Razor's Edge, The Cowboy and the Dom Trilogy, Book Two
Razor blades left by a murderer continue to remind Sam and Thomas of James, the man they lost to violence, whose killer is still out there and seems to be watching them constantly, biding his time.
Their carefully built relationship also teeters on the edge of a knife. Sam tries to be the full-time sub he thinks Thomas wants, but fails miserably, while Thomas tries to understand that Sam is unique and his cowboy’s needs don’t lend themselves to a formal BDSM lifestyle. They work through confusion, arguments, and stress, but when communication starts to break down, they struggle to reconcile their differences to learn what it means to be a “them”.
An emotional misunderstanding might be the last straw, or it might be the opportunity the killer has been waiting for to take Sam out of Thomas’s life once and for all.
- 2 To Be Read lists
Publisher: Independently Published
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Class Differences, Cultural Differences, First Time, Friends to Lovers, Hurt / Comfort, Opposites Attract
Word Count: 104531
Setting: New York City
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
“You want a ride home, little Sammy?” Angel looked tired, a little grumpy.
Sam got it. It was four in the morning and no one liked that time—just getting up or getting off work.
“You going that way? Toward Thomas’s, I mean.”
The big man looked over at him slowly, fingers combing his beard. “Thomas’s? At this hour?”
“Yessir. We cleaned out James’s place. It was time.” His late brother’s apartment had been hanging over the two of them for too long. They’d cleaned it out, then he’d moved in with Thomas. Crawling into bed with his lover was amazing. A lot of things he was learning these days were pretty fucking amazing. Hell, he could feel Thomas with him, feel the sweet sting of his Dom’s stripes right across his shoulders. It was proof they weren’t alone, either of them.READ MORE
“What, really? Thomas was really ready to do that? You need a place to stay, I got an extra room.”
“That’s kind as all get-out. Seriously. But I’m okay.” Oh, maybe it was supposed to be a secret. Thomas had said it was important to him, to keep things where they belonged. God, he needed to keep his fucking mouth shut. “I-I think I’m going to go take myself to breakfast, man, get some reading done, but thanks.”
“Shut up, Sammy. It’s not like I don’t know he’s your Master. Are you and Thomas a romantic thing now? Is this supposed to be some big secret because he’s coming off a relationship with James? Don’t be stupid. I’ll give you a ride.”
“Thanks. I appreciate it.” He didn’t know if it was a secret, if he was a secret. He hadn’t even considered it. He’d been so caught up in everything, so proud to be with Thomas, that he hadn’t been thinking.
In some ways he was always going to be a giant redneck.
“I’ll tell you, it’s a good thing you told me, because I was about to make a move myself. No lie. Leave it to Thomas to get two O’Reilly brothers. The little shit.”
Angel led him out to that big Harley.
“There seems to be something about him, yessir.”
About to make a move on him? Sleeping with Angel would be like sleeping with his big brother, Bowie. They were just alike, the two of them—huge. Sam trusted Angel with his life, but the idea of… Whoa. No.
He would let Thomas take him in every possible way. The idea of doing that with someone else made his butthole pucker.
“Hardly seems fair.” Angel climbed on and offered him a hand, grinning wide. “Well, at least I can still get you to ride bitch.”
“Absolutely. And you’re on the top of my list for fixing me when I’m broke.”
“If Thomas breaks you, I will break his head.” Angel looked back at him. “Not joking.” They took off down city streets that were much too bright for the darkest hour of the morning, and eerily deserted too. Angel didn’t seem to care much for stoplights or speed limits or really anything that might be considered obeying traffic laws.
He loved it, loved the adrenaline rush, the way Angel drove. It made him want to learn to drive a motorcycle.
Thomas lived on a more residential street, and Angel did back off the throttle a little so the Harley rumbled rather than roared, but Sam was still pretty sure they could be heard three blocks away. “You okay? You want me to walk you in?”
“Thomas will be sound asleep, I bet. I’d hate to wake him. Thank you, though.” Angel had been a dream, driving him home, making sure everything was good.
“We won’t. I won’t come in. I just want to make sure you get in all the way.”
He nodded. “Thank you. Y’all are all good to me.”
They got into the building, and the elevator crawled up. He blinked slowly, now that he was close to home, he wanted a shower and a bowl of cereal and to curl up with Thomas. Possibly on his belly. Get the fabric off his sore shoulders.
When the elevator doors opened, he chuckled as Angel walked him to the apartment door. Sam fumbled his key out, dropped it, and picked it up, sighing at himself. “Ready for a long nap and a day off.”
He put the key in the lock, grabbed the door handle, and bit out a “Fuck!” as a razor blade sliced into his palm.
“You okay? What the—shit, you’re bleeding.” Angel took the blade in one hand and opened the door with the other. “What the actual fuck?”
Sam stood there, staring at the razor, just stunned. No. No way. No fucking way.
He’d thought it was a prankster in James’s building.
“Sammy? You okay, man? Go inside.” Angel made him move, closed and locked the door behind them. “Hey. Sam.”
“I don’t understand.” God. This wasn’t a dipshit at the apartment. This wasn’t a trickster. No. This was about him.
It was about him, and now he’d brought it to Thomas. The asshole followed him to Thomas’s building.
Fuck. This was fucking about him.
His mind spun, and his heart pounded. “I need to see if Thomas is okay.”
“If…” Angel started to question him, but must have seen how serious he was. “Go. I’ll be right behind you.”
But before they made it halfway down the hall, Thomas called out for him. “Sam? Is that you? Everything okay?”
“We need you out here, Tommy.”
Sam just kept walking, his hand closed against his chest. He needed to see Thomas, to make sure he was…intact.
They met in the bedroom doorway, practically colliding in Thomas’s hurry to join them. “Sam? Angel? What’s going on? Sweetheart?”
Sam searched Thomas’s eyes, which were sleepy and worried, but his lover was whole.
Angel held up the razor blade. “On your door. He wouldn’t let me clean him up before he saw you.”
Sam had brought this to Thomas’s home. Him. Goddammit.
Thomas stared at it and sighed. “Fuck.” Thomas looked back at him. “I’m fine. You need to let Angel look at that, boy. I’m calling Colletti.”
“I’m sorry.” He headed to the kitchen and stuck his hand under the water, staring at nothing. He needed to…he ought to…he was…
Angel followed him, and he heard Thomas on his cell phone in the bedroom. “Who’s Colletti? Sam. Hey.” The water suddenly went ice cold.
His eyes flew open, his entire body jerking with the cold. “I have to take a walk. I’ll be back. I’ll bring back coffee.”
What the fuck was wrong with him?
“Like hell you will. You’re in shock, Sammy. You need to sit down.” Angel took him by the arm. “Come on. You’re going to sit and let me see that cut.”
Angel sat him down, staring right in his eyes. This wasn’t Angel his buddy talking now; this was Angel the EMT. Angel the retired Army combat medic. “Breathe, Sammy. In and out. Just relax. You’re okay.”
He wasn’t okay. He wasn’t okay at all.
“Hang on.” Angel wrapped his hand up in a kitchen towel. “Sam? Do you know where you are?” He thought he felt fingers, pressure on his wrist.
“I need to get out of here. Somebody followed me.” Poor Thomas. God.
“Detective Colletti is going to call me back in the morning.”
“Is he okay?” Thomas knelt by his chair. “Sam, are you okay?”
“He’s tachy, pulse is high. Not really focusing. I’m gonna guess he’s altered. Special K probably, maybe on the blade. A little goes a long way.”
“What? Are you kidding?”
“He keeps saying he has to go.”
“Oh, Sam.” A warm hand pressed into his cheek. “Sam, look here.”
“I’m sorry.” He forced himself to stay perfectly still, because this was going to hurt. “I brought this here somehow.”
He was going to have to leave.
“Stop, Sam. He might just as easily have followed me. Or us. It was probably both of us when we were moving James’s things and your things. This isn’t on you. But we’re going to catch him now. Colletti’s on it. He’ll call us in the morning.”
“Shit, this is a thing? Like it’s happened before?”
“Sam cut his hand a bunch of times in the other building. Even I did once. And whoever mugged him took James’s coat and nothing else. This is real, Angel. Really fucking real.”
“Oh, fuck.” Angel looked like thunderclouds were forming in his mind. “I can’t fucking believe it. Let me see your hand, Sammy.”
Sam looked to Thomas, frozen where he was. He’d known Thomas would agree that he should leave. That Thomas would say it wasn’t worth it.
“Yeah. He’s out of it.” Angel just took his hand.
“Sweetheart, I’m right here. I’ve got you; you’re safe, okay? Angel says there was something on that blade that’s got you a little…stoned.”
“I don’t suppose you know when his last tetanus shot was?”
He heard Thomas snort.
“I’m going to call Gina. She’s on tonight. He needs a tetanus shot and some stitches. Take some blood. It’ll take a few. You keep him here and calm.”
“I need to—I’m sorry.” And scared. What if this was punishment for falling in love with Thomas? What if this was all his fault?
“I’ve got him. I’m just going to take him to the couch. Hope Gina doesn’t mind my boxer briefs. Come on, sweetheart. Come with me.” Thomas pulled him out of the chair, but walking was hard, so he floated a little and landed on the couch in Thomas’s arms. “You need to relax and stop saying you’re sorry. There’s nothing to be sorry for.”
Sam took a couple of deep breaths, trying to clear his head, trying to focus.
Okay. Come on, Sam. Get with the program. Wake up. Focus. “I was going to take a shower.”
A shower, a bowl of cereal, snuggling.
“I thought he’d gotten in, gotten to you.”
“You were scared, huh? I’m okay, sweetheart. I’m fine. And you’ll be fine once this…shit…wears off. Colletti thinks this is good. He thinks we’ll catch him now.”
Thomas just held him still and close. It wasn’t snuggling, but it didn’t suck.
“I vote we electrify the doorknob.”
His words drew a harsh laugh from Angel.
“I like it, Sammy. Fry the motherfucker.”
“Security camera. There are some outside the building, a couple inside too. Maybe Colletti can get the recordings. We’ll put one on the door.” Thomas stroked his head, his back.
He felt the hint of ache, the buzz from where Thomas had marked him, and his body relaxed, his panicked thoughts slowing.
“Gina is on her way.”
His day with Thomas, work, the panic, the drugs—nobody was happier than he was when the EMTs quit poking at him and headed back out the door. Angel saw the paramedics out safe and promised to stop by the next day to check in.
Thomas locked the door, including securing a chain that he’d seen hanging but hadn’t seen Thomas use before. “You want that shower, babe?”
“I do. I smell like beer.” He stood up, telling himself he needed to act like a normal, functional human being, not a stoned, stitched-up, freaked-out asshole.
Thomas caught him under one arm with a smile. “You look a little like you’ve been drinking it.” They headed down the hall together, that arm through his sturdy and warm. “You need help? Or can you manage with that hand? Oh—or is that a dumb question because you’ve broken every bone in your body and somehow have managed to shower on your own for twenty-five years?”
“Almost twenty-six.” Did he need help? No. Did he want help? God, yes. There were terrors and guilt waiting in the back of his brain, and he didn’t want to be alone with them.
“God, you’re getting old. I better come help.” He got a kiss and a smile, and Thomas started helping him undress. “You do smell like beer. Wow.”
“It’s Saturday night. I had four thrown at me. It was great.”
Thomas just gave him a shake of the head.
He knew why his lover didn’t say anything, never did about the bar. It wasn’t disapproval, or a judgment on him. Thomas just didn’t like it. He hadn’t liked it from the start—since his initiation. But his lover seemed to understand that he needed the work and never asked him not to stay, never made a stink about his choices.
Thomas got the water hot and muscled him into the shower, then set his hand up on the tile to keep it dry.
He was already feeling less fuzzy—more tired and drained from the adrenaline rush, but those sensations he knew at least—and he just…well, he didn’t understand. Why him? Why James? Why them? Was it someone at the building? Someone he worked with at Mike’s? How could it be? James didn’t go to Mike’s, hadn’t ever. Someone at Thomas’s men’s club? Why him, then? No one knew about them, and Angel had just found out tonight.
Oh. Angel knew. He needed to apologize to Thomas about telling their secret. He also needed to remind Thomas that he wasn’t completely clear on all the rules and what was a secret and what wasn’t and, shit, Angel was a friend. A real friend. But still, he needed to figure out what was between them and the bedpost and what wasn’t.
Maybe he just needed a shot or twelve and a nap.
Was six thirty in the morning too late to start drinking?
“Earth to Sam. Give me your head. Where’d you go?” Thomas started scrubbing shampoo into his hair and massaging his scalp. Oh. Thomas was actually in the shower. Like, in it with him.
“I was caught in my brain.” He hummed at the touch and leaned. He’d never done this—been with a lover in the shower. He didn’t want to miss a second of it.
“Mm-hm. I’ve made it my personal mission to get you out of your brain. Or at least into the fun part.” Thomas tipped his head back into the spray and scrubbed the soap out. “Like this. This is the fun part.”
“Yes, Sir.” He closed his eyes and let the world tighten to right here with Thomas. He should be worrying, but he was just wearing down.
“We are going to finish getting you cleaned up, and you’re going to go to bed. And you’re going to stay there until this darkness under your eyes goes away and you have color back in your face. So tell me who I talk to at the bar, because you’re not going in tonight.”
“Daddy Mike.” He answered without thought, without argument, because the idea of bed and Thomas and rest captured him.
“Good boy.” Thomas spent some time with him, running gentle, soapy hands over his skin just because he needed it, not asking or expecting anything from him but that he stay present. They toweled off, and they both had a laugh as Thomas combed his hair. “This is a new one for me. Fun, but new.”
“Me too. My first shower with a lover.” He was living in a world of firsts.
“Really?” A kiss caught him by surprise, and Thomas winked. “You got ripped off. I’ll make it much more fun next time.”
“Sounds like a plan. I’m not feeling like Super Fun Boy right now.” He tried for a smile. “Angel offered me a ride home; he does most nights. I told him I was staying here. He was shocked, and I didn’t realize I maybe shouldn’t have said anything. If I wasn’t supposed to, I’m sorry.”
“I appreciate that he gets you home safely, especially tonight. Why shouldn’t you say anything? Are you worried about your job or something?”
“No. No, he just seemed like…” He closed his eyes as he tried to remember. “Like he was surprised. He offered me his spare room.”
“Hey.” Thomas took his hands, leading him back into the bedroom. “I’m proud of you as my sub, and I’m happy to show you off as my lover to anyone who is looking my way. Will some people be put off by it? Maybe, but it’s really none of their affair. Angel probably seemed shocked because the last he knew we were still essentially negotiating. You and I have grown together very quickly, and I just haven’t spoken to him since you moved in. That’s all. He didn’t know because I hadn’t had a chance to say anything, not because I don’t want the whole world to know you’re mine.”
“Good.” He leaned in, filling his senses with Thomas, letting it soothe the sore spots, let Thomas in to the tender bits that needed loving on. “I felt you with me, all night.”
Oh, Thomas liked that. That little growl, deep in his chest said it all. “Come to bed, sweetheart.”
“Yes, Sir.” He let Thomas settle him, propping him up and around with pillows and Thomas’s body until he could melt into the comfort. A deep sigh escaped him.
“You sleep and trust that I’ve got this. I’ve got you.” Thomas kissed him lightly. “Rest.”
“Got me.” He was gone before he could kiss Thomas back.