Marco Dellburn's past as an abused teen has provided him with the toughness needed to be a US Marshal. Supported and encouraged by his idol, Jubilee Mason, Marco takes his advice and enrolls in all the grueling courses the Marshals have to offer. He even attends intense FBI workshops and upon graduation, finds he really does have a family in Jubilee and his husband, Kieran Fox, Nicholas Fournier and his lover Sean Mercado and especially Trace Thatcher, his surrogate dad and landlord.
Living in Trace and Pauline's home, Marco finds the protection and acceptance he never had at the hands of his brutal father, Kenny Dellburn, the leader of the vicious motorcycle gang Born Evil. Trace, who shot Kenny in defense of Marco, is now a marked man wanted by Born Evil. There's another big problem too. Marco is deeply in love with the gang's new leader, Sam Channing… the man he can never be with and can never, ever stop loving. There's a heavy price to pay for this passion. There's turmoil. And death.
The morning of my final class at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glyncoe, Georgia, couldn't have come fast enough for me.
In spite of an intense twenty weeks of advanced forensics classes, I even beat the clock. At five fifty-four am, two minutes before my roommate's clock radio began blaring, I was awake. I pondered turning the damned thing off before it could start, but I wanted to hear the news. I should drag my ass out of bed and drop to the floor. I could do two hundred push-ups and take a quick run before final session.
Instead, I remained warm and cozy, my thoughts already on the celebratory dinner my friends were organizing for me back home in Dallas.
Home. I felt a tug of emotion. I had no blood relatives waiting for me, but my friends were my family. Nicholas and Sean, the couple who had first befriended me, had visited me twice during my intense classes. They were two of the most well regarded US Marshals in Dallas, and they had supported me all the way.
So had my mentor, Trace Thatcher. He'd also been here twice.
The biggest thrill had been when Jubilee Mason, one of the greatest US Marshals of our times, had flown here with his husband, Kieran, and their son, Juan.
Jubilee is a legend, though he and Kieran are no longer in the Marshals. It was Jubilee's encouragement that brought me this far. I became a sort of hero when my classmates heard he was coming to FLETC, which we all pronounce as fletch. My course instructor even managed to persuade him to come and talk to us.
I can tell you with some pride that Jubilee insisted, "I'm only doing this for Marco."
For me! Marco Dellburn. Nobody would have predicted I'd be one of the new generation of marshals. I'd been a grade A cock-up my entire life. I'd spent my senior school years in juvie. My father, the late, unlamented Kenny Dellburn, had been one of the leaders of the motorcycle gang, Born Evil. He was dead. My Uncle Carter, the gang's official leader, hated me. He no doubt resented that I was a part of law enforcement.
And the real, actual leader of Born Evil, Sam Channing... well, he was my only regret.
Three years it had been since I'd had any real news of the guy and I still had a soft spot for him. Soft spot. What a frickin' joke. I was still in love with him.
The clock radio began its thing and I tried not to think about how many push-ups I could have done in the time I'd lain here daydreaming.
My roommate groaned. "I swear I just shut my eyes."
I could have predicted that comment. He talked over the dying strains of a dumbass country song, "I Still Miss You Baby, But My Aim's Gettin' Better".
On second thought, maybe it wasn't so dumbass. It was the story of my life. The man I coveted probably felt that way about me. One day, I feared we'd meet in a dark alley or something and I didn't think it would turn out well... for one of us.
I sighed as I thought about the road ahead. I'd been focused on this day for so long but hadn't actually thought much beyond it. All I wanted to do was work.
Having completed the most grueling, intense courses ever devised in the history of mankind just to enhance my career with the US Marshals, should have been the proudest, happiest day of my life. And it was, really. But right now all I could think was how great it was gonna be to get away from my roommate, Cooter James Elmond.
I couldn't stand the guy and like everyone else, I called him Cootie, even to his face.
He was a big fan of country music and redneck pastimes such as tractor pulls. He also had a thing about busty, blonde women, but he was more likely to get run over by a runaway tractor than to ever get laid, so he made do with off-color, childish remarks. And bawdy songs about women, which he would sing, even in his sleep.
"I'm so lonesome in the saddle... since my horse died," he began to sing. This wasn't a line from a song. It was one of his many cowboy joke songs. I waited for the refrain. It didn't take him too long. "You stole my wife, you horse thief."
Closing my eyes, I feigned sleep but kept an ear open for the latest news.
"Marco," Cootie said from the narrow single bed just a few short feet away from me, "you awake?"
If I hadn't been, I was now. "What up, Cootie?"
He thought my nickname for him was a term of endearment. He couldn't have been more wrong and we couldn't have been more different, but for the past six weeks we'd been paired up on back-to-back advanced courses in Advanced Forensics Techniques In Crime Scene Investigations.
I was not only now a fully-qualified US Marshal, but the folks back home in Dallas could no longer keep me on desk duty or relegate me to being a glorified chauffeur.
I'd graduated from my seventeen-and-a-half-week Marshal training course the previous summer and eked out a miserable existence as a bottom feeder until Jubilee came back into Dallas with Kieran and their son, Juan, for his sister Pauline's wedding to Trace.
Jubilee quit the force three years ago and moved to Canada with Kieran. Though he qualified for the Vancouver Police Department, fatherhood became his obsession, so much so he switched gears and studied teaching. He now teaches kindergarten and first grade, and everyone we know calls him Kindergarten Cop.
Except Juan. He just calls him Dad. I think Jubilee and I were both a bit sad on Pauline and Trace's wedding day. He was sad that Juan, aged ten, no longer calls him Daddy and I was sad I was still single and driving the other marshals around.
It had been a painful process for me in becoming a US Marshal. When I first tried to apply for the course, I discovered my reading level wasn't acceptable. They said I was just below the median of eighth grade. Apparently that is the average reading age of most Americans.