the action, this time Luki needs to call on his AFT experience with more than a few favours called in to deal with murder, arms and drug running which see’s our boys faced with yet more challenges, and they need to draw on all their strength to to survive yet another event that could see that tentative relationship come crashing down on them.
After the trauma and heartache in Loving Luki, Sonny and Luki had at least had a little reprieve to get to know one another, that is until the tragic event happened, which left Sonny a shell, and numb to everything around him. He had lost his will to fight and both his body and soul were wracked with grief, he feels culpable, in his mind it was all his fault and it was that guilt that drives Luki away. However, Luki is a stubborn SOB, he is hurt that Sonny has pushed him away but the love he has for his man is too strong and luckily Sonny realises he needs Luki and finally lets the man he loves, back into his life… to take away the pain and at least give him some peace from the nightmares.
Sonny being arrested for murder and finding drugs and guns under their house has them looking more closely at the man that has made Sonny’s life a misery but he is not alone in his crimes and little do they realise that there is someone much closer to home that is the real enemy. The clues to the investigation are nagging at the back of Luki’s mind but his concern for Sonny is clouding his judgement, whilst Sonny buries his head in the sand, internalising his feelings with his exterior calm but distant, the enormous impact of what has happened, he seems to dismiss, not quite ignoring but putting his trust in Luki to make the right decisions, to just make it all go away, blocking out external influences, being quite happy in his own little Sonny world.
These two men are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, they seem to make one bad decision after the other, with Sonny giving me a real WTF! where did that come from? moment. You see Sonny cannot lie so if Luki asks a question he tells the truth… NO! in this case a white lie will do! and just when I thought it was all going so well Luki’s green eyed monster came into the picture, I was all but throwing my kindle out of the window and to say I was pissed off at him would be an understatement. But I like that these two characters are not perfect, they make mistakes in life the same as we do, but they are strong, and they need that strength to to survive but they also need to trust and understand that being vulnerable, and needing someone is not a weakness.
In Delsyn’s Blues we have a better understanding of Luki and Sonny with more of their complex lives and characters revealed, they themselves do some soul searching, and delve deep into the depths to the parts of them that had long since been buried, to the men they had been before the void in their hearts had been filled with love... something they had yearned for but never dared to feel. This gives us as readers an insight into the fabric of the men so damaged by their past, rendering them incapable of trust never mind allowing another into their hearts. Luki even now to the outside world, he was cold as ice, a man in control, but for Sonny that guard, that persona disappeared and he saw the true Luki. The man that loved Sonny more than life itself, and with Sonny being such an open book, incapable of lies or deceit the love and affection and deep seated trust was mirrored.
I love this series and the excellent and at times beautiful writing from Lou Sylvre, through her words the emotion, heartbreak, fear, love, uncertainty, hope, all of it, I feel and experience… she puts me right there with them and I am now hooked and totally invested in the future of these two characters that I have come to adore.