Today, it’s my delight to welcome my good friend and inspiration, Z.A. Maxfield, back to the blog. ZAM and i were just at RT, did a bunch of workshops together, and i doubt that she’s recovered either! But we’re both thrilled about her new release, Grime and Punishment. This is the start of a new series, so get it quick! PLUS, if you leave a comment with your email, you can win any book of ZAM’s INCLUDING this new release.
Grime and Punishment by Z.A. Maxfield
The Brothers Grime is Jack Masterson’s way of helping people in crisis after disability ends his career as a firefighter. Jack’s people get to a scene long after the physical trauma ends. They don’t solve crime or rescue the victims. They help people move on. The new job is all Jack wants or needs, until he gets the call about old flame Nick Foasberg’s suicide.
Ryan Halloran’s cousin Nick has been on a downhill slide for a long time. Despite that, Ryan does everything he knows to help. Ryan only understands part of what happened between Nick and Jack in high school, but after Nick’s suicide, Ryan agrees both he and Jack need closure. They work together to clean the scene and despite the situation, heat flares between them.
Jack is keeping a painful secret and fighting his attraction to Nick’s look-alike cousin, Ryan. Ryan calls himself a magnet for lost causes and worries Jack might be the next in a long line of losers. Despite his misgivings, despite the past and the mistakes they’ve both made, Jack gives Ryan something to look forward to, and Ryan gives Jack a reason to stop looking back, in Grime And Punishment.
Jack couldn’t say exactly how he ended up sitting at Dave Huntley’s mother’s kitchen table, drinking coffee from delicate, gold-embossed teacups. When she brought out a bag of shortbread cookies and turned the whole thing into a teddy bear picnic, he pinched himself discreetly.
Because he didn’t want to think about Nick, his thoughts settled on Dave.
This is where Dave comes from.
This explains so much.
Karen’s voice interrupted his thoughts. “What Jack is saying, I think, is that while you might be able to clean the room yourself, it might be better—emotionally speaking—to have a third party come in.”
Ryan slid a glance Jack’s way. “Is that what Jack is saying? That I might be emotionally scarred by cleaning my cousin’s blood from the tub, and he won’t?”
She bit her full lower lip. “Jack, I believe what Ryan is saying is he’s worried—”
“I heard him.” Jack sighed. I’ll have to ask Dave if his mom is a marriage counselor. “We both knew the deceased.”
The phone rang, and Karen left them alone while she answered it.
For a couple of minutes, silence consumed them. Jack heard the number on the stove clock flip over from 10:56 to 10:57. Then 10:58.
“Why are you here?” Ryan finally asked.
“To bid the job like everyone else.”
“Right.” Ryan’s tone of voice indicated he didn’t buy it. He’d wrapped his arms around himself.
Jack put his cup into the saucer none too gently, then pushed it away. “Christ. I should not be using something as fragile as that.”
Ryan’s lips curved into a faint smile. “They’re pretty, though.”
God. Pale skin, pale brows. Freckles dusted the bridge of his nose and were scattered by the thousands over his forearms where he’d pushed up his sleeves.
Eyes the lightest shade of blue, like shadows in the snow.
Ryan was so like Nick. Yet…they were as individual as snowflakes.
Where Nick Foasberg had been built brutal in the way of Irishmen with the blood of Vikings in them, Ryan had softer edges. He was all lean muscle mass and just as tall as Nick, but he wasn’t keen like Nick had been. He wasn’t sharp or hard.
Ryan’s body language said he had nothing to prove.
He was intelligent. That much was clear. Was he a Foasberg? Or a cousin with a different name?
Jack said, “Look, you don’t know me, but—”
“I know of you.” Ryan’s gaze locked with his. “I know what Nick did to you. I was there.”
Jack’s heart dropped like an elevator with a broken cable. “You—”
“I know he humiliated you. How he and his friends beat you.” His gaze was searching. “What did you think would happen when you asked him to senior prom publicly, when you made a circus out of it so everyone knew you had a thing for him?”
Jack’s heart contracted. “I don’t know.”
I didn’t expect my best friend—who was also my fucking lover, goddamn it—and six other assholes to beat the hell out of me. I didn’t expect I’d barely escape being sodomized with a broom handle because someone called the cops.
No, sir. I did not expect that.
Thanks so much for coming by. Remember to leave a comment with your email and you might win your choice of any book of ZAM’s including this one! : )