Men of Phuket: Thai’ing the Knot

Thai'ing the KnotPublisher: Ai Press
Series: White Tigers 6
Genre: Gay Romance
Length: Novella
eISBN: 978-1-937796-64-8
Flame rating: 4
Cover art: Les Byerley
Word count: 29559

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All Nat wants to do is tie the knot with Ryu, the hot lover who’s captured him, body, heart and soul. But a mistake in his past binds him, possibly for good, and he must risk everything to free himself or lose Ryu forever.

Four months ago on assignment to protect Ryu from a psychopathic gangster, ex-boxing champion-turned-cop Nat Phoenix fell in love with his sexy charge. Four months later, Nat’s feelings have only deepened and all he wants to do is exchange vows with Ryu, the White Tiger who has completely captured his heart, body and soul.

But before Nat has a chance to pop the question, tragedy forces him back to Bangkok where he must stand trial, accused of serious misconduct on the very case that brought him and Ryu together. Could he be facing prison and what could be a permanent separation from Ryu? He won’t let Ryu come to his aid which would mean giving up his boxing career and fading chances at glory. And Ryu would give those all up in a heartbeat to help Nat, but for another emergency that keeps him in Tokyo. Forced to stay behind, Ryu must confront the demons that threaten his and Nat’s bond and fight for the love he’s waited for his whole life…

Publisher’s Note: This book has been previously published. A new scene has been added for re-release with Ai Press.

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Chapter One

The second Nat woke up, he knew something was wrong. A familiar, heavy feeling pressed on his chest, the way it had nearly twenty years ago the day his twin brother had gotten sick and died.

Nat’s skin prickled. Ryu. Nat turned his head and braced himself. But his lover lay peacefully, eyes still closed, long lashes like dark brushes on his delicately rounded cheekbones. Nat scanned Ryu’s body, from the nicely-shaped fingers curled by his sleeping face on the pillow, over his wiry physique of colourful tattoos. Cherry blossoms bloomed over Ryu’s shoulder, the branch ending in artful curls on biceps and triceps.

The down-filled comforter had slipped down to Ryu’s slim hips and Nat scanned every part he could see. Portions of the white tigers leaping over Ryu’s skin showed on his ribcage. Over his lat muscle was a portion of a samurai’s kimono. Nat knew the drawing of the two kissing samurai well by know, having had the opportunity to see Ryu’s naked back every day for the past four months.

Ryu took a deep breath in his sleep and turned slightly. He seemed fine, yet the heavy feeling remained.

Was it about Ryu? Nat closed his eyes briefly. No. His intuition, finely honed from years of police work, did not sense a problem there. Yet, there was something. That question. The question he wanted to ask Ryu for the last few weeks. He’d already bought the ring on the sly, in the bit of time he actually wasn’t in Ryu’s presence. All the other guys here in the White Tiger knew about it and were doing a damn good job of keeping it a secret from Ryu. It was just a matter of when to ask. Of that, he was uncertain.

Kiku, the owner of this place, and Ryu’s best friend in the world as well as his protector and mentor, had said that when the time was right, Nat would know in his heart.

The time wasn’t right yet.

But that wasn’t the source of the bad feeling.

Bracing up on his elbow, Nat watched Ryu sleep. That at least was something he knew about. Watching Ryu doing anything was pleasurable. In sleep, Ryu looked nothing short of an angel.

Ryu blinked. He let out a long exhale and looked up.

Damn. Staring at Ryu had woken him up. Nat chided himself silently. He should have known Ryu would be sensitive, even in his sleep.

“Are you all right?” Ryu immediately levered up onto his elbow. He scrubbed his free hand over his face. His eyes, though concerned, still looked sleepy, and his hair stood up in bed-head spikes which framed his classically beautiful face. Too sexy for words.

Nat watched him another second. If he lied, Ryu would know immediately and hound him for the truth. He shrugged and heaved a sigh. “Happy to see you.”

A smile stretched Ryu’s pouty lips. He fell back against his pillow, his gaze still on Nat. “If I didn’t have a practice spar today,” he said, “I’d show you my gratitude for those kind words.”

Nat smiled back at him. “If you didn’t have a practice spar, I’d let you.” It was a policy of theirs not to have sex the same day Ryu had a fight, practice or otherwise, for as Ryu put it, he had to conserve his qi. Nat’s cock tightened and rose under the covers. He did his best to ignore it. Later, once Ryu had completed his fight, there’d be time for that.

Ryu’s smile faded. “Something’s wrong, though. I feel it. What are you troubled about, Nat?” He turned on his side and rose up again on his elbow.

He should have known Ryu would guess. “I don’t know. I just woke up with this…feeling.”

Ryu’s almond-shaped eyes widened. “You’re not…having doubts, about us, are you?”

“God no.” Nat didn’t hesitate on that, not only because it wasn’t the problem but because he hated for Ryu to be scared a second about them. He’d given Ryu enough grief their first meeting when Kiku had sent Ryu to Thailand for protection from a psychotic yakuza boss, and then again, when that mission had finished and he and Ryu knew there was something between them, he’d said nothing and let Ryu return, hurt and frustrated to Tokyo. When Nat had taken the leap two weeks later and followed Ryu here, taking an emergency leave of absence from the Thai Royal Police in order to be with him, he’d sworn never to let Ryu have another moment’s grief. Though with this nagging sense of foreboding, he wasn’t sure that would be possible. “Listen, Ryu, you never have to worry about that again.” Nat still remembered watching Ryu’s cab pull away from the curb on the way to the airport. Ryu’s face through the window had been so hurt. So disappointed.

Relief flickered over the other man’s softly rounded features. “Can you talk about what it is?”

“I would. If I knew.”

Ryu sat up now, dislodging the covers and Nat got an eyeful of his morning hard-on which bulged through the skin-hugging white boxer briefs he’d worn to sleep. No nakedness to tempt them. He leaned over and pressed a soft, quick kiss to Nat’s lips. “Whatever it is, you know I’ll help you, right?”

“Of course I know.”

Ryu nodded. “Better get going, I guess.” He pushed away the covers and rose from the bed.

Nat watched him disappear into the bathroom. Instead of getting up himself, he clasped his hands behind his head and listened to the sounds coming from the bathroom. Ryu’s morning relief streaming into the toilet, the flush, the turning on of the shower. Ryu showered even before sweating at the gym. He had a thing about bodily cleanliness that went beyond…normal.

Nat smiled briefly to himself. It was one of the quirks he’d found charming about the man back in Phuket at the training camp where he’d passed Ryu off as a student.

Steam filled the bathroom and Nat sat up quickly and leaned forward, stealing a glance through the doorway.

Bull’s eye. Ryu had just pulled off his boxer briefs and was opening the glass door of the shower. That erection Nat had seen underneath the boxer briefs still poked heavenward. Not large and thick but perfect, just the right amount of tiny veins and blushing colour, the lobes of the head smooth and lickable. And Ryu’s sac underneath, juicy and plump, fit perfectly in Nat’s hand when he palmed them.

Too soon, Ryu stepped into the shower and disappeared behind the cloud of steam. The glass door shut, leaving Nat alone with his own hard-on. Heaving a deep sigh, Nat lay on his back and stared up at the ceiling. The tightness in his cock beckoned but he continued to ignore it. He needed to conserve his own qi. Ryu’s voice, singing, caught Nat’s ear. Nat listened. Ryu was singing a song in Japanese, a rock ballad by a singer he listened to sometimes. Gackt. Funny name, but Ryu liked the guy, and when Ryu liked someone, he was a fan for life. Nat knew this, having seen the scrapbook Ryu had kept since his late teens on Nat’s career. Every little news article in Thai, Japanese or English Ryu had found went into that scrapbook. Cheeks blushing, Ryu had finally shown it to him a couple of weeks ago.

That’s when the thought of popping the question had popped into Nat’s mind.


A deep voice came from the other side of the soji screen door. Kiku.

Nat sat up, frowning. Kiku never came to the door. Must be something important. Nat’s stomach tightened. “Yes?”

He threw back the covers, glad for his boxer shorts, and crossed over to the door, which he slid open.

Kiku bowed his head respectfully. Once a yakuza boss, he’d gone legit and converted this place from an illegal gambling parlour to a beautiful men’s hotel. A long rivalry with his boss’s son, Taro Suzuki, however, now showed on Kiku’s face. Even though Ryu had ended it all four months ago in a heart-stopping way, Kiku had aged considerably. His still ruggedly handsome face had lines around the eyes and mouth, his eyes deeply sad in spite of the humour and compassion that also showed in their depths. “Nat, I’m sorry to bother you.”

“Ryu’s in the shower. He’ll be out in a few minutes.”

But Kiku shook his head. “I’m not here to speak to him. There’s a call for you downstairs in my office. He identified himself as Agent Chuek. He needs to speak with you.”

Nat’s blood froze. “Not about my parents?” He spoke to his mother and father regularly, but they were older, so he worried.

“He said to tell you your parents are fine. Not to worry. It isn’t something like that. But it is terribly urgent.”