To Nathan Hunt, honesty is anything but the best policy. Telling the truth has earned him nothing but heartache and pain, so lying about who he is and what he wants seems to be the only path to job security and friends. Hell, it even brings him a hollow kind of happiness.
Except that's not much of a life for anyone. Desperate to cure his self-made misery, Nathan agrees to go along with a con that will score enough cash for Nathan to start over. There's just one problem: lying is getting harder by the day. And a con who can't lie, is a con who gets caught.
Nathan's attempts to distract himself from his moral quandary lead him to a mysterious, intoxicating man named Fury, a mixed martial arts fighter who knows a thing or two about lies and pasts better left dead and buried. Together, they undertake a journey that proves honesty is more dangerous and more difficult than either of them could have imagined. And as they combat addiction, thugs, guns, and inner demons, Nathan and Fury can only hope that their battle to be together is worth the bitter fight.
Sickness burbled in the back of Nathan's throat, burned and churned, and he was dizzy from trying to hold out and hang on to any last shred of conviction.
Duke tapped Nathan's cheek, almost affectionately. "But you know, man, you always can come to me for any ol' thing you need."
Nathan wanted to say fuck it and suck the taste of smoke out of Duke's mouth. He was weak, willing, falling fast. Red, seething anger boiled up inside Nathan. He hated everything in a moment of furious clarity, and he braced, ready to try to tear Duke's head off. He snarled and grabbed Duke's jacket, about to sink a knee into Duke's nuts and toss the fucker into the gravel. Maybe stomp on Duke's skull until it was smashed flat and empty, and Duke was more mangled meat than mirror.
Nathan registered the look of dulled shock in Duke's eyes, and a presence manifested next to them. Nathan shoved Duke away but didn't do anything else. He was too busy staring up at Fury and fighting for control.
Fury leveled a gaze on Nathan but didn't say a word or lift a hand. He had on jeans, a checkered shirt, and a long coat that was stretched taut across his shoulders.
"Oh, hey ... hey, Fury." Duke straightened his clothing, but he was the rabbit cornered in the hunt. "Didn't ... Man, I didn't see you."
Fury swiveled his head and glowered. Duke backed up, smart enough to read a cold trail. "We cool, man. We all cool, here. Nate? You know where to find me if you need me, right?"
Nathan struggled to make his vision stop bleeding red and didn't answer.
"Cool. It's cool." Duke smacked his lips and jogged off in the other direction.
Nathan would have sighed in relief and slumped against the wall, but Fury returned his focus to Nathan, who suddenly had sympathy for those insects pinned to boards for display.
"Ah ..." Nathan cleared his throat. He wiped his palms on his jeans and tried to think straight. "Um ... hey."
Fury still said nothing, and Nathan tensed so he wouldn't squirm. "You had a great fight. Earlier, I mean. Inside ... in the ... not out ... Right."
Fury blinked. Slowly. His eyelashes were so dark and thick, it looked like the guy wore mascara. He wasn't exactly an attractive man in the traditional sense. Too much forehead, eyes too close together, big, crooked nose ...
"Duke's an asshole," Nathan babbled. "Harmless, usually. Just fucked up tonight." Nathan had no idea why on God's green earth he was defending Duke. Or maybe he was defending himself. Trying to be smooth after a tweaked-out piece of shit cornered him in a parking lot, and Nathan had to tamp down the urge to kill Duke with his bare hands? Christ, what was wrong with him? Nathan took anger out on himself, not others.
"He sells some decent weed, if that's your thing," Nathan tried to joke, laughing feebly. Fury only had three inches of height on Nathan, but Fury might as well be the size of skyscrapers.
"It's not," Fury said in his characteristic growl. "My thing."
"Oh." Nathan coughed. Of course, he would try to push weed on a teetotaler. That was Nathan's style, right there. Smooth. "Well. Sure. Not with what you do for a living, right? Can't be good for the --"
"I got other things."
Nathan shut his mouth with an audible clack of teeth. Fury still studied Nathan, hands loose at his sides, shoulders at ease, expression neutral. If the fighting thing ever failed, Fury had a bright future in poker. "That right?" Nathan asked.
Fury nodded, and again, it was slow. "Yeah." Fury looked Nathan up and down, just like he had after Nathan had spotted him on the weight bench. Must be trying to place him. No way was it anything else.
"You were at the gym," Fury said at last.
With the threads of recognition in Fury's tone, Nathan's logic died, and he got sucker punched by hope. Stupid, untimely, insipid, teenager-with-a-crush hope. "I ... uh, yeah, I was. I think."
"You think?" Fury asked with what might have been amusement.
"I do. Think," Nathan replied with more assurance. It was easier to come by when he told himself this conversation wasn't really happening.
Fury finally quit inspecting Nathan and glanced around the parking lot. "You headin' back inside?"
"I ... I don't think so."
Fury stared at something far away. "You interested in some more action?"
"Always." The answer flew from Nathan's lips before he could catch it. The symptoms of the panic returned, but they hurt a little less. "What you got?"
Fury shoved his hands into his pockets. "I got somewhere to be." He took a few steps toward the row of cars, and he paused, raising his eyebrows at Nathan. "You comin'?"