Released: July 9, 2021
Genres: Thriller, Dark M/M Romance, Contemporary.
When Tau had slaked his appetite enough, his belly full and unable to fit another morsel in, he checked his watch, remembering he was two hours ahead of Bruce. He called the number he’d taken before leaving the man fast asleep in his bed, anyway, taking a tremendous risk. Somehow, Bruce felt like he could be worth it.
“Ah,” Bruce cheered down the line, making Tau smile with genuine fondness, a rare thing for the man. “My lover calls.”
Heat travelled to Tau’s cheeks, and he took a surreptitious glance around the street to make sure no one was paying any attention to him. “Your lover?”
“Well, I am ruined for anyone else,” he huffed playfully.
“Is that not a thing a girl would say?”
“Pssh, it’s the truth.” Tau felt remarkably pleased with himself to have had such an effect on a man like Bruce. A big man who had probably seen his fair share of depravity too, just like Tau. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
Hesitation swept over Tau, and he frowned, though Bruce couldn’t see him. “I…” he stumbled out, trying again. “I am not sure.” It was the best he could come up with. Tau didn’t know why the urge to call Bruce had been so strong, just that it was.
“Are you in London?”
“Oh.” He could hear Bruce’s disappointment, and it was such a lovely thing. The cadence of that single word meant he’d been thinking of Tau, which made his heart beat a little faster and his skin sizzle from more than the sun. “That’s a shame.” The silence stretched and Tau thought about hanging up. Calling a man he didn’t know beyond one night of sex was a reckless thing to do. “Alvaretti’s dead.”
The conversation became interesting, Tau reluctant to end the call then. “By your hand, Bruce?”
Bruce’s low chuckle down the line was positively dirty. Tau took a moment to close his eyes and draw it in, let it sink into his bones, and reaffirm calling Bruce was not a mistake.
“Oh, yeah. The cocksucker knew exactly who put him in the ground. Would make for some good pillow talk, a story you’d love to hear in graphic detail.”
Tau didn’t do pillow talk, yet if Bruce were to whisper in his ear, were to recount the death of a man like Alvaretti, then Tau would put his head down and find the story fascinating, however long Bruce took to recount his deed. He might even find it arousing.
Lowering his voice, he asked. “Bloody?”
Tau groaned and wished he’d been there to see the damage Bruce had inflicted. Could this man be a kindred spirit, after all? Perhaps he could be what Tau desired, if only to help him find Salama and mete out some justice. For once, he didn’t want to do it on his own. For once, he felt lonely in his world, and Tau wasn’t sure how to deal with the aimless feeling of floating. This was why he had called Bruce.
“The girl you mentioned?”
“I expect she’s re-evaluating her life.”
“Do you have a passport?” Tau asked without thinking.
Bruce remained silent, Tau wishing he hadn’t thrown out the absurd question, and kept his mouth shut. He was being ridiculous, presumptuous. Tau waited, however, out of curiosity, wondering if Bruce would say yes. Then, after a long silence, Bruce did.
Two small words which held enormous weight. Bruce likely knew what was coming and wasn’t as surprised as Tau was when he told him where he was. “I am in Egypt.”
“You’ve found him?”
“Salama. His name is Salama. And yes, I think I have.”
Tau only knew of one man with the name Salam, and it was a man he’d once known. A man his father had been friends with. The chances they were the same were too coincidental to ignore. Tau had grown up hearing ghost stories aplenty, tales of ancient Egyptian debauchery, but he’d had no idea of the other horror stories surrounding him until the day they had taken Bassel and his family had been ripped further apart after the death of his father. In the days and weeks after, Tau had learned of things he’d never imagined, things which made him sick to his stomach. Things which changed the way his mind worked, and probably not for the better considering the profession, if he could call it that, he now worked. The more he’d poked around through the years, the more he’d found, and the realisation Bassel had not been the first young boy to be taken in the manner he had, was a heavy burden on Tau’s shoulders.
“Tau,” Bruce breathed quietly.
Tau hung his head, his thoughts confusing. Was he really going to ask? Bruce had his own axe to grind with the Ghost, which made him the perfect accomplice. So yes, he was going to ask.
“I am thinking,” was all he said.
“I have nowhere to be,” Bruce went on. “If you need me, you can ask. I’ll come. And Tau, two are better than one.”