Authors: Charlie Richards
Tags: #GLBT, Gay, Suspense, Contemporary, Romance
Table of Contents
Two years ago, Ewyn Calderone escaped the subjugation of domestic violence. The love and support of Devin Nilsson helped Ewyn reclaim his self-esteem. Now his fragile self-confidence is tested when his brother, the Calderone mob boss, vanishes, Ewyn becomes head of the family, and his pregnant niece and her sister die in a purported accident. The baby survives and Ewyn becomes guardian.
Days later, police report the deaths are homicides then ask about the women's dubious lifestyles. Ewyn has no answers and the panic of self-doubt re-emerges. To alleviate Ewyn's angst, Devin enlists law enforcement friends to help unravel the mystery of paternity, the nieces' lives and deaths, and stop a killer before the child becomes the next victim.
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Memories Erased: Treachery
Copyright © 2011 M. E. Reid
Cover art by Martine Jardin
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Memories Erased: Treachery
M. E. Reid
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The night their lives intersected--Devin Piers Nilsson, a Department of Justice undercover operative and Ewyn Kelley Calderone, a mob brat--their association became much more than a law enforcement issue. Devin owed their chance encounter to his former lover Allister Teague's desertion.
Single after a five-year monogamous relationship, when Devin came in from an operation, he'd trawl the trendy bars and nightclubs on the prowl for a quick fix. Without much success, he tired of the party scene environment and drifted over to the Silver Fox Bar and Grille, a dive located in a crime-infested part of San Bernardino. Considering the neighborhood, and his line of work, Devin wasn't sure of his intentions. Was he hunting for something to maim or kill to soothe the blow to his self-esteem, or to find an Allister substitute? The hard part was choosing which activity would provide the most pleasure.
In the mellow ambience of his surroundings, he relaxed against worn red vinyl and sipped his Chivas while contemplating the future of his love life, and that's when
walked in. Even in the dim lighting, the young man's attributes were all too obvious, and right on cue, Devin's dick clamored for attention, pressing into the zipper of his jeans, forcing him to shift on the seat. He stretched his legs out in front of him in an attempt to give his cock some breathing room.
Devin only took brief notice of the young man's companion because he wouldn't be a deterrent. In his current frame of mind, if he had to take out the friend to get close to what he wanted, a little aggressive foreplay would work for him. Keeping his eyes on the two men, they appeared to be arguing. The small one, who had Devin's interest, started to walk away, the big guy grabbed his arm, and short-shit snatched his arm away then headed for the john. His friend followed.
Distraction out of sight, Devin's thoughts returned to his defunct relationship with Allister. But several minutes into his rumination, a loud thump on the wall next to him made him jerk to attention and glance around. He noticed the two men hadn't returned, and out of curiosity, he slipped out of the booth, strode toward the bathroom, and shoved open the door. What he saw stopped him midstride. Clearly, he had disrupted a physical altercation.
With tears brimming in his eyes and the stain of blush or a bruise from a blow coloring one cheek, the younger man stormed into the last stall. The big brute brushed by Devin and strode from the room. Devin heard what sounded like a choked-off sob and glanced toward the stall as he moved to the urinals and relieved himself, then went to the sink. He took his time washing his hands and the lingering paid off. The stall door opened, the young man stepped out, and Devin watched the kid saunter across the floor with a sexy-as-hell, swiveling hips-in-motion walk.
Taking note of curly, ink black hair, luminous green eyes and dimples, baby-boy's slim toned physique didn't reach six feet. He appeared to be young, maybe mid to late twenties, packed
right and tight in beige slacks accentuating trim hips and a first-rate ass. Reluctantly, Devin raised his eyes, their gazes converged in the mirror, and Devin frowned. Why did this kid look familiar--damn! He'd seen him around the agency. Evidently, his preoccupation with Allister's departure had blinded Devin to prospects right under his nose. He extended his hand.
"I'm Devin Nilsson."
"Hi, I'm Ewyn Kelley." He grasped the proffered hand.
Devin stared into luminous green eyes and experienced a soul-stirring, heart-wrenching jolt to his senses. A chill of apprehension swept his body, and that alone should have cautioned him to back off. Instead, he offered to buy Ewyn a drink.
His friend Mick Tavis, ex-FBI agent now doing a stint as bartender, tried to warn Devin that any involvement with Ewyn could be risky. Devin ignored Mick's Intel and made the decision to take Ewyn home with him. Then, all it took was that first kiss from Ewyn for Devin to decide baby-boy would be worth any risks.
Even discovering Ewyn's real name connected him to the mob--his brother Gregorio being head of the Calderone syndicate, and his abusive lover Gareth Varvarinski, a member of the Russian consortium didn't deter Devin. Although serious Italian and Russian affiliations…hell, Ewyn's ass had victim scrawled all over it, which made mob connections a moot point if Devin didn't have the patience to help Ewyn regain his self-esteem.
To further his commitment to a possible relationship, Devin took Ewyn from Varvarinski and moved Ewyn into his place. Once he settled Ewyn into his condo, he left on assignment and experienced a frisson of fear for the first time in his life when it became clear the risks weren't one-sided. One of Varvarinski's men came after Ewyn. Mick and his partner, Kyrk Taggart, currently with the FBI, were able to intervene and had the man arrested. Days later, someone killed the perp in his jail cell. If an UNSUB could get to a man under police protection, how vulnerable did that make Ewyn?
Despite the emotional chaos of the new relationship, the risks and danger were normal days in the life of a man whose regular routine consisted of lying, murder, and covert ops. But damn. Who would have thought falling in love could be as hazardous as the job.
Tired of the notoriety of his partner at their usual hangout, Ewyn had convinced Gareth to take him to the Silver Fox. Imagine his astonishment at finding Devin in a well-known gay bar. He almost creamed his briefs thinking of the potential Devin's presence suggested. Hell. On several occasions, he had encountered Devin at the agency and had written him off as a straight macho prick when he attempted to gain his attention and failed. Unfortunately, this time, his attention to Devin wasn't unnoticed. Gareth took note, which sparked the quarrel in the men's room.
Devin's interruption was a welcome reprieve. Watching his six-foot three buff figure stroll into the bathroom, for a few seconds, Ewyn ignored his anger and the pain.
Not classically handsome, Devin reminded Ewyn of the Russian ballet dancer, Alexander Godunov, with his long blonde hair tied back with a strip of black leather, and brushed away from strong chiseled features. All-over golden, Devin had sexy amber eyes, which left no doubt about what the man wanted. Staring into that compelling gaze, Ewyn knew he finally had Devin's absolute interest, which he intended to act on, knowing he shouldn't.
Hell. He lived a life steeped in lies and secrets--dangerous secrets. His secrets would create a conflict of interest for Devin, his secrets would test Ewyn's own loyalties, and due to his alliance with Gareth, his secrets could kill. In view of Devin's profession, Ewyn knew he couldn't keep those secrets and have a serious relationship with Devin. Nonetheless, rather than forego a chance to be with Devin, Ewyn would settle for one night, for a memory.
Despite his good intentions not to involve Devin in his life, after a bout of mind-boggling sex, Ewyn blurted out a long-held secret. The one secret keeping him out of the public eye, the mainstay of his life that kept him safe, and of all the people to reveal it to… He'd never given his real name to anyone before, because his family had gone to great lengths to have his mother's maiden name Kelley documented as his surname.
Hell. At a time when he'd reached his breaking point, to have Devin rescue him and want him despite his name and associations, Ewyn couldn't believe his good fortune. Once he settled into Devin's place, for the first time in his adult life, he relaxed. He even dared to believe he would be happy and safe. Six months later, life disabused him of those idealistic thoughts. The shit started coming at him and Devin hard and fast. In their wildest imaginations, neither could have envisioned a scenario like the one they found themselves in, unfolding with all the deadly twists and turns of a crime drama.
What Ewyn failed to factor into his happily-ever-after equation was a visit from Mairianna Calderone, his feisty red-haired Irish mother, accompanied by family driver-bodyguard Patrick McCormick, who refused to stop calling Ewyn
. It had been more than a year since he'd seen either of them, yet his mother knew everything about his life during that time. After that disturbing reunion, he had a throw down with Devin's ex, with the first attempt on his life happening later that night. Next, he became the prime suspect in the murder of Varvarinski.
Besides that last attempt on his life with Devin stepping up to the rescue and almost dying in the process, Mairianna, who had been suffering with flu-like symptoms for months, collapsed. What no one knew at the time was she had been ingesting small doses of poison for more than a year and Cecilia, his sister-in-law had orchestrated the entire scheme to wipe out the Calderones.
Ewyn wanted to kill her. But Mother Nature intervened and did the deed for him when an earthquake destroyed the monastery where Gregorio had incarcerated her after discovering her treachery.
A mantle of storm grey clouds rolling in from the San Bernardino Mountains combined with a light sprinkling of rain to cloak the day in an atmosphere of gloom. It was the perfect backdrop for the day's event.
Ewyn sat between Devin and Gregorio. With Ewyn's nieces Nicole and Carolyn on their father's right, and Patrick on Devin's left, Gemma, Timothy, Mick and Taggart occupied the seats behind them. More than one hundred solemn family members and associates stood by as his mother's coffin disappeared into the ground. Mairianna never recovered from Cecilia's attempt on her life. A silent sob shook Ewyn's body.
He had no more tears. His supply had been exhausted when, desperate to reclaim his self-esteem by escaping the bondage of domestic violence, what should have been the highlight of his life had deteriorated into a year and a half of emotional upheaval. Although an unlikely liaison, he and Devin managed to survive that odyssey of fear, deception, murder, and anguish.
Foolishly, he'd thought the emotional rollercoaster had been a test. They had passed, and that would be the end. But it wasn't. This was the end, here at the cemetery, mourning the loss of his mother. The result of a diabolic scheme his sister-in-law had been plotting for years to wipe out the Calderones, including her husband and children--
The sudden intrusion of Father Casale's deep baritone voice on Ewyn's rumination forced him to return his attention to his immediate surroundings. He noticed most of the assembled group had dispersed, but lingering mourners were approaching to offer condolences. Together with his family, Ewyn stood, Devin draped his arm across Ewyn's shoulders and he shivered.
Remembering the extent of his sister-in-law's insidious hatred made him think he could have been attending Devin's funeral today. He edged closer to Devin and snuggled into his warmth. Hell. Even the resolution of those unnerving complexities didn't end the uncertainties.
Major concerns about his paternal aunt's welfare compounded the overwhelming heartbreak of losing his mother. Diagnosed with ovarian cancer, his aunt Gemma fought an uphill battle to survive. A mere skeleton of her former self, the chemotherapy had taken its toll, and he worried about her being out in the day's inclement weather.