All Seth wants is to live free with the man he loves. But escaping death at the hands of the mafia is just the beginning of an uphill struggle. When Domenico wakes up from his impromptu surgery and doesn’t even remember Seth’s name, Seth’s world falls apart. Suddenly it’s him who has to plan an escape from New York City and navigate their way to Mexico. All that without even knowing if the man of his life will ever love him again.
Domenico doesn’t know who to trust and what to believe. The man who introduces himself as his brother seems to hide dark secrets behind a cheerful smile. With the mafia breathing down their necks, there is no time to piece together the puzzle of Domenico’s life, and each time he thinks he’s solved it, a new part appears to be missing. Dom needs to find out who he really is, what he’s capable of… and what is the real story hidden behind Seth’s intense eyes
Themes: mafia, homophobia, assassin, organized crime, amnesia, road trip, chase
Genre: Dark, twisted erotic romance / crime thriller
Erotic content: Explicit gay sex
Length: ~ 88,000 words
WARNING: Adult content. If you are easily offended, this book is not for you.
‘Guns n’ Boys’ is a gritty story of extreme violence, offensive language, abuse, and morally ambiguous protagonists. Behind the morbid facade, there is a splash of inappropriate dark humor, and a love story that will crawl under your skin.
The Monsoon Cat in Williamsburg was the last place Seth would imagine fake passports being made. The coffee shop was swarming with bearded guys in plaid shirts and girls sprinkled with piercings. Clean, crisp interior design mixed with Indian-inspired wallpaper in orange and pink. Bhajis and Jalebi were served with a curious curry latte. Still, Seth wasn’t that curious.
Even though the place was packed, he still felt he stood out like a sore thumb in the non-descript blue hoodie he had borrowed from Peter’s boyfriend. When some random guy bumped into him, Seth tensed up so badly he almost pulled out a gun. The stranger told him to ‘chill’ and went his way, but chilled out was the last thing Seth was when he walked up to the counter and looked across it at a girl in a pink turban and a fake handlebar moustache hanging over her plump lips on a thin chain that disappeared under the headdress.
Seth cleared his throat. “Hey, I’m looking for a guy called Elephant?” He could only hope that the few details Domenico had told him before passing out were not the delusions of a man hit on the head. It had been two days since Peter had patched up Dom. Dom was still unconscious most of the time, and only woke up every now and then to deliver some incomprehensible mumbling.
The girl looked up at him and asked, “Do you want rose water with that?” even as she picked up a cell phone and put it against her ear.
Seth stilled with a frown, feeling as though he’d suddenly appeared in a bad comedy. He certainly wasn’t laughing. “What?”
She pouted. “Oh, you’re one of those guys,” she said before saying something in a language Seth didn’t know. The person who spoke to her must have consented to Seth passing through, as she showed him a door hidden behind a cascade of beaded strings. “Go straight, then down to the basement. Second door to the left.”
Seth gave her a nod, since he couldn’t manage a smile, and went into the depths of the Monsoon Cat through the shimmering pink beads. He needed this to be the right place or they would be stuck. Sure, there was a long way to go till they’d reach Mexico, but he didn’t know any other places where one could order a fake passport. If Dom didn’t get his shit together soon, Seth would have to transport him unconscious since it was getting far too dangerous to stay at Peter’s, so close to where the shooting had gone down. The police had already visited the apartment, but cops were still asking questions, and it was only a matter of time until they found someone who noticed two men emerge from the sewer, then climb up the fire escape. He was wondering whether their names were already known to the authorities.
The moment he passed the door to the back rooms, the jolly Bollywood music died down completely, as if the undoubtedly soundproof door separated two worlds that never met in the open. His nose picked up on a mixture of smells as sharply different from those in the café as the difference in music between the two spaces. Spicy, sweet, umami versus concrete, tobacco, and sweat.
He closed his eyes for a second and exhaled, looking up only to see an old Indian man looking at him from one of the open doors. With a pale light shining behind his back, he was playing with a Zippo without sparing Seth a single word.
Seth put his hands in his pockets and gave the man a short nod before carrying on along the bare-walled corridor. A slim black cat followed him out of another door and meowed, giving Seth the creeps. Heading down the concrete stairs felt like descending into another world altogether. A dark and insidious one that he was trying to escape in the first place.
But there was something odd at the bottom of the stairs. At first he thought the passage was blocked, and the girl at the counter had made a fool out of him, but there was light coming through. Seth descended toward a metal gate that covered the passage, with only a small door that was opened halfway. There were vines climbing up the thick bars of steel, and they grew from elongated pots placed on the other side of the fence. Seth swallowed hard and pushed the door, which creaked, breaking the eerie silence of what looked like a small apartment. There were four doors here, and even a wooden hanger with coats, and a small shoe cupboard. No high heels, even though the walls were lime green with fuchsia-colored doorframes.
“Come in,” came from the second door on the left.
Seth took a deep breath and followed the voice. “Hey! Is that Elephant?” He sneered at the choking amount of incense smoke in the air.
“That’s him,” said the same nasal voice, and Seth slowly entered the room, blinking not to tear up from the scented mist. At first glance the room looked like any other office, with two tall shelving units containing books and various folders. There was a shredder by the wall, a large freestanding printer, and two computers. A paper guillotine shone in the light that came from a white lamp hanging over a desk by the farthest wall, and Seth almost felt its cool touch on his throat as he approached the slim man facing away from him. Dressed in a thick yellow cardigan, the man was looking through a large pile of papers, too caught up in his work to look back.
“Hi. I’m… Seth. Came to pick up two IDs.” He didn’t even know what the fake names on them were supposed to be.
“Never heard of you,” said Elephant. He opened a drawer and took out a rubber stamp, which he used on a piece of paper before leaving his signature.
“You might know my brother, Domenico. Long black hair, kinda obnoxious,” Seth laughed nervously, hoping to establish a connection.
The man turned around in his office chair, and for a moment Seth was rendered speechless. Elephant’s face seemed young and relatively handsome until it hit Seth that the one thing it lacked was a nose. The dimmed light betrayed the arch of what used to be the bridge of the man’s nose, only it stopped all too soon, on a bone pressing on the skin from the inside. The structures below formed an oddly flat triangle with two oval holes at the center, making Elephant look like an alien being. Or an Indian Voldemort.
His large dark eyes narrowed. “Ah, I know that one.”
“Yeah, so… I came to pick up our passports,” Seth said, but didn’t budge an inch toward the guy. Was this some sort of trap?
Elephant gave him a toothy smile, which only made the oddity of his face more obvious. “Now that I think about it, I know you as well. You’re fucking Acerbi, aren’t you?”
All blood drained from Seth’s face, but he dared not blink. Was this a trick question? Was the guy bluffing to test him? Seth cleared his throat and clenched his sweaty palms. “Maybe,” he rasped.
Elephant shrugged. “Acerbi’s stuck on old technology, but I actually look through all the digital copies on the machine. You can tell him that for future reference.”
Seth’s stomach clenched into a tight ball. Fuck. Fucking fuck. He’d been drunk, but he sure as hell remembered how they fucked into oblivion, starting with a lap dance Seth gave Dom in the photo booth. Was he about to die now? He rubbed his face, now annoyed by the stubble he hadn’t cared about before. “I’ll pass that on,” he muttered.
Elephant leaned back in his chair, slowly turning himself from left to right as he watched Seth with the ghost of a smile on his lips. “I suppose you want me to keep it secret.”
“Yeah, I… that would be preferable.” Seth wasn’t sure if it was the tension in the room or the incense smoke that was getting him nauseated.
Elephant shrugged, slowly walked over to the shelves, and pulled out a thick folder. “Acerbi’s already paid me, but this juicy secret needs something extra,” he said, looking through the papers.
Seth stood there, petrified out of his mind. Did this creep want a blow job, or something? “I… I make a damn fine risotto.” He laughed, trying to act normal.
“Yeah… no.” Elephant shook his head with a wide smile and produced two passports and some papers along with two cards. It all looked completely legit.
Seth licked his lips and spread his arms. “How can I help you then?” he asked with a grin while cold sweat trailed down his back.
“I want your briefs.”
“M-my briefs?” Seth watched the man holding his ticket to Mexico, completely dumbstruck. “Like, the ones I’m wearing?”
“Exactly the ones you’re wearing. You gave quite the performance.” Elephant put back the folder and started playing with the two passports as if they were participating in some kind of game. But even Seth knew the rules, and he knew that if he wanted to win, he needed to give something up first.
Seth’s face was burning, but he unbuttoned his jeans without further ado. “Is this like… your thing?” It was better than having to give up a body part. At least that was what he was telling himself
“You could say so. I like the colorful ones most,” said Elephant, circling around Seth like a lion waiting for the best moment to jump his prey.
Seth swallowed and pushed off his trainers before proceeding to his jeans. He hated when Elephant got behind him where he couldn’t see him. He was too ashamed for words. What he’d done with Dom was for Dom’s eyes only. Too bad Domenico himself was too battered to deal with this shit because if he knew, he would not leave Elephant flapping his ears around every time he smiled.
“You don’t have to rush. I have time,” said Elephant from all too close for Seth’s liking. It almost felt like a whisper against his skin.
In different circumstances, Seth wouldn’t care less about undressing next to a guy, but the lecherous look Elephant was giving him made his skin crawl. He let the jeans fall to the floor and took off his briefs without another thought.He didn’t have time. Not to mention that he wanted to be out of here faster than what it took to make a curry latte. Whatever that was.
“It looks even better in real life,” said Elephant, slowly fanning himself with the passports, and Seth could already smell the fresh paper and ink. He needed to get those fast.
Seth handed over his CK briefs and pulled on his jeans to hide his ass. “We’re good?” he muttered.
Elephant gave him a charming smile and reached out the hand with the documents, only to briefly withdraw it when Seth wanted to take them.
Seth groaned and buttoned up his jeans before reaching out again. “Oh, come on. I think it was enough of a show.”
Elephant shrugged and dropped the documents into Seth’s palm. “Fair enough, Mr. Mazzara.”
Seth sighed and pushed the documents into the pocket of his hoodie. “Thanks,” he said and quickly turned around. “Enjoy the briefs.”
“Have some of the jalebi. Acerbi likes them, I remember,” said Elephant, before stuffing the briefs into a plastic pouch, which he quickly sealed.
Seth left without another word, wondering how on earth a European deli snob like Dom would like Indian sweets. Maybe it had been his way of showing Elephant good will? Well, Seth didn’t care to find out because he hoped he’d never have to see the guy again. He sped up the stairs, almost stepped on the cat, and passed the weird old man with the lighter.
He couldn’t wait to leave this cramped space and go into the bright hipster cafe. He would have taken the fuckingjalebi if it hadn’t meant talking to the girl again. No, thank you, he’d rather take the tiny icicles biting into his skin outside. Walking through the beaded strings felt like being spat out by a smoking giant.
He kept his hand on the passports in his pocket and rushed through the crowd. He wouldn’t have noticed the man sitting at one of the tables if he hadn’t stood out of the crowd like an undertaker at a kids’ party.
The thick dark brown turtleneck did a good job hiding the horrendous scar Seth knew spoiled the skin beneath, but the sharp features of Santo’s face cut straight into Seth’s gut. His straight posture reminded Seth of a Doberman waiting for his master’s order, as though he was ready to attack even when reading a book over a glass of lassi.
Seth would not be waiting around to find out how sharp his teeth were. He pulled on his hood and walked out the other exit to avoid passing too close to Santo. His heart was thudding like mad. There was no way around it. Sooner than later, Dom and he needed to move out from Peter’s. This was all too much for Seth. Too much tension, too much fear, but he needed to persevere for Domenico’s sake. Show him that he knew how to man up and take care of Dom no matter how bad his injuries ended up being.
If only Dom woke up.
Multitasking Momma – 5 stars
Jen (Lustful Literature – 5 stars
Serena Yates (Rainbow Book Reviews)
Dan (Love Bytes) – 4,5 stars
Lauren (Live, Read, Breathe) – 4 thumbs up
Lorix (Boy Meets Boy Reviews – 5 hearts
Kara & Lynn (Inked Rainbow Reviews) – 4 & 5 stars
Jen, Lustful Literature