Friday, May 25, 2012

Book Spotlight~Sean Michael's Solitary

Solitary by Sean Michael
A Hammer Novel

Greg's on a downward spiral. He broke his back a few years into a promising stunt career, then his master died shortly after they began living a BDSM lifestyle together. He's just lost. So lost, that he can't keep a Master for more than two weeks. So lost that he's been arrested several times and is this close to winding up in jail. So lost that Master Oliver doesn't know what to do with him anymore.

In desperation, Oliver calls on his friend Appleton who lives in isolation in Northern Canada. Ap enjoys working with subs, and has both the time and the inclination to work with a lost soul like Greg. Not to mention, there's no way to get into legal trouble or run away from Ap's house given its location. So, Ap takes Greg in, hoping to help Greg find his center and himself again.

Will Greg find what he needs with Ap? Or will he find so much more?

Find out in this latest addition to Sean Michael's Hammer Club series.

     Ap waited at the gate for Oliver and this Gregory. His truck was full of supplies; the house was ready for a reluctant guest. He was ready, too.
     Oliver came out, the grim looking Dom with one hand on the back of the neck of a short, stocky blond. The man sported a black eye, his hair was unkempt and disheveled, his clothes too big.
     Jesus Christ, Ollie hadn't exaggerated this at all. Gregory looked like death warmed over.
     Ap made for them, waving so Oliver would see him. Frankly, Oliver didn't look that much better than Gregory, like he hadn't slept in far too long.
     Oliver nodded to him, led the sub over. "Ap. Good afternoon. This is Gregory."
     "Hi, Gregory. I'm Master Ap. You can call me that, or sir."
     Bruised, huge green eyes met his. "Hello."
     He slid his arm around the man's too-thin shoulders. "Oliver, do you need a lift to where you're meeting Jack?" Frankly, he thought the man needed to be tucked into bed and made to sleep for a week.
     "Oliver!" Jack's voice rang out.
     "No. No, I don't. Is there anything you need from me?"
     "Any bags?" He didn't want to keep Oliver a moment longer than he needed to.
     Oliver shook his head wearily and nodded at the backpack in Gregory's hand. "He has enough clothes for a week, as well as a coat and his cell phone. I can ship everything else of his that he didn't destroy last night."
     Jack looked at the sub, sighed, but didn't say anything.
     "That won't be necessary for now, Oliver. He won't be wearing clothes for a while. Go with Jack. I've got everything under control here." He took Oliver's hand, squeezed it. "He's in good hands."
     "Thank you." Oliver looked at Gregory, waited until their eyes met. "This is not a punishment. This is for you."
     "I'm out of your hands now. Not your problem. It's okay." There was no life in Gregory's voice; it was simply dull, used up.
     "It will be okay, Ollie." Ap assured the man. "Call me in a few days and I'll give you an update."
     "Absolutely. Jack, did you get us a hotel room as I asked?" The two men walked away, Jack taking Oliver's bag.
     "Look, if you want, you can just walk away. I understand."
     Ap turned his attention back to Gregory, shook his head. "No one's walking away, boy." He grabbed the backpack from Gregory and turned them toward parking.
     Gregory's hair looked like someone had hacked at it with a machete, and the muscles under his hand were stiff and hard as rocks.
     "Are you hungry?" He walked quickly, his hand on Gregory's shoulder, guiding the man.
     "No, sir. I'm not."
     "Okay." There were granola bars and juice in the truck's cab, along with a bag of apples. They wouldn't starve. Hell, if they needed to, they could stop and grab something out of the bed of the truck.
     Ap pointed to his red Ford F350 when they got to it and then opened the passenger door for his new sub. He tossed Gregory's backpack into the bed with the supplies.
     "It's about a four hour drive," he told Gregory as he climbed in. "Give or take."
     "Okay." Gregory didn't look around, didn't act involved, didn't seem to care in the least where they were or where they were going.
     Ap maneuvered the truck out of the lot, paid for parking and took the highway north. Once they were out of the worst of the traffic, he glanced over at Gregory. "Tell me about yourself."
     "My name's Gregory Nian. I'm from Vancouver. I've been living in California for five years."
     "Why'd you move there?" He was going to engage Gregory, even if it killed them both.
     "I went to work as a stunt man."
     "That sounds like a neat job."
     "I liked it. I don't do it anymore." Every answer was a monotone. It didn't even seem like Gregory resented telling him, just that the man couldn't care less.
     "Do you want to tell me what happened?"
     "I fell. I was in the hospital with a broken back for six months."
     Shit, it sounded like Gregory hadn't caught any breaks. At all. First that and then his master being shot.
     "Is that when you went into the lifestyle? Or were you already into it?"
     "Tim was the EMT who responded to the scene of my accident." Gregory sighed. "He was trying to show me about it, I was trying to... It doesn't matter."
     "Sure it matters. You matter Gregory." He didn't figure Gregory would believe that yet. He had plenty of time and very few distractions to convince the man of it, though.
     Gregory didn't answer, just looked out the window. Ap knew that Gregory had flashes of temper, had a self-destructive streak a mile wide, had only started to learn the lifestyle.
     "Did Oliver tell you anything about my place?"
     "No. No, he told me that this was somewhere I'd be safe."
     "You will be. It's a house on some land. We're isolated." There was no trouble for Gregory to get into, really.
     "Why did you say yes?"
     "Because Oliver asked, and because it sounded like you needed somewhere safe to work things out before you wound up in jail or worse."
     "Maybe I should be in jail."
     "Is that what you think? You think you're going to find what you need there?" Jail was not going to solve any of Gregory's problems, of that Ap could be certain.
     "No. No, I won't."
     "That's right. Look. I don't have all the answers, either, but I know how to give you discipline, to punish you, and to keep you from winding up in jail." He took his eyes off the road long enough to look over at Gregory. "I'll take care of you."
     "You'll probably end up hating me. Everyone does."
     "Well, I don't hate you yet." And Gregory was going to find him a lot harder to push away than any of the other Masters Oliver had placed the man with. What Gregory needed was someone to believe in him for awhile. Ap figured he could be that man.
     The laughter he got in response was bitter. At least it wasn't the same dull monotone.
     "Would you like to hear how things are going to work when we get to my place?"
     "Yes. Master Oliver was good to me that way. He let me know the rules."
     "You're going to be confined to the house until further notice unless you're performing duties out of doors. You'll be naked at all times. If you're cold, you're to let me know. You'll do whatever tasks I assign."
     Gregory didn't say a word.
     "What's your safeword?"
     Jesus. That had to be a reminder of Gregory's dead master every time he used it or considered using it.
     "You're to use it if you need to. Understand?"
     "I never have before."
     Oh, now, that was interesting. Ap filed the information away.
     "What were you looking for when you began with your master?" He knew it would probably be a touchy subject, but if he was going to connect with Gregory, he needed to know what the man wanted. What Gregory needed.
     "A place. I was angry. He promised there was a place where I'd be." The words cut off. "It doesn't matter. He lied."
     "No, finish it. Because it does matter. A place where you'd be what?" There was no hiding here. Gregory couldn't afford to hide from him.
     "Right. Whole. Tired enough to sleep."
     "And it never happened? How long had you been working together when he was killed?"
     "Six weeks."
     "Shit, Greg, that's..." Jesus Christ. No wonder Gregory was having trouble, especially if they'd started getting somewhere, and then to have that snatched out of his hands so brutally along with the man himself...
     "Yeah. About two weeks is the limit."
     "What do you mean?"
     "That's when the Doms send me back to Oliver. I'm not going back this time, though."
     Ap snorted. "I'm lasting a lot longer than two weeks, boy." He was going to see this through. Gregory was hurting, and Ap could see that he was stubborn, but Ap was stubborn, too. He could be as stubborn as he needed to be.
     "We'll see."
     "Yeah. We will." This time Gregory's words were defiant. It was a start.
     It stayed quiet after that, Ap driving deeper and deeper into the country, heading home.

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