Elias stood beneath the hot water raining down from his showerhead, finally able to wash the smell of the bar from his skin. He had hoped to simply befriend Vito, but the mobster had turned up the charm the moment he’d laid eyes on Elias. ‘Friend’ unfortunately wasn’t going to be an option. He’d have to play the role of one of the many people interested in screwing Vito Minetti, but he knew he’d have to try and prolong the screwing part for as long as he could. Vito was a playboy, an enthusiast of one-night stands. Once Elias slept with him, there was no chance in hell he’d get any information from the man.
He scrubbed his hands over his face. He couldn’t believe there was even a part of him that was genuinely considering sleeping with Vito. Of course, he’d gone out on dates and slept with a very small number of people previously for information, but that had been different. His previous inside sources hadn’t been enforcers for the mob. They hadn’t been men willing to behead someone and display the naked, headless corpse for the public eye to see.
Vito Minetti was, by far, the most dangerous person Elias had knowingly and purposely interacted with, but he’d do damn near anything to finally be known for something other than his parents’ fortune. Being known as the man who proved Vito Minetti was one half–or, better yet, both halves–of the Minetti Horror Twins would be a far better fame.
Coffee cup in hand, Elias walked into work less than three hours after falling asleep. He waved at the few co-workers who usually waved back at him, grabbed a donut from the break room, and headed to his office. Lifting his satchel over his head, he dropped into his chair and turned on his computer with his free hand. After logging in and setting up his workspace for the day, he grabbed a pen and jotted down the only thing he had learned about Vito the night before.
* Vito sometimes introduces himself by a fake name
* Drake’s Place: Matteo
Technically, he had learned two things about Vito the night before. Beforehand, he sure as hell hadn’t known the man liked men. Bisexual, pansexual–he didn’t know, but it had certainly taken him by surprise. He couldn’t believe the mainstream media hadn’t gotten ahold of it yet. Vito’s playboyness either didn’t get enough ratings, or talking about his sex life would decrease the monstrous portrayal. Elias couldn’t know for sure which option was the most likely, but there was a good chance it was both for some networks.
Tucking his pen behind his ear, he grabbed his phone and dialed Jessie Jordan’s number, one of the only numbers in his phone he knew by heart.
“Hey. What’ve we got?” JJ asked.
“Are you up for another thrilling day of tracking a cell phone location for me?” Elias asked.
“I thought we got through that yesterday?”
“We did, for California. Now it’s time for Oregon.”
JJ snorted. “How many days are we checking?”
“Just a sec.” Elias flipped through a couple pages in his notepad before finding his checklist. “I have a whopping three for you. Two phones to check the location of, though, just like yesterday.”
“All right. Hit me with ‘em.”
Elias went through little more than half his coffee before he had his answers from JJ. Though she didn’t know the phone numbers belonged to Tito and Vito Minetti–not that she had told him, anyway–the information continued to support his theory.
Vito had been present for all three Horror Twins homicides in Oregon. Tito had only been present for the first two.
After ending the call with JJ, he jotted the information down in his notebook. He considered himself thankful that Tito and Vito weren’t very burner phone happy like many criminals were. It had been a hassle to get their phone numbers the first time, and he wasn’t really in the mood to drop another five grand on some criminal internet hacker to find another phone number. He had the money to drop, thanks to his parents, but he’d prefer to use it for something less… shifty.
Elias let out a breath, smoothing a hand over his hair. Before he had moved to focusing his article on only Vito, he had spent the two weeks of research tracking down every single murder in the United States where Vito and Tito Minetti or the Horror Twins were marked as suspects or persons of interest. He had only gotten around to tracking their cell phones on the days of those homicides a few days before he had started thinking about focusing on only Vito.
Two states down, forty-eight to go.
After work, Elias made his way to Drake’s Place. He ordered a beer and sat down in the same booth seat he had the night before. Surprisingly, Vito was back by the pool table, already racking up a game. The same bar two nights in a row. Elias took a sip of his beer, unable to stop himself from wondering if Vito had hit up Drake’s Place again in hopes of seeing him there. It seemed insane to even consider, especially given the three women flirting with him.
Elias shook his head, eyes focused on the tall, tattooed Italian at the pool table. He couldn’t decide if the women hanging all over him didn’t know Vito and his brother were the only Horror Twins suspects in the whole damn country, or if they were into that whole ‘wrapped in sin’ representation given to mobsters in romance novels.
Sure, Vito was an unfairly gorgeous man. Elias had to give him that. But Elias still had morals, mostly. Hanging all over Vito Minetti without some time of ulterior motive went against those morals. He was a monster, a murderer. He tortured and beat the living hell out of men and women. He beheaded them, stripped them of their clothes and dignity, displayed them for the world to see.
It didn’t matter that the people he killed were criminals, monsters. A man couldn’t do to a monster what Vito did without being one himself.
Elias blinked as Vito laid a tattooed hand down on the table. “Hey. Funny seeing you here.”
Vito cracked a smile. “Was hoping to see you again.”
“Mmhmm. We accidentally robbed each other of what I imagine would be… a very fun night together,” Vito murmured, dragging his fingers across the back of Elias’s hand.
He wished like hell Vito’s touch didn’t leave little goosebumps along his skin. Elias lifted his eyes to Vito’s face, one of the few visible parts of the man not covered in ink. “I don’t do a lot of one-night stands, y’know. Just because you’re pretty doesn’t mean I’m gonna bone you.”
Vito chuckled that deep, nearly sensual sound that did something incredibly unfavorable to Elias’s groin. “Lucky for us, ‘don’t do a lot of’ doesn’t mean ‘never do at all’.” He leaned down, crossing his arms over the table. “You wanna join me for a game of pool before I let the sisters and their friend talk me into a different kind of fun night?”
Elias glanced back at the three women by the pool table. “You’re giving up a foursome to play pool with me?”
“Well, pool isn’t exactly the only thing I’ve got planned for the night, babe. Still, yeah, I’m giving up a foursome. Been a long day, Payne. I don’t got it in my system to make sure three women are satisfied tonight.”
Elias raised a brow. “Worried about your reputation?”
“Word of mouth is a great way to get laid.”
Elias snorted, rolling his eyes. He bowed his head for little reason outside of needing a break from Vito’s far too intense eye contact. He reached out, touching his fingers to the pile of skulls tattooed on the back of Vito’s right hand. “Who’s the bird-headed guy sitting on top of this?”
“Join me for a game of pool and I’ll tell you.”
“Tempting.” Elias lifted his eyes back to Vito’s face. It really was unfortunate that genetics had blessed such a monster with that strong jawline, his shade of always perfectly tanned skin, that charming smile. It was unfair that people like Vito were allowed to look charming enough to easily lure people into their life.
Still, Elias had an article to research. “Is finding out who the bird-headed guy is the only thing I get outta tonight?” he asked.
One corner of Vito’s mouth lifted. “I sure hope not.” He pushed himself away from the table, straightening his tall, muscular frame back out. He held out a hand. “So?”
Elias really did have morals, and regardless of what that little hand flourish did to him, his morals were still dead set on proving who Vito Minetti was so they could arrest him and put him away once and for all.
He grabbed Vito’s hand and slid out of the seat, grabbing his beer with his free hand. Vito moved his hand to Elias’s lower back and guided him back to the pool table.
One of the women looked borderline offended at Elias’s presence. “Umm, Matteo?”
“Sorry, ladies. My night’s dedicated to Elias this time around.”
Elias hated the little flutter in his chest at the comment. The one time someone dedicated a night to him, the someone was a murderer. Go figure.
Letting out a breath, he leaned back against the pool table as Vito worked his charm on the three women. It didn’t take long for him to convince them he’d dedicate a less tired night to them at some point in the near future.
Vito turned back to Elias, a smile on his face. “Just you and me now.”
“Mm. The preferred option.”
Vito chuckled. “Yeah, for me too. None of my plans tonight involve anyone but you.” He laid his hands on the table on either side of Elias. “You can choose one tattoo per game.”
Elias looked down, eyes scanning the tattoos crawling up Vito’s hands and arms. The sleeves of his red button-up were rolled up to his elbows, leaving quite a few tattoos open as choices. Elias stuck to his gut and touched the one on Vito’s right hand. “Bird-headed guy sitting on a pile of skulls. It’s a little creepy, so… I’d like answers.”
“Montu. He’s an Egyptian god.”
“What’s he the god of? Skulls? Death?”
Vito smiled. “War.”
“Because I am war and chaos, baby.” Vito kissed a place just beneath Elias’s ear and pushed himself away from the pool table. Elias fought down the urge to shiver. Unfortunately, Vito Minetti was far more charming than Elias had initially assumed. He didn’t come straight out of the gate with an offer of sex like Elias had imagined he would. He charmed his object of desire into the idea throughout the night. Or, in Elias’s case, throughout the nights.
“If you win, you can ask another question about anything you see here,” Vito said, holding up his arms.
“And if you win?”
“We take one hour off when we leave.”
“As in, take an hour away from last call?” Elias asked.
A slow smile spread across Vito’s face. “Great. First game, you break?”
Elias nodded, lightly drumming his hands against Vito’s hard chest. “Works for me.”
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