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Their Property (Four Mercenaries #3)
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— Bruised not broken. Loved. Always. —
Clover’s life was perfect a year ago. He’d found four men to love, each essential to making him whole. Each one of them tough in their own way, part of a crew of mercenaries living on the wrong side of the law.
Tank was his loving Daddy, Pyro the wild one always pulling him into mischief, Boar taught him how to cook, and Drake showed him how to use knives in a wholly different fashion.
All Clover wanted was to finally be an equal in the group. So he trained, he pushed, and risked, but when real danger stared him in the face, he broke like a twig.
Now, with one of his lovers taken, Clover can’t find a way back to his former self. Each of the relationships they’d so meticulously built is fractured, and might never be the same.
If their group is to ever be whole again, Clover needs to find the courage he’s lost, but that means facing the monster who scarred him, and truths none of his men want to confront.
THEIR PROPERTY is a dark gay harem contemporary romance, book 3 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.
Length: ~75,000 words
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Chapter 1 – Clover
Clover pushed through sweaty bodies, men yelling around a cage he couldn’t see. He wouldn’t be noticed. Not with his dishwater blond hair, gray hoodie, or his unimpressive size. Most importantly though, not when the crowd was as bloodthirsty as a pack of starving dogs in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
Pyro’s grunt was like the roar of a speeding vehicle, but despite the clang of metal that followed, Clover wasn’t worried. That hadn’t been a sound of pain or dismay. Pyro was in his element, even if Clover couldn’t see him yet, since his view was blocked by raised hands. He could barely discern the dull thuds of fists hitting flesh, but as he moved toward the podium, blue hair flashed behind the thick steel mesh for a moment, reassuring him that his instincts had been correct.
The spectators weren’t a solid mass, so he inched closer to the cage bit by bit, keeping his head low to protect his sensitive eyes from the sharp glow of lamps overhead.
He hated this place, but he couldn’t leave Pyro on his own.
Pyro’s next punch threw his opponent at the mesh, and Clover yelped when blood sprayed from the man’s broken lip. The crowd were like sharks, and went wild at the display of violence.
“Ugh… stay down,” Clover whispered to Pyro’s opponent, but it was something he only did out of frustration, because the man whose eye was so swollen Clover couldn’t see it, wouldn’t have heard him anyway.
For endless seconds the entire room held its breath, as if it wasn’t a collection of individuals but a hive. The man did not get up.
In the bright light, Pyro’s hair was a frizzy crown. He stood over his opponent, his bloodstained chest rising and falling, eyes hard, ready to catch any movement coming his way. But it didn’t until the organizer, arbiter, or whoever that was, entered the cage and grabbed Pyro’s arm, raising it in triumph.
The crowd erupted in shouting, some of it so aggressive Clover feared for the safety of the loser. Almost everyone gathered had placed bets on one of the fighters, and if some of those people felt vengeful, things might turn ugly.
Clover was here for one reason, and he dashed through an opening between bodies in an attempt to reach the platform. He got pushed back several times by people wanting to pat Pyro’s sweaty shoulder or high five him, but he was getting closer.
“Pyro!” he yelled, reaching out in frustration. The last thing Clover needed was Pyro disappearing for drinks with strangers.
But in the flood of noise, which had just been joined by loud rock music, Pyro remained deaf to his shouting.
His face shiny with sweat and blood, he was still in the post-fight rush Clover had seen too many times to count. His movements were stiff, as if his knees had partially locked, but he went with the flow of people who, after a sequence of victorious fights, adored him for the cash he made them.
After four months of futile searching for Boar, Pyro had to unleash his aggression somewhere, and the fights were his poison of choice. Far from legal, ending up in people’s deaths, concussions and bites, they were something Clover hated on principle, but what really worried him was the risk Pyro put himself through for no other reason than to release violence on a world that had betrayed him.
So all Clover could do was be there for him and pick up the pieces if necessary.
Someone handed Pyro a small bottle of vodka, which he took several gulps from as if it were Dr. Pepper, and then sprayed the rest onto the crowd, drinking up their adoration.
Clover was certain his attempt to attract attention had been futile, but then Pyro’s dark eyes settled on him, and he dropped the bottle, leaning over the railing to reach him. The moment other spectators realized what was going on, someone pushed Clover forward, straight to Pyro’s waiting arms.
He gasped into the kiss that seared his lips with alcohol and the metallic taste of blood, but at least he was close. There was no point in trying to stop Pyro from these fights. God knew, Clover had tried. He begged, he pleaded, but none of that had worked, so if Pyro was to take part in them anyway, Clover preferred to at least know where Pyro was. The last thing he wanted after losing Boar was to find Pyro dead in a dark alley. And it had come very close to that a month ago, when Clover had been so fidgety about Pyro’s absence in the morning that Tank had driven with him, only to spot a familiar car in a ditch.
Pyro had come out of the accident unscathed, except for the huge bruise on his forehead, but it hadn’t taught him anything either. Tank had decided to wash his hands off Pyro after that, but the poor guy was grieving, and Clover couldn’t desert him. Not just for the sake of his own feelings, but also because of Boar, who they still hoped to find.