Book Title: Galen’s Redemption (Links in the Chain #2)
Author: Parker Williams
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Genre/s: Contemporary MM Romance
Trope/s: Hurt/comfort, learning to love
Themes: Forgiveness for oneself and for others
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: 92 660 words
Release Date: April 16, 2019
A Links in the Chain Story
A rich man is about to set foot into an unknown world, while a Good Samaritan fears he’ll have to close the charity he’s spent his life building. Poised to lose it all, they might find what they need most in each other.
Son of a wealthy importer, Galen Merriweather lives to broker deals, and he’s damn good at it. But it’s getting harder to ignore the kind of man his father is—a man who would pay Galen’s brother’s lover to leave… a man who’d demand Galen retrieve a quarter-million-dollar check from a struggling homeless shelter.
Robert Kotke knows the money is too good to be true, but it’s a godsend that could help so many people. Still, he hands it over when Galen shows up. But he isn’t done with Galen yet, and he’s going to challenge everything Galen ever believed.
Galen will face an impossible decision: the redemption he’s come to realize he wants, or the life he’d always dreamed of.
LATE JUNE 2018
THE PEOPLE milling around at the coffeepot scattered when Galen Merriweather stormed into Primal Imports and headed for his office. He’d gone to see his brother, Lincoln, at Park View, the diner he owned, to tell him about the betrayal of Noel Simmons, Lincoln’s lover. When his father had offered Noel a quarter of a million dollars to walk away so Lincoln would be forced to come back to the family business, Galen had been incensed. Their old man had pulled some shady crap over the years, but this was a new low, even for him.
His personal assistant, Olivia, greeted him with a warm smile when he stepped through the door. “Good afternoon, Mr. Merriweather.”
Galen sneered at her and stomped into his office, slamming the door as he did. He dropped into the stylish leather chair that sat behind the imposingly large oak desk, wondering why the hell he’d bothered to talk to Lincoln at all. His feelings about Galen had been made perfectly clear when he chose that… person over his own family.
Plus, what was up with their father? His private investigator had somehow acquired pictures of Lincoln from a BDSM club he’d frequented at some point in his storied past. They showed Lincoln and some of the submissives he’d played with at the clubs. It turned Galen’s stomach to see. Not that he had a problem with BDSM. The problem was how his father had gone about it. The guys in the pictures were innocent, but anyone could clearly see who they were. Galen had to wonder if the PI had stolen the pictures or had worked out a deal with a club owner.
Either way, the whole thing stunk, and Galen hated the thought that he’d done nothing but sit there as his father rode roughshod over Noel. He had to admit, the way Noel had played his father was masterful, and there wasn’t a doubt in Galen’s mind that when he found out, his father’s retribution would be swift.
Galen didn’t like Noel, but he had to respect the ginormous set of balls he obviously had.
Still, what the fuck was up with his father? He’d seen the man pull some awful shit, but this? It went way beyond the pale, even for him. Galen’s ire rose as he thought about how any hope of Lincoln coming back to Primal had now been dashed, and all because their father was a total asshole.
When his phone rang, Galen took a moment to compose himself, then answered it without checking to see who it was.
“Primal Imports, this is Galen. How can I help you?”
Galen groaned. Andy might be the closest thing he had to a friend, but Galen couldn’t muster the energy to talk to him now. Best to find out what he wanted, then politely get rid of him. “What can I do for you, Andy?”
“Don’t be like that. We haven’t talked in weeks.” If it was possible to pout over the phone, Andy was doing so. “How come you haven’t called me? Last time I saw you was at Tyler’s party, when you were puking your guts out, and he was—”
“It’s been hectic here. Was there something you needed?” Keeping the conversation focused was the only way Galen would get off the phone sometime today.
“YP is having strippers tonight. I thought we could go.”
Not just no. Hell no. The last time he’d gone to a bar with Andy, Galen had been forced to duck out the back when he thought he saw someone from the office walk in. While Lincoln was out and proud, Galen was firmly rooted in the closet, and that was the way it was going to stay. Having already borne witness to the disappointment of Lincoln’s “lifestyle,” as their father called it, Galen had no intention of being on the receiving end of that treatment. How the family friends discussed Lincoln was bad, but hearing it from his father was infinitely worse.
“Michael is going to be there. He’s been asking about you.”
Galen’s stomach knotted. Michael had been a one-night stand about a year ago. Galen wouldn’t deny he enjoyed the sex, but he would say Michael’s crude behavior made it obvious the man should never be seen in the light of day, and he certainly would never fit in at family affairs. No, with his oversized muscles, gruff voice, and arrogance, Michael would be more likely to fit in at Lincoln’s diner.
“No, but thank you for asking. I—”
The door to his office was flung open so hard, it bounced off the dark wood panels and caused Galen to flinch.
“I have to go.”
Andy’s protests were cut short as Galen hung up the phone. His father stomped in, a sneer on his face. He stalked over to Galen, put his palms flat on the desk, and leaned in close. “Explain this… mess to me.”
What was there to explain? Noel had played them big-time. His father’s reaction came as no surprise. Jonathan Merriweather was no one’s fool. In all of his dealings, he made it very clear what was expected of people. He used it against them, more often than not, as a means of acquiring their business. Galen had enjoyed observing his father’s cutthroat tactics. Seeing men who thought they had power brought to their knees because of some slight slip of the tongue had been fascinating to watch, and Galen had taken those lessons to heart. Father wasn’t happy about having them turned against him.
“Simmons played you, Father. He followed your instructions to the exact letter, and after he had the check in hand, he left.”
“He’s still here. I’m not a stupid man, Galen. I had Tate follow him. He went back to the diner. We had an agreement, and the little shit took the money.”
“The office, Father. He left the office. You weren’t specific enough about what you wanted from him, and he used it against you. As there were no contracts signed, the only thing you have is a verbal agreement, which could be argued in court. I can’t believe you showed him pictures of Lincoln with his… whatever.”
Nostrils flaring, Galen’s father stood to his full six-foot, six-inch height. “Don’t question how I do things, Galen.”
Galen wanted the chair to swallow him whole. His father’s glower never failed to make him feel small and helpless. He’d gotten Galen to fall in line ever since he was a child, simply by turning it on him. “No, of course not, sir.”
His father splayed his fingers on the desk and leaned forward, his gaze locked with Galen’s. “I’ve already spoken with Lincoln, and do you know the bastard laughed at me? I want you to get that money back. I don’t care what you need to do, but no one cheats me. Do you understand?”
“Why not just cancel the check?”
His father sneered. “Because I want you to put the fear of God into all of them. They need to learn not to screw with me. Do you think you’re able to handle this?”
Galen stiffened his spine. “Yes, of course.”
“I’m going to sue that little shit into the ground.”
“Maybe it would be best if—”
His father’s expression was ice-cold. “When I want your opinion, I’ll ask. Until then, keep it to yourself and do as you’re told.” He turned on his heel and huffed like a bull as he barreled out the open door.
Galen leaned back and ran a hand through his hair. God, the old man was a prick. He’d never been a nurturing person, leaving that to Galen and Lincoln’s nanny. Of course, they never lasted long either. As soon as either he or Lincoln began to feel close, they’d be terminated and someone new would be brought in. Galen was never sure if it was because their father wanted to control his sons or if he’d been screwing the nanny and was done with her.
The sad thing was that his mother was every bit as bad. She’d had affairs with the chauffeur, one of the cooks, and if rumor was to be believed, she’d even bedded a few maids. She wasn’t discriminating about who she had sex with, nor was she shy about sniffing around them when his father was nearby. But in public, they were one big, happy family.
Yeah, he knew what a fucked-up life he led, but he couldn’t complain too much. He had money, power, and when his father retired—God, let it be soon—he would take over the company. Pity Lincoln didn’t want anything to do with it. The two of them together could rule their empire with an iron fist.
His phone rang, and this time he glanced at the caller ID. With a sigh, he picked up. “Sorry, Andy. I had someone come into the office.”
“You hung up on me. Do you know how rude that is?”
“I said I was sorry. What more can I do?”
“Come out tonight. You can buy me a drink, we can dance, watch the strippers, have a good time, and maybe we’ll even get lucky.”
It had been better than three months since Galen got laid, and his ass clenched at the thought. Still, he’d been given a task by his father, and he needed to get on that right away.
“Tonight’s not good. Are you willing to give me a rain check?”
When Andy gave that weary, put-upon sigh, Galen knew he was going to give in. He always did, just because he didn’t want to hear Andy—
“Just one drink, Gale. Please?”
—whine. He knew he was going to regret it, but really, what could one drink hurt? And it wasn’t like the job was his life or anything.
“One drink, one dance. Then I have to go.”
Galen shook his head. This had bad idea written all over it.
THE ANNOYING ringtone on the phone dragged Galen out of a drunken stupor. He glanced over at the clock and groaned. Nearly 4:00 a.m., and he was still wasted.
Despite the fact he’d repeatedly said he had to go, Andy had kept plying him with drinks, and like an idiot, Galen drank them. When someone took his hand and dragged him along, Galen stumbled onto the dance floor, where hot, sweaty men surrounded him, their skin glistening under the pulsating lights. He remembered a mouth on him, sucking at his chest. When he tried to push the person away, they sank to their knees, undid his zipper, and right there in the middle of the club, they’d gone down on him. It was such a shock, and Galen knew he ought to run, but the mouth was hot and wet and Galen was horny, so he grabbed the head and thrust in deep. As he fucked the guy’s mouth, other hands pulled down Galen’s pants. Something cold and wet touched his ass, and Galen shivered. The guy blowing him chuckled. The sound of foil ripping told Galen what was about to happen. The man blowing him pulled off and Galen was urged down to his knees. Without preamble, a thick cock pushed inside him in one stroke, burying to the hilt. Galen moaned. It had been so fucking long.
The man who’d been sucking him stretched out, his legs spread, holding his cock in his hand. He gripped Galen’s hair and pulled it toward his crotch. Galen opened wide, allowing the head to slide into his mouth. The guy locked both hands on Galen’s head, forcing him to take the considerable length.
A slap to his cheek made Galen yelp, as much as he could with a mouthful of cock.
They weren’t gentle at all, and Galen didn’t care. He’d never been spit-roasted before, and he was in heaven. Two men, each using Galen to satisfy their needs, not caring about him. This was what he wanted—no, this was what he needed. He had a hard job, a shitty family, and no one gave a fuck about him.
He wondered what his old man would say if he could see him now.
The man who he was sucking began to grunt, shoving Galen’s head down hard, forcing him to open up his throat. “Gonna come.” His voice was a growl, which inflamed Galen’s senses. “Fuck, this guy can suck a cock.”
“Yeah, I’m gonna seed his ass.”
The talk was filthy, and they were treating Galen like he was a hooker or something. He didn’t care. They still treated him better than his father.
The music volume kicked up a notch, and the words and grunts were drowned out by a thumping bass that went through Galen’s body. A hand reached down and grabbed his dick, jacking it while the guy at his head shot into Galen’s mouth. He swallowed it down, delighting in the musky flavor.
As soon as Galen had swallowed it all, the guy stood up, patted his head, said thanks, then disappeared back into the crowd. When the other guy pulled out, Galen felt empty. He smacked Galen on the ass before he, too, left.
Galen wasn’t sure why, but his whole world turned upside down after that. He pulled his pants up and lurched back to the bar, where he ordered another drink, downed it in one go, then stumbled out of the place.
The ringing phone was like a drumbeat in his head. He reached over to the nightstand and grabbed it. There were six missed calls from Andy. And now he was calling again. Might as well get it over with.
“What’s going on?”
“You tell me, stud.” There was a teasing quality to Andy’s voice that unsettled Galen even more.
“What are you talking about?” Galen’s stomach rolled over, and he got up and swayed a bit before he was able to get his balance. His bladder was screaming at him, so Galen figured he should listen for a change. He moved from his bedroom to the living room.
“Your little act on the floor. It was hotter than hell, and your fans wanted to know where you went and when the next show is. Shit, the Xtube video has nine thousand views already, and it was only posted a few hours ago. You, my friend, are going to be a star. Who the hell knew you had it in you? Well, I guess we all did, since we watched.”
Galen’s stomach lurched and he threw his phone onto the couch, then ran to the bathroom, dropped to his knees, and tossed his cookies. How had this gone so wrong? The old man had gotten pictures of Lincoln somehow. What would happen if he somehow saw this video? Shit, Galen’s life could well and truly be over. After discovering his father had hired a private detective to track down information on Noel, Galen could imagine him having people scour the internet to dig up dirt on both his sons. He had no idea to what end, but seeing how he had attempted to blackmail Lincoln, tried to pay Noel to leave, and how angry he’d gotten over a little nobody like Noel getting the better of him? What would happen if he learned both of his sons were queer?
Shit. Shit shit shit.
Galen swiped a hand over his mouth, stood, and trudged to the sink. He didn’t even need the mirror to know he looked like shit. Still, he wanted to see just how bad it was. Sunken cheeks, bloodshot gray eyes, and his dark hair was greasy. Galen could smell the smoke clinging to him. Even his normally tanned skin was sallow. He turned away. That was definitely not the image he needed to present when he went into work. He took a shower and brushed his teeth, then shuffled into the kitchen where he grabbed a coffee pod and started a pot. His phone rang from the other room, but Galen didn’t want to answer it. He wanted—needed—to put the whole thing out of his mind. It was a nightmare; that’s all it had been.
But despite the drinks at the bar and the beers he’d downed after he got home, Galen remembered some of it. Their hands on him, their cocks inside him. The taste, their forcefulness, the way they’d treated him. If anyone else had done that, Galen would have thrown a fit, but those two men? Galen realized he was nothing more than a hole for them to use, but that was okay. They saw him at least. He snorted, because apparently the whole world was now seeing him. One night fucked up everything, and Galen’s dreams were crumbling to dust before him.
His only hope—and that wasn’t saying much—was to get the money back from the shelter Noel said he’d given it to. If Galen could show his father he could be as cutthroat and ruthless as the old man, maybe it would go a long way toward helping him out of this damned mess.
One thing was certain: he sure as hell wasn’t going out with Andy again.
No matter how good it felt.
Good day, Wicked people! I’ve been asked which character or couple has been my favorite to write and why. Now, I’m not sure if that means on my own or the books I wrote with K.C. Wells, so I’m going to answer both.
My personal favorite story couple was Matt and Charlie from Runner. Matt needed stability in his life after an attack left him a shell of himself. Charlie was looking for something in his life that was just his. The two of them never should have worked. Matt suffered from PTSD and a debilitating fear of people, which explained why he’d moved so far out of town. Charlie had just walked out on his cheating lover, who he thought he was going to ask to marry him and fled to a small town where he could get himself together.
The Runner title comes from the fact that Charlie starts to run on Matt’s dead end road, every day at the same time. At first, Matt’s terrified, because he doesn’t understand why this guy is coming on a road that leads nowhere. But as the days and weeks go by, Matt gets used to seeing the runner, and comes to expect him. One day, after a threat by Matt’s brother, he has to say hello to Charlie. That leads the two of them to form an unusual friendship, which Matt comes to treasure. Everything is going well until the day comes that Charlie doesn’t show up. Matt doesn’t know what to do, so he calls his brother who tells him Charlie’s been in an accident.
For me, this story was something special. I asked a friend whose son deals with some of the issues that Charlie does, and she said I hit it right. That meant the world to me. But Charlie, being kind and patient, pulls Matt out of his self-imposed isolation and reminds him there is a whole world out there that he needs to be part of.
And that’s why Matt and Charlie are my favorite couple in the books I’ve written. (Codicil: I’ve got a new book with Dreamspinner called Stained Hearts. The two men in that book could easily become my favorites. It’s book three of the Links in the Chain series, of which Galen’s Redemption is book two.)
Now, my favorite characters that we’ve cowritten? That’s another tale entirely!
It’s no contest for me. As much as I want to say it’s Scott and Ben from our first book, I’m afraid those boys had stiff competition (giggles) from Rob and Vic in An Unlocked Mind. Why? Well, lemme tell ya!
My very first K.C. Wells book was An Unlocked Heart. I loved it, loved Alex, loved Leo, loved Thomas… Who did I hate? Rob. He was a huge brat and pain in the ass to his brother Alex. Blackmail, extortion, threats. I begged K.C. to tell me that Rob was getting a book where he’d meet a Dom who would straighten him out. Alas, she said she had no plans for it. I was shattered. Then when we started writing the Secrets series, she said in her very coy way, “You know…Since this is a new series, we could do a book for Rob.”
Well, let me tell you, my heart sang at those words! We just had to figure out how and why. The story centers around Rob who has been harboring this crushing weight since Alex left home. There’s a secret that Rob has that’s tearing him apart. It’s what causes him to leave Manchester and travel to a BDSM club in London, wanting to prove that Alex is wrong, that you can’t find love in a club like that.
Vic Prentiss is a big, bald bear of a man. When he gets to Secrets, he is literally run into by a smart mouthed young man who calls him a poof. He tells the kid to run along, and he does. Only now Vic’s mood is ruined, and he decides to go home. While he’s driving he sees that mouthy young man now battling the elements as he walks down the street with no jacket on. Conscience leads Vic to stop and pick Rob up, where he learns that there’s more to Rob than he ever imagined could be possible.
Rob was destined to be different than any other submissive we’ve ever written about; a fact that many people loved about him.
So that’s my two favorite couples. I hope that tells you a bit about the books and my tastes in men. (Questionable at best, I know.)
About the Author
Parker Williams began to write as a teen, but never showed his work to anyone. As he grew older, he drifted away from writing, but his love of the written word moved him to reading. A chance encounter with an author changed the course of his life as she encouraged him to never give up on a dream. With the help of some amazing friends, he rediscovered the joy of writing, thanks to a community of writers who have become his family.
Parker firmly believes in love, but is also of the opinion that anything worth having requires work and sacrifice (plus a little hurt and angst, too). The course of love is never a smooth one, and happily-ever-after always has a price tag.
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