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Moonstruck is book three in the Necessary Evils series.
Each book follows a different couple and can be read as a standalone.
- Dirty Meet-Cute
- Secret Identity
- Touch Him and Die
- Found Family
Atticus Mulvaney is the eldest son of eccentric billionaire, Thomas Mulvaney—a role he takes very seriously. Atticus takes everything seriously. Like his brothers, Atticus is a psychopath, raised to right the wrongs of a broken justice system. Unlike his brothers, he’s not very good at it.
Jericho Navarro is no psychopath, but he is a vicious killer. Like Atticus, he also has a secret life. To most, he’s just a mechanic. But to a ragtag group of social misfits, he’s Peter Pan, teaching them to eliminate those who prey on the weak with extreme prejudice.
When Atticus and Jericho come face to face over a shared enemy, their accidental meeting ends in an explosively hot hookup neither can forget. But they have nothing in common. Atticus is a buttoned-up closeted scientist and Jericho is a man on a mission, determined to find and punish those responsible for the death of his sister. Still, Jericho can’t stay away. And, truthfully, Atticus doesn’t want him to.
As Jericho’s mission begins to bleed into Atticus’s life, two separate but equally brutal families will need to learn how to fight together to take out a common enemy. But no amount of brute force can show Jericho how to scale the walls of a psychopath’s heart. Can Jericho convince Atticus that, sometimes, the couple who kills together stays together?
Warning: This book contains graphic violence and very dark humor.
LOOK INSIDE: CHAPTER ONE
LOOK INSIDE: CHAPTER ONE
Atticus cursed as his three hundred dollar hiking boots sank into a muddy rut in the ground. It was the closest thing to a path in the heavy underbrush. It had rained hours ago, making the trek through the woods far more treacherous than he’d imagined. He’d dressed for the occasion in a black long-sleeved shirt and waterproof tactical pants. Even the small bag slung over his shoulder was made for hiking. He just hadn’t expected it to be this hot…and dirty. He hated getting dirty.
His boot made an obscene sucking sound as he pulled it free of the muck with a disgusted grunt. He was going to have to find a way to clean that off before he left. He’d never get the filth out of his car if he didn’t. The smell of rain and rotting vegetation was permanently imprinted in his nostrils.
His target, Trevor Maynard, was a sniveling little wannabe gangbanger who got off taking advantage of the immigrant women his parents employed at their dry cleaners. He wore his shirts too tight and his pants too low and thought tying a bandana around his forehead made him some kind of thug.
Trevor liked to abuse his power, threatening the jobs of his victims to lure them out into the woods where nobody would hear them scream. While Atticus’s father’s insistence on taking the man out in the middle of nowhere to kill him was karmically just, it was also unnecessarily dramatic in Atticus’s opinion.
Guys like Trevor rarely put up a fight in the face of danger. If anything, he would beg and plead, attempt to use his perceived status—of which he had none—and offer money as a last resort. It would all end the same, with Atticus Jackson Pollacking his brains against the back wall of his shitty cabin. This could have all been done closer to the city.
Still, he didn’t argue with his father—just followed orders like the dutiful eldest son he was. The faster he finished the job, the faster he could go home and shower. He had an early day at the office tomorrow. Luckily, the full moon overhead cut a wide beam, allowing him to see without much trouble, even if the clear path was hardly a path at all. He stepped free of the grove of trees, finally finding himself outside the small cabin. Why did these creeps always go for cabins in the woods? Atticus found torturing people in the city was just as effective. People had very little problem ignoring the distress of strangers. Sad but helpful in his particular line of work.
An ear-shattering scream pierced the silence, sending a shock of adrenaline through Atticus and spurring him into motion without thought. He pulled his gun, making sure he was locked and loaded, silencer in place, advancing on the flimsy cabin door. Why hadn’t it occurred to him the man wouldn’t be alone?
It took two hard kicks before the door flew in on its hinges, startling the two occupants. His victim was tied to a sturdy wooden chair in the center of the room, bleeding from several oozing wounds and missing no less than three fingers and an earlobe. There was no woman in the room so the scream must have come from Trevor.
Beside him, a man in his late twenties stood holding a wicked-looking serrated blade. He wore faded blue jeans and a black v-neck t-shirt that revealed an intricate tattoo down his entire left arm. Atticus found himself riveted in place as he took in thick black hair and serious eyebrows set over dark brown eyes. The stranger looked equal parts irritated and surprised, but it was clear he was weighing his options.
“I heard screaming,” Atticus heard himself say lamely.
The man blinked in confusion, holding up his knife. “They do that when you poke them with this.”
Atticus gave him a pissy look. “Yes, I’ve connected the dots, thank you.”
Realizing that he’d brought a knife to a gun fight, the stranger dropped his hand to his side. “Listen, man. This is a really bad guy. I know he looks like a harmless nerd—”
“Wow,” Trevor muttered.
“But he’s really a huge piece of shit. Why don’t you just turn around and walk away? No harm, no foul, you know?”
“How do you know I’m not a cop?” Atticus asked.
The stranger scoffed. “Yeah, you’re not a cop. That gun isn’t police issue. Hell, no cop could afford that gun.”
Atticus wasn’t sure why the man’s smug assessment annoyed him, but it did, just like the man’s sweeping gaze made him feel like he stood there naked. What the fuck was happening right now?
It didn’t matter. If he fucked this up, he’d never hear the end of it. Adam still hadn’t let go of the meat cleaver incident and that was a year ago.
Atticus pinched the bridge of his nose with his gloved fingers. “Unfortunately, I can’t do that. He’s on my list. I have to kill him. I have…people to answer to.”
Once more, that gaze raked over him, this time with a lot more heat. “Yeah, you don’t look like a pro either.”
Atticus bristled. “Well, I assure you, I’m no amateur.”
Trevor snickered, then yelped when the man jabbed him with the knife, the blade barely sinking in half an inch just above his nipple. “What the fuck, man!”
“Pro or not, this kill is mine. I promise you, he’ll never see the light of day. So, you can just go.”
“Yeah, I can’t do that. I need to see him dead. And I don’t know you, so your promises don’t mean a whole helluva lot. No offense,” Atticus said, making sure his tone implied full offense.
“This is such bullshit,” Trevor grumbled.
“Shut the fuck up, Trevor,” the man snapped.
“Hey, fuck you, Jet Li,” Trevor fired back, seemingly realizing the error of his ways when the stranger flicked his gaze towards him.
“Jet Li is Chinese, you racist fuck. Do I look Chinese to you, man?”
Atticus fought the urge to smile at the loaded question.
“How the fuck should I know?” Trevor wailed. “You all—”
“Jesus, please, don’t say all Asians look the same,” Atticus begged. “Die with some fucking dignity.”
The stranger gave Atticus another appraising look that left him feeling hot all over. He wondered if his face was turning bright red. One of many drawbacks of being a fair-skinned redhead. After a moment, the stranger slapped the flat part of the blade against the space between Trevor’s eyes.
“Let’s play a game.”
“No thanks, asshole,” Trevor said, eyelids fluttering like he might actually succumb to his obvious blood loss.
The stranger paced around Trevor’s chair. “Oh, come on. If you can guess where I’m from, I’ll let you live.”
Trevor scoffed. “And then what? This dude fucking shoots me? I’m still dead, man.”
Atticus sized up the man. “What the hell. If you can guess where he’s from, you can walk out of here alive.”
Trevor’s gaze swiveled between the two of them. “Really?”
Atticus shrugged. “Sure. Why not.”
“See, you got nothing to lose and your life to gain,” the stranger said.
Atticus hopped up on the sturdy wooden table, fishing through his bag until he found what he was looking for, making a satisfied sound as he pulled out a granola bar. He tore into it, suddenly ravenous, taking a bite and chewing it slowly while they watched. “What? It was a long walk from the road.”
Trevor quickly lost interest in Atticus. “How many guesses do I get?”
The man tossed the knife in the air, then caught the blade between two fingers, considering the question. “Three.”
“Oh, come on. There’s like a thousand Asian cities.”
“Asia is a continent, you dumb fuck. You only need to guess the country.”
“You know what I mean. Asia has a bunch of countries,” Trevor whined.
“Just forty-eight,” Atticus offered around a bite of peanut butter and dark chocolate, earning a smirk from the stranger.
“Hey, you know I’m not Chinese, right? So, now, you only have to guess from forty-seven countries. Come on, Trevor. Put that big racist brain to work.”
“Fuck. Okay. Um, Korean?”
The stranger mimicked a buzzer noise. “Strike one.”
There was another scream as Trevor lost a finger for his trouble. Atticus swung his feet, looking down at his granola bar. It wasn’t his usual brand. He usually preferred the ones his housekeeper picked up from Whole Foods, but they’d been out, so she’d substituted them with a different, slightly less expensive option. These were far superior.
The scent of urine and blood was cloying, competing in Atticus’s nostrils with the fetid dirt and vegetation from moments ago.
Trevor was whimpering and crying now. “Fuck… Fuck. You didn’t say there was a penalty for wrong answers!”
“You put Jenny Tran in the hospital for six weeks from her injuries, and then you had her fucking deported. You’re lucky I started with your fucking fingers. Now, guess or die.”
Trevor whined, his head lolling on his shoulders. “Japanese?” he said weakly.
The stranger’s handsome face contorted into one of fake remorse. “Afraid not, Trevor.”
Trevor screamed like a topless girl in a seventies horror movie as another finger fell to his stupidity. His frantic gaze found Atticus. “I’m serious. I have money. A lot of it. Shoot him in the head, and I’ll give you fifty grand. Help me out here, man. My parents will be hella grateful.”
Atticus snorted, pushing up the sleeve on his shirt. “Do you see this watch? It’s a Patek Philippe. It’s worth a hundred grand, and it’s my backup casual watch. Offer declined.”
The stranger shrugged. “Guess it’s just you and me, Trevor. Last chance. What do you think? Feeling lucky?”
Trever made a whining sound. “This isn’t fair…”
“No, not fair is you raping and abusing powerless women who were just trying to make a living. What’s not fair is using fear and intimidation to hide your crimes. What’s not fair is forcing girls to have unwanted abortions to keep your sick fucking fetishes to yourself. That wasn’t fair. This… This is fucking karma. You taking your last guess or not?”
Heavy breathing filled the room, and Trevor’s eyes darted around as if the answer might magically appear on the wall.
“Tick-tock,” the stranger teased.
“Uh…Thailand? The Philippines? Madagascar?” Trevor blurted.
“Madagascar’s in Africa, you dumb fuck,” Atticus said, taking another bite of his granola bar.
The man dropped to sit on Trevor’s knees, causing the man’s face to contort in horror. “Wrong answer.”
Atticus didn’t see the knife blade sink in, but he saw the way Trevor’s eyes went wide and heard the wet rattle of his last breath as blood bubbled from his lips. He watched as the stranger stood and used Trevor’s shoulder to wipe the mess off his blade as red bloomed across the dead man’s chest.
“What are you going to do with him?” Atticus finally asked, crumpling his wrapper and carefully putting it back in his bag.
The stranger shrugged. “Leave him here with the doors open and let the animals clean up for me.”
Atticus nodded. It wasn’t what he would have done, but it wasn’t his kill so, technically, it wasn’t his problem. Not that he was planning on telling anybody but his father any of this. “So, just out of curiosity, what was the right answer? Where are you from?”
The stranger grinned, revealing perfect teeth and a smile that went straight to Atticus’s dick. “Me? San Diego.”
Atticus snorted. “He was way off.”
The man floated closer until there was only a few feet between them. “Not really. I’m half Chinese. I’m also half Mexican. But I wasn’t about to give that racist prick the satisfaction. Besides, it added a little something, don’t you think?”
“It was fun. Like killing with my brothers.” The moment the words slipped free, Atticus closed his eyes, irritated with himself.
“Like, your literal brothers, or are you in a gang of beefy gingers, who look like they moonlight as insurance salesmen?”
Atticus didn’t know if he was supposed to be flattered or offended. The stranger’s words were mocking, but his tone was borderline salacious. “Are you… Are you flirting with me?”
The stranger shrugged, closing the distance between them. “I mean, how often do you meet somebody who you don’t have to lie to about what you do?”
“I’m not gay,” Atticus managed, sounding unsure even to himself.
The stranger grinned, and Atticus’s stomach did somersaults. “Yeah, but you’re not straight either, are you?”
“I’m a psychopath,” Atticus blurted.
The stranger leaned forward, his whisper conspiratorial. “I’m a Scorpio. I still like banging dudes.”
“I—” Atticus stopped then. “I don’t know what to do with that information.”
The man’s brow hooked upwards suggestively. “I can think of a few things?”
Atticus floundered, hoping they could both ignore his obvious erection. “I don’t even know your name.”
“That’s not a real name,” Atticus scoffed.
Jericho snorted. “My mother would beg to differ. What’s your name?”
“Atticus,” he managed, clearly giving up all attempts at self-preservation.
“That’s not a real name,” Jericho countered, tone somewhere between teasing and seductive, advancing until he stood between Atticus’s splayed knees. His gaze dropped pointedly to his dick straining against his zipper. “Need some help with that?” What Atticus needed was to just open his mouth and say no and then get the hell out of there, but then Jericho said, “I always wanted to suck off a ginger. Do you taste different?”
“That’s offensive,” Atticus managed, earning another grin from Jericho. That fucking smile.
Atticus didn’t remember curling his fingers into the other man’s shirt and dragging him forward, but he must have because their mouths were crashing together in a kiss that was more teeth than tongue. The minute they touched, Atticus’s sense of reason flew out the window, his need consuming him. There was nothing soft or slow or restrained about it. It was rough and borderline painful, teeth dragging and biting over tender skin, tongues fighting for dominance.
When hands caught at the hem of Atticus’s shirt, he didn’t resist, just raised his arms. Jericho tossed it aside, then went to work opening Atticus’s pants. He didn’t stop him. Hell, he lifted up when the man dragged his pants and underwear down just enough to close his mouth over his aching cock.
“Jesus Christ,” he muttered, hips spasming as this stranger attempted to suck the soul from his body. He fell back on his forearms, stomach muscles clenching as each sucking draw of his lips sent sparks of electricity along his spine. Fuck. The tight heat of his mouth was perfect. Atticus couldn’t stop himself from tangling his hands in the silky strands of his hair and fucking up into his mouth.
Had he ever had anybody suck him like this? He’d fooled around with a man a time or two but his experiences were limited with either sex. Other than his icy, long-term now-ex girlfriend, Kendra, he could count his partners on one hand and have two fingers left. But this… Holy shit. Atticus couldn’t stop the sounds he was making or the way his fingers twisted punishingly in the other man’s hair.
“I’m close,” he muttered.
Jericho didn’t stop. If anything, he doubled down on his efforts. Atticus couldn’t tear his eyes away, almost as turned on watching the head bobbing between his legs as he was by his talented lips and tongue. When brown eyes cast upwards, catching his gaze, that was it. Atticus gave a harsh shout, flooding Jericho’s mouth.
He swallowed every drop, sucking until Atticus’s abs contracted and he hissed, pulling him off his oversensitive cock. He yanked Jericho close, capturing his mouth, sucking the taste of himself off the other man’s tongue as he plunged his hand into his jeans. He wrapped his fist around the other man’s thick, leaking cock, unable to stop his low hum of approval. That definitely didn’t help sell his ‘not gay’ statement, but he was too far gone to care. Atticus worked him with the same level of enthusiasm Jericho had given him, swallowing every panting moan, using them as a guide.
It didn’t take long. Atticus used his precum to ease the firm catch and slide of his movements. Soon, Jericho was fucking up into his fist, hips snapping faster. They were no longer kissing, but their mouths were close enough for him to hear each shuddering breath, every throaty moan. It was hot enough to make Atticus wish he hadn’t come already.
Jericho’s hips suddenly stuttered, and his breath punched from him as he spilled over Atticus’s fist until he shivered with the aftershock of his intense release. Jericho rested his forehead against Atticus’s before he pulled his hand free and wiped it clean on his pants.
Once they separated, they each busied themselves with righting their clothing. Atticus was flustered. He had no idea what had just happened or how things had gone so wrong, but he’d just given a hand job to a man three feet away from a fingerless corpse. There was no way he was telling his father that.
He cleared his throat. “Well, this has been…” He drifted off. What was he going to say?
“Yeah,” Jericho acknowledged.
“Are you sure you don’t need help with…” He pointed to Trevor.
Jericho gave a small cough. “Nah, I’m good.”
Atticus slung his backpack over his shoulder once more. “Okay, then. Bye…I guess,” he managed, making for the door, turning back, then turning once more when he saw Jericho no longer faced him.
He supposed that meant he was dismissed.
It was all for the best, he supposed. He wasn’t gay. Even if he was, what was he going to do? Ask Jericho on a date? They weren’t even living on the same planet. Besides, Atticus had to keep up appearances. As the oldest, Thomas expected more from him. That was just how it was. His father wouldn’t care if Atticus was gay. Hell, Thomas was gay. His brothers were gay, some were bi. It was just… He couldn’t be. He couldn’t. Being straight was just…easier. Girls were fine. They were soft and smelled nice. He had a plan for his life and it didn’t involve jerking off beautiful murderers in creepy cabins. No matter how intense his orgasm had been.
Once he made it back to his car, he tossed his backpack in the passenger seat and pushed the ignition button before realizing he still wore his muddy boots. Goddammit. He smacked his head on the steering wheel then flung himself back against the driver’s seat dramatically.
What the fuck?