OS Welcome to KA Mitchell, here to talk about Bad Attitude!
Jamie and Gavin are both full of attitude. I don’t think I’ve had many titles that were a better fit for the characters and their story. Jamie and Gavin both use their attitudes as weapons to keep from getting hurt. The excerpt that follows is one of the scenes where they unbend enough to admit that there might be something going on deeper than just sweaty good times.
It touches on something from Jamie’s past and the night they met, when Jamie rescued Gavin from a fall into the river. It also addresses how very different they are, yet how much they’ve become tangled with an awareness of feelings.
I loved telling the story of these two men who sometimes can’t get out of their own way. They still make me smile every time they pop up in the other Baltimore books and they’re still finding ways to surprise me.
Saving lives never used to be this complicated.
Gavin Montgomery does what’s expected of him by his wealthy and powerful family—look good in a tuxedo and don’t make waves. When a friend takes a leap off a bridge, Gavin tries to save him, only to fall in with him. At least at the bottom of the river he won’t feel like such a disappointment to his family. But he’s pulled from the water by a man with an iron grip, a sexy mouth, and a chip on his shoulder the size of the national deficit.
Jamie Donnigan likes his life the way it is—though he could have done without losing his father and giving up smoking. But at least he’s managed to avoid his own ball and chain as he’s watched all his friends pair off. When Montgomery fame turns a simple rescue into a media circus, Jamie decides if he’s being punished for his good deed, he might as well treat himself to a hot and sweaty good time. It’s not like the elegant and charming Gavin is going to lure Jamie away from his bachelor lifestyle. Nobody’s that charming. Not even a Montgomery
Gavin held on to the rail. “Is this what you brought me to shore on?”
“No. Gunwales are too high. Rescues use the Hurricanes.” Jamie pointed with his chin.
“Show me around.”
Gavin thought he had Jamie all figured out now. Just pull his string and make him jump. He never should have brought up so much as the suggestion he cared what Gavin was feeling.
“What for?” Jamie folded his arms.
“Because it’s cool. I mean, I’ve been out plenty and seen the harbor patrol boats but never thought about them before. Not until one fished me out of the Patapsco.” Hand on the rail, Gavin stepped around the cabin.
Jamie could physically haul the arrogant fuck off the deck. He was reasonably sure Gavin wasn’t trying to incite a police brutality charge.
But that struggle would get noticed on the security monitor, whereas someone apparently checking or getting gear wouldn’t. The area was gated, had to get to the boat by water or through the station, so unless there was something to see, no one would notice.
Jamie vaulted over the gunwale and intercepted Gavin on the port side of the cabin, where they were shielded from view. “Whatever game you’re playing, stop it right now.”
Gavin leaned against the superstructure. “Nice night for a boat ride. Let’s take it out.”
“Are you high? I can’t—I’m not taking her out.”
Gavin’s gaze narrowed. Was that actually irritation? Frustration? Who the fuck could tell?
“Where’s your sense of adventure?”
“I don’t have one.” Jamie stepped closer. “Now get off this boat.”
Gavin grabbed Jamie’s head and kissed him. For a second, Jamie got lost in the smell and the taste that meant all kinds of good things. He’d slanted his head and was meeting Gavin’s tongue with his own before a moan that echoed hollowly on water brought him back as effectively as a jump over the side would have.
He brought his arms up between them and knocked Gavin’s clutching hands away.
“Christ, Gavin. What the fuck is wrong with you?”
That flash of irritation was gone, buried again under an expression as bland as dry toast. “Nothing that I’m aware of. You seem to be somewhat combustible at the moment.”
Combustible was right. Jamie turned away and leaned over the rail, entertaining a serious idea of sticking his head in the water to cool down before he hoisted the idiot over one shoulder and dropped him on the dock.
Jamie felt Gavin behind him. “Don’t touch me.” Jamie took a deep breath, the smell of diesel and stale harbor water familiar in a way that didn’t get him dangerously close to losing his mind. Jamie turned around and put a hand on Gavin’s chest, not hard, just enough to move him back a step.
“Look. It may not be true in your tax bracket, but for us mortals here on the ground, there are consequences.”
“I thought you didn’t give a shit what people thought.”
“I don’t. Anyone who doesn’t like me or where I stick my dick can fuck right on off to hell, but I can’t—I don’t do crazy shit like that. I’m not risking what I’ve got for a little fun.”
“Little?” Though the rest of his face stayed motionless, Gavin raised his eyebrows. Then he spread his hands. “If anything happened, with the boat or your job, it would be taken care of. Monetary compensation goes a long way toward—”
“Fuck you.” The heat was gone, leaving nothing but cold ash in Jamie’s chest. The whole thing was nothing but a joke, a game. Jamie bet Gavin got a good laugh telling his friends about the hotheaded cop he was doing. “Sorry to screw with your plans for a tax deduction. Bet your accountant would love that line item. Hell, we’ll go back to my truck and drive somewhere quiet. I’ll blow you, and then it can be ‘for services rendered by civil servant.’ I’ll take the deduction in cash.”
In a blink Jamie saw what anger really looked like on Gavin’s face. It wasn’t a lot different than his usual expression. But it was in his eyes, as cold as black ice, a pinprick of reflected light at the center of a darkness that was suddenly bigger than the open water around them. Jamie wanted that feeling gone in both of them. Wanted the heat back. The answering fire he got from Gavin in bed.
“You didn’t want my money earlier.” Gavin’s voice reminded Jamie of an animal cornered and wounded, ready to bite.
“I still don’t want it.”
“What was it you were demanding earlier? Right. To find out if I give a shit. Of course not. I have no feelings. Nothing to complain about. I can buy anything I want, so why should I care about anything.”
“I didn’t say that.” Jamie put both his hands around the back of his own neck and squeezed out a little frustration. “I said….” He took a deep breath. “I said I liked spending time with you, and I wanted to know”—he looked up at Gavin, but the bastard didn’t throw Jamie a lifeline—“if you liked being with me.”
“Okay, then. Glad we cleared that up. Now get off the goddamned boat so we can get the fuck out of here.”
“No, you didn’t say that.” Gavin’s patronizing tone got right the hell on Jamie’s last nerve.
“What?” This was what happened when you dipped your wick in the same spot too many times. Things got messy. And confusing.
“You never said you liked spending time with me. All you asked is if you were boring me.”
Jamie tipped his head to look skyward, but there wasn’t any help coming from that direction either. “Must be entertaining the holy hell out of you right now.”
“Jamie.” There was something about the way Gavin said his name then, almost hoarse, drawn out, and deeper than normal. Though two guys couldn’t be more different, Gavin saying his name like that reminded Jamie of the affectionate teasing in Colton’s Donny.
“You’re never boring,” Gavin went on, “and while I wouldn’t call this evening fun, I do like spending time with you. Even when your dick isn’t up my ass.”
That was better. At least Jamie didn’t feel so raked over the coals. Maybe Gavin was feeling a little crisped. “Okay. But we need to get ashore. Not even the precinct commander could screw around with his wife out here without landing in deep shit. Security cameras.”
Only one word, but Jamie could hear something in Gavin’s voice.
“Could have been fun, though,” Gavin added, “with the boat rocking and us rocking.”
“Don’t you have a yacht or two lying around?” Jamie stepped back onto the dock and checked the lines.
“Oh, one or two at least.” It was easier to read Gavin’s sarcasm now. “But that wouldn’t be the same. No adventure.”
“No risk of me losing my job, you mean?”
Gavin walked down the dock to stand next to one of the Zodiacs. “Is that the one you pulled me into?”
“Your buddy on that one. You were on that one.” Jamie pointed at the Hurricane. “Why does it matter so much?”
“I was kind of out of it. Do you remember all the details of someone saving your life?” Gavin gestured toward the spot where Colton’s tattoo was, then tucked his hands in his pockets and waited.
“I don’t remember it at all. Just what I was told.”
Jamie looked out at the bridge. “We were being dropped in Guatemala. High-altitude parachute drop. I’d done it before, but this was a little higher, and I guess there was something funky about it for me. I blacked out on the way down. All the safety stuff that was supposed to kick in didn’t. A guy in my platoon came over to rip out my bad chute and pull the backup. We got tangled. He had to cut me free, then carried my weight with his chute. We landed hard.”
“Did he die?”
Jamie looked over at Gavin and shook his head. “Fucked up his ankle.”
“But that tattoo, the wings and empty boots. I know what that means.”
Colton milking it, having Jamie wait on him, that laughing Donny boy echoing every few minutes. Then that stupid prick daring him up on top of the ruins. Which gave, his ankle or the old rocks? Didn’t matter.
“Three weeks later. He was screwing around somewhere he shouldn’t be. He fell, broke his neck.” Jamie bit off the words.
Gavin didn’t say anything but stood next to him as they both looked at the bridge, the water knocking the boats against the dock.
They stood there watching the lights streak across the bridge until Jamie could hear his heart beating in time with the slap of waves.
Jamie took a deep breath of that familiar smell coming off the bay and wanted to fill his nose with the leather and evergreen of the man next to him instead.
As he turned, Gavin put a light hand on Jamie’s shoulder. “Do you have to work tomorrow?”
Jamie shook his head.
“Come home with me tonight.”
K.A. Mitchell discovered the magic of writing at an early age when she learned that a carefully crayoned note of apology sent to the kitchen in a toy truck would earn her a reprieve from banishment to her room. Her career as a spin-control artist was cut short when her family moved to a two-story house and her trucks would not roll safely down the stairs. Around the same time, she decided that Ken and G.I. Joe made a much cuter couple than Ken and Barbie and was perplexed when invitations to play Barbie dropped off. She never stopped making stuff up, though, and was thrilled to find out that people would pay her to do it. Although the men in her stories usually carry more emotional baggage than even LAX can lose in a year, she guarantees they always find their sexy way to a happy ending.
K.A. loves to hear from her readers. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is often found talking about her imaginary friends on Twitter @ka_mitchell.