Luke Ryder has been doing whatever it takes to survive on the streets for the last three years. Then he meets Jourdain Laurent, a man who offers to help him get off the streets. Although wary of Jourdain's motives, Luke slowly accepts his help.
Finn Macneil is aware of what is happening. He vows to save Luke from Jourdain's clutches, as he knows what will happen if he doesn't. After all, Finn's step-brother was destroyed by Jourdain.
Will Finn be able to save Luke, and end Jourdain's existence? He prays he can, or the attraction he and Luke begin to feel for each other is doomed.
Luke brushed a hand through his dark brown hair to tame it as best as possible, and leaned against the wall, his sign at his feet. When people approached or left the restaurant he put on his best 'please help me' smile, holding out his cup. Tonight, some of them actually responded, dropping change into it, rather than moving as far as possible to the edge of the sidewalk to avoid him.
A couple of hours later he'd made back what he'd spent on dinner and decided to call it a night. Folding his sign, he put it in his backpack and started down the street, heading toward the river. He'd gone two blocks when he heard footsteps behind him and a man said, "How much?"
Turning, Luke saw a good-looking, dark-haired man in a business suit standing there, a smile playing over his lips.
"For what?" Luke asked innocently, praying the guy wasn't an undercover cop.
"For the pleasure of your company."
"Boy, have you got the wrong person," Luke replied.
"And you have the wrong idea," the man said, smiling again. "I've seen you, three times now, across the street from where I live. Do you at least make enough to be able to buy a decent meal now and then?"
Luke shrugged, wondering where this was going. "I'm alive, so, yeah. What business is of yours, anyway?"
"None, of course. I'm just concerned."
"For my welfare? Don't be. I'm sure you have better things to worry about."
The man eyed Luke with amusement. "For someone living on the streets, you're pretty quick to take offense, when all I want to do is help you."
"What? You have a job for me? Like ... polishing your fancy shoes or walking your dog?"
"No dog." The man glanced down. "And my shoes don't need a polish."
"I was being factious."
"Do you even know what that means?" the man asked.
"No. I just heard someone say it. Yes, I know what it means. I may be homeless, but I'm not stupid." Luke turned, starting to walk away.
"Wait," the man said, putting one hand on Luke's shoulder. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you."
"You didn't. I'm used to people thinking I'm uneducated because I'm out here." Luke waved his hand to encompass the area. "And I look like I've been wearing the same clothes for the last month."
Luke waggled a hand. "I got them from a drop-in spot a few days ago, so for me they're pretty new."
"Don't you ever buy clothes?"
Luke snorted. "Nope. The only thing I spend cash on is shoes and food -- when I can afford it." He cocked his head, looking at the man. "Why do you care, and why the hell am I standing here answering your questions?"
"Good question. We could be sitting in a restaurant, eating a late supper."
"Uh-huh. Like you'd be willing to be seen with me in some nice place. Besides, I already ate."
"As have I," the man admitted. "Perhaps coffee?"
"You ... interest me."
Luke backed away quickly. "Okay, I get the picture. This is your way of propositioning me. Next thing you'll be suggesting we go into the nearest alley so I can blow you."
The man looked at him in shock. "I wouldn't do that." He frowned. "Is that how you make money?"
"When I have to. It comes with the territory. Begging, giving blowjobs, selling drugs, which, by the way, I don't. I have no use for drugs and I'm not about to get involved with them, using or selling."
"That's good to know. Now, back to my question. Would you join me in a cup of coffee?"
Luke laughed. "Old joke, but I don't think we'd both fit in the cup."
The man looked puzzled, then smiled. "Probably not. Would you care to go get coffee with me?"
"Maybe, but only if you tell me who you are. That way I can tell the cops, if you try to drug me so you can carry me off to your den of iniquity."
"My what? Why would I do that?"
"Sorry," Luke said. "I was kidding." I hope. This is too weird. What's he after and why me?
"My name is Jourdain. Jourdain Laurent."
"Yes. Although it's been a long time since I've lived in France. As long as we're trading names, you are?"
"A strong name. So, coffee?"
"Sure. Why not? It's not like I have anything else to do."