Title: Love Bleeds Deep
Series: Fatal Fidelity, Book Two
Author: Rien Gray
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 05/10/2021
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, contemporary, romantic suspense, nonbinary, queer, bisexual, interracial, established couple, assassin, dark, #ownvoices, PTSD, revenge
With her husband dead, Justine finds herself balancing newfound freedom and a blossoming relationship with Campbell. They steal her away to a slice of paradise in France, but it’s a working holiday, and their new contract is a heavy hitter.
A local diplomat wants her ex-boyfriend—also her ex-bodyguard—dead. He’s been stalking her for weeks, and his years of experience as a Special Forces interrogator make him a hard target to catch. He’ll kill anyone who gets too close: Campbell included.
Campbell is used to giving up everything for the job, but old memories and old friends leave a weakness to exploit. Justine takes Campbell back from the brink of a violent collapse, but it comes at a dire price.
What survives afterwards will change them both forever.
The books in the Fatal Fidelity series are best read in order.
Love Bleeds Deep
Rien Gray © 2021
All Rights Reserved
The first time I flew to Paris, I was twenty.
I didn’t have a first-class seat, but back then, it didn’t matter. Knowing I was going to paint surrounded by masterpieces I’d only seen in books and slideshows overwhelmed everything else. It was my capstone year in college, and even now, the memories feel more like a dream. Happiness seemed inevitable, with the brightest future in front of me I could possibly imagine. After I came home and graduated, I met the man who would one day be my husband. In a few short years, we were married.
It was all a façade. I lost my art, my friends, my dignity, and half my sanity to Richard’s abuse. By the time he’d devoured a decade of my life, I was convinced there could be no way out. Then I met the person who made everything right.
Campbell sits next to me in a cushy blue seat, gray eyes locked on the murder mystery they bought from the terminal on our way in. They’ve already made it halfway through the book, only taking breaks between chapters to nurse the cool glass of water by their elbow. The same hands holding their drink with care, turning pages without leaving a single crease in the spine, are responsible for killing Richard without a hint of remorse.
There are a lot of ways and reasons to love someone. I don’t love Campbell because they’re a killer, but it’s not despite that either. They’re utterly confident, competent, and quick-witted, which makes them very good at their job, but what’s under the mask is what I care about. When they’re protective of me, when they’re grieving, when we’re in bed and it’s as if the world has shrunk down to fit the two of us and no one else.
Somehow in the scheme of things, murder barely makes the list.
“You’re smiling,” Campbell says, eyes still focused on the book.
I startle a little bit. After how we met, I should be used to their ability to read everyone around them, but repeated exposure doesn’t make it any less uncanny. “How can you tell when you’re not even looking at me?”
“Emotion doesn’t only show on the face. Whether we’re smiling or bracing for impact, it goes through the whole body in a hundred subtle ways.” Campbell’s gaze meets mine, dark with amusement. “But I did look at you. You were too busy staring at my hands.”
Heat rushes up the back of my neck. Guilty as charged. “You have very nice hands.”
They accept the compliment with a quick flash of teeth. “Yet I don’t think that’s what was on your mind.”
If we were elsewhere, I might have kissed Campbell or drawn them close, whispered all the thank-yous and apologies brimming on my tongue. Except we’re on a plane with a hundred other people, and even the privacy curtain can’t make me so bold.
I settle for shifting in my seat to lean my head against their shoulder. Campbell adjusts slightly, making the angle more gentle for my neck. They make no comment on my silence, turning to the next page, but their attention on me lingers. Drawing Campbell’s eye is its own sort of satisfaction.
“I have a silly question,” I say.
Campbell gestures with the book. “The mystery part of this murder is a four out of ten at best, if that’s what you’re wondering.”
A soft laugh leaves my lips. “No. I…”
Are they going to take offense to me asking? I know it’s possible, but I’ll take full responsibility either way.
“Is Campbell your first or your last name?”
They raise a brow, but it’s followed by silence. I’m about to apologize when a smile slowly pulls across their lips.
“You fell for me without knowing the answer?”
Now I’m flustered for an entirely different reason. “Yes. I mean, I know it’s your name; I just…feel like I’m missing context. Never mind. I said it was silly.”
“It’s not,” Campbell counters, the mirth fading from their face. “I know everything about you, Justine. At least, a lot more than I should for someone who never asked those questions.”
I hadn’t thought about it that way.
They set the book down in their lap, holding the page with one knee before reaching into their jacket. It’s a nice one, made of black, butter-soft leather and tailored perfectly to Campbell’s frame. I’m not sure what they’re looking for until Campbell pulls out their passport, offering it to me between two fingers.
“See for yourself.”
Meet the Author
Rien Gray is a queer, nonbinary writer who has worked in ghostwriting, TTRPGS, and video games. They have a treasured (and ever-growing) collection of LGBTQ+ history books as well as a deep, abiding love for Greek myth. Rien has an upcoming short story in Neon Hemlock’s Baffling Magazine. They live in Ireland.