Oct 2 2017 11:09am

Santino Hassell Excerpt: Sightlines

Santino Hassell

Sightlines by Santino Hassell

Chase Payne is a walking contradiction. He's the most powerful psychic in the Community, but the least respected. He's the son of the Community's founder, but with his tattoo sleeves and abrasive attitude, he's nothing like his charismatic family. No one knows what to make of him, which is how he wound up locked in a cell on the Farm yet again. But this time, the only man he's ever loved is there too.

Elijah Estrella was used to being the sassy sidekick who fooled around with Chase for fun. But that was before he realized the Community wasn't the haven he'd believed in and Chase was the only person who'd ever truly tried to protect him. Now they're surrounded by people who want to turn them against their friends, and the only way out is to pretend the brainwashing works.

With Chase playing the role of a tyrant's second-in-command, and Elijah acting like Chase's mindless sex toy, they risk everything by plotting a daring escape. In the end, it’s only their psychic abilities, fueled by their growing love for each other, that will allow them to take the Community down once and for all.

Get a sneak peek at Santino Hassell's Sightlines (available October 9, 2017) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

“They tortured you,” Chase growled. “And I’ll fucking kill them for it. I swear to God, I’ll murder them all.”

Elijah shook his head just slightly, his eyes still shut. “It won’t do anything. Change anything. It happened already. And the worst part is . . . The worst part is that it was working.” The disgust was thick in his voice as he went on. “By the end of the first week, I doubted everything I’d ever believed about myself. Holden, Lia, Nate. I questioned whether I knew what I was talking about or whether it was all just . . . just lines I’d been fed. Disinformation from a group who wants to take the Community down due to their own agenda. How the fuck could I ever— How was I so quickly . . .”

“Don’t doubt yourself. And don’t feel bad.” Chase propped himself up on his arm so he could stare down at Elijah’s face. The agony was evident, and it caused his protectiveness to rear up again. “These people spent years programming me to the extent of my entire body shutting down if I even thought of leaving. It’s what they do. That it’s not still working on me now is a miracle.”

“But they did worse things to you. You had Jasper trying to take your head apart.” Elijah squeezed his eyes shut, jaw clenching. “It barely took them anything to make me feel like I was losing part of myself. And the things I said . . .”

“About your family?”

Elijah finally looked at him. “How did you know?”

“I saw it.”

Shame crept in further until Elijah focused on the window. The view was of the trees stretching out beyond the property and the dark blue of the sky.

“I never talk about them,” Elijah whispered. “Ever since I went to the CW for the counseling sessions, when I unloaded and realized it’d all been recorded, I don’t talk about what happened in Wisconsin.”

“Why, though? Fuck them. There’s no reason to feel bad for talking about some pieces of shit who threatened to hurt you.”

“I know. But this is . . . this is part of my problem. Someone can hurt me, or something, and I’ll still feel this awful guilt deep inside my chest because even though they did that bad thing . . . does that bad thing outweigh all the good?” Elijah wiped a forearm across his eyes, forcing out an ironic laugh. “Isn’t that so stupid? My mother didn’t protect me from her boyfriend. And my grandfather basically threatened to kill me for being gay, but all I can think of is how . . . even though he was raised as a hard-core homophobe, he did everything possible to support me and my mom after my dad died. So did my abuela. They fought against so much racism where we came from, put together an amazing life for us, and . . . yet . . .”

“There is no and yet.” Chase grabbed Elijah’s jaw, forcing their gazes to lock. “Just because someone gave you life, helped you keep that life, doesn’t give them the right to betray you or threaten to take it away when you don’t meet their expectations or . . . if you’re not as useful as they want you to be. If you don’t obey the way they wanted you to obey.”

Elijah looked miserable, but his breathing evened again. “Is that how you feel about the Community?”

Was it? Chase had no clue. There was so much resentment and hate and anger wrapped up with the same level of brainwashed loyalty that Elijah had just discussed, that trying to figure out the answer to that question would take days. Weeks. A lifetime of unraveling all the different webs now that he was finally able to really pick it all apart and discuss it.

“I don’t know how I feel about anything,” Chase said. “Except knowing that when it comes down to the wire, I’m going to protect myself and my people. And that I will fight until the very end to keep my people safe. And fuck—maybe that’s why even before their programming stopped working on me, I could reach out to Nate. To try to warn you. I never was before. Not until . . .”

“The disappearances?”

Really, it had started with that burning need to protect Elijah. To get him out before something happened to him. Ever since Richard had started showing interest in Evolution, and especially after he’d placed Beck there, the entire place had felt like a bomb on the verge of exploding. And Chase had wanted Elijah out.

But he nodded. “When it came down to it, and it was me feeling like my head was going to cave in, or me protecting someone I needed to protect, I picked the other person every single time.”

Elijah nodded slowly, searching every centimeter of Chase’s face. “Hero.”

Chase snarled. “Shut up.”

Elijah’s mouth twitched in the first hint of a mischievous smile. “It’s true. You’re a punked-out ragey cynical bastard, but you have hero potential. And even if you don’t like or care about me outside of friendship or sex, I care about you, Chase. So much. So fucking much. God, you have no idea how you were my lifeline. How you saved me. How much I—”

Chase brushed their lips together again, hushing Elijah before he could finish the sentence. Elijah slanted his mouth so their tongues could slide together, and the sensation fired up Chase’s sex drive in an instant.

They pulled away with a wet smack of lips, and Elijah once again gripping him. He was staring at Chase’s mouth with outright hunger, and that sent another blast of arousal through Chase.

“Get your strength up, Elijah,” he uttered in a gravelly voice. “’Cause Big Daddy Payne sure as fuck expects you to be my beta sex kitten from now on.”

Elijah half scoffed, half laughed. “God, I can do that. Just as soon as I feel like physical activity won’t cause my soul to escape my body.”

Chase kissed him again, firm and brief. “We got this as long as you keep your shield up. Keep them out of your head and they’ll have no idea that the show we’re about to put on is the first act in the play called ‘Smash This Bitch to the Ground and Get Out.’”

Copyright © 2017 by Santino Hassell.
Learn more about or order a copy of Sightlines by Santino Hassell, available October 9, 2017 by visting the publisher's website.


Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.

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