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Fire Inside Me

by J. Hali Steele

Fire Inside Me - J. Hali Steele
Editions:Kindle - First Edition: $ 2.99
Pages: 116

A coldhearted murderer yearning to be had and a pretty boy who wants to have him.

Sage Crawford makes a living eliminating people and he prospers from jobs well done. Business is business until he contracts to exterminate a mark in his small hometown. Hasn’t been within a hundred miles of where he grew up since he left deserting his best friend whose family practically raised Sage. His idea of reconnecting nose dives when he realizes his target is the friend’s younger brother. Skewing matters, while tracking his prey, Sage begins to hope for something he has endlessly searched for.

Emory Welton never hid being gay. His life is good until an encounter goes awry with the son of a gubernatorial candidate who wields power. The wealthy candidate will stop at nothing to be elected including keeping his son’s sexual preference concealed. Things don’t improve when Em finds himself attracted to an old family friend whose secret will devastate his family. And just when he thinks things can’t get worse, Emory is kidnapped.

Embers smolder, sparks fly and heat grows igniting a fire that can’t be smothered before flames become all-consuming.

Fire Inside Me rages with shades of John Wick, a pinch of Pretty Woman and a dash of 365 Days. And there’s a kitty cat! No furry animals are harmed in this book.

Content/warning: #drama #enemiestolovers #gay #HEA #murder #romance #violence

This book is on:
  • 3 To Be Read lists
Publisher: Independently Published
Cover Artists:
Pairings: M-M
Heat Level: 5
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 36-45
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Tropes: Age Difference, Antihero, Badass Hero, Best Friend’s Sibling, Big Character / Little Character, Criminals & Outlaws, Enemies to Lovers, Hurt / Comfort, Lone Wolf, Love Can Heal / Redemption, May/December, Pets Are 'Portant, Rescue, Smartass Twinks
Word Count: 31000
Setting: USA, Los Angeles, California, Coatesville, Pennsylvania, Las Vegas, Nevada
Languages Available: English

First time he’d allowed Jeff to coax him into his bed but Em knew all about his father. Whole campus, hell, every voting age resident in the state was aware who Jeffrey R. Farrington was. Only child with old family money and mores, man was richer than freshly manured Lancaster County farm dirt and he was running for governor of Pennsylvania. Plenty reporters digging into his life yet nothing they discovered to date stymied the candidate’s bid for office. Huge lead in the polls, Mr. Farrington was already touted as the next governor. Em was positive he wouldn’t stop there. Unfortunate because, though he smiled at cameras and in everyone’s face, talking with his son, Emory became aware he was no friend of the LGBTQ community. What else lurked behind the man’s fake façade?

“After practice?”

“Nope, dinner with my folks.”


“Jeff, honey, one and done. Said you were okay with that.”


“We’ll see.” Innocent grin stretched pouty lips. “Lock up on your way out.”

“Bye, Jeff.” Door closed and Emory flew up and headed to the shower. His mom would chew him out if he held up dinner on family night. Hell, maybe he’d give the star football player what he wanted. “One more run at your tight end.”

*  *  *  *  *  *

Entering his house, Emory heard pots and pans clatter in the kitchen where his mom and sister-in-law, Madeline, talked. Stomach growled as the delicious smell of roast assailed nostrils. Heard a stranger’s voice and Russ, Em’s brother, laughed at whatever he’d said. Spinning into the living room, Em was attacked by his nephew plowing a shoulder right into his crotch. “Ow, ow, shit, RW.” So damn many Russell’s, they’d resorted to using initials for Russell the third. Not hit hard enough to feel like vomiting but hard enough to protectively cup his nuts.

“Hey, Em, language.” Russ glared.

“Sorry. My balls having a serious headache should buy me a pass.”

“Look, look, daddy, Uncle Em is touching his goody balls. I’m telling mommy.” RW tore off toward the kitchen.

“Damn it, I’d better follow and explain to Maddy how he knows about those balls.” Spun in the doorway to say, “You wouldn’t remember Sage. He left when you were a tot.”

“Tot! Don’t hate mommy’s wonder child." Zeroed in on Sage. "But he’s right. Were I older, you’d have been hard to forget. You are a big one.” The man his brother left him with was absofuckinglutely hot! Em had no shame; he brazenly ogled him. “Didn’t know Russel had good-looking friends. Well, didn’t hang out with him due to age and very distinct differences in companionship.” Short, dark, dark blond hair, a close groomed beard, and muscles that began to twitch beneath a fitting vee neck tee that attempted to hide a winged tattoo peeking from the collar. “Sage is an odd name.”

“Emory isn’t?”

“Touché.” Oh, those lips. Recollected mentions of this guy. Particularly when Em discussed coming out with Russ. His brother never expounded on that story though there were pictures in an album of a gawky kid captured close up staring into the camera. Gold flecked, green eyes cynical and…disillusioned. An emotion Em recognized. “Where you from?”


“Man of a few words. I know you’re from here. Duh.” He immediately liked him. Definitely my flavor. “I meant, like, where do you live now. Personally, I can’t wait to be away from Coatesville. Is that how you felt? What are the wings attached to?”

“My chest.”

“You are bad. I like tattoos but I’d never get one.” What if his recollection was wrong? Em’s gaydar zinged the bell hard. Sage oozed strength and the way he eyed Em, shit, he’d shave his head if he was mistaken. One night. “I adore my body picture free.”

“On others they’re fine?”

“Ooh, a whole sentence.”

When Sage stood, thick thighs bunched in jeans. “Tell Rusty I’ll be in touch.”

Rusty? “I’ll show you out.”

“Practically lived here; I can find the door.”

“Smart ass. I’m being polite. If you lived here, you know my mother, she’d expect it.” Em edged close enough to get a whiff of expensive cologne inconsistent with Sage’s outfit. Couldn’t resist running a finger along the tee shirt collar. “I’d liked to see it.”

“Young man, nice meeting you.”

“Hopefully, we’ll meet again.” He winked. “My young ass could probably teach an old man like you a thing or two.” Running a finger down his chest. I really want to see your wings.”

“Em, what the hell?” He hadn’t heard Russ pop back in. “God, you’re a whore.”

“Don’t be crass, Rusty. I’m saying good night.”

“Sage, who’s like a brother, is the only one who called me that.” Eyes narrowed. “Back off, Emory.”

“Hmm, thank goodness he’s not my brother.”

Maddy interrupted, “Russ, Em, ready? Won’t you stay, Sage?”

“Another time.”

“Come on, Emory.” Russ took Maddy’s hand. “Dinner will get cold.”

“I’ll be right there.” Couldn’t take eyes off the big man. “Stay so I can get to know my brother’s other brother.”

“Your dinner grows cold.” Fire brewed in green eyes that raked Emory’s body. “For the record, I don’t want to be your brother.” Sage pivoted and escaped further inspection.

Oh. My. God. I want to taste that.


About the Author

J. Hali Steele wishes she could grow fur, wings, or fangs, so she can stay warm, fly, or just plain bite the crap out of... Well, she can't do those things but she wishes she could! Multi-published author of Romance including Contemporary, LGBTQ, Paranormal, and ReligErotica stories where humans, vampyres, shapeshifters and angels often collide—they collide a lot! When J. Hali's not writing or reading, she can be found snuggled in front of the TV with a cat in her lap, and a cup of coffee.

My Quotes:

Growl and roar—it's okay to let the beast out. – J. Hali Steele

Death is overrated as punishment. – J. Hali Steele (from The Descendants)

Life is complicated, it’s loud, death arrives silently. – J. Hali Steele (from Twice the Burn)