Mastering Will

By: Amber Kell

Prologue



Three Weeks Earlier



“I’m going to take you down, Samms!” Harkinson screamed. The smooth, cultured gentleman who had been all soft words and slick salesman appeal had vanished in the face of his arrest. His true personality was now coming through.

Lindi’s mouth curled in satisfaction as Special Agent Calthers slapped cuffs on the art forger’s wrists. Harkinson made a big mistake when he tried to move his knock-offs through Lindi’s gallery. He had a no-tolerance policy on people trying to rip him off and defraud his clients. He’d called the authorities and agreed to assist them with their sting.

“My guys will get you for this,” Harkinson shouted as the agents dragged him away. “Kiss your little cunt goodbye. My guys will slit his throat.”

Lindi froze. Fear iced along his spine. Harkinson had spent the past three months in and out of Lindi’s galleries and had met Will more than once. No one seeing Lindi and Will together would have any questions about their relationship. The quickest way to get Lindi to do what they wanted would be to get hold of Will.

“You touch him, and it will be the last thing you do,” Lindi shouted.

Harkinson smiled, a cold, ugly expression on his narrow face. “I won’t touch him, but I can’t say anything about my friends. They’d love to get their hands on your pretty boy-toy.”

Lindi lunged only to be jerked back by two agents.

“Don’t let him get to you. It will compromise your case if I have to arrest you for beating Harkinson to death,” the man on his right said.

Lindi had already forgotten the agent’s name. They all pretty much looked and sounded alike. Brown hair cut short, plain suits, appalling shoe choices and hard expressions. Variances in height and ethnicity didn’t appear to change their uniform blandness. Stephen, Lindi’s artist friend, would’ve itched to capture them with his pencil. He’d probably name it “Sea of Brown” or some shit like that. Lindi would probably be able to sell it for thousands.

Harkinson was hauled to an unmarked car, still screaming obscenities.

“You need to go to a safe house until you testify,” Calthers said. “Or at least until we apprehend the rest of his team.”

Lindi didn’t hesitate to answer. “No.”

“What do you mean ‘no’?” Calthers spun Lindi around. “If you don’t go into hiding, the gang will hunt you down. You just got their best forger arrested.”

“If that was their best forger, I did them a favor.” Lindi sneered. Stephen could draw circles around them. “Now, I’m going home, unless you want to charge me with something?”

He pointedly waited for their response. No way would he leave Will unprotected for an undetermined amount of time. He had no doubt Harkinson had already given his associates information about Will as backup in case Lindi became resistant to the idea of moving fake art through his gallery.

“We can’t protect you if you insist on putting yourself in plain sight,” Calthers growled. “Maybe you can at least leave town.”

Lindi shook his head. “No, Will gets anxiety in unfamiliar surroundings.”

“Is Will worth losing your life over?” Calthers asked. After he released Harkinson to the other agents, he returned to question Lindi.

The image of Will’s soft gray eyes and tender smile flashed into Lindi’s mind. “Yeah, he is.”

“You’re willing to risk your life for your boyfriend,” bland agent number three asked.

Lindi narrowed his eyes as he examined the astonished trio before him. “I’m going to chalk this up to the fact you don’t know me, not that you’re truly idiots. I refuse to go into hiding and abandon the man I love. I’m sorry if that’s too difficult for any of you to understand. Unless you can guarantee Will’s safety, I’m going home.”

“I can arrange for your place to be watched. That will at least give your man some limited protection,” Calthers offered. “I know you ex-soldier types. You think you can protect yourself, but this is a gang of thieves who’ve fooled most of the art experts in the country. They don’t have a history of harming people, but they’ve never lost one of their members before. They aren’t going to follow a predictable pattern.”

“I appreciate you watching my place, but I’m not leaving Will.” His lover stayed home most of the time. If the Feds were watching their condo, Will should remain safe.

Calthers nodded. “Fair enough. Let me know if you have any problems. We can put you in protection against your will if necessary. We’ve been trying for years to nail this ring, and this is our first solid chance of arresting them.”

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