The Bastard's Key: Book One
The Golden Scepter
Heath goes on a blind date set up by busy-body co-worker Violet Tryon. Sexy and mysterious, Anton Barrett captivates Heath and asks him out for a second date. But things quickly go awry when a boulder crashes their picnic, and Heath’s apartment building blows up.
Now homeless, Heath turns to Anton for help, and finds himself in the middle of a family vendetta against his branch of the Hapsburg royalty.
Pursued by a man in a black trench coat, Heath, Anton, and Violet race from Paris to the Orient Express, Austria, and Switzerland in a scramble against time to find the treasure and save Heath’s life.
He strode into the lavish bathroom and locked the door. The knocking started as he stepped into the shower, but Heath, ignoring it, closed the glass door and turned on the warm water to mask the sound.
“Heath, please let me in.” Anton’s muffled voice through the door was barely audible over the spray of the shower. Water cascaded down Heath’s body. It was his first shower in almost two days. He moved under the spray, drowning out Anton’s knocking and pleas as he tried to rinse away the horror of his recent experiences. The water brought a measure of peace to his tired body.
The scent of lavender surrounded him, and he discovered a bar of soap. Small flecks of purple revealed the source of the soothing fragrance, and he ran the bar over his torso.
He attempted to think about his situation rationally. Everything he owned was burned and under the ruins of his apartment building except for the contents of his backpack and that damned key around his neck. He couldn’t go back to work because at least one person was trying to kill him. It would rip him apart if any more innocent people were hurt because someone was after him. Although two of the would-be assassins were in a mangled car at the bottom of a steep cliff, there may be more than one other out there wanting him dead.
Anton. What about Anton? He could’ve snatched the key several times, not even telling him what it meant. He could’ve let Heath die three times, but saved his life. Not only did he give Heath a place to stay, he made love to him like he meant it. Not just steamy sex, but sultry, sensual lovemaking. There was a spark of something strong inside Heath. It wasn’t lust or desire, but a deeper rush of emotion. A new feeling, stronger than any he’d experienced in any past relationship.
Heath lost track of how long he stood under the hot water. Steam swirled around him, and he noticed that his smooth skin began to prune. With a sigh, he turned off the water. A plush white towel waited for him on a heated rack, and he pressed it close to his body as he dried off.
Wrapping the towel around his waist, he released the lock on the door and peered into the bedroom. The ornate bed was now made up, and the change of clothes from his backpack was laid out and ready for him. A small piece of paper along with a freshly cut red rose lay on top of his jockey shorts.
I’m sorry. –A
The note was short and to the point. Heath inhaled the strong fragrance of the rose and put it in the glass of water by the bed. A knock at the door hurried his dressing. He pulled on the jockey shorts and jeans and went to answer the door.
It was Violet. She stood there with a tray holding two teacups and a silver tea service.
“Good morning, my dear.” Her gaze raked up and down his torso, and she sighed. “All the hot ones are gay.”
“You’ve been saying that since I met you.”
“Well, it’s true. This is the first time I’ve seen that luscious slim chest of yours. I love dark-haired men.”
“I’m a bit scrawny.”
“Nonsense, Heath. You’re a hottie. Tea?”
“Uh, sure.” He wasn’t really sure, but Violet was a force of nature not to be questioned. She poured out two cups of tea and plopped herself down, handing one to him.
He held his nose over the teacup. Citrus and mint. “Where did you get this? It’s my favorite.”
“Your desk at work, and I told your boss that you had a family emergency and wouldn’t be back for a few days.”
“Hmmm.” He sipped his tea. The taste was familiar and comforting.
“Anton really enjoyed your date. The hike and picnic wasn’t a ruse to get close to you.”
“Did you know what was going on?”
“My dear, you are hot, young, gay, and single. You were the perfect match for my Anton and damned lucky he noticed that key. I never saw it.”
Heath raised an eyebrow. “Then why did you set me up with those three losers before you introduced me to him?”
Violet laughed. “Well, it took me a bit to realize you were perfect for him.”
“He said he worked in the medical industry.”
“Yes, well. He couldn’t exactly tell you that he fought international criminals, could he?”
“I suppose not. So what happens next? Where do I go? That guy is still out there, and I’m worried that he’ll find me here and hurt you two.”
Violet chuckled again. “Don’t you worry one bit about us. Those idiots will never get in here, and what happens next is up to you.”
“What do you mean?” His confusion clouded his thoughts.
“Life’s thrown you a curveball. Are you swinging at it or hiding in the dugout?”
Heath sat back in the chair and sipped at his tea. He looked out the open window, taking in the blue sky and the sparkling ocean on this crisp autumn morning.
There really wasn’t an option. He couldn’t hide for the rest of his life. He’d be in danger either way.
He looked back at Violet and grinned. “Batter up.”