Every century has seen its knights. But there are those who are never seen. They do what must be done, what has to be done—when nobody wants to get their hands dirty. They are called the Black Knights. First created in the 1100s by the wizard Moriel, these men seem cold and hard, and it is said that some have no soul. But for each knight, there is one who can bring out the man who waits inside. The question is whether or not he will kill the individual before he figures it out.
Through the ages, they’ve conquered and ruled and taken what they wanted. And they have adapted to modern times. Instead of being bullies for hire, they have taken their skills further—the Internet, the CIA, government infiltration, hacking, special ops, assassination, but each one of them has a need they don’t understand—to squash, kill, or destroy.
If the Knight pardons an enemy, he will no longer be cursed. If not, he will continue to live the same life again and again, and each life will make him harder and more unyielding. And each life will make it is less likely that he can be saved.
US Marshal Jaeger Tripp is assigned to the Federal Witness Protection Program. The hurt and destruction he’s seen—along with protecting criminals who are only cooperating with the authorities to keep themselves out of jail—have left him with a bleak and jaded view of both life and people. His current assignment is Wren O’Riley, a computer wizard who witnessed a high-profile cartel hit.
To Jaeger, Wren is the same as any other job. He must protect him long enough to get him to testify at trial, and his personal feelings have no place in his work and must be set aside. But that’s easier said than done. On the run and fighting for their lives, Jaeger and Wren can’t help but grow closer. And Jaeger can’t help seeing beyond Wren’s nerdy exterior to a man who might be just what Jaeger needs to settle his soul and capture his heart—if they survive long enough to get that chance.
Wren looked out the dusty front window and admired the view from what would be his home for a while. He wasn’t just thinking about the studly marshal. The log cabin appeared to be modern-rustic—if that was a style. The sturdy log structure had a wide wraparound porch and sported three rockers made of rough wood.
Wren loved the to-and-fro motion of a rocking chair—something he learned from his mother on the countless days they spent together on the family property in New Mexico, whiling the hours away. He had fond memories of his mother, and even some of his family members during those days—before he started to work for his uncle and realized exactly what the family business was. He longed for those languid days again, and if Jaeger permitted him some respite, he’d take it on the front porch, rocking.
“Home for the next month.” Wren’s daydreaming was interrupted by the deep soulful voice of his watcher.
“There’s no place for you to go, so I’ll have those handcuffs now. You’re up shit creek if you have the balls to wander in the High Peaks on your own.” Wren lifted his cuffed hands from his lap and allowed Jaeger to remove the restraints.
“I’ll get our bags.” Wren rubbed his wrists as he extricated himself from the front passenger seat. The lock mechanism on the hatch of the SUV released, and Wren opened the door and pulled out the two suitcases. He also noticed the cooler and a few other bags. Provisions.
Dragging their luggage across the gravel and dirt clearing proved more difficult than expected. His arms were a little numb from being in cuffs for so long. Wren made it to the bottom of the steps and maneuvered each bag up onto the porch and then waited for Jaeger to unlock the door.
Jaeger grabbed his small bag from the backseat of the driver’s side and strode to the door as Wren carefully scrutinized him. The marshal definitely had a chip on his shoulder.
“Is there a problem with the accommodations, Mr. O’Riley?” Wren couldn’t miss the disdain in Jaeger’s voice.
“No, there isn’t. Actually I was thinking how beautiful it is here and how this would make a nice vacation home,” Wren replied.
“Well, don’t get too comfortable. We’re not here for a fucking vacation.”
Wren nodded and accepted Jaeger’s attitude and waited patiently as he punched a code into the panel and unlocked the door. Jaeger brusquely entered before him and offered no help with the bags.
Wren plopped them on the ceramic-tiled floor at the entrance and then did a three-sixty of the large, open room. The cabin truly was beautiful. Under other circumstances Wren could picture himself being fucked by the marshal in front of the large stone fireplace. Jaeger Tripp was just his type—bad-boy attitude, soulful voice, and a strong chiseled jaw. His legs went on forever, and Wren imagined himself wrapped around Jaeger’s tapered waist. They might be the same height, but Marshal Jaeger Tripp had a good fifty pounds on Wren’s slenderer body. He looked as if he could lift a small car.
“Marshal, should I put the bags someplace specific or leave them here on the floor?” Wren moved farther into the room where the ceramic tile turned to dark, notched-wood floors. Besides the large fireplace, the living space had two striped sofas in reds, blues, and tans, with accenting pillows and a large braided rug. The kitchen, although it appeared slightly older, was clean and contained a small table and two wooden chairs. The one thing Wren noticed right away was the coffee pot on the counter. What he wouldn’t do for a cup of coffee, but he dared not ask.
“There’s two bedrooms down the hall, last two doors. Toss my bag in the last room and yours in the second.” Jaeger motioned with his head as he made for the front door. “I need to get the cooler and rest of the bags. I’ll be right back.”
With that, Jaeger walked out the front door into the dusk. Wren strode down the hall, passed a bathroom on the left and a closed door on the right, and then came to what would be his room. He left his bag in front of the door and proceeded to move to the last door, open it, and enter with the marshal’s bag. The room was decorated in a country motif, and the focal point was a large, heavy wooden bed. Wren wondered if the marshal slept in the buff. A man could dream. The door to a separate bathroom was open, and Wren could see a large claw-foot tub. Nice.
Wren wondered if the government bought the cabin already made or if they had it built to suit their needs—secluded enough to attract no attention, yet within some distance of civilization.
Wren opened the door to what would be his new sleeping quarters and placed his bag on the quilt-covered bed. The room looked very much like the other bedroom, just a tad smaller and minus its own bathroom. He’d have to use the one in the hall.
He made quick work of unpacking his meager belongings, placed them in the chest of drawers, and stowed the bag in the closet. He heard movement outside his door but tried to keep his mind off the marshal. He grabbed his toiletries, stored them in the extra bathroom, and stopped in front of the third door in the hall, which was open—the door closest to the living space.
Wren’s pants tightened when he saw Jaeger’s taut, jean-clad ass. Jaeger was leaning over a chair, banging away on a keyboard. The temporary distraction gave Wren pause. He shouldn’t be lusting after the man who was assigned to protect him, especially when he held Wren in such disdain.
Evelise Archer is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She is a new-found lover of tea, and don’t look in her office because what you find may astound you. She currently has twenty tins of tea leaves just waiting to be brewed for her drinking pleasure. She is bilingual, lives in one of the original thirteen colonies, and is a lover of the cold weather and snow. It’s a safe bet that you may find her on the beach in the autumn and winter, but rarely in the summer. She’s been married for over thirty years to a loving man who puts up with her obsession to clean—she currently owns three vacuum cleaners—, read, and spin a tale when the voices speak to her. When she’s not in front of the computer, search her out in the local gym.