ABSOLUTION (THE PROTECTORS BOOK #1)
BY SLOANE KENNEDY
RELEASE DAY BLITZ
4TH OF APRIL 2016
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…
Excerpt from Absolution by Sloane Kennedy
© 2016 Sloane Kennedy
For what was probably the thousandth time, I looked through the scope of my rifle and rested my finger on the trigger as I drew in a breath and held it. The dank smell of mold permeated my nostrils as I focused on the scene before me, and I cursed the fact that the only window that had a good view of the building across the street was in the cramped bathroom. I supposed I could have gotten used to the mold if that had been the only issue with the confined space but it was the stench of rotting eggs wafting out of the broken toilet that really did me in. I’d made the mistake of lifting the plastic lid on the very first day as I’d scoped out the place to figure out the different views the two-bedroom apartment offered, and now every time I jammed my body into the narrow space between the toilet and the leaky shower, I had to bite back the revulsion of knowing the nastiness that was just inches from me.
The prudent thing to do would have been to call the maintenance guy to come fix the shitter but since I’d already made an impression with paying three months of rent up front in cash, I wasn’t exactly looking to become memorable in any other way. And since there was a second bathroom in the place that didn’t actually rival the portable toilets you only used when you absolutely had to, I’d figured I could live with the noxious smell and God-awful image that was burned into my brain long enough to do my job and get out. That had been my thought three weeks ago when I’d first spied my target through the scope on my M23 semi-automatic sniper rifle. Yet here I was, twenty-one long days later, my burning muscles protesting the same unnatural position I had forced them into and my tortured nose sending a reminder to my tired brain to get some fucking nose plugs or grow a pair and finally pull the goddamn trigger.
I’d like to say that my phone ringing at that exact moment was the reason I let up on the trigger and flipped the cover down over the scope, effectively obliterating my target from view. But I knew that was complete shit because I’d already made the decision long before the Blue Oyster Cult ringtone started playing on my phone. I lowered the rifle and leaned back against the wall as the sounds of Don’t Fear the Reaper chimed through the small room. Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out the phone and swiped to answer it without looking at the caller ID because I already knew who it was.
“You fucking changed my ringtone?” I snapped as I dropped my head back against the wall and turned my head so I could keep an eye on my mark.
“It’s a classic,” the voice on the other end said. “And it beats the hell out of that classical shit you listen to.”
I didn’t bother arguing because I’d likely end up with a boy band song next if I made too much of an issue out of it. I also didn’t ask what the caller wanted because I already knew that he wouldn’t bother wasting my time or his if he didn’t have something of value to share. It was one of the many things I respected about Mav. It was also the reason I chose Mav as my second whenever he wasn’t out on his own assignment.
“Since your mark posted an online ad a few minutes ago, I’m guessing you still haven’t done it,” Mav said.
“What kind of ad?” I asked, ignoring his not so subtle dig.
“He’s looking for help. Handyman type shit. Painting, electrical work, plumbing.”
“Already did,” Mav drawled and I heard my phone ding a moment later and saw the ad flash on my screen.
“Can you intercept any calls he makes to the site to check on the ad?”
“Yeah. I’ve already hacked his computer too, so if he tries to reach customer service that way, it’s covered.”
“Anything interesting pop up on his PC?” I asked, hoping against hope that Mav would be able to give me the proof I needed that would let me pull the fucking trigger so I could get my ass out of this shithole.
“No, it’s clean. Only pictures and sites he’s interested in are for artsy shit.”
Fuck. I bit the bullet and said, “That make sense to you, Mav? A pedophile with not even one pic on his computer?”
Silence on the other end, then, “Could be he’s got another PC stashed somewhere. Or he’s old school and doesn’t like digital.”
I glanced back across the street at my mark and cringed when I felt my cock stirring in my pants. The young man had stripped off his shirt and while I couldn’t see as much as I wanted, I still felt my mouth water at the sight. In a perverse move, I put the phone on speaker and set it on the window sill and then raised my rifle back up and flipped up the cover on the scope. I was greeted with the sight of pale, firm flesh that had smatterings of color all over it from the spray of paint that would occasionally fly off the end of the paintbrush as the young man’s arm and wrist stroked lovingly over the canvas in front of him. I lifted the gun enough to take in the dark brown hair that was threaded with streaks of gold. I sent a telepathic message to the guy hoping he’d turn enough so I could get a good look at the crystal clear blue eyes I’d so far only seen in pictures but no such luck, so I settled for imagining what it would feel like to trail my fingers over the hard line of his jaw before tracing them over his full, pink lips.
“You about done visually molesting the guy?”
I bit back a curse and lowered the rifle as I reached for the phone. Mav knew me way too fucking well. I should probably take that as a sign that it was time to get the hell out of this business.
“Anything else?” I asked as I willed my cock to settle the fuck down. No way in hell was I going to be fooled by the veil of innocence this kid had managed to cloak himself in. My conscience might need a little more convincing before I could let myself pull the trigger but I wasn’t about to let something as inane and useless as lust be the deciding factor as to whether this guy deserved to keep breathing or not.
“No. But Grisham’s getting impatient. Says you haven’t been sending in your reports.”
I wanted to say Grisham could go fuck himself but figured Mav would take just a little too much pleasure in delivering that message to our team leader so I merely said, “Anything else?” again.
“Pull the trigger and be done with it, Mace,” Mav said quietly. They were words I’d repeated to myself over and over these past three weeks. But I said the same thing to Mav that my gut had been telling me for just as long.
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 independent author. Since then, she has released more than a dozen books including the Amazon best-selling “Barretti Security” and “Finding” series. She is currently in the process of releasing the first book in her new “Protectors” series. While she initially began writing M/F romance, she found her true passion writing gay romance and all three of her most recent releases reached the #1 spot on Amazon’s Gay Romance bestseller list and Freeing Zane, her final book in the Barretti Security series, made it to Amazon’s overall bestseller list. Sloane was born in Germany and grew up in Virginia and Wisconsin. Although she currently lives in Wisconsin, the place where she has always felt most at home is Seattle and many of her books take place in the Emerald city. Although she is unmarried, a menagerie of 2 dogs and 3 cats keeps her busy enough and 3 young nieces take care of the rest of her free time. Sloane loves being able to share her passion for romance with readers and she is truly humbled by all the support she’s received from fans and fellow authors alike.