Vasquez & James: Book One
Reclusive weaver Sonny Bly James controls every color and shape in his tapestries, but he can’t control the pattern of his life—a random encounter with Luki Vasquez, ex-ATF agent and all-around badass, makes that perfectly clear. The mutual attraction is immediate, but love-shy Sonny has retreated from life, and Luki wears his visible and not-so-visible scars like armor. Neither can bare his soul with ease.
While they run from desire, they can’t hide from the evil that hunts them. After it becomes clear that a violent stalker has targeted Sonny, Luki’s protective instincts won’t let him run far, especially when Sonny’s family is targeted as well. Whether they can forgive or forget, Sonny and Luki will have to call a truce and work together to save Sonny’s nephew and fight an enemy intent on making sure loving Luki Vasquez is the last mistake Sonny will ever make.
Vasquez and James Short Excerpts
Loving Luki Vasquez
Single Whip led into White Crane Spreads Its Wings, the name of which made Sonny adorably… all right fine, adorably happy. The sequence involved motions that at first felt counterintuitive. Like probably every student in the centuries tai chi had been around, Sonny needed help with it. As he would with any other student, Luki stood behind him, using his own hands to guide Sonny through the move. He wondered if he could get away with teaching him all the rest of the moves in just that way. Perhaps for hours. Every day. For a long time.
As he was teaching and wondering and probably even almost smiling, a wind rose up, splashing spray and sand and whipping Sonny’s long hair at Luki’s face and right into his mouth. On the word “open,” appropriately enough.
Sonny spun around, gathering up his luxurious baked-earth red hair. Before Luki had a chance to close his mouth, Sonny kissed him. A passionate, seeking sort of kiss. A kiss that Luki instinctively returned, though kissing wasn’t a large part of his intimate life, and especially not kissing on the beach.
As suddenly as he started it, Sonny ended it, leaving Luki bereft… frustrated and bereft.
Sonny turned away, refusing eye contact. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I shouldn’t have done that.” Without any further explanation, he stepped away.
Luki knew fear, could spot it from afar and pick it out in a crowded room. Right now, it ran hot through Sonny’s veins. He reached for Sonny’s arm. “Sonny, what….” What are you afraid of? He ended the question silently. Sonny had already gone.
As he wandered through his bare rooms, Luki traded the perfect, flawlessly tailored clothing he usually wore even at leisure and donned tattered jeans and a faded flannel shirt. Just what Sonny would have worn, and it helped keep Sonny alive in his mind, a man rather than a thin shade. He’d look a lot better than me wearing this, he told himself, padding over the hardwood floor to the only room in the house he ever smoked in, wondering on the way when the floor had become so cold. Once he got there, he switched on the silent fans and the omnidirectional heat, sank into the leather of the only easy chair in the house, and lit up. In his mind, he could hear Sonny clearly, as if his lover stood right next to him. Or sat by him on their love seat. Or sat on the floor at his knees making drawings for a tapestry he would weave so resplendent the world would probably weep. “You should quit,” he’d say.
Luki knew he should quit. Knew that cigarettes… cigarettes and hamburgers were the only flaws in his otherwise perfect health regime. Smoking would someday, probably soon, take a toll. Perversely, when he met Sonny he’d started smoking more than ever before, just because Sonny’s existence in the world nudged him off his solitary perch, the place where he seemingly rose above the world of emotion and let other men into his life only occasionally to practice his skills at cold but perfectly executed sex. With Sonny? Anything but cold. Although still close to perfect. He smiled at the memory of Sonny’s surprised looks when Luki showed him something new, something that, in all his gay years, he’d never felt.
“Luki, please,” he’d say.
“You know what, Titus? I don’t want to kill him.” Marcone swept a hand against the cool silk-soft wood of his desktop, thinking of Nadia’s skin. His heart had started beating faster. “I want to show Vasquez why he shouldn’t have been part of anything that screwed with the Marcone name, why he should have made haste to take his fag lover far away the minute he saw there were Marcones involved. This isn’t the first time we’ve opposed one another, but this is the first and will be the last time he’s deliberately involved himself in smearing shit all over my name. I’d have forgiven him everything that came before he realized who Richard and Marina were, if only he’d gone east at that point, instead of racing back west to stick his guns in where they didn’t belong. And I want him to keep remembering, keep feeling the pain he earned with that fuckup, keep that pain with him for years. For the rest of his life.”
“Yes,” Titus breathed, his voice gone low and distant.
“And that won’t be hard either, Titus. I’ve been doing my homework—keeping a watch on him through a variety of sources. He’s got people, and for all his hardass ways, his heart’s like a sponge.”
Titus took a quick breath, and spoke without inflection. “I love people like that.”
The DA’s brows rose, and he smiled. “I know you do, my man. I know you do.”
Saving Sonny James
Almost whispering, breathing in fearful sounding gasps, Sonny said, “Luki, I want you to fuck me…. No. No, I want you to make love to me.” He looked away then back to meet Luki’s eyes, brow lowered with worry. “Luki, I know—”
“Sh! Hush, baby.” Luki kissed the tender arch of Sonny’s foot—the rest of him being out of reach. He looked at Sonny and nodded. “Yes. I want that too.” […] With all the power of his mind, he blocked out the things that would get in the way of him loving Sonny—had been getting in the way for weeks. And with all the power of his heart, he focused everything on his husband, his love. His breath beginning to come faster, biting his lip for stability, he rose on one knee and moved toward his husband.
His hands wanted to wander over Sonny’s skin, and he let them. Let them follow the long slender curves of Sonny’s legs, his inner thighs. When he reached his sex, he framed his husband’s familiar and much-missed cock and balls with his hands, but he didn’t touch them. He let Sonny see the smile in his eyes as he instead moved his hands up over hip bones and belly and abs and pecs with their hard puckered centers of dark, sensitive flesh. Once he reached the chiseled shoulders, he lifted Sonny and pressed him against his own chest. And then he took his lips in a kiss like fire.
Yes (A Vasquez and James Novella)
[Luki] woke up in profound darkness, aware of Sonny still beside him, but held rigid now while small, strangled noises escaped from deep in his throat. Even if it hadn’t been for the give-away sniffle, Luki would have known. Sonny was crying. Not that “I’m sad” kind of crying that was more a glorified pout. No. Sonny fought for all he was worth not to let a sob fly loose. His heart had a great big, hurting hole in the middle of it, and Luki had put it there, and still Sonny tried to protect him. If he couldn’t stop from crying, by God at least he’d do it quietly and let Luki sleep. But he and Luki had loved too long, too deep, too close for Luki not to hear it anyway, to register it even in his sleep, and understand. And feel it, too, like what Sonny felt.
Luki rolled over and put his arms around the man who, when all was said and done, he loved and would love forever.
Because of Jade
Later, while Sonny and Jade lay on the floor in front of the fire, and Sonny read Merry Christmas, Mr. Snowman! over and over, Luki paced. He stopped occasionally to look out the window, and just as the sky began to lighten he saw that snow had begun to fall, big flakes touching down soft as feathers to cover the lumpy, frozen ground near the house.
Luki turned around to share the wonder of snow with his family, but they had at last fallen asleep stretched flat on the floor on their stomachs—Jade because of her injuries and Sonny because of his aching back. Luki shook his head and smiled, surprised at how much he loved them even though he knew. He threw some wood on the fire and banked it and fetched a light but warm down comforter and a pillow from the bedroom. Laying himself down next to them, he covered them all three, let his head fall to the pillow, and found first peace, and then sleep.