Scars and Ruin
The man known as Dutch is fine with being hated and feared. He keeps his mask on and his secrets close. There’s only one person who reaches past all that to who he used to be before the job hit too close to home. Sacrifices must be made, and Dutch steps up do just that. He’ll gladly pay the price to make sure Varun Patel is safe.
Loyalty to family expects it. His heart demands it.
And Patel rejects it.
Half of Varun Patel’s life resides in broken shadows he’d rather not remember. The other half is taken up by a man whose words push him away while his actions hold Patel close. Patel can’t forget the one night he spent in Dane Hutchins’ arms. The night promises were made. The night promises were broken.
If it were up to Dutch, Patel won’t ever know the bargains struck in his name. He won’t ever know the memory of them keeps Dutch fighting in his bleakest moments. But Dutch should’ve known that in the lonely hours, Patel would come for him.
And when that time arrives, there’s no saying no. There’s only the inevitable.
Love amid the ruins.
Warning: Contains references to sexual abuse/rape.
“You know what I like about you, Dane?” Patel went up to him again, got in real close again, to smell the faint hint of cologne wafting off Dutch. “I like that no matter how much of a monster you are to the men who work for you…” He lowered his voice and bent to Dutch’s ear. “You’re fucking putty in my hands.”
Dutch’s eyes narrowed and he scoffed. “You think because I let you touch me, that I’m somehow weak for you?” His expression wasn’t blank anymore. In fact, anger poured off him.
Patel smiled, fisting his hands at his sides as he eased backward. “I think you let me touch you because you’re not done with this. And I think you let me touch you because you can’t get enough.” He winked. “I also think you let me touch you because you don’t trust yourself to be the one doing the touching.”
Dutch grabbed him by the throat, a move so fast Patel was caught mid-blink. He held himself still, refusing to struggle, refusing to fight as Dutch squeezed him.
“What about now?” Dutch snarled. “What about this touch?” He squeezed tighter. “This what you want, my hands on you? You want this?”
Yes. He couldn’t breathe. His throat hurt. He imagined his eyes were bulging out of his head. But that touch hardened him. The anger on Dutch’s face amped him up, whipping at the fire that had been smoldering in Patel’s belly. Those flames reared up, reaching, licking, eager to scorch. To scatter their ashes on the floor discolored by cum and urine stains. Yes. He wanted that touch.
In fact, he was starved for that touch. Just as he’d gotten used to it, Dutch had snatched it away.
Yes. Patel wanted it back.
Dutch froze and stared at him, lips parted, eyes still narrowed. He must have seen it. The words in Patel’s eyes that didn’t quite make it to his lips. The grip on his throat loosened, but didn’t go away. Patel would’ve prevented that retreat.
“Yes.” A weak croak, but he managed it anyway.
“No.” Dutch shook his head. He wore a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and a black vest over it. The vest hung open, but the shirt was all buttoned up. Locked up tight.
Reaching out, Patel unbuttoned the first two buttons at Dutch’s throat. Then he tugged the shirttails free of Dutch’s waistband and slid his hand over his belly. Over his chest. Dutch shuddered, stomach tightening under Patel’s touch, breath huffing out, raw and loud. He liked that no matter what Dutch’s lips said, his body remained right there under Patel’s hand.
Dutch didn’t break eye contact, but he licked his lips. His pupils contracted as his nostrils flared. A sound rumbled in his throat.
Patel did that to him.
“Varun.” Dutch circled one of his wrists, holding him tight.
“You want me to be okay. This will make me okay,” Patel said softly. “I want to touch you. I want your touch in return.”
They stared at each other, and he saw fear in Dutch’s gaze. He saw hunger and hesitance.
“This is a fantasy,” Dutch muttered. “We live in the real world.”
“No.” Patel shook his head hard, narrowing his gaze. “You have it ass backward. This…” He stepped closer. “This is reality.” Didn’t he know? How could he not know? “Needing you is my reality. Wanting me is yours. Everything else—” Emotion choked him. “Hunter.”
At the sound of his name, his birth name, Dutch jerked violently. “Don’t.” His composure cracked, and Patel reached for him, sliding his palm along Dutch’s jaw.
“Everything out there is fantasy,” Patel told him. “In this moment, here is where reality’s at. You want to touch me. And I want to let you.”