Retro Reads: Point of No Return
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Matthew Elliot is one of LA’s best detectives. He’s been labelled the golden boy of the Fab Four: a team of four detectives who’ve closed down drug-rings all over the city. He’s smart, tough and exceptionally good at his job.
He’s also a closeted gay man.
Enter Kira Takeo Franco, the new boxing coach at the gym. Matthew can’t deny his immediate attraction to the man his fellow cops know as Frankie. But in allowing himself to fall in love with a man known to his colleagues, Matthew risks outing them both.
Matt and Kira work to keep their relationship and private lives hidden from Matt’s very public life, fearing it would be detrimental to their careers.
But it’s not the other cops who Matthew should be worried about finding out his deepest, darkest secret…it’s the bad guys.
The four of us hit the gym like we always did after a stressful day and were met by a round of applause from the other cops who were there working out. The gym itself was a main floor space with various fitness equipment, a service desk and some rooms off the far wall for different classes. It smelt like sweat and dirty socks. I loved it.
On the wall facing the treadmills was a row of TV screens, usually showing repeats of different sports. But not tonight. The TV screens were tuned to the five o’clock news, and all the guys there were watching the four of us standing outside the West Street headquarters.
A reporter introduced the story. “Breaking another link in one of LA’s biggest drug chains, Croatian expat Pavao Tomic was taken down in what can only be described as a successful drug heist by police.”
I waved them off, heading straight for the treadmills. I didn’t need to watch it.
I’d been there.
“Detective Elliott, it must be a relief after weeks of hard work to finally have this notorious drug supplier in custody.”
“Yes, it is,” I heard myself answer diplomatically on-screen. “The streets of LA are safer. The people of LA are better off with Tomic behind bars.”
What I couldn’t say on air was that the slimeball deserved everything he got. With no regard for human life, types like Pavao Tomic were best left to rot in jail.
Instead, all suited up out in front of HQ, the television version of me went on to say it wasn’t just me who did all the work, like the press insinuated, but a team effort.
I didn’t outrank the other three men on my team. I didn’t do anything they didn’t do, but that wasn’t how the media portrayed it. To them, I was the leader of the media-dubbed ‘Fab Four’—one of four detectives in the Narcotics Division who had broken crime rings right across the city. My partner, Detective Mitch Seaton, and detective partners Kurt Webber and Tony Milic made up the rest of the team who had seen a record number of criminals behind bars.
“Yeah,” Mitch snorted from the treadmill beside me. “The one-man show here did it all on his own.”
I rolled my eyes before looking over at the other guys. “Any time either of you three idiots want to speak up when the cameras start rolling, be my guest.”
Kurt laughed. “No freakin’ way! I’d rather your ugly mug be all over the news than mine.”
“The general public would too,” Mitch joked. He reached over and tapped the side of my face. “This pretty-boy makes all us cops look good.”
Tony laughed at me, and the three of them started talking crap just like the media did. But they gave up trying to goad me when they realised I wasn’t going to bite. I tuned them out and tuned into the rhythm of my feet hitting the treadmill instead.
They’d settled in to running it out on the treadmills with me when Kurt told us he couldn’t stay long because he had dinner plans with his girlfriend, Rachel. “Workout first, then we hit the bar, just for a few. It’s been a helluva week.”
And so it had.
We’d spent months watching Tomic, waiting for the intel to pay off, nabbing him red-handed in a multi-million-dollar drug bust. It had paid off today. No one injured, no casualties, several million dollars’ worth of cocaine, ice and meth off the streets and one more link in the crime chain behind bars.
So we did what we always did. The four of us hit the gym, then we hit the bar. They didn’t drink much, and I drank even less, but we’d blow off steam in the gym then unwind in the bar, talking crap and having a laugh. It was a cops’ gym and a cops’ bar. I’d been a cop for ten of my twenty-eight years. Police work was all I knew.
The guys I worked with were like my family, like brothers. I knew almost everything about them, as they did with me.
Almost everything. There was one part of my life they knew nothing about.
When the other guys commented on me being the blond-haired, blue-eyed playboy of the police force, the one all the ladies wanted, I was reminded of exactly what it was they didn’t know about me.
Because it wasn’t the ladies I wanted at all.
That was what they didn’t know about me. That was what I kept secret. Hidden. Private. Would the guys I worked with treat me differently if they knew I was gay? Maybe…probably…
I wasn’t ashamed. I wasn’t scared. I didn’t flaunt being gay because I didn’t want it to precede me. I wanted to be known for being a good cop, not a gay cop. But above all, I kept my sexuality to myself because it was no one else’s goddamn business.
After twenty minutes on the treadmill, I jumped off, ready for my bag workout. Boxing was my thing. The gym had a sparring room—no ring, just mats and pads. It was mostly just a form of fitness, and a little self-defence. The other guys on my team didn’t bother with it. They’d watch me spar sometimes, and they’d tease and taunt me, but not one of them had the balls to spar with me.
I headed into the boxing room, and Chris, the owner of the gym, followed me. “Hey, Matt!” he called from the door. “There’ll be a new trainer taking your session today.”
“No worries,” I replied. “Is Vinnie okay?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Chris nodded. “Just a change in his timetable, that’s all.” He looked over my shoulder and called some guy over. “Frankie, this here is Matthew Elliott. He’s your five-thirty appointment. Matt, this is Frankie.”
I looked at him then, my new boxing trainer. And I got stuck.
Jesus fucking Christ.
I did a double take, trying not to give myself away. But he was fucking beautiful. He had dark hair, dark skin, dark eyes. He was European, or Asian. Or both.
He smiled. Oh, fuck. His smile.
“Frankie’s real name I can’t pronounce,” Chris went on to say with a laugh. “But he knows I’m an ex-cop and not overly bright, so he forgives me.”
This Frankie guy extended his hand and introduced himself formally. “Kira Takeo Franco.” I couldn’t detect an accent, but his name rolled exotically off his tongue. I shook his hand, and our eyes met. It was like I couldn’t look away. His stare deepened for just a second and his eyes flashed, as though he could tell I found him attractive. Then he smiled and said, “You’re the guy on TV.”
“The one and the same,” Chris said. “Anyway,” he continued to me, with a smile, “I’ve seen Frankie in action and thought I’d come in and watch how he does with our best student.”
Then the door behind me swung open, and Mitch, Kurt and Tony walked in.
I looked at my team standing in the door, all smiling, then back to Chris. “And what are they here for?”
Chris answered hesitantly. “Well, Frankie’s pretty good. I might have told them it could be…entertaining.”
I looked at the three smiling cops, my so-called partners. “And you guys have come in to watch me get my ass kicked?”
They nodded and laughed, and Mitch defended me…well, kind of. “I got twenty on ya,” he said. He threw his thumb back at Kurt and Tony. “These two aren’t so confident.”
I rolled my eyes and smiled at them, then started strapping my hands. When I turned around and saw my sparring partner, I almost lost my breath. He was stretching out—his broad shoulders were barely concealed by his singlet top, revealing well-defined muscles and beautiful, olive skin. My dick twitched.
New Reviews of Turning Point Series
Thank you to Prism Book Alliance who reviewed the Turning Point series.
5* for Point of No Return….”In Kira, Matt finally finds a reason to come out of hiding. Add in a little mystery, some good friends, and some seriously kick ass fight sequences, you have a fun read.”
5* for Breaking Point ….”Breaking Point is heartbreaking. It is violent. It is a struggle to read. That struggle stems from how much I love these two main characters. I want them to have that happy ending. However, they have to work hard for it. They have to examine themselves and their relationship. What they see isn’t always pretty, and they have to deal with that, together and as individuals.”
Breaking Point excerpt
I walked downstairs to find Kira cleaning up and putting things away. He wouldn’t look at me. “You sleep okay?”
I nodded. “Yeah. You?”
He didn’t answer. “We need to head back this morning,” he said instead. “I have to work tonight.”
“Okay,” I said, turning around. “I’ll just go pack my things.”
“You can have some breakfast first,” he said. He looked at me then. “Your eye looks better.”
I shrugged. “I wouldn’t know. I haven’t seen it.”
“You haven’t looked at it, at all?”
I shook my head. “No.” I scratched my not-sore cheek through the four-day grown stubble. “I haven’t been game enough to shave, so I haven’t looked at myself…” I let my words trail off because I knew how pathetic I sounded.
I suddenly wasn’t very hungry. “I’ll just grab a shower.”
I’d no sooner walked into the bathroom when Kira was behind me. He surprised me. “What are you doing?”
He put his hands on my shoulders and turned me around in the small bathroom so I faced the mirror. “Look at yourself.”
I kept my eyes down. “Kira,” I started.
“Look at yourself,” he said again, interrupting me. “Why won’t you look at yourself?”
Because I don’t like what I see.
Because I don’t know the man staring back at me.
I shrugged, still unable to look at my reflection.
He stood behind me and made me look up. I looked at his reflection first, his beautiful, sad and resigned eyes, and couldn’t bear to see the pain in them. It was easier to look at me.
My hair was a dirty mess, my face unshaven, and the left side of my face from my cheek to my temple was dark purple. I had a cut above my eyebrow and dark red grazing beside my eye. My nose was swollen and cut along the bridge, with dark purple bruising from my nose down under my right eye. My left eyeball was bloodshot, the whole area was still swollen and the skin stretched tight.
I looked like fucking hell.
Kira just stood there, behind me, watching me. He didn’t need to say anything. It was written all over his face.
I exhaled a shaky breath, blinking back tears. I looked at him and nodded.
I was a mess.
Kira turned me around, and I was expecting him to tell me I was a disgrace and that I’d ruined everything. But he didn’t. He leaned me against the bathroom counter, and turned the tap on with hot water to fill the sink.
He took the shaving cream and spread it over my stubble, then with a love that almost broke my heart, he started to shave me.
Without a word, he turned my face, lifted my chin and with such care and a gentle hand, he ran the blade over my skin. He concentrated on his task at hand, studying me, and taking the most gentle care with the left side of my face. There was nothing but love in his eyes, in his touch.
I fought tears the entire time.
He tapped the razor on the side of the sink one last time and pulled the plug. “All done,” he said softly. “Have a shower. I’ll start packing.”
I nodded again, and by the time I could finally say “Thank you”, he was gone.
* * * *
Breaking Point excerpt and buy links!
(As seen on Totally Bound site HERE <– click on the link)
It was a usual Friday night at the bar. Except it wasn’t.
My partners Mitch, Kurt and Tony were there with me. My boyfriend Kira was there too, along with my boss, Berkman, and most of the guys from my division. There were celebratory drinks, a tab on the bar and congratulations all round.
I should have been happy. And part of me was. But part of me wasn’t. The smile on my face and laughs with the boys didn’t quite sit right, but the more I had to drink, the easier it got.
“Here it is!” someone called out. “Turn it up!”
The attention in the bar was drawn to the TV as the barman turned up the volume.
“…in this breaking story, after almost eleven years, Detective Matthew Elliott has announced his resignation from the LAPD…”
There were cheers and applause from around the bar, a few claps on my shoulder. Kira squeezed my thigh under the table. I smiled and lifted my beer in a salute before taking another swig.
I hated press conferences. I had a healthy distaste for the media and the paparazzi and I hated having to put my life on display for the public. Yet there I stood in front of a dozen cameras and even more reporters about to give the biggest announcement of my career.
It was ironic that the biggest would be my last.
I was on screen announcing to the good people, and the not-so good people, of LA that I was no longer a detective. I was no longer a part of the Fab Four. I was no longer a cop.
The questions started and I heard myself reel off the well-rehearsed answers on the TV. I’d given dozens of press conferences over my time with the LAPD narcotics division, and I’d never dreamed I’d be standing there announcing to the world that I was walking away from all I’d ever known.
Yet there I was, doing exactly that.
The questions on screen continued.
“Can you tell us why? Why are you retiring, Detective Elliott?” one reporter asked.
“Does this have anything to do with being outed as a gay cop last year?”
“Where does this leave the Fab Four? Do you have a replacement?”
“Are you planning a career in politics?”
I laughed at that, on screen and at the table in the bar. Mitch, who was sitting across from me, laughed as well. “No plans for running for Governor? Come on,” Mitch joked. “You’d make a good politician.”
I finished the last mouthful of my beer and pointed my empty bottle at him. Instead of telling him to get fucked, I said, “My turn to buy. ’Nother beer?”
“Hell yes, if you’re payin’,” he slurred.
I turned to Kira and leaned in towards him and asked, “Drink, baby?” He shook his head at me. I must be drunk if I’d called him ‘baby’ in front of the boys. Fuck.
“Nah, I’m fine,” he said. “Someone has to make sure you lot get home okay.”
“’M sorry,” I said, trying to apologise. “S’been a big day.”
Kira smiled sadly. “I know it has.”
I nodded, and stood up off my stool. I swayed as I made my way to the bar. I was drunk. It had been an emotional day, after an emotionally charged few weeks since I’d announced that I was leaving.
It hadn’t been easy. It had been one of the hardest decisions I’d ever made, but it was the right decision. My partners at work, Mitch, Kurt and Tony, were surprisingly okay with it. My boss had warned me against it, but ultimately agreed it was the right thing, but Kira…Kira didn’t like the idea at all.
He didn’t understand why I was leaving the department. No matter what reason I gave him, he didn’t believe me. He knew I loved my job, it was a part of who I was, he’d said.
And it had been a bone of contention between us since.
It wasn’t that he wasn’t being supportive. He just didn’t understand. I told him it was a decision I’d toyed with over the last twelve months, since he was abducted and tortured, beaten, held hostage because of me. And that wasn’t a lie. It just wasn’t the whole truth.
The whole truth was something I couldn’t tell him.
Kira knew there was something else to it. Of course he did. We’d been living together for almost twelve months, he knew me. And I’d never lied to him before. I’d never had to. And he knew I wasn’t telling him something.
He’d get quiet whenever I talked about leaving, waiting for me to explain the truth, but I never did. The night I told him I’d handed in my resignation was our first real fight. He yelled, and I yelled back, and he threw a glass into the sink and I slammed some doors.
We hadn’t spoken for two days afterwards.
It had damn near killed me.
A hard thump on my arm and a large hand on my shoulder snapped me out of my memories. My boss, my ex-boss, Berkman stood beside me and threw some twenties on the bar. “Whatever this man wants,” he told the barman.
I ordered some shots of bourbon under the watchful eye of the man who’d been like a father to me. I looked at him and gave him the best confident smile I could fake.
“You sure about this?” he asked quietly.
I nodded. “Yeah…”
The older man’s jaw bulged and he exhaled through his nose. “But?”
I looked back to where Kira was sitting with Mitch and the others. “I’ve never lied to him,” I said, suddenly feeling every drink I’d had.
Berkman nodded. “It won’t be easy.”
“Mmm,” I agreed, swaying where I stood. I didn’t want to talk about it. Not here, anyway. Not that Berkman would have said anything. “Need another drink,” I mumbled, picking up a fresh shot of liquor. I threw back the bourbon and when I put the glass back down, the bar wasn’t as close as I thought. Berkman put his hands on me, I realised, to steady me. Fuck, I was drunk.
“I’ll carry these to the table,” Berkman said, indicating to the drinks on the bar. Then he faced me in the direction of where Kira and Mitch were sitting. “You go that way.”
The bar was loud and busy and as I crossed the floor, I bumped into familiar faces with pats on the back and rounds of good luck and best wishes. Berkman beat me back to the table with my drinks, and when I finally got there, everyone was smiling at me.
I slid my arm around Kira’s shoulder and he manoeuvred me onto my stool and handed me a drink. I held up the single shot, and Mitch, Kurt, Tony and Berkman all raised theirs. Kira held up his soda and they all bumped their glasses against mine.
“To Matt,” Berkman declared. “To the future and wherever it may take you. We wish you well.”
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