Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sightlines by Santino Hassell ~ Exclusive Excerpt

SIGHTLINES (The Community #3):

Chase Payne is a walking contradiction. He's the most powerful psychic in the Community, but the least respected. He's the son of the Community's founder, but with his tattoo sleeves and abrasive attitude, he's nothing like his charismatic family. No one knows what to make of him, which is how he wound up locked in a cell on the Farm yet again. But this time, the only man he's ever loved is there too.

Elijah Estrella was used to being the sassy sidekick who fooled around with Chase for fun. But that was before he realized the Community wasn't the haven he'd believed in and Chase was the only person who'd ever truly tried to protect him. Now they're surrounded by people who want to turn them against their friends, and the only way out is to pretend the brainwashing works.

With Chase playing the role of a tyrant's second-in-command, and Elijah acting like Chase's mindless sex toy, they risk everything by plotting a daring escape. In the end, it’s only their psychic abilities, fueled by their growing love for each other, that will allow them to take the Community down once and for all.

SIGHTLINES is out 10/9/2017 from Riptide Books.

Subgenres: m/m paranormal romance; psychics; finale.

They stepped inside the cabin, and even with it dark and chilly, it was a sanctuary from the storm. Elijah immediately went to shove the door into the hinges again, struggling to sit it just right. It was only when he cast an exasperated look over his shoulder did Chase snap out of his daze and assist. He helped put the door to rights, then shoved over a chest of drawers to sit in front of it until he could find some tools. Assuming he hadn’t destroyed the hinges.
“What now?”
Elijah looked at him, surprised. “We build a fire if they have supplies, get these wet clothes off, and wait out the storm.”
Chase nodded woodenly. Again, Elijah seemed to be on the verge of saying something but turned away. He raided the cabin as Chase looked on, foraging for precut wood and instead finding a small portable heater. They plugged it in, spread out their clothes nearby, and huddled in the bed under layers of scratchy blankets Elijah had found in a cabinet.
The blankets smelled clean, and the cabin as a whole was very cozy and tidy. There was electricity and running water, a fact that surprised Chase, and he wondered distantly if people used the cabins for activities during the winter. If so, and if anyone came up on them, he was sure his fucking random power would blow them to bits. Since that was his new thing.
“Chase, you didn’t do anything wrong.”
Chase started, caught off guard by the declaration. He looked up from his examination of the quilt to meet Elijah’s gaze.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Elijah found his hand under the quilts and squeezed. “I know you feel guilty. Or scared.”
“What, are you joining the empath club?”
“No. I can see it in your face. You shut down as soon as you realized there was nobody climbing out of that fire, and you haven’t really . . . come back since then.” Elijah laughed softly. “You’re usually so bossy and impatient, and you followed after me like a lost little boy.”
Chase glared at him. “So? You seemed to be Wilderness Master all of a sudden.”
“Did you forget I didn’t grow up in the city?” Elijah nudged him again. “My parents used to send me to sleepaway camps when I was little. Shockingly, I loved it back then. Like being away from everyone and in the peace and quiet where nothing triggered . . . visions. Where no one looked at me like I was weird if I spaced out. Just me and the trees, and a hundred other boys.”
Chase snorted. Leave it to Elijah to help him find a smile at the bottom of his pit of despair. “I knew that was coming.”
“You ought to,” Elijah said with a sniff. He lifted his chin haughtily, then relaxed against the pillow again. “I’m serious though, Chase. They were going to take us out into the woods and kill us. Or kill you, and Will would have—” Elijah grimaced. “I don’t want to think about what Will would have done. He acted like I wasn’t a real person. It makes me . . . really afraid for the other people back at the Farm.”
“But Will is gone,” Chase said. “He can’t hurt them.”
“Maybe not, but do you think he’s the only guard or staff member like that?” Elijah shook his head. “The power dynamics there are awful. People like me, and the psys they have for breeding, are like . . . helpless. Well, they thought I was helpless. Will wasn’t the only person who let his station turn him into an abusive monster. Even Kyra gave me the creeps. She may not have been like her brother, but there was something off there.”
“Something off like what?” Chase pressed. “How?”
“I just . . .” Elijah squeezed his hand again. “I overheard her with one of the counselors once, and it made my skin crawl. She seemed to be the type of person to play people against each other to make them more loyal to her, and then led them on with this weirdly . . . fake emotional bond? Even I could see through it, but the counselor was blinded. I could tell by watching that one conversation. And now that she and Will are gone, there will just be more like them. How could there not be in a community that thrives on empowering a select few while keeping everyone else as subservient pieces to be moved around at will?”
It was a lot to digest, but it didn’t ease Chase’s doubt. Not really. Even if the twins were monsters, even if Beck was, him snuffing out their lives didn’t feel righteous. He felt like he’d become . . . like them. Just another monster using his gifts to get what he wanted no matter how it happened.
The only thing that felt right about any of it was that he’d protected Elijah. If he thought back to the first time he’d used his telekinesis in the recent past, during that pulling session with Jasper, he’d destroyed the cuffs because Richard had suggested Jasper use Elijah against Chase. After all this time, did his telekinesis only activate if Elijah was threatened? It seemed to all go back to him.
Elijah watched him carefully and lifted a hand to his cheek. The tips of his fingers grazed Chase’s hair, longer than he’d worn it in years, before it turned into a slow caress. Elijah’s touch was gentle, but the hazardously intense affection building inside Chase made it dangerous. Everything about Elijah was dangerous. And even now, after everything that had happened in the last few hours and with their future so uncertain, Chase couldn’t get over how badly he wanted him.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” Elijah searched his face, gaze training on his lips before rising again. “Sometimes I can read you so well, and other times I don’t know what to think.”
Chase tried to speak, but no sound came out. He didn’t know if his vocal chords were failing or if there was simply nothing good enough to say. No words powerful enough to explain just how much Elijah had come to mean to him. How his mere existence was enough to trigger a psychic power so dangerous it killed anyone who threatened him.
“I . . .”
Elijah’s breath hitched. “What, Chase? Please tell me.”
“I just . . .” Chase squeezed his eyes shut, searching for the words in his chaotic, fucked-up brain. “Fuck, I don’t know. I can’t say it.”
Elijah pressed against him, their naked flesh aligning beneath the layers of scratchy summer camp blankets. Relics of innocence draping over bodies that were already hardening with arousal, because even explosions and death couldn’t turn them off each other. He would always want Elijah, and . . . and Elijah . . .
A memory came to Chase unbidden.
Him kissing down the side of Elijah’s neck in the office at Evo, asking against all that damp, heated flesh what he was doing for his birthday, and Elijah thrumming against him like a newly strung guitar. The way Elijah had lit up at Chase caring about celebrating, and the way he’d turned away as soon as Holden had barged into the door with a gift in hand. He’d come bearing an expensive watch when all Chase had offered was a kiss.
“Chase,” Elijah pleaded. “Tell me what you’re thinking.”
Chase squeezed his eyes shut, swallowed thickly, and forced that memory away. Why was he so fucked up? Why couldn’t he let it go? So many questions and so few answers. Absolutely zero ability to not feel inadequate at anything but giving Elijah every inch of his dick.
“I don’t want to think,” he said, voice scraping out low. “I just want to fuck you until my mind is blank.”
The weight of Elijah’s disappointment could be felt in his silence, but Chase couldn’t bring himself to say anything more than what he’d said. He already felt flayed open and raw, every nerve exposed and primed for damage.

About Santino Hassell:
Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.

He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Connect with Santino: Website | Twitter | Instagram | FB Group | FB | GR | Tumblr

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