LIVING ON THE EDGE
TAYLOR V. DONOVAN
GAY ROMANTIC FICTION
RELEASE DATE: 11-24-17
Damián Laporte Ortíz is an expert at leading a double life. Most people know him as a war veteran and highly decorated cop working for F.U.R.A., a specialized police unit in Puerto Rico. Others know him as a crook. His family sees him as an honorable man and an exemplary single dad. The truth is he’s morally ambiguous and willing to bend rules. His peace of mind, happiness, long-term relationship, and survival depend on keeping his worlds apart. It isn’t until his professional career takes a series of unexpected turns that he’s forced to reconsider his priorities and stance.
Gay rights activist Gael Cisneros Beltrán dedicates his life to representing the marginalized LGBT community in a place he otherwise considers to be paradise. Fighting for their rights consumes his days. Going home to his closeted boyfriend replenishes him at night. Balancing their needs, goals, and responsibilities is a complicated act, but their commitment to each other continues to stand.
No challenge is too great to overcome. Nothing can tear them apart. Not until the past comes knocking and their carefully built parallel lives finally collide. Now they must decide what matters more—the common good or their love.
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Leaning closer to Alexis so that he could be heard over the music without having to yell, Gael asked, “Did Frankie mention any particulars about the incident he wants to discuss?” He closed his fan and took his Sidekick phone out of his small black leather satchel bag. He had no messages, so he sent one to Frankie telling him to hurry up, all caps and twenty exclamation points.
“No idea, but my bet is another instance of police brutality, because you know they always feel provoked.” Alexis shook his head, then his delicate features twisted in rage. “It could be anything from gay guys merely existing and breathing the same air as the cops, to getting caught having sex. Sodomy might’ve been decriminalized, but you know some of those homophobic pricks don’t give a fuck.”
Gael clenched his jaw. “No, they don’t.”
Corruption, widespread abuse, and brutality with zero accountability were major problems within the PRPD. Many cases arose out of illegal searches and arrests, but the matter was much worse between the gay community and cops, especially during rallies. Gael ought to know. He’d gotten pepper sprayed, tear-gassed, suppressed from exercising his rights, “moved out of the way” with excessive force, handcuffed, stomped on, and tasered more times than he cared to remember. The mostly young, tall, muscular officers in the Tactical Operations Division, or “la fuerza de choque,” as everyone called the impact unit, were the worst.
Then there were the cops that actively accosted gay men at cruising spots. They harassed them, roughed them up, humiliated them and even arrested them on prostitution and drug possession charges for heroin and cocaine they’d planted themselves. Civil Liberties Advocates, the legal association Gael did pro bono work for, had its hands full with abuse cases against law enforcement officers whose bigotry was sanctioned by the police department. Literally. A disciplinary rule existed prohibiting Puerto Rico police officers from associating with lesbians and gay men, and way too many cops had taken it as their marching orders to eradicate homosexuality from the island.
For Gael and his colleagues at CLA, that regulation of the PRPD disciplinary code was a challenge. It violated First Amendment rights, prevented queer cops from coming out and forming a local affiliate of the Gay Officers Action League in Puerto Rico, and made gay and lesbian citizens pariahs to their own police force. Over at CLA, they’d been working their asses off to get it struck down. If they won their case, cops would be forced to treat the LGBT community with respect, which would do wonders for their battered morale. Their day in court couldn’t come soon enough. Gael hated the Puerto Rico Police Department as a whole.
Eager to find out if he had another potential case against the PRPD on his hands, he put his phone and fan away, glanced at his watch, then scanned the red lit club. “What in the world is taking Frankie so long?”
“Maybe the guy left, and Frankie went looking for him,” Alexis said into his ear. “I heard he really isn’t into the Homme crowd. He came tonight for Mr. Gay, but he usually hangs out at The Beehive. That’s where Frankie knows him from.”
The Beehive, located across the street from Homme in the Santurce Arts and Culture District—aka the Gayborhood—was one of the drag clubs where Frankie performed four times a month, super popular with the general public. Gael adored the place. It was fun, top notch, and he was close with all the girls. In fact, The Beehive’s Queen B’s had been the first volunteers to work at Puerto Rico Diverso when Gael started it in 2002 to fight for inclusion and equal rights. Their outreach program was one of the more effective tools the center had to get non-queer volunteers and donations. He could never repay them for their efforts.
“Should we go to The Beehive, then?” Gael asked as his gaze swept over the dancing crowd, the people waiting by the bar, and the short hallway leading to the main entrance one more time, then his shoulders stiffened, and a tingling sensation spread across his back.
He twisted his head right and left like a man possessed, frantically searching every dark corner of the club for— There. Next to the passageway to the backroom and the basement, dressed in dark clothes that blended with the shadows, a baseball cap pulled down low over his face.
Next to him, Alexis asked, “You okay?”
“I need a moment,” he rasped. “He is here.”
Alexis grinned. “Hooked him good during that brief conversation yesterday, didn’t you?”
“I hope so.” Gael swallowed hard. “Have Frankie and his friend wait for me when they come back.”
Mouth dry and heart hammering in his chest, he made a beeline for the object of his desire, then almost tripped over his own feet when Damián’s gaze collided with his.
The previous day, when they’d talked for the first time, Damián was guarded—hyperaware of his surroundings. That caution was nowhere to be found. Tonight, he was a gay man in his element. Someone who took up as much space as humanly possible, and knew what he wanted and how to get it. He oozed confidence, and the expression on his face took Gael’s breath away.
That was unadulterated hunger and intent shining in his striking hooded hazel eyes. He looked at Gael as if he was mentally stripping off his clothes…as if he was thinking something dirty…as if he was imagining Gael on his knees, lips wrapped around his cock and cheeks hollow from sucking him off.
Gael readjusted the erection threatening to rip through his slacks.
Damián licked his lips.
Gael had no idea how a such a simple gesture could be so quick and filthy at the same time, but his body ignited at the sight and a shock of desire surged through his veins, making him feel feverish and a bit out of his mind.
He couldn’t wait a second longer to get his hands on that man.
He had never needed sexual gratification so badly in his entire life.
He was two steps away from dropping to his knees and doing what they both so clearly wanted when Damián reached out, hooked his fingers around Gael’s belt loops, and tugged him flush against his muscled body.
“It took you almost seven minutes to realize I was here,” Damián said into his ear in a sultry voice. “You’re off your game tonight.”
“You’ll have to cut me some slack.” Gael placed his hands over Damián’s buff chest and swallowed a whimper. He had hard, slightly rounded, and perfectly contoured pecs under his skin tight long sleeve shirt, complete with fully erect nipples that poked at Gael’s palms. “I didn’t want to socialize, so I blocked everyone to avoid sending mixed signals and keep people from approaching me.”
“Did I interrupt anything important?” Damián backed into the dark passageway, pulling Gael slowly until the music wasn’t as loud and they were secluded from curious eyes. “You seemed to be pretty engrossed in your conversation with your friend.”
“It can wait a few more moments.” Thankful for their similar heights, Gael aligned his body to Damián’s. “What are you doing here?”
“Dance with me.” The inner fire burning in Damián’s eyes made him look primal as he clutched Gael’s hips and started swaying to the music in the way only natural born dancers could. “I love this song.”
Gael followed his lead and rhythm in a daze, his heart beating in tandem with ‘Búscame’s’ bass, the sexiest tune written to date.
Reggaetón music lyrics were usually steamy but Luca Jay, the Puerto Rican singer and composer currently caressing everyone with his voice, was a master at combining emotion and innuendo, and could write sultry songs with his eyes closed. Adding perreo to the mix made everything ten times sexier, as the steps to the dance called for total inhibition and lack of restraint, and had the sole purpose of turning one’s partner on. Gael couldn’t think of a single thing he’d rather be doing at the moment.
In a husky voice, he asked, “Are you a B-Unit fan?”
“I am. Yours, too.” Touching his forehead to Gael’s, he added. “Rabid.”
Gael wasn’t sure what startled him most—the way his heart swelled at Damián’s words, or the realization that his reactions to him were beyond his self-control. “Why mine?”
“I can only imagine what it must be like to fight for the rights of guys that won’t stand with you, but you keep doing it every day.” One corner of his mouth lifted in a self-deprecating smile. “And even though I have zero intentions of coming out, I appreciate what you do for us. In my opinion, you’re the rock star of the local gay rights movement.”
Gael nodded, his mouth too dry to speak.
“What are you doing here?” he repeated seconds later, nuzzling Damián’s smooth cheek and inhaling his woody, sharp, heady scent. And then, because he couldn’t help himself, he nibbled at his earlobe and jaw. It was a natural thing to do—almost automatic, as if somehow, he was convinced he had every right to touch this man any way he pleased. “Didn’t you say you don’t do Homme on Saturdays?”
“I don’t, and I can’t stay long.” Damián thrust his hips forward, giving Gael a taste of the massive bulge in his pants for the first time. “But I couldn’t wait to see you again.”
Weak in the knees, Gael latched his arm around Damián’s wide shoulders, holding on for dear life as his emotions and thoughts spiraled out of control.
What was it about him that made Gael act like they’d known each other their entire lives? What was this…thing he recognized when he looked into Damián’s eyes that he didn’t dare to name because it made no sense after only two brief encounters? Gael didn’t understand the reason for his monster-sized attraction, and he certainly couldn’t comprehend why he felt like he’d been swept away and was only noticing now.
He was a logical guy. Shit like this never happened to him, so why now? What was different from all the other times he’d hooked up with a guy? What, exactly, was happening?
Was he simply flattered that a hot closeted guy had broken his own rule just so that he could see him tonight? Was it chemistry? Lust? And for the love of all that was good and holy, what the hell was up with the fireworks exploding in his head?
What Was. Happening?
“You look like a deer caught in the headlights.” Damián’s gaze darted from Gael’s eyes, down to his mouth, and back. “Did I read you wrong? Are you not interested in seeing where this might go?”
“You meant it, didn’t you?” Gael cupped Damián’s cheek with his hand and brushed his thumb over his bottom lip. “You really want to get to know each other.”
Damián stopped dancing. “Don’t you?” he whispered, their lips a breath apart, sounding uncertain for the first time.
Gael traced his cheekbones with his fingertips, connecting the faint freckles he couldn’t see in the dark and learning the shape of his nose as he said, “Yes.” No hesitation, no two ways about it. “But I still want you in my bed as soon as possible.”
Taylor V. Donovan is a compulsive reader and author of m/m romantic suspense. She is optimistically cynical about the world; lover of history, museums and all things 80s. She is crazy about fashion, passionate about civil rights and equality for all and shamelessly indulges in mind-numbing reality television.
When she is not making a living in the busiest city in the world or telling the stories of gorgeous men hot for one another, Taylor can be found raising her two daughters and two terribly misbehaved furry babies in the mountains she calls home.