Throttled by K. Sterling Release Day Spotlight

Title: Throttled
Author: K. Sterling
Publisher: Bawdy Books
Release Date: February 6, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary/Law Enforcement
Page Count: 136

Jack Walden, “Wal,” has it bad for Marco, the talented, sexy auto mechanic-slash-vintage car restorer he had a brief relationship with. So bad that he regularly fakes car damage just to have an excuse to be around the man. Wal can’t muster the courage to tell Marco how he feels and that he wants another chance, even though watching Marco date drives him crazy with jealousy.

Marco Costa has tried getting over Wal by getting under other men, but it’s useless–the aloof detective etched himself in Marco’s heart. But Wal’s too closed off and married to his job, and Marco wasn’t satisfied with always being second in the man’s life. They’re better off as friends, or so he tries to convince himself.

When a missing persons case Wal is investigating strikes too close to home, Wal realizes nothing is what it seems…and protecting the man he loves becomes a high-stakes fight when he isn’t sure who he can trust.

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“Ask him to come over because you want his opinion on the new bedding,” Wal urged himself as he stared at the mirror. He looked at the cologne on the counter then reached for it. His hand shook as it hovered over the bottle before he squeezed his fist tight then shook his head. “He might not like it or he’ll notice it and think you’re expecting something else to happen,” he warned himself then looked back at his bed.

It took him months to pick something. Wal just wanted to sleep, he didn’t understand why it mattered if he did it in a bed or on the couch or standing in the rain. As long as his brain was able to shut down and rest, he was satisfied. But he studied catalogues online for weeks and navigated an overwhelming array of details and the idea of starting over if he’d got it wrong terrified Wal, if he was honest. He didn’t understand the implications of certain patterns. Which florals were “too feminine” or old-fashioned? They all seemed too busy to Wal and he didn’t know when one was too bright, even though all but the dullest seemed too bright to him. Which patterns and styles were too juvenile or too dramatic? Why did beds need skirts and bolsters and shams? In the end, Wal found something that was marketed for teenage boys. He liked that it was just dark blue and in a very soft velvet and available with all the extra parts. Wal ordered the skirt, bolster pillows and shams, as well as the coordinating white sheets with navy trim, curtains and a matching throw blanket for the end of the bed. For some reason. Just to be safe, Wal also bought the laundry basket, coordinating shower curtain, towels, bath mats, toilet seat cover and counter accessories pictured with the bedroom set. He spent over $1,000 but he’d gladly pay ten times more if he got it right and never had to do it again.

“He can’t see that you’ve changed if you don’t show him,” Wal pointed out and he sighed at the mirror then zipped up his grey hoodie. He gave himself a stern nod before he turned off the light. He hurried into the living room then hissed at the box of comics on the table and quickly relocated it to the spare room before he grabbed the truck’s keys and left. “You have to tell him tonight. Tell him you want another chance and you’re ready to do whatever it takes,” he whispered as he parked in front of the shop then got out. He would have a hundred opportunities while they were alone in the shop and plenty of time to muddle his way through it. He pushed out a nervous breath as he reached for the door then jumped when it swung open.

“Right on time!” Marco declared as he pushed Wal back and turned him then locked the shop’s door.

“Where are we going?” Wal asked and frowned at the shop as Marco threw his arm around his neck and lead him away.

“To Maddigan’s to watch Madrid,” Marco said and Wal groaned. Soccer.

“Why can’t we work on the car like we planned? I don’t want to watch soccer in a noisy sports bar,” he grumbled and Marco shushed him.

“I finished the car last night and you owe me,” he said and Wal stopped.

“I owe you?”

“Come on!” Marco said as he gave Wal a shove. “Two years ago, we made plans to meet at Maddigan’s to watch Madrid play Al-Ain. I got there early to make sure we got good seats but you stood me up with a text message that said “Raincheck”,” he explained and Wal’s face fell.

“Why are you still bringing that up? I should have asked the coroner to make it snappy or postpone an autopsy until Monday so I could watch soccer?” He argued and Marco’s hand slapped against his eyes.

“I get it, Wal. But we’re doing it now. I wanted to do it with you then and we couldn’t so I’m calling in the raincheck,” he explained as he dragged him down the sidewalk. “And you’ll blend right in at Maddigan’s,” Marco added and Wal stopped again.

“What’s wrong with this?” He asked as he looked down at his body. Fuck, he hated clothes. He always wore a grey hoodie, a white t-shirt, jeans and sneakers if he wasn’t wearing a suit.

“Nothing! Option #2 is perfect,” Marco insisted and Wal’s stomach clenched. Nothing made him feel more insecure than clothing. He never had new clothing when he was a child. Everything he wore was free or hand-me-downs he shared with other foster kids. Nothing ever fit right or looked current, everything was faded and repaired. The other kids at school could always tell and enjoyed pointing out all the ways his clothes were wrong. One of the many reasons Wal loved being a cop was the uniform. It felt like a blessing, just putting the right thing on every day without having to worry about standing out for having the wrong thing on. In fact, the more closely he adhered to the uniform, the less negative attention. He applied that lesson to the rest of his wardrobe as an adult. When he became a detective and had to wear a suit, he bought as many of the same basic black suit and tie as he could afford and made sure he had plenty of fresh backups. For all the times he couldn’t wear a suit, Wal picked the most basic, unremarkable outfit possible, in hopes of flying under the radar.

“I’m sorry I don’t have more options, I’ll work on being more shallow and materialistic,” Wal said under his breath.

“Whoa!” Marco said as he spun on his heel and pointed at Wal. “First of all, I have never cared about what you wear and I think you look fine. I get it and I’m happy as long as you’re comfortable. What’s your problem? You know I’m teasing,” he said and Wal pushed his hands into the pockets of his hoodie and shrugged.

“I don’t want to watch soccer and you’re making me,” he muttered and Marco considered for a moment then nodded.

“Then don’t watch soccer. I love hanging out with you and I want to do that while drinking beer and watching soccer. Come and hang out with me and drink beer, Wal. I’m sorry if I stressed you out by making it sound like a makeup date or something,” he said and Wal wondered why he didn’t jump on the opportunity to use the night as a makeup date.

“Fine,” Wal said and swung his chin at the bar on the corner. He’d make the best of it and hope the beer helped him relax and find his nerve.

The beer did not help him relax and find his nerve. It also didn’t help that the bar wasn’t able to play the game. Marco and his fellow disappointed Madrid fans decided to drown their disappointment in alcohol and insults. Which lead to Marco lighting Wal’s fuse with this soul-crusher:

“Why can’t I find someone like you but just a little less like you?” He asked as Wal helped Marco stumble back to the shop. Wal stopped drinking well before he realized Marco would need help getting home.

“I don’t know how to respond to that,” he admitted as he frowned at the pavement and Marco laughed as he pulled him close. He pressed his forehead to Wal’s as he laughed again and it was stunning. Wal’s heart slammed against his chest and he couldn’t move but there was so much heat and joy, for just a second.

“Why do you have the be the only man in this city I have chemistry with?” Marco asked as their eyes clung and Wal’s chest hurt despite the heat flooding his groin. Wal panted and swayed closer as he silently begged his hands and his lips to attack. He couldn’t count all the ways he felt inadequate but he couldn’t stop himself from licking his lips to see if he could taste Marco’s breath.

“What do you mean?” He could have said so many romantic or sexy things but he was still reeling and taking it the worst way possible. Marco laughed again but it came out as more of a pouty groan and made everything worse before his hands slid down Wal’s chest and he pushed away.

“I need to get laid, Wal,” Marco said, as if he was blaming Wal for something. Offer to fuck him right now! Wal’s brain screamed but he just stared as Marco hunted for the pocket on his jeans. He found it and cheered under his breath as he reached all the way in and fished for his keys. Which was a feat in a pair of perfectly tight jeans with perfectly normal sized pockets. “For example!” Marco announced loudly as he turned and waved his keys at Wal. “I’ve got this date with Tad tomorrow night and I know we’re going to have sex but I really don’t want to have sex with him. I should want to have sex with him. He’s cute and funny and wants to name our kids after Ewoks and I’m sure he eats ass but I’m just going to do it to do it. You know?” He asked then gasped. “And he’s a doctor! You know my mom would have to approve of him!” He added and Wal’s face twisted.

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Because it’s going to suck. Just like the rest of them but I keep fucking other guys hoping I’ll have chemistry with them. Like. I. Did. With. You,” Marco explained and punctuated each word by pointing the shop’s key at Wal. He flinched each time and the spark rushed along the fuse.

“Maybe you should stop fucking other guys,” he stated dryly and Marco’s head pulled back.

“We agreed we were better off as friends and it was cool if we each moved on,” he said and Wal nodded.

“And I apologized and told you I made a lot of mistakes,” he replied and it was laced with bitterness.

“And I forgave you!” Marco said as he threw up his hands.

“Really?” Wal asked quietly. It was as close to an explosion as you’d get with Wal and probably why Marco accused him of being indifferent. “Because it feels like you’re still trying to punish me. Please give me my keys,” he said. Which was about as close to storming off as he was capable of.

“Unbelievable,” Marco said as he quickly unlocked the door then flung it open. Wal waited on the sidewalk as Marco dashed into his office. “I’m trying to get over you. I didn’t fuck any of them to spite you but I might now,” he added then tossed the keys at Wal. He caught them and clutched his brow with his other hand.

“Fucking… Come on!” He whispered to himself in utter exasperation as Marco slammed the door. Don’t get over me! He implored himself to yell. Just tell him he doesn’t need to! He pleaded with himself but he just stood there until he realized the car was still in the shop. He had the perfect reason to ring the bell and an opening to apologize and turn it all around. But he also had the keys to the truck in his pocket and decided after an hour of arguing with himself that it was easier and safer to go home.

About Author

I write the GAYest, happiest Happily Ever Afters. Lover of profanity, people and animals. Purveyor of ridiculously sexy thoughts and plots.

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