Herc’s Mercs: Once a Hero is now available from Torquere Press! This is the fourth installment in the Herc’s Mercs series, featuring a retired merc who learns that you can take the merc out of the fight, but you can’t take the fight out of the merc.
You can read a sample after the break!
Mason shook his head. “I wasn’t paranoid enough,” he said. “You were. You knew it could get bad. I didn’t believe it — didn’t want to believe it. It almost killed me.”
“I did not want to believe it either. I hoped I was wrong, but my instincts were telling me something bad was going to happen. Now that it has–” Ezra’s voice broke, and he brought Mason’s hand to his cheek, clinging tightly. “I cannot be objective. When I saw you there, saw all that blood…” He shook his head, and Mason thought he saw the glimmer of tears in Ezra’s eyes before Ezra looked away. “I cannot be merely an employee. I tried. If you want me to recuse myself, I will.”
“What?” Mason was confused, but he could see Ezra’s pain, and he reached over with his free hand, touching Ezra’s cheek. “Are you saying you want to leave Jamie and me?”
“No!” Ezra stared at Mason, wide-eyed. “No, I don’t want to leave. But if you want me to remain only your employee, I cannot do that any longer. I tried to maintain my professional distance, especially after I overstepped so badly, but I cannot do it after this.”
Hope flared brightly within Mason. “I don’t want you to leave, Ezra,” he said, praying he wasn’t misreading what he thought Ezra was implying. “I don’t want you to maintain a professional distance, either. You never overstepped, I overreacted. But everything I tried to do to bring you closer just seemed to push you farther away from me.”
“I thought you were angry with me for forgetting my place,” Ezra replied, searching Mason’s face intently. “But if you do not want me to keep my distance, what do you want?”
“I want you to give me a chance,” Mason said slowly, stroking Ezra’s cheek with his fingers, his heart pounding. “To woo you. To see if we could be as good together as I think we could be.”
Ezra’s eyebrows shot up as he gave Mason a startled look, but then his lips curved in a warm smile. “You want to woo me? I like the sound of that.”
Mason felt his cheeks growing hot. “I know that sounds old-fashioned, but what I feel is more than just physical attraction.” He smiled. “Not that I’m not attracted to you. I definitely am, believe me! But I’m drawn to you as well. Your strength, your kindness, your intelligence, your caring. I see how you are with Jamie, and to be honest, I’ve been a little jealous of how easy you are with him, when I wanted you to be like that with me, too. How’s that for pathetic?”
“It is not pathetic,” Ezra replied, giving his hand a reassuring squeeze. “I have wanted to be like that with you too. If you want to woo me, you will find I am amenable to being wooed.”