Dutch Mathew is a lethal killer for The Gate.
Juma Landry has nine lives.
He is tasked with ending each and every one of them.
She isn’t going to make that easy.
In honor of #Teaser Tuesday, and right before I head into a month of editing Dutch and prepping for its December release, here’s a snippet for all of you filth-mongers. If you love your raunch with a twist of romance, then make sure to add DUTCH to your Goodreads “to read” shelf by clicking HERE
I lit a smoke as I walked home – inhale, exhale, relax – going over the last forty-something hours in my mind, aware of the duplicative nature of Juma and me, our sick similarity to Kajal and me. I started to wonder what I had done to some god somewhere to deserve this, then remembered what I was – a Keeper, and my roots – The Gate, and from whence I came – Khan Mathew, why my life repeated certain patterns – because I wasn’t worthy of much else. That, and I should have known she was a Poocha – her scent, the weapons, the way she healed my injuries – all signs she was “other”, I simply chose to ignore them and instead focus on her smile, those freckles, her laugh, her fuck-me-now thighs – everything that made her a woman. And made my insides ache and my dick hard as a rock.
I flicked my butt and stood outside Locanda Verde, our supposed date that I so royally fucked up and thought of her in that dress and thought of her out of that dress and prayed she called me even though I knew she would not. I needed to find her and talk to her and explain myself and illuminate our very fucked up situation and beg her forgiveness for everything – myself, my family, The Gate – but more than any of that, I simply needed to see her. Because if I could see her, even just a glimpse of her, I wouldn’t feel so wretched and done, finished, spent. I would be able to fool myself into believing I was worthy of something better, something fantastic, something epic.
I reached inside my jacket for my flask, needing something to numb the reality of my present situation, when I remembered I left it at her place or lost it or just never had it on me, so I said fuck it and pulled open the door of the restaurant, breezed past the pretty, young, goddamn-that-girl-has-perfect-breasts hostess, and headed for the bar. It was almost midnight and the place was packed but I spied a seat at the very end, near the kitchen, and made my way through the crowd, drawing some looks here and there because I was a fucking mess, but mostly ignored because sure, I was a fucking mess, but it was New York City and really, no one cared.
And then I saw her.
I hadn’t yet reached the seat I already claimed as my own in my head when I glanced towards the back corner of the dining area, why? I couldn’t even tell you, and spied her alone, in the darkest corner, sipping a bourbon, wearing my dress.
Part of me wanted to fly to her, crash into her, devour her. But the other part wanted to remain right where I was, unseen, and just watch her for a moment as she circled the rim of the glass with her finger and turned to watch passersby in the window, exposing that freckled spot on her throat that I loved, revealing the gentle curve of her breast as the dress shifted. I ordered a Scout from the bartender without taking my eyes off her and caught her smile as she chatted with the waiter and then her frown as he walked away and she glanced at the clock.
I could stand there and watch her the rest of my days and it wouldn’t be long enough, there would never be enough Juma for me, this I knew. But she had already waited too long; it wasn’t fair to continue my exercise in voyeurism. I was a day late for a date I planned, I wasn’t going to be a dick and make her wait a second longer. I stepped around the bar and into the dining area and as if she knew, her head shot up and our eyes locked and she was relieved and enraged and something akin to horrified, or maybe just super pissed.
Whatever it was, she shot out of her seat and was upon me in seconds, all over me, everywhere, without touching me anywhere. And I needed her to touch me, I fucking craved it, but I didn’t deserve it, so I said nothing, begged for nothing, and simply followed her lead of hands off, no touching.
“You!” she hissed and glared and gnashed her teeth, then pivoted in frustration and returned to her seat. And I should have been feeling sheepish and guilty right then but I was too distracted by the way that dress hugged her curves and molded to her ass and she was just goddamned sensual. My death and salvation rolled up and mashed together so seamlessly it was difficult to discern where one began and the other ended and really, it didn’t fucking matter.
She sat and I noticed a tiny vein popping out in the middle of her forehead, hinting at her ire. I wanted to reach out and run my thumb over it, ease it back into place, and calm her but I didn’t dare. Instead, I turned my attention to our incredibly attentive waiter, realizing with a start that he was some fucked up joke of the gods – young, broad-shouldered, perfect face, easy smile – everything I was not – and all of his attention was fixed on her.
And why wouldn’t it be?
Even sitting there shrouded in fury, Juma inspired all sorts of reckless, dirty thoughts, she wreaked havoc on one’s self-control, she transfixed. And add that barely-there dress, the color against her brown skin, the way the material cupped her breasts and left her back exposed, the hint of transparency, she was a goddamned assault on the senses. So I got it, I understood why Mister Perfect Waiter couldn’t peel his eyes away from her, that didn’t mean I fucking liked it.
I listened to him finish his speech about the specials and whatnot when she spoke, “we’re fine with just drinks,” and so did I, “we’ll have the sheep’s milk ricotta, the steak tartare, and two Scouts.”
She glared at me and started to protest to Mister Perfect Waiter, then changed her mind, and returned to me. “I don’t drink Scout.”
“You’re constantly ordering bourbon,” I replied, the first words I’d spoken to her and they were so stupid and meaningless. I had the world on my tongue just waiting to speak my truths and bear my soul but I was so worried she no longer cared for me and my words that all I could muster was the inane and the random.
“How would you know that?”
“Is that really the point?” I asked and she stilled and the fury drained from her, only to be replaced by a deep sadness that once she allowed inside, consumed her, leveled her, and made her small.
Even though she was larger than life.
And I thought to myself, you fucking asshole, you promised you wouldn’t do this to her.
Her eyes filled and threatened to spill over but did not, and I breathed deeply because I did not think I could watch her cry again without breaking down myself which would be such a clusterfuck right in the middle of a busy New York City restaurant and we didn’t need to do that to everyone around us. No one here besides ourselves needed to witness our wretchedness. And she must have understood this because she held those tears, she owned them.
Our drinks arrived and then our food but it was all ignored.
“You wore my dress.”
“I wore it yesterday, asshole, and I don’t even know why. Who does that? Who wears the same dress to the same restaurant to be left waiting for hours by the same man?” she asked and a rogue tear escaped, “why are you so cruel with me?” she gasp-cried, the sound so low and mournful, and I couldn’t believe someone actually thought I would kill this woman. More than once. Ever. She could reclamate every Deader in waiting and I still wouldn’t end her life. Or let anyone else.
“I need to go,” she stood and moved past me and for a second I just watched it happen, until I didn’t.
“Juma,” I reached for her and pulled her back to me, onto my lap so I could hold her close and whisper in her ear, “please.”
“No,” she shook her head as she leaned into me, “just let me go.”
“I can’t,” I tightened my hold on her, “I won’t.”
I caught the attention of Mister Perfect Waiter and signaled for the check, then handed him my black card, all while holding onto her, sensing that if I let her go, she would flee into the night, somewhere dark and secret and impossible to find.
“Come home with me,” I begged.
“You left me here last night,” she leaned back and glared at me, her eyes moving around my face, softening as she encountered my injuries, then returning to my eyes and remembering her anger, “in this fucking dress, looking like an idiot.”
I brushed the neckline with my fingertips and felt the warmth of her skin, wishing I could slip my hand between her legs and feel the warmth of her pussy. Her nipples hardened at my touch, but her ire remained.
“You look nothing like an idiot,” I replied as I studied her.
“I did,” she growled, “waiting for you all night, so certain you would never leave me hanging like that. But once again, you proved that I’m such an ass when it comes to you. You’re not even that good looking, always walking around with your face black and blue. Fuck.”
She squirmed out of my arms and wove through the tables towards the exit. I grabbed my credit card, signed the bill, and went after her, reaching for her hand as she reached for the door. She pulled out of my grasp and turned on me, “I liked you better when you couldn’t bear to touch me.”