Their Bounty

— Taken. Prized. Possessed. Loved. —

Clover is an orphan and has led a tough and chaotic life. No stability. No money. No friends. He trusts no one.

His already miserable life takes a nosedive when he ends up in the hands of a human trafficking gang. Someone has placed a request for a young albino man, and Clover is to become the property of a mysterious buyer who will stop at nothing to satisfy their depraved desire. Clover’s fate seems sealed until four bounty hunters appear to take out his captors and accidentally save him.

The four mercenaries want to move on, but when Clover pleads for protection, they offer it to him at a price. In the beginning, the arrangement is all kinds of shady, but as he gets to know the four men who’ve taken him on a wild ride, his developing feelings might become as dangerous as the elusive buyer.

But can a relationship with four such different men even work? Men who kill for a living? Men so full of contradictions?

Tank. The massive ex-soldier eager to be Clover’s Daddy.
Pyro. Wild, tattooed, with a filthy mouth and an itch for violence.
Boar. Ginger, bearded, a big teddy bear who can turn into a grizzly.
Drake. Dark and dangerous, with a tongue as sharp as his knives.

Can these men provide him with the love and security he craves? Or has Clover made the worst mistake of his life?

THEIR BOUNTY is a dark gay harem romance, book 1 in the “Four Mercenaries” trilogy. The story contains scenes of explicit violence, offensive language, morally ambiguous characters and lots of scorching hot, emotional, explicit scenes.

Themes: abduction, polyamory, mercenaries, bounty hunters, albinism, commitment issues, indecent proposal, dark past, male bonding, human trafficking, size difference, enemies to lovers, danger, alpha male, found family, size difference, distrust, shared, victim and protector

Length: ~90,000 words

Tank pulled the balaclava over his face. It was made of thin fabric, but still felt too hot and made his skin run with sweat underneath, slowly poaching his flesh in its own juices.

He looked at the two silhouettes in the front of the van, then to Drake, who sat on the floor across from him in perfect silence, his legs crossed, shoulders hunched, elbows resting on knees. His collection of knives was still laid out between them, and from time to time, Drake would move his fingertips over the blades, still undecided about which ones he wanted to pick for tonight. He knew his weapons by heart, the same way Tank could guess which one of his firearms he was holding, based on weight and the feel of the grip alone.

The sparse glow of the headlights died, a sure signal they were getting close to their target. In the middle of Nowhere, New Mexico, one had to put effort into remaining undetected, especially so late at night.

“Are you sure this is the spot?” Tank asked Boar, who drove the van at a languid pace, as if they were on a road trip, not tracking their mark.

“I double-checked the coordinates. It has to be our guy.”

Pyro twisted in the other seat, his features barely visible in the dark, but the moonlight still caught the edges of his large teeth when he grinned. “There’s lights ahead. We’re almost there.”

About time too, because the anticipation was making Tank’s gums itch for action. It was in situations like these that he felt most like himself. The sense of common purpose brought back memories of his time in Iraq, even if his army days ultimately had been a disappointment. They were still what formed him into the man he was now.

Lawless, and loyal only to his men.

They weren’t here to bring justice or peace. This was about money.

Boar switched off the van. “We should go on foot from here, or he’ll hear the engine.”

That push helped Drake make his choice, and he picked up a long blade. Unlike the rest of them, Drake didn’t need to change for the trip, as he already wore black from head to toe. Equipment on, and he was ready to go. Drake smirked before pulling on his balaclava. Human traffickers were Drake’s favorite marks. Tank suspected Drake would have gladly put them down even without getting paid, but a man needed to eat.

Tank rose from the floor but had to bow his head in the back of the van. “Pyro, do your thing. Boar, you go from the front. Drake, we’ll get in from the back. Riggs has a small crew so he might not be alone.”

“There was talk of him meeting a woman out here. A secret mistress?” Boar said as he got out of the car. He could be a mean fucker, but with the bushy auburn beard and a wide smile, he was most unassuming of their crew. Useful when the job required one of them to distract the target.

Pyro gave a short laugh and put on his own mask. “Rape’s only business for him then? But he personally likes them willing? That’s what you’re saying?”

Drake kicked the van door open and got outside, his slender yet tall silhouette a human-shaped black hole on the background of dark shrubs. “Focus,” he said sharply, looking toward the squares of light ahead. They were only minutes away from the old farmhouse. The job should be easy and clean, since their employer didn’t want them to deliver Riggs anywhere. The bastard was to leave the flesh market forever. Best thing the sack of bones could hope for was Tank’s bullet instead of Drake’s knife.

“Braid,” Tank groaned at Pyro when he saw him pass. What was the point of wearing a mask if there was blue hair peeking out at the back? They’d had so many conversations about this, but no, Pyro refused to cut the braid off. He had to be special. Tank had once suggested Pyro was compensating for his height with the extravagance, but one broken nose later, Tank never mentioned it again.

“Yes, Mom.” Pyro waved at Tank dismissively, but tucked the hair under his collar and pulled on the hood. He slapped Boar’s ass, and was off with a bag of explosives.

The darkness slowed them down but also kept them hidden. Riggs wouldn’t know what hit him.

Even at night, the white siding of the farmhouse was in stark contrast to the bare hills behind it and the lone tree that had grown so tall its naked branches would still provide enough shade during the day.

Two cars were parked in front of the porch. One—Riggs’s van. The other—an elegant SUV, which had to belong to the lady he’d been seen with. Tank frowned. The longer he watched the building the less it looked like an appropriate place for a sensual date. White paint was peeling off the facade, and one of the windows hung on a single hinge. Maybe the lady was a thrill seeker? Not that it was any of Tank’s business.

He checked his gun and gestured to the others before making his way to the back of the house, followed by Drake, whose feet made barely any noise. The crooked window left the house even more vulnerable to invasion than it already was, so far from other settlements, and as Tank moved past it, his ears picked up a jazz melody coming from inside.

“Hide around the cars and act, if needed,” Tank whispered, and Boar gave him a nod before Tank and Drake continued to the back door.

After years of companionship and working together, they understood each other without words. A part of Tank was beginning to feel deflated over how easy this job seemed to be. He thrived on tough missions, those jobs few crews would take on, but unless Riggs had a surprise shark tank under a moving floor, this would be over within the span of two minutes. It was always safe to have backup, but Drake could have sneaked up and gotten the job done himself. Unless there was some more fuckery they’d need to deal with.

Just as he thought that, while approaching the back door, a loud barking cut through the jazz music.

Great. This, they hadn’t expected,

“What was that?” a masculine voice—Riggs—asked, but his female companion didn’t sound at all bothered.

“Probably an animal. Mylo? What are you sensing, honey?”

But the dog wouldn’t give it a rest, and its growls were starting to raise Tank’s adrenaline levels.

Boar called out from the front of the building, and Drake nodded at Tank, reaching the back door in only a couple of footsteps. They had to move quicker than anticipated.

“Hello, anyone home?” Boar asked before loudly knocking on a wooden surface. He was making enough noise to distract the people inside from the metallic clangs made by the lock as Drake worked his magic on it. In the pale light of a tiny flashlight he held in his mouth, two metal utensils opened the door within a couple of seconds.

Tank entered the kitchen first, cringing when the old wooden floor creaked under his feet. One glance around was enough to know no one lived here. Roaches ran away from under his feet, and a mouldy fridge with nothing inside stood open. Drug den maybe?

Drake was right behind him, but when Riggs shouted something to Boar through the window, it was high time to act. They entered the corridor, going for the single lit room at the front of the house when a tall, muscular figure emerged. The man bore no resemblance to Riggs, but before he could have reached to his holster, metal flashed past the side of Tank’s face and darted at the stranger. The knife lodged in the man’s throat, but he didn’t get to bleed to death. Tank sent a bullet straight into his forehead.

A female shriek tore through the air, but with the element of surprise off the table, there was no choice but to move fast. Glass broke in the main room, and a dull thud followed. By the time Tank and Drake stepped over the stranger’s body and entered the living room, the growling of a mean-looking German shepherd was the only noise accompanying the soft jazz melody coming from a tiny battery-operated radio placed in the middle of a dirty table.

Boar stood over another male’s body, and Pyro peeked inside through the broken window, his Glock aimed at the dog, which lowered its body over the floor, baring its teeth to protect its mistress.

“Come here, Mylo, it’s okay,” the woman whimpered, like a cornered animal herself. “Please, I don’t know what this is about. I haven’t seen or heard anything, I’ll just go!” she wheezed, clutching at the front of her blouse so hard her knuckles whitened.

All three pairs of eyes looked to Tank from behind balaclavas.

Tank assessed the woman. She was very well groomed, slim, wore high heels and even had a fancy streak of pink in her hair, but the wrinkles around her eyes betrayed she was older than she appeared at first glance.

“Go,” he said in a low voice, watching her every move. “Go and don’t tell anyone what you saw here,” he said, watching her rise on shaky legs.

For a brief moment, he feared she’d be unable to control her gait in the uncomfortable-looking shoes, but once she attached a leash to her dog’s collar, fear seemed to evaporate from her body. “Thank you. Thank you,” she uttered over and over, pulling her canine protector closer, because it still appeared aggravated, baring its teeth despite its mistress’s commands.

Seconds stretched as they watched her leave through the door and stumble down the porch, toward the white SUV.

“You sure we shouldn’t keep her here until we’re done? She could alert the cops,” Drake said, kicking over the body, which lay face down close to the porch. Riggs.

Tank scowled. “We’re in the middle of nowhere. Let’s get the photos and leave.”

Pyro produced a tiny plastic camera with a picture of a red fish at the front. Digital photography would have been faster, but not leaving traces anywhere was priority.

“Get the other guy too. Someone might be willing to pay up for him as well,” Tank said, taking in the damaged interior. It was all broken furniture and moldy walls, so the elegant music played by the radio must have been a way to calm the woman. The poor thing likely had no idea she’d just been saved from mortal danger. If Riggs had an accomplice with him, then this couldn’t have been a date.

“Search the house,” Tank said. It was routine at this point, but he doubted they’d find anything other than roaches. His time in the army, however, had taught him there were never enough safety measures, and routines served a purpose. He walked into the corridor and headed for the stairs, hesitating over the broken bannister. For a brief moment, Tank considered ignoring the upstairs, but then noticed footprints in the thick layer of dust covering the old wood, so with a silent sigh, he made his way up.

Breaking his neck in a fall would be a stupid way to go after years as a bounty hunter-slash-mercenary-slash-occasional handy man, but the stairs were structurally sound, and he switched on his flashlight, showcasing vulgar graffiti covering a large portion of the wall. He was about to start on the other end of the corridor when something creaked behind the door nearest to him.

A drop of sweat rolled down his back when he noticed a shiny new padlock holding it shut. “Anyone in there?” he asked, focused on sound.

A whimper from inside made him frown. The fuck?

“I’m coming in. If you’re holding a gun, drop it, or I’ll shoot you on the spot.” A fair warning, after which he assessed the door.

The padlock was new, but the door as old as the stairs, so Tank backed away and used force. He didn’t get his nickname for no reason. His shoulder smashed into the plywood, and when the slab cracked, he kicked it in for good measure.

The broken door swung inside, revealing a single shape in the corner. Tank directed the ray of his flashlight straight at the person, who flinched, blinded by the bright glow, the cuffs attaching his ankle to bared pipes glinting sharply.

Thick tape gagged the person. Another look made Tank realize that despite the slight frame, the captive was male. All he had on was a pair of jeans, even his feet had been left bare.

With a pleading whimper, the young man extended his bound wrists toward Tank. Everything about the boy was so white that for half a second, Tank had the strangest feeling that the boy wasn’t human, but a ghost, or an angel even, radiating his own light.

The cascade of pale blond waves seemed translucent in the unnatural illumination, but as the stranger straightened and looked at Tank with pink eyes framed by white eyelashes, it became clear it wasn’t just the light that made his appearance so pale.

He was an albino.

And oh so beautiful.

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“It was hot, twisted and utterly dirty. It was romantic as well!”


Ele, Gay Book Reviews



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