Series: Steele Pack, Book One
Author: GiGi DeGraham
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 01/31/2023
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Genre: Paranormal, contemporary, romance, gay/questioning, genderqueer/genderfluid, asexual, interracial, action/adventure, suspense, prisoners, prison/prison escape, grieving, graphic violence, rape attempt, PTSD, off-grid living/isolation, subsistence/hunting, winter, one-bed, soulmates, friends to lovers, second chance, mysterious wolves
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Most prisoners believe their punishment is unfair, but for Ryan Tarkett, it’s true. While serving his sentence, an attack sets off a chain of events and forces Ryan to speed up the timeline on an insane escape plan. Spurring him on are memories of his past, his one love, who he met in juvie, and the driving desire for freedom. When Ryan believes he has nothing left to lose, escape from prison becomes the only option.
Ryan’s desperate journey isn’t easy as he tries to evade capture. Past regrets and confusion about his sexual orientation dog him as he deals with the loss of Thomas. When a stranger gives Ryan the chance at a new life, somewhere he might begin to feel safe, he may learn to trust again.
But in his mountain hideaway, Ryan feels as if he is being watched. Something lurks in the surrounding woods. Flashes of a figure give the impression he is being followed or, worse, hunted. Alone and lonely, Ryan fears he is losing his mind. When his new shadow seems intent on sticking around, Ryan starts to suspect this is no ordinary Wolf.
Prisoner is a different kind of love story, where a mystery waits to unfold.
GiGi DeGraham © 2023
All Rights Reserved
Prisoner 793 lay on his cot in his cell, staring up at the rough joint that drew a harsh line across the concrete ceiling. His eyes traced the stone seam, and by now, he knew every bump and divot of the rugged line. Immeasurable minutes of his life had been spent with his eyes affixed on the thing while contemplating his time. Because of all he did not possess, other than a bundle of letters, this was something he had plenty of. Time there was measured in years still left to serve. Twelve down, and thirty-eight to go. Thirty-eight years to look forward to staring at that same ragged seam across the ceiling they hadn’t even taken the time to trowel smooth when they built this godforsaken prison.
His bed, this meager cot, with its navy-blue ticking, was a place he both hated and would defend to the death because it was his. Prisoner 793 had spent the better part of the last two years on this cot, and he would not let some new chester come in and try to take it. Hell, he wouldn’t let anyone take anything from him, and neither would his cellmate, who he internally called Big Bastard.
It was a place that 793 had earned, this thin bed on the top of the double bunk. Big Bastard had kept his bottom bunk with just a look, and he might have grunted once the first day a new, unwelcome prisoner was added to their cell. The new guy didn’t even consider it, tangling with the bigger man, so he’d looked above, to 793’s cot, to him, the lesser of the two evils in the room. Now, the new guy slept on the floor temporarily on a flat mat that kept him from freezing solid in the night. The surface was always cold, even cool-to-the-touch on nights in mid-August. They kept it cold in prison to keep men tamed.
During summer days, the floor just sweat, making everything smell worse than it already did. But this new man was there for something the warden liked to call “overcrowding,” and for the last three months, 793 had fought the same man. Clearly, the problem wasn’t going away. Not until the warden got the additional funding he’d been lobbying for to add yet another wing in this constant effort to house more men.
These floor mats had a crinkling, silver film that rustled every time one of the transfers shifted in their sleep or even took a breath. It had put Big Bastard in a foul mood for three straight months, and more than once, he’d huffed, gotten up, and kicked the shit out of the new prisoner who couldn’t be still or breathed in or out too loud. Big Bastard hated the guy. He either liked or simply tolerated 793, who hadn’t slept on a mat, not once. From the first day 793 had arrived at this medium-security prison, he’d handled business and secured his cot with his fists.
It was like anywhere. When you transferred into a new place, you started over. But before, at his first prison—a maximum-security federal penitentiary called Supermax, deep in the south of Louisiana—793 had fought and lost many times. With every loss, he’d slept on something less than desirable. It was there at Supermax that 793 began working out in his cell. When he’d earned privileges, he started lifting weights in the yard until he could fight with a properly placed fist, a fast elbow, and a debilitating knee. These were the skills required to win and keep the cot for himself. It had taken a few pretty good ass-whippings for him to figure out just how to fight—because fighting in prison was its own kind of animal.
This new inmate, Dean Harrold, had narrower eyes than most, hardened thin slits that seemed to always tell on him. Harrold had serious issues with authority and had killed his father during a domestic dispute. His father, who had worked high up in the government, had friends who hadn’t taken any mercy on his murderous son. Dean Harrold was a lifer with nothing left to lose. Harrold was a muscular guy, on the tall side, but he fought with his anger rather than any real skill. He was bigger than 793 but less than Big Bastard. Harrold was never satisfied with anything and constantly complained. He was entitled and mouthy, irritating, even to the guards. Dean Harrold was just a prick.
Big Bastard had already beat him with a shoe until Harrold understood he had to keep his trap shut. The beating had been insulting and demeaning, and Harrold simmered over it like a scorned woman as the shoe-shaped bruise darkened down his cheekbone. Big Bastard was currently in the hole for it, as Harrold had snitched, and the cell was quieter afterwards. Harrold continuously gave 793 the stink eye and made crude comments. This happened so often 793 would just get his eyes closed, and pop them back open as Harrold spouted off more of his hate. Harrold was pissed that 793 hadn’t tried to stop the beating.
“Useless mute,” Harrold had barked up at him.
Harrold was going to die in here; he was only a year older than 793, just twenty-eight, and would never be a free man again. He wasn’t lucky, but he hadn’t gotten the death penalty—the big bitch—so that was something. Still, 793 didn’t care for him.
But Harrold was here now, this last stop in life. He worked in janitorial services, and word was he might be moved out of their cell by the end of the week. Friday couldn’t come soon enough. Funny that he never attempted to sleep on Big Bastard’s cot while he was gone. He begrudgingly slept on the mat, most likely thinking 793 would rat. He wouldn’t have had to. Big Bastard would have known; he’d been there far too long for anyone to pull one over on him. Number 793 hoped Harrold would be gone by the time Big Bastard got back from the hole, and they could both get back to their somewhat normal peace and quiet.
NineStar Press | Books2Read
Meet the Author
GiGi DeGraham lives, plays, and learns in New Orleans. She is a proud southerner and enjoys fixing up old houses and writing. Most of her story and character ideas develop while sanding and painting. She loves to roller skate and has a favorite author-named cat called Irving, after Washington Irving. You’ll always find her with an audiobook in her ear and listening to everything narrated by Kirt Graves.
GiGi prefers the outdoors when the weather permits, going on rock and fossil hunts or visiting local rock shops. Otherwise, she’s clacking away at her keyboard until the wee hours. GiGi firmly believes downtime should be spent on a porch swing. GiGi is a life-long supporter of the LGBTQ+ community.
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