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He Owns My Heart

A Contemporary MM Romance

by Evie Drae

He Owns My Heart - Evie Drae
Part of the Owned series:
  • He Owns My Heart
Editions:Kindle - First Edition: $ 2.99
ISBN: B088SYNN1S
Pages: 300

Only true love can free a captive heart.

Landon Jenks, retired four-time Golden Glove-winning shortstop for the Chicago Cubs, is lonely, heartbroken, and in desperate need of simple human contact. Trapped in the sticky fine print of an ironclad contract that forbids him from revealing his very-much-single status until the season finale of his reality show airs, he calls an elite male escort service that caters to the rich and wretched.

Accustomed to servicing his often less than savory clients at more upscale locales, twenty-six-year-old Toby Carmichael is surprised when his handler sends him to a run-down motel off I-55. But “surprise” doesn’t come close to describing the shock that rocks his system when a delightful stuttering mess covered in tattoos and nearly ten years his senior stumbles into the room—and right into his heart.

For the first time since Toby was forced into the life of prostitution, a kiss sparks a desire that has nothing to do with money and everything to do with genuine chemistry and the faintest beginnings of something so much more. But Toby’s dark past and troubled present make it impossible to see a future with Landon. And when the truth comes to light, a horrified and helpless Landon is determined to save Toby at all costs.

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Tropes: Age Difference, Class Differences, Famous / Not Famous, Healing Power of Sex, Hurt / Comfort, Love Can Heal / Redemption, Rescue


Setting: Chicago, Illinois

Languages Available: English

Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters

Excerpt:

Landon stood outside a dilapidated motel off I-55 on the outskirts of Chicago. He held a rusted metal key, its edges dulled from years of use. The cracked red plastic of the keyring had the numbers 103 etched into its surface. A couple flecks of gold trapped in the sharp corners of the 1 and 3 were the only telltale sign the indented numbers used to bear a cheap inlay. His eyes drifted from the key in his hand to the chipped, robin’s egg blue of the door bearing the same number.

On the other side of that worn, weathered piece of wood, a man waited for him. A man Landon had never met before, and a man he would never meet again.

Which was exactly how he wanted it… right?

Landon huffed out a breath and rolled his neck until it cracked, twice. “All right, asshole, you’re the one who asked for this. Don’t puss out now.”

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He nodded at his lackluster attempt at self-encouragement and took the few steps necessary to reach the door, jamming the key into the lock without allowing his body time to catch up to his mental reluctance.

When the door popped open, he swallowed to soothe a dry throat and walked into the dimly lit room. A single lamp positioned on the peeling laminate wood of the nightstand between two double beds threw an eerie copper glow into the space. Its flickering bulb did little to calm his raging nerves. He licked his lips and cast his gaze around the room, a mixture of relief and regret sinking heavily into his gut.

He was alone.

Landon eased the door shut and stood inside it, still gripping that damn key as if it held all the answers. What had he expected to find when he walked in here? A welcoming committee?

He nearly jumped out of his own flesh when a clunking bang broke the silence in tandem with the sound of water running. Landon’s attention shifted to a door on the opposite side of the room as he ran a shaking hand through his long bangs, shoving them out of his face in the process. “Get a grip, Jenks. He’s just using the john.”

That phrase rattled through Landon’s brain a moment before a bubble of hysterical laughter slipped past his lips. Using the john. Talk about an apropos inuendo. Wasn’t a ‘john’ the term used for guys in Landon’s current position? And wasn’t he hoping to be just that…. Used?

The bathroom door clicked open, and Landon retreated a step as his mystery guest filled the frame, propping a shoulder against the warped wood. Black boxer briefs hugged his narrow hips and accentuated the cut of hard thighs. His chiseled, tanned chest was bare, his pec muscles flexing as he crossed his arms and committed further to his casual lean.

As Landon’s hesitant gaze moved up, he bit back a slew of profanity threatening to tumble from his lips. If possible, the face attached to that Adonis body was even more beautiful. The jaw was strong and angular, dusted by a sandy five o’clock shadow a shade darker than the light brown of his hair, and a smile befitting an A-list model stretched a set of lush, full lips.

But it was those eyes that drew a low-grade whimper up Landon’s throat. Their color wasn’t distinguishable in the dim lighting, but they sparkled with humor and a hint of something else. Something darker, somehow tragic, yet hidden well behind a mask of cocky confidence.

Jesus fuck. What had he gotten himself into?

“Enjoying the view?”

Those words dripped into the silence like honeyed whiskey. Smooth, deep, and sinful as hell.

“I….” Landon clenched his jaw. What was he supposed to say to that? Yes? “Ah….”

A chuckle rumbled up the Adonis’s ripped chest, its warmth filling the stale air and sparking electricity over Landon’s skin. “Am I making you nervous?”

“Ah, you could say that.” Landon dropped his chin with a groan. “I’m sorry.”

“No need to apologize.” A hint of empathy softened the man’s voice. “This your first time?”

Landon squeezed his eyes shut as heat crept up his throat, burning his cheeks. “That obvious, huh?”

That chuckle rolled through the room again, but this time it was closer. Landon peeked open an eye and drew back in surprise when his stare locked onto a pair of gorgeous hazel irises, perfectly on level with his own. The younger man—easily a decade if not more below Landon’s own thirty-five years—ran a lazy hand through his sandy brown, styled-back locks before closing the distance between them even further.

“This your first time ever, first time with a guy, or just your first time with someone like me?”

Oh, god, oh, fuck. The flush kept climbing until the very tips of Landon’s ears were aflame. “No, I mean, this isn’t my actual first time. I-I’ve done it… I mean, this… before. I mean, shit, not this, but, you know… with a guy. Jesus. I’m sorry. I should just go.”

The Adonis’s radiant smile returned, nearly blinding Landon with its bright white brilliance. “You’re adorable, you know that?”

Adorable. Great. Just what every guy wanted to be called when he stood in front of a nearly naked Greek god. A nearly naked Greek god he’d paid to have sex with him.

Shit.

Landon puffed out his cheeks on a heavy exhale. “I don’t know what I’m doing here. This was a mistake. I should really go. I’m so sorry for wasting your time. I….” He scrunched up his face on a low groan. “Jesus, I’m sorry. I’m such an ass.”

The man took a step back, offering a weak smirk. “I didn’t mean to weird you out. I should be the one apologizing. I’m used to clients wanting that brash behavior. Didn’t read the room right, I guess.”

“It isn’t your fault. I just….” Landon scraped his teeth over his lower lip and let out a shaky sigh. “This was a stupid idea. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Quirking a brow, the guy folded those cut arms over his muscled chest, sending a ridiculous punch of lust straight into Landon’s groin. “I assume you were thinking you’d get laid. That’s what most of my clients are looking for. Nothing wrong with that.”

“No, it wasn’t….” Landon groaned and pressed a fist between his eyes. “I thought I could be something… someone… I’m not. Just for one night. But I can’t. This isn’t me. I don’t do crazy shit like this.”

When Landon glanced up, his heart squeezed. The younger man stood rigid, staring at the floor, his tongue running over that full bottom lip in a slow, repetitious rhythm. He looked about as lost as Landon felt, and wasn’t that un-fucking-expected?

Then again, how else would he react to those harsh words? Landon had all but denounced his profession as something, what, beneath him? Idiot.

“I didn’t mean to say there’s anything wrong with doing this because there isn’t. It just isn’t something I’ve ever done or thought I’d do. I’m… boring. Non-adventurous. Not really the one-night-stand kinda guy, you know? Not that I’m saying this would be a one-night-stand. I mean, I know that’s not what it means to you. Not that one-night-stands mean anything, I just…. Oh my god.” He covered his face with both hands. “I’m having some sort of malfunction. Feel free to go and leave me alone to drown in my humiliation.”

That spine-tingling laugh filled the room again. “Why don’t we take this slow? We have all night, after all.”

Landon let his hands fall even as his shoulders slumped with relief. Sure, he’d been the one to initiate this whole thing, but he was terrible at sex even when he was in an established relationship. How in the hell was he supposed to do it with a man he’d never met? A professional, even?

Maybe he could take things so slow they wouldn’t happen at all?

Resolved to shift the awkward tension away from his sexual ineptitude, Landon cracked his knuckles. “Are you, ah, hungry by any chance?”

The Adonis tilted his head, a grin pulling at his lips. “I can always eat.”

Landon yanked his cell free of his back pocket. “I saw a Chinese restaurant down the street advertising delivery. Does that… I mean… are you okay with that? We can do whatever. I just thought it’d be easiest.”

“Chinese sounds amazing.” His smile softened, treading carefully over Landon’s disastrous nerves. “I’m happy with anything, but unfortunately, I don’t carry money on jobs.”

“Oh, yeah, no, of course. I’ve totally got this. Not a, ah, not a problem.” Landon swallowed and ducked his head, cursing himself as he located the Chinese restaurant on his phone. “Do you know what you want, or—”

“I’m the opposite of picky. Just order two of whatever you’re getting.”

Landon nodded and turned away, putting the phone to his ear. He placed identical orders for beef and broccoli with fried rice and an egg roll on the side. At the last minute, he added a two liter of soda before giving the motel name and their room number. They took his card over the phone, then he hung up and shifted his gaze to the Greek god.

He’d slipped into a pair of black dress pants and a skintight ribbed tank in a dark charcoal gray. Part of Landon missed the delicious view, but a much bigger part of him appreciated the step away from painful awkwardness the clothing provided.

The Adonis tucked his hands into the front pockets of his slacks and rocked onto the balls of his bare feet. “So, food’s en route. Wanna watch a little TV while we wait? Or did you have something else in mind? I’m down for whatever you wanna do, boss.”

Landon glanced at the two double beds facing the old school tube television. “Yeah, no, ah, that sounds good. TV, I mean.”

Nodding, the man wandered to the closest bed, snatching the remote off the nightstand with the flickering lamp before stretching out with his back propped against the cracked pleather headboard. He patted the bed beside him and cocked his lips into a lopsided grin. “Hop on board. Let’s see what gems local television has to offer on a Saturday night.”

Following the quiet directive, Landon slipped onto the bed. A scrumptious combination of sandalwood and leather drifted his direction, and Landon’s cock twitched unhelpfully in his pants. He shifted, placing his folded hands over his lap and praying to achieve the level of nonchalance he aimed for.

As they skimmed through the slim selection of channels, Landon cleared his throat. “So…. Are you allowed to tell me your name?”

The guy lifted a careless shoulder. “Not something my clients usually wanna know, but I’m not against a first name exchange if you aren’t.” He offered a hand and Landon took it with a tentative squeeze. “Name’s Toby.”

Toby. The name suited his Adonis perfectly. A punch of fuck-yeah-that’s-hot with a hint of cute to soften the blow. Landon pulled his hand back and re-crossed his arms. He was hesitant to share his own, but seeing as how he’d been the one to ask in the first place, it was only fair to offer his in return. “I’m Landon.”

Toby’s brow arched, and a crooked grin lifted one corner of his lips. “Landon, eh? Doesn’t quite fit your adorable awkwardness. You sure you’re not making that up?” When Landon’s eyes widened and he opened his mouth to say god knows what in response, Toby winked. “Just kidding. It actually fits you quite well.”

Adorable awkwardness. Jesus. He really had made an ass out of himself, hadn’t he?

They landed on a local horror movie host who wore a theatrical vampire costume and spoke with exaggerated mouth movements and elongated vowels. Before the first scene of the B-movie flashed onto the screen, they’d shared several chuckles. When their food arrived a half hour later, Landon had to wipe tears of laughter from his eyes as he answered the door.

They ate their Chinese on the bed, sitting cross-legged, while they finished the ridiculous movie. By the time it was over, their food was gone, and Toby had mastered the host’s outlandish, overdone speech pattern, drawing deep belly laughter from Landon each time he spoke.

He turned to Landon, and in that almost indiscernible, ridiculous cadence, he asked, “Would it be okay if I kissed you?”

Landon clutched his stomach as he came down off a rolling wave of laughter and swiped at his eyes. “I’m sorry, say what?”

This time, Toby spoke in his normal honeyed whiskey voice. A surprising intensity filled his eyes when their gazes met. “I said, would it be okay if I kissed you?”

The question threw a wrench into Landon’s inner gears, and his brain stuttered to a halt. Hadn’t there been a rule about not kissing? Even if there hadn’t been, why would Toby want to kiss him after he’d made an ass of himself all evening? Snorting and crying in laughter was hardly better than stammering over the topic of sex like some adolescent virgin.

As if he could read minds, Toby traced a knuckle down the thick beard covering Landon’s jaw. “I know you were told no kissing, but I’m allowed to revamp the rules on the fly if I want. And right now? I definitely wanna kiss you.”

“Oh.” Landon cursed the heat scorching his flesh, bringing a cold sweat to his brow.

“Does ‘oh’ mean yes or no?”

“Oh, ah….” A cackle rose up Landon’s throat. He squeezed his eyes closed in horror. “God, I swear I’m not usually this awkward.”

Toby’s warm palm pressed against Landon’s cheek. “Look at me.”

Landon obeyed the gentle command, lifting his lids until his gaze fell on those soft golden-green eyes. Toby’s countenance was no longer humored, filled instead with kindness and a sense of understanding Landon had never expected to find in a situation like this.

“All the stigma of being with a whore aside, is there any part of you that wants to see what might happen if I kiss you? Not because you paid me to, but because I want to. Because, maybe, you want to as well.”

No way Toby really meant that. He undoubtedly had hot bodies throwing themselves at him left and right, not only because of his profession, but because he was exquisitely beautiful. No way he’d want someone like Landon.

Not unless he’d recognized him. And if he had, it wouldn’t be Landon he’d want, would it? It’d be the man Landon had needed so badly to not be tonight.

That would be almost worse than not being wanted at all.

He’d paid for the illusion of being wanted. Of being needed. This show Toby put on was just part of the pricy package Landon had purchased to not only assure his anonymity, but to guarantee the happy ending he couldn’t seem to find anywhere else.

What ever possessed him to believe this was a good idea? Why was he treating another human being like nothing more than a body to be used? Simply to slake his own needs and hide from his own failures?

He was such a piece of shit.

“Listen, I really should go. I, ah, I’ll still pay you, of course, I just—”

Toby raised his other hand and cradled Landon’s face with both palms, forcing Landon to make eye contact.

“You came here tonight for a reason. I’m not judging you, so stop judging yourself.” The soft pads of Toby’s thumbs brushed over Landon’s lips. “Now, I’ll ask you again…. What’s ‘oh’ mean?”

COLLAPSE

About the Author

Evie Drae is a registered nurse by day and a best-selling, award-winning male/male romance writer by night. She is married to the love of her life, is the mother of three wonderful fur babies, and runs almost entirely on coffee and good vibes.

One of Evie’s favorite things to do is encourage her fellow writers. To that end, she started the #writeLGBTQ and #promoLGBTQ hashtags on Twitter to support and promote LGBTQ+ authors and allies while providing a safe space to connect and grow as a community.

Evie loves to link up with fellow writers and readers. Twitter is where she’s most active but be sure to check out her blog too. She focuses on reviews for LGBTQ+ authors and allies with the occasional quirky advice/recommendation post just to toss things up.