When Death Frees the Devil by L J Hayward
Series: Death and the Devil #3
Release Date: January 17, 2020
Page Count: 341 pages
Ethan is finally free. He’s left the Cabal behind and embraced a civilian life with Jack, the man he loves. The only problem is that the Cabal isn’t willing to let him go. A call in the middle of the night and a threat to Jack’s family, and Ethan is back in the game. The only way out is to take on the organization that spent years warping his life.
Jack’s boyfriend has a way of vanishing on him, but this time Ethan’s disappearance is more frightening than ever. A trail of mysterious clues, a hit against his family, and the handprint of the Cabal on everything means the greatest test of love and determination Jack has ever endured.
Torn apart by forces greater than they are, Jack and Ethan must fight harrowing battles to get back to each other. The Cabal is the greatest foe either of them has had to face. Ethan is willing to throw away everything to bring an end to the Cabal’s evil. And Jack is willing to do the same to make sure Ethan comes out the other side alive.
CW – teen suicide, suicidal thoughts, child abuse, graphic violence.
Guest Post from Author
Hello! I’m L.J. Hayward and I’ll be your author for this blog tour. Thank you for being here with me as I introduce the third, and last for this story arc, Death and the Devil book. Jack and Ethan have faced off against a rogue assassin, hidden enemies and each other. This time they’re going up against the shadowy, global organisation behind every danger to threaten them and their life together.
For a chance to win a US$15 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment and a winner will be randomly chosen at the end of the blog tour.
Thank you to Rainbows and Sunshine Book Blog for letting me come here today and share with you all an exclusive excerpt from WHEN DEATH FREES THE DEVIL. Once again, we start with someone in a bit of a pickle, but this time, it’s not Jack . . .
Blast, bother and bollocks. This wasn’t how the plan was supposed to go. If Ethan was honest, he hadn’t expected it to work perfectly, but this was what he got for letting someone else do the planning. Maybe if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t be here right now.
Here, in the pitch black and the cold that permeated the air, the stones under the balls of his feet, and the chains that suspended him from the ceiling. He was stretched out to the point of discomfort, pulling at the rough stiches in the wound in his hip so they felt like claws slowly ripping through his flesh. His feet only just touched the floor, making him strain to take some pressure off his arms. The shackles around his bruised and tender wrists were warmed slightly from contact with his body, but the longer he dangled there, the more the chill seeped back into them. Into his skin and flesh and bones. He couldn’t tell anymore if the burning ache in his arms was from the strain of taking most of his body weight, or the random shivers that wracked him.
Ethan couldn’t hear much past his own laboured breathing and the faint thump of what might have been his heart struggling. The silence and the cold felt subterranean. Strung up and underground. This wasn’t the plan. It was in no way any part of the plan. He shouldn’t have trusted it. He hadn’t worked it through himself, hadn’t assessed and researched and accounted for all possibilities. This was his own fault for not taking charge, for letting his emotions overrule his training. He should never have done that, never have done that. He shouldn’t have trusted anyone other than Jack.
The jittering discomfort started in his gut and his fingers itched for something he could straighten or untwist, something that needed fixing. Or a knife to flip, a familiar, repetitive motion to occupy his body so the chaos in his head didn’t overspill and he could settle it down.
He concentrated on that thought. On imagining he had his tactical knife and it was turning in the air and landing perfectly in his hand. Tip to grip to tip to grip. It worked, and the rushing thoughts slowed and settled until he could focus on his body again. On keeping it ordered and still and concentrate on dragging in the few gasps of air he could. At least it was stale, tinged only with the sweat of his own body. No blood, thankfully, and no stench from the rotting corpse of whoever had last been cuffed up like this and forgotten about.
It felt like he’d been forgotten, even as he told himself this was just another one of their tactics. The dark, the suspension, the cold, the endless passing of precious time. All elements Ethan had used himself. Methods he’d been taught to resist through repetition as he grew up. He hadn’t let them beat him then, and they wouldn’t now. He was better than that, even though he had to bite back a bitter chuckle at the thought of all of his victims having the last laugh now because this wasn’t training. It wasn’t a test. They wanted him to crack, to be scared and vulnerable. It wouldn’t work. The dark had always been Ethan’s sanctuary and the waiting and cold could be ignored. The suspension was another matter.
He’d been here for at least four hours. Long enough that breathing was getting harder and harder. His lungs felt strained and flat, his ribs pressing too tight to them like a vice. A couple of times he’d relieved the pressure on his chest by flipping upside down and holding onto the chain with his feet.
Needing the flood of oxygen again, Ethan stretched up just that bit further and grasped the chain above the shackles. Lungs now burning, he curled his thighs up to his chest. Even though it pulled the stitches in his hip in new directions, it did offer some reprieve, so he held it, dropping his forehead onto his knees.
In the privacy it afforded him from the inevitable cameras watching him, Ethan allowed himself to think of Jack. His beautiful, stubborn, funny and endlessly contrary Jack. He could ignite so many different feelings in Ethan with a single look—love, laughter, frustration, fear, peace, lust—and yet they didn’t overwhelm him anymore. His head and his heart could be still when it was just the two of them tucked away in a secure place.
How long had it been since he’d last seen him? Not much past the four hours he’d been awake in this cell? Or a day? Two? Longer? Was Jack a captive like him? Was he—
Ethan cut that thought out before it could form. Jack was all right. Safe the last time Ethan saw him, and he’d been reassured he would stay that way. So long as Jack didn’t do anything stupid—not necessarily a given when Jack’s heart was involved. Not that Ethan’s decision-making paradigm had been much better of late, for the exact same reasons.
Would this never be over? All Ethan wanted now was to be with Jack. He’d thought he’d had that, and then . . . this.
Light flooded the cell.
Ethan startled and dropped from his precarious position, sensitive eyes burning. The sudden weight hanging off his shoulders jarred his whole body, setting him to swinging on the chain so he couldn’t gain traction on the slick, cold stone floor. He scrambled for equilibrium, gasping for air while his eyes watered and his heart pounded in surprise and confusion.
He should have been expecting something like this. Should have been preparing for it instead of losing himself to memories of Jack. That he hadn’t was humiliating. Frustration curled through him. Shame. Confusion. Surprise. He didn’t like those feelings. They were weak. They meant he wasn’t skilled enough or prepared enough. They meant someone else had the upper hand, and that was how one failed.
Ethan caught the edge of one of the floor stones with his toes. Muscles tensing, he froze his swinging and got his other foot on the ground as well. Eyes closed, he forced everything else aside and focused on his other senses, which he strained to their limits, needing to find the threat, work out what it was, and how to neutralise it.
Just in time to hear the lock on the door clunk open and someone enter. Just a few steps before they stopped.
Not yet ready to test his eyesight in the light, Ethan kept his eyes closed and listened. Muffled, distant voices, so soft he couldn’t make out words, or even a language. Beyond them, nothing. No hint of traffic or birds or radio to give a clue as to where they were. The air wafting into his stale cell was sterile and warm, feathering his cool skin.
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peak and you can find me and information about my books at http://www.ljhayward.com
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L.J. Hayward has been telling stories for most of her life, a good deal of them of the tall variety. She loves reading but doesn’t seem to have enough time between wanting to be a more disciplined writer, being the actual erratic writer she is, and working for dollars in a dungeon laboratory. She also lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland, but rarely sees a beach and can’t surf, though she thinks living on a houseboat might be fun. At least then she’d have an excuse to get a cat.