"Hal?" Paddy rapped on his door. "May I come in?"
Hal opened it, looking at Paddy with a bit of surprise. "Sure." He stepped aside to let him enter.
"I have something I need to tell you," Paddy said. "Something… personal."
Dave, who was sprawled on one of the sofas, asked, "Do you want me to leave?"
Paddy smiled slightly. "That's up to Hal, but somehow I suspect he'll tell you later anyway."
"Of course I will," Hal agreed. When Dave sat up, Hal took a seat beside him on the sofa, looking up at Paddy. "So?"
Settling down on the edge of the other sofa, the envelope he was holding tightly clenched in one hand, Paddy said, "I just came back from an assignment. I was…well, Dom and I were, protecting two men who were trying to stop a blackmailer by the name of Margolin." He chuckled self-consciously. "I had fun actually, playing detective. But that's neither here nor there at the moment."
"Are these men someone you think I know?" Hal asked.
"No. But the blackmail victim was." Paddy looked down at the envelope then with apparent reluctance, handed it to Hal. "These are copies I made—unbeknownst to either the victim or the men we were protecting—of the photos the…the bastard was using for blackmail."
Hal opened it cautiously, taking out one of the pictures. He hissed in a breath of dismay. "I had no idea… How the hell did this Margolin get these?"
Dave took the photo. "Interesting shot," he muttered. "I take it you didn't know about this, Hal?"
"No. Damn." He took out the next one and sighed. "I know where these were taken, but who the hell…? And why?"
"Since they're all taken from the same angle, I'd say someone had a hidden camera set up in the bedroom," Paddy said. "His?"
Hal nodded. "We were lovers, obviously. Not for long, and not after he began his first run for the legislature. We…well, I decided it wouldn't help his career if anyone found out, so I ended it." He smiled ruefully. "Frank didn't take it all that badly when it came right down to it and we remained friends until the end. He met a nice woman, married her, and that was that."
"I take it he's bi?"
Hal snorted. "Under the circumstance, I think that's a given." He looked at another picture and shook his head. "I wonder if he's responsible for these. If so, why didn't he destroy them?"
Dave hugged Hal tightly. "Perhaps because he wanted to remember the man he truly cared about. Can you tell when they were taken?"
"Um-hum. A couple of days before I broke it off with him." He tapped the spot on the photo that showed the bedside table. "I gave him that book that night, since we'd been talking about totalitarianism." He chuckled. "No, we didn't spend all our time in bed."
"I know that," Dave said. "You saved him—and yourself in the process." He planted a kiss on Hal's lips, obviously not caring that Paddy was in the room. "You saved me as well," he said softly, then laughed. "Now if you could do something about Paddy."
Paddy snorted. "Not happening."
Hal cocked an eyebrow. "Someday. For now, though, thank you for giving these to me. I'm presuming you gave the originals to Frank."
"I didn't. Vic and Evan will."
"Then you don't know how Frank, well…reacted?"
"No. I'm sorry. Still, since he must have kept them until Margolin, or whoever, got their hands on them and used them to blackmail him, I would hazard a guess they meant something special to him. Therefore, he'll to be glad to get them back for more than just the idea that they couldn't continue to be a threat to him."
"I hope so," Hal murmured.
Paddy stood, ruffling his wings. "I should get out of here and report in to Samuel."
"You haven't done that already?"
"No. I thought this was a bit more important."
"Thank you! However, I'm not certain Samuel will agree."
Paddy smirked as he walked to the door. "He'll deal."