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Set Aflame (Four Mercenaries #2.5)
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— One night to ignite the fire. —
On his third night in the streets after being kicked out by his religious family for being gay, Boar finds an unconscious man in the park. The next day, grateful for the help, Matt invites him to the squat where he lives.
But Matt is a storm of intensity, and he draws his new, inexperienced friend into a frenzy of pleasures. When it turns out they’re not as sexually compatible as Matt had hoped, he finds a way around that too.
Before Matt, Boar had considered going back to his family.
After Matt, a whole new future awaits.
SET AFLAME is a gay contemporary romance short story, a standalone prequel for the “Four Mercenaries” trilogy. The story contains scenes of offensive language, morally ambiguous characters and scorching hot, explicit scenes.
Length: ~11,000 words
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Boar had never been so cold, and it wasn’t even winter yet. Fall had crept up on him like a bad case of the flu, and if he wasn’t smart, it might develop into pneumonia. So he wore more of his clothes in layers, and even used some of his sparse cash to buy a blanket at Goodwill. It still wasn’t enough.
The cold pushed its sharp claws into him as soon as he tried to fall asleep, so he rose and made his way through the park, keeping to dark corners where no one would see him from afar. Two teenagers had tried to rob him last night, and he’d only managed to fend them off thanks to his size.
He remembered finding nighttime walks enjoyable.
His phone had run out of juice yesterday and he considered going into a cafe to load up, but despite knowing it couldn’t be so, he felt as if he had homeless tattooed across his forehead.
Just four days ago, he’d fallen asleep in a bed in his parents’ house as the cherished son who maybe didn’t do as well academically as they’d hoped, but was good enough and would find employment in Dad’s car wash.
But that plan couldn’t possibly come to fruition after he’d come out as gay.
Boar hadn’t even meant to, but Dad was talking shit about Tom from church, who Boar had a crush on, one thing led to another, and the truth stepped into the picture-perfect home like an uninvited guest
‘You cannot be serious, Jamie,’ Dad had said. ‘There is no place for such behavior under my roof!’
For three days now, Boar had been agonizing about the possibility of retreating home. Maybe crawling back into the closet was a far better option than spending the night on a bench, but he couldn’t find it in himself to face that reality. He’d lived in denial long enough.
Then again, maybe he was still in denial about his position, or he’d have tried harder at job-seeking. Finding employment would become much harder after weeks on the streets, even though he washed himself as well as he could in public bathrooms.
Lamps illuminated the two central alleys of the park, but Boar didn’t feel like he belonged with all the normal people returning from meetups with friends, from dates. He belonged in the dark in his three layers of clothing, with a plaid blanket worn as a cape, and less than ten dollars in his wallet.
His gaze was drawn to the imposing shadow of the gazebo even farther away from the lights, and he made his way there in hope that the structure’s roof would save him from getting soaked in case of rain.
He tried not to think too much about the fact that no one had tried to call him since he’d left his family home three days ago, because the message it sent was all too depressing.
The narrow alley directed him straight to the gazebo, but as he picked up his pace, intent on getting back to sleep, his feet hit something that sent him stumbling forward.
He pulled out his mini flashlight and looked down, stilling with curses on his lips.
A man lay with his upper body in a bush, but his legs obstructed the alleyway, his tattooed arms naked and his green Mohawk—a mess. When Boar scooted next to him, liquor was the first thing he smelled, but no one deserved hypothermia just because they’d made a stupid choice one night.
“Hey. You okay?” Boar kneeled and shook the guy’s shoulder.
He remained still, one side of his face stained by the dirt it was resting in, with kohl smudged around his eyes and a large bruise on the cheekbone.
Boar stilled so completely he could hear the rapid beating of his heart.
Was this guy… dead?
He leaned in with tension pulling at his tendons, but the sound of shallow breathing brought relief. The putrid smell of alcohol—not so much. He shook the stranger a bit more firmly.
“Hey. You fell asleep in the park.”
The man mumbled something but didn’t open his eyes. He was quite young, in his twenties but butch, with hard lines to his face and… green flames tattooed where his eyebrows should’ve been. A part of Boar suggested that this was the kind of man who would rob and murder him as soon as he woke up, especially when Boar noticed the face of Ted Bundy inked on one of his arms.
But whoever this man was, on this cold night he was in a vulnerable position, like a wounded wolf that would die without the assistance of a kind human. Boar could only hope he didn’t end up with sharp teeth in his neck the next morning because of his kindness. Even if the guy was much rougher-looking than him, they were both in the same boat, and he wished that if he ever fell asleep like this, someone would offer him a helping hand.