I Believe Now: Sequel to Until You
Max Tyler and Asher Madden are back--and so is a very angry man from their past. A man who believes he has been extremely wronged by the great Max Tyler.
Wyatt Jackson knows it was Max who made it impossible for him to be re-elected and that was all the politician had been after. Plus, due to the lies Max told, Jackson nearly ended up in prison.
Jackson not only wants his life back, he wants Max Tyler dead.
First step? Kidnap Max's precious Asher Madden.
Max is well aware of his error in not taking care of Wyatt Jackson when he had the chance. He just didn't think the man had it in him to bite back. But Asher is now in the former Congressman's dirty hands and in order to rescue him, Max needs a plan. One that can't fail.
But what happens when it does?
"So Congressman Jackson beat the charges." Max sat back in his chair behind his large desk high above the city streets of Chicago as he closed the file he had been going through. He blinked back his frustration at the news.
"Yes, sir, but not congressman anymore, thanks to you." Jasper took the file Max handed to him. "As you know, the actual evidence against him was fabricated and simply leveled in order to discredit him and take him out of office--which you've done. Even so, his lawyer was only able to get him acquitted by applying pressure on the jury and judge. We've obtained those particular facts through some pressure we've applied ourselves because no one is really talking--not officially, anyway. He was released today."
"Who's his lawyer again?"
"Rubio Montistelli. He's from the west side."
"Oh yes, Montistelli. Old family, old money. Seems Mr Wyatt Jackson still has some influence. Do we know what group he's using?" Max continued his line of questioning.
"No, sir. It's not yet clear he's even using a group. It'd be hard to miss what side you're playing on, so I highly doubt anyone--even an obscure group--would be stupid enough to help him."
Max thought that could very well be true, but it didn't change the fact he should never have allowed the man to live. That alone could easily be misconstrued as weakness on his part which, of course, was intolerable.
"Find out for sure. And tighten security on Asher. I don't want him getting involved in this."
"By the way, where is he today?"
"Asher Madden is at Grant Park on a photo shoot. He's shooting those Chicago Illusions books you financed to keep the brat out of trouble."
Max's heart leaped at Jasper's words. "Asher doesn't know I financed them, does he?"
"Of course not, sir. All he knows is he was chosen fairly among a number of photographer applicants."
"Good. Good." Relief flooded him. His lover could not be trusted with information like that, not with his ability to slip the guards Max already made sure dogged the man's heels. Having nearly lost Asher before to the thugs Jackson had employed, put a fear so deep in Max's soul it made him sweat every time he thought about it, which was often because Max could not afford to become careless ever again--not where Asher was concerned. The fact he had never felt this way for another human being was reason enough to be overprotective, even if his lover objected. "Keep a close watch. This obviously isn't over yet."
"Already underway, sir." Jasper nodded once and left Max's office.
* * * *
"See you tomorrow!" Asher yelled and waved his hand up in the air at two of the female models heading toward a waiting taxi. They turned and waved back as they slid into the back seat. One covered her mouth and giggled.
Asher smiled, pushing back his once again too-long hair as he finished packing up his cameras and gear. He counted today as another successful session. There were going to be several more days before he'd call this first book done but only because he wanted to change locations again. He certainly had enough material, but he felt he didn't have that one perfect cover shot yet.
Max Tyler, his filthy rich, club owning, political maneuvering, most likely gangster boss-ing, tall, dark, and deadly boyfriend had something to do with him landing this job. He knew simply because there was little-to-nothing in Asher's life not orchestrated by the manâ€”not to mention the fact Asher had been climbing the walls with not enough to do thereby irritating the crap out of Max. So he had to have come up with this Chicago photo book project just to shut Asher up. Asher might call himself naive--certainly grateful--but not stupid. He saw the kind of money being spent and it bordered on a little beyond crazy. But, being a photographer by trade and by heart, having a seemingly endless supply of whatever he wanted, was just plain awesome.
What was even better was the fact both he and the actual people in charge really liked the results so far. Not only did they provide a team of assistants, he had been allowed all decisions, from the theme of each book, to when the light was right, from sites and locations, to which models to use and when. He even approached and used consenting passersby on occasion, something of which his babysitter--guards disapproved. They made it painfully clear they didn't like the times he talked with people they didn't give him permission to talk to, so Asher made a point of doing it as often as he could.
Today they were in Grant Park near the water and they had all become energized when a colorful, lazy sailboat suddenly appeared. As cliched as it was, he had still taken tons of shots, using the beautiful water craft as his background and, because he was only be able to select one, he knew they'd be tough to choose from.
This kind of stuff called to the artistic core in him. He still liked the thrill of the chase after a good story, although hunting down "the bad guys" was something he hadn't done in a long time. He also loved the challenge of bringing out passion and splendor in a shot, much like the ones he believed he had been doing with this assignment.
Asher sighed. It felt good to be out. He had been cooped up for far too long, forced to endure long hours behind closed-in, albeit exquisitely decorated penthouse walls, hiding from fictional kidnappers. But here, in this atmosphere, he could almost believe his babysitters didn't even exist. Of course, they did. He had only to look a little harder and he could probably count four of them, which he felt somewhat concerned about since that was at least two more than he had yesterday, the number having obviously gone up this afternoon. There never seemed to be any rhyme or reason as to when the number of guards changed, and evidently Max never thought Asher needed to know why. Asher had argued the fact he was a grown man and could take care of himself, but it didn't seem to matter either.
"You attract trouble, Ash, and I never want to risk you getting hurt again"
Wow. But it was the closest the bastard ever got to saying he loved him.