How do you measure a man? For many of us we think money, or clout, good looks or even… Well, you get the idea. I love men in all shapes and sizes. I hunger for certain men in particular and while they may be six foot five, dark haired hunks of sexiness, the truth is if they aren’t amazing people, I don’t care. I’ve known a few utterly amazing men in my life and I can tell you – the experience is delicious in all ways. Just knowing them, learning about their life and loves, worries and fears is amazing. I decided to write a m/m story about the very question – how do you measure goodness when all around you is a damning reminder of a past you can’t get away from, one you wish to God had never happened? It’s how you handle the very concept.
THE MEASURE OF A MAN
You can’t run, can never hide from the truth. Or the guilt…
“You’ll do exactly as I say or not only will I ruin your career, I’ll drag your worthless ass into hell. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
The voice was full of file, rage given everything that had happened. He shifted and pulled the phone away from his face, wiping the sweat from his brow. He hadn’t wanted this bullshit in the first place. The prize was too fucking hot, something he’d wanted for far too long. “You don’t seem to understand what’s at stake here.” He thought about his training, his finger itching for his gun, the one he hadn’t touched in almost eighteen months.
“And you don’t seem to realize I hold your balls between my fingers. If you don’t want them crushed in a vice, I suggest you measure up to the task, boy. You have no idea who I am or the influence I have. If you don’t follow directions to the letter I’m going to strip away all that you think is precious. At this point in my life I’ll stop at nothing to get what I want. Nothing. There are things set in motion and I thought you could do the job. If you can’t, I can task several men who will step into your place, but at what price?” The laugh was evil. “Do I make myself very clear?”
He was well aware of the immense power, the corporation’s ability to wipe out a life with a single phone call. A cold shiver raced down his spine. If only he hadn’t been caught. If only he hadn’t gone over the edge, pushing past the point of no return. If only… He laughed softly to himself as he clenched his fist. “Yes. Crystal.” He pressed the flat of his hand down the side of his leg, panting as the sweat continued to trickle down the back of his neck.
“Good. Then I expect results in three days. There’s no time left, boy. Period.”
“How are you getting him to the required destination?” He was shivering, something he never did.
There was a slight hesitation then the voice was clear and even, yet very pointed. “That’s my job. Now do yours.”
The call ending didn’t give him any comfort. As he glanced out into the lobby he growled. Playing hardball in a way he wasn’t used to was his only choice, one he only hoped he wouldn’t regret for the rest of his life.
“No, that’s not what I meant!”
“Jackson, I know exactly what you meant. I’ve known what you’ve been thinking for months now. You just didn’t have the balls to tell me. And I fucking know why. Hell, this relationship is nothing but a joke anyway. I have no clue why I thought I could live a normal life.”
“A normal life? You’re the one checking out at every turn. You’re the one who seems to pretend I’m the man in your life.”
Gavin laughed. “There are much more important things than a hard fuck, no matter how good the cock is. You hear me?”
Jackson was mortified. He’d never seen Gavin act this way. “What the fuck are you saying to me?”
Jackson glared at Gavin, his rage increasing. “You know nothing about me. Nothing. You claim to give a shit yet you find no time to be with us and…”
“You want to know why none of this matters?”
“Why? What the hell did I do?”
“I may be a snake but I found out you’re sleeping with every man you can find on the street!” His eyes remained locked on Jackson. “And to think I thought this was something special. Ha. Right. I am the idiot my father keeps telling me. Jesus Christ. You’re nothing but a loser.”
“You fucking heard me you pussy boy.” Gavin narrowed his eyes. “Worthless.”
“Jesus Christ. Keep your damn voice down!” The customers in the restaurant were staring, watching the two professional men fight like cats and dogs. He’d wanted the night to be something different, a moment shared that they hadn’t experienced in a solid two months. Now this. Now this fucking bullshit. He had his reasons and they were justified. He simply wasn’t ready to spout off all their dirty laundry right here.
“What? You didn’t think I’d find out? You didn’t have any clue I’d find you with another man or five? I mean my God. What the hell were you thinking? I sure as shit hope you’ve been protecting yourself. The worst part was having my face rubbed in this shit. You know what publicity means. You know what could happen. My God. Are you flipping out of your mind.”
Heat rose across Jackson’s face. None of this made any sense. None. Pushing back his anger he leaned over and smiled, the expression now without meaning. He was chilled to the bone, the understanding of what his relationship had never been cutting through his gut. “As if I don’t know about Mark or Robert or take a damn number. How many men have you had on the side?” The stunned look on Gavin’s face was proof enough. A full minute ticked by and all eyes were on them. When Gavin grinned and shook his head he realized the man was no different than his father. None. They were both dangerous men who applied ruthless tactics to achieve their unscrupulous goals. Suddenly he wanted no part of a nasty world, one infused with murder and blackmail. What the hell had been wrong with him?
“I think we’re done here. As a matter of fact, I think we’re done permanently.” Tossing his napkin onto the table, Gavin jerked his chair back. The sound of wood slamming against the wall reverberated into the room. “I was told you were nothing but a useless man, one who could never measure up to my needs or my station in life, but I refused to believe them. Now I know better. Now I realize that you’re nothing but white trash. My suggestion is that you find a hole to crawl in, one where no one can find you. There will be repercussions from this. Trust me.”
“Trash?” His mouth went slack. “Repercussions? Are you threatening me now?”
“You heard me.”
Jackson hissed through clenched teeth and slowly rose to his feet. There was no need to make anymore of a scene. “I think we need to talk about this somewhere else.” He was lightheaded, the understanding so fucking clear he was petrified.
“And I think we’re done talking.” Giving Jackson a nasty glare, Gavin grabbed his keys and stalked out of the restaurant.
“Yes!” the voice was shrill.
“Asshole,” another whispered harshly.
Hearing the claps sporadically positioned around the room didn’t bother him in the least. What did was his lover thinking he had the last say. “Fuck.” He tossed down several bills and managed to make it out to the street, catching Gavin on the corner. “We’re going to talk about this.”
“No, we’re not. I’m done talking. I’m done giving a shit. Don’t you get it?” Gavin flashed angry eyes.
“I get it.”
“Then just leave me alone.”
Jackson grabbed his arm. “This is ridiculous and we are going to talk!”
“No, we’re not!” Jerking his arm away, the force pummeling him backwards. “I…I…wish I’d never met you…”
Fuck me. Jackson Sheffield realized his hands were shaking. The memory was hot and raw, far too fresh in his mind and yet he hadn’t thought about the horrible time in a solid three, maybe four years. Why now? He concentrated on his breathing for a full minute; doing everything he could to push the wretched visions from his mind. The anniversary was close, too close. He would never forget the sounds, the anger, or the way he’d fallen into a black hole. Maybe he was still there.
No, he knew why and the anniversary was only a small part. The odd phone call at three in the morning dragging him out of a fitful sleep had been bad enough. The voice, ghostly and ominous had merely said two words.
Lies, deceit and blackmail… Can two powerful men come to terms with the monsters invading their souls before it’s too late?
Jackson Sheffield wasn’t just powerful in business. The strapping ex-hockey player was an irresistible force in every endeavor he attached himself to. Feared by almost everyone because of his size and generally nasty demeanor, he savored his alone time. Determined to become a millionaire before turning forty, he parlayed his sexual prowess and keen eye into a business to be reckoned with. His ability? Turning certain investments into multi-million dollars for his very special clients. That is if they were willing to succumb to his unscrupulous terms of the deal. What few people knew about him was his dark desires, those bordering on dangerous kink. And he was haunted by a horrendous moment in his past, a decision threatening to derail his happiness. Ugly visions clouding every day, when called to a meeting in Las Vegas by his richest client, he was more than ready for a change in venue.
Retired Marine, Logan Reynolds was a well-disciplined and honorable man. Now a professional gambler by trade, his harsh tactics made him a lose cannon, just like in his military career. Hungry for a shift in scenery and a change in his life, he was determined to win the most coveted game in the United States then call it quits. Unfortunately a single decision made in his past could alter his future. The Devil was watching his every move. Faced with the toughest players in the game, he knew he had his work cut out for him, forcing him to push back every distraction and his tactics proved successful. That is until a brooding blond walked into the room, taking an interest in more than his game of blackjack. Drawn in to the man’s darkness, Logan realized Jackson was hiding something, a festering secret. Both men knew this was more than just a game, but as they were forced to face their respective demons, a question remained. How could you place value on the measure of a man?
A monster was lurking in the shadows, one destined to destroy one or both. Karma, after all, was a bitch…
What do you think – can you measure your man?
Kisses and spanks…