Thursday, September 27, 2018

Guarding His Melody by Victoria Sue - Blog Tour with Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

About Guarding His Melody:

A standalone in the Enhanced World 

Deaf since childhood, Sebastian Armitage had a promising musical future until his dreams were shattered when he transformed at twelve years old. In a world where enhanced humans are terrorized and imprisoned, his life shrinks around him even more as he suffers the torment of his father’s experimental research to enable him to hear.

Gray Darling—struggling with the scars left by his experience in Afghanistan—agrees to provide short-term personal protection when anonymous threats escalate into assault on those closest to Seb.

As the lines between protection and attraction blur, Gray and Seb can’t ignore the intense feelings drawing them together. But secrets and betrayals might prove deadly, unless Gray is willing to risk it all. And Seb must find the strength to make his own future and sing his own song

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Exclusive Excerpt:

“I’m not a fucking babysitter for some snot-nose rich kid,” Gray snapped out before Diesel Rawlings—his boss and owner of Rawlings Security—could finish his sentence. Rawlings just lifted one carefully manicured eyebrow, and Gray shut up. “Sir,” Gray tried again. “Sarge,” he pleaded.
This wasn’t like Rawlings. He’d always insisted his brand of security would be need only. He didn’t do celebrities. He’d turned down more jobs than he’d ever taken. Even if their company was less well-known, Gray had thought it was doing okay, but what did he know? Rawlings might need the money.
This time a signal from his boss wasn’t necessary for Gray to remain silent as Rawlings threw a manila folder down onto the desk in front of him. The red triangle stamped in the top left-hand corner suddenly had all of Gray’s attention. Red triangle meant high risk—verified threat. Either someone had already tried to finish off the target or they had hard evidence of a plan to do so.
“I want you to read the file before you say anything else.” Rawlings paused, and Gray raised his eyes to meet his boss’s pale blue ones. “I would start with the photograph.” There was a catch in Rawlings’s voice, which had Gray reaching for the file and opening it immediately.
“Fuck,” Gray said after a few seconds of staring at the picture of his new charge, knowing instantly he was going to accept the job.
Rawlings sighed. “Yeah, it’s a first for us.”
Gray nodded absentmindedly, but he was already reading the details. “Sebastian Armitage,” he read out loud and then winced. “Twenty years.” He looked about seventeen. Gray’s fingers traced the face that seemed to stare back at him. Long blond hair tied back in some sort of leather band. Wide green eyes. Head tilted to the side as if listening to something, but…. Gray’s eyes widened. “Completely deaf.”
“That’s the first thing that strikes you,” Rawlings stated flatly. “Not the obvious?”
Gray gazed at the image and shrugged. The scar—no, he thought they called it a mark—was very obvious on his left cheek. The jagged line ran from just below his eye to an inch above his lip. Enhanced. Gray had seen the TV reports, read the newspapers. Honestly, being a military brat and then enlisting, he hadn’t ever known any enhanced personally. They weren’t allowed to serve, so they’d never been particularly on his radar. He tried to conjure up details he’d read in some tabloid he usually avoided.
“Why does he need a bodyguard, though? I mean, aren’t they supposed to be super strong or fast or something?” The thought that his skills might not measure up was suddenly disconcerting.
“Not all of them, no.”
“What can this one do, then?”
Rawlings let out a short irritated sigh, and Gray subsided, knowing he had better listen. “He plays the piano.”
Gray lifted his astonished gaze to Rawlings. “So do a lot of people. Wait….” He read the next page that listed medical history. “Has he always been deaf?” That was kind of impressive. Playing a musical instrument when he couldn’t hear it. Hadn’t Mozart or some other famous dead music person been able to do that shit?
“Since he was three years old and got meningitis. He can use sign language—”
“Well, I can’t,” Gray pointed out.
“Not needed,” Rawlings carried on without missing a beat. “He reads lips. So long as he can see your face, he can understand you.”
Gray turned back to the file. “Has he been sick recently, or is this a long-term thing?” The file didn’t go into details, obviously, just listed “accompanied doctor visits” as a protection issue. A lot of doctor’s visits. Weren’t the enhanced supposed to be healthier than everyone else or something? He was sure he’d heard that.
“He had two unsuccessful cochlear implants among a multitude of other operations that attempted to repair the nerve damage and the damage to his eardrum caused by the meningitis. The last cochlear implant he had was seven months ago. They both aggravated his vertigo so substantially he was bedridden for weeks with no sign of improvement. The implant was removed both times.”
“Why does anyone want him dead?” There must be something else.
“We’re not sure someone actually does. There’s a new group that’s emerging among the enhanced, and people are making all sorts of waves against them. Instead of staying off the radar, they are trying to get the enhanced front and center. There’s also an experimental FBI team in Florida with enhanced and regular human partners.”
Gray studied the file, reminding himself of what he knew about enhanced humans. Male—and the incidence restricted to the US for some reason. No one knew why these people had started being born. There were some theories about advanced genetics, but also some about God’s damnation of humanity. Gray hadn’t listened to either.
The file contained the reports of two recent incidents involving their new client. An attack on a music teacher, who had been badly beaten and didn’t remember the incident at all—no other witnesses, so the cops were drawing a blank—and the apparent suicide of one of his protection detail. Gray frowned. That had only happened six days ago, but they had no evidence to support the two events were related.
“Is the music teacher enhanced?”
“No, but his door and his car were spray-painted in two separate incidents, making it clear that Armitage had to be dropped as a client. Apparently, Monsieur Dubois’s parents were Jewish immigrants who fled Europe in 1942. He has been quite vocal in declaring his opinions of bullies, especially in regard to any minority.” Rawlings leaned back in the huge leather chair he liked. “Sebastian is heir to a fortune in electronics, manufacturing, and other retail. His father is Quinn Armitage of A.T. Holdings. His mother was also from old money. Aside from being the A.T. Holdings heir, the kid will be worth approximately fourteen million in another nine months when he reaches twenty-one, because he also inherits his mother’s money. It never passed to her husband, and as she died in a car accident when he was four, and she was an only child herself, he is due a big payout.”
Gray stared mutely at Rawlings. The red triangle had still been put on the file, so Rawlings was taking this seriously.
“I’ll be honest. The high threat indicator was added to his file because of his enhanced status. The police are not sure if the attack on the teacher was an escalation or a mugging gone wrong. Dubois lives in Center Hill and was known for walking his small dog alone.”
“At regular times?” Gray asked.
Gray returned his gaze to the photograph. “Why us?” With that sort of money, they could afford their own army, and Rawlings was insistent on keeping their name low-key.
“Because the boy is adamant he will only allow one person, and his father is so desperate to get his cooperation he is agreeing to anything. They’ve always had a small team of security guards who double as drivers, and Sebastian—according to his father—has been upset by Smith’s death. We were recommended by their family solicitor because of the Saudi princess job we did last month. Apparently he knew one of their bankers, and our name was mentioned.”
Gray dragged his eyes from the boy’s picture again to read the police report. “Sebastian should have been at a music lesson that day and canceled.”
“Yes, but the music teacher isn’t wealthy, and there is no other evidence to explain why the music teacher would have been targeted, and that’s what has his old man freaked. He is worried obviously that the intended target was his son and the music teacher bore the brunt because of his absence.”
“And the security guard?”
“Arron Smith, one of the four-man security team and who had been with them for just over three years, was found dead at his home on Thursday with a single gunshot wound to his temple. The police are thinking suicide, and the postmortem also indicates that. Messy divorce and likely to lose his children after being linked to a site dealing in child pornography. His ex-wife threatened to drag him back to court to contest visitation, meaning he would also lose his job, and he was already in debt because of the divorce. The cops have interviewed Sebastian, but there’s no evidence and nothing to link the two incidents except both targets had close dealings with the family.”
“Was Smith subject to any blackmail we know of?”
“No, but I’ve already spoken to a Detective Carter from APD, and they’re thinking it’s a possibility even if they can’t find any mail, electronic or otherwise, to suggest that. Carter also put in a good word for us.”
“Suicide note?”
Rawlings shook his head. “No, but that doesn’t mean anything.”
“I guess,” Gray acknowledged.
“I spoke to the father this morning. He was panicked, but I don’t think it’s going to be a hard job to secure Sebastian,” Rawlings added after a moment’s silence while Gray read the file.
“Why?” Gray gazed at him. Teenagers were a pain in the ass. Teenagers with money doubly so. He wouldn’t be the first twenty-year-old Gray had to put firmly in his place.
“Because the boy is nearly a recluse. He keeps to himself. Homeschooled even before he transformed at age twelve. The only place he ever went was his music lesson and doctor’s appointments.” Rawlings shrugged. “Not much of a life, if you ask me, but easier to protect while the cops find out who is behind it.”
“What are his enhanced abilities?”
“None that we can see. He has no abilities that anyone is aware of. The father was quite clear on that.”
“No abilities?” Gray repeated doubtfully.
“They’re not all Superman.”
Gray looked up again. Rawlings was grinning like he had just made a huge joke, but whatever it was went straight over Gray’s head.
“So basically, we have an unfortunate suicide and possibly a mugging, and the only direct link to Sebastian is because he knew both victims and the piano teacher had a bit of hate mail concerning him.”
Rawlings didn’t bother with an acknowledgment. Gray took one more look at the photograph of Sebastian Armitage and the flash of humor someone had managed to capture in his expressive green eyes. He stood up. “Tell them to expect me tonight.”

About Victoria Sue:

Victoria Sue fell in love with love stories as a child when she would hide away with her mom’s library books and dream of the dashing hero coming to rescue her from math homework. She never mastered math but never stopped loving her heroes and decided to give them the happy ever afters they fight so hard for. 

She loves reading and writing about gorgeous boys loving each other the best—and creating a family for them to adore. Thrilled to hear from her readers, she can be found most days lurking on Facebook where she doesn’t need factor 1000 sun-cream to hide her freckles.


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