It turns out publishing a book two days before Halloween, just before an election is not ideal. In The Kill received amazing reviews and the feedback has been exciting but Mr. Lavender’s looking quite lonely, waiting for readers to find him. I don’t want to spoil anything but as there’s a chance we’ll be seeing him again, I thought it would be a good idea to see if I could “relaunch” In The Kill, in a way. He’s such a special character and is very close to being my favorite. He’s up there with Aiden. And not to spoil too much more, we might see him with Aiden, in the future. Calm down, not with Aiden romantically. But, you know… He’s got depths to explore and he loves getting under Lane’s skin.
Not actually Lavender. But he’s gorgeous and very like him, in my head.
We shouldn’t forget about Sage. He’s super hot, usually naked and spends his days waiting to have sex. He’s perfect.
A really, really hot man who Sage probably looks like.
It takes a lot to stop a man like Lavender and he learns that he needs Sage more than Sage needs him.
Here’s one of my favorite chapters from In The Kill:
Lavender’s hands dragged down his face as he exhaled and stared at the ceiling. It was a little before 6:00 and the apartment was completely silent except for the soft huff of Sage’s breath against his shoulder. Each breath was a small explosion in Lavender’s chest and he flinched as Sage’s hand stretched across his stomach. I have to get out.
Sex was never complicated. It never interfered or lingered once it was over. It was always fun and a great stress reliever but it never really mattered. Every now and then, it was necessary for Lavender to fuck women and he could even enjoy it as long as his face didn’t get too close to a vagina. Sex didn’t happen with Sage. Lavender didn’t know what it was but whatever they did, it kept him up all night, even after Sage passed out. He felt raw and fragile inside and a little exposed. If the circumstances were different, he might actually cry for the first time in almost twenty years. He frowned as he stared at the ceiling and tried to figure out what about Sage or the night before was so different.
Hugh Holderson was one of his many aliases. He was a favorite and Lavender felt like he was someplace familiar whenever he pulled Hugh out. Hugh was calm, intelligent, smooth and probably had a nice house in a suburb somewhere. He was the sort of man the neighbors described as being a hell of a guy and waved to cheerfully as they mowed their lawns. He was stable and predictable. But he fucked up. He let his guard down and forgot he wasn’t on a real date. Hugh decided Sage’s naive optimism was adorable and endearing. He fell for his big, soft green eyes, gorgeous smile and infectious laugh then banged the fuck out of him in the wee hours before sunrise until his body gave out.
Unfortunately, Hugh wasn’t as separate an entity as Lavender wished and he was scared. He wanted more time with Sage. He wanted to know everything about him and share some of his own secrets. He wanted to know if his lips were still warm and soft or if the early morning chill made them cooler. He wanted Sage in a way he never expected or understood. And for the first time in his adult life, he couldn’t bear the idea of someone dying. After that first kill, Lavender realized people were temporary structures. They took up space and contained ideas and emotions until another person or nature got rid of them. Life was short and people died. It was simple and in a way, seemed just as natural as watching a leopard take down a gazelle or lightning strike a tree. But suddenly, the idea of Sage dying was terrifying and made Lavender sad. He shook his head and swore silently. He definitely needed to go. He needed to figure out why someone wanted Sage dead and if he really needed to get involved. He needed to call Reginald.
Lavender lifted Sage’s hand gently and shifted his shoulders to the right as his hips scooted toward the edge of the bed. There was a soft mumble from Sage and Lavender held his breath as he watched his eyelids flutter. They stilled and he sighed happily and Lavender’s nose wrinkled. Why did he have to be so adorable when he was sleeping? Most men made low, primitive sounds or snored or ground their teeth and they farted and scratched their ass and balls. Sage looked like a puppy dreaming about butterflies and rainbows. Lavender rolled his eyes as he sat up and stretched his neck.
“Are you leaving?” Sage murmured softly and Lavender’s lips pulled tight as his eyes went to the window. Why did he wait so long to leave? He could have slipped away at any time while Sage was sleeping deeply.
“I have to go but I’ll call you later,” he whispered then forced his lips to curve into a warm, relaxed smile as he looked over his shoulder. Sage’s lip pushed out into a pout as he rose on an elbow.
“Could you stay for just a half hour or so longer?” He purred as his finger slid down Lavender’s shoulder and traced his bicep.
“What did you have in mind?” He asked as he leaned back and pecked at Sage’s lips. He hummed thoughtfully as his lips teased Lavender’s. There was a heavy, metallic click and Lavender’s eyes swept through the hall to the front door and his hand closed around Sage’s upper arm. He was on his feet and dragging Sage from the bed as he reached for his clothes.
“What’s going on?” Sage whispered loudly and Lavender shushed him as he tossed his trousers aside and grabbed his holster and pulled his pistols. Sage’s eyes flared and his mouth hung open. “Where did those come from?” He hissed and Lavender tapped a barrel against his lips, signaling for Sage to remain quiet.
“Get in the closet and stay as low as you can. Cover your ears and don’t come out until I tell you to,” he ordered quickly as he pushed Sage into the closet.
“What?” He asked in shock but Lavender ignored him as he shut the doors.
There was a soft groan as the front door opened and Lavender slipped into the bathroom and closed the door behind him. The shower was all glass and there were no closets or walls to hide behind. A floorboard creaked on the other side of the bathroom door and Lavender dropped and leaned against the sink. He reached over and behind his head and turned on the faucet then aimed his pistols at the door. A cloud of splinters and the smell of burned wood filled the small room a second before the mirror cracked and Lavender’s eyes narrowed at the bullet hole in the door. The handle turned and Lavender held his breath as he extended his arms and pressed the pads of his fingers against the triggers. The door swung open and a pale, bald, hulking mountain of a man frowned at his reflection before his eyes dropped. Lavender pulled the triggers and the eyes widened in terror as he staggered back. Lavender raised his right hand and fired another bullet into the center of his forehead and his body went limp as he crumpled to the floor.
“You could have only been louder if you were wearing one of those one-man band contraptions. Really, is this your first time?” He muttered as he squatted and patted the man’s pockets until he found his wallet. He flipped it open and snorted at the ID. “Mr. Smith. No wonder you’re dead. You’re lazy.” He used the man’s coat to wipe down the wallet then stood and pulled the closet door open. “You can come out,” he said as his eyes scanned, cataloging everything he touched in the apartment. He looked back at the closet and his brow rose as he watched Sage. He was on his knees and his forehead was pressed into the pile of laundry he was perched on and his hands were pushing against his ears. He looked like a very defiant chicken. Lavender tapped him with the end of a gun and Sage jumped and his eyes were wild as they swung around the room. “You can come out,” he repeated as he waved the gun and Sage looked like he wanted to cower as he slowly lowered his hands.
“What happened? Did something happen?” He asked as he rose and Lavender winced.
“Something happened,” he agreed as he stepped back and Sage’s brows pulled together as he looked around Lavender. His mouth fell open on a silent scream as he pointed at the man on the floor.
“What the fuck did you do?” He demanded and Lavender shrugged as he pulled one of the few shirts hanging in Sage’s closet off a hanger and wiped off the guns. He tossed them on the bed and reached for his boxer briefs.
“I killed him before he could kill us,” he explained absently as he pulled them on then nodded at the closet. “Pack a few days worth of clothes and anything else you might need. But pack light,” he said as he pushed his arm into his undershirt and Sage’s fingers twisted in his hair as he jumped up and down.
“Why would someone try to kill us?” He asked as he spun and Lavender shook his head as he slipped on his shirt and buttoned it.
“He was here to kill you, I would have been collateral damage,” he said as he shook out his trousers and sighed. He was going to look like a wreck between Sage’s apartment and the hotel. “There’s nothing for it, really,” he complained under his breath as he stepped into his pants and Sage’s hand clapped over his mouth as he turned in circles.
“This isn’t right!” He insisted as he ducked and stared at the dead man. “He wasn’t here to kill me. Why would anyone want to kill me?” He asked as he turned to Lavender. He raised a brow as he shrugged into his coat.
“I was hoping you’d know,” he said and Sage shook his head.
“It has to be a mistake. Maybe he came to the wrong apartment,” he offered and Lavender gave him a patronizing look. Sage ignored it and nodded quickly. “You thought someone else lived here!” He pointed out and Lavender’s lips pulled tight as his head swayed as he checked his reflection through the spiderweb of cracks in the mirror.
“I was here to kill you,” he murmured as he leaned closer and widened his eyes. They were slightly bloodshot.
“What?” Sage demanded and Lavender turned and crossed his arms as he leaned against the sink.
“Someone hired me to kill you,” he explained carefully and Sage shook his head again.
“You lost your cufflinks,” he said and Lavender held up his hand and pointed at his wrist.
“All of my shirts have buttons. Cufflinks get lost too easily,” he stated and Sage’s brows fell as he backed away.
“Hugh…” He looked like a scared animal as he stumbled back then gasped as his heel touched the dead man’s leg. “I thought you were…” The color drained from his face and Lavender sighed as he followed then reached for Sage’s shoulder and guided him to the bed.
“Sit and take slow, deep breaths,” he said then checked his watch. “We have about twenty-four hours before they send someone else but I’d like it if we weren’t here when they came looking for you,” he added and Sage blinked rapidly as he looked around.
“They’re sending someone else,” he mumbled groggily and Lavender waved at the body on the floor.
“They know I’m not going to do it and as soon as they realize he won’t be doing it, someone else will come,” he explained and Sage swallowed loudly.
“Why would someone want to kill me?” He asked shakily and Lavender raised a shoulder.
“I’m working on that but I can’t stress to you how much I’d like to leave,” he said and Sage looked a little dizzy as his hands twisted in the comforter. His knuckle brushed one of the guns and Sage jumped to his feet and dashed away from the bed.
“Can you put those away, Hugh?” He asked as he pointed and Lavender shook his head.
“My name isn’t Hugh and I don’t need them anymore. I can’t use them on another contract and they can’t be traced to me,” he said and Sage recoiled.
“Another contract?” He asked in horror and Lavender held his hands up.
“I kill people, Sage. You paint somewhat garish yet desirable paintings and I kill people. We all have our talents and use different tools. You wouldn’t use a brush once it’s worn out and I can’t use the same gun for different targets, it would be sloppy,” he explained and Sage’s face twisted.
“It’s not the same! And what is your name?” He asked loudly and Lavender cleared his throat softly as his eyes strayed to the dresser mirror and he glared at the long crease down the side of his trousers.
“You can call me Mr. Lavender or Lavender. I’m leaving in ten minutes. You can come with me or wait for someone to kill you, it’s up to you,” he said and Sage shook his head.
“Or I can call the police,” he suggested and Lavender nodded.
“Certainly. And any number of people will be listening as they dispatch a unit to check into it and you’ll be dead before the police get here,” he predicted and Sage whimpered.
“You don’t know that,” he said and Lavender’s eyes flicked to the ceiling.
“If I was rich and powerful and waiting to see if the person I spent an absurd amount of money to have killed was dead, I’d be listening in on the police,” he said.
“This doesn’t make sense!” Sage complained. “And Lavender isn’t a name.”
“It’s as close to a name as I’ve got. Get dressed and pack something. I’m working on an answer but it’s not going to do you any good if we don’t get you out of here soon.”
He’s really hot but kind of a lunatic, right? You’re going to love him. He’s waiting for you.