Exposed

by H.L Day

Exposed - H.L. Day
Editions:Kindle: $ 6.99

Sometimes salvation comes from the most unlikely hero.

When Tate Gillespie is marked for death for a crime he didn’t commit, his life crumbles. In a world where ‘justice’ is meted out by a relentless military force, he’s going to need more than a mythical guardian angel. His life down to seconds, he’s saved by the mysterious X, a knife-wielding man he's never even met before. But who is X? Is he the man who threatens and kills without a second thought? Or the strangely gentle man who only seems to act that way around Tate?

X is a shadow. A wraith. A man who flits through the city virtually unseen. He’s got no time for people when knives are far more reliable. X does have one weakness though—the man he's been keeping safe for years who doesn't even know it. He'd burn the whole world to keep him alive. But what he won't do is stake his claim. Tate’s not his and he needs to remember that, no matter how close they might become.

With the military in hot pursuit, they’re going to need to rely on X’s skills to keep them both alive. Tate’s feelings are growing with every hour they spend together, but X is a tough nut to crack. Can two people from very different backgrounds really find common ground? Or will one of the many perils they face throughout their long journey drive them apart?

It’s all about survival. Not love. Isn’t it?

Exposed is a 132k action/adventure story featuring two men who couldn’t be more opposite. 

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Excerpt:

X

 

My feet didn't make a sound as I followed him. I knew where to step, how to step so that I could move as silently as a wraith through the dark city streets. He remained unaware of my presence.

As always.

There were two men in my sights, the taller blond one wrapping his arm around the other's waist as he stumbled drunkenly and almost fell, his laughter bouncing off the walls of the surrounding houses. I gave him only a cursory glance before turning my attention back to my quarry, who was also struggling to stay upright. It was no wonder. He'd drunk seven vodkas tonight. His usual was only three or four. I didn’t know why he’d felt the need to drink more tonight. Work stress, maybe? I might have assumed relationship problems, but the couple seemed happy enough and trust me I'd looked closely, my scrutiny missing nothing.

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The couple drew to a halt and I paused, stepping back into the shelter of a building, my black clothing making it all too easy to melt into the shadows as if I'd never been there in the first place. The tall guy—Joseph Turner, it hadn't taken me long to discover that piece of information, along with his address and the names of everyone he'd ever come into contact with since the day he’d been born—pushed his partner back against the nearest wall.

I watched closely for any sign of emotional strain from the shorter dark-haired man, anything that would make me believe that he didn't want it, my fingers moving to the handle of one of the knives I carried at my waist. But he simply laughed, winding his arms around the taller man’s neck, their lips meeting in a passionate kiss. A kiss that went on for a long time.

Them kissing. Me watching. The pair oblivious to their audience. I tamped down on the emotions writhing underneath my skin, telling myself, as I always did, that I had no rights to feel them.

Finally, the blond ended it, whispering something in his companion's ear. Whatever he’d said, it had the other man nodding eagerly.

Deciding whose home to return to, possibly? At the moment, they were equidistant between the two. As the pair moved away from the wall to continue their journey, I peeled myself from the shadows, allowing a distance of a few meters to build up before following. This late, with only an hour until the midnight curfew, there were few people on the streets. Those that were almost fell over themselves in their haste to get out of my way. Whether it was because they knew me by reputation, or could simply tell I wasn't someone to be messed with, I wasn't sure. I didn't care. They were right to steer clear. Less chance of them being introduced to one of my sharp friends that way. My blades weren't fussy. They didn't care whose flesh they sank into. They were equal opportunity knives—fat, thin, tall, skinny, black, white, male, female. They all bled the same way. And they all died with that same expression on their face, the one tinged with regret.

A rattle to my right had me spinning around, muscles tensing, prepared for action in whatever form it might take. There was no threat though. Just a rat, its whiskered face poking out from between the pile of cans it had knocked over. It was tempting to take it down with a well-aimed knife, but I had more important matters to deal with first.

The pair came to a stop in front of a building. It was where the blond lived, his apartment on the fourth floor. The door had ceded entry easily enough to my trusty lockpicks while he’d been at work. I'd spent an hour in there, sifting through every drawer and every cupboard in search of anything that didn't match the squeaky-clean persona my background check had shown. There'd been nothing. If Joseph Turner was anything but the twenty-five-year old bank clerk he portrayed, then the evidence was cleverly hidden.

And that's why he was still breathing. So far, anyway.

There was very little coverage on this street if you didn’t want to be seen. Even for me. I kept to the opposite side of it until I reached the building I was looking for. One fluid movement, a short climb up brickwork crumbling just enough to offer perfect foot and handholds, and I crouched on a fire escape offering an unobstructed view of the couple. There was more kissing against the wall of Joseph's building, hands groping freely over clothes, lips sharing a conversation I wasn’t able to hear before resuming kissing. They finally parted, both of them laughing as Joseph took his partner's hand and led him into the building.

And still I waited.

I leaned my head back to look up, focusing on a window halfway up the side of the building. How long would it take them to get there? By my calculations, two minutes. But that depended on whether they could keep their hands off each other for the duration of the stair climb. From the evidence of the night so far, that seemed unlikely.

It was four minutes before a light illuminated the window. Two minutes of extra foreplay then. A silhouette appeared at the window but there was too little light to be able to tell which one of them it was. The figure reached up, tugging the curtains across and ending my view of anything that would follow. It didn’t matter. Having seen it all before, I could picture it perfectly. Too perfectly.

I crouched there in the darkness, my hands forming into fists as I pictured the lovers tumbling onto the mattress. The mattress I'd lifted while searching Joseph's apartment just in case he was craftier than I'd given him credit for. He hadn't been. It was just as empty and uninspiring as the rest of his apartment had been. Joseph Turner was about as vanilla as they came.

Only when the siren for the curfew sounded, signalling that anyone caught outside would be shot on sight, did I drop soundlessly to the ground. Time to go back to where I belonged, to where the polished sterility of the streets, save for the odd rat, didn't make my skin itch. I belonged in the slums. Not here. I was just a frequent visitor on this side of the wall.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Kazza on On Top Down Under wrote:

The title. That cover... Having read Exposed, well, that really is X.

The book is told in dual POV. It’s well done. I like a dual POV to keep a story rolling along, which this does. Only one chapter goes back over part of what happened in the previous chapter from a different POV. I didn’t mind it because it was something pertinent and needed two perspectives.

If you need to survive X is the man you would want to help you. He has all the skills to make sure survival is taken care of. That's something he’s been doing for years in and around the “Slums” and in the more secure Cofield, where Tate lives.

Tate works for a pharmaceutical company. He has a current boyfriend of a few months, Joseph. It isn’t love but it’s a connection and Joseph is a step up from Niles who was abusive. Tate’s friends joke that he has a guardian angel after Niles conveniently disappears and money lands on Tate’s desk when it's needed.

His friends are more on point than they might know. However, his guardian is not so much angelic. X kills people. He takes on the DTP if necessary. He hooks up with prostitutes, especially ones that have a look about them… and he (stalks) protects Tate, all without Tate knowing. It’s only when Tate is found “guilty” of industrial espionage, which we know is a bogus charge, and sentenced to death, that X and Tate’s lives become completely and permanently entwined. When X rather aptly and bloodily saves Tate from being vaporised on his night out with friends at a club it's game on.

Then it’s Tate and X. X and Tate. It’s all about survival and getting out of the Slums and Cofield. To try to find a place where the DTP don't have their tentacles. For X it's all about keeping Tate safe and he'll do what it takes to make that happen.

I'm not always a fan of the alpha romance male but X was brilliant and Tate fitted him perfectly, once he got over the aurora of danger around X and the understanding of why Tate was doing this for him. X was a complete stranger to Tate but not the other way around, something you have to read to discover the whys of.

This book has a great rollercoaster of events and feelings and situations, and when you think you might have it figured out, it adds another layer. The writing is excellent, it's very well paced - great characters, a terrific mix of suspense and action and romance. X and Tate are added to my list of favourite characters and this is one of my reads of 2020.

Nakin1978 on Rainbow Book Reviews wrote:

Oh my wow! This book was so good! I am still blown away by this story. The setting is many years in the future and let me just say, I really hope this book is not a glimpse into the future that awaits us all.

In this new world, you have to worry about being accused of doing something wrong. Sadly there is no judge or jury. No being innocent until proven guilty. You are guilty and executed immediately by the DTP. So everyone is constantly on guard when the masked DTP turns up – in fear that they are accused of something that they may not have done. This is the life that Tate has always known but has never gotten used to. Tate has always tried to follow the straight and narrow so he isn’t never accused of anything, but when he walks in on something suspicious at the pharmaceutical company that he works for, he knows that nothing good can come of it. Never would he have guessed that he would be accused of espionage and be on the receiving end of the DTP and the punishment of death.

What Tate never expected was to have an avenging angel to swoop in and save him at the last minute. But for X, there was no other option. Though Tate does not know X, X knows Tate and would do everything in his power to keep him safe. Even taking out some DTP and now having to leave behind what little he had in what is considered the slums. Saving Tate has put not only Tate in more danger but has put X in danger as well. The only option for these two is to make a run for it and hope that they make it to places that X hasn’t only heard about but has never seen for himself.

With danger and death lurking in the shadows of Tate and X, how is Tate going to handle the fact that X knows so much about him that he shouldn’t? Will Tate be able to handle all the secrets that X has been carrying around for a very long time? How will both men handle their attraction to each other while trying to stay one step ahead of the DTP? Is this place that X has heard about real? Or is it just a fantasy that desperate people have made up?

This was such an incredible read! I truly enjoyed this book so much! I am so glad hat I gave this book a chance because I definitely would have been missing out if I had not read it! Definitely a highly recommended read!


About the Author

H.L Day grew up in the North of England. As a child she was an avid reader, spending lots of time at the local library or escaping into the imaginary worlds created by the books she read. Her grandmother first introduced her to the genre of romance novels, as a teenager, and all the steamy sex they entailed. Naughty Grandma!

One day, H.L Day stumbled upon the world of m/m romance. She remained content to read other people’s books for a while, before deciding to give it a go herself.

Now, she’s a teacher by day and a writer by night. Actually, that’s not quite true—she’s a teacher by day, procrastinates about writing at night and writes in the school holidays, when she’s not continuing to procrastinate. After all, there’s books to read, places to go, people to see, exercise at the gym to do, films to watch. So many things to do—so few hours to do it in. Every now and again, she musters enough self-discipline to actually get some words onto paper—sometimes they even make sense and are in the right order.


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