Sunday, December 31, 2017

(1) I am what I am



“His voice was cold, clinical.” I shot a glance at the therapist from under my eyelashes, watching him lap this up.

I was here, telling him about my nightmares, because they were driving my roommate up the wall. Not the nightmares per se but the results. My screaming myself awake—and her too.

Bonnie had taken me under her wing the first day I hit town. I’d seen the diner and the ‘Help Wanted’ sign half an hour after stepping off the bus. Work, I needed, and food because I was half starved. I’d slept through the last rest stop and the candy bars I’d had with me were long gone.

“So what will it be?” The waitress looked down at me as I read the menu and mentally counted the money I had left, which wasn’t much.

“Umm, a burger and water, please.” That I could swing and still have enough left to rent a motel room for one night. After that I would be strapped.

She smiled and left, coming back a few minutes later with a large plate brimming over with the burger and enough fries to feed an army.

“I can’t afford all this,” I told her regretfully.

“Didn’t figure you could so consider it on the house. You look like you haven’t had a decent meal in days.”

Chewing on my lip I nodded and thanked her. I’d just finished off the last bite when she came back, slipping into the seat across the booth from me. “What’s your name honey?”

“Blair.”

“Pretty name. I don’t think I’ve run into a Blair before. So, anyway Blair you’re new around here aren’t you?”

“Yes ma’am. I’ve only been here,” I glanced at the clock on the wall behind the cash register, “two hours?”

“Are you planning on sticking around or moving on? Don’t take that the wrong way, I’m just asking because from what you said, you’re a little cash poor and we could use another waitress if you’re interested. It doesn’t pay a lot but it’s better than nothing. Besides,” she smiled, “I’m tired of running my feet off and could use the help. And before you ask, yes I can hire you. I’m half owner of this gorgeous dump.”

I took a deep breath, considering my options, and then nodded. “If you’re sure. I worked at a coffee shop in high school so I sort of know my way around. It’s been a while though.”

“Right,” she said with a laugh. “What, all of about three years at most?”

“More like five,” I admitted.

“So you’re interested?”

“Oh yes, ma’am, very interested.”

“Whew. Great. You can start tomorrow. And stop calling me ma’am, I’m Bonnie.” She held out her hand, smiling.

I shook it and smiled back. “Thank you Bonnie. I’ll be here first thing in the morning. Is there, do I need anything special in the way of a uniform or something?”

“Naw. As long as it’s a skirt and blouse you’re good. Be here at six and I’ll give you the ten cent tour before we open. I’d do it now but I hear my name being called so I’m getting that someone thinks they need a menu, or to pay me.” She grinned as she got up. “See you tomorrow.”

Guardian Angels – An Interesting Life (25)



Paddy had had no trouble getting the information from Margolin's safe. The only problem he ran into was the Margolin's large Newfoundland. The dog, as animals sometimes did, sensed Paddy's presence and came into the study while Paddy was rifling the safe for the blackmail information. It sat down on its haunches, panting and drooling as it watched. The moment Paddy closed the safe again, the Newfie stood and tried to get him to play. Paddy bit back a laugh at the look of surprise on the dog's face when its paw went right through the place where Paddy was standing.
"Sorry, pup. I'd love to stick around and entertain you, but I have more important things to attend to right now."
The Newfoundland looked around, trying to find the source of the voice that was in its head. Then it let out a deep, frustrated bark, which was Paddy's cue to leave posthaste.
Before returning to Evan's house where the others were waiting, Paddy opened the envelope. He wanted to see if he was right about the information Margolin had been using to blackmail Marshall. He was. "Go dtachta an diabhal thĂș, (May the devil choke you)," he spat out angrily. He was sorely tempted to destroy the contents but knew that if Marshall was going to believe there was no chance of his being blackmailed again, Vic had to give him the set of pictures and the negatives that the envelope contained. Paddy did, however, stop at an all night copy store. He knew someone who would want to see the pictures for very personal reasons.
When he got to Evan's house, he handed the envelope to Vic. He could see the temptation to open it on Vic's face. Then the man shook his head. "Whatever's in here is none of our business. As soon as it's morning, I'll give this to him and then the job is over."
"What about Margolin?" Evan asked.
"There's nothing we can do, legally, and somehow I think you'd frown on my dealing with him the way Mrs Peake and her thugs did with me."
"So they all get off scot free," Evan said angrily.
Dom shook his head. "I suspect they'll get what they deserve—in time. As one of our compatriots is wont to put it, 'Karma is a bitch'."
"You all believe in Karma," Vic asked in surprise.
Dom smiled. "Guardian angels come in all sizes, shapes, and beliefs, just as humans do."
"Okay, now that I think about it that makes sense. If they didn't, half the people in the world would be unprotected when they needed it most."
"A good deal more than half, when it comes down to it," Paddy said.
"So now you're going back to… wherever?" Vic didn't sound very happy about that idea.
Paddy replied, "Until the next time you need us." He grinned. "Personally, as bad as it sounds, I hope that's soon. I rather enjoyed playing detective."
"You could always come back and visit, when you're not saving someone else's skin."
Paddy glanced at Dom then nodded. "I just might. For now, however…"
"We'll miss you," Evan said. "Both of you."
"The feeling's mutual," Dom replied. "You take care of Vic and try to keep him out of trouble."
"Me?"
Dom grinned. "Yep. I think you two have a dinner date and after that… Well, let nature take its course."
Evan looked at Vic and smiled. "Not a bad idea."
"Not at all," Vic agreed softly. "Not at all."
"Until next time," Paddy said, and then the angels vanished.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

What can happen 'In the Name of Love'?

In the Name of Love
 
Ryan is a young artist hoping to make a name for himself. When he meets a man who offers to help him advance his career, he accepts. His career takes off when Merrick arranges two shows for Ryan at a local gallery. Ryan is elated, especially when their relationship becomes more personal. What he doesn’t expect is to end up being abused, physically and emotionally, as Merrick tightens his control over the younger artist.

After a vicious beating, Ryan manages to escape, naked except for a bedspread wrapped around himself. Policeman Shaun Levitt finds him cowering in an alley. Taking the battered young man under his wing, Shaun begins the slow process of helping Ryan come to grips with what happened.

Will Ryan learn to trust again? Or will he forever look at any man who might be interested in him as another potential abuser ... including Shaun?

EXCERPT:
"How did you end up out here?" Ryan asked as he continued sketching (Merrick), flipping to a new page every couple of minutes. "Okay, probably because you inherited the house."

"Partly. I also met a man who was looking for someone to buy into his agency. It was fortuitous both things happened within six months of each other. Two years later, I bought him out and I've been running it ever since."

"Nice." Ryan set down his pencil, flexing his fingers.

"If you'll allow me ..." Without waiting for a reply, Merrick took Ryan's hand and began massaging it. Ryan was obviously startled, but didn't pull away. "Better?" Merrick asked.

"Yes. Thank you! Can I hire you to do that on a regular basis?"

"I'm expensive," Merrick teased.

"It might almost be worth it." Ryan picked up the pencil and began sketching again. "Are you married? Have a girlfriend? Well, woman friend I guess, at your age."

Merrick laughed. "That makes me sound like I'm in my dotage."

"I didn't mean it that way," Ryan replied, looking embarrassed. "I don't think you're much over thirty."

"Thirty-three and counting. To answer your question, no I'm not married, and no girlfriend. I like women. Some of my best friends are female, but that's all they are -- friends. If I were looking for more, it would be with a man." Merrick watched Ryan as he said that, seeing what he thought was relief in his expression, as brief as it was. "Does it bother you?" he asked, wanting some verification Ryan might feel the same way.

Ryan shook his head. "Not at all. Why should it?"

"Some people take umbrage with the fact a person can be attracted to someone of their own sex."

"That's their problem, isn't it?" Ryan pointed the pencil at Merrick, saying, "Are you trying to find out if I'm gay, too? If so, you should just have asked, instead of beating around the bush."

"All right. Are you?"

"Yes." Ryan rotated one finger, indicating Merrick should turn the other way, facing the yard. He started to draw again, his concentration on what he was doing, so Merrick let the subject drop -- for the moment.

Several minutes later, Ryan said, "That should be enough for now."

Merrick got up, coming to stand beside him. "May I see?"

"Sure. They're only impressions. I'll use them to put together some full drawings. Then you can choose which one you like best and I'll go from there."

Merrick saw what he meant as Ryan turned the pages. Some of the sketches were quite abbreviated -- his nose, his lips, his eyes, the arch of an eyebrow. Others were complete, showing him from the front, the sides, and three-quarters. He put one hand on the table, purposely leaning lightly against Ryan's shoulder as he bent forward to tap one sketch. "I like the feeling in this one."

Ryan didn't move as he looked up at him. "Because you're smiling?"

"I think so." Merrick realized in most of the others, he hadn't been. "Am I really so much of a sobersides?"

"Not that I've noticed." Now, Ryan eased away. "I think you were a bit uncomfortable, although you'll deny it. Most people are when they know someone's drawing them, or taking their photo as far as that goes."

"True." Merrick went back to his seat, pouring more lemonade for both of them, even though Ryan was putting away his pencils and pad. "If you'd like, I'll give you the tour of the house I promised."

"I'd like to see it, but not right now, unfortunately. I have to get to work."

"It's that late already?" Merrick asked in feigned surprise, since he knew it was.

"Yep." Ryan took a drink before saying, "Maybe next time."

"When you have something to show me? How long will it take?"

"It depends how productive I am. I'm off tomorrow, so I'll start working on the preliminaries first thing in the morning. If it goes well, it might be tomorrow night. I'll call you, either way." He stood, slinging his bag over one shoulder.

Merrick nodded as he stood as well. "If it is, how about I make us dinner."

Ryan seemed surprised. "You don't have to do that."

"I'd like to. You're good company, which is something I don't get much of." Merrick wondered if he'd pushed the loneliness button too soon when Ryan frowned.

Then Ryan said, as they walked around the house to his car, "I get what you mean. Between my job, and my artwork, it seems as if I never have time to do anything with friends."

"So you will let me fix dinner?"

Ryan laughed. "I have the feeling I can't stop you."

"Exactly." Merrick waited until Ryan was in the car. It was an old one, what he thought the kids called a beater. If, no, when things progress the way I want, I'll get him a better one.

"I'll call you tomorrow afternoon," Ryan said. "No sense in you cooking if I have nothing to show you."

Merrick grinned. "It's called bribery, to make sure you do."

"I'll keep that in mind," Ryan replied, returning his grin before backing out onto the street and then driving away.

Merrick waved, though he doubted Ryan saw it. Soon, Ryan. Soon you'll be mine, then my ... our lives will be perfect. 

Friday, December 29, 2017

(60) When all else is lost the future still remains



“We made a mess.” Race’s eyes were alight with laughter as he looked down at his chest and then at Shan’s.

“Some messes are well worth making.” Shan bent to kiss him before sliding off the bed, heading to the bathroom. He returned a few moments later, cleaned up and holding a wet washcloth and a towel. Gently, being as careful as possible not to touch the faint burn marks visible on Race’s chest, he cleaned his lover up. Then he reapplied the ointment the doctor had given them, unconsciously scowling as he did.

Race watched him and when he’d finished he put a finger under Shan’s chin to make him look up. “Stop looking like you want to kill someone, probably me. I’m going to be fine. It won’t even scar according to the doctor, and if it does, well once I learn how to use the healing powers Kayne says I’ve got, I’ll fix it.”

“I know that, here,” Shan tapped his temple. “But in my heart what happened still scares the hell out of me.” He stared at Race but the young man could tell it wasn’t him he was seeing.

With a deep sigh Race turned away from Shan, pulling the sheet up and covering his eyes with his arm. “I need to sleep.”

Pulling himself back from his memories Shan nodded. “It’s probably best that you do.” He started to get up then paused. “Look at me Race.” When Race remained as he was Shan pulled his arm away from his face. “I have something I need to say. Something I’ve told you before, but I guess you didn’t believe me. You’re the most important person in my life now. Yes I’ll remember the past and Lav, but that is the past. You are my future and I pray that you think that I’m your future because…” He took a deep breath. “After what happened, when for a brief moment I thought I was going to loose you, I knew that saying I cared about you was wrong. I love you Race. For what that’s worth, for better or for worse, I do love you.”

Race smiled, his eyes lighting with happiness. “Then you are my future. We’re each others future, because I happen to love you, too, as you well know.”

“Then we’re good?” Shan asked gruffly.

“Good? Shan, we’re great.”

The End

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

(59) When all else is lost the future still remains



“Not one more word from you,” Race said, glaring at Shan from the bed where he was resting at Shan's orders. “I’m here, I’m alive, I’m healing, albeit slowly since Kayne’s not here to work his magic. Live with it.”

Shan growled, running a hand through his hair as he paced back and forth across the room. “You almost—you could have died as a result of that stupid stunt.”

“And if I hadn’t done that, you and Addie could be dead,” Race told him, a flash of fear crossing his face from the memory. “As it is, everything worked out just fine.”

Shan paused and then came over to the bed. He sat carefully on the edge so as not to jar Race, taking the young man’s good hand in his. “I know it worked but damn it, I just about died on the spot when you … when you… No more coming with me if there’s going to be a fight. Is that understood?”

“Absolutely.” Race rolled his eyes. “If you think I’m going to obey that order, you are out of your mind. You said yourself I have untapped potential, other than healing. It’s up to you to get me trained to do what I’m capable of because, love, there is no way in hell that you’re going off to battle without me at your side watching your back.”

Shan almost grinned as he replied, “How can you watch my back if you’re beside me?”

“You know what I meant, you ass.” Race pulled his hand free of Shan’s so that he could touch his cheek. “I mean it. If this is going to work between us I will not be treated like a kid.”

With a sigh Shan reluctantly agreed. “It’s going to be hard, but you’re right.” He retook Race’s hand, kissing the palm. “You know I’m going to work the hell out of you once you’re back on your feet again.”

“I could do with a good workout.” Race grinned, moving his hips suggestively.

Shan bit back a laugh, growling, “Not until you’re on your feet.” 

“Or my knees?”

“Keep this up and…”

“You’ll be ‘up’ and as frustrated as I am?”

Shan shook his head. “Kid, what the hell am I going to do with you?”

“Well, you could…”

“Kiss you so you quit talking?” Shan put his words into action.

“That works,” Race was finally able to reply when they broke apart to catch their breaths. “How about you summon Kayne, because I don’t think I can stand waiting another minute to be up and moving and making love to you.”

“I know what you mean,” Shan told him, his voice rough with desire. “But no one summons the Gryphon, so I guess we’ll have to…deal.”

Race glanced at the tented sheet half covering him and the thick bulge in Shan’s jeans, “Well there are ways to solve our problem. We have working hands, and mouths.”

“Hand, in your case,” Shan muttered, looking at the thick bandages covering Race from one shoulder down to his fingertips.

“That I’d rather use on you than me, if you’d just do something about all those clothes you’re wearing.”

Monday, December 25, 2017

(58) When all else is lost the future still remains



The vampire Reginald stood then, looking at Shan and Addie, and then out across the room. “My feelings are that the Were-sorcerer be allowed to do as he suggests. The Messenger is an old and true friend to us. I would hate to loose him because one man,” he shot a glance at Jacques, “wants, excuse the bad pun, to ‘shoot the messenger’.”

There was a brief roll of chuckles around the room before Reginald continued. “Who is that young man and how did a human get involved in this?” He pointed to Race, who was standing at stiff attention behind Shan, his face as pale as his prisoner’s at this point.

“He is my friend. Without him things might have turned out quite differently,” Addie told him. “He risked his life to distract the vampire in question, and his son, so that Shan and I could deal with them. Without him we and in turn all of you might be dead, truly dead, now.”

Race turned bright red at Addie’s words, staring down at the floor to avoid the looks from the assembled vampires. He only looked up again when Shan carefully put an arm around his shoulder and whispered, “If you ever do something so stupid again…”

“So you’ve said more than several times in the last twenty-four hours,” Race grumbled, engendering laughs from some of the nearby vampires, two of whom had come over to take control of his prisoner. At their request, because they couldn’t, Race removed the silver chain and then they marched the prisoner out of the room.

“I believe we owe the three of you a debt of gratitude,” the vampire running the conclave said. “Especially you, Addison.”

She smiled, holding up one hand to stop him before he continued. “I was quite serious when I said I have no desire to be the Queen. My personal opinion, for what it’s worth, is that Reginald would make an excellent King. He seems from what I know of him, and what I’ve seen today, to have compassion as well as strength, something that was sorely lacking in the last King.”

Jacques scowled at her words but said nothing, as one glance at the gathered members of the conclave told him most of them agreed with her.

“When can we get out of here,” Race asked rather plaintively. “I’m feeling a bit…” His knees buckled and only Shan’s quick action in catching him kept him from ending up on the floor.

“Now,” Shan growled. “Addie, are you coming?”

She nodded. “I’ll take him back home. You get rid of the garbage so that we can have the Messenger back as he should be.”

“And the woman who would not be Queen has spoken,” Shan muttered, a slight grin quirking his lips as he released Race to Addie’s care. Seconds later he vanished with the dhampir.

“Are you quite certain you won’t reconsider, Addison,” Reginald asked. “You would make an excellent ruler.” The sincerity in his voice said that he meant what he was saying.

“Quite certain.” She kissed his cheek. “I have two men, no, three actually,” she smiled to herself, “that need me more than any of you do.” That said, she tightened her grip on Race to keep him erect and slowly walked from the room.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Guardian Angels – An Interesting Life (24)



Vic moved with Margolin, as did Evan, who said quietly, "That's not what she says."
"Who the hell are you two?" Margolin asked angrily under his breath.
"As I said, acquaintances of Mrs Peake's," Vic responded, gripping Margolin's shoulder. "I think we should talk about why."
Margolin nodded toward a door at the side of the room. "In there, and this had better be good."
Vic smiled, noting the beads of sweat that had broken out on Margolin's forehead. He doubted they were caused by how warm the room was. He dropped his hand to his side and he and Evan followed Margolin.
As soon as they were in what turned out to be a small conference room, Margolin closed the door and asked tightly, "What is this about?"
"Your confidence that the governor is going to win the primary. From all the polls I've seen, he's running well behind Mr Marshall. However"—Vic paused dramatically—"I understand you have come up with a way to change that."
"Good politicking and a good man will win out every time," Margolin stated defensively.
"Neither of which you have going for you, so you came up with another way to win. You're blackmailing Mr Marshall to force him to withdraw from the race."
"You are out of your mind!"
"I don't think so." Vic smiled and lying through his teeth said, "Mrs Peake and I had a long conversation about why you had her try to get me off the case."
"What case?" Margolin glared at Vic. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Yeah, you do. I was hired to find out who was trying to blackmail Mr Marshall. I did, thanks to your lover's ineptitude at hiring goons to do her dirty work." Vic turned to Evan. "I'm betting he thinks he has evidence that Marshall took a bribe to get a bill passed."
Evan shook his head. "I'm leaning more toward his having a mistress, just the way Mr Margolin does."
"Naw. Marshall is very happily married and has been for years, with"—Vic grinned a bit—"two point five kids and a dog." He returned his attention to Margolin. "Whatever you think you have on him, Marshall is not going to fold and pull out of the race."
"This discussion is over! I will not listen to any more of your insane accusations."
"So be it, but I will find out where you're keeping whatever it is you're using to blackmail him, because I know it is you. I just hope, for his sake, the governor isn't in on this with you."
"He has no…" Margolin clenched his teeth, pushed past Vic, and stormed out of the room.
The moment the door slammed behind Margolin, Paddy and Dom appeared.
"The governor's in the clear," Dom said.
"And we know where Margolin's keeping the information he's planning on using against Marshall," Paddy added.
"Where?" Vic asked.
"In his safe at home."
"I don't suppose you picked up on where it is in the house?"
"I got was a flash of a picture. One of his family. I'm guessing the safe is behind it."
"That's a start," Vic said. "All we have to do is get Mrs Margolin out of the house for a couple of hours."
"You're planning on breaking and entering?" Evan asked. "You have to figure he's got hellish security on his place."
"I think we can help out," Paddy told him. "And we don't have to break in. The only problem might be getting into the safe."
"So go pick his brain for the combination," Vic said.
Paddy glanced at Dom. "You're better at setting a trigger to make that happen."
With a nod, Dom disappeared.
"A trigger?" Evan asked.
"Putting a thought in his head that will make him think about what we need to know—in this case, the combination."
"Boy, between the two of you, you could rob this city blind."
Paddy grinned. "We could, but we're angels, not demons, so we wouldn't."
Dom reappeared four minutes later, smiling triumphantly. "Got it."

Saturday, December 23, 2017

(57) When all else is lost the future still remains



“I now call the conclave to order.” The tall, Old vampire rapped the gavel on the podium, looking for all the world like the CEO of a large business in his dark suit and tie. “We have a full complement minus one,” he continued as his eyes searched the room.

The other vampires nodded, some frowning, the others seemingly unfazed at the absence of one of the Ancients.

“The first, and for now only business before us, is the election of a new King. Three names have been put before us. One is Reginald,” he nodded to the male sitting to his right, “the second is Jacques.” A slender blonde man stood as his name was mentioned. “The third…”

“Is not in the least bit interested,” Addie said as she strode into the room. “Actually, there was a fourth who was planning to make certain that he would be the next King, to the point of murdering as many of us in this room as possible with the help of his son.”

There were gasps of shock from the attendant vampires. “Who?” one shouted out, the others taking up that theme as they turned to stare at Addie.

“A vampire who, I sadly fear,” her face showed otherwise, “didn’t survive to complete his plans. However we have his son and one of their surviving companions.” She stepped aside to allow Shan to drag the dhampir into the room.

“The Messenger, the Messenger.” The name was whispered around the room from vampire to vampire.

“Yes and no,” Addie told them as she and Shan walked to the front of the room with the struggling dhampir between them. Race hobbled in behind them, looking very much the worse for wear, his good hand holding the end of the silver chain that bound the wrists of a deathly pale vampire.

When Addie reached the podium the vampire in charge stepped aside so that she could speak. Quickly and succinctly she explained to the gathering exactly what had happened. By the time she’d finished, the room was silent, until the vampire called Jacques stepped forward.

“Why is this one still alive? Better that we loose the Messenger than allow such a deadly dhampir to live.”

“He’s alive,” Shan said, his voice filled with venom at the speaker’s words, “because we are not murderers. I will send this…thing…” he turned his angry gaze on the dhampir, “to one who can separate him from the Messenger. Then and only then will he be slain.”

“And who are you to make this decision,” Jacques asked with distain.

Shan smiled. “The one who is keeping him from using his powers to destroy all of you. If you wish, I can release him into your hands; that is if you have the ability to control a sorcerer nearly as powerful as I am.”

Friday, December 22, 2017

'The Merger' has arrived!

The Merger
 
BLURB:
When Mike Harte saw Josh Aston sitting alone at the bar reading a book about burglary, he had no idea the man he first thought was a college student owned his own security firm. Since Mike was a private investigator, the coincidence led him to the idea that, perhaps, they should merge their two agencies.

It didn't take much persuasion on Mike's part to get Josh to agree. In fact, Josh was the one who pursued the idea by taking Mike up on his offer to visit Harte Investigations. The only thing that surprised Mike was the fact Josh, despite being a bodyguard as well as a security expert, never used a gun.

With the agencies merged, will the two men act on their mutual attraction and combine their personal lives as well? Or will their opposing styles on the dangerous jobs they work together drive them apart?



EXCERPT:
The first time Mike saw Josh, it was the last Monday evening in April.

The man was sitting alone at the far end of the bar in Thirty-One Twelve--named after its address--3112 Page Street. He was reading, his chin propped on one hand as he stared down at the book, a bottle of near-beer at his elbow. Occasionally, he'd jot something on the pad of paper next to him before going back to reading. Mike wondered if he was a college student. He didn't look more than twenty-two or three, at the most, from Mike's vantage point. If so, why study in a noisy bar, especially when he wasn't drinking real beer?

Curious, Mike picked up his bottle and wandered down to peer over the young man's shoulder. "Must be a pretty good book," he said.

Obviously startled, the guy turned to look at Mike before putting a finger between the pages to keep his place then closing the book to show Mike the cover.

"A book about burglary? Planning on breaking in somewhere?" Mike asked with a snort of amusement.

"Nope." He opened the book again, returning his attention to what he was reading.

"Short and sweet. By the way, I'm Mike."

"I'm not..."

He didn't finish whatever he was going to say, so Mike laughed, asking, "Not Mike? Or not interested in talking?"

He looked up, his lips twitching with a hint of a smile. "Both?"

"Okay. I won't bother you anymore."

Mike started to walk away when the young man said, "I'm Josh."

Turning back, Mike replied, "Nice to meet you. May I?" He pointed to the vacant stool next to Josh.
Josh shrugged and nodded, going back to the book after taking a sip of his drink.

Mike studied him openly, realizing as he did that Josh wasn't as young as he'd first thought. He decided he was probably closer to his own thirty-three than the twenty-three he'd guesstimated. He was slender, almost wiry, with dark hair that was a bit too long--which is why I thought he was a college student, I suppose--and hazel eyes. He chastised himself for jumping to conclusions based on first impressions. Given what he did for a living, he should have known better.

Josh turned to look at him. "Got my face memorized yet?"

Mike noted the touch of humor in his gaze, so he replied, "Getting there." He tapped the book. "Why are you reading about burglary?"

"The more I know about it, the easier it is to..." Josh snapped his mouth closed.

"To break in somewhere?"

"Yes. But not for the reason you're probably thinking."

Mike grinned. "Got it. You're an intrepid secret agent who needs to steal state secrets, so you have to know the best ways to enter a building without getting caught."

"Nope. Not a spy, not a burglar, though I suspect I might make a good one if I put my mind to it. I've studied enough about them and how they do what they do."

"Just studying won't do any good if you don't practice what you've learned. Theoretically, at least."

*****

Josh cocked his head. "What makes you think I haven't?" he asked while taking in Mike's short brown hair, gray-blue eyes above a classically straight nose, and his fairly muscular body.

After taking a drink of his beer, Mike set the bottle down again. "So you've broken into places? Or stolen a car? Or robbed a bank? Or...murdered someone?"

"Two out of four."

"I hope murder's not one of them," Mike said with a dry smile.

"Nope. Neither is robbing a bank. You need a gun for that and I detest them."

Leaning back, Mike asked, "If you're not a criminal--and I'm taking your word for it on that, for now--why break in somewhere or steal a car?"

Josh smiled. "As you said, you have to practice what you've learned. It's difficult to protect someone if you don't know how a potential attacker might get into their home or place of business--and how to defend against that happening."

"You're telling me that's what you do?" Mike looked as if he thought Josh was pulling his leg.

"Yes. I run a one-man protection service, primarily installing security for businesses, sometimes acting as a bodyguard for a client."

"You have got to be... Wait a minute. If you hate guns, how can you be a bodyguard?"

"There are a lot of other ways to fend off an attacker without shooting them," Josh replied.

"True." Mike nodded slowly, again studying him.

"What?" Josh asked when Mike's scrutiny went on too long without him saying anything.

"I was just thinking how coincidental this is." Mike tapped a finger on the bar.

"Oh? Why?"

Thursday, December 21, 2017

(56) When all else is lost the future still remains



The clouds scuttled across the face of the moon as the three companions inched their way closer to the dhampir’s hideout. Across a small clearing surrounded by tall trees, Shan saw the clapboard building that was posing as a research center.  He easily sensed the wards the dhampir sorcerer had erected and motioned for Addie and Race to stay put where they were.

::Problems?::  Addie asked.

::Nothing I can’t handle, that I can tell, but it’ll take some time. Try to keep Race from exploding from tension while I do, please.::

With that said, Shan began to explore the layers of wards. Some were easily removed, as they were just set to warn of intruders and not directly connected to the dhampir. Those he dealt with first, leaving him three that would be trickier to handle. He approached them the same way he would any well made security system. The trick was to bypass the various parts with ‘wires’ that would trick the dhampir into thinking the wards still existed as he had constructed them. It took Shan's full concentration and every bit of his not inconsiderable sorcery skills to achieve that, but in the end he was satisfied that it was safe to proceed to the next step, taking out the dhampir and his father.

Returning his attention to Addie and Race he had to smile. She seemed to be regaling the young man with stories of her adventures, speaking very quietly as she leaned against his shoulder, her lips bare inches from his ear.

::If you’re planning on seducing him may I suggest you wait until we return to Darian’s,:: Shan said, laughter in his voice.

::As if. He’s so all yours I don’t think he’d look twice at anyone else:: she replied with a snort of amusement.

Shan nodded, smiling at Race before saying, “We can get inside now, so I suggest we do it. Now.”

Race was instantly on his feet. Shan was glad to note that he immediately checked all his weapons before taking a deep breath. He wasn’t quite so happy to see the flash of fear that crossed Race's face. “Just remember,” he said quietly, wrapping an arm around Race’s waist, “both Addie and I can shield you if things get bad. You’re coming out of this whole and in one piece. I won’t have it any other way.” Cupping the back of Race’s head Shan kissed him quickly but thoroughly and then stepped away, signaling where he wanted Addie and Race.

Then the three companions moved towards the building.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

(55) When all else is lost the future still remains



“Everyone ready?” Shan asked as they stood on the far shore of the reservoir. With their enhanced eyesight, both he and Addie could make out their target. Race, however, could only see the expanse of water they had to cross—about two miles of it according to Shan.

The water was calm which made Race feel somewhat better. He’d just as soon not start this whole expedition off with an upset stomach. Not that it wasn’t closing in on that already, as nervous as he was. At Shan’s insistence, he was armed to the teeth, enough so that he’d laughingly asked if he was supposed to carry one knife between his teeth like the pirates in some of the books he’d seen. That had earned him a cocked eyebrow and a slight grin from his lover before Shan had told him this was serious business they were on.

“We know the dhampir and his father are still in residence and, according to the scuttlebutt Addie picked up from someone she knows, two of the vampire’s three minions are also there. That sways the odds in their favor, or so they’ll presume.”

“Then they know we’re coming after them?” Race had asked, feeling the knot in his stomach tighten.

“They shouldn’t, but never underestimate your enemy. I suspect that the vampire just wants to show up at the conclave with a show of support backing him.”

Race had nodded, his mind at that point more focused on the few minor spells Shan had trained him to use than on anything else. He hoped by doing that, the tension would ease. He knew, or at least prayed, that he was capable of dealing with humans if any showed up, and maybe younger vampires. The dhampir and his vampire father, Shan had told him, were not his concern and he’d as much as ordered Race to make a swift exit if either to them looked twice at him. Not that Race intended to do that. As far as he was concerned, when it came down to it he might be just the distraction needed to take their enemies concentration off Addie and Shan at a critical moment. Not that he intended to be stupid about it, but anything that gave his friends an edge he was willing to do.

Now Shan asked again, “Are you two ready to do this?”

Addie smiled grimly. “If you’d quit asking and get into the boat we could.”

Shan growled softly, stepping in to join them, casting off the rope that held the small boat tethered to the pier. Then he chuckled softly, taking the oars as he glanced at Race. “Right now I’m thinking your pirate analogy was right.”

Sunday, December 17, 2017

(54) When all else is lost the future still remains



“Umm, I think I may be walking bowlegged for a while if you don’t move soon,” Race quipped once he had finally recovered from what he considered had been the best orgasm of his life.

Shan’s eyebrows arched in amusement as he pulled out and rolled off the younger man before wrapping his arms around him. Looking at Race’s still flushed face he asked, “Any regrets?”

Race thought about that for so long that Shan thought he was trying to decide how to say there were. Then Race smiled. “Only if this was the first and last time—and even if was, the answer would still be no.”

Pressing a gentle kiss to Race’s mouth Shan murmured against his lips, “If I have my way it was the first time, but far from the last.”

“Then definitely, absolutely no regrets.” Putting his arms around Shan’s neck Race returned the kiss.

Soon they were deeply into another exploration of each others mouths until, with a sigh, Shan pulled away. “Keep this up and we’ll be doing an encore and unfortunately we have other things that are more important right now.” Tapping a finger on Race’s nose he added, “If you ever use that fighting technique with anyone but me, kid, I will…do something drastic.”

“Believe me I have no intention of doing that.” He looked quite seriously at Shan. “I am a one man man.”

“Strangely enough so am I. So that works.” Shan smiled, giving him one more kiss before getting up. Offering his hand he pulled Race up beside him. “I suggest we get dressed now. Addie’s pretty liberal but not quite into ‘clothing optional’.”

Race laughed. “That’s okay, I’m not about to go parading around naked in front of anyone but you.” As he dressed he studied Shan until the man cocked an eyebrow in question. “I was just…Never mind. Just admiring your physique.”

Shan closed the distance between them, taking Race’s face in his hands. “In case you were wondering, and I think you were, I’ll never forget Lav and there will always be a part of me that loves him and misses him. But in my mind, you are not in any sort of competition with him for my affections. I can’t say, yet, that I love you, because I don’t know if I do or not. I do however care for you and want you in my life. Can you settle for that?”

“Yes. It’s more than I hoped for. I probably love you but then, since I’ve never been in love before, it could just be indigestion I’m feeling.”

Shan threw back his head, laughing as he swatted Race’s ass. “If nothing else I have a feeling you’re going to keep me well grounded and amused, kid.”

Guardian Angels – An Interesting Life (23)



"Now you know who the blackmailer is, but how are we going to stop him?" Evan asked, as they drove away from the garage.
"Good question," Vic replied ruefully. "I have the feeling just talking to him won't do much good. He'd deny he was the one involved."
"What about telling the governor?"
"Since we don't have any idea if he knows what Margolin is doing, that might not be such a good idea."
"True," Evan said dispiritedly.
Vic took out his phone, brought up a website and searched for Margolin's home address and phone number. Then he made a call. When it was answered, he asked to speak to Arthur Margolin. A moment later, he hung up.
"According to his wife, Margolin is downtown at a political rally for the governor." He tapped his finger on his phone before putting it back in his pocket. "I say we go beard the lion in his den, so to speak."
"Not without a plan," Evan said firmly. "You can't just walk in there cold and accuse him. You said so yourself."
"That's where we come in," Paddy said.
Vic turned to look at him. "Reading his mind, if that's what you're thinking, isn't going to prove anything. Or at least, it won't be proof that we can use."
"True, but we can presume he has something physical. Right? Information from some source that he can make public and back up with evidence? All we have to do is find out where he keeps it and then get our hands on it."
"Easier said than done."
Paddy grinned. "Not if you confront him—in private. As you said, he'll deny it, but if you push it, we could get lucky and he'll think about what he's holding, and maybe wonder if it's safe where it is, since you seem to know what he's doing."
Vic nodded slowly. "That might work. But Evan needs to be better dressed if we're going to invade the rally. I don't think old jeans and a T-shirt are going to cut it in a fancy downtown hotel."
"Probably not," Evan agreed, making a turn that would take them to his place.
Half an hour later they were back in the car, heading down to the hotel where the rally was taking place. Evan was now wearing black slacks and a pale green shirt that, in Vic's opinion at least, made him look very businesslike—and sexy.
When they entered the hotel ballroom—the now-invisible angels right beside them—they were greeted by the sound of loud cheers.
"They knew we were coming and are excited," Vic commented with a grin.
"Somehow I think the cheers are for the governor," Evan said dryly, pointing to the dais at the front of the room. 
Vic chuckled, leading the way through the crowd toward the front of the room. He kept his eyes open for Margolin, finally spotting him with a group of people at one side of the dais. "Follow my lead," he said quietly to Evan.
They reached the group just as Margolin was saying, "The governor is going to win the primary by a landslide."
"How can you be certain?" one of the men standing there asked. "Marshall is running a very strong race."
"I have faith in our candidate—and in the voters," Margolin replied. "Marshall is only strong in the larger cities. The rest of the state understands that his ideas are too radical and will destroy everything we stand for."
What a crock. Vic shook his head as he moved close enough to place himself next to Margolin. "May I have a few words with you, sir?" he asked.
Margolin looked at him, his expression changing from the confident one he was showing his companions to one of puzzlement. "Do I know you?"
"No, but we have a mutual friend in common. Virginia Peake."
"Never heard of her," Margolin blustered. But he did step away from the group.

Friday, December 15, 2017

(53) When all else is lost the future still remains



(53) When all else is lost the future still remains

Race thought he’d gone somewhere beyond heaven as Shan licked and sucked his cock until it was buried deep in the Were’s throat. Shan worked slowly, bringing Race close to release, only to back off and start again. Then he stopped completely, sitting back on his heels looking down at Race.

“Are you a virgin?” Shan asked softly, tracing his fingertips over Race’s lips.

Race debated how to answer, finally saying, “No, but I’ve only done it once and that was too long ago to count, I think.”

Shan nodded, pressing two fingers into Race’s mouth. Knowing what Shan intended Race sucked them until they were wet. Then at Shan’s request he brought his knees up, revealing himself to Shan’s gaze and touch. Shan teased the fingers around Race’s puckered hole and then gently inched one inside, giving Race time to adjust before pushing it fully in. Questing, he found Race’s gland and stroked, eliciting gasps of pleasure from the younger man.

A second finger soon joined the first, stretching Race’s hole, readying him. Without needing to be told Race lifted his legs, resting his ankles on Shan’s shoulders as he tried to ride the fingers. Shan stilled him with a hand to his hip before withdrawing them. Spitting into the palm of his hand he used the saliva, plus the pre-cum from both of them, to lubricate his cock. Then, locking his eyes with Race’s, he pressed the head of his cock to Race’s hole and slowly entered him.

Race flinched at the bite of pain and Shan stilled. “Do you want me to stop?”

“No…Gods no…” Race pushed up to take Shan in a bit more. “You’re just…so big and…and it’s fantastic.”

Shan took him at his word, thrusting farther in before stopping again to allow Race to get used to him. Soon he was fully inside, savoring the tight, hot hole as he keep watch on Race’s face for any indication that he was too much for him. Race’s teeth bit down hard on his lip but his eyes said he was more than ready for whatever was to come, and wanted it, needed it.

Grasping Race’s hips Shan began to ride him, with infinite patience at first. But then his own need took over and his thrusts became faster, pegging Race’s gland each time as he pulled almost out and then entered all the way again. “Stroke yourself,” he growled softly.

Race took hold of his cock, pumping it, his speed matching Shan’s thrusts until they were both riding on the edge. “I’m going to…” he gasped out, unable to hold back as his balls tightened and then long creamy strands of cum shot out.

Shan followed seconds later, plunging in to fill Race with his hot seed.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

(52) When all else is lost the future still remains



Shan feinted then switched the knife to his other hand, coming in low to get under Race’s guard. He resisted smiling when the younger man anticipated his move and stepped back on one foot, swiveling as his other foot arced up to connect with Shan’s forearm.

“Not bad,” Shan told him.

“Logic and a bit of street fighting in my background. There are some dudes out there that don’t like taking ‘no’ for an answer if they want your money or more. I didn’t like fighting them and avoided it most of the time but…” Race shrugged.

As Race talked Shan watched, waiting for him to let down his guard. When he appeared to have, Shan hurled forward, intending to knock him to the ground. Race moved just as quickly, grabbing Shan’s arm and twisting hard, throwing Shan completely off balance. The next thing he knew he was the one on the ground, Race’s blade against his throat.

“Now I am impressed,” Shan growled as he watched Race’s eyes for tells about his next move.

What happened was completely unexpected, as far as Shan was concerned. Without moving the knife a fraction of an inch Race bent lower, taking Shan’s mouth in an intensely administered kiss that took Shan’s breath away. Then, as suddenly as he’d done that, Race stood and backed away.

“Interesting fighting technique,” Shan murmured, trying to make light of what had just happened, and calm his suddenly very awake cock.

Race’s eyes raked over Shan and his lips quirked up. “I doubt it would work on just anyone.”

Getting to his knees, Shan tapped a finger to his lips as if pondering a rejoinder. Then he lunged, grabbing Race’s ankle to bring him down flat on his back. “Turn about…” he growled, moving swiftly to straddle Race and give back a kiss as good as the one he’d gotten. Race gasped in surprise, which allowed Shan to plunge his tongue deeply into the younger man’s mouth, plundering it. Seconds later Race was reciprocating, his tongue battling Shan’s as he dove in for the kill, delving into the Were’s mouth to taste and tease.

Neither man gave an inch as hands began exploring bared chests and backs, moving rapidly to the find zippers and tear them open. Race wrapped his fingers around Shan’s engorged cock, reveling in the size of it. Shan was no less recalcitrant, lifting his hips just enough to grip and stroke Race before sliding down to take his balls into his mouth, sucking each one, rolling them over his tongue as if they were especially tasty hard candies.

Race arched up even as he bemoaned losing his hold on Shan’s cock. “More,” he begged and was rewarded as Shan released his balls to lap his tongue over his leaking slit and then engulf his cock in the heat of his mouth.