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Ball & Chain

Ball & Chain

by Abigail Roux

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Overview

Home from their unexpected deployment, the former members of Marine Force Recon team Sidewinder rejoin their loved ones and try to pick up the pieces of the lives they were forced to leave behind. Ty Grady comes home to Zane Garrett, only to find that everything around him has changed-even the men he went to war with. He barely has time to adjust before his brother, Deuce, asks Ty to be his best man. But that isn't all Deuce asks Ty to do, and Ty must call for backup to deal with the business issues of Deuce's future father-in-law.

Nick O'Flaherty and Kelly Abbott join Ty and Zane at the wedding on an island in Scotland, thinking they're there to assuage Deuce's paranoia. But when bodies start dropping and boats start sinking, the four men get more involved with the festivities than they'd ever planned to.

With the clock ticking and the killer just as stuck on the isolated island as they are, Ty and Zane must navigate a veritable minefield of family, friends, and foes to stop the whole island from being destroyed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626491076
Publisher: Riptide Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 03/14/2014
Series: Cut & Run Series , #8
Pages: 306
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.69(d)

Read an Excerpt

Ball & Chain (Cut & Run, #8)


By Abigail Roux, Rachel Haimowitz

Riptide Publishing

Copyright © 2014 Abigail Roux
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62649-107-6


CHAPTER 1

Kelly stood at Zane's side behind a barrier at the bus depot of Camp Lejeune. Zane didn't know him well enough to read him, and he wasn't interested in trying. He couldn't get past his own butterflies to analyze his companion's state of mind.

It had been six months since they'd watched Sidewinder walk down the gangway to their plane. Six long, lonely months of confusing feelings and dread whenever the phone rang. Zane had woken every morning expecting to hear horrible news about the men he considered friends, and not a day had passed that Ty hadn't been on his mind.

The call Zane had lived in fear of receiving had never come, thank God. In fact he'd only received a single satellite call from Ty in all the time he'd been gone, the one telling him when they'd be coming home. It had been like a drop of water to a dying man, and coming just weeks before Christmas, the best present Zane could have asked for.

Kelly had admitted to much the same type of existence as they'd driven there from the airport. Every day a struggle to keep his mind on something besides the fact that he wasn't there to help protect them.

"You nervous?' Zane asked him.

Kelly took a deep breath, nodding. "I've never been on this side of it."

"Is it any easier on the other side?"

Kelly glanced up at Zane, shrugging. "Not really. You sit there with all your buddies, men who've been your world for months, years. You think about the people at home, wonder if they've missed you. Pray they've missed you. Your mind cycles through everything that could have changed, and the nerves start building. Even the smallest thing can hit you like a hammer when you come out. I've seen guys break down and cry because their wives got a haircut."

"That why you made me shave?"

Kelly grinned and nodded as the first buses began to pull in. Nerves skittered through Zane as tired Marines in rumpled uniforms began to trickle into the tented areas where family awaited. Kelly inhaled sharply. Zane's hand began to tremble. "God," he said under his breath.

"The first ship holds seventeen hundred men. We might be here awhile," Kelly warned.

And they were. An hour and a half later, they were still standing behind the roped-off area, witnessing reunions, waiting. Zane was watching a man embrace two blonde toddlers when Kelly slapped his arm to get his attention. Zane scanned the crowd almost frantically, searching for whomever Kelly had caught sight of.

He only saw one familiar face, and it wasn't the one he was desperate to lay eyes on. "I thought they'd be out together," Zane mumbled. He glanced to his side, but Kelly was gone. He'd bolted and hopped the barrier, taking off at a dead sprint through the celebratory crowd.

Zane laughed as Kelly cut a swath toward the unsuspecting Marine. Nick was striding through the crowd of young sailors and Marines, nodding as they saluted him in passing. He looked long and lean in his uniform, hair shorn close and face clean shaven. He had more stripes on his arm than Zane remembered seeing in photos, and he walked with a change in his gait, like he might have been hiding a limp.

Zane hustled after Kelly, but he couldn't keep up. People parted for Kelly, sliding out of his way like they knew he wasn't going to let them slow him down just to be polite. He pushed off a few people receiving hugs, hopped around a few children too tiny to get out of the way. It was probably those erratic movements that caused Nick to spot him in the crowd.

A smile graced Nick's tanned face, and he braced himself at the last minute as Kelly leapt at him and tackled him to the ground. They disappeared from Zane's sight briefly, and Zane hurried to join them.

Kelly didn't seem to care who saw them, or what anyone thought of his lack of decorum, or even what Nick thought. He hugged Nick hard. Nick flailed under him, trapped between Kelly and the seabag still on his back. He finally wrapped his arms around Kelly and stopped struggling, laughing instead.

"Jesus Christ, if that's the welcome wagon, I think I'll walk home," Digger said as he approached. He shook Zane's hand and patted him on the shoulder. Then he dumped his seabag at Zane's feet and threw himself on top of Kelly.

A moment later, Owen appeared from the sea of faces and launched himself at the other three, wrapping his arms around all of them as they formed a dog pile in the middle of the crowd. Zane almost felt sorry for Nick being on the bottom. Almost.

He glanced up, scanning the crowd for the only person he desperately needed to see. He was searching so hard that he almost skipped right over him, standing just a few yards away and gazing at Zane with a smile.

Zane's breath caught. "Ty."

"Hi," Ty said with a bigger grin. He was tanned and bearded, which was why Zane hadn't immediately recognized him. His hair was longer than when he'd left too, obvious even under the hat he wore, and he was far leaner. But his hazel eyes still glinted like they always did.

Zane started toward him, not caring who might see or what the consequences would be. Ty jogged the rest of the distance and threw himself into Zane's arms. Zane buried his face in Ty's neck, relishing the warmth and solidity of the man. He breathed in his scent, even though it wasn't the one Zane usually associated with Ty. It was still him.

"Oh my God," Zane gasped finally. He tightened his arms around Ty, clutching at his uniform.

"I missed you," Ty whispered in his ear. His hands gripped at Zane's hair, and he stood on the toes of his boots so they could cling tighter to each other.

The thought of a kiss never entered Zane's mind. He didn't even think about stepping back so he could look at Ty's face, the face he'd seen in his dreams and forced himself to remember every night as he lay awake. He just squeezed his eyes closed and held on to Ty like he might be taken away again, clutched at him as he would grasp for his very soul in a pit of a thousand reaching hands.

Ty held to him the same way.

"Can't breathe!" a pitiful voice finally called out, interrupting the joyous reunion.

Ty pulled back only enough for him and Zane to glance over at the tangle of limbs and laughter that were their friends. Nick was trying to extricate himself from the bottom, with little luck.

Ty shook his head. "Don't care," he muttered as he finally looked Zane in the eyes and grinned widely. He took Zane's face in his hands. "Hello, beautiful."

Zane returned the smile, only to have it ruined as Ty pressed their mouths together, kissing him for all the months they'd missed. It was usually at this stage of a dream that Zane would wake up, alone and so heartsick he thought he might cry. But the kiss lingered on. Ty's hands on his face were still warm and solid. His beard was scratchy at Zane's cheek. He was real. This was real, and Zane wasn't about to let it slip away.

He grabbed Ty and dipped him backward, kissing him for all he was worth. He heard the distant snap of a few cameras, the tears of joy from other reunions, tiny voices welcoming their mothers and fathers home, the muffled gripes from Nick to let him the fuck off the ground so he could at least try to be dignified about coming home. He felt Ty smiling against his lips and holding on to his neck so he wouldn't fall.

It was the most satisfying rush of emotion Zane had ever experienced. Better than any high.

When he finally stood them back up and let go of Ty, they were both breathless and laughing. Zane couldn't keep his hands off Ty, wanting to maintain contact, wanting to reassure himself that this wasn't a dream.

Ty took his hand and didn't let go. "You look amazing," he said as he leered at Zane.

"So do you." Zane ran a hand over Ty's shoulder and the new insignia there. "Captain Grady, huh?"

"Captain." Ty nodded, his beard almost hiding his smile. "They gave us all a bump in rank equivalent to the time we would have served if we'd stayed in the Corps. Owen and I got kicked over to officers."

"Captain Grady," Zane repeated. He shook his head and swiped his fingers across Ty's chin. "Nope. You'll always be Staff Sergeant to me. What's with the beard?"

"Special forces. Don't worry, it's coming off."

"No, I like it. Keep it for a while."

Ty grinned. "Whatever you want."

Zane pulled him into another hug. He was peripherally aware of the rest of Sidewinder picking themselves up off the ground and trying to straighten their uniforms, and he finally let Ty go long enough to turn toward them.

They were all grinning from ear to ear, hugging Kelly repeatedly, unable to stop laughing long enough to speak. Kelly began poking fun at their new titles.

"Mother fucking Master Sergeant O'Flaherty," he said with a pluck at Nick's sleeve.

Nick brushed himself off, retrieving his hat from the ground with a grunt.

"Why the new ranks?" Zane asked Ty. He did a double take, unable to keep his eyes off the only man he'd been waiting to see.

"It's not as good a deal as it sounds," Ty said. "The ranks came with some pretty steep responsibilities. It was the reason we were called back. That's ... that's pretty much all I can say."

"Are you out now?" Zane asked. "Is it ... is this it?"

"Yeah, this is it," Ty answered. "I'm out."

"Me too," Digger said, almost singing the words. He bent to pick up his seabag and slung it over his shoulder.

Owen laughed ruefully. "They asked me to stay on. But, uh ... I told them to stick it. It's back to the private sector for me."

Zane snorted, glancing at Nick. He was looking at his feet, and Kelly was watching him with narrowed eyes.

"Nick?" Kelly asked. "Did they ask you to re-up?"

"Yeah, they did," Nick answered without looking up.

"You didn't," Kelly whispered.

Nick cleared his throat. "They asked me to stay on as a drill instructor."

"Oh, good casting," Ty mumbled. Zane glanced at him, and Ty mouthed, "He's scary."

"I told them no." Nick smiled at Kelly, then looked around before picking up his seabag again. "I'm done with carrying a gun."

He walked off. The others stared, looking stunned and confused. After a few seconds, Kelly jogged after him.

Zane finally found his voice and turned back to Ty. "What the hell happened to you guys?"

Ty was still watching Nick make his way through the crowd, his mouth hanging open. He had to tear his attention away to meet Zane's eyes.

Owen grunted and smacked Digger in the chest. "Let's go get a fucking milkshake."

"Milkshake?" Zane echoed.

Owen nodded and grabbed up his bag. "And meat."

"Oh, meat!" Digger practically skipped after the others, leaving Ty and Zane alone.

Ty was still staring after them, frowning. "There's something wrong with him."

"Digger? Hasn't he always been like that?"

Ty shook his head. "Nick. There's something wrong with Nick." He turned to Zane and wrapped his arms around his neck. "I missed you."

Zane pressed his face to Ty's neck and closed his eyes. He laughed. "Can we skip milkshakes and just go home?"

"Nope. Bad luck." Ty kissed his cheek, then took his hand and began leading him through the celebratory crowd.


* * *

When Ty walked into the federal building in Baltimore, it caused quite a fuss. Zane hadn't told anyone he was coming home because he hadn't wanted to deal with all the teasing from his coworkers. But also because he'd wanted to walk out of the elevator and see all their faces when they realized Ty was with him.

The commotion started with their old team. Clancy saw them and screamed and flailed, which caused Alston to duck and cover like he was used to her smacking him. She came running over and threw herself into Ty's arms, hugging him around the neck and letting her feet dangle. Ty was wearing a red Santa hat with a white fluffball on the end, and the fluffball hit Clancy in the head when they hugged, but she didn't seem to care.

Alston, Perrimore, and Lassiter swiftly joined her, giving Ty hugs and handshakes. Others came over to welcome Ty home, and it didn't take five minutes for the teasing and ribbing to start. Everyone in the office, including Zane, had had six months to get used to the idea of Ty and Zane being a couple. Zane had endured a great deal of good-natured banter, with a side helping of nasty comments and uninformed opinions. For the most part, though, it had become old news. People had gotten over it and accepted it, then mostly forgotten it the longer Ty had been away.

For Ty, though, it was all new. And from the look in his eyes, it was scary.

The uproar in the office gained the attention of the Special Agent in Charge. McCoy stepped out of his office and started to shout at them, but he caught himself when he saw Ty at the center of the group.

"Grady!" he shouted. The group broke apart and people turned to look at their boss. Everyone was silent as they waited for McCoy to continue. He pointed at Ty and then Zane. "You two, in my office."

He disappeared back into his office.

Ty and Zane shared a glance, and Zane grinned.

"Like being home again," Ty said as they obediently headed for the office.

McCoy was digging in his desk drawer when they came in. "I've got something for you," he told Ty. He pulled Ty's service weapon and badge out of his drawer and set them on the desk.

Ty stared at it for a moment, a smile playing at his lips. "Don't I have to pass certification again first?"

"You've been living in certification," McCoy countered. He glanced at Zane, but his smile was hesitant and a little sad. He lowered his head. "It's good to see you back safe, Grady."

"Thank you, sir."

"Have a seat. I'm afraid I don't have good news from the home front."

Zane groaned. "Please tell me you're not putting him back on desk duty. You remember what happened last time."

McCoy turned his chair so he could rest his elbow on the desk and prop his chin in his hand. He didn't seem amused. In fact, he seemed downright solemn.

After a long moment of silence, he breathed in deeply. "Gentlemen," he said as he examined a file on his desk. He tapped it as if trying to decide what else to say. "During the course of Grady's leave of absence, a few things came to light that ... I would have preferred to remain in the dark. Unfortunately ..." He trailed off and shook his head.

Zane's good humor drained away as he watched their boss through narrowed eyes. He caught himself turning to Ty and stopped.

Ty leaned back in his chair, slumping and scratching at his forehead. He pulled the Santa hat off. He'd gone pale, and his knee was bouncing. They both knew what was coming.

McCoy looked up at Ty from under lowered brows, and then his gaze shifted to Zane.

Ty held his trembling fingers over his brows, as if shielding himself from the sun.

"I need to know one thing from you both before I continue," McCoy said grimly. "Are you now or have you ever been involved ... romantically?"

Ty closed his eyes as the rest of the color drained from his face. Zane blinked hard over McCoy's question and had no idea what to say. How could they reply when McCoy already knew the answer, but the truth would probably separate them?

McCoy watched them silently. Ty finally moved, sitting straighter in the seat. "Yes," he answered, the sound barely even a recognizable word.

McCoy slammed his hand onto his desk. "Dammit, Grady! All the times you've lied to me over the years, and you pick now to be honest?"

There wasn't anything Zane could add. Not really. He wasn't ashamed of being in love with Ty. He watched his partner as Ty met McCoy's eyes. He looked ill, but Zane knew why. They were well and truly out now. For better or worse. Ty was handling it better than expected, really.

McCoy propped both elbows on the desk and massaged his temples. Finally he leaned back and shook his head at them both. "Now, I want it made very clear that the Federal Bureau of Investigation does not give a good goddamn about who you fuck." He kept rubbing his fingers over his chin and mouth in a nervous habit that rarely manifested. "Heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, omnisexual, transsexual ... we don't give a damn. As long as you conduct yourself in a manner that is dignified and discreet, you do whatever you want. We will not tell you who or who not to be involved with. That having been said, my concern here, and that of my superiors, is how your relationship impacts your job performance and those around you."

"Romantically involved or not, we were one of the best goddamned teams you had," Zane said.

"And now you're his superior." McCoy shook his head and covered his mouth again. He met Zane's eyes; then his gaze flickered to Ty. "Gentlemen, if I could snuff this out, I would do it in a heartbeat. But you made a very public display before Grady left. While it's not against any specific Bureau policies, it's frowned upon, and it's been dealt with the same way across the board in the past."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Ball & Chain (Cut & Run, #8) by Abigail Roux, Rachel Haimowitz. Copyright © 2014 Abigail Roux. Excerpted by permission of Riptide Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Ball & Chain 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love these guys - just love them!! And the fact that there are 9+ books in the series plus 3+ in other series with secondary characters make it an epic read. Enjoyed it from beginning to end. Love, sex, drama, angst, mystery and wonderful, unique characters - what more could you ask for? I read "Warrior's Cross" right after book #4 because those MC's play prominent roles in book #5 of the Cut & Run series. I also read "Shock & Awe" after book #7 because Nick and Kelly's timeline in the Sidewinder series starts right after that story about New Orleans. Then I went back to the Cut & Run and read #8 (Ball & Chain). Then I read the short "High & Tight" and then "Cross Shield" - both from the Sidewinder series. Lastly I finished back with Ty and Zane in #9 (Crash & Burn). I basically read the books from the Sidewinder series interspersed in the Cut & Run series by the date they were published.
2kasmom More than 1 year ago
This is book # 8 in the Cust & Run series.  This story takes us back to Tyler Grady and Zane Garrett moving on with their lives.  In this book, Tyler's brother Deacon gets married to Livi and they go to a private island in Scotland for the nuptials.   Livi's parents are loaded and own the private island they are staying on.  They want a small, quiet wedding since their family is getting a bunch of death threats that have increased since Deacon's daughter was born.  It starts with a man who is more than he seems - and he dies right before the wedding.   Zane and Tyler have brought Nick and Kelly.  (You may remember them from Ty's military days or from reading the Sidewinder series.)  Since they are there to help keep the family safe, they might as well help solve a murder, right?     It soon becomes clear that there are several guests and local islanders that are hiding much about their lives and professions.  This mystery may be more than the boys can handle.  Good thing they brought extra hands!   Terrific character development and more than a bit of a weave to the story in this book.  If you love history, destination weddings, and amazing children - well your going to love this book as much as I did! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Has everything: romance, comedy, action, mystery. Love this author! All her books are a must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
awesome
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I laughed, cried, and was glad to be back with gang on vacation(shh) not suppose to say the V word. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another installment in the life of Ty and Zane, another wild ride. If you haven't read this series from the beginning, add it to the top of your TBR pile. It keeps getting better and better. This series and Abigail Roux are both autobuys for me.
Under_The_Covers_BookBlog More than 1 year ago
~Reviewed by ANN & posted at Under the Covers Book Blog What is it about Abigail Roux’s books that get me every time? Eight books into the Cut & Run series and I’m still acting like a total fangirl over these two. Ty and Zane are simply my favourite couple of all time. Each sex scene is still blisteringly hot and new. Each time they tease each other, I can’t help myself from laughing out loud or grinning from ear to ear. And every time they get into trouble, my heart stops. Those are just some of the emotions I’ve felt over the course of this series and Roux accomplishes it again with BALL & CHAIN. Ty has returned home after being gone for six months. Their reunion is one of the best I’ve read and will definitely tug on reader’s heartstrings. It isn’t long until Duece calls in a favour, telling the boys that he is getting married and he would like for them to attend his wedding. However, there’s more to it then that. Duece has a feeling that his father-in-laws business deal could go bad so he is calling in for backup, asking Ty to bring someone who is well acquainted with danger and a gun. You know, just in case… As some of you will be thrilled to note, Nick and Kelly become major players in this book and finally, we get some resolution when it comes to Nick and Ty. It’s been a long time coming and I am so glad they got everything sorted out in the open. As much as I love Zane and Ty together, I don’t think Ty could live without Nick either. In these books, brotherhood and friendship is just as important to all of the characters as romantic love. I LOVE that about these books. Naturally, Roux likes to torture her readers, stringing them along with some twists and turns that will have them shocked and maybe a little appalled with what some characters are able to do. I couldn’t find myself pacing with this book. I blazed through it so quickly, I’m surprised I could remember any of it. But that’s a testament to Roux’s writing. You’re able to lose yourself in her books so much so that you forget the rest of the world. Her characters become real and for a few hours, you get to experience the same thrills and dangers that Ty and Zane experience.  BALL & CHAIN has a particularly satisfying ending. I’m sure every reader will rejoice when they read it. However, Roux isn’t one to give up a chance to tease her readers one last time before the book is over. She sets up some interesting things in the last few pages concerning Nick and I am absolutely DYING to know what happens next! All-consuming and addicting, BALL & CHAIN is another winner fromAbigail Roux. With its twists and turns and heartfelt moments, this book has everything a romance reader wants in a book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another excellent addition to the series. Just can't get enough of these characters. I just love the interactions between them and the addition of kelly and nick. Very few books make me have to put the book down and laugh out loud. Abigail Roux is absolutely my favorite author. Her characters and story plots just make you feel like you the reader are there with them. As always can't wait for more.
In_My_Humble_OpinionDA More than 1 year ago
m/m Ty & Zane are back.  Ty is home from deployment.  Ty & Zane are learning each other again.  Deuce and Livi are finally getting married and they are having the wedding on an island in Scotland.  Deuce asks Ty to bring one of his Recon buddies as added security.  Nick & Kelly join the party.  When a dead body is found on the beach things start heating up.   This is a terrific addition to one of my favorite series.  There is a lot of laughter, sadness, mystery, action and love. I will never look at a tube of hydrocortisone cream the same again. I love these guys and hope to enjoy many more adventures with them.