The Dead Don't Lie
Dead Generations Book 1
by Anne Russo
Genre: LGBTQ Dark Romantic Suspense, Thriller
While young doctor Adam Morrow resigns himself to an uninformed existence, world-weary assassin Ian Abbott struggles with a life he never asked for. When the two strangers meet by chance, the attraction is immediate. And deadly, as Adam walks in on Ian in the middle of a hit.
The situation spirals out of control once Ian discovers he and Adam share a connection far more profound than either imagined. Shocked by the discovery, Ian makes the hasty decision to kidnap him.
Overnight Adam is torn from his promising career and a family who believes him dead. Things go from bad to worse when he finds himself reunited with a mother he never knew who is now head of a covert and shadowy group of killers for hire. Forced into joining their ranks, with Ian as his reluctant trainer and handler, Adam is given a series of impossible tasks to complete.
Assignment completed, Ian glanced down at his coat, noticing a few questionable stains even black couldn’t hide. Sighing, he stepped into the adjacent bathroom for a quick wash. He was cleaning off the excess blood splatter when he heard the door open. He stopped and listened as a curious voice called out, “Hello?”
Ian reached for his handgun, quiet as he slid it into his hand. He edged forward, waiting for his visitor to discover Mr. Mallory was no longer among the living. Ian didn’t have long to wait.
“Jesus Christ,” the visitor swore, taking several steps backward where Ian waited in the shadows. Once he was close enough, Ian pressed the gun’s muzzle into the back of his head, stopping him in his tracks.
“Don’t move,” he ordered. Even in the darkened room, Ian knew he looked familiar. “Turn around.”
Slowly, the man turned toward him, shaking. Ian didn’t miss the shock of recognition when he saw who held him at gunpoint.
“Yeah, I remember you too. This is unfortunate,” Ian remarked and meant it. He didn’t relish putting a bullet right between those pretty eyes, but he’d seen his face. Not once. But twice now. And, unfortunately, he’d have to die for it.
“Wait,” the young doctor urged, his hands in the air. “You don’t have to shoot me.”
No crying. No begging. A statement. The doctor even met Ian’s eye when he said it. Ian couldn’t help but admire this guy's guts. A shame he had to kill him, but he didn’t have a choice. His finger twitched on the trigger.
“I’m afraid I do,” Ian answered, glancing at his name tag. “Dr. Adam Morrow,” he whispered under his breath, the name hitting like a sucker punch to the gut. “Your name is Adam Morrow?”
“Yeah, that’s my -- why?”
Ian wasn’t listening, rendered speechless as he studied the man. Pieces were clicking together in a hail of memories, memories he fought for years to keep hidden. Now they came rising to the surface one by one, swifter than he could recall them. All tied to the image of a child’s face. A child whose cheerful grin and name, Adam Morrow, had haunted him for the last fourteen years.
Ian snapped into the present. He charged forth, seizing him by the arm. Adam tried to shake him off as he propelled him toward the windows. Meager light from outside street lamps was enough to spy the lingering traces of that boy. One whose existence itself had been a terrible mystery he’d never wanted to delve too deep into, terrified of the answer awaiting him on the other side.
“Look at me!” he ordered, pressing the muzzle under Adam’s chin.
Adam hesitated but didn’t have much say so with a gun buried in his throat. One glance and the truth slammed into Ian like a bolt of lightning. A sweeping recognition. His eyes told him the entire story in an instant. They were remarkable, dark green, and flecked with gold, memorable -- her eyes. There was no way he’d be able to kill him. Not now. The implications of his discovery growing as they sized up the other, each of them unsure what to do next.
“Who the hell are you?” Adam asked, low and shaky.
“Who the hell are you?” Ian countered.
The Dead Don't Mourn Dead Generations Book 2
Sequel to The Dead Don’t Lie
Three months have passed, and Ian and Adam are both struggling with the memory of that fateful night. Consumed with guilt, Ian carries on with his day-to-day existence with little success, while Adam adjusts to his new life as a cold-blooded killer.
But both men face a new challenge when Adam’s latest target, a crime boss’s beautiful daughter, enters the picture. It's a dangerous assignment that forces hidden jealousies and not so buried desires to the surface.
Yet as Adam and Ian’s desperate situation escalates, they find their chaotic world dealt another heartbreaking blow when tragedy strikes a member of their group. The devastating event compels Ian and Adam to confront their feelings for one other. Yet with sinister forces at work against them as well as the dark story of their families’ joined and tangled past, will Ian and Adam fight to build something real together? Or will they find themselves torn apart once more?
NOTE: This story contains scenes depicting a suicide attempt and/or suicidal ideation as well as substance abuse/recreational drug use. This is book 2 in a series and ends on a cliffhanger.
Ian reached over his head, keeping the door closed, refusing to let Adam leave. “Please, hear me out first."
The plea seemed to get Adam's attention. He sighed and turned back towards Ian, glaring up at him. “Fine, what is it then?”
But Ian couldn’t tell him, undone by the heat in Adam's eyes. The tiny space a thousand degrees, the stench of the place creeping into Ian’s clothes, his lungs. Every breath he took unbearable agony.
Frustrated by his silence, Adam threw his hands up. “Goddamn you! What?”
“We can’t go on like this.”
Adam nearly laughed in his face. “Go on like this? You did this! What the hell do you want from me? Let me out of here!”
“Why won’t you just talk to me?” Ian tried, and Adam’s face fell, but for a moment before his anger sparked, renewed.
“Talk to you? Why would I ever want to talk to you again? Isn’t it enough that I have to be drunk just to look at you?”
Ian’s control burst. Something shifted in him. Furious with the petulant scowl on Adam's face. His dismissal of him itching under his skin, darkening his thoughts. “Oh, so is that why you need to drink every day? Why you’re getting high now too? So what’s next, Adam? Pills? Needles? What else do you need to do to kill the pain?”
Adam rose to his full height, poking his finger into Ian’s chest and sending him skidding back a couple of steps. “Me? Oh, that’s rich coming from you. The king of fuck-ups lately.”
“Watch it --”
“No, you watch it. Isn't it enough that we got through this mission in one piece? A feat I’m surprised we managed with the way your head has stayed crammed so far up your ass lately. So, I’d take a long hard look in the mirror before you criticize me.”
The harshness of Adam’s raw truth, blistering and unrelenting, froze Ian to where he stood. “Right? I’m going to take advice from a man who can barely stand up straight. You're a mess, and it’s going to get you killed, which I suspect might be your plan all along.”
“And so what if it is?” Adam didn’t deny, his eyes flashing, his lips twisted into a mean sneer. “Congratulations, Einstein. You figured out my master plan. To eat a goddamn bullet and never have to look at your fucking face ever again.”
Ian broke, pulling Adam close by the back of his neck. Desperate to smooth out the harsh lines around his eyes, his mouth, aging him beyond his years. But the second their lips met, Adam slammed him into the opposite wall. The force of the attack surprised Ian, not sure how Adam had caught him off-guard.
“This is your idea of fixing things? Did you honestly think you were going to fuck me in this disgusting bathroom?” Adam crowded into his space, spitting out each word as if he’d tasted poison.
“You won’t listen --”
“Listen to what?” Adam shouted, his tone wavered a touch into hysterical. “You can’t fix this, Ian. Don’t you get that? Whatever we had, it’s gone, and it’s never coming back.” Adam’s blistering tirade, a furious breath against the side of Ian’s face. The terrible and unflinching heat of his words scorching them both. “I’d rather die than let you touch me again.”
Ian flinched as if Adam had slapped him. The relentless thudding in his heart now turned into a hammering and brutal army -- one stampeding through his ribcage as his diaphragm shrieked and moaned in protest. The walls of the bathroom were shrinking further -- threatening to swallow him whole.
Ian pushed Adam away from him. Adam stumbled and caught the edge of the sink, gripping it to keep from falling.
“The fuck is your problem?”
Ian couldn’t answer him. Flooded with shame as he scrambled for the lock, throwing the door open.
“The hell, man --”
Ian stammered out an apology to the guy standing outside, but before he could finish, the scent of his cologne hit him. Something smoky and dark, overwhelmingly familiar. In one terrible split-second, Ian’s world exploded.
Ian grabbed him by the throat, slamming him into the opposite wall. All while the man in his grip sputtered and protested, taken off-guard completely.
“Ian, what the fuck? Let him go!”
Ian registered Adam's voice only as an annoying buzz in the background. His vision whitened before roaring back as hands pulled him away.
“Let him go --”
Ian lost his balance, dropping the man from his hold. The man's knees buckled as he slid against the wall, his eyes wide with horror as he held a shaky hand to his throat.
Adam stammered apologies, but Ian could barely hear them. As the roar in his ears rose to a deafening thunder -- his heart jackhammering in his chest -- boom boom boom.
He bolted, shouldering past a crowd of people as he fled the bar. Adam’s concerned shouts following him as he raced off into the night.
The Dead Don't Dream Dead Generations Book 3
Sequel to The Dead Don’t Mourn
After Katherine foils Ian and Adam’s plans, Ian self-destructs, drowning himself in alcohol and murder while Adam fights to stay sane under Katherine’s watchful eye, biding his time as he plots his revenge. Determined to keep them apart for good, Katherine takes her evil schemes one step further, leaving Ian and Adam unable to separate reality from fiction, friend from foe.
Still seeking answers to who betrayed them, Ian’s quest for vengeance puts him on a brutal path of destruction, setting off a devastating chain of events that changes everything for the group and leaving him more alone than ever. Broken and losing hope, Adam deals with a vengeful face from the past, one who will stop at nothing to claim Ian for himself. Locked in a battle for survival, Adam must do everything in his power to stay alive.
Time slowed to a crawl as the world behind him slipped out of his reach, losing all meaning. Subzero temperatures seeped under his coat, leaving every limb a heavy burden. But Ian trudged on, driven by his need, even as his heart pounded a steady roar in his ears. Ian remained determined now to reach Adam before the sun disappeared. And with it came the last shreds of hope as he went on, step by brutal step. Through the swirl of snow and wind, he spied smoke and caught the scent of burning wood. Ian pushed himself over the last hill, desperate to find Adam on the other side but terrified he'd meet more of the same. A cold forever, an endless eternity for him to wander alone.
But then a tiny ramshackle cabin rose before him like a shimmering mirage. He waited for it to disappear from his sight. Yet it remained, drawing into focus. It’s red paint, the crooked porch, and standing there as if waiting for him, his reason for all things.
Adam stood bundled against the elements in a bright blue parka. He held a rifle pointed at Ian’s head.
Ian’s legs weakened as he struggled to hold himself upright. Relief washed over him in waves, and his heart skipped a beat.
Adam didn’t lower the rifle when he spotted him. Eyes wide, not with surprise but with tears, worry, and fear, even from this distance.
“Are you here to kill me?”
Ian shook his head. Once, no. Never. His legs gave way, buckling under him as he sank into the snow.
“Ian? Oh my God --”
Adam rested the rifle against the railing and dashed to Ian’s side. He kneeled before him, winding his arms around his neck as he attempted to hoist him back to his feet.
“Come on, a few steps farther. You can do this.”
Ian rose with every ounce of strength he could muster. Ahead, snow swirled around the light from the porch -- a small kerosene lamp. And from the tiny window was the warm glow of a roaring fireplace: the promise of welcome heat and the feel of Adam by his side.
Adam somehow got them to the door through sheer force of will, helping him inside. He propped Ian against the wall while fighting to close the door. Meanwhile, the fierce winds whipped around them, howling into the tiny space. The sky disappeared over Adam’s shoulder as the day faded into night.
“Jesus, Ian. You walked all the way here?”
He couldn’t speak.
Inside, the cabin was warm, a fire blazing in the fireplace. The room was small and primitive, with a bed, a desk, a chair, and a table. Ian registered these details but couldn’t focus. His limbs refused to cooperate. His head was fuzzy, his thoughts difficult to put together. Outside, the storm continued to rage, growing in ferocity.
Adam led him to the fireplace, where it was warmest. There, he peeled the frozen layers of clothing from Ian’s body. His face was mask-like, unreadable, but his eyes were shiny with tears. Ian couldn’t bear to look at him, even though it was all he wanted to do. Adam sat him on a chair, kneeling to remove his ice-crusted boots. He grunted from the effort as he pulled them from Ian’s feet.
Ian groaned, wincing as the heat sought its way inside, warming him slowly. And with it waking up, his numbed toes, first tingling and soon screaming with agony.
Adam inspected his feet. He glanced up at Ian with worry in his eyes. “I don’t think you’ll lose any of them. But it was close. What the hell were you thinking?”
Ian lowered his head, unable to hold it in; a sob let loose from his throat. Shocked, he put his hands to his mouth, choking back the emotion.
Adam pulled himself up to his side, still on his knees. He reached for Ian, drawing him close. With a broken cry, Ian pressed his frozen face into the side of his neck.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”
Adam’s fingers threaded through his wet hair as the snow melted, leaving puddles by their feet. Together, they huddled in front of the fire, holding one another.
“It’s okay, Ian, it’s okay,” Adam said, pressing tiny kisses to the side of his jaw, behind his ear. “We’re together now. It’s going to be okay.” But Ian heard the fear and uncertainty in this voice, deepening his pain.
Anne makes her home in Connecticut with her wonderful and ever-so-patient partner.
A lifelong reader, writer, and curious student. Anne hopes to create exciting, multi-dimensional characters and worlds with a queer sensibility. Her third novel, The Dead Don’t Dream, the third book of the Dead Generations series, was recently published through JMS Books. For more information, visit her website at annerusso.com and on Twitter @annerussobooks.
Do you have any advice to offer for new authors?
My first piece of advice for any new author is to read. Read everything and anything you can get your hands on, fiction and nonfiction, alike. Read all you can in your genre but also branch out. Study what you read. Ask yourself what makes this a good story? A bad story? What would I do differently? Pay attention to the words the author uses to invoke emotions. What ways do they set up chapters to keep you engaged and guessing?
The next is to write. It doesn’t matter what you write or how much, write. Let your imagination wander. Get into your feelings and get messy with it, and most of all, be brutally honest with yourself and your work. Play up on your strengths and learn your weaknesses. Challenge yourself. Write outside your comfort zone. Experiment with sentences and structure and never stop learning your craft. The internet has thousands of articles on the craft of writing. Read them. Take the advice that strikes a chord and discard what doesn’t work for you. Writing is a personal journey and is as individual as each person and each writer. Be brave and be bold and don’t hide what makes you or your work unique.
Lastly, believe in yourself. Believe in your talent. Believe in what you do and what you love and why you love it. Focus on the joy that writing gives you. That sense of accomplishment and creative energy. It is only through the love of writing itself that we can push through the hardest parts of the process. The fear and self-doubt, the constant, nagging critic, most if not all writers have, to get to its many rewards. I can tell you from experience every sacrifice is worth it once you see your book in print for the first time.