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Heart of Light
 

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Heart of Light


  Heart of Light

  Hawke Oakley

  Contents

  Copyright

  Bonus Scene

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  12. Epilogue

  Also by Hawke Oakley

  About the Author

  Copyright © 2017 by Hawke Oakley

  All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  This book is a work of fiction. Any similarity between the characters and situations within its pages and places or persons, living or dead, is unintentional and co-incidental.

  Content Warnings

  This book contains explicit male/male content that is intended for an 18+ audience. It contains a HEA ending, no cheating, and no cliffhangers.

  Created with Vellum

  Sign up for Hawke’s Newsletter to get a FREE bonus scene from Heart of Light! By signing up, you get exclusive content, recommendations and information about his upcoming books!

  http://bit.ly/2lIy5Ur

  Chapter One

  Seth

  Sweat beaded down my brow. Blood roared in my ears. Could’ve sworn something was trying to grab me from behind. Whipped around. Nothing.

  Running. Had to keep running.

  The deep bass from the club up ahead pounded deep beneath the concrete, vibrating under my feet. The bright sign glowed like a beacon in the darkness: Fireworks. There. A crowded gay bar would be the perfect place to hide.

  It was cold out. In a panic, I’d run out without a jacket. Icy winds snapped at my skin. It had started to rain at some point. Couldn’t tell what was rain and what was sweat and what were tears – it all felt the same running down my face.

  The place was packed, which was both good and bad for my nerves. Good because I could blend in, another face among dozens. Bad because I already felt sick with anxiety – and a huge crowd, bumping up against strangers, was gonna make me think he was around every corner.

  Bodies undulated. Men I’d normally find attractive weren’t doing anything for me right now. I was unsafe, and the last thing I wanted was more attention. I made eye contact with a stranger by accident. I shuddered and slipped further into the crowd.

  The bass kept pounding. People danced in a rhythm around me, like a ribbon of motion. The music was too loud – it was dulling my senses. I kept looking over my shoulder, expecting to see his face or hear his voice. Strobe lights flashed multicolor streaks across the dance floor. I could barely hear over the music. Everything was a haze of color and sound.

  My heart threatened to burst. The panic and dread was reaching a climax. I was going to be consumed by fear if something didn’t happen, and fast. Every breath I took was full of uncertainty. I needed something to ground me. I needed something safe.

  “Seth!”

  I froze, cold dread shooting down my spine and rooting me to the floor. My heart stopped. That voice. His voice. I felt like I was going to be sick.

  I whipped around. The worst part was that I didn’t know where his voice had come from. Without a direction I was lost. How could I run now? What if I ran right into him?

  A sudden flash of light caught my eye. Off to the side of the dance floor stood the bar, lit up now as the music came to a brief lull. I could bury my face in a drink. That would work.

  No, it wouldn’t. He would spot me a mile away. My stomach lurched. I needed something more – no, I needed someone.

  There. A man – stirring his drink alone.

  I needed him to be my savior, if only for five minutes.

  I prayed to every God that this would work.

  Stumbling towards the bar, I found my nerve – or rather, my nerve was spurred on by panic alone.

  I meant to play it cool, but what burst out of my mouth was a disaster.

  “Hi – please, I’m sorry, I know you don’t know me, but I need your help, just for a second – ”

  The man turned his bewildered gaze upon me and that’s when I saw them – the brightest light green eyes I’d ever seen. They took my breath away. It was like staring into an endlessly clear lagoon. At first I thought they were contacts, colored lenses – but when they flashed concern, I noticed they lacked the certain light refraction that lenses had. They were real.

  “Slow down,” he said. His voice was cool and calm, but his neat eyebrows furrowed in concern at my distress. “What is your name?”

  “Seth,” I said in a hushed whisper, looking frantically over my shoulder, as if speaking my own name would be like a beacon to him.

  “Seth,” the man began. “What do you need from me?”

  “I – I need you to pretend to be my boyfriend, just for five minutes,” I said. My heart raced. What if he said no? “Please, someone’s after me and I don’t know what I’m going to do if he catches me.”

  A stern expression flashed across the man’s face. He put a large hand on my shoulder. Instantly, my body relaxed under his grip. It was comforting and warm – the only solace I’d found since running away.

  “My name is Isaac. Don’t worry, Seth,” he said calmly. “I don’t know what happened, but I’m here for you.”

  “Thank you,” I whispered, my voice breaking.

  “Seth!”

  The voice struck me like a fist. I didn’t want to turn my head, as if acknowledging his presence would make it real. If I ignored it, maybe it would all go away.

  But I knew things didn’t work like that.

  I felt his presence like a dark aura as he stepped closer to the bar, arms outstretched. “Seth, babe, where have you been? I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”

  Go away, Adrian. But I could never say those words out loud. The initial fight and flight left me drained. I’d already used up all the courage I could muster. If I hadn’t already begged Isaac for help, I might have just given up and gone with him.

  Suddenly Isaac stood. “Excuse me,” he began, his voice low and cool, cutting through the haze of noise pollution like a knife. “Is there a problem here?”

  I heard the tic in Adrian’s voice – the subtle shift in his tone when anyone dared to defy him. “Oh, no problem at all. I’m just here to collect my dearest boyfriend.”

  I forced myself to hold back a sob. There it was. Isaac would leave now for sure. Adrian had claimed me. His boyfriend. Isaac probably thought I was just crazy or drunk. I didn’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to be mixed up with me, either.

  “I’m sorry,” Isaac’s voice, crystal clear like water, sounded over the noise. “You must be mistaken. I’m here with my boyfriend.”

  My heart skipped a beat. No way I was hearing things right. But then Isaac’s hand tightened on my shoulder, pulling me closer. Only now did I become aware of how tall he was – easily as tall as Adrian, lithe but with firm muscles that I was pressed against as he held me close.

  Adrian’s expression was like fire. I thought he would blow up, make a scene. For a second I was afraid he would start a fight. I didn’t want to endanger Isaac, this horribly kind stranger I had just met. Maybe I should have just offered myself to Adrian – spare Isaac the trouble I wasn’t worth.

  “So sorry for the confusion,” Adrian said. His voice dripped like poison. It made me feel like there was acid on my tongue and I refused the urge to spit. “But that boy there is my dearest angel. I miss him so much. Won’t you kindly return him to me?”

  I was shaking in Isaac’s
grip. His boy. His angel. My stomach flipped like I would vomit. I hated when he called me his boy. I was a grown man. He just loved using every opportunity to treat me like I was below him. It made me sick.

  Isaac must have felt me shaking, because he held me tighter, his arm gentle but firm across my shoulder as he wedged me protectively against his side. He was warm, a sharp contrast to the cold I felt outside earlier. I was glad to share his body heat. Right now, being by Isaac’s side felt like the safest place on earth.

  “No,” Isaac said finally, dropping the single word like a bomb. “I’ve told you already. You’ve made a mistake. This is my boyfriend, so I’d appreciate if you left the two of us alone.”

  Adrian’s face twisted into the ugly snarl I was used to seeing at home – I stopped that thought. It wasn’t my home. Not anymore.

  “I’ll give you one last chance to give him back to me,” Adrian spewed. “I’m not leaving this club without him.”

  Isaac raised a brow. “Are you threatening me?”

  Adrian didn’t respond.

  My heart raced. I didn’t want Adrian to hurt Isaac. If he got hurt defending me, I would never forgive myself. But I couldn’t work up the courage to leave Isaac’s side. I was a coward.

  “I suggest you leave now before there’s any trouble,” Isaac suggested, although I knew by his cold tone that it was meant more as a warning.

  They stared each other down.

  “Or what?” Adrian growled.

  Isaac merely shrugged. “Or I’ll have you escorted out by security. That’s all.”

  Adrian’s eyes pierced mine. My heart leapt to my throat, thick and heavy and hard to swallow. Every heartbeat was like a bone-shattering pulse, so strong I felt myself swaying with every pump of blood. Breaking Isaac didn’t work, so now Adrian was trying to break me.

  And I was afraid I would bend.

  Isaac took out his phone, pressed something, then calmly put it away again. He glanced down at me. “Would you like a drink, Seth? Perhaps some water?” he asked, totally nonchalant, as if Adrian wasn’t even there.

  I swallowed hard. “Um. Yeah, water would be good.”

  Adrian stepped towards us. I stiffened.

  Isaac stretched out his arm. “I’m going to have to ask you not to get any closer to me.”

  Adrian looked like he had just been slapped. I had never seen him so angry in public. His façade was crumbling right in front of me, right in front of all these people – and just because a man had dared to stand up to him.

  I stood, frozen by Isaac’s side, as if moving a muscle would shatter the scene playing out before me.

  “There a problem here?” a deep voice grunted.

  A burly wide-shouldered man stepped in front of Isaac, giving him a questioning glance from dark narrowed eyes. He was huge – he looked like he could pick Adrian up and throw him across a football field. I shrank next to Isaac.

  “No, Phoenix,” Isaac said, shaking his head. “Our guest was just leaving.”

  Adrian’s eyes flickered to the bodyguard, then to Isaac, then to mine. I suddenly felt very small. I wasn’t worth this much fuss.

  Adrian’s gaze pierced me like daggers. When he spoke, it was to me alone. “I’ll be back for him.”

  “That won’t be necessary,” Isaac said sharply. “Please don’t enter my establishment again.”

  What?

  Adrian cocked his brows. “Your establishment?”

  “Yes,” Isaac said. “This building is my private property. Phoenix can escort you out, or you may leave now on your own.” I could have sworn he was stifling a tiny smile when he added the last part. “Have a good night.”

  When Adrian didn’t move, Phoenix took a step forward. Adrian flashed him a glare before turning on his heel and storming out through the throngs of people towards the door.

  It wasn’t until he was out of sight that I finally let out the breath I’d been holding.

  “I’m so sorry,” I said, sputtering. “I didn’t mean to cause such a scene. I can go now.”

  But Isaac’s grip held me firmly in place. “Where are you going? You haven’t even drank your water.”

  I blinked up at him. I had completely forgotten about that. “I didn’t know you were serious.”

  “Of course I am. You had a rush of adrenaline and must have sweat a lot.” He leaned back on the bar and took the glass from the bartender, handing it to me. “You need to stay hydrated.”

  I blushed. Hearing the man who just saved me talk about my sweat was embarrassing, to say the least. But I gratefully accepted the glass and began to drink. I hadn’t realized how thirsty I was until the glass was empty.

  “Would you like another?” he asked.

  He was staring at me with those crystal-clear green eyes. I still couldn’t believe they were real.

  “Um, yes, please.”

  Isaac

  I sat the young man down at the bar stool I was previously occupying. He was visibly shaken by the whole ordeal. I would have to make a note to security not to let that Adrian man into the building again.

  But now wasn’t the time to get angry about him. Seth was gripping his water with shaking fingers, as if for dear life. He took a sip every few seconds, but otherwise he stared listlessly at the bar countertop.

  He was afraid. That much was obvious. I had done the right thing by booting that man out the door.

  I put my hand on Seth’s shoulder, which made him flinch. I immediately regretted not warning him before I touched him. “Sorry,” I said. “I just wanted to make sure you were alright.”

  His eyes softened but the smile that broke out over his face didn’t seem sincere. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

  I wasn’t convinced. I squeezed his shoulder a little tighter. “Are you hungry? If so, we have a small kitchen in the back, I can get something whipped up for you.”

  “No, it’s fine, don’t worry about it, please!” He waved his hands and clutched his water tighter. “I just need to sit down for a bit.”

  Phoenix and I exchanged glances. He looked just as unconvinced of the young man’s façade as I did, but he wasn’t in a place to push him. He merely shrugged. But I knew I could do more. I wasn’t going to let him off with an easy lie. I motioned to Phoenix, asked him to stay here with Seth.

  “I’ll be right back,” I said to Seth. “Phoenix will stay here with you for now, alright?”

  Seth glanced at the huge bodyguard, and nodded.

  I headed to the kitchen, which stood unobtrusively at the back of the club. It was more for the employees than the guests, if I was being honest – most of us were here all night and needed a break and a good meal in between drinks. But a handful of regulars knew about its existence and were eager to grab a bite as well because the food was damn good, to say the least.

  Inside the kitchen, there were less people than I expected at this hour. One of our cooks, Nico, wasn’t here yet. I pinched the bridge of my nose. I didn’t want to have to talk to him about being late again.

  “Can someone whip me up a sandwich?” I called. “Something warm and easy.”

  “Sure thing, boss,” one of my cooks, Ashley, said. She sounded tired, and I didn’t blame her. Her shift was over, but she was still waiting on Nico to show up.

  The back door open and a sopping-wet Nico burst in. “Ugh. The rain won’t fucking let up.”

  “You’re late again,” I chided.

  “I know, I know, I’m sorry,” he said, throwing his soaked jacket on the coat rack. “But it wasn’t my fault this time, I swear. Some guy kept trying to convince me to let him in the back entrance and I told him, dude, you can’t come in this way, but he wouldn’t fuckin’ listen. Took me like ten minutes to get him off my back.”

  This piqued my interest. “What did he look like? Wearing a big coat?”

  “Yeah,” Nico said. His brows scrunched together. “You know him?”

  I frowned. “Unfortunately, yes. I just had to kick him out of the club for harassment.


  “What?” Nico cried. “What happened? Are you okay?”

  I held up a hand. “I’m fine, don’t worry. He wasn’t interested in me. Although he might be now that I shielded his actual target from him.” Nico was staring at me, gesturing and urging me on to tell the rest of the story. “He was after this young man, Seth – who seemed scared for his life, quite frankly.”

  Nico paused. “Wait. You said his name is Seth? Is he blond, kind of small?”

  “Yes,” I said, blinking. “Do you know him?”

  “I might,” he said. He called to the chef on duty. “Ashley, you mind if I check this out? Sorry, I’ll be back in just a second.”

  “Go for it,” Ashley said. “And here, boss.”

  She handed me a warm chicken pesto sandwich wrapped in foil. “Thank you.”

  “Take me to him,” Nico said.

  We left the kitchen and went back onto the dance floor, winding through the throngs of bodies. I saw Nico grimacing from the corner of my eye. He wasn’t big on crowds or dancing in general, which is why he liked working in the back, so this Seth must have meant more to him than I knew.

  We found Seth back where I left him at the bar, with Phoenix hovering over his shoulder. Phoenix was a big guy, but as he stood next to Seth he made the young man look absolutely tiny.

  “No way,” Nico breathed. “Seth?

  The blond perked up as he realized I’d come back, but then his face lit up at the sight of Nico. He leapt off the bar stool and staggered towards us.

  “Nico? Is that you?” Seth said.

  Nico gave him a quick hug before exploding into questions. “Where the hell have you been? I couldn’t find you on any social media, in real life, or anywhere! It was like you completely fell off the face of the earth after high school, man!”

  Seth smiled, though he looked overwhelmed from all the sudden attention. “Well, that’s not far from the truth,” he said, looking at the floor. “A lot of stuff… happened.”

 
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