Gabriel Black is at his remote Alaskan cabin finishing his new novel when a man breaks in and holds him prisoner. Ethan is frozen to the bone and carrying a gun, his origin a mystery. Heat ignites instantly between Gabriel and Ethan and the lines between captive and captor soon start to blur. Ethan is an enigma, a man surely on the run, maybe a dangerous criminal, but Gabriel is drawn to Ethan’s broken spirit and damaged soul. What secrets is Ethan keeping and is he, as he claims, innocent?
Gabriel Black cursed as the toaster coughed up two slices of blackened bread and the smoke alarm immediately kicked in with an ear-piercing shriek. He moved to the French windows, unlocked and drew them open, letting in a burst of freezing night air, before he grabbed a dish towel and wafted it under the smoke alarm. A flash of movement registered at the periphery of his vision.
He turned around just as a tall figure sidled through the windows, levelling a gun at him.
His mouth dropped open, icy fingers creeping down his back. The intruder was in his late thirties, a few inches bigger than Gabriel, and well-built. He wore a thin shirt and jeans and soaked, flimsy canvas shoes, despite the weather outside being at least ten below. Snow covered the jet-black hair that fell untidily over his face. Large, jade-green eyes and a sensual mouth dominated his pale, startlingly attractive face. A few days’ worth of dark stubble lined his jaw, emphasising the blue of his lips and nose. He trembled violently, his teeth chattering together.
“Knock that off.” He gestured to the annoying smoke alarm.
Numb with shock, Gabriel did as he was told, wafting the towel again until the alarm went off abruptly, leaving sudden silence broken only by the sound of the intruder slamming the windows shut and pocketing the key.
The two men faced each other across the kitchen. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” These were brave words considering the nut job in Gabriel’s house held a gun.
The man moved closer, his face stony. “You don’t get to ask questions.” He sneered the words. “I want some dry clothes.” He prodded Gabriel hard with the gun in his chest to make his point.
Gabriel turned around and walked woodenly through the living room to the stairs. His mind whirled as he climbed. He was miles from civilisation, stuck in south central Alaska at his winter retreat. Who exactly was this man and what threat did he pose?
He entered the bedroom and his guest gestured at the wardrobe. “Come on. Get me pants and the thickest sweater you’ve got.”
Gabriel chose his thick lounge pants and a hooded fleece-lined sweater that he wore to chop logs for the fire.
“And underwear and two pairs of socks,” the intruder said.
Gabriel got the items from a chest of drawers. He’d be damned if he was going to give away his best boxers, so he handed the intruder some old ones. The man didn’t comment, just indicated for Gabriel to place the lot on the bed.
“Turn around while I change. Don’t even think of trying anything because I swear I will shoot you in the head before you can move.”
Gabriel stood in silence as he listened to the stranger kicking off his shoes, a zip sliding down, the rustle of denim. He waited for the man to dress and thought distastefully about the wet clothes piled up on the floor of his room.
“Back down,” said his unwelcome guest at last. “I need a hot drink.”
Gabriel turned around. The stranger looked different in Gabriel’s own clothes, softer and less intimidating, even though the expression on his face was still hostile.
When Gabriel did not immediately comply, the man pointed the gun at him once more. “Move!”
Gabriel reluctantly led the way downstairs and into the kitchen. “What do you want? Coffee?”
Gabriel reached for a mug and picked up the coffee pot. For a moment he contemplated the freshly brewed liquid inside. Could he throw boiling hot liquid over another human being? Yes, if that man was going to kill him. But just how dangerous was this man who had invaded his house?
“Don’t even fucking think about it,” the intruder snarled. “Get over here now, pretty boy.”
Gabriel glared at him. He put down the pot and approached the man so they stood eye to eye, staring each other down. Metal jangled in the man’s hand a split second before he grabbed Gabriel’s wrist and locked a handcuff around it. With the gun in his face once more, the man shoved him against the radiator and down to the floor.
His guest locked the cuffs around the pipe.
The man smirked mirthlessly, showing perfect white teeth, and headed off towards the coffee machine, filling his cup. The radiator was red hot. Gabriel sat as far away from it as he could. “You going to tell me what you want?”
The stranger placed his gun behind him on the counter. “What I want is a meal, a shower, and a warm bed.” His gaze raked Gabriel’s body so thoroughly that he was left unsettled. “As for the rest, we’ll see how it goes.”
Their eyes held for a long moment. Gabriel had no idea what the guy meant by this, but a shudder snaked through him nonetheless. Damn it, the man was hot as holy hell. Did he imagine it or could he see vague interest in those intense green eyes? Surely not.
The man pulled some milk from the fridge and splashed it into his coffee. He leaned against the work surface eyeing Gabriel. “What are you doing all the way out here anyway? Are you some sort of hermit?”
Gabriel returned his steely glare. “I come here once a year.”
“You’re a writer?”
“That’s generally what writers do.”
The intruder’s expression turned dangerous. The air crackled with fury. “I’m warning you.”
Gabriel said nothing.
“What’s your name?”
“And how long are you here, Gabriel?”
“Maybe two months. I’ve been here a couple of weeks already.”
“Have you got a cell?”
Gabriel hesitated. “No.”
“Liar.” The man advanced on him.