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Domesticated Beast is book three in the Time Served series.
Each book follows a different couple and can be read as a standalone.
- Opposites Attract
- Touch Him and Die
- On the Run
Javier De La Fuente is a criminal, an ex-con with a long line of offenses, atoning for his sins by rescuing abused animals and advocating for child victims. But that doesn’t mean he’s a saint. Javier learned years ago that what’s right and what’s legal aren’t always the same thing.
Bowie Baker is a ballet dancer, a soloist doing his best to get ahead in his LA dance company. Until an opportunity turns his life into a nightmare that Bowie can’t seem to escape. He’s never been a victim and he’s not about to start now, even if that means storming the police station full of righteous fury and facing down a room of armed detectives.
One look at Bowie and Javier is all in, calling in favors just for an opportunity to see him again. To make him feel safe. Bowie knows Javier isn’t a good guy, but he’s had enough of the good guys and maybe Javier is the kind of bad he needs.
When an attempt to make Bowie feel safe again only thrusts him further into danger, Javier has to decide whether he’s willing to risk his freedom, and maybe even his life, to keep Bowie in his arms for good.
LOOK INSIDE: CHAPTER ONE
LOOK INSIDE: CHAPTER ONE
Javier de la Fuente was used to the looks he got. Tall and tattooed, hazel brown eyes just a little too observant. He wasn’t a particularly big guy, but confidence? That Javier had in spades. He’d seen a lot of shit and been a lot of places. It was hard to shock him, even harder to impress him, and he could read people in an instant. They knew it. They feared it. Instinctively. People tended to cross the street when they saw him coming. He was fine with that.
Except, days like this. Days where he was forced to stand outside a plain glass window in the LAPD’s sex crimes division, two steps away from the fishbowl of weary detectives who both appreciated what he did but also knew better than to trust a reformed sinner. But that was their first mistake. Javier wasn’t reformed; he just preferred to do his penance while he did his sinning, figured it would save him time if there was an afterlife. What was it the bible said? An eye for an eye?
Just behind him, behind that glass wall, eight-year-old Annabelle Flannigan sat on the floor, coloring as she explained to the LAPD’s child psychologist just how and where her soccer coach had touched her. Javier’s part was simple: just stand there and wait, make sure she could see him watching over her, so she’d know the man who hurt her would never hurt her again.
Penance. To him, the penance wasn’t in watching over Annabelle, it was in not finding the soccer coach and ripping off his genitals. In his old life, vengeance was swift and not always righteous. But justice, especially in the States, especially with middle-aged white criminals…that took time. A bullet was quick. But Javier had just done his fourth stint in prison. If he went down for a murder, he wasn’t coming out. It wasn’t worth the gamble.
As another detective passed, Javier gave him a bland smile. The man didn’t even bother to pretend to return it, just gave his jeans and black button down a look, fixating for a long moment on the tattoos on his hands before dragging his gaze away. They couldn’t figure him out. They assumed he was Mexican Mafia, or at least one of the many LA gangs that fell under their umbrella anyway. They were half right, he supposed. He did run with them in prison, but that was more of a business venture than a lifestyle choice. He wasn’t down with dealing drugs and laundering money. That was Lawson’s gig.
Javier wasn’t from LA. He wasn’t even from the States. Not technically. He was born in Texas but spent the first five years of his life growing up just over the border in Mexico. Things changed when they moved to Sinaloa. That was where the cartel found him.
He’d spent his formative years as a runner until he became La Linea, part of the cartel’s enforcers. By age thirteen, he’d dropped out of school. Javier had learned his lessons on the streets. He took his first life before he could drive, took his first bullet before he could vote, and did a year in a Sinaloa prison before he was eighteen. That was when his mother had called in a huge favor.
She’d called his ‘tío,’ Angelo Fuentes, a man Javier still, to this day, wasn’t sure was actually related to him. But it wasn’t no Fresh Prince situation. Angelo was just a gangbanger with a corporate logo, one the cartel found far more useful than Javier had ever been.
Javier’s mama had believed Angelo was rescuing Javier from his life of crime, but he’d just given him a suit, a pay raise, and an air of legitimacy. Turned out his tío’s business—international arms dealing—was really just a fancy word for a gun runner. And gun runners, even ones in thousand dollar suits, have business rivals. Javier had always been good with…negotiations.
Annabelle abruptly stopped coloring and turned to look at Javier, and he gave her a nod and a thumbs up. She nodded back, her small shoulders sagging in relief. Another wave of anger washed over him. Yeah, a bullet was just so much fucking faster. And a lot easier for the victims living with the aftermath.
A commotion at the front of the office caught his attention. A guy in black track pants and a sleeveless pink t-shirt burst through the unit’s glass doors with enough force to have them ricochet off the wall, startling a group of armed detectives. Where he came from, that would have been a death sentence, but the men and women in the bullpen just eyed him warily.
“Where’s Detective Hewitt?” he snapped, not waiting for an answer as he kept walking. “Hey, John. Where ya at? You think you can hide from me? Duck my calls?”
Javier smirked at the shock on the detectives’ faces, most of them too stunned to even attempt to stop the boy as he stormed through the sea of desks. His bleach blond hair and dark roots made him look sort of like an exotic bird from a distance.
Finally, a dark-haired woman in her thirties came out of an office. “Mr. Baker, I know you’re upset, but you can’t just burst in here shouting like this.” She settled her hand on his arm.
The guy snatched it back, his tone venomous. “Don’t. Don’t touch me.” His eyes scanned the room, still clearly looking for his target. “I know you’re here, you sack of shit!” he shouted, moving deeper into the room, close enough for Javier to finally get a good look.
The stranger appeared to be in his early twenties, though it was hard to truly know with the numerous bruises covering his face. Judging by the color, they were weeks old at most, long enough for what was probably extensive swelling to heal. He still had a hint of a cut over his brow and one on his full bottom lip. A vessel in his left eye had ruptured, making the pale green of his iris look almost supernatural in the sea of blood.
Even angry, the boy walked with a grace and fluidity that fascinated Javier. He was long and lean, well-muscled, clearly athletic, but even his biceps were covered in healing bruises in the shape of handprints. Somebody—or more than one somebody—had done a number on the kid.
Hate crime? Javier wondered. He wasn’t usually one to jump to conclusions about a person’s sexuality, but the guy’s voice and walk were overtly feminine, even though he was furious, and he had a rainbow heart tattooed on the inside of his right wrist.
Something occurred to Javier then. He wasn’t in the violent crimes unit, he was in the sex crimes unit. The boy had been assaulted and recently. Damn.
When he reached the end of the narrow corridor of desks, he stopped short, looking at Javier with a hostility he would have found amusing under any other circumstance. “What are you looking at?”
“Nothing,” Javier said, sweeping his hand in an after you gesture, just in case the boy was making a left to continue deeper into the labyrinth of hallways where the bigger offices sat.
The boy stayed firmly rooted in place, scowling at Javier with a look that shook him. Beyond the kid’s fury, beyond the indignation, was despair and frustration. He was dying inside. It hit Javier like a physical blow, making him take a step back. That seemed to break whatever spell the boy had fallen under.
“Get out here, you fucking coward,” he called down the hallway.
Finally, a man emerged from one of those coveted senior detective offices from deep in the hallway. Unlike the other detectives in their khakis and polos, this man wore dress pants, a stained blue button down shirt, and a tie so wrinkled Javier wondered if he’d pulled it out of the trash.
The detective eyed the boy like he was gauging whether he’d be able to coax him back into his office, or if the scene was about to play out right there in front of everybody. He held up his hands in a submissive gesture, like he was a hostage negotiator. “Bowie, I was just going to call you.”
Bowie Baker. Javier liked the way it tasted on his tongue. A nice alliteration.
Bowie sneered at the detective. “Oh, were you?” the boy—Bowie—mocked. “What exactly did that phone call sound like, John?” The boy lowered his voice in a pretty spot on imitation of the man’s vocal register. “‘Hey, Bowie, remember how I told you that we’d get the prick who assaulted you if you just did this super invasive examination, then remember how two days later, I called and told you to just drop the case because the man who brutally raped you for hours, the man I promised would be punished, has diplomatic immunity. Remember that? Well, funny story, because he’s suing you for defamation of character and threatening to have you arrested for filing a false police report.’ Was it going to go something like that? Was it?”
Another officer started to approach Bowie from behind, his hand on his taser. Hewitt gave the man a look that said don’t do it. The man’s hand floated away from the taser, but others seemed to move closer, circling the two. Bowie was clearly outnumbered if things went sideways. Javier fought the urge to go stand by his side.
“Bowie, I know you’re angry. I get it. But I have no control over how the DA’s office proceeds. We just investigate and turn over the evidence.”
“And the evidence you turned over pointed to me as the criminal?” he fired back.
Hewitt’s eyes went wide, his look a little wild. “Of course not.”
Bowie sucked his teeth. “You know he did this to me. You know it. He left his DNA all over me, and there’s video evidence.” The last word caught on a sob, but he quickly sucked it back in. “Still, when you said he gets to walk on some fucking technicality, some arbitrary fucking bullshit called diplomatic immunity, I said fine. I let it go and tried to move on with my life because you told me to. Now, they’re allowed to accuse me of filing a false police report?” Bowie’s voice cracked with some combination of sadness and righteous fury. “He’s following me, you know. Showing up at my dance studio, standing outside my apartment building. Just always watching me. But let me guess, can’t do anything about that either. Right? Do you wanna lock me up right now? Since apparently I’m the fucking criminal?”
The detective’s face was a distressing shade of purple, flushed all the way to the tips of his almost too small ears. “This is a very…unique situation, Bowie. This isn’t coming from me—us. It’s the DA’s office. We all believe you. We do. Our hands are tied.”
“He’s ruining my life!” Bowie shouted, throwing the balled up piece of paper—presumably the letter received from Mr. Diplomatic-Immunity’s attorney.
Hewitt’s voice sounded desperate. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll increase patrols around your apartment and I’ll go talk to him myself and tell him to back off. Okay?”
The boy scoffed, tears filling his eyes. “Yeah, sure. Whatever. Because if he doesn’t, you’ll write him a strongly worded letter? Terrifying.” With that, he turned, taking a few steps towards the door before saying, “If he kills me, my blood is on your hands.” Then he was gone, leaving the bullpen full of detectives and administrative people staring after him in stunned silence. Javier found himself staring, too.
Whoever had hurt Bowie Baker deserved to be punished, yet not only was he not being punished, he was apparently free to just keep re-victimizing him. Javier was very familiar with those tactics. It was why he stood outside the room during Annabelle’s interview. It was why he’d escort her to court. It was why there was always somebody outside her house. So her attacker knew she had an army on her side. One willing to go to war for her if necessary.
Nobody would be going to war for Bowie Baker.
The idea twisted something inside him. Before he could think much more about it, the door swung open and Annabelle emerged, pigtails swinging, her eyes staring at her sparkly boots. Javier dropped down beside her, careful not to touch her. “Hey, you ready to go?”
She gave a hesitant nod.
“She did great. I don’t think we’ll have to do anymore sessions here. From now on, it will most likely just be meetings with the lawyers. Please tell her grandmother I do recommend sticking with the strict counseling schedule we agreed on in the beginning. It does help.”
Javier nodded. “I’ll relay the message.”
Annabelle’s grandmother worked two jobs, making it impossible for her to drive her to the numerous appointments that came with being the victim of a violent crime. Doctors, lawyers, cops. It was a grueling process, one nobody should be forced to endure after surviving an attack or assault, least of all an eight year old. The guys took turns making sure Annabelle got where she needed to go. It was all part of the gig.
Once they’d made it out of the unit, down the elevator, and through the lobby, Annabelle’s hand slid into Javier’s, her body moving closer to his leg. Javier squeezed her hand. “I got you, little mama. Nobody’s gonna hurt you on my watch. Okay?”
She nodded but didn’t release her death grip on his hand. He clicked the lock on his Charger, opening the back door for Annabelle and making sure she put her seatbelt on. He was walking to the driver’s side door when he saw him sitting on the bench outside the building, staring at nothing.
Javier mouthed the boy’s name before he caught himself staring, shaking his head. He dropped into the driver’s seat but didn’t start the car. He couldn’t. He opened the center console, rummaging for the cards he carried for the volunteer program. His name was printed on it along with his cell phone number.
He jumped out of the car before he could change his mind, hurrying towards the sad boy on the bench. His head snapped up, eyes wide and fearful, as Javier approached. He slowed his walk, holding his hands up. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to run up on you like that. I’m not going to hurt you. I just wanted to give you this. My cell phone’s on the back. We can help you.”
The boy’s fear turned into another scowl, but Javier didn’t say anything more, just returned to the car. He didn’t want to leave Annabelle on her own for more than a minute. “Wanna go through the drive-thru and grab an ice cream?” he asked, glancing in the rearview mirror. The small girl pondered the question before giving a hesitant nod. “Alright. We’ll grab one for your abuela, too.”
He pulled away from the curb, his gaze dragging back to the boy on the bench one final time. Would he call? Javier laughed at himself. Why the hell did Javier even give a shit?