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(THE PROTECTORS Book #3)
BY SLOANE KENNEDY
Ex Special Forces soldier Michael “Hawke” Hawkins has spent every day of the last ten years waiting for the moment he would get to watch the life fade from the eyes of the men who brutally murdered his wife, but when he finally gets the break he’s been waiting for, the trail leads him to someone he wasn’t expecting.
After nearly two years of running, 24-year-old Tate Travers has become an expert at hiding…until the day a dangerous stranger shows up looking for vengeance and threatens to destroy the fragile life Tate has managed to build for himself and his five-year-old son. Except the life Tate has been struggling to hold on to started unraveling long before Hawke showed up looking for the same men Tate has been running from…his own father and older brother.
Retribution – it’s all Hawke has wanted since the day he held his wife’s hand as she took her last breath. And he won’t give that up for anything or anyone…not even the tormented young man trying to give his little boy a better life. Because Tate is the only one who can lead Hawke to the men he’s been searching for. And if it means forcing the young man to confront the past that nearly destroyed him, then so be it.
Only the last thing Hawke expects to feel is something besides the hatred that has driven him. And he definitely never expected to feel it for a man.
But when it comes down to choosing between the unwanted feelings Tate stirs in him and the revenge he’s finally close enough to taste, will Hawke be able to give up the one thing that has kept him going for a second chance at a future he gave up on ever having?
Retribution (The Protectors, Book 3)
“You’re lying,” I snapped even though in my gut, I knew he wasn’t. I couldn’t explain how I knew, I just did. And I’d learned long ago to trust my instincts, even when my head was telling me not to. But I kept my gun pointed at the man – Tate – because I also knew he was my only link to the men I was looking for.
“I swear, I’m not,” he said with a shake of his head.
“Daddy,” the little boy whispered with a tug of his hand on his father’s shirt.
“It’s okay, buddy,” Tate murmured as he reached behind himself to put his hand on his son’s shoulder. But his eyes never left mine. “Please,” he begged.
But I didn’t just hear his plea. I heard hers too. How many times had the same word fallen from her frightened lips as she was being brutalized? And it just hadn’t been her life she’d been begging for…
I hadn’t realized I’d dropped my eyes to the little boy until Tate’s shaky voice got my attention. I knew without question that the kid was the linchpin…even a subtle threat against him would get me what I wanted.
“What’s your name?” I asked the terrified little boy.
“Sir-” Tate said again, but a hard glance in his direction had him falling silent.
“Matthew,” the kid said, his voice low and uneven. “But Daddy calls me Matty.”
Matty had stuck his head around his father’s body to answer me, but even before he finished his last statement, Tate was gently pushing the kid back behind him.
“Please sir, I’m begging you…”
I finally lowered the gun and settled my eyes on Tate. “Where are they?”
A slight shudder went through Tate’s body. “I…can I put Matty to bed? It’s…it’s really late.”
I studied the younger man for a long moment. I was pretty sure I was right about him being in his mid-twenties and though he wasn’t quite as tall as me, he appeared more muscular than I’d first guessed. His brown hair was just a little too long and I found a sudden and very disturbing urge to push back a few of the strands that kept falling over his forehead. I shoved the errant thought away and took in the rest of him. He had a rangy look to him but more than anything, I noticed the strain that made him appear to have lived every single one of his young years and then some. His body said he was in his twenties but his eyes said he was much older…that he’d seen much more than most.
“Give me your phone,” I said.
“I…I don’t have one.”
He must have seen the irritation in my face because his eyes fell to my gun and he said, “I’m telling you the truth. I had one of those disposable ones where you buy the minutes, but I couldn’t afford to reload it so they turned it off a couple days ago.” Tate swallowed hard when I rubbed my finger over the trigger on the gun. It was a habit on my part more than anything else, but I didn’t mind if he thought the move meant something else.
“The phone is in that drawer,” he said as he pointed to a small single drawer table by the door. I kept my eyes on him as I checked the drawer and pulled out an older model flip phone. I had to turn it on and sure enough, when I tried to dial, I got a message saying the phone had been deactivated.
“What about a landline?” I asked.
Tate shook his head but didn’t say anything. I wondered how the hell someone managed to go this day and age without any kind of phone, but didn’t say anything. I tossed the cell phone back in the drawer and went back to stand in front of Tate and his son who was peeking around his father’s leg to watch me with curiosity.
“Where’s his room?” I asked.
“Back there,” Tate said, motioning behind him with his head.
I nodded and Tate quickly turned around and picked his son up. He stripped the backpack the kid had been wearing off and dropped it to the floor and then cast me several glances over my shoulder as he went to a small room on one side of the cramped apartment…although apartment was a generous term for the confined space. From what I could tell, the kid’s room was the only actual room besides the bathroom. The rest of the space was open and there was a tiny kitchen with a small table jammed against the dingy window. The living room had one couch which was covered with a sheet and a single pillow and folded blanket on one end. There was a small, old fashioned TV on a TV dinner tray table in the corner.
As shitty as the apartment was, the kid’s room was a whole other story. It was painted bright blue and there were all sorts of posters covering the walls, most of them depicting some kind of superhero. There was a laundry basket full of toys in the corner and the bed had several stuffed animals sitting on top of the Iron Man comforter. Next to the bed was an old milk crate stacked high with books.
“Okay, let’s get jammies on,” Tate murmured as he searched through the drawers of a faded yellow dresser. I wasn’t surprised to see that the pajamas had Captain America all over them. As Tate put Matty down so he was standing on the bed and began to undress him, the little boy kept glancing my way.
“Is he gonna shoot us, Daddy?” Matty asked as he braced his hands on his father’s shoulders to steady himself as Tate worked his pants off and replaced them with the pajama bottoms.
“No, he’s not,” Tate said firmly as he got his son’s attention. “He…he just got us confused with some other people, okay?”
After four years abroad, artist Jonas Davenport has come home to start building his dream of owning his own art studio and gallery. But just as he’s ready to put the darkness of his past behind him forever, it comes roaring back with a vengeance.
The only thing keeping ex-cop Mace Calhoun from eating his own gun after an unthinkable loss is his role in an underground syndicate that seeks to get justice for the innocent by taking the lives of the guilty. Ending the life of the young artist who committed unspeakable crimes against the most vulnerable of victims should have been the easiest thing in the world. So why can’t he bring himself to pull the trigger?
After years of fighting in an endless, soul-sucking war, Navy SEAL Cole Bridgerton has come home to fight another battle – dealing with the discovery that the younger sister who ran away from home eight years earlier is lost to him forever. He needs answers and the only person who can give them to him is a young man struggling to put his life back together. But he never expected to feel something more for the haunted artist.
Cole and Mace. One lives by the rules, the other makes his own. One seeks justice through the law while the other seeks it with his gun. Two men, one light, one dark, will find themselves and each other when they’re forced to stand side by side to protect Jonas from an unseen evil that will stop at nothing to silence the young artist forever.
But each man’s scars run deep and even the strength of three may not be enough to save them…
Trauma surgeon Ronan Grisham lost everything the day the man he loved was stolen from him in a brutal attack. Driven by a thirst for vengeance, he turns his hatred into building an underground group that can do what he couldn’t that fateful day…take the lives of the guilty to save the lives of the innocent. But years later, he’s forced to confront the one link to his past that he can’t sever.
Seven years after the loss of his parents in a violent home invasion that left him permanently scarred both inside and out, 21-year-old Seth Nichols is trying to put his life back together so he can take over the reins of his father’s global shipping empire. But the last person he expects to come back into his life is the man he drove away with one innocent, stolen kiss.
With one brush of his lips, Seth managed to do to Ronan what no other had since the day Ronan watched the light in his fiancé’s eyes go out forever. He made him need again. But Ronan can’t need anyone, least of all his dead fiancé’s younger brother. Because even one touch from Seth could shatter Ronan’s carefully constructed world and Ronan knows there’s no coming back from that a second time.
But when a series of escalating attacks against Seth forces Ronan back into his life, Seth knows it’s his last chance to show Ronan he can be the man the broken surgeon needs. Only the Ronan who returns isn’t the Ronan Seth fell in love with so long ago…
Can Seth be Ronan’s salvation or will he end up destroying them both?
Although Sloane Kennedy always dreamed of being a writer as a teenager, she didn't take the plunge until March of 2015 when she released her first novel as an independen