This title is part of the Rented Heart universe.
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Ex-surfer-turned-businessman Liam Mallaney moved back to Holkham, Norfolk, to mourn the loss of his husband. Grief and loneliness keep him a solitary figure, and he likes it that way. There’s no room in his broken heart for anything else.
Rentboy Zac Payne left London and most of his demons behind, but he still only knows one way to make a living. When he spots Liam in a club one night, it seems he’s found his mark. But Liam proves nicer—and their connection far deeper—than he’d bargained for.
Their arrangement quickly becomes too complicated for Zac, who has other things on his mind: namely his BFF and wayward flatmate, Jamie. Zac owes Jamie the world, and even as Jamie’s drug addiction destroys all they have, Zac won’t leave him behind.
Besides, Liam knows nothing of Zac’s home life, too caught up in his own head to think much beyond the crazy heat he and Zac share. But when trouble comes to Zac’s door, putting his life in danger, Liam must set his grief and anger aside to pick up the pieces of Zac’s shattered heart and his own.
Caution: The following details may be considered spoilerish.
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Tourist season was always a dodgy time for a rentboy in Norfolk, or, at least, Zac Payne assumed it was. He hadn’t really been in town long enough to tell. In the city he’d left behind, every day had been dicey . . . and dirty. Even in high summer, the temperate British sun was no match for the noise and smog of the Big Smoke.
King’s Lynn, Norfolk, was different—quieter, cleaner, and conversely less predictable. In London, he wouldn’t have thought twice about approaching the miserable-looking hottie leaning against the front wall of the town’s only gay bar, because one protracted stare would’ve told him all he needed to know: that the blond bloke was rich, lonely, and lost, and easy pickings for the faceless good time Zac had to offer. Here in King’s Lynn though, Zac couldn’t be sure the man was even gay, much less willing to put his hand in his pocket for the privilege of having Zac in his bed. Or that he didn’t have a bunch of mates waiting around the corner, ready to give an audacious poof a kicking.
Not that Zac particularly minded a good kicking. In the right context, that shit was fun and the sick side of him enjoyed it.
Focus. Are you marking him, or not?
It was a fair question, because King’s Lynn was a town that had a respectable bedtime. If he didn’t pick up a job soon, he would be done for the night. Fuck it. Zac ducked behind a lamppost and lit up his last weed pipe. He sucked down a lungful of herbal smoke and closed his eyes as it filtered into his bloodstream, dulling what remained of his inhibitions and lighting his senses with a subtle fire. Reborn, he opened his eyes. Colours brightened, the stars sparkled, and across the street, the blond was more alluring than ever. With his high cheekbones, shaggy hair, and broad shoulders, all wrapped up in ripped jeans and a designer T-shirt, he was the kind of dude Zac dreamed of when he went to bed alone.
Zac crossed the road, weaving through the late-night revellers who were spilling from the club, searching for taxis to take them home. The blond saw him coming. His previously empty stare turned curious, and Zac’s confidence took a boost. Perhaps he’d struck gold. “All right, mate?”
The blond smiled slightly, showing Zac a beautiful set of teeth. “Yes, thanks. You?”
Zac shrugged. “I’m bored. This club is shite.”
The blond’s grin widened. “That why you’ve been loitering outside all night?”
“How do you know what I’ve been doing all night?”
“Because I’ve seen you every time I’ve come out for a fag. Looked like you were waiting for someone.”
Not someone. Anyone. But this bloke didn’t need to know that. “Maybe I got stood up.”
“Maybe we both did.”
“Yeah?” Now Zac was the curious one. “What happened?”
“My mate dragged me out. Thinks I need to get laid.”
“And do you?”
The blond shrugged. “Doesn’t everyone?”
Zac couldn’t argue with that. Fucking was like breathing to him, especially when he had a good partner, something he’d yet to find in the rural monotony of eastern England. Shoulda gone to Newquay.
“What’s so funny?”
The blond raised an eyebrow. “You’re smirking.”
“Yeah? About what?”
“About how you need to get laid.” It was a reckless move, but Zac didn’t care. It had been a long night with no work, like the night before, and the night before that. No work tonight meant no food tomorrow, and he needed to eat almost as much as he needed to get fucked.
If the blond was taken aback by the bluntness, he didn’t let it show. He took a moment to consider his response, before he treated Zac to another lopsided half grin. “If you’d said that a few hours ago, I’d have said I could live without it, but I’ve drunk my body weight in Jäger since then, and I reckon it might be the only thing that will sober me up.”
It was as good a reason as any. “What’s your name?”
“Liam. What’s yours?”
“Zac. Wanna come back to mine?”
“Where do you live?”
“In town. The new flats on the high street.”
Liam pulled the latest iPhone from his pocket and studied the screen before he seemed to make a snap decision. “Why the hell not? Looks like I’ve got nothing better to do.”
“Then let’s go.” Zac held out his hand and wrapped his fingers around Liam’s smooth, warm palm. “Oh, and by the way, it’s a hundred for the fuck . . . three if you want to stay all night.”
Liam Mallaney dropped the beautiful man’s hand like he’d been burned. What the fuck? Have I seriously just been picked up by a hooker? Nah, he’d heard him wrong. Shit like that didn’t happen in Norfolk. Damn place was too bloody boring. And that’s why you’re here.
Liam silenced the devil on his shoulder and focused on the dark-haired man—on Zac—studying his intelligent, bottomless green eyes, searching for any sign that he was pulling Liam’s leg, but Zac stared back at him, his gaze steady and expectant. Jesus. He is a hooker.
The realisation didn’t horrify Liam as much as it should’ve done, because nothing truly horrified him anymore. Life had already played its trump card, and as he stood in the moonlight, a foot away from the hottest bloke he’d seen in years, there was no denying the spark of attraction—and arousal—creeping through him. He did need to get laid, really fucking laid, with no emotional strings to disentangle himself from in the morning, and no obligation to pretend he was still capable of giving a shit. Could he buy that freedom? Tonight, it seemed he could.
Liam checked his pocket for his wallet. “One hundred to fuck?”
“If you want. We can do other stuff if you don’t have that much.”
Liam snorted. “Trust me. I can afford you. Are we going, or what?”
Zac shrugged, his gaze slightly narrower than it had been before. “Whatever. It’s this way.”
Liam followed him down the side path that led to the high street. The alley was dank and dark, and it crossed his mind that following a rentboy home wasn’t the cleverest move he’d ever made, but as he dodged murky puddles and the squashed remnants of discarded kebabs, he didn’t much care. Whatever Zac had in store for him would be a relief, it had to be.
“Not going to drug me and kill me, are you?”
Liam glanced up, startled by the echo of his own fears. “Not likely, mate. What about you? Gonna handcuff and rob me blind?”
“If you want—the handcuffing, I mean. I won’t need to rob you. I’ve told you my price.”
Indeed he had. Liam’s pulse quickened. He’d come to the club tonight sure he’d be home by ten, tucked up in bed with the dogs and his ever-overflowing inbox, harbouring no regrets save that he’d bothered to go out in the first place. Sex had been the last thing on his mind, until he’d spotted Zac across the road, dancing along the kerb, weaving to his own tune with a dubious-looking cigarette jammed in his mouth. He wondered if Zac knew he’d pictured them fucking long before he’d sauntered over and offered his services.
Not that it mattered. After all, Zac wasn’t doing this for fun.
Liam tried to let the notion of paying someone to find him attractive seep into his self-esteem and shock him into calling time on the madness.
Nothing happened. He pulled a battered pack of Marlboro Lights from his back pocket and lit up, proffering the box to Zac, who took one and followed suit. “Am I your only client tonight?”
“Client?” Zac regarded Liam through a haze of smoke. “This ain’t Pretty Woman, mate. In my world, you’re called a john.”
Liam didn’t particularly care what he was called, but he was curious about his place in Zac’s workday. Was he the first of many, or the last?
“This is me.” Zac stopped outside a nondescript block of new-build flats. “Still wanna come in?”
“If you’ll have me.” The absurdity of his own answer made Liam snigger.
Zac grinned too and opened the exterior door to the flats. “Oh, I’ll have you. Trust me, we’re going to have a good time.”
Liam didn’t doubt it. Zac moved with a sensuous grace and the barest hint of a swagger, all signs of a man who knew he was dynamite in bed, though, he supposed Zac had probably had enough practice. Not like Liam, who hadn’t touched a man in more than a year. Not since—
Stop it. Liam fought the cloud of misery as he climbed the steps behind Zac. Tonight, he’d drunk most of it away, but his Jäger-laced buzz had faded while he’d set himself up for an expensive night of fun with Zac, and he needed a distraction.
Arriving at Zac’s flat provided one even faster than Liam had hoped for. Zac let them in and ushered Liam forward.
Liam stepped inside, glancing around nervously, though for what, he wasn’t quite sure—he’s a hooker, not a serial killer. If anything, Zac was taking the bigger risk. Liam had half a foot and a stone on him, maybe more. Perhaps he’s a ninja. Liam sniggered again. Perhaps his buzz was still there after all.
“So . . .” Zac hovered in the doorway of what looked like a living room. “Do you want to come in and sit down?”
“What do you usually do with a john?”
Zac shrugged. “This and that. What do you want to do?”
“I want to fuck you.” Liam hadn’t known how true it was until he said it, but as he stared at Zac, taking in his slender frame and clear complexion, set off by the greenest eyes Liam had ever seen, he suddenly craved the very thing he’d left the club to avoid.
Zac smirked, like he’d known Liam was a good bet all along. “We need to go over some stuff first, so we both know what we’re getting into.”
“Okay.” Liam chanced a surreptitious glance around what he could see of the flat, taking in the bare walls and basic furniture. “Do we need to sit down for that?”
“Not especially, but I could go for a whiskey. You want anything?”
More booze sounded like the worst idea Liam had ever heard, but he trailed Zac into the sparse living room anyway, and accepted an oversized shot of Grouse, perching on the arm of the couch while he waited for Zac to spit out whatever he needed to say before they got what they’d come here for.
Zac sat on the coffee table, relaxed and nonchalant, like he’d had a stranger over for sex a hundred times. “It’s simple really. Cash up front and no sex without a condom—oh, and I don’t do kissing and small talk.”
“No kissing?” Liam couldn’t suppress a laugh. “Thought this wasn’t Pretty Woman?”
Zac scowled. “Them’s the rules. Take them or leave them.”
Okaaaaay. Liam retrieved his wallet and counted out five twenty-pound notes. He held them up, dangling them an inch from Zac’s face. “I’ll take it.”
Zac took the money and stuffed it, without checking, in a drawer in the coffee table. “Do you have any questions?”
“Sure? Don’t want you freaking out halfway through.”
Why not? Surely, if he bolted before they were done, Zac would get paid for half a job, but he kept that theory to himself and considered Zac’s question while Zac topped up their glasses. A million responses sprung to mind, but none seemed appropriate, or anything less than stupid. Zac had covered most of the bases with his Edward Lewis rules: no barebacking, kissing, or talking. What else was there to say? It wasn’t like those things had been high on Liam’s agenda anyway. Jesus Christ, he just wanted—needed—to get laid.
He glanced around again, searching for the bedroom. “Do you live here alone?”
Liam raised an eyebrow. “‘Sometimes’? What does that mean?”
“Exactly what I said. I share this place with a . . . colleague, but they’re away at the moment. Don’t worry. We’re all alone.”
Colleague. It took Liam a moment to catch on. Dear God, was this some kind of brothel? But the notion left him intrigued rather than perturbed, and as Zac rose from the coffee table and stepped forward, it was clear the time for talk had passed.
Zac spread his hands. “How do you want me?”
“Naked,” Liam said without thinking. “Where’s your bedroom?”
Zac led Liam back into the hallway and to a closed door. On the other side was a room as utilitarian as the rest of the flat—a bed, a chest of drawers, and a large mirror.
The mirror stopped Liam in his tracks. “Is this the room you always use?”
“It’s my room.”
Fair enough. Liam ventured further into the room, then stopped as he realised he had no idea what to do next. This wasn’t like fucking around with a friend—tumbling to the bed and kissing the hell out of each other until the chips fell as they may. This was something else.
Zac turned to face him. “Do you want me to take your clothes off?”
“Your clothes,” Zac repeated. “This works better if we’re both naked.”
“This works better.” Zac’s choice of words got under Liam’s skin. This is a job to him. Strip me, fuck me, then send me on my way. For the first time, a flicker of doubt bloomed in his belly. Was he really going to do this? Fuck a stranger, a hooker, all in the name of distracting himself from old ghosts?
Liam’s mind began to fragment, drifting to places he didn’t want it to go, showing him faces he didn’t want to see: Rosa, Mike, Dad. What the fuck would they think if they knew where he was? And what about Cory? Liam closed his eyes. Till death do us part . . .
“Hey.” Zac appeared in front of Liam. “We don’t have to do this, you know. I can give you your cash back and call you a cab.”
“You’d do that?”
Zac shrugged. “I’m a hooker, not an arsehole. I don’t want you to do something you’re not comfortable with.”
“It’s not that.”
“Yeah? Then what? Scared your wife might find out?”
Zac pointed at the ring Liam still wore on his left hand. “Married, ain’t ya?”
“Yes, but there’s no wife. Never was.”
“You married a bloke?”
Liam rubbed the ring with the pad of his thumb, like he could magic up some perspective and get the hell out of here. “Why are you so surprised?”
“I’m not surprised. You’ve just got that guilty air that made me wonder if you were hiding from her indoors.”
“Okay.” Zac held out his hands in surrender. “You don’t have to explain yourself. Man, woman, gay, straight, whatever. Makes no difference to me.”
Liam frowned. “You do this with women too?”
“Not a crime, is it?”
It was Liam’s turn to surrender. “Sorry, mate. I just assumed you were gay.”
Zac’s glare was brief, before it faded to an easy grin that softened the hard edges of his young face. “I’m not anything, but it’s okay. I assumed you were stuck in the closet, so I guess we’re even?”
“I guess so.”
“Good.” Zac closed his hands around Liam’s wrists. “Now, are you in this, or not?”
It was all the reassurance Zac seemed to need. He pushed Liam onto the bed and straddled him, tugging at his T-shirt. “Let’s get this off.”
Liam raised his arms and let Zac pull his T-shirt over his head, then quickly returned the favour, taking in Zac’s lean, smooth torso as Zac lowered his face to Liam’s chest and brushed an open-mouthed kiss to his nipple. Dear God. Liam’s head spun. Was there anything hotter? If there was, he hadn’t seen it in a long time.
Zac chuckled darkly, like he knew the effect he was having. “My no-kissing rule only applies to our lips. Feel free to put your mouth anywhere else.”
“I’ll bear that in mind.” Liam lay back as Zac kissed a path down his chest and abdomen. The whiskey was beginning to kick in, but instead of the dizzying haze of too much booze, he found himself lost in Zac’s diligent attention—his chapped lips and silky tongue, the dig of his teeth as he bit down on Liam’s hip. Damn, he’d forgotten how good it felt to be touched.
Zac’s teeth dug in harder, scraping bone. Liam jerked, his pelvis lifting from the bed, and his dick, still safely encased in his jeans, brushed Zac’s face. Zac smirked, and Liam wondered why. Are blowjobs extra? He’d never thought to ask.
Like he’d read Liam’s mind, Zac crawled up the bed and pressed his body against Liam’s, chest to chest, groin to groin. “If you want head it’s another fifty. Seventy-five if you want to blow me.”
“It’s more for you to get head?”
“Gotta get my perks somewhere.”
Liam thrust up, grinding his dick into the bulge in Zac’s jeans. “Is a good fuck not enough?”
“Not everyone’s as hot as you, mate.”
The thought of Zac doing this with countless men did odd things to Liam. He rolled over, taking Zac with him, and pushed him into the mattress. “Doesn’t make any difference to me. I’m not here for a blowjob.”
“Then you’d better get on with fucking me.”
Zac’s insolent defiance sapped what was left of Liam’s nerves, or maybe it was the that final shot of whiskey that drove him to stand up. Whatever. Liam roughly pulled Zac to his feet and undid his jeans, shoving them down Zac’s slim legs and kicking them aside. He unbuttoned his own, but didn’t remove them. Instead, he pointed at Zac’s underwear. “Take them off.”
Zac obliged, revealing that he was already hard. Liam stared and suddenly wanted more than anything to take Zac in his mouth. Too bad it wasn’t the service he’d paid for.
“Do I get to see your dick too?” Zac closed the distance between them, cranking up the current.
Liam shivered, covering it with a shrug. “Do you want to?”
Okay then. Liam stepped out of his jeans, trying to forget how long it had been since he’d last been naked in front of someone. Cool air hit his dick, and he searched for Zac’s gaze, but Zac’s eyes were closed, a sly grin playing on his lips.
You will look at me. Liam shoved Zac, sending him stumbling into the bed.
Zac steadied himself and smirked. “Yeah. Get it out of your system. I like to play rough, blondie.”
“Blondie?” Liam pushed Zac again, harder, leaving red marks on his chest. “You really wanna call me that when you’re inviting me to get nasty?”
Zac widened his stance. “Try me.”
The challenge dancing in his dark eyes lit Liam on fire. Liam lunged and sent him flying, leapt after him, and tumbled them both to the bed. They wrestled, but Liam had the edge in weight and height, and had Zac pinned in seconds. “This what you wanted? Me on top of you? Holding you down?”
“Yes.” Zac reared up and sank his teeth briefly into Liam’s chest. “Beat me. Bite me. I like that shit.”
Rough play wasn’t something Liam had ever been into, but the sting of Zac’s bite seeped through him and went straight to his dick. I want this, and with kissing and blowjobs off the table, there was nothing left but to get right to it. “Condoms?”
“In the drawer.”
Liam opened the bedside drawer. Inside were more condoms than he’d ever seen in his life. He picked one, and a bottle of lube, and tossed them on the bed. “Roll over.”
“Make me.” Zac’s eyes gleamed.
Liam grabbed him and threw him onto his stomach. Zac resisted and tried to roll over, but Liam shoved a hand into his hair and bared his teeth at Zac’s neck with a low growl. “Don’t. Move.”
He pushed Zac’s face into the bed, and pulled his hips up, grinding Zac onto his cock. Zac moaned. Liam raised his hand and struck his thigh hard enough to sting. “Quiet.”
It crossed his mind to whisper that Zac could make as much noise as he wanted, but he swallowed the words. If Zac wanted to stop playing, Liam reckoned he wouldn’t be shy about saying so. Mind made up, he pulled back, dragging the tip of his cock over Zac’s entrance. Zac shuddered and made no sound, but a flush broke out across his skin, so Liam did it again, and again, until Zac drove his fist into a pillow.
“Just fuck me, damn it.”
Liam slapped him. “Say ‘please.’”
Once was enough for Liam. He sat on his heels and retrieved the condom and lube. Zac didn’t move, and between his legs, his cock hung low, heavy and hard. Liam wanted to touch it, to squeeze it, lick it, and take it deep in his mouth, swallowing it down until Zac shot in his throat, but sucking Zac’s cock was off-limits. Besides, as much as Liam craved Zac’s dick sliding along his tongue, somehow it seemed too intimate, and he wasn’t here for intimacy. Hell, no. He’d paid for a shag, a hard, fast, empty fuck, and Zac was there for the taking.
Liam tore open a condom and rolled it onto his cock, sucking in a breath as it encased him. He knew men who despised bagging up, but he’d always enjoyed the rubber squeezing him tight, like an extra fist around his dick. He coated himself with lube, then ran a slick finger over Zac, pressing and probing, testing himself as much as Zac. The tip of his finger slid inside, and when Zac tightened and made a strangled noise that could’ve been a groan, Liam twisted his finger and added a second. “Shh.”
Zac fell silent again, neck strained, shoulders hunched, face pressed into a pillow. He pushed his hips back, fucking himself on Liam’s fingers in a fluid motion that made Liam’s head spin. Jesus. What the hell was going to happen when he finally put his cock in him?
He dug his teeth into his bottom lip and withdrew his fingers. In answer, Zac opened his legs wider and raised himself up onto all fours. Liam growled and pushed him down. “I told you to stay still.”
Zac moved like a snake: rolling over, shoving Liam onto his back, and straddling him before Liam could protest. “So? Never said I would, did I? Now it’s your turn to do as you’re fucking told.”
He cut off any argument Liam may have made by aligning himself with Liam’s dick and easing down on it in a long, slow slide.
Liam groaned. The heady burn that had simmered between him and Zac since they’d struck their sordid deal increased tenfold, and his eyes fluttered closed. He thrust up, seeking friction. Zac met him in the middle, and their bodies collided over and over, flesh slapping flesh, grinding together, building to the brutal rhythm that Liam had craved so badly. The cheap IKEA bed shunted across the floor, and he braced himself on the frame, driving deeper inside Zac.
“Fuck!” Zac gasped, and his legs shook. Liam gripped his hips and flipped them over, pinning Zac once again, and pounding into him so hard he made his own eyes water as Zac cried out and arched his back. “Yeah, that’s it. Don’t stop, don’t stop.”
As if. Liam was on a one-way trip. He put his hands on Zac’s chest and fucked him harder, clenching his eyes shut as Zac clamped down around him, digging his nails into Liam’s skin. Orgasm roared through him like a wildfire, obliterating more than a year of abstinence, and he fought to hold his pace, but as he came with a gravelly yell, control abandoned him and he fell on top of Zac, mashing their bodies together, sweat merging with a sticky, wet warmth that suggested Zac had beaten him to the punch.
He came. For some reason, that surprised Liam as he lay in a sex-dazed stupor. Like he’d thought Zac’s boner had all been for show. Like a man could fake a dick as hard as that.
“Open your eyes.”
Liam shook his head. Nope. If he lay still in his self-imposed darkness, he could pretend the first stirrings of shame and disgust weren’t brewing deep in his gut, and he wouldn’t have to look at Zac and despise the both of them.
But the longer he lay there, the harder it became to block out reality. Guilt was relentless like that. He opened his eyes with a sigh. Zac stared back at him, his dark gaze . . . sad? No, that couldn’t be right. This meant nothing to him. Liam was a client, a john, and Zac had completed the job he’d been paid for. The grief was all Liam’s.
Liam rolled away and sat up, searching for his discarded clothes. Behind him, he heard Zac move too and open the bedside drawer. A rustling came next, and then the flinty flick of a lighter. Weed smoke filtered into Liam’s senses, a smell he’d recognise anywhere, and the shield he’d cast around his heart in his haste to get Zac into bed began to crumble.
He found his jeans and yanked them up his legs, checking his pockets for his wallet, phone, and keys. His T-shirt was in the doorway. He retrieved it and pulled it over his head.
Liam turned. Zac sat cross-legged on the bed, smoking a funky kaleidoscope pipe. With his sweat-sheened skin and tousled hair, he looked like one of those waifish models in the trendy cologne ads. “I’ve got to get home.”
“To your husband?”
“It’s okay,” Zac said. “You’re not the first to scarper with his tail between his legs.”
“I can put my tail where I damn well please. There’s no one around to notice.”
“Ah.” Zac nodded like he knew everything in the whole fucking world. “Divorced, eh? Is that the same for gays? All that legal bullshit?”
“Wouldn’t know,” Liam said flatly. “My husband’s dead.”
Zac blinked, missing a beat. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be.” And Liam meant it. He’d long ago grown tired of hollow sympathy from people who didn’t give a shit. “Have you seen my shoes?”
“Over there. You okay getting home?”
Liam followed Zac’s direction to the foot of the bed and stamped into his shoes. “Think I can manage. I’ll see you around, yeah? Thanks for . . . a good time.”
“Pleasure was all mine.” Zac regarded him a moment through a haze of smoke, then reached into his Aladdin’s cave of a bedside drawer. He retrieved a card and passed it to Liam. “There’s my number. Give me a call if you ever need another distraction.”
Two days later, Zac stubbed his cigarette out in the ashtray and blew the last precious lungful of smoke to the ceiling. He had no plans to buy any more. And that went for weed too . . . maybe. Of all his vices, it had proved the hardest to quit. Was there anything better than sharing the sunrise with a joint? Probably, but in recent months it had been his only way of winding down after an arduous night hooking.
Shame it didn’t knock him out for long. Zac yawned and checked the time: 11 a.m. Still, four hours’ kip was better than nothing, and it was better than pacing the small flat, waiting for a knock at the door that rarely came.
Speaking of which. Zac forced himself out of bed and padded across the hall, wincing as the sun hit his scratchy, sleep-deprived eyes. He opened the door to the second bedroom and found it deserted, like he’d known he would, the bed unslept in since he’d changed the sheets more than a week ago. Fuck’s sake. It was the eighth morning straight he’d woken to an empty flat. Soon he’d have to catch a bus into Norwich and search the city centre—the squats, the alleys, the derelict warehouse behind the church. Jamie had a gift for winding up in the worst holes a city had to offer, a skill Zac had shared until circumstance had forced him to mend his ways . . . or at least sew a threadbare patch over them.
He tore himself away and drifted to the kitchen, despite knowing the fridge was empty. Staring at its bare shelves, he imagined what he’d eat if he didn’t need the cash he’d made over the weekend for rent. A sausage sarnie maybe, with bacon, onions, and cheese. And brown sauce, loads of it. He’d pick up some HP next time he had money to burn. Which would be the next side of never.
Zac shut the fridge with a heavy sigh. Six months ago, the luxury of a roof over his head had seemed like a distant dream. To lust beyond that now felt wrong, so back to bed it was. He had another long night ahead of him tonight, servicing the most regular john he’d managed to find since moving to the arse end of nowhere—an old guy, with a penchant for spanking and a tiny cock. Still, he was clean and amiable, a perk of Zac picking his own johns. No more grubby motherfuckers for me.
Pondering, Zac took a piss and crawled into bed, burrowing under the covers that smelled of the last john he’d brought home. The only john you’ve ever brought home. He pulled a pillow over his head and let his mind meander back to his encounter with Liam two nights ago. It had been everything he’d imagined when he’d first laid eyes on him. More. And the tall, enigmatic blond had been on his mind ever since, much to his chagrin. After all, Liam hadn’t struck him as the kind of bloke who called up hookers, begging for a repeat performance. Yeah? So why did you give him your card?
Zac snorted quietly. The stupid cards were a bloody joke. Some days, he could hardly believe he’d spent a precious tenner having them printed. It wasn’t like they had anything on them, save the number for the pay-as-you go budget smartphone he carried. The smartphone he’d checked religiously since he’d impulsively handed Liam his pathetic excuse for a business card. Idiot. He usually saved the cards for johns who looked rich, or desperate enough to want a regular arrangement, then forgot about them until they called, too caught up with the next job, or guarding an empty bed. Despite his designer clothes and surprising willingness to follow Zac home, Liam hadn’t seemed rich or desperate, even with the wad of cash still stashed in his wallet at 3 a.m. Perhaps he’s tight. The innuendo made Zac hot all over, but he didn’t feel like wanking.
Didn’t stop him brooding, though. He closed his eyes and pictured Liam, his strong body, wrapped up in smooth, tanned skin and shaggy blond hair. Arousal crept over Zac, but his mind brought him back to Liam’s eyes. He didn’t often notice the colour of a john’s eyes, but Liam’s chocolate-coloured gaze had been hypnotic, a molten mix of desire and an apathy Zac knew all too well. Liam had wanted Zac, had craved relief from the hurt simmering behind his eyes, but for the most part he’d seemed totally disconnected, like he’d been watching himself turn Zac inside out without giving a flying fuck.
Whether Liam knew it or not, he and Zac had that shit in common.
I honestly wish I could give this story more than 5 stars, and I very highly recommend it to those who are looking for a story of redemption and the engaging characters who fight their way through their very divergent circumstances to finally be together.
Emotional and riveting.
What truly impressed me here was the dialogue. Leigh writes everyday conversation without pretense and the characters sound so very real. This is the best of a Garrett Leigh book with great characters, authentic dialogue, and a love story for two guys from different worlds whose hearts beat the same.
Rented Heart was another solid read from Garrett Leigh!
[A]nother example of how well this author writes.