Zero at the Bone

( 68 )


After witnessing a mob hit, surgeon Jack Francisco is put into protective custody to keep him safe until he can testify. A hitman known only as D is blackmailed into killing Jack, but when he tracks him down, his weary conscience won't allow him to murder an innocent man. Finding in each other an unlikely ally, Jack and D are soon on the run from shadowy enemies.

Forced to work together to survive, the two men forge a bond that ripens into unexpected passion. Jack sees the ...

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After witnessing a mob hit, surgeon Jack Francisco is put into protective custody to keep him safe until he can testify. A hitman known only as D is blackmailed into killing Jack, but when he tracks him down, his weary conscience won't allow him to murder an innocent man. Finding in each other an unlikely ally, Jack and D are soon on the run from shadowy enemies.

Forced to work together to survive, the two men forge a bond that ripens into unexpected passion. Jack sees the wounded soul beneath D's cold, detached exterior, and D finds in Jack the person who can help him reclaim the man he once was. As the day of Jack's testimony approaches, he and D find themselves not only fighting for their lives... but also fighting for their future. A future together.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935192800
  • Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
  • Publication date: 4/6/2009
  • Pages: 308
  • Sales rank: 619,808
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The smell of cheap motel rooms was comforting to him, like his oldest, rattiest T-shirt. Lysol, unwashed feet, and that sour tang of grime and desperation that tried to dress up and look nice with laundered sheets and those stiff bedspreads that felt like sandpaper on your ass, bargain basement art on the walls and the cheap paper-wrapped chits that weren't so much soap as a suggestion of what soap might be like.

Motel rooms like this had known many men without names, but he wondered if he was the first who'd let his go by choice. He signed a meaningless pseudonym to the register and paid cash. He could afford to stay in nicer places, but that would mean hauling out one of his impressive array of fake identifications, and he didn't use them unless absolutely necessary. Each one, when used, left a shallow footprint in the shifting sand dunes of his existence, which he preferred to keep pristine and featureless. Even if that hadn't been the case, he'd still prefer rooms like this. They fit around him snugly with the comforting security of anonymity. Every time he'd stayed in fancier digs he'd felt like he was rattling around in them like the last pea in the can. The eyes of the world could see him in places like that. Places like this, he could float through without leaving a trace, and the world's eyes looked away.

He shucked his jacket, smelling smoke and stale beer on himself from the bar he'd spent the evening in. He didn't know why he kept going. The bars, like the motel rooms, were always the same. He didn't go to the ones with fancy neon and clever drinks at the bar. He liked the ones with gravel parking lots and sagging roofs, the kind that sportedhand-painted signs proclaiming that this was Somebody's-Name's-Bar. Folks went to those places for two reasons: to get drunk enough to forget their sorry-ass lives, or to pick up a piece of tail. Neither interested him. He wouldn't claim that his life couldn't stand some forgetting, but the booze had not yet been invented that could let him, and he sure as hell wasn't going to pick up a piece of tail.

Sometimes he thought he should, just to keep up the appearance of being part of the human race. It wouldn't have been hard. The skanks that hung out at these bars usually homed in on him the minute he walked through the door, sizing him up to see if he was good for a screw, a free meal, maybe shacking up in a double-wide and paying the bills. They'd flap around on the dance floor, presenting like monkeys at a zoo, and lean too close when they stood next to him at the bar, wafting an unpleasant mixture of Love's Baby Soft and flop-sweat.

The occasional notion that maybe he shouldn't sleep alone every single night of his life wasn't enough to actually make him take the initiative. It had been a long time since anyone got that close to him. In his line of work, he had to be careful. Close enough to fuck was close enough to shank him with a dagger hidden in the crease of some chick's jean shorts. Some part of his mind that remembered civilization knew that it wasn't normal to be this paranoid. Couldn't be helped. That ship had sailed.

So he went to the bars, had a beer or two, stayed quiet, watched the people, and left. If he stayed any longer, the eyes on him became too much. Always the eyes, looking at him sidelong, like they knew. What could they know about some stranger having a beer in a bar? They didn't know shit. But the eyes were always on him, and whether they knew anything or not, the idea that they might always drove him out.

He stretched out on top of the bedspread and lit a cigarette, staring at the ceiling. He could tell Josey that it was just a precaution, he could tell himself that it was paranoia, but here on the sandpaper bedspread where it was just him and the bargain-basement art, he couldn't deny that he was always alone in these godforsaken motel rooms because the tits and ass on offer just weren't that interesting to him. He didn't like to think about how far gone he was into the abyss that even the humanness of lust was now foreign to him.

At least he still felt hunger, and cold, and the craving for nicotine. How long until even those animal sensations left him? Would he eventually be left with nothing but a set of skills that suited him for only one profession, and a head full of things he didn't want to know? Maybe he'd disconnect enough that he would no longer sweat, or piss, or get stupid songs stuck in his head. He'd been told over and over again that he'd have to become a machine, but he hadn't really believed that he would. He knew better now.

He stubbed out his cigarette and shut off the bedside lamp. He wondered if he should try jerking off. It'd be nice if he were capable of even that level of self-love, but he hadn't managed to wring one out in a long time. Months? Years? He couldn't remember. The desert stripped most indicators of date and season from his memories. Everything was always hot and bright and seared crisp.

He set the alarm clock. He couldn't be late for Josey tomorrow, and it still was a long drive to Nevada.

* * * *

Jack just wanted to wash the blood off his sleeves. It was ground into the creases of his knuckles and clotted into the hair on his wrists. He was elbow-deep in blood on a daily basis, but never without the shielding of gown, gloves, sterility ... sanity. He couldn't stop staring at it, the edges of the stain bleeding into the white of his shirt, the darker blotches on his hands. He just wanted to be allowed to get up, leave the interview room, and wash it off. Or change his shirt. Or go home and cry.

The odds of this happening seemed slim. "Let's go over it again, Dr. Francisco."

He didn't bother to look up to see which of the suits was talking to him. They were all the same. They blended into one nameless entity of Suit With Questions that surrounded him in navy blue polyblend and poked and prodded and wouldn't let him go home. "I told you already."

"Tell us again."

"I was on my way to my car."

"In the parking garage."


"What floor?"

"The tenth."

"Why'd you park way up there?"

"I got to work late today; that was the first spot I found." He could hear his own voice, flat and uninflected. This was what it had come down to: a rote recitation of one of the worst days of his life. "I saw three people standing in the empty spot next to the car."

"What kind of car?"

"It was a black Escalade. I don't know what year. Late model. I didn't get the plate number. The woman was up against the side. I looked over to see if she needed help, then I saw the knife." He felt the shame rising in his chest again, wanting to choke off his words. "I should've helped her," he said.

"It's a good thing for you that you didn't, or you'd be dead too. Then what happened?"

"I ducked down behind a car. The tall one stabbed her. She didn't scream. There was this sucking noise, like a gasp. I heard her fall. The two men got in the Escalade and drove off." He gulped. "They didn't see me."

"And you saw the men clearly?" Jack nodded. "Then what'd you do?"

"I ran to her to see if I could help her. I tried to put pressure on the wound while I called nine-one-one." He swiped at his eyes. "She died before the paramedics got there."

Silence. Jack looked up. The suits were concerned. He glanced around. The suits were waiting for something. He didn't bother to ask what.

The door opened and another suit entered, carrying a folder. He didn't introduce himself or acknowledge the other suits; he just sat down next to Jack. "Dr. Francisco, the woman you saw killed was Maria Dominguez. She was scheduled to testify about her extensive knowledge of her ex-husband's drug-related activities."

"So ... those men were...."

"Yeah." The new suit met his eyes. "I'm not going to bullshit you, Dr. Francisco. You're our winning lottery ticket here. We've never had a witness who could identify any of the Dominguez family in the commission of a crime."

"You mean you haven't had one that lived long enough to testify."

The suit sighed. "You'll live. I promise."

* * * *

Josey was waiting at the drive-in where they'd arranged to meet. The place was straight out of the Twilight Zone. It looked like it had been abandoned for years; everything was bleached white from the desert sun. Listless brown weeds clumped around the bases of the empty posts that had once held the speakers, planted in regular rows like grave markers. He wouldn't have been surprised if some of them were. Be a good place to bury some bodies, he thought. No one watching except this big blank eye of a movie screen.

She was sitting on the hood of her car. "You're late, D," she said as he approached.

"Pick a meet site that ain't in the middle a fuckin' nowhere, then we'll talk about bein' late. What ya got fer me?"

"Nothing you'll take, probably."

"Must have somethin'. Ya called me here."

"I swear, I don't know why I keep you on the list. So fucking picky."

"Rules is rules."

She sighed and opened her briefcase. "Biggest ticket today is this one," she said, handing him the folder. He glanced over the file and knew within five lines that he wouldn't be taking it. "D, it's a hundred large," Josey beseeched him, as he handed the folder back to her. She always tried to palm off a few up front on him, although he couldn't imagine that after all this time she'd think that just this once he'd cave in and take it.

"I ain't doin' no woman just cuz her asshole husband's embarrassed that she fucked the pool boy. Next."

"This one?"

The second one only took two lines before he was handing it back. "Don't do cops."

"Okay, Mr. Fucking Moral Superiority, how's this one?"

He started reading, and kept going. This one was ... possible. "Hmph."

"Oh, you're actually gonna consider this one? I might just piss my pants for joy."

"Never done no art dealer."

"Oughta be a walk in the park. A guy like this thinks he's untouchable."

He sighed. "How much?"


He tucked the folder into his jacket. "Three days." He started to walk away.

"You know," Josey said. "All these other ones that you won't do? I just give them to one of the others. They get done anyway."

D stopped, but did not turn. "Yeah?"

"So if they're gonna get done, why does it matter you're not the one doing them?"

He shook his head. "You gotta ask why it matters, I ain't gonna bother answerin'."

* * * *

Jack was sitting in his dim living room. Well, not his living room, technically. It belonged to Jack Macintosh, whoever that was. He had Jack Macintosh's driver's license in his pocket, and the mail in the hallway was addressed to this mythical man, wherever he'd come from. Who was he? What did he do for a living? Jack Macintosh was a professional at waiting. Waiting for it to be time to take an oath and tell a jury what he'd seen. At the moment, however, Jack Macintosh was scrolling through the cable guide, looking for something interesting on TV. Dr. Jack Francisco wasn't here just now. But Jack Macintosh had all the time in the world to reflect on the events that had led him here to this impersonal, pre-furnished home in Henderson, Nevada.

You had to have a cookie.

A cookie had landed Jack here, thousands of miles away from his old life. He'd been on his way out of the office when one of the nurses hailed him. "Have a cookie, Dr. Francisco!" she'd said. He'd hesitated. It was possible that this was just the latest assault in the ongoing campaign being waged by various nurses and fellow doctors to seduce him via baked goods.

He hadn't even been hungry. But mmm ... cookies. So he'd had one. What was his rush, anyway? To get home to his dark apartment where the companion of his evening would probably be whatever was airing on TCM that night?

If he hadn't had that fateful cookie, he'd have missed Maria Dominguez's murder and he'd still be in that dark apartment, with his own furniture, and his own books, watching Robert Osborne introduce a film from the oeuvre of Bette Davis or Joseph Cotton. George Sanders, if Jack was very lucky.

Well, I still have Robert, Jack thought, changing the channel. If there was one thing you could count on in this world, it was that at any given moment, Robert Osborne would be talking about film from his fake living room at the TCM studios.

The Dominguez brothers knew that the state had a witness. Lucky Jack had seen Tommy Dominguez and Carlos Alvarez kill Maria. So now here he was in Las Vegas, his driver's license bearing a stranger's last name. "No one is from Las Vegas," his contact had said. "It's easy to hide there."

He was hiding until it was his turn to testify. And after that, he'd have to hide again. He was trying not to think too much about leaving his career behind. The idea of no longer being a surgeon, of not being able to do what he'd spent most of his adult life training to do, was heartbreaking. But what choice did he have? He had to help convict these men. He might have to give up everything he knew but he'd still be alive, which was more than could be said for Maria or the dozens of others these men had killed or would kill in the future if Jack didn't help stop them. This was what he kept telling himself. Sometimes it even worked. It wasn't much comfort when he lay awake in the middle of the night feeling sorry for himself, but it was all he had and he'd stick to it.

He put down the remote and settled back. All About Eve was just starting. Jack smiled. At least something was going his way tonight.

* * * *

Josey had been right. The art dealer job was a walk in the park.

He waited in the man's bedroom, the last guest this man would ever entertain here. He sat on the bed, breathing evenly. It was a very nice bedroom. He wondered if the art dealer ever had sex in it, or if he just jerked off to his fancy art books. He wondered if what visitors there might have been were men or women.

The contract was simple. Obtain photographic proof of this man's misdeeds, then dispose of him. He'd already found the workroom and documented everything. It was a cold, bloodless little scam the man had going on here. He wasn't clear on the details, but from what he'd been able to gather, the guy took art with a shady paper trail, mostly pieces that had been looted by the Nazis, and laundered their histories so that collectors and art dealers could make a fortune selling it out from under the survivors' families.

That shit ain't right. It was what he needed to make it okay. It was enough ... barely.

He heard the front door open and close. He waited. Patience was not a problem for him.

It took the little man an hour to come into the bedroom. He was barely in the door before D had the dart in his neck. He dragged him to the bed and laid him out. "You ain't gonna be able ta move," he said, "but you're sure gonna be able ta talk." He got out his iPod, plugged in the mike, and the man talked. They always talked. They never knew that D didn't care what they had to say. They never knew that it wouldn't help.

The man's eyes rolled in his head. D was put in mind of a deer he'd had to kill when his first shot hadn't gotten him clean. His father had stood at his shoulder, saying "Gotta finish what ya started." He'd used a knife, right to the animal's heart. "Finish it, son. 'Til the blood ain't pumpin' no more."

Sometimes he wondered about that, in light of his choice of profession. Sometimes he dreamed about it too.

The art dealer started trying to bargain with him, as they often did. He offered him double what he was being paid. He apologized for whatever he'd done to piss D off. D didn't bother to answer. It wouldn't do the man any favors to know that it wasn't D that he'd pissed off.

Two shots to the heart. D never went for the head; it was too messy.

He went to a Starbucks around the corner; he hated their coffee, but loved the Wi-Fi. He e-mailed Josey a blank message through an anonymous remailer, with the subject line "Get BiggER TITTTS ASAP!!!" That meant the job was done. The penis-enlarger subject line was for an abort, and the Hot Asian Sluts were for a delay. He downloaded the photos and the MP3 of the art dealer's confession, then saved everything to a stick drive. He slipped it into the envelope Josey had given him with the contract, then wiped the laptop's hard drive. He tossed the envelope into a mailbox on his way out, then the laptop into a passing garbage truck. The camera and the iPod were his; they went back into his pockets.

Walk in the park.

* * * *

Josey wasn't at the next meet. He waited for an hour, but she didn't show up. D felt a fluttering of uncharacteristic worry in his gut. Supposedly such things had been trained out of him, but his rusty emotional core still sent up the occasional signal flare. They weren't exactly in a low-risk business, and any one of a number of unpleasant fates could have befallen his only compatriot.

He headed home to find an e-mail from her. The subject line was "Get VIAGRA Cheap!!!" That meant something was wrong.

He loaded up and got in his car, headed to the safe house. If there was trouble, Josey would meet him there.

There was, indeed, trouble, in the form of three large men who looked like they'd stepped out of the Hired Muscle Weekly catalog. D was hardly in the door before they were on him. He had a split second to wonder how they'd found the place before they'd pinned his arms and were dragging him inside. D whipped his head backward into a nose and heard a satisfying crunch. He pushed against the one still holding him and kicked upward across the jaw of the one in front of him. Clearly, they hadn't been expecting him to put up a fight.

Unfortunately, the element of surprise didn't last very long, and within a few seconds they had tossed him onto the living room couch. He stared up into two gun barrels, and was forced to rethink his thoughts of resistance. Josey was tied to a chair nearby, bruised and bloody. "You okay?" he asked.

She nodded. "I'm sorry, D," she said. Her voice sounded scratchy, like someone had been strangling her. "I don't know how they found me."

"Don't say nothin'," he reminded her. Probably unnecessary. Even beaten up and bound as she was, Josey was likely thinking three steps ahead.

The shortest of their new friends, probably the brains of the outfit, approached him. "We got a job for you," he said.

"I pick my own jobs, asshole," he snarled.

Brains tossed him a folder. "She says you wouldn't take this one if you had a choice. So we're not giving you a choice. You're taking it." D started to open the folder. "No need to open it," Brains said. "All you need to know is that you're doing it."

"Or what?" D said. It almost didn't matter. They were now in a position to threaten him in almost any way they chose. His own life, his identity, Josey's life, the target's slow, painful death against the quick one D would mete out.

As it turned out, they'd come prepared. Brains tossed D another folder, motioning for him to examine its contents. D opened it. "Fuck me," he said, clamping down on the dull horror that rose in his throat. The folder was full of pictures. Of him. Coming and going from the scene of every job he'd done in the past six months. All of them time stamped. He glanced over at Josey, the thought occurring that she might have sold him up the river, but the look on her face dispelled his doubts.

"You'll take the contract. We have evidence to tie you to half a dozen contract killings this year alone. You'll get six months in the electric chair." Brains smiled, and D thought again of that deer he'd killed. "You've got one week. After that, those photos and a number of other salient pieces of documentation will find their way to the FBI."

"And after it's done? I ain't gonna be your monkey forever," he muttered.

"My employer has no interest in you. You can go back to your regular ... schedule. When it's done, it's done." He arched one eyebrow; D knew at once that this guy was one of those that was always imagining himself in a Tarantino movie. He knew the type. Same kind of guys that thought it was cool to hold their guns sideways, the way no one actually did in reality.

Brains and his pets left. D went to Josey and released her from her bonds. "I'm sorry," she repeated. "They made me bring them here and send you the trouble message."

"Don't matter," he said, his attention already turning to the contract they'd dumped in his lap. He opened the folder and started reading, knowing that he wouldn't like it, and he didn't.

Josey was watching his face. "I wasn't even going to show you that one."

"A fuckin' witness?" D snarled. "So now I'm killin' innocent bystanders on the say-so a some drug lords? Fuck." He tossed the folder aside and dragged a hand across his close-cropped hair. "How they been fuckin' tailin' me, anyhow?"

"I don't know. They must have been hacking my records."

"Thought that couldn't happen."

"Didn't think it could." He stood up and went to the window, feeling Josey's eyes on his back. "You have to do it."

"I know."

"No, I mean you have to."

"I said I fuckin' know."

"D ... it's what you do."

"I know what I fuckin' do, and this ain't it."

"You get paid to kill people."

D ground his jaw. "When they deserve it."

Silence. "What's this guy's name again?"

He didn't have to consult the folder. One read-through and it was in his head. "Program got him in as Jack Macintosh. Real name's Jack Francisco." He shook his head. "Dr. Jack god-almighty-damn Francisco. Saw somethin' he wasn't s'posed ta see 'n' has the balls ta stand up 'n' say so. Now I gotta put a bullet in him for it."

* * * *

Chapter Two

It had been another long, hard day of doing nothing, and Jack was bushed.

His life, while conveniently unfettered by things like responsibilities and obligations, was starting to feel pretty damned pointless. He was alive for no other reason than to be life support for the brain cells that remembered Maria Dominguez's murder. After he'd spewed it out and had it recorded by some stenographer, entered into the public record and set in stone for all time in the tablets of the justice system, he might as well just blink out of existence. He tried to keep his mind fixed on the days after his testimony, but those days were starting to feel as cruelly insubstantial as the mirages that lay across the desert like oil slicks, changing colors and luring the eye. What did he even have to live for? It wasn't like he could go back to his job, which was all he really cared about.

He spent his days driving around, mostly. The tourist attractions and casinos of Las Vegas didn't interest him. He was drawn to the endless flat expanse of desert surrounding this chrome-and-steel oasis, to the grandiose gestures of nature that people skipped right over to get to the damned Cirque de Soleil show. He'd been to Hoover Dam, he'd been to Lake Meade, he'd explored the desert country in and around his Henderson suburban neighborhood. Sometimes he parked his car off some deserted road and hiked aimlessly, listening to the nothingness and feeling his skin bake. Today, he'd driven down the Strip for the first time, and was shocked at how strange it looked in daylight. What at night became dazzling and beautiful just looked misshapen and weirdly tacky under the unforgiving sunlight. It was like going to a nightclub at noon, when what was nocturnally glamorous revealed itself to be nothing more than a dirty black box where your shoes stuck to the floor.

He came into his house, sighing with relief at the cool blast of the air-conditioning (he kept his thermostat set at "meat locker") and tossing his keys on the hall table. His relief was short-lived.

There was a man sitting in his living room, looking at him.

Jack froze, his hand hanging in mid-air where it had started on its way to smooth his windblown hair. The spit dried up in his mouth.

The man looked relaxed, but Jack knew that he wasn't. He was wearing jeans, a white T-shirt, and a black sport coat. His hair was barely more than stubble all over his skull, and his eyes were hidden by sunglasses. Across his lap, he was holding a silver handgun with a silencer on it.

He stood up, his lanky frame unfolding with near-audible creases and crackles. Jack wondered how long he'd been waiting.

Jack's jaw felt stiff when he tried to speak; his face was numb in a way that made him think of shoveling the driveway in January. "Who are you?" he croaked. The man didn't answer. He crossed the living room in even, deliberate strides and grabbed Jack by the upper arm. He pulled him forward and sat him down in his Eames chair. The man stepped back and stood before him, all quiet menace and deadly intent. Jack stared up at him, nothing in his mind but blankness. The circuit breakers in his brain had tripped and stopped the flow of emotions. "How'd you find me?" he asked. It was less a stall question and more legitimate curiosity. Jack had half-assumed that the Dominguez brothers would find a way to get to him, but he'd been so impressed by the thoroughness of his relocation that he didn't know how on earth anyone could have found him here.

Still, it didn't exactly surprise him that someone had.

Jack took slow, even breaths. I'm going to die any second. The thought was surprisingly bereft of power. The idea of death didn't have much potency when confronted with the inescapable fact of it. It was a done deal. No use being afraid of it. It was almost a relief not to have to dread it anymore.

The man who'd come to kill him was just standing there, staring off into space at some point above Jack's head, his gun held loosely at his side. The man raised his free hand and rubbed at his forehead, then began to walk slowly back and forth in front of Jack's chair. Jack's eyes tracked him, his body glued to the chair as if he'd been strapped in. Something in the man's posture, his body language ... a tiny, wriggling specter of hope worked its way into Jack's mind.

He doesn't want to do it.

Jack held his breath, watching his killer pace. Don't be stupid. He's gonna do it whether he wants to or not.

The man didn't look at him. He paced, those dark, blank lenses swiveling back and forth like the unfeeling eye of a security camera. Jack's brain made a random cross-connection and he found himself thinking of 2001: A Space Odyssey. "Open the pod bay doors, HAL." That's what this man's shuttered stare reminded him of. The all-seeing cyclopean gaze of HAL. "I'm afraid I can't do that, Dave."

Don't just sit there like some dumb sheep waiting to get slaughtered. Do something, for Christ's sake. If you can't do something, at least say something.

Jack swallowed hard, hearing a click in his dry throat. "Don't do this," he said. Nice one, asshole. Like this guy's never heard anyone beg for their life before. Jack squared his shoulders a little. I'm not going to beg. No matter what else happens, I'm not going to beg. "You don't have to do this."

The man stopped pacing, then sat down on the couch facing him. He stared down at the gun in his hand. Jack watched him, trying to read something of his expression, which was damned difficult while his heart was pounding so hard it was making his vision shake. The circuit breakers were resetting. Terror was creeping into Jack's body, robbing him of whatever fortitude he'd been able to muster. God, I don't wanna die. Not like this. Not like this.

The man had his head down now, the gun clasped in both hands. Jack felt his tenuous self-control fading. He was shaking uncontrollably. Please, just don't let me piss myself. I know I'll do it when the bullet goes through my head anyway, but not when I'm still in charge. Gimme that, at least.

The man stood up and took two steps toward where Jack was sitting immobile, in his favorite chair. He raised the gun and pointed it at Jack's head. Jack sucked in a breath and closed his eyes, his mouth curling into a tortured ribbon of terror. His breath puffed in and out through clenched teeth like he'd just run a mile, and he waited. What's it going to feel like? Will it hurt? Any minute now.... Will I feel it at all, or will I just be dead? I hope it doesn't hurt. Any minute now....

Five seconds passed. Ten. Fifteen. Jack cautiously opened one eye. His killer was still standing over him, the gun pointed at Jack's head, but he hadn't fired. With effort, Jack looked past the gun barrel--it seemed to fill the whole world--and saw the man's clenched jaw and his lips, clamped tight in a thin white line.

He doesn't want to do it. The thought recurred, stronger this time. Jack stared at the mouth of the gun's barrel, that dark circle of death, and a sudden calm descended on him. All at once, he knew exactly what to do. Talk. Play him. Get him to talk to you. Tell him your name. Make yourself a person.

"You're not going to do it," he said, amazed at how calm he sounded. He'd stopped shaking.

His would-be killer's head turned slightly, cocked, interrogative. He still did not speak.

Jack shook his head. "You would have already done it." He lifted one hand, palm forward. It's okay, I'm not a threat. "What's your name?" he asked. Great. Now you sound like a five-year-old on the recess playground trying to make friends with the coolest kid in the class and hoping he doesn't pound you for your trouble.

His killer didn't respond, verbally or otherwise. He didn't appear to have heard him. "My name's Jack Francisco. I, uh ... guess you know that, though. I'm a doctor. Did they tell you that? Maxillofacial surgeon." The man took a step backward. A little thrill of triumph ran down Jack's overtaxed nerves. I'm getting to him. "I'm from Baltimore." The man raised both hands to his face, his gun still clutched in his right. "Hey ... it's okay," Jack said. "You don't have to do this. Do you even know why you're here? Or why I'm here? I saw somebody get killed, and now...."

"I know," the killer suddenly snarled, the first words he'd spoken. He'd snatched his hands away from his face and turned the blank dark-matter lamps of his sunglasses directly onto Jack. He could almost feel their high beams on him, like the rays of a black hole that sucked warmth from him instead of laying it on. "I fuckin' know what you saw," he repeated.

Jack swallowed hard. Don't lose it now. You've got him talking. "Look, I don't know what your bosses told you...."

"They ain't my bosses," the killer said, his lip still curled in a half-sneer, his voice a cornered-animal growl. "Fuckin' drug lords." He shook his head. "Ain't takin' no orders from the likes a them." The pacing started up again. "Don't own me. Motherfuckers. Ain't doin' no job on their say-so." Jack watched him. The man didn't really seem to be addressing him anymore.

Jack's brain was twirling too fast; the thoughts kept getting tossed off in all directions like kids that didn't keep their grip on a playground merry-go-round. He managed to snag one with his numb fingertips. He doesn't want to do it, and he's chafing against being made to do it. Use it. Get under his skin. Jack shifted in his chair a little. But don't piss him off.

Right. "So, you work for the Dominguez brothers?" he said. "They pay you well to do their dirty work?"

The killer paused in his pacing and, incredibly, chuckled. "You playin' me, Francisco?" he said.

Hearing his name spoken aloud by the man who'd been sent here to get it carved on a headstone gave Jack an unpleasant shiver. Amateur, he scolded himself. "I just want to know if you're going to kill me, or what."

The killer--Jack's mind was starting to think of him as HAL--swung around, his gun rising to target Jack's head again. "Could jus' do ya right now," he said. "Don't wanna waste yer time or nothin'."

Jack recoiled. "No rush." HAL nodded, then resumed his pacing. Talk to him. The more you talk, the harder it'll be for him to execute you. The longer you stall, the less likely he'll be to pull that trigger. "So you don't work for them, then."

"Fuck no."

"Then why are you here?"

"Ain't none a yer business."

"Are you going to kill me?" Jack asked.

HAL sighed. "I dunno."

"You could just leave. I ... I won't tell anyone you were here. I won't call the police or the Marshals or anything. I swear."

He sniffed. "Think I care who you fuckin' call? Ain't the problem."

"Oh," Jack said, feeling abruptly out of his depth. This man wasn't afraid of the law. "The brothers? Guess they'd be mad if you don't kill me."

HAL shook his head, taking a seat on the couch again. "You ain't got no idea, doc," he grumbled.

* * * *

The guy wasn't a pussy, D had to give him that. Sat right there in that fancy chair and tried to play him. Needled him about being the Dominguez's bitch, slapping him with words to see if he flinched. He'd thought the guy would be a pussy. Big city doctor, some kind of specialist, from the file. Thought that he'd wet himself and start blubbering the minute he saw the gun. He hadn't, though. Just got that thousand-yard stare that he'd seen on lots of folks, that look that said they'd gone as far as they could, and now death was here and it was time to just present your belly and let it gut you. Fact of it blew a fuse in the mind, so the feelings didn't shut down the whole damned system.

But he'd come back pretty quick. Tried to get D to talk to him. Asked his name, told him his own. Tried to engage him in fucking conversation. D had heard plenty of begging and crying and swearing and bargaining, but he hadn't ever been on the receiving end of some guy's college psychology courses.

Now D wondered why he'd thought Francisco would be a pussy. Guy had the balls to testify against the brothers. He had to have at least a little lead in his pencil to do that, knowing what it'd earn him, namely a one-way ticket to Witness Protection and a lifetime of looking over his shoulder.

He'd been all set to do it. Spent two days talking himself through it so he wouldn't have to engage his brain when he got here, hoping that'd get him past. Just sit the guy down, pump a couple rounds into him, close your eyes if you have to, and leave. He'd done it dozens of times. Hundreds, maybe. This wouldn't be no different.

But it was different, and there was no use pretending otherwise. He was used to killing people who'd earned the kind of death he brought them. He'd even come to think of it as his contribution to society. Cleaning up the scum. People who'd killed, raped, hurt, stolen. Bad people. But Francisco, he wasn't bad people.

You don't do it, you know what's gonna happen. They ain't gonna even bother sendin' them photos to nobody. They'll just come after you guns blazin', and Francisco too. Probly got a couple on yer tail already, just ta make sure ya do the job 'cause they know you ain't so keen on it.

So why'd they pick you in the first place?

That was the question he couldn't get out of his mind. The brothers had gone to considerable effort to get him to carry out this hit, even going so far as to tail him for months. There were dozens of other professionals who would have taken Francisco out without batting an eyelash or losing one minute of sleep. They knew D wasn't one of those types. So why him?

Maybe they just wanted ta pop yer cherry and make ya kill an innocent man so's it's easier next time. Maybe they're gentlin' you inta executions like you'd break a horse ta the saddle.

That just brought him back around to the sleep-killing idea that Josey might somehow have engineered all this. She'd made no secret of the fact that D's disinclination to carry out certain hits was a burden to her. Maybe she just wants ta make me do it. Maybe she's sick a my bullshit. Maybe she knows....

He couldn't go near that, though. Cain't be. If she knew, I'd already be dead.

Now here was Francisco, thinking he understood a damned thing. "Guess they'd be mad if you don't kill me," he'd just said, like he'd discovered some earth-shattering revelation of the goddamned universe.

Mad, sure. The brothers will stomp their feet and say "Curses, foiled again" and then throw up their hands in surrender. "Guess we cain't stop Francisco from sendin' us to the hoosegow," they'd say, and sit back and wait to get hauled away.

Mad. Mad like a hornet's nest gets stepped on. Mad like a fuckin' hurricane, and that's about how strong they'd come after him. Not him ... them. 'Cause if he decided not ta kill Francisco, he couldn't leave him here. They'd just send somebody else.

That's what they always do, a quiet voice, a familiar voice, whispered to him. You won't kill no innocent folks, so they just send somebody else. Never bothered you before.

That wasn't true. Not by a long shot. But this was different, anyhow. He ain't never had a gun in no one's face and then spared their life. In the sparing was the keeping, and if he wasn't gonna do Francisco himself, then no one else was gonna do him neither.

If you don't do him, yer gonna hafta run. And yer gonna hafta take him with you, 'cause he ain't gonna last two days once the brothers realize he's still breathin' and you took off.

Fuckin' Francisco. Couldn't he have been an irritating, snot-nosed fool who'd have gotten down on his knees and begged D to spare his sorry-ass life? Couldn't he have been a jerk-ass fucker who secretly strangled kittens or something? If he had been, maybe D could have pulled that trigger.

Just do it. Fuckin' do it. You can live with it. You cain't live with what'll happen if you don't, and that ain't no figure a speech. Only takes a second. Two shots. Shut them eyes a his lookin' at you like they see through ta yer bones. Fucker; why does he keep lookin' at me like that? Most folks look away. Look at the floor, at the ceiling, at their own hands, anywhere but at me. Biggest damned eyes I ever saw on any man, and bluer'n the sky down in Bryce Canyon. Big enough ta hold all the life in him so's I can see it, the life they want me ta take, the life I'll hafta stand here and watch leave him. Stupid motherfuckers killin' their own and makin' me clean up for 'em like they fuckin' branded me.

D sighed. It chapped his ass something fierce, but there was no choice.

* * * *

"You ain't got no idea, doc," HAL mumbled. Then, to Jack's amazement, he reached up and removed his sunglasses. He shut his eyes before Jack could even see what color they were, his brow furrowing. With his free hand he pinched the bridge of his nose, like he was getting a headache. He sat like that for a few long moments. Jack felt like his senses were amplified, honed into hypersensitivity by the gun still grasped in HAL's right hand. He was aware of the hum of his air-conditioning, the stickiness of his damp skin where it rested against the leather chair, the rustle of HAL's clothes against the couch cushions, and the faint sound of cars passing and kids playing.

People are living out there. How can they? I'm in here with some kind of hired assassin and he has a gun with which he might shoot me at any moment and meanwhile, people are driving to the grocery store and screwing each other and cooking meals and watching fucking Oprah.

HAL dropped his hand and stood up. Jack managed not to recoil as he met the eyes of his would-be killer for the first time. Without the sunglasses, the machine quality was gone and he just looked like ... a man. A man with strong, high cheekbones and brown eyes that might have been warm had they not been filled with such flat resignation.

He sighed, the sigh of a man about to shoulder a heavy load. "Get up, Francisco," he said.

Somehow, Jack peeled himself out of the chair and stood up. His legs felt like Jell-O. "Want to look me in the eye when you shoot me?" he said.

The killer gave him a little head shake that clearly said God, the idiots I have to deal with. "Pack a bag."

Jack blinked. "A ... a bag?"

"Yer comin' with me."

"The hell I am!"

HAL raised the gun again. "You forgettin' who's in charge here?"

"Look, if you're not going to shoot me, just get the hell out of my house and we'll forget it ever happened."

The man shook his head again like he couldn't believe Jack's stupidity. "You think the brothers'll forget? I don't kill ya, they'll send someone else who will, probly someone who'll do it slow 'n' messy."

"The program will move me again. They won't find me."

"They found ya here. They'll find ya again."

"I'm not going anywhere with you."

"D'you have a fuckin' death wish?" HAL hissed at him. "Those fuckers are gonna come after me fer not killin' you, and they're gonna come after you fer not bein' dead yet, and no one can protect you from them! No one, ya hear? Not the Marshals, not the police, not the goddamned Neighborhood Watch! Yer only shot is ta stick with me!"

Jack blinked, not sure if he was hearing what he thought he was hearing. "What, you're saying that ... now you want to protect me?"

"You wanna live? You gotta come with me. Is what I'm sayin'."

"You must be out of your mind if you think I'm going to trust you!" Jack shouted.

HAL seized Jack's shirt and yanked him forward until they were chest-to-chest, the gun barrel pressed underneath the shelf of Jack's chin. Jack stiffened but didn't drop the man's gaze. "You don't gotta trust me. You just gotta do what I fuckin' say. Now. Pack. A. Bag."

* * * *

D paced in Francisco's living room, smoking. The man was a goddamned caution. Giving him lip when he'd be better advised to just hop to. Thinking the damned Witness Protection Program would save his lily-white ass. D wondered what Francisco would say if he told him that the brothers had probably learned of his location by buying the information off someone in the Marshals' office.

Take Francisco's car. Probly got somebody watchin' the house. Since I come in the back, hopefully they don't know I'm here. We leave in his car, me ducked down, maybe they jus' think he's goin' out fer groceries or somethin'. Gotta try 'n' get a head start.

A head start to where? D had no idea where to go next. None of his usual safe places felt safe at all. The brothers probably knew about them if they'd been tailing him, or they could pound the information out of Josey. He thought back to hidey-holes he hadn't used in a long time, places no one else knew about, weighing their relative tactical merits.

He could hear Francisco thumping about upstairs. He heard something fall and break, and Francisco's angry "Goddammit!"

Yer an idiot, lettin' him pack alone. He could hide a gun or a knife or God knows what else in his bag, ambush you in yer sleep. Which was true. In a way, D half-hoped that Francisco would try something like that. At least it'd tell him what kind of man he was dealing with. One that'd offer his jugular to the alpha dog? Or one that'd bite at his neck to challenge him?

The man came half-tumbling down the stairs, looking frazzled and carrying a backpack over his shoulder. "Okay. I packed a goddamned bag. Satisfied?"

D crushed out his cigarette into the carpet. "I'll be satisfied we get five hours distant. Let's go. Take yer car."

* * * *

Jack backed out of the driveway, D hunkered down in the backseat so that any observers couldn't see him. "All right, where are we going?" he asked.

"Head north outta town."

"Whatever." He drove quietly, being careful not to speed or run any red lights. The thought occurred that he could probably manage to flag a cop, or signal someone for help ... but to what end? What help could be offered? And did he really need help? He wasn't being kidnapped, exactly.

I'm on the lam, he thought crazily. On the lam with a hired killer who was supposed to execute me. What's next? A femme fatale? A car chase? Maybe we'll have a showdown in some abandoned warehouse like in some half-assed action movie they'd show on TNT on a Saturday afternoon.

Jack shook his head in amazement. Actually, if this were a movie, you'd be a beautiful woman and you'd be sleeping with HAL by the second act.

"Check if anyone's following us," HAL said from the backseat.

"How do I know that?"

"Uh ... look in the rearview mirror." Jack was getting a little tired of the subtextual dumbass that seemed appended to most of HAL's statements. And he was getting really tired of thinking of the man as HAL.

He kept a close eye on his mirrors for a few minutes. "No one's following us."

"You sure?"

"I'm sure."

HAL sat up, then peered over the dash. "Gotta stop 'n' get gas."

Jack pulled into the nearest gas station. He was just about to swipe his debit card in the pump when he felt a hand on his arm. "Cash. Pay cash. Cain't leave no trail." Dumbass.

"I don't have any cash."

HAL sighed wearily. "I got cash."

Jack watched his unlikely companion return after paying for the gas, bearing two bottles of water. "Lemme drive," he said.

Jack gladly gave up the driver's seat and buckled himself in. He uncapped his water bottle and HAL's, setting them in the cup holders. HAL glanced at him. "Thanks," he said, sounding surprised at this miniscule courtesy.

"Thanks for not shooting me."

HAL snorted as they pulled back onto the road. "I'd say no problem, but the truth is that it's a real big fuckin' problem."

They drove in silence for a few miles. "So now will you tell me your name?" Jack asked. "I can't just keep calling you HAL."

He frowned. "Why would ya call me Hal?"

"Long story. So? You know my name. Give it up."

"Less ya know about me, the better."

Jack shrugged. "Fine. Long as you don't mind being addressed as 'hey, you.'"

Beat. Sigh. "Call me D."


"You asked my name, I told ya."

"Yeah, it's just that ... well, most of the time in names, D is followed by some more letters. Like -onald, or -avid."

D stared at him for a few seconds, then seemed to relax. "D's good enough."

Jack nodded. "Nice to meet you, D."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 68 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 68 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2012

    this was an awesome book.

    this was an awesome book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 17, 2011


    I loved loved loved this book. I get excited just seeing the cover. This story sucks you in and won't let you go!!! All 5 of my friends who read this after me raved and gave it 5 stars as well. Buy this book! One of my favorites.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 11, 2011

    Worth the looking at!!

    I could not put it down and sad that it ended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommended! Definately a Book

    This book is not only a book that is a must read, but it is definately a book to own! It is action packed and there is definately excellent character Development! I highly recommend this book to everyone to read and own!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2010

    Highly recommended

    Once you start to read, very, repeat very hard to put down. A keeper as well as a frequent reread.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    THE BEST BOOK I've read all year!

    There was not one thing I didn't like about this book. Who could believe a book about a hit man and a doctor could turn out to be such a fabulous story. Jsck is a surgeon who witnessed a mob hit and D is the hit man who was forced to take the job. But D is a hit man with a conscience and saves Jack instead of killing him. they come to like each other and then love each other. It had everything an action, adventure, romance could possibly need. To watch D's transformation as the book progressed was fascinating and heart warming all at the same time. The courage and drive to survive and have the life they want together is amazing. You must read this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2010

    great gay mystery

    This book is a great read. It has lots of action, romance, suspense and mystery all surrounding two guys that fall in love with each other. While the development of the relationship between the two men is kind of hard to swallow, the rest of the plot makes for a great read. The author gives no hints as to the men being attracted to other men, in fact it has them act completely straight in their thoughts toward each other. That is the only weakness i found in the book. I understand two men acting straight toward each other in actions but when revealing what they are thinking there was no acknowledgement of who they were so when they change, in my opinion, it was too quick to be believable. However once you get past that part the book was a great book and i recommend it to anyone who wants a gay story line that is a mystery with lots of intrigue.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Very Original

    This was a great book. I normally don't give out 5 out of 5 stars but this book was so original and unique I couldn't put it down. My only complaint with the book is that I feel it should have ended a good 40 pages before it actually did. It seemed like the author didn't want to put an end to the characters so she tried to think of new situations to put them in. Overall, this book was very fast paced, there was a lot of action and the situations were very believable. A great gay thriller. I loved how the characters actually built a relationship with each other, unlike some books where the characters meet and fall in love the next day, the timeframe and emotions portrayed were very realistic. Definitely worth the read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2015

    There is no way Jane Seville should leave readers hanging. She a

    There is no way Jane Seville should leave readers hanging. She announced their was going to be a sequel but that has been five or six years ago. The murders that were committed need to be revenged and who better to get the job done but D. I think Jack should not get mad at his partner if he wants to do away with these scumbags. I also think Megan should get back in the game. She was a large part of the story line. I highly recommend this book to all. .. 

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  • Posted November 28, 2013

    A very different plot.  Much suspense and strong action through

    A very different plot.  Much suspense and strong action through out,  with a  moving  love story unfolding that grabs you.
    I think the ending went on too long,   but otherwise a great read.

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  • Posted January 23, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    4.5 Stars ~Reviewed by ANN/Guest Reviewer Leigh & posted at

    4.5 Stars
    ~Reviewed by ANN/Guest Reviewer Leigh & posted at Under the Covers Book Blog

    Jack and D are completely iconic of couples in the genre ~ Under the Covers

    I've been on a little M/M streak lately and decided to finally jump into ZERO AT THE BONE. I've been meaning to read this book for a very, very long time and when Leigh further recommended this book to me, I figured that today would be a good day as any.

    D is a hit man hired to kill Dr. Jack Francisco, a witness to a murder that occurred as he was heading home from the hospital. In the days before the trial, all hell breaks loose as several assassins are targeting one another and people are getting trigger happy. Violence isn't a stranger to this book and I think that it definitely gets the reaction that the author wants. My heart pounded as I read, and in addition to the plot twists, the romance also gave me something else to get excited about.

    ZERO AT THE BONE has swiftly become one of my favorite M/M romance books. And to make this review a little more special, our regular guest reviewer and fellow M/M addict, Leigh is here to chat with me about it!

    So Leigh, what were your thoughts on ZERO AT THE BONE before you started it and how did those thoughts compared to how you felt after you finished the book?

    Leigh: Hi, Annie! Well, when I immersed myself in the m/m romance genre about a year ago, "Zero at the Bone" and "Jack and D" were phrases that I kept hearing repeatedly. Zero was highly recommended by so many of my friends, and the love that surrounded Jack and D as a m/m couple was quite astounding. So I added it to my TBR list and finally decided to give it a go just a couple weeks ago. And OMG, am I ever so glad that I did! I absolutely LOVED it! The book was simply amazing, and just as everyone had told me, Jack and D are completely iconic of couples in the genre. Just as a little background, I rarely read book blurbs because I love going into a book blind. I like being surprised by what I am about to read, and I just hold onto faith that so many high recommendations won't steer me wrong. Well, my expectations, while high, were still blown out of the water, and I couldn't have been more thrilled!

    Annie: Word travels fast and when there's a good book out there, I want to read it. Now it's taken me awhile to get to it but I think the book does live up to its hype. There's a lot of suspense, a lot that drives this book forward other than the spectacular romance and I think it's a thrill ride that no fan of M/M romance should miss out on. It has the appropriate amount of angst and a ton of action and heart.

    Of course, I want to ask you about D and Jack! Don't you just love them?

    Leigh: YES, YES, YES!!! They have easily become one of my most beloved m/m couples. There are so many reasons to love these two men, both separately, and of course, then together, and I absolutely loved watching them grow into their relationship. Of course the circumstances of their pairing just draws the reader right in...I mean, you have two men who are so completely different - one a doctor, saving and improving lives, and the other an assassin, taking lives away. But there is so much commonality once you scratch under the surface, and to watch them grow from strangers into semi-friends into lovers then into the best of friends, was just **sigh** wonderful.

    Annie: At first, I wondered how D and Jack would be together. Like Leigh mentioned, they are so vastly different. However, I believe that it's because of those differences that really make them fit so well together. I loved how Jack prods at D until he reaches that soft center of the steeled man. So much is riding on the fact that despite the way D initially treats Jack, Jack never turns away from him or gives up. They are simply beautiful together.

    People are going to want to know about the intensity of sexiness of this book. How would you describe it?

    Leigh: one word: HAWT!!! In many words: the sexiness of Zero and the chemistry shared between Jack and D were both so very intense, and so very, very sexy. At first, their sexuality is just erotic as all hell. Their chemistry is so strong and potent, and the rawness of their carnality just flows directly from that. But then, once their relationship begins to change into something more than just lust and attraction, their sexuality begins to morph as well. It becomes something so beautiful to behold, and so endearing, all the while never losing that strong attraction and intensity. In fact, the intensity only gets stronger.

    Annie: Yup! You said it. HAWT. It's nonstop romping filled with emotion and passion. The sex scenes are very well done and I feel like it only displayed and strengthened the bond that D and Jack forged throughout this book. So amazing!

    What makes ZERO AT THE BONE stand out for you against all the other books in this great genre?

    Leigh: For me, Zero definitely stands out as one of the best books I've read in the m/m genre. First, I think the circumstances surrounding Jack and D's pairing really wrapped me in. I honestly was hooked from page one. We meet D, an assassin, and see him do his work, quick, cold, and calculated. Then we meet Jack, a doctor who witnesses a murder and has to go into the Witness Protection Program in order to keep him safe from the mob prior to testifying at trial. D, who chooses his contracts, is put in a situation where that choice is taken from him, and Jack is to be his next victim. We see that there is more to D than being a cold-hearted killer, though. And obviously, he chooses not to kill Jack as he is supposed to do. In running from the various parties who are after both men - the mob, the government, and someone else who isn't revealed until the end - they basically become forced roommates as they are living together on the run for a couple of months.

    Second, I just loved both men and who they were, separately. D is alpha to the core. He lives life on his own terms, has accepted the cards that life has dealt him, and is unapologetic about who he is and what he does. But there is SOOO much more to D than meets the eye. Then there is Jack, a doctor who has a hit on his life. Instead of cowering when confronted with that situation, we see the strength of his backbone and will. And Jack is that one special person, through his curiosity and intelligence, that starts to break through to the core of D. Even when D doesn't want to engage, Jack never relents. He, too, is unapologetic about who he is. The different, yet similar, strengths of both men are so very sexy to me.

    Third, Zero definitely stands out as one of the best to me because of how well developed both the characters and the plot are. Seville writes a long book - much longer than most in the genre - and takes her time to fully develop a believable relationship between Jack and D. There is no insta-love here (thank God!); their relationship is hard fought and hard won. And I wouldn't have wanted to miss a minute of that. And while we get to watch their relationship grow, Seville progresses the engaging plot that is more than just their relationship. It's about them running in order to keep safe, and doing whatever they need to do to keep themselves, and each other, alive.

    Annie: This book has two of the most amazing and well-fleshed out characters I've read in a long time, not just in M/M romance but overall. I think Seville killed it when she created D, a hit man with a heart. She was able to create a balance where D was scary and defensive, while also having his vulnerabilities. On the other hand, she created Jack who handles D SO WELL. The book wouldn't be half as good as it is without Jack in it.

    As you can tell, we really enjoyed this book! Any final thoughts?

    Leigh: Well, if you haven't guessed by now, I think this was a 5++++ star read for me. I was fully engro

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  • Posted July 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Very enjoyable

    The story is complex but not confusing. The two main characters took their time getting to know eachother - well, not by choice but still, the story didn't rush to the physical side of their relationship. I really liked that. The supporting characters also had some depths, which we don't find very often.

    I agree with another reviewer about the story being too long. The last couple of chapters were unnecessary especially the gruesome description of the case D was working on at the end. That added nothing to the story.

    But other than that little bid... I really liked the story.

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    Posted July 11, 2011

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    Posted November 9, 2010

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    Posted December 20, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2011

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