It takes valor to support and love those who need it the most and never expected to receive it.
For Rivet Scalzo, returning to his childhood home after a decade was not on his list of places to go while recuperating. After nearly being blown up on a mission, Rivet is forced to deal with his PTSD and sudden deafness without help from Vigilance, the secret governmental agency he works for. He resigned himself to a lonely recovery, but, perhaps by chance, he met Blare Chaplynn, a model whose caring nature helps ease the horror of Rivet’s home life. As they grow closer, Rivet is burdened by the secrets he can’t share with the one man he grows to love.
If Blare knew a mild concussion was all he needed to meet the man of his dreams, he would have gladly accepted it long ago. He knew there was something special about Rivet when he first saw him at the park, but never guessed this man of mystery would be hiding so many secrets. Blare is forced to confront the fact that Rivet may never tell him everything, but is trust the reason Rivet is so close-lipped or is it something more?
“I told him it was a bad idea to start you so young.” She turned away from him and muttered under breath, “It’ll only cause more problems for us when he gets older, I said.”
Rivet slammed his hand down on the counter and snarled, “What problems, June, huh? What problems have I caused?” He pointed his finger at her and said through his teeth, “I have done nothing save for following the orders I’ve been given. I was told to come to this shit town and stay with my shit family until they deem me fit enough to return.” He opened his arms wide. “And here I am. So I want you to tell me what problems I’ve been causing, June.”
Her eyes narrowed to slits, and her lips pressed into a thin line. “Remember just who you’re talking to, Rookie. A buster like you needs to have respect for his superiors.”
“You were making rookie mistakes, June. They forced you to retire.”
Lightning fast, she swung her hand out to smack him across the face. He was faster. His hand tightened around her slim wrist, stopping it inches from his face. He roughly shoved her hand away and tsked. “You were always slower than me.” He turned his back on her and walked through the door to the back room marked Employees Only.
The back room was full of buckets of flowers, scraps of ribbon, and other odds and ends left over from arrangements. He paused in the room, looking for the door he knew led to the basement. He saw the door to the industrial-sized refrigerator and continued roaming the room. He skillfully weaved around vases of carnations, roses, and other flowers he didn’t know the names of. A soft smile sprung to his lips when he spotted a pot of daisies sitting happily on the counter. Gentle fingers caressed the stark-white petals before dropping away. Rivet eyed the bright yellow disk florets nestled in pure white petals. The glossy green leaves completed the innocent picture. He shook his head, battling against the memories pushing from the back of his mind.
Continuing to the door, he pushed it open and gently shut it behind him. He flicked on the light switch and descended the stairs. The basement was bare save for miscellaneous ladders and stepping stools. He walked to the nearest wall and placed a hand on it at chest height. He closed his eyes and slowly walked the perimeter of the basement, fingers trailing along the cool bricks. A few paces later, he paused and opened his eyes. He ran a finger down the left side of the brick. There was a faint click and he placed his fingers on the faux concrete face and slid them toward the right, revealing a keypad in the hollow. He reached his hand in and pressed a nine-digit code into the keypad before turning his hand palm-up and pressing his hand flat against the top of the hollowed brick. A soft blue glow pulsated before something clicked open behind him. He glanced back to see a trapdoor had opened under the stairs, a sliver of light appeared through the crack between the door and the floor. Rivet grabbed a nearby rag and wiped the fingerprint scanner and the keypad before sliding the panel shut and running his finger up the left side, locking the faux brick.
He stepped over to the trapdoor, feet making no noise as they gracefully moved around furniture. Rivet reached down and lifted the door. The hinges squeaked in protest, and he let it rest open so he could climb into the opening, dropping his bag to the tile first. He secured the door and jumped the rest of the way to the floor. The room was brightly lit by the fluorescent lights in the flooring shining off the dark walls. The subbasement was split into two sections. To one side was a dark armoire built into the wall. The doors were shut and locked; a fingerprint scanner and keypad were just to the side of it. The other section was an enclosed area that took up most of the floor, also secured by a scanner and keypad.
Rivet walked over to the armoire and typed his nine-digit code into the keypad with the knuckle of his finger. The light to the scanner flickered on. He placed his hand flat and watched the beam of light move up and down his hand. The doors of the armoire clicked and opened. There was a small flat-screen monitor on each door and one monitor settled in the middle. A small metal stool raised from the floor. Rivet sat, dropping his bag by his feet, and pulled the keyboard from under the monitor. He held down the Escape key while typing a four-character password. All three monitors flickered to life showing a plain command box with Passcode at the top and the cursor blinking below it. His fingers easily typed in a twelve-digit code.
When the computer loaded, a new message window popped up. He clicked the mouse to view it and quickly read the message:
Contact me when you get this.
Rivet sighed and clicked on the contact’s name. It brought up a live video feed of a man sitting in a nondescript office, bookshelf behind him.
“Agent Scalzo,” the man’s voice was commanding and firm.
Rivet was used to the no-nonsense voice and gave him a nod. “Commander.”
“Have you settled?”
He paused a moment before answering. “Sir, civilian life and I do not agree.”
“You need to make it work.”
Rivet shook his head. “All due respect, sir, couldn’t I have been stationed elsewhere? I have told you about my family. I could have been anybody, anywhere else.”
“You are on leave and need to be who you really are, not another persona. The Council and I believed this was the best option.”
Rivet snorted bitterly and fought not to glare at his superior.
Commander Donovan narrowed his eyes. “What was that, Agent?”
He clenched his teeth. “Nothing, sir.”
He watched the commander pause a moment. “You are to pick up a package at the post office. The clerk will ask you how you are doing and tell whomever it is that you’re glad to be away from the rain in London. The package contains a secure laptop and cell phone, understood?”
A third grade writing project started it. It was the key that unleashed a passion to create and tell fantastical stories. K. Laché felt as if she were made to tread the path of authorial conquest and never once looked back. She entered a world where anything could be created. She was hooked.
She has fan fiction to blame (or thank, depending on how you look at it) for introducing her into the world of slash fiction. What's better than one hot guy in a book? Two hot guys in a book! After an epiphany in college, K. Laché decided to try her hand at getting published. For years she struggled but never gave up. Now she debuts with her first published work, Valor—the first, but sure to be not her last
K. Laché can be found here: