#TeaserTuesday: Caught by Scarlet Blackwell

Having recently hosted the release party for Captured, we're excited to be able to help Scarlet Blackwell tantalize you with an excerpt from Caught, the second book in the Cold Love series, which releases on September 3rd!


“Goldilocks, I presume?”

It’s the onset of polar night in Alaska and trucker Marshall Westray is looking forward to six weeks’ downtime. But first he has to negotiate 498 miles of frozen wilderness hauling his load down the deadly Dalton Highway from Deadhorse to Fairbanks.

He needs everything to go smoothly but his plans come unravelled at his first stop when he discovers a half-naked man in the back of his cab.

Stowaway Luka is all sorts of easy on the eye and has a ready sob-story that Marshall is appalled to hear. He’ll lose his job if his hitchhiker’s discovered but try as he might, he just can’t shake free of Luka and he’s not sure he wants to.

Luka Hartwell has never been loved in his life. Running from a dangerous situation in Deadhorse, he sees Marshall’s truck as his sanctuary and doesn’t think of the consequences. When the trucker finds Luka in his bed, sparks fly. Luka will do whatever it takes to make sure he gets that ride to Fairbanks and offering Marshall his body isn’t exactly a hardship when the trucker is as smoking hot as Marshall.

Thrown together for hours of treacherous driving, will the two men find solace at the end of a long, lonely road?

“You light up polar night like a beacon to show me the way.”


Marshall Westray hurried out of the cozy office and across the parking lot through the howling wind. Blizzardy snow struck his face like needles and he was buffeted backward with every step until he felt as though he was wading through glue.

The wind threatened to wrench the door from his truck when he stashed his thermos of coffee in the cab along with a couple of snacks. He pulled his hat low over his ears and began his checks. Walking around the truck, he looked at the tires and the straps holding the load. He moved on to checking the oil and the windscreen wash.

Finally, he settled himself in the cab, started the engine and waited for the heater to kick in. Christ, it was colder than a witch’s tit. You’d think he’d be used to it after five years hauling loads up and down the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks to Deadhorse and back again, but sometimes, the frozen north just took his breath away. He shivered in his down jacket, drumming his gloved hands impatiently on the steering wheel, anxious to be away before the twilight turned into the blink-and-you-miss-it shortest day of the year when the sun slid onto the horizon and stayed there until January. The thermometer said -21, but with the wind chill factor, it had to be double that. Still, positively balmy, really, for late November. All around him were indications of climate change. Soon he wouldn’t be able to drive across the ice, and soon he wouldn’t be able to see those polar bears often sighted around Deadhorse. There’d be none left. 

He couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. He could find work as a trucker anywhere, but Alaska was kind of in his blood. What would he do without this place?

This was the last job, then he had six weeks off. He stared out across the flat, solid, windswept wasteland in front of him. Just about discernible in the distance was the Brooks Range. What exactly would he do with that time? This job had never been conducive to meeting people other than fellow truckers and he’d yet to find a gay one amongst them. They were all men over fifty with huge beards and years of experience. They still teased him as the newbie, even now. Annabel, the recent recruit, had taken on the brunt though; the guys had a new target. New and a woman. Just perfect.

Marshall liked Annabel. She was fun and ballsy and gave as good as she got. They’d become friends, but he also sensed she found him attractive. He’d slept with women in the past and wondered if he’d sleep with Annabel just to ease his loneliness. He sighed. That wouldn’t really be fair. At the age of forty, he should be looking for someone to settle down with, not giving false hope to people he didn’t really want. Was it better to be alone? Sometimes he wasn’t so sure. Annabel was beautiful. Maybe he should ask her out for a drink.

The heat had finally started to circulate and Marshall shrugged his jacket off and put it on the seat next to him. He’d keep his beanie hat on until he was thoroughly defrosted. He fastened his seatbelt and checked his mirrors. Here we go. He started to turn the truck in a slow circle toward the exit. His body might have warmed, but his heart felt heavy and numb with cold.

He knew the Dalton Highway well. Apart from turning over and falling into a ditch, the caribou were always a hazard. One jumped out at him within the first thirty miles, but a blast on the horn was enough to scare it back into the undergrowth, much to his relief. He couldn’t have lived with himself if he ever hit anything with the truck. 

A voice crackled over the CB. “Hey, Marsh, you set off at just the right time.”

Marshall smiled. “Hi, Annabel. It getting bad up there?”

“Yeah. These pussies I work with are saying they aren’t going to make it.”

He snorted. “If they want to stay in Deadhorse where they can’t even get a drink, that’s their problem.”

“Like that stops them. Pete was bragging about his bootleg liquor all over the airwaves on the way up.”

“I’d rather buy it in Fairbanks where I know what’s in it.”

Annabel giggled. “Me, too. Got myself a nice Chardonnay for tonight.”

“Wish I did.”

“Not long now. What are your plans for your time off?”

“Nothing much. Sleeping. Um, sleeping.”

“Then maybe you should have visitors.”

The static crackled for a long moment. “Maybe I should.” Marshall wasn’t sure about the turn in conversation.

“I could pop by next time I’m in Fairbanks.”

Marshall hesitated. Tried to gather his thoughts. “Give me a call when you’re in town. I’ll see if I’m around.”

He heard the smile in Annabel’s voice. “Will do. You drive safe now, Marsh, you hear?”

“I will. Over and out.”

“Over and out.”

Silence descended on the cab, broken only by the clanking of the load. The glare off the snow necessitated sunglasses despite the gloom and the heavy clouds. Marshall stuffed a CD into the slot and tried to listen to the soothing tones of Kate Bush. But he was bothered. Bothered by Annabel and by his own loneliness. It wouldn’t be right to seek solace with her just because he couldn’t find the right man. Not right at all. He would hurt her eventually, and she deserved better than that. Better than him.

Over a hundred miles done through the permafrost of the North Slope and it was time for a bathroom break. Marshall pulled off the main highway and followed the road down to Galbraith Lake, admiring caribou on the way. 

He shrugged on his jacket, pulled on his gloves and hat and braced himself for the cold as he swung open the door. A quick hurry to the restrooms at the campsite froze him to the bone. A falcon wheeled overhead as he darted back into the cab.

Marshall swore as he sat there shivering. Starting the engine, he reached for a sandwich from the seat beside him. He chewed in silence, watching a group of campers trudging toward the outhouses. The coffee in the thermos was still hot, but could do with more milk. Which reminded him, the milk in his tiny fridge out back generally got frozen and he should get it out to defrost. He put his half-eaten sandwich down, climbed from his seat into the back of the cab and went into his living quarters. He squeezed past the bed and reached down to open the lid on his fridge. As he grasped the milk container and half-turned, a movement in his peripheral vision startled him.

Marshall straightened up, heart pounding, and stared at the man in his bed.

Firstly, Marshall noticed that at least the guy wasn’t naked. He wore a red sweater with a white T-shirt visible at the neck and held Marshall’s cozy covers up under his armpits. He didn’t shiver, not like Marshall, and seemed generally warm and pink with heat. His hair was a dark cap of bedhead—clearly he had been sleeping—his face Alaska-pale, smooth and young. And handsome, let’s not forget handsome. 

Marshall swallowed his momentary fright and shock. He leaned back against the work surface in the cramped space and folded his arms. He didn’t feel a threat from the interloper. That might have had something to do with how ridiculously easy on the eye the guy was.

“Goldilocks, I presume?”

The guy had the clearest, most beautiful blue eyes, like a tranquil Caribbean lagoon. They widened with anxiety. “I can explain.”

Marshall raised an eyebrow, gaze firmly fixed on his stowaway because he liked what he saw. “You can? I’m all ears. Better make it a good one.”

The man in his bed licked his dry lips in a nervous gesture. Those eyes were virtually luminous. Marshall wasn’t sure he had ever seen eyes like them in his life. “I needed a ride.”

“You needed a ride? Is that all you got?”

The stranger didn’t speak again, only nodded with his mouth pressed tightly shut.

Marshall regarded him. He really did like what he saw, but he was mad, too, really mad, and a pair of pretty eyes wasn’t going to sway him. “My place of work isn’t your ride. I’m not insured for hitchhikers. You could get me fired.”

The guy clutched the covers hard. “I’m sorry, really. I was desperate.”

“Desperate? I know the facilities are rustic here,” he gestured at the lake, “but seriously...”

“I got in at Deadhorse,” the guy interrupted.

Marshall rocked back, nodding slowly. “Oh, this just gets better and better. You’ve been in my bed for a hundred miles?”

The stowaway swallowed and Marshall watched the bob of his Adam’s apple in his pale throat. He was without stubble and his smooth skin was like milk and completely without blemish. Just as luminous as his eyes. They stared at each other for a moment. When it became apparent the man had nothing to say, Marshall filled the silence.

“There’re better ways to leave Deadhorse. Legitimate ways.”

“I had to leave in a hurry. You were the first chance I found.”

Something was off. Marshall stared at him. “You worked there?”

He shook his head again. “No.”

“Then what?”

The guy looked away. His lips trembled. They were as pale as his face. “I’d be really grateful if you took me all the way to Fairbanks, Mister. If not, you could drop me at the next town and I’ll get another ride.”

Marshall couldn’t work him out. The guy was fearful, but it seemed like it was more than Marshall’s wrath that bothered him. Marshall had never scared anyone in his life and while he was scowling at the stranger, he doubted the guy bought the mean and moody act. What was he running from in Deadhorse then? Nobody lived there bar a handful of people. It was full of non-permanent staff working the oilfields at Prudhoe Bay. Surely this guy wasn’t a resident. What, or who, was he fleeing from? 

He shook his head. “I can’t take you to Fairbanks. I should turn you out here by rights.”

The guy bit his lip. “I’ll die,” he said in barely a whisper.

Marshall curled his lip. “Get another ride.”

“I haven’t a coat.”

“Jesus Christ, kid, what’s the matter with you?” Marshall held his hands up in exasperation. “Thirty below and you’re walking around without a coat?”

“As I said, I left in a rush. And I’m not a kid. I’m thirty-six.” He didn’t look thirty-six. Until he threw back the covers and unfolded long, graceful, naked legs from Marshall’s bed. He wore nothing but a pair of tighty whities on his bottom half, the contents of which said he sure wasn’t a kid.

Marshall looked away as the guy took a step toward him. “Did you forget your pants, too?”

The man gave a short laugh. “I don’t sleep in my pants. Do you?”

It wasn’t any of his business what Marshall slept in. He was starting to get hot under the collar and suspected the guy knew that. He wanted to look down the length of the man’s legs once more, and specifically, he wanted to look between them. He put a hand up to ward off the stowaway as he got up close in his personal space. The guy smelled good. Cologne, soap and hair products. Their eyes met and he saw the gleam in the man’s blue depths and understood.

“I get it. You’re a rent boy, aren’t you? Servicing the workers.”

The guy stopped short, a blush scorching his cheeks, a scowl on his face. “No.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“I don’t care what you believe. I’m not a rent boy.”

“You should care what I believe. I’m the only reason you’re not outside freezing your ass off right now.”

They eyed each other in mutual distaste for a moment. 

“So what can I do to make you let me stay?” the guy asked.

Are you excited?  Pre-order Caught today or nab it on Kindle Unlimited on release day, September 3rd!


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