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Unhinged is book one in the Necessary Evils series.
Each book follows a different couple and can be read as a standalone.
- Touch Him and Die
- Possessive Hero
Adam Mulvaney lives a double life. By day, he’s the spoiled youngest son of an eccentric billionaire. By night, he’s an unrepentant killer, one of seven psychopaths raised to right the wrongs of a justice system that keeps failing.
Noah Holt has spent years dreaming of vengeance for the death of his father, but when faced with his killer, he learns a daunting truth he can’t escape. His father was a monster.
Unable to ignore his own surfacing memories, Noah embarks on a quest to find the truth about his childhood with the help of an unlikely ally: the very person who murdered his father. Since their confrontation, Adam is obsessed with Noah, and he wants to help him uncover the answers he seeks, however dark they may be.
The two share a mutual attraction, but, deep down, Noah knows Adam’s not like other boys. Adam can’t love. He wasn’t born that way. But he refuses to let Noah go, and Noah’s not sure he wants him to.
Can Adam prove to Noah that passion, power, and protection are just as good as love?
Warning: This book contains graphic violence, very dark humor, and mentions of past child sexual abuse.
LOOK INSIDE: CHAPTER ONE
LOOK INSIDE: CHAPTER ONE
Adam tucked his head deeper into his red hoodie, his hand curling around the hilt of the knife buried within the sweatshirt’s through and through pocket. It was easy to blend in the middle of the night, swirling from shadow to shadow, avoiding the anemic yellow street lights of the dark, dingy street, but that didn’t mean this was a safe neighborhood. Not by any means.
This was the forgotten part of town. Every building had bars on the windows, the roads were pockmarked with potholes, which became oil-slicked pools each time it rained. The prevalence of gun stores, bail bondsmen, and lawyers sat in stark contrast to Adam’s neighborhood on the other side of the tracks. But he wasn’t trying to ‘slum it’ with the poor. These were Adam’s people. He’d spent the first six years of his life in a dilapidated trailer behind the mini-mart.
Police cars prowled the streets, sometimes shining their flashlights out the window to harass a cluster of people until they dispersed. But they never noticed Adam. Nobody ever noticed him, really. That was why he was still free to roam, to hunt, to kill. But, tonight, the only thing on his to-do list was an early bedtime.
It was strange how seamlessly one could blend if they just pretended they belonged. Even somebody who spent much of his time in the public eye. Somebody famous in certain circles. He supposed it was almost easier to blend in when the alternative seemed preposterous. And the youngest son of billionaire Thomas Mulvaney walking around alone in the worst part of town in the wee hours of the morning seemed pretty preposterous.
But that wasn’t who Adam was either. In truth, Adam was nobody. A carefully crafted lie, raised specifically to right the wrongs of others. A lie he had executed so well that, sometimes, even he believed it. But it wasn’t real. Any of it. Maybe that was what truly made his walks the best thing about his nights. Nobody gave a shit about him on this side of town. They didn’t know the Mulvaney name or who the world thought he was. They didn’t care.
He cut through a dark alley to the entrance of the hollowed out shell of a building where he kept his…supplies. He didn’t need light to see his way around. He’d been using this particular shelter since he was fifteen. He just needed to drop the knife in his kit and then he’d be on his way. He might even make it home by midnight.
Adam didn’t hear the scuffing of sneakers over concrete until it was too late. The sound of a gun’s hammer cocking quickly followed, echoing through the empty space. Still, he didn’t slow his pace until a wobbly voice shouted, “Stop.”
Adam was tempted to ignore the request. The owner of the voice sounded young, uncertain. Terrified, really. It wasn’t uncommon for homeless kids to try to find shelter when it grew cold outside. He was probably a junkie. A tweaker looking for quick cash or drugs. But the likelihood of getting shot wasn’t zero, and even twitchy junkies sometimes got lucky and hit an artery. His father would resurrect him just to kill him again if he got himself merced in this part of town.
He slowed to a halt with a sigh, turning to face his assailant. He was definitely an amateur. He’d stopped directly in the only pool of light in the darkened space, illuminating his features in great enough detail that Adam could have drawn the boy’s sketch from memory.
He was the antithesis of Adam, fair and freckled where he was tan, messy light brown hair where Adam’s was jet black, small and delicate boned in direct opposition to Adam’s swimmer’s body. He most likely wasn’t much younger than Adam. He looked to be in his early twenties.
The kid, whoever he was, had never held a gun before. That much was clear by his stance and the way his hand trembled, but his finger hovering directly over the trigger meant Adam gave him the same care he’d give any other predator.
“Okay, you got me. Now what?” Adam asked.
“Put your hood down,” the boy demanded, gun twitching in his hand as he spoke.
Adam frowned at the odd request. “Why?”
The kid seemed to hesitate, like he hadn’t expected Adam to argue with him. He thought the gun gave him an advantage. It probably did for most. But not to Adam.
He shook the gun. “Don’t ask questions. Just do it.”
Adam took a single step forward, watching with interest as the boy took a step back. “No.”
His eyes bulged. He looked near tears. “No? I’ll fucking shoot you in the face.”
Lie. “Then do it.”
Adam watched as the boy’s finger twitched on the trigger. Oh, he wanted to do it. He wanted Adam dead. Interesting. Maybe this was all a misunderstanding. There was no shortage of criminals in this area. Plenty of people to hold a grudge.
“I know who you are,” the boy said, confidence edging into his voice.
Adam couldn’t help but chuckle. “Oh, yeah? Who do you think I am?”
The boy’s eyes narrowed, a pained smile forming on his face. He was sweating despite the cold, but Adam no longer thought he was a drug addict. The boy was terrified, but his eyes were clear, his skin flawless. This boy wasn’t a junkie.
“Adam. Mulvaney.” He enunciated each syllable, like saying it out loud might invoke some sort of supernatural wrath.
His name on the boy’s lips wiped the smirk off his face. If he didn’t need to hide his identity, then he might as well show his face. Might as well give the boy the appearance of control. He pushed the hood off his face. “And who are you?”
There was no hesitation. “Noah.”
Adam mouthed the boy’s name. He hadn’t expected him to answer him. People who intended to let their victims live didn’t give their names. That didn’t bode well for poor Noah, who looked like life had already run him over more than once.
“Okay. What is it you want, Noah? Cash? Drugs? I have a hundred bucks on me, but if you take my debit card, you can access a lot more. I’ll even give you my pin.”
The boy’s face twisted with a fury that almost looked comical on his innocent freckled little face. Almost. “It’s just that easy for you, huh? Just throw money at it. How do you do it?”
“Do what? I’m just trying to make sure we all go home tonight. I have money. You look like you could use some help. Nobody blames you for doing what you have to do to survive.”
That only made him more angry, if that was even possible. “People really don’t see who you are, do they? You lie so easily.”
He wasn’t wrong. That probably unsettled Adam more than anything. Whoever Noah was, he’d done his homework. Noah was signing his own fucking death warrant. Adam didn’t like the sharp stabbing pain that came thinking this was going to end badly for the boy.
Still, it was best to act as if he had no idea what Noah meant. “I’m not lying about having money. I can show you my bank balance.”
“I don’t want your fucking money!” Noah shouted, sweat and saliva flying as tears of rage leaked from his eyes.
Adam took two more slow steps in Noah’s direction. “Then what is it you want, Noah?”
He scoffed, then sniffled, wiping the back of his hand across his nose. “To watch you bleed out on the pavement.”
Adam’s brows made a run for his hairline at the venom in the boy’s voice. “I don’t even know you, Noah. What could I have done to make you want to kill me?”
Noah’s eyes went wide, mouth contorting. “You really don’t remember me, do you?”
Nope. “Should I?”
“Have you killed so many people that you really can’t remember your victims?”
Yeah. Pretty much. He didn’t plan on sharing that with Noah. Besides, if Noah had been one of Adam’s victims, he wouldn’t still be drawing air into his lungs. “Who is it you think I killed?”
“My father, Wayne Holt.”
Adam closed his eyes, letting his brain file through his numerous past victims, plucking the details as he found the name. Wayne Holt, fifty-one years old, serial predator responsible for the assault and murder of at least fifteen children under the age of ten. Had somehow managed to avoid detection for three decades. Police could never find enough evidence to charge him. Luckily, Adam’s people had better resources. And a much swifter form of justice.
A shock of awareness hit him as he realized he did know the boy, though years had passed. Wayne Holt had been one of Adam’s first kills. Number three, maybe? Roughly a couple of weeks after Adam’s sixteenth birthday. The boy was maybe ten at the time. Adam quickly did the math. Yeah, it gelled. It could definitely be the boy who’d stepped out of the shadows that night, calling out timidly for his father, ending Adam’s fun almost before it had started.
Thomas had been furious that he hadn’t checked for witnesses in the house, but he’d been so excited, so ready to remind Wayne Holt of every single victim and the pain he’d left in his wake. If Noah was truly that boy, there was a very good chance he’d also been a victim.
“Your father was a monster, Noah. Deep down, I think you know that.”
Once more, the gun waved wildly. “Fuck you. You don’t know shit about my father.”
“But I do. I can prove it to you, if that’s what you need. But I don’t think you want to see what I’ve seen. Some things can never be erased.”
“Shut up! You’re full of shit. You’re a…serial killer. You have that bored fuckboi act down, but, really, you’re the fucking monster.”
Adam sighed. What the fuck was he supposed to do about this? About him? He couldn’t kill him. Well, he could. But he wouldn’t. He knew that, deep down. He couldn’t kill him the first night he’d seen him and he certainly couldn’t do it now while he was grieving his father. This was clearly something Noah had been thinking about for a really long time. But he also didn’t want to die tonight.
“You have three options, Noah. You can just walk away and I pretend this never happened. I can make a phone call and show you who your father really was and ruin every happy memory you ever had of him.” Adam closed the distance between them, gripping the gun’s barrel and pressing it to his own forehead. “Or you can pull the trigger and kill me. None of those things will change the truth. Your father was a pedophile and a child killer.”
This close, Adam could see Noah’s deep brown eyes, red rimmed and wet with tears, the freckles dotting his skin, dirt smudging his cheeks and chin. Underneath the anger and the hunger, he was rather unique looking, nothing like the parade of pampered debutantes he was forced to endure every day to maintain his cover.
“What’s it going to be, Noah?” he asked softly. “I really hope it's option one.”
The boy’s eyes darted around the empty warehouse frantically, vibrating with enough energy Adam could feel it in the metal pressed to his skin.
“Make your call,” Noah finally said, sounding miserable. “On speaker phone,” he added. “So I can hear you.”
Adam sighed. “Noah—”
“Do it,” he snapped, cutting off Adam’s plea.
When Noah lowered the gun, Adam took his hands from his hoodie pocket, leaving the knife where it was so he could slowly reach into his back pocket. He extracted his phone and hit the first name in his frequent contacts.
“What’s up, buttercup?”
The female voice on the other end of the line was surprisingly chipper for eleven o’clock at night.
“We’re on an open channel,” he warned.
Calliope wasn’t the kind of girl you put on speakerphone. The sound of long nails furiously typing over keys halted abruptly. “Oh-kay. What’s going on? Are you in trouble? If you’re in trouble again, Adam—”
“Open. Channel,” he reminded, cutting off her rant. “I need you to do me a favor. Can you access some information?”
“Does the tin man have a metal dick?”
Adam frowned. “I don’t know what that means.”
“Sometimes, I hate this job,” she muttered. “What do you need?”
“I need you to send me the evidence file for Wayne Holt.”
There was a long pause on the other end of the line. “Why? That case is over a decade old.”
“Just do it. Everything.”
“Yeah, even that,” Adam snapped before taking a deep breath and letting it out. “Sorry, Cali. It’s been a long night. Can you please send it?”
“Yeah. You got it, dollface. Give me five.”
With that, she disconnected, leaving Adam and the boy far closer without a gun barrel between them. “You should go,” Adam said, his voice pleading. “You don’t want to see what we’ve seen. I promise you, we had more than enough evidence to convict your father.”
Noah’s face contorted, almost like Adam’s words caused physical pain. “Then why didn’t you go to the cops?”
“Your father was good at covering his tracks. The police have to worry about warrants and chain of custody. My people don’t. We just have to find the truth.”
“We? Who even are you? You aren’t much older than me. You were barely old enough to drive when you killed my dad. I’ve done my research. What idiot would hire a kid to kill an adult?”
“Nobody hired me. This isn’t a job. I don’t have benefits and a 401k. Please, Noah. Just go.”
Adam’s phone chirped. He flicked to his email and the encrypted file blinking at the bottom of it. “Last chance.”
Noah snatched the phone from Adam and stabbed a finger against the play button. Adam turned away. He couldn’t watch the video again or the boy’s reaction to it. Luckily, the video had no sound. Hearing Noah’s reaction was bad enough. The way he sucked in a sharp breath, the strangled cry that sounded like a wounded animal, and, finally, vomit splashing onto the concrete as Noah lost the contents of his stomach.
Adam fought the urge to comfort him. What the fuck would he even say? Hallmark didn’t make ‘sorry your dad was a piece of shit’ cards. Though, given the prevalence of shit dads out there, maybe they were really missing out on something. He turned back around and gently took his phone back. It slipped easily from the boy’s fingers. “He’s not worth your tears or your vengeance. Even if he never touched you. He needed to go. I’m sorry you got hurt in the process.”
Noah glowered at him. “Yeah, I’m sure it’ll keep you up at night.”
Adam just stared as the boy turned and walked away, shoulders slumped, head down. He reminded Adam of a dog who’d been beaten.
Noah’s face was a constant companion on Adam’s walk home and even hours later as he lay in bed. What had happened to him after his father died? Was he fed? Did he have a roof over his head? Was he somewhere alone, two seconds away from swallowing a bullet?
Adam knew better than anybody that childhood trauma came back to haunt you at the most inopportune moments, in the most incongruous ways. And once somebody turned the key on that part of the brain where those memories lived, it was almost impossible to stuff them back down again.
When the sun came up, Adam hadn’t slept a wink. He ground his palms into his eyes until sparks danced behind his lids. He was supposed to meet his father and Atticus at the club for breakfast. He knew he should tell them about Noah. They needed to know that someone out there knew who Adam really was. But he didn’t want to tell them. He didn’t want to tell anyone. Some weird part of him wanted to keep Noah all to himself.
He stumbled to the shower, letting the molten water blast along his back and shoulders, thinking of big, brown eyes and freckles sprinkled over pale skin. He felt weirdly responsible for the boy. He didn’t know why he kept thinking of him as a boy. They couldn’t be more than six years apart, but Adam felt like he’d been born an old man—had lived a hundred lives in the twenty-seven years he’d been alive. Noah’s life had clearly not been easy, but there’d been a vulnerability, a quiet desperation that had tugged at something buried so deep down inside Adam. Something he didn’t know even existed inside him. His conscience.
Would it bring Noah any comfort knowing he had, in fact, kept Adam up all night?