Beaten, a Hammer novel
by Sean Michael
||Erotic Contemporary Romance
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Little Francis is recovering from an abusive relationship that put him in the hospital. He's doing fine now, working at Permanent Ink and staying in one of the spare bedrooms at Treat and Killian's place. He knows now that love and the lifestyle aren't in the cards for him, and he's trying to make peace with that.
Enter Nick, a single Dom who falls for Francis the moment he lays eyes on him. Nick has to battle not only an overprotective Killian just to get a date with Francis in the first place, but also Francis' own beliefs that he's somehow responsible for bringing out his abuser's dark side.
Just when things seem to be going Nick and Francis' way, Francis' past comes back to haunt not only Francis, but everyone he's close to as well.
Can Nick convince Francis that not only is an abusive Dom is the exception and not the rule, but that Francis wasn't responsible for the man's actions? And will Little Francis ever let himself fall in love again?
"You do amazing work, Francis." Nick was definitely flirting; he could hear it in the tone of his own voice.
"Thank you. I hope you and your... Josef enjoy it."
"I'm just along for moral support." He pulled a card out of his wallet. "That's me. Call if you're ever in need of... wood."
"Wood?" Francis gave him a wide-eyed look and took the card. "Come on, Josef, I'll wrap you up."
Killian came up to him, touched his arm. "Nick? Can I talk to you a second?"
"Sure. I'll be back in a minute, Josef."
He followed Killian to a quiet, back corner. "Hey, Kill, what's up, man?"
"Okay, this is awkward. Little Francis? Not on the market. I'm sorry, but he's under our protection."
His eyebrows climbed his forehead. "Under your protection?"
"Yeah. He... There was a Dom that... He wasn't one of us, and put the kid in the hospital. He's not ready for a relationship yet."
"In the hospital? Jesus fuck, Killian." Some people didn't deserve to live, let alone have a sub.
"Yeah. He's a good kid, but he's a little messed up. I just wanted to warn you. We're keeping an eye on him."
"Maybe what he needs is someone who would treat him right."
"Someday, yeah. He just... He was so scary, so pale." And Killian was a giant poppa bear, worrying about everyone.
"He looks pretty good now." Francis looked amazing now.
"He's been working hard at healing."
"Well, if he needs any help with that...." Nick smiled. He had a good hand with the twinks, which was why he was here, helping Josef out in the first place.
Killian shook his head. "He's not ready."
Killian gave him a shocked, surprised look. "Me."
"So you and Treat have decided to take him on as a sub?" That was surprising; he'd have sworn that Treat and Killian would never do that again, not after Peter. Still, if they had, he'd back off, no question.
"What? God, no. No. We're not looking for a sub, man."
Francis walked up with Josef. "He's ready to go." The man's cheeks were dark red.
"Thank you, Francis." Nick smiled at the man. "I was wondering if you'd like to have lunch with me?"
"I..." Francis looked at him, then at Killian, seeming to shrink. "Thanks, but I'm working. I gave Josef all the care instructions for the ink."
Nick frowned slightly. He didn't doubt for a second that Killian was trying to do right by Francis; he was drawn to the boy, though, and wasn't sure Killian was really helping Francis out.
"You can say yes or no to me freely. You don't need permission from Killian or anyone to make that answer."
"I." Francis swallowed hard. "I don't know what to do. I'd better go clean my station."
Killian's lips pursed, the man glaring at him, and Nick shook his head. "Don't say anything, please, Killian. He said no because that's what he thinks you wanted him to say. I want him to say no because he doesn't want to have dinner with me."
"You said lunch." Francis' voice was sure.
"You're right, I did." The boy was paying attention to him, it was a good sign the attraction wasn't one-sided. "Would you like to have lunch with me?"
"There's a sandwich place next door. I have an hour before my next appointment."
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