First Chapter Sneak Peek: Hunter & Hunted (Darkvale Book One)

It's almost time. I'm still working on the last edit, but the book will be ready next Tuesday, March 1st!

Yay!

The kink it a tad lighter in this book than Titan in Chains, but the next Broken Heroes book will have more kink to make up for it! Also, there'll be more kink in the next Darkvale book too.

Makoto likes it. Do you?


Now check out the first chapter. As always, my mailing list will get to read the second chapter as well. Join here!

Oh, and since I'm still working on the final edits, there might be typos and whatnot. Sorry about that!

Chapter one


The kid was gay.
Hunter noticed it right off. He was always good at shit like that. And no, it wasn’t because the kid in question had his lips wrapped around a dick or anything. It was more subtle than that.
A little of it had to do with the way he carried himself, shoulders slumped forward against the cold autumn air and a scarf (that looked way too nice for someone who was homeless) tied just so. He looked like someone who was used to making himself smaller for the benefit of others. The gay kids who ended up here usually looked like that.
His hair was a bit longer than was currently in style. It hung over his eyes and rustled against his ears in the breeze. The stark fluorescent lights that illuminated the shelter’s sign cast a greenish glow over it and made what was probably light brown look green.
Hunter ignored that and focused on the coat the kid wore—smudged with grime but obviously designer in cut and quality. Yet, the kid looked about as far from someone who should be wearing those clothes as one could.
From Hunter’s vantage point in the alley, he could see the sharp cut of the kid’s cheekbones and the dryness of his lips, which he kept licking—probably a nervous habit. His hair was lank and his boots were covered in a thin layer of mud. Whoever he was, he’d been on the street for a while.
That’s probably what brought him here, and how Hunter knew this kid was definitely queer. Because the Alliance Youth Center was one of two LGBTQ shelters in Darkvale City, and the one downtown filled up early every night. That meant that the homeless gay kids needed to get their asses over here if they wanted dinner, a shower and a warm place to sleep.
Safety, well, that was another issue.
It’s why Hunter was here.
He’d spent the night in Alliance a few times out of necessity a little over a year ago. Things had been fine then. Decent food. A shower. A cot tucked into the corner with one of those scratchy wool blankets tossed on top. They were good for keeping warm, at least. Plus, this shelter didn’t have any rats.
Some of the smaller shelters didn’t care much about the rodent problem, or they didn’t have the funds to do anything about it, but word was Alliance had major financial backing so they could keep the pests at bay. Rich folks liked to open places like that so they didn’t feel as guilty about owning all those yachts, he guessed.
However, about six months ago, everything changed.
Hunter heard about it from Benny Shanks first, and Steph confirmed it. Said she knew a kid who got assaulted in the bathroom by one of the volunteers. Hunter found the kid, a boy who was only fourteen and scared shitless. Hunter’s guts turned inside out as he listened to the story. There were more—the kid said—at least ten others who’d been attacked, and none of them could go to the cops and report it. Who the hell would listen to them?  
Who the hell cared?
No one but Hunter.
The perp in question only went after boys—the smaller ones that didn’t look like they could fight back. Hunter asked around and found out the asshole’s name was Clive Anders, and he was middle-aged and balding—completely average in everyway. He had a family and went to church on Sundays. Lived across the river in Hope Harbor with a nice suburban house, a yard, and a dog. No one suspected anything out of the ordinary from him.
The asshole didn’t seem like a sleazy raping fuck, but real monsters never looked the part, in Hunter’s experience.
This kid was just Clive’s type.
Hunter gritted his teeth and instantly regretted it as the air turned them to ice. While the days warmed up, the nights were dipping closer and closer toward freezing. Too bad winter lasted for at least four months—sometimes five. It was the hardest time to be homeless in Darkvale.
Heh. It’d be much easier to be homeless in Florida. Someplace warm with a nice beach where he wouldn’t have to worry about how to stay alive one more night. Well, that wasn’t fair. Homeless people down there had to stay alive too, but without the freezing temperatures they had one less thing to worry about.
The kid shoved his hands into his pockets and blew out his cheeks. He’d been loitering in front of the shelter for about twenty minutes now, and he hadn’t gone inside yet. Maybe he’d just chicken out and split. That way Hunter would have one less person to worry about before he did what needed to be done.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was fucking necessary.
And it’s not like anyone else was going to do it.
If the Victory Squad weren’t puppets for the establishment, they might’ve done something about Anders. But they took orders from the DCPD like good little dogs—no wonder Jordan joined their ranks. He thought his stupid powers made him better at protecting people than Hunter, yet the VS was no where to be found when someone like this needed help.
Sure, there was that other mask, the shadowy one called X that haunted the city by night and busted criminals the VS wouldn’t touch. Who knows if he’d go after some small time pervert like Clive Anders?
Hunter wasn’t going to wait and see.
This was his game.
He might not be able to shift into a giant wolf or read minds or have hands that were made of fucking hammers (some of the shit Hunter had seen on the streets was pretty damn crazy), but he could still help the people who needed it the most. People most of those damn heroes forgot about.
Though, in reality, Hunter didn’t have much of a plan besides ‘catch the fucker alone and beat the shit out of him until his dick didn’t work anymore’ all while leaving him alive. The last thing Hunted needed was a murder hanging over his head. He wasn’t his dad.
But this kid showed up and complicated things.
Not to mention the old timer in the trench that watched from across the street. He might be a perv too. The way he hung around reminded Hunter of the johns who came into Chinatown looking for the youngest whore they could find, and it set his teeth on edge.

Hunter needed to step out of the shadows and warn the kid what might happen if he went inside and got a bed for the night. He balled his hands, ready to step out, but before he got the chance, the kid took a deep breath grabbed the handle and stalked inside.
Hunter hung back and waited, scowling into the shadows around him.
His leather jacket kept off most of the chill and the gloves would keep his fingerprints from getting cataloged. The beanie on his head pulled down into a ski mask. He might be a violent delinquent, but he wasn’t stupid.
Hunter flicked his eyes to his watch and frowned.
It took him weeks to figure out Clive’s volunteer schedule so he could catch the asshole alone in Darkvale. Traveling across the river was too dangerous. The cops would actually investigate a crime that took place in Hope Harbor.
In Darkvale, they’d chalk it up to another mugging gone wrong and call it a night.
Of course Clive had to come tonight of all nights, when Martina was actually going to be home from work and cooking arroz con pollo for dinner. And she’d invited Hunter over so he didn’t have to feel like such a huge mooch for once.
Well, the food could wait.
Martina could wait.
He was finishing this tonight.
Or as soon as Clive got his ass to the shelter.
Hunter had planned to catch the bastard before he entered and take him out from there, but after another half hour, the clawing doubt filled his gut. Hunter thought he got there early enough. Clive was supposed to be at the shelter by seven p.m., but it was after eight and he hadn’t arrived.
Hunter cursed under his breath and pulled out his cell. It was a burner phone. Untraceable, or, that’s what Dino said. And Dino was the guy who knew a hell of a lot more about current tech than Hunter himself. For shit like this it came in handy.
He took a deep breath and dialed the Alliance number. It rang three times before someone picked up—a peppy sounding teenage girl. “You’ve reached Alliance. We still have five beds for the night.”
Hunter put on his best rich asshole voice. “Yes, I’m actually calling about one of your volunteers. Clive Anders? His wife said he’d be there tonight, and I need to talk to him about work so. . . .”
The girl took a breath and held it. She probably knew. Hell, she was probably homeless and working the lines for extra cash. Better than hooking. Didn’t pay as well, but at least she wouldn’t get an STD or knocked up. Or worse. Working girls never got a happy ending in Darkvale. “Oh, Mr. Anders is here. He actually showed up early to help clean the showers. I think he’s still there. Let me check.”
“Don’t bother. I’ll try his cell again. Maybe he’ll pick up this time,” Hunter said and hung up.
The old timer had slunk away at some point. Good. That meant there weren’t any witnesses.
His heart pounded in his chest, and he charged to the back of the shelter. The front entrance was way too conspicuous, but the back emptied into an alley with the dumpsters. It also opened right to a maintenance room off the boy’s bathrooms. The last time he stayed there, he used that exit to sneak out and have a smoke.
Now he was using it for something different.
How could he be stupid enough not to realize that asshole could’ve come early? And that kid was probably naked and wet while that sick fuck was trying to—
The maintenance door was locked, but the tire iron in Hunter’s fist saw to that. He shoved with his shoulder and tugged his mask down as he burst into the dark supply closet. He tripped over a mop and bucket before he found the interior door—also locked. Can’t trust homeless kids with heavy chemicals and brooms, after all.
On the other side of the door, he heard a voice that sent a stab of cold to his heart. His skin crawled.
“I’d really rather shower alone, thanks.” The voice was steady but there was a slight tremor underneath, though it sounded like he was trying to hide it.
A young man. Maybe the kid he’d seen outside. Maybe not.
Hunter would find out soon enough.
“I’m just cleaning. Go ahead. You look like you need the hot water. Don’t worry. I don’t bite,” Clive Anders said in a voice that crawled up Hunter’s spine like something wet and slimy.
Hunter growled and yanked out his lock picks. Looks like he had a little extra time before that sicko made a move. Still, his hands shook as he tried to work around those damn gloves.
There was a shuffling of clothes and the sound of water running when the first cry sounded.
Hunter had the lock pick with the tumbler ready to turn when he heard it and tightened his grip. The picks clattered to the ground, and the door was still locked.
Fuck this!
“I said to get away from me!”
“Come on. We both know you want this. Why else would you be here, little slut?”
Hunter’s heart felt close to jumping out of his throat as he shoved the lock picks back into his pocket and picked up the tire iron again.
Mask on?
Check.
“There’s no where to go. The door’s locked. Just give me what I want, and I won’t hurt you.”
“Hurt me?” It sounded like a breath of air, and Hunter wondered how many other young men Clive said that to. How many believed him and went through with it because they were scared and alone and giving in meant they’d at least get to sleep in a damn bed for once and not have to worry about being knifed in an alley.
A grunt of pain and a heavy thud rang from the shower room.
Hunter took a step back and slammed into the door with the heel of his boot. The lock gave.
Cracked.
The door swung open.
The kid Hunter watched come inside stood there, but he wasn’t naked and wet, like Hunter thought he’d be.
Nope.
Instead, the kid was fully clothed except for his jacket and boots. His hair looked like it’d gotten mussed in the tussle, but he wasn’t crying or otherwise hurt.
Other way around, actually.
He stood over Clive Ander’s, whose nose bled freely through his hands as he writhed on the floor.
The kid stared at Hunter. “You know this is a homeless shelter, right? They don’t have any cash.”
It was Hunter’s turn to stare. He did. “No shit. I’m not here to rob the joint.”
“Oh,” the kid said and kicked Clive Anders in the gut when the man tried to get up. It was a well placed kick, meant to knock the breath from someone’s lungs—maybe break his ribs. Then the kid looked at his bloody knuckles and frowned. They were already bruising. “He attacked me, so I—”
“I know. I’m here to rob him, actually. I’ll get out of your way,” Hunter said and grabbed Clive by the hair. The bastard slid easily across the tile, groaning the entire time.
The kid watched, his eyes wide. “Are you one of those vigilantes? Like X or the VS?”
Hunter scoffed. “Hell no. I’m just a mugger. I heard something from the alley and thought I’d better check it out.”
The kid raised his brows. His eyes were a sharp blue and his hair was lighter than it’d looked at a distance, the ends a dark blond. “That sounds fishy as all hell. You’re here for him, aren’t you? Because he’s done this before.”
Hunter reached the exit and shrugged. “Can’t say. I just want this fucker’s wallet, and I’m gonna make sure he can’t attack any kids like you ever again. Is that good enough?”
When the hell was this kid gonna let it go? He asked way too many questions to have been on the street long, and yet that hollowness that invaded his eyes didn’t just crop up overnight. No. That took years to develop.
“Yeah. But—are you going to kill him?”
Hunter’s jaw tightened. “Do you really want to know what I’m gonna do to him?”
The kid’s eyes fell to Clive Ander’s, and he licked his lips. “You want me to have plausible deniability since the cops will think I was in on it if they find him in the river. Put him in the trash if you don’t want them to find his body—it gets picked up tomorrow and they probably won’t check.”
Okay. Hunter wasn’t expecting that kind of answer.
“Thanks,” he said and yanked Clive into the alley and around the corner.
The anger that burned inside Hunter for the last few weeks flared now that the moment had arrived. This pathetic asshole was overcome by a kid almost half his size—which, well, that probably had more to do with the kid than with Clive Anders himself.
All the people he’d hurt. It had to be more than the ones Hunter knew about—maybe boys who were friends with this sick fuck’s daughters. Yeah, he deserved what was coming to him.
His gloved hand tightened on the tire iron, the left one, and he gripped Ander’s chin with the right. “I know why you volunteer here. What you did to those boys. And I’m gonna make sure you can’t do it again. Ever.”
“Please! I have a family. Kids. I—”
The tire iron slammed into Ander’s knee, the bone crunching under the blow. Once. Twice.
“You rape homeless gay kids because they’re not gonna report it. That’s that you do!” Hunter growled, smashing his heel into Ander’s pathetic excuse for a dick.
The man screamed. Whimpered. Tried to crawl away, but Hunter yanked him by the ankle through the puddles of piss and grim on the alley floor.
Hunter moved on to the other knee cap.
Crack.
“Don’t worry. I’m not gonna kill you; I’m just gonna break you so every time you think about touching someone, you’ll think about this. About me.”
Hunter’s hands shook as worked down Ander’s legs. Stomping his feet into the bastards groin for good measure with every new snap of bone.
Staying away from his head and the vital organs was important—anything that could kill him was off limits.
“Don’t think you’ll be walking for awhile,” he grumbled and turned.
Anders groaned. Drooled. He raised his hands to his face, and Hunter snatched them away, stepping on the bastard’s shoulder with all his weight.
“I’ll do your fingers now,” he snarled.
Gripped Ander’s wrist in his hand and bent back the fucker’s thumb.
Snap.
The man let out a broken cry.
Hunter bent back the ring finger next, and each one in turn, until Ander’s hands were useless.
Every broken bone was a penance for the kids he’d hurt.
“Remember, if you ever touched anyone again, you’ll end up in pieces in five different dumpsters scattered around Darkvale. No one will ever find all of you. That’s a promise.”
Ander’s eyes rolled back in his head, and he stilled, but he was alive.
Hunter checked the sicko’s pulse.
That was good enough.
Hunter tossed the tire iron into the alley next to the body and threw one last glance at the shelter’s door. His chest heaved, and sweat dripped down his back. A shower at Martina’s place was gonna feel damn good—and get rid of any evidence on his clothes, which were thankfully all black.
Hunter knew he should just leave the kid, but the thought of his face, and what happened to kids like him when left alone—how many of them didn’t make it a year on the street before they took a nose dive off the Hope Harbor bridge—drove Hunter back into the bathroom.
He expected the kid to be gone. Probably went to have dinner and forget what happened. But, just like before, the damn kid surprised him.
He sat on one of those metal benches inside the shower stall with the water running in front of him, but it barely touched his bare feet, and he was still fully clothed. It looked like he’d washed off his bloody hand with water that was way too hot and hadn’t bothered to turn it off.
He jumped when he heard Hunter’s boots on the tile floor. “I—I didn’t want to shower here. I know I should since I need it, but. . . uh, never mind. It’s not your problem.”
“No one tried the door yet?” Hunter asked and looked at the main entrance to the bathroom.
The kid shrugged. “I—No. There’s another bathroom upstairs, but it was pretty crowded so I chose this one. Stupid of me.”
Shit. Hunter needed to get out of here. Now. Not stick around after he’d committed a felony. If assault was a felony. Fuck if he knew. But. . . .
“Look, I know a place you could get something to eat and take a shower. No perverts, I promise. No one will judge you either. It’s not a shelter, but it’s safe. I mean, you don’t got any reason to trust me but the offer stands. Make up your mind. Quick.”
The kid’s head snapped up. “If I go will you show me your face?”
“As long as you don’t turn me into the cops,” Hunter said. This was pretty high on the long list of stupid things he’d done in his life. And it was a long fucking list, at least, that’s what Jordan would’ve said.
The kid nodded and turned off the water. In no time he had his shoes and coat back on, and his backpack slung over his shoulder.
They left through the back door.
When they got into the alley, the kid scanned it for Clive’s body, and Hunter was glad he’d done his dirty work around the corner. “Let’s go.”
Once they got a block from the shelter, Hunter glanced around to make sure they were alone before he yanked up the ski mask and folded it back into a beanie. The kid, whose chin came to his shoulder, stared up at him in complete awe. Not a look Hunter was unused to, but it usually came from the girls in Martina’s neighborhood.
“You’re younger than I thought,” the kid said as they stepped out of the network of back alleys and onto one of the main streets.
The traffic buzzed around them, people shuffling to and from work, trying to get out of the weather. A few scruffy old timers crouched along the street, wrapped in dirty blankets with their collection cups set out. This side of Darkvale was the exact opposite of uptown with all the modern high rises and huge gothic buildings and people with money to burn, but anyone who’d been on the street for awhile knew a place like this paid out better.
“Don’t feel like it. I’m nineteen. What’re you? Fifteen?”
“Eighteen!” the kid said.
Up close, he could pass for eighteen due to the lines around his eyes and the way his mouth pinched at the edges, but Hunter wasn’t so sure. Kids always lied about their ages on the street. He did when he was fifteen, at least.
Hunter snorted. “Sure thing, kid. What’s your name anyway?”
“Spencer, but my friends call me Spence. Not that I really have friends anymore. You?”
“I’m Hunter. And it looks like you just made a new one, Spence. I hope you like Puerto Rican food.”
The kid, Spence, nodded and his lips turned up into a tight smile.
However stupid this was, with that look on Spence’s face, Hunter didn’t regret it for one second.

People like them had to watch out for each other, after all.




Comments

  1. Kartal Masajsalonu
    Pendik MasajSalonu
    istanbul anadolu yakası, avrupa yakası, masaj salonlarımız 7/24 hizmetinizde

    ReplyDelete
  2. this was brilliant! I already love Hunter. *drools* But you know how I like my men, lol! Bought the book already and can't wait to read it :)

    ReplyDelete

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