Detective Max Bowman is hunting a serial killer terrorizing the city, who leaves victims drained of blood. No fingerprints, no clues, no ideas. Only a mysterious inscription carved into each body.
Frustrated with the lack of progress, Max takes a break in a local pub. Attacked by the attractive man buying him drinks, he is left for dead in the alley behind the bar.
Waking up in Carter Gray's bed was the last thing he expected. Who was this mysterious man? What was his dark secret? Why does he make Max tremble with anticipation every time their eyes meet?
It becomes apparent that Carter is the only one with the 'expertise' to help him find the killer. But is his attraction to Carter clouding his judgment and is he refusing to acknowledge that the killer may well be Carter himself?
Pain, lots of pain. Max tried to force his eyes open, but only one would comply; the other already swollen shut from the impact of a closed fist. He wasn't sure how long he'd been lying in the alley behind the bar. He dimly remembered a tall blond man with piercing blue eyes who introduced himself as Tony, or it might have been Tommy, buying him a beer, followed by way too many shots, he'd stopped counting after the fourth; remembered laughing and joking with him, flirting and being flirted with in return. Nothing seemed out of place. Nothing that was until the man suggested they go somewhere quieter.
Instead of heading out into the brightly lit street, Max had found himself being jostled from both sides into the alley behind the bar. The blond held onto him on his left and from nowhere a dark haired man grabbed his right arm. Too late Max realized that everything was out of place, just as the blond man's fist connected with his face and his knee with Max's groin.
The two of them punched and kicked him, and all he could do was curl in on himself on the ground and hope he could minimize the damage. He didn't want to think too much about the sharp snap he heard when a hard boot connected with his ribs, nor the meaty sounds of flesh upon flesh. Max was assaulted by a wave of dizziness and he felt darkness reach out to engulf him in its warm embrace, but he mentally shook his head and stubbornly refused to let it claim him. He felt hands grabbing at his keys and his wallet and then more pain as a boot connected with the muscle in the left cheek of his ass. His head was pulled back by a vicious hand twisting in his chestnut-colored hair, his glassy brown gaze locking onto piercing blue as the word "Fag" was spat at him and his head was slammed back down on the dirt.
Max heard their retreating footsteps and he tried to lift his head, the pain in his side causing a cry to fall from his lips at the movement. He coughed and cringed as he saw dark splatters of blood hit the ground. Wiping the back of a shaky hand across his lips, he stared at the stain of red on his skin. He stumbled to his knees, trying to use the wall beside him to pull himself up. His legs buckled, and he crashed back to the ground, a deep groan wrenched from him as he fell. Suddenly, he felt two strong arms, one around his shoulders and one under his knees, lifting him as if he weighed no more than a small child. His head lolled to the side, coming to rest on a firm shoulder and he had a glimpse of jade green eyes looking down into his as the dark claimed him once more.
* * * *
Carter pulled open the door of his black 1968 Ford Mustang and eased his ward carefully into shotgun, slowly reclining the seat to make the position more comfortable. Taking off his heavy woolen coat, he rolled it and slipped it behind the man's head to prop up the semi-conscious man. He gazed down at the battered face he had been watching all night from his dark corner of the bar, aware how beautiful it was underneath the swelling and bruising. The man's name was Max that much he knew, because he had heard him introduce himself to his assailant. He frowned, furious with himself that he had realized too late the blond twink and his accomplice's plans for the young man. If he hadn't been distracted, if he hadn't been so thirsty…
Carter slid behind the wheel, his green eyes glittering in the muted glow from the dome light as he closed the door behind him. A small smile lifted his lips as he headed his car toward home. The two men who had robbed and beaten Max and left him for dead had already paid for what they'd done. Glancing into his rear-view mirror, he parted his lips and ran his tongue down his elongated incisors.
They wouldn't be hurting anyone ever again, and he wasn't thirsty anymore.