Announcement: Thank You and Progress Update

Hey, guys. I just wanted to take a moment today to thank you all and to give a quick update on writing and my books in general.

First and foremost, I know updates have been lacking greatly, and I thank you all for my patience. When I was posting on Wattpad, I would get messages every single day asking when the next update was. This was despite updating at least once every day. So when I say I appreciate you for your patience, I mean it. It’s about the only thing in my life right now that doesn’t stress me the hell out, and that goes a long way.

Secondly, I’ve had a strange relationship with writing for quite a while. That’s partly because of Wattpad. It’s partly because of my Letters from a Madman rewrite, which greatly changed my relationship with the crime genre. And it’s partly to do with my work being associated with my last name.

Though I can’t change my past with Wattpad, much as I wish I could, I can work on the other issues. I’ve been in the process of changing my name on my published works for about a month now? Give or take. It’s a long process, lol. And I’m currently working on trying to reignite my love of the crime genre.

I’m writing a new story called “Promise Not”, and I’m about 5,000 words into it right now. You can read a bit more about it here on my Instagram. I don’t start posting it just yeat because there’s still a chance I won’t be able to finish it.

Now, let’s talk a bit about the stories I’ve been posting on my website here.

If you read “The Happy Face Killer”, you probably saw the note about me wanting to–needing to–restart the story again. I currently have absolutely no passion for the story, and I can’t even remember the last time I worked on it. It’s a rewrite as is, and that should make it the easiest book on my list, but it’s actually the most difficult. Once I read through the Bo Austen series, I’m going to decide some things about the series. In the meantime, I’ll keep you as updated as I can on all of it.

I’m also struggling with my romances. I’m 100% stuck on “Hashtags and Homicide”, ad I have been for a very long time. I’m not sure how to fix that one right now, but I imagine it has something to do with my issues around the crime genre at the moment.

I’m also struggling with “Truths and Chains”. Though I have some days where I make good progress, most of it is being forced. The story was supposed to focus on Elias researching for his story, and that hasn’t been there. Things are moving way too fast for Vito, and that’s entirely out of character for him. Time needs to be expanded there, and that’s something I’m going to work on fixing ASAP so we can get back to the story. I know you guys love Elias and Vito, and I love the hell out of them too. I just need to do some rewriting and tweaking before I can move forward with the story.

In the meantime, I have a short story I can post for you all. I was going to wait until we hit 2K reads in a month, but until I start posting more, that’s going to be impossible. So, instead, shortly after this post goes live, the short story “Fighter 13” will be posted. This is a story about Luca from the Jamal Pitman series, and it focuses on how he joined the mob. It’s something I’m pretty proud of, despite how long it took to write, and I’m hoping you guys will enjoy getting some back story on Luca.

For now, this is about all I have for an update, but I’ll do my best to keep you guys as in the loop as possibly can. I suffer pretty heavily from brain fog and memory issues, so you might have to remind me to give you a progress update on my books every now and then. Until the next one, I hope you guys enjoy “Fighter 13”, and I’ll see you soon. Thank you for your patience and understanding. 💜

Love what I do and want to help support me? You can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-fi!


When Toxicity and Mental Health Affect a Story

Hey, guys!

Sorry for getting this post out to you much later in the day than planned. The power company cut our power so they could cut down tree branches almost immediately after I posted today’s chapter of The Spectator, and we were without it for almost two hours, and then it was tragically time for bed. But anyway, let’s get into it, shall we?

As all of you know, I’m sure, posting on Wattpad was initially something I enjoyed. I enjoyed sharing my stories there, even when I had no readers, even when I only had one (Gabby). I’ve always loved interacting with respectful readers, and I still do enjoy that part of it. But as you know, Wattpad eventually grew to be incredibly toxic for me.

In between the constant changing environment on Wattpad (Oh, we’ll do ads to pay our writers! No, we’ll do nothing. Oh, what if we make readers pay for coins that they can use to pay for chapters and we give the writers with that feature a small cut? Yeah, most of them are in their teen years and don’t have jobs, but it’ll be great!), the toxicity of many commenters, and the sexual harassment story I don’t often talk about, it was no longer enjoyable.

For my own sake, I won’t say much more than the sexual harassment was directed at me from a man who is now an ambassador at Wattpad. Funny how that works, huh?


“Finally, an update!” It’s been six hours since I last updated. Finally isn’t an appropriate word, but you can bet it was always the first or second comment on most chapters I posted. When people comment things like ‘finally’, you come into the mindset that the only thing that matters is finishing a story so readers don’t have to ever wait for updates. And eventually, that’s the mindset I hit. Hitting word count milestones was worthless to me. Finishing a chapter was worthless. Finishing a book was the only real joy I ever felt in the last two or so years on Wattpad, and even that joy only lasted for the five minutes before I started the next one.

Not being able to feel any happiness from finishing a book starring a character you’ve loved sucks, and it takes its toll, both on you and on the story.

That’s where we come to today.

I’ve written ten books in the Bo Austen-Taylor series, and although I love the characters, there are many aspects of some of the books I flat-out don’t enjoy. I rushed through many of them so I could hit those five minutes of joy, and it shows. Some of the resolutions are rushed. Some of the killers have half-baked backstories that, while included in the story, make little to no sense, there are far more plot holes than usual, and far worse of a crime: I took away all of Bo’s character development from the Bo Austen series because I couldn’t write a character healing while I was worsening.

And that hurts.

Bo worked so hard to hit this place where he didn’t need to be normal all the time because Jensen wouldn’t love him if he was normal, because Jensen loved him because he was Bo, because he was Eli. And I took it away because… how the hell are you supposed to write a character on his way to better mental health when you can’t even take care of your own? When you don’t even put your own mental health at the forefront of your concerns?

For Bo, I feel that I need to rewrite the Bo Austen-Taylor series. For myself, I feel that I need to rewrite the B-A-T series. I haven’t written a single word in book 11–or a single word in book 5 of Young Bo–in almost two months. They’re both hard to look at, and they both remind me that I failed Bo every single time I open them. I need to fix it.

This is where my question to you guys comes in. I have ten books written. I can either A. continue posting the current B-A-T drafts while I rewrite the series or B. remove all of the B-A-T books and begin posting them the same way I would have on Wattpad, as they are written.

This brings me to issue two: Killer in Training.

I love Freddie, Paris, and Preston, but adhering to the backstory laid out in the B-A-T series has caused an issue in that book two of the series has no actual plot until about 5K words before the end. Even if it’s enjoyable to read, the first 25,000 words have no plot, and that’s not fair to those characters or the reader (even if you’re enjoying it, which is okay!).

If I rewrote book one, the main thing that would change is the ending. Hell, it’s probably the only part I would rewrite before diving into a new book two. I won’t spoil it here in case you haven’t read the current ending, but for those of you that have read it, I’m sure you can imagine what a change in the ending means, what a slight change in his backstory means. Hint: it involves Paris.

So this one isn’t so much a question as it is a statement. I’ll be rewriting the ending, at the very least, on Fedkenheuer, and then I’ll begin book two again, this time with a brand new premise, and I hope you guys will be excited for that.

In regards to both of these rewrites, July 1st will be day number one. Which means that if I post B-A-T as it’s written, the prologue of Happy Face will, more than likely, go up on the first or the second.

But anyway, that’s all my thoughts, and I’d love to hear yours, as well. Thanks for sticking with me, guys.

Truths & Chains – Chapter Thirteen



Elias cracked open an eye, finding himself face-to-face with not-Vitelli’s beautiful brown eyes. “Hey.”

Vitelli smiled. “Hey. My brother’s bitchin’ that I’m out and about, so I’m gonna head home. But if you wanna—”

“Is everything okay?”

“Just your average thug stuff.”

A smile tugged at one corner of Elias’s mouth. He reached out and tucked Vitelli’s damp hair back behind his ear. “You’re not gonna go out there and die tonight, are you?”

“Nah, babe. Still gotta see you totally naked.”

“Good,” Elias whispered. “You can choose the bar. I don’t wanna out you.”

“Rogue’s Roost. Other end of town from Drake’s. It’s mostly MC guys, so… you should feel safe there too. Still in need of protection, yeah?”

“Yeah. Thank you. What day? Time?”

“Well… you know I’m a bit of a playboy, but I’m also not a quitter, which means I’m not sleeping around until I see you naked. Or until you say no. So… tomorrow night, six o’clock. Should probably get there before me if you don’t want to see the sharks swimming.”

“The sharks,” Elias repeated. “Is that what you call all the hot girls?”

“They just sense tattoos and sex appeal instead of blood.”

Elias snorted. “You are so lucky you’re cute.”

Vitelli’s smile only grew. “Oh, I know.” He leaned up and kissed Elias before pushing himself to his feet. “I’ll see you at Rogue’s, yeah?”

Elias brought himself to nod. “I’ll see you at Rogue’s.”


Elias awoke to his medication alarm first, Gordo dropping a cold bottle of water into his hand second. “Morning, bud,” Elias mumbled. He cleared his throat, forcing himself to sit up. He pulled open his nightstand drawer and pulled out his pill organizer. One by one, he downed each one of his meds. It would always be his least favorite daily ritual, but it kept the majority of his body mostly functional, so it was one of many things he tolerated.

He stuffed the organizer back into the drawer and dropped his head to his pillow. Rebellion had tasted so damn sweet last night, but it tasted more like bitter shame that morning. As if breaking his own rules for a pretty boy with an accent wasn’t bad enough, his choice of pretty boy was a thug who slept around so often that he gave out a fake name to everyone he had a chance of screwing around with. He wasn’t ‘just’ an MC guy either, which meant he was likely part of the cartel or the mob, and Kansas was largely operated by the Lucchese and Cassata families.

Jesus, he could be a Minetti.

Elias groaned, throwing an arm over his eyes. At least he hadn’t actually slept with the man. Until he knew if he was dealing with a Minetti or not, it was probably a good idea not to sleep with him. But in the meantime, when they met up at the bar, maybe Elias would see what kind of information ‘Vitelli’ had about the motorcycle clubs in Kansas, including the one Elias belonged to. Surely, if they had partaken in any criminal activities while his dad was alive, Vitelli was old enough to know about it. Elias knew he’d have to give Vitelli something in return for any potential information he could offer.

Like JJ had pointed out when they had first started digging around in the case, Elias had, in the past, slept with people for information. He’d slept with people he absolutely hated for information. Giving a potential Minetti a little more and more every time they met up in exchange for information wouldn’t kill him. It might make him hate himself a little more, but that couldn’t be much worse than he felt most days, anyway.

Elias pushed his fingers into his curls, pressing down until his nails dug into his scalp just enough to focus his attention on the day rather than who Vitelli may or may not be. Elias had, at one point in time, gone through every car crash that had occured around the time his dad died, and he had honed in on seven other crashes that had the potential to be homicides rather than accidents. At the time, he had tracked down their names, remaining  families, and as many other details as he could scrap together.

Unfortuntaely, his file on his research had ‘disappeared’ around the same time Nick had outted him to the media, and thus, his parents. Until JJ agreed to hack into the police database, Elias had never been able to pull himself together enough to restart his research. That depressive voice in the back of his head always nagged at him about all the hard work he’d lost, and it constantly told him it would be lost again.

But he couldn’t listen to that voice anymore. There was only a small part of his brain that didn’t want to know who killed him. Didn’t want to know why they killed him. The much, much larger part needed to know. He could not continue living without irrefutable proof that someone had murdered his dad.

He needed proof that he wasn’t, and that he never had been, crazy. If he could prove it, just once, maybe he’d get the apology and acceptance he’d always craved from his parents. JJ would probably tell him they would never apologize, they would never approve, they would never be good to him, but… Elias couldn’t change that desire overnight. It wasn’t like anyone should have to change the desire to be accepted and loved by their parents, anyway. Biological or not, he still deserved that from them. It wasn’t asking for much.

Elias scrubbed his hands ove his face and forced himself to sit  up. He wasn’t ready to tackle the day, but the more information he had before his next bar meet-up with Vitelli, the better. More information gave him more to go on when it came to asking Vitelli questions. He doubted he’d be able to keep Vitelli entertained with the idea of Elias being a ‘challenge’ for more than another night or two, which didn’t give him much time to come up with questions or play him for information.

But he’d do his damnedest to try.


Vito shoved open the door to Tito’s room, earning himself a mildly annoyed glare from his brother as he shrugged on a button-up. “You owe me breakfast.”

“I don’t remember agreeing to that.”

“You didn’t, but you did call me away from the homemade breakfast I was promised, so… you owe me pancakes.”

Tito rolled his eyes, looking down as he buttoned his shirt. “Not really sure we should be going out for pancakes until we hear the extent of the fallout from the building we blew up.”

“So, what? Once we know how many people want to kill us, we can go out for pancakes and I can go back to sleeping around without you blowing up my damn phone?”

“Yes and no.” Tito cleared his throat as he dropped his hands to the bed, almost like he was balancing himself. “Bo and I both think you should cut back on your… endeavors until this is over.”

“Jesus Christ.” Vito stepped into his brother’s room, closing the door behind him. “You went and complained to Bo?”

“I didn’t complain. I checked in to see if he had heard where you were. He hadn’t. We think—”

“Hernandez wants queer white boys like Bo out of the mob, not giant Italians. I am a walking fuckin stereotype for a gangster, Tito. I’m fine. You are fine. You and Bo are being stupidly cautious for no fucking reason.”

“The last time we weren’t ‘stupidly cautious’, Bo and Jensen almost died.”

“You don’t think that’s a bit overdramatic? Bo took a bat to the back of the head, and Jensen was—at worst—handcuffed and shoved to his kneees.”

“It could’ve been much, much worse, and it would have been worse if Bo hadn’t offered himself up as sacrifice to get the drop on them. We did that. We took their boss, we dragged out killing and displaying him. We are the reason his men broke into Bo’s house and threatened to kill him, his husband, and their kids. We can’t do that again, Vito. We can’t ever be that irresponsible again.”

“I ain’t like you, Ti. I gotta be actively fighting a war every single day, or I have to be in the bars. Your choice how busy you wanna be.” Vito waved a hand in his direction. “Based on how you’re gripping that bedsheet, I bet you’re still a little too dizzy to really prevent me from doing what I want to do, yeah? You ain’t exactly up for beating me in a fight or nothin’. You still look like shit. Even worse than yesterday.”

“Fuck off.”

Briefly, Vito’s brow furrowed. Tito was usually more of a ‘roll his eyes and ignore’ kind of guy. Or a ‘silent treatment until Vito couldn’t handle it anymore’ kind of guy. A ‘fuck off’ kind of guy was out of the norm.

“Do whatever you want,” Tito said as he rose to his feet. He kept one hand on the footboard, balancing. “And buy your own pancakes. I have an appointment to get to anyway.”

That explained the nice shirt. “An appointment?”

“For the dizziness that prevents me from kicking your ass,” Tito said.

“It’s not… that bad, right? You’re gonna go see Doc?”

Doc says I need a doctor with an active medical license and access to imaging equipment.”

“Well, I-I can come with. I’ll drive you.”

Tito snorted, pressing a hand to his closet door as soon as he moved away from the bed. “I know feelings and emotions are things you don’t like diving into, Vi, but you really gotta figure out where you lie on this. Do you care about me, how I feel, and what I know will best keep you safe, or do you just think whatever’s wrong with me is a good excuse to tell me to go fuck myself so you can keep fucking around?”

Vito’s jaw tensed as he stared at his brother. Very little worked up his snap responses more than Tito forcing him to name his emotions, address that they existed, or acknowledge that he worried about his big brother. “Go fuck yourself.”

“I thought so.” Tito nodded toward the door. “You can see yourself out. Have a blast.”


Elias had managed to track down the names of the seven drivers involved in the other ‘accidents’. Six out of seven had just been the driver, but the seventh had had two passengers aside from the driver. In that instance, the other passengers had been killed in the crash too. Not for the first time, Elias wondered if the crash was supposed to kill him too. Proving his dad had been murdered, proving it hadn’t been an accident, also held the potential of answering that long-held question. Whether or not he actually wanted to know the answer to it was another matter entirely.

Regardless of how much he wanted the answer or not, he had written down the names of the victims and the dates the crashes had occurred. With each crash, the news articles listed whatever information they had gleaned from the public police reports, any information they had gotten from the police chief, and most of them had one short snippet from a witness of the crash. At the very least, it meant each crash had at least one witness, and that only included the ones willing to come forward to the press. If he could get JJ—

Elias let out a breath. Right. No JJ. The more she got involved, the more dnager she was in. He couldn’t put her life at risk just because he couldn’t let his dad’s death go.

Maybe… maybe Vitelli knew a hacker. Surely shady people like Vitelli and the people he ran with kept at least one good hacker on the payroll. Maybe that was another bit of information he needed to glean from Vitelli before he did see Elias naked and losehis interest in playing the game, chasing the challenge.

At this rate, he’d have to make a list of all the things he neeed to ask Vitelli. He needed an idea of how many games of pool he needed to win to get all the information he needed. Or maybe he could challenge Vitelli to a game of strip poker but with questions instead of cards. Strip Twenty Questions was probably a more appropriate name.

Elias tossed his notepad onto the coffee table, trading it for the non-redacted police reports Hank had given him. Maybe he had let his anxiety get the best of him when he had questioned the witness from his dad’s crash. Maybe whoever was behind his dad’s crash hadn’t gotten to all of them. Even if they had gotten to all of the witnesses of his dad’s crash, there was no way in hell they had gotten to the witnesses of all eight crashes.

He just had to find them.

Enjoying the story? Consider dropping a comment or a like down below!!

Love what I do and want to help support me? You can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-fi!

Truths & Chains – Chapter Twelve


Vito stood leaning back against Elias’s front door for what felt like a fucking eternity before the man came back into the foyer. “Was startin’ to think you’d made a run for it.”

Elias offered a smile. “You’d still be a thug in my house if I’d done that.”

“Mm. Fair.”

Elias took a tentative little step forward and held out a hand. “Bedroom?”

Vito pushed away from the door and slapped his hand into Elias’s. “Lead the way, Gorgeous.”

Elias led him up a staircase and down a short hall. He reached into a room and flipped on the light. Vito’s eyes swept over the mostly bare walls and the empty top of the dresser. Even if you took away the beer bottles in Vito’s room, it still looked more lived in than Elias’s did. Elias pulled him into the room and reached past him to close the door. With a gentle tug at Vito’s hand, he made his way to the bed. “Sit?” he suggested.

Vito dropped to his ass near the foot of the bed and let his hands settle in his lap. Elias stepped closer, only a breath away. Almost gingerly, he laid his soft, warm hands on Vito’s cheeks. Vito let him tilt his head back until their eyes met. “You’re a beautiful man, Vitelli,” Elias whispered.

Vito smiled. “Takes one to know one.” He hooked his fingers through Elias’s belt loops and tugged him forward. Despite Elias’s nervous act and the claim that it had been a while since he’d slept with anyone, he climbed onto Vito’s lap without complaint, hands still on his cheeks.

For the first time since they’d bumped into each other in the apartment complex, Vito got a really good look at Elias. At the little scars on his right forearm, at the two much larger scars near his left elbow, at the necklace he’d grabbed and gave a little squeeze every time he dropped a billiard into the pocket or when there was a pause in conversation, at the tiny flecks of green in his otherwise endlessly brown eyes.

Vito turned his head just enough to kiss the palm of Elias’s hand. “We’re gonna take things nice and slow, okay?”

Elias swallowed, but he nodded.

Vito kissed him, sliding a hand around to the back of his neck to control him a little better. Vito groaned as Elias kissed him back, slender fingers threading through the hair at the base of his neck. Going slow took an amount of control Vito was surprised he had, but finally gutting a few monsters at the dog fights likely played a pretty big role.

He kept the kisses slow and sensual, the nips of Elias’s skin soft and quick, the movement of his hands controlled and light. As he scooted back on the bed, he ground up against Elias. When he didn’t protest or break the kiss, Vito rolled him to his back, hands sinking into the mattress on either side of him. Vito deepened the kiss with a groan, sliding a hand down Elias’s front as Elias dragged a knee up along his side. Vito caressed him through his jeans, the ‘slow’ control slowly slipping away.

As his fingers slid up to the button of Elias’s jeans, he felt the man tense, felt the stuttered jab of his knee into Vito’s side. Vito pulled back, running his tongue along his bottom lip. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Nothing’s, umm…” Elias cleared his throat. “I am… covered in scars, Vitelli.”


“So I’m…” Elias licked his lips, eyes nervously searching Vito’s. “I’m ugly. I’m… You need to lower your expectations of what I look like naked.”

“Who told you that? That you’re ugly because you got scars?” Elias didn’t meet his eyes. “The piece of shit who betrayed your trust, yeah?”

“He’s not a piece of shit,” Elias said, his voice quiet.

“He ain’t here. You don’t gotta defend the fucker.” Vito wrapped a hand around Elias’s chin and turned his head, forcing him to look at him again. “I’ve got so many scars, I can’t keep track of ‘em anymore. Am I ugly?”

“God, no,” Elias whispered. “You’re beautiful.”

“So why do the scars make me beautiful and you ugly?”

“I-I don’t know. I just—You need to know what to expect. I’m not whatever gorgeous man you’ve built up in your nightly fantasies. I need to know your expectations are lowered. That’s all.”

“I ain’t lowerin’ shit. You’re gorgeous, end of story. Don’t matter what some asshole told you. He was wrong then, and he’s wrong now.”

“I… will take your word for it.”

“As you should. I’m a bit of an expert on all this.”

That brought a smile back to his face. “I’m sure you are.” Elias undid the button of his jeans before moving his hands back to Vito’s face, thumb stroking the arch of his cheek. “You’re pretty sweet for a thug.”

Vito snorted. “Only when I’m tryin’ to get into someone’s pants.”

“Figures. Not emotionally available, remember?”

“Mm, I do.” Though Vito was glad to have brought the smile back to Elias’s face, he was pretty far past having any desire to talk. He lowered himself down to kiss Elias, using one hand to unzip his jeans. His lips worked their way down his shirt-clad torso, stopping just above his waistband. He glanced up at Elias, who was watching him a little too intently, and pulled his jeans down. With a little help from Elias, he got them off and tossed them to the floor.

His thighs were littered with little horizontal scars. Vito had seen enough scars to know those ones were self-inflicted, but the longer ones looked almost surgical. He ran two fingers down the longest scar on the side of his thigh. “Goddamn, babe. What the hell did you do?”

“Uh… m-my femur. Car crash.”

“Been in one or two myself. Never fucked up my leg this bad.”

“It wasn’t an ideal crash,” Elias said after a moment.

“Well, that scar and all the others prove you’re strong, not ugly.” Vito sat up on his knees, grabbed the back of his shirt collar, and tugged it over his head. He chucked it toward the door and turned back to watch Elias’s eyes drag over his torso. When Elias’s eyes finally made their way back to his face, Vito smiled. “Like what you see?”

“Yes,” Elias whispered. “God, you weren’t kidding. You’re covered in ink.”

“Like a fuckin’ canvas, babe.” Vito grabbed the hem of Elias’s shirt, but Elias’s hands on his stopped him from taking it anywhere. “What? More car crash?”

“I can’t get rid of the jeans and the shirt in one night. I can’t. The shirt stays on.”

“But we can have sex?”


Vito snorted. “Deal.” He kissed Elias before dropping to his back beside him. “You take a lot of fuckin’ workarounds, gorgeous,” he said as he worked to kicked off his jeans.

“I’m sorry about that, Vitelli. I really am.”

Vito froze, jeans half tossed off the bed. “That was a joke. Like… like a jab. Makin’ sure you’re comfortable with sex isn’t a problem—It’s what I do.”

Elias swallowed. “Oh.”

Vito threw his jeans to the floor and rolled back over on top of Elias. “That fucker did a real number on you, huh?”

Elias offered a little smile. “He was also not ideal.”

“He’s a cunt.”

“Yeah,” Elias whispered. “Yeah, I guess he is.”

“Well, for once, let’s make sure you know you matter for a night. You tell me what you need, Elias, and it’s what you’ll get.”

“Umm… how angry would you be if I put my pants back on and just helped you out with that?” Elias asked, dragging his knee over Vito’s groin.

Vito bit back a groan. He generally wasn’t into letting someone take care of him in any sense, but being inside of Elias’s mouth was still a step closer to what he wanted. “Tonight’s about you, babe. If that’s what gives me a glowing review on Yelp, so be it.”

Elias practically cackled as he shoved Vito to the other side of the bed. “Maybe that’s what you should do instead of your gangster work. Sex work.”

“Mm. Well, I would be good at it.”

“Oh, I’m sure you would.” Elias grabbed his jeans from the floor and pulled them on before sitting down on the bed again. He laid down beside Vito, a little too far away, and smiled. “You’re a pretty understanding thug, you know.” Before Vito could get any smartass retort out, Elias held up a hand. “I know, I know. It’s because you want to see me naked. But still. The, umm… Well, I’m not gonna call him what you call him,” Elias said with a little laugh. “But he wanted me naked too, and he was nowhere near as understanding. Maybe you’re a little more emotionally available and well-adjusted than I thought.”

“Hey, now. Don’t go gettin’ your hopes up there, babe. Still a thug.”

Elias rolled his eyes. He scooted closer to Vito and kissed him, a hand pressed to his chest. Vito kissed him back, a hand slipping up to the side of Elias’s neck. Elias slid a hand down his bare torso and slipped it into his boxer briefs. Vito groaned into his mouth, bucking up against his hand.

Elias pushed Vito to his back and sat up just enough to pull his boxers down. Vito kicked them off the rest of the way. “You’re… clean?” Elias asked, eyes on his face.

“Very. Tested every three months, always use a condom. Ain’t lookin’ to make babies or diseases, Gorgeous.”

Elias snorted. “Good to know.” Kneeling beside Vito, he leaned down and took him into his mouth.

Vito groaned, head falling back against the pillow. “Jesus,” he whispered. Fingers buried in Elias’s curly hair and Elias’s warm, soft hand roaming his stomach, Vito let the man work him to the very edge of orgasm. As gently as he could, he pulled Elias’s head back and sat up to kiss him. Elias let out a beautiful little sound, a hand moving up to his cheek. Vito pushed Elias to his back and braced himself on the mattress, free hand stroking himself. At least this way he didn’t have to admit he’d let someone else take control for a while.

Vito’s breath broke as he came, face buried in the crook of Elias’s neck. He kissed Elias, even if only to silence the sound. Once he had mostly come back to Earth, he pulled back enough to smile at Elias. “Guessin’ I don’t get to return the favor?”

One corner of Elias’s mouth lifted. “Not tonight, I’m afraid.”

“Figured.” Vito stole one more kiss before dropping to his back beside him. “Fuck, it has been a long time since I let someone do that.”

“Oh, so I’m not the only one with some kinda dry streak, huh?”

Vito chuckled. “No, I guess not.”

Elias rolled onto his stomach, crossing his arms over Vito’s chest. “That… felt good for me. I-I know that’s probably weird, but I felt good about that.”

“Babe, you just gave me the first blowjob I’ve had since, like… high school or some shit. You can be as weird as you want.”

Elias smiled, resting his chin on his forearms. Vito would never say it aloud, but he looked pretty fucking cute like that. He usually didn’t do the post-sex cuddly shit, but being a dick now obliterated his chance of seeing Elias naked, and that was still a challenge he didn’t plan on turning away from. “What’s your name?” Elias asked.

“Oh, you’re bad at names now too?”

Elias shook his head. “No, but I know Vitelli’s a fake name. I saw it in your eyes the moment I called you out on it being a surname. You panicked, had to come up with a lie you hadn’t prepared for.”

“Mm.” Vito raised an eyebrow. “But you’ve just been… playing along anyway?”

Elias shrugged. “What’s the harm? I don’t trust people. You don’t trust people. You played my game. Why not play yours?”

“Mm.” Vito cleared his throat and laid a hand between Elias’s shoulders. “I usually go with ‘Matteo’, but I like to alternate every couple weeks before I end up there again. Vitelli is closer to the real thing than Matteo is.”

“So it starts with a V.”

“Or any letter closer to V than M.”

“Fair.” A pause. “What kind of thug are you? I know it’s not MC. You seemed surprised that I thought you were like the rest of the MC guys in the bar.”

“I don’t kiss and tell, babe.”

“That’s one hundred percent not what that phrase means.”

“Is for me.”

Elias smiled at him for a moment before uncrossing his arms to touch the seven tattooed on Vito’s bicep. “What’s this one for?”

“I like seven. He ate nine.”

He snorted. “Right. What’s the actual reason?”

“Lucky number seven.”

“Because… you like gambling? Or for the same reason you’ve got the goddess for protection?”

“Protection of my luck. When your luck runs out doin’ what I do, you die. I’d like to go as long as I can.”

Elias’s brown eyes lifted back to Vito’s face. “I always assumed most of the people who do the kind of… work you do have a death wish or some kind of adrenaline addiction. If you’re scared of dying, why do you keep doing it?”

“I ain’t scared. I don’t want to die today or tomorrow or next week, but I’m not scared of it. I’m goin’ out on the other end of a blade or a gun, and that’s fine. I just don’t want it to be right this second.”

“I guess it’s good to know you aren’t suicidal.” Elias leaned up and pressed a kiss to Vito’s lips. “You should take a shower. I’m gonna change the comforter and get this one in the wash. If you want to ditch after the shower to keep your playboy reputation, you’re free to.”

“If I ditch, what’re my chances of seeing you naked?”

“Low. But only if you ditch without a good excuse.”

“Mm. I’ll see what I can come up with during the shower.”

Elias snorted, shoving Vito’s chest before rolling to his back on the other side of the bed. “If you want to stay, I make a killer breakfast. Maybe you need a good refuel after your surprise job and before whatever surprise job you’ll have tomorrow.”

Vito scrubbed both hands over his face before shaking his head. He’d stay until Elias fell asleep, just like he usually did, and then he’d sneak on out. Even though breakfast sounded damn good. But Tito was always good at following through with a trip out for pancakes. Vito would more than make due with pancakes.

He reached over and tugged at one of Elias’s belt loops, turning his head to the side to look at the man. “Sure I can’t talk you into joining me in the shower?”


“Lame.” Elias’s smile in response was faint, but it was definitely there. “Do I got any chance of seeing you naked anytime soon?”

“If I can choose the bar next time.”

Vito cleared his throat. “I can’t, umm… If I’m going home with a man, I can’t go anywhere that isn’t a known ‘criminal’ bar. No one’s payin’ attention to me there.”

“And you’re scared of being outed?”

Vito scoffed, sitting up on the bed. “I ain’t scared of shit.”

“Fear of being outed isn’t a weakness, you know.”

“Yeah? How would you know?”

“How do you think he screwed me over?”

Vito turned to look at Elias over his shoulder. He lay on his side on the bed, an elbow digging into the mattress, his fist pushed against his temple to hold his head up. He had that annoying understanding look Tito and Bo toted so often, though… it was far less annoying on Elias’s face. “Seriously?”

Elias nodded. “I spent so much time telling him I’d come out when I was ready, and he promised so many times that he’d keep our secret, reassured me every damn day that he’d be there to support me when I decided I was ready. And then, you know… he took that from me, threw it out to the media, and destroyed just about everything I’d worked for. My parents practically disowned me.” Elias cleared his throat. “Fear of being outed isn’t ridiculous, and it doesn’t make you weak. Unfortunately, it’s just… a reasonable concern to have.”

Though Vito still wanted to see Elias naked and actually sleep with the man, he had no intention of sitting around to braid hair, paint nails, and gossip. He already had his in with Elias. He didn’t need to sit around and connect emotionally to close the deal with Elias. “Well, he’s even more of a cunt than I thought.”

Elias chuckled softly, rolling to his back. “You’re pretty good at dodging conversation, you know. Meaningful conversation, anyway. Ones where someone tries to relate to you. Understand you.”

“Maybe I don’t wanna be understood. Don’t need to be understood.”

“That’s not it. Everyone wants to be understood in one way or another. Not being willing to admit it for fear of ruining your street cred isn’t the same as not wanting it.”

Vito scoffed, biting his tongue on the very deep urge to spit out one of the nasty, piece of shit comments he’d usually throw Tito’s way. He had just worked a job, he’d just saved over a dozen dogs, he had just gotten a blowjob. He could hold back the ever growing dickwad part of his personality for a little longer.

“Where’s the shower?”

Elias chuckled softly. “Through the door there. The towels are in the top cupboard, and so are the washcloths. You’re free to use whatever soap you want.”


“Mmhmm.” Vito looked back at Elias again, who offered a smile. “I’ll change the comforter and then… I’ll be here. Again, you’re free to stay if you want. If not, let me know where I can find you again.”

“Deal.” Vito pushed himself to his feet. He grabbed his clothes from their various locations scattered about Elias’s floor and made his way to the bathroom. It was just as sparcely decorated as the bedroom. Even Vito had some stupid shit hung up in his bathroom. It seemed like Elias’s ex had eaten away at more than his sex life.

Vito tossed his clothes onto the counter before fishing his cell phone out of his pocket. He had muted his notifications after Tito had called him the first time in the  foyer, and he clearly hadn’t gotten the hint. Vito had gotten seven calls and three texts from Tito and two calls from Bo. If it had been important, Bo would’ve kept calling.

Still, he opened up the texts from Tito.

Tito: Where are you?

Tito: I checked your room twice and you aren’t there. Tried your house.

Tito: I thought we agreed going out and dicking around while we’re starting a war was a bad idea???

Vito rolled his eyes and leaned back against the bathroom door.

Vito: I had plans made before we hit the dog place. I wasn’t gonna stand someone up because you came home today.

Tito: You couldn’t have let me know before you left? Jesus Christ, Vi, I thought you’d been kidnapped.

Vito: I’m fine, relax. I’ll let you know next time I plan on getting laid.

Tito: Right now, while we’re starting a literal war with our faces on the news as the ones who intentionally started the war??? Yes, you should tell me

Tito: Better yet, hold off on getting laid until the war’s over

Vito: Sorry, Ti. We can’t all be nuns.

Vito: I’m getting in the shower. Talk later Vito locked his phone and slid it onto the counter next to the sink. He passed a hand through his hair, letting out a slow breath. Tito was probably right. Leaving the house without telling anyone was bad. At the very least, he needed to tell Bo or Tito. He couldn’t cut himself off from sex, and he couldn’t reasonably expect Elias to not know he was Vito fucking Minetti by the time the war was over and Tito and Vito’s faces were plastered all over the news again. But he could let someone know where he was going and when he was coming back. That, he could do.

Enjoying the story? Consider dropping a comment or a like down below!!

Love what I do and want to help support me? You can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-fi!

Truths & Chains – Chapter Eleven

A/N: this website renews in September for $115, so if you’ve ever wanted to support me through Ko-fi, now is a wonderful time! I have the goal set there so anyone can track how close we are to funding the site for another year 💜


Elias checked his watch for what felt like the millionth time that evening. He’d been at the bar since six. When Vitelli hadn’t shown in the first hour, Elias had told himself the man was likely caught up in work things. Gangster things. When he hadn’t shown up in the second hour, Elias had searched the most recent news reports to make sure said gangster things didn’t involve Vitelli getting himself shot at.

By hour three, Elias was pretty sure Vitelli had set him up as payback for not sleeping with him the night before. So Elias closed out his tab and headed out of the bar, where he promptly ran into a human-shaped brick wall.

“You… waited for me.”

Elias cleared his throat, using his shoulder to push his glasses back up on his nose before forcing himself to meet Vitelli’s gaze. “You have a lot of tattoos I’d like to ask questions about.”

Vitelli smiled, those beautiful white teeth on display. “And you’ve got a whole body I’d like to see unclothed.”

Elias snorted. “I bet you would.” He adjusted his grip on Gordo’s harness and walked past Vitelli.

Vitelli followed. “I was workin’. Last minute job. If I’d known, I wouldn’t have sent you to the bar to wait on me. I can be a bit of a cunt, but I ain’t that much of one.”

“It’s nothing against you. Three hours by myself gave me quite a bit of time to think things through. I’m just… I’m not ready for the dating game yet.”

Vitelli caught his wrist and turned him back around with one little tug. God, it was unfair just how beautiful the man was. With the Italian accent and the jaw carved straight from the most luxourious stone Elias had ever laid eyes on. “I ain’t lookin’ for a date, Gorgeous. No datin’ game. Just you, me, and sex. No courtin’ or feelin’s or figurin’ out my favorite candy or snacks.”

“That’s… actually part of the problem for me.” Elias forced out a little chuckle, but it came out more nervous than he’d hoped. “I don’t sleep with people I don’t trust.”

“Damn, babe. You sayin’ I ain’t trustworthy?”

Elias let go of Gordo’s harness long enough to playfully shove at Vitelli’s chest. “I’m saying I don’t know you. I need to know I can totally and absolutely trust a person before I sleep with them.”

“Yeah? And how long’s it been since you got laid on that philosophy?” Vitelli asked, one eyebrow raised. A little smile tugged at one corner of his mouth. “Respectfully, of course.”

“Oh, ‘respectfully’ my ass.”

Vitelli’s smile only grew.

“It’s been a while.”

“Yeah?” Elias nodded. Vitelli finally released his hold on Elias’s wrist and shoved both of his hands into the pockets of his ripped dark blue jeans. “Last guy fucked you over, huh?”

“You could say that.”

“I ain’t gonna fuck you over, Gorgeous.” Vitelli shrugged. “ ‘Sides, how am I gonna screw you over when I can’t even remember your name?”

Elias laughed. “That’s… almost a fair point.”

“I thought so.”

“I’m tired, sad, and a little drunk. No matter how pretty you are, I probably shouldn’t be making choices sober me would beat me up about. If… if that’s okay.”

“Hey, no pressure,” Vitelli said, holding up both hands for a moment. “Least give you a ride for accidentally standin’ you up tonight?”

“Are you good at remembering addresses?”

“You askin’ if I’m gonna stalk you?”

“I mean… you are a thug.”

Vitelli snorted. “Babe, my brother has to remind me a million times which one of my hands is my left one and I still can’t remember my own phone number. I’d need my brother’s help to stalk you, and there’s no way in hell I’m telling him I’m bi.”

“Your secret’s safe with me,” Elias said after a moment. “No funny business?”

“Scout’s honor, Gorgeous.”

“Lead the way.”

Vitelli stepped over to Elias’s side and laid a hand on the small of his back to guide him across the parking lot. “How’d the last guy screw you over?”

Elias chuckled, shaking his head. “I’m a little buzzed, not wasted.” He bumped Vitelli with his shoulder. “Besides, I thought you were against the whole getting to know each other thing.”

“Doesn’t make me any less of a nosey bitch.”

“He violated my trust,” Elias said after a moment. “I’m learning I was a bit of a doormat with him too.”

“Boyfriend or fling?”

That wasn’t too invasive or personal either. “Boyfriend.”

“Ungrateful cunt.”

Elias raised an eyebrow. “Me or him?”

“Him. He landed you and had the, aud—Quel e la parola?  I forget the word. Uh, audacia?”


“Ah! Gorgeous, you’re brilliant, too.” Vitelli stopped at a truck and pulled open the passenger side door. “He landed you and had the audacity to treat you like shit and to betray your trust so badly that you can’t even have sex anymore? Like I said, ungrateful cunt.”

Elias smiled faintly.  “Well, I appreciate your confidence.”

“ ‘Course.” Vitelli opened the back door of the truck and gestured to the seat. “The dog can come up here, if that’s cool?”

“Perfect. Up, Gordo.” Gordo jumped into the backseat of the truck and sat down. Thankfully, he didn’t seem too judgmental that they were going to be driving around with a thug. “And I can have sex. I just… choose not to for my own sanity.”

“My brother’s the same. Sorta.” Vitelli closed the back door and turned back to Elias. “Different reasons.”

“Yeah, and I bet you’re just as kind and understanding to him about it, huh?”

“Pfft, you don’t know nothin’ about me, babe. Nothin’ more than a couple tattoos.”

“No, but I know most men aren’t playboys because they’re well-adjusted and emotionally available.”

Vitelli snorted rather than responding. “Need help?”

“I got it.” Elias grabbed the help bar at the top of the cab and pulled himself up into the truck. Vitelli grabbed his other bicep and helped him the rest of the way. Elias hadn’t planned on asking for any help, but the pain in his leg and shoulder appreciated Vitelli regardless. “Thank you.”

“Mmhmm.” Vitelli closed the door and made his way around the front of the truck. The very moment he climbed into the cab, Elias’s whole body lit ablaze with the same sweet taste of rebellion kissing Vitelli had given him. Especially now, when Elias’s day had predominantly been lined with the bitter taste of failure, that rebellion breathed new life back into him.

Vitelli pressed the start button, and the engine purred to life. “Where am I takin’ you, Gorgeous?”


“Elias. Yeah, I’m glad I didn’t take a guess.”

Elias laughed. He turned to look at Vitelli, who was busy messing with the heat settings for the cab. God, he could really use some more rebellion in his life. If he was going to get himself killed digging up the long cold trail of his dad’s case, he might as well go out with a bang. Before he could sike himself out, Elias reached over and laid a hand on Vitelli’s thigh.

Vitelli’s dark eyes drifted down to Elias’s hand before coming back up to his face. “Whatcha doin’?” A pause. “I mean, I’m so fuckin’ down, but I thought sober you would have a fit.”

“I exaggerated the state of my sobriety. I had, like, half a beer. I had a… less than great day. I could really use just one fun night.”

“You sure?”


“Mm.” Vitelli leaned over and kissed him, locking a hand behind his neck. Elias let out a soft sound, fingers biting into Vitelli’s inner thigh. It was only when he slid his hand closer to Vitelli’s groin that the gangster broke the kiss with a chuckle. “Babe.”

“Oh, now you don’t want me to touch you?”

“Oh, I absolutely want you to touch me. Just not here. Here is a damn small space, and I’m a little too tall to manuever around in it.” He kissed Elias again, short and sweet. “Your place or a hotel?”

“Umm…” Elias glanced over at the clock on the truck’s dash before clearing his throat. “My place?” He didn’t necessarily want a gangster at his house for any prolonged period of time, but all of his meds were at home. Besides, what greater rebellion was there than letting a thug into his house? Into his bed?

“You sure?” Vitelli asked. “ ‘Cause we can do a hotel. I can do just about anywhere.”

Elias snorted as he shoved Vitelli’s chest and leaned back into his own seat. “I’m sure you can. My house is fine. Take a right out of the parking lot.” He reached over and dragged his fingers across the back of Vitelli’s hand. “That’d be this one.”

One corner of Vitelli’s mouth lifted. “Perfect.”


Elias hardly managed to flip on the light in the foyer before Vitelli pushed him back against the front door and kissed him. Elias dropped Gordo’s handle and moved his hand up to Vitelli’s scruffy cheek, his keys clutched tightly in his other hand.

Vitelli’s phone ringing shattered the silence in the house, and Vitelli pulled back with a groan. He shoved himself away from the door and yanked his phone out of his back pocket. After glaring at the screen, he rejected the call and shoved his phone back into his pocket.

“Are you sure you don’t need to take that? I can wait.” Elias offered a smile. “I promise not to change my mind.”

Vitelli shook his head. “Only if he calls again.” The smile came back to his face as he pressed his hands to the door on either side of Elias. “Tonight’s in your hands, Gorgeous. You tell me where you want me to go and I’ll go. You got me?”

Elias searched his face for some sort of lie or malice, but neither were anywhere to be seen. “I don’t know where to start,” Elias whispered. “L-let me get Gordo a bone to keep him busy, and then you can tell me where to start.”

Vitelli chuckled. “Baby, I don’t think he’s gonna care that you’re gettin’ a little action.”

“I still don’t want him watching.”

Vitelli only smiled. He wrapped his fingers around Elias’s chin and kissed him just long enough to dip his tongue into his mouth. He pulled back, briefly catching his bottom lip between his teeth. “I’ll be here.”

“Okay,” Elias whispered. “Okay.” He cautiously patted Vitelli’s chest before sidestepping past him to grab Gordo’s harness. He led the dog into the living room and squatted down in front of him. “You can’t hold it against me, but for a little bit, Daddy’s going to try and have some fun, okay? And then… then when Vitelli leaves, you can have the bed again. Okay?”

Gordo blew out a breath, and Elias wasn’t sure if he was laughing at him or just disgruntled.

Elias took off his harness and set it on the couch. From the box of dental chews on the entertainment center, he grabbed a bone and held it out to Gordo, who happily took it and laid down on the floor with it held between his front paws. “Okay,” Elias whispered to himself. “You can do this. You can totally do this.” Totally.

Enjoying the story? Consider dropping a comment or a like down below!!

Love what I do and want to help support me? You can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-fi!

Truths & Chains – Chapter Ten


Vito sat in the passenger seat of Tito’s car, swiping left and right on Grindr to kill the time. It was unlikely he’d find Gorgeous on the app, but it was worth a shot. If he’d known Tito would be coming home and they’d be jumping on the job that night, he’d have given Gorgeous his number. Sure, it was against his personal rules, but who the hell cared. Gorgeous was a beautiful challenge, and he wanted him naked as soon as possible, something he unfortunately couldn’t accomplish if he wasn’t at O’Riley’s place at the same time Gorgeous was.

If Gorgeous showed up. He apparently didn’t ‘do’ one-night-stands, but he’d given Vito a hell of a kiss after last call. So much of one that Drake had yelled at him to make sure he didn’t undress Gorgeous then and there. Vito definitely had a chance with him, and soon, no matter what Gorgeous declared his stance on one-night-stands was.

Still, his chances meant nothing if he couldn’t get to the bar before Gorgeous got tired of waiting for him.

“Vi, you there?”

Vito glanced out through the windshield before touching a finger to the bluetooth in his ear. “Present.”

“Everything I’ve come across has matched the layout thus far. I have one more explosive to lay, and then I’ll be back to the car. Then it’s your turn.”

“So sneaky, Ti. Laying bombs in a busy nightclub like a sneaky little mouse.”

Tito snorted. “Distraction is easy when the bad guys are all strung out on God only knows what.” A pause. “Returning to radio silence. See you in a few, Vi.”

“See you soon.” Vito muted his end of the call again and went back to his phone. The more he scrolled through person after person, the more certain he grew in his assumption that Gorgeous would be nowhere to be found on the app. Unless Gorgeous had his settings banning anyone with tattoos, muscles, and Italian accents, Vito would’ve already run across his profile at least once.

“I’m on my way out. Get yourself ready for your turn,” Tito said.

Vito reached up to unmute his Bluetooth. “I was born ready.”

Tito snorted. “Sure you were.”

“You’re just jealous.”

“Yeah, I’m sure that’s it.”

Vito rolled his eyes as he exited out of Grindr. Hopefully, he’d be in an out in good time and he’d still make it to the bar before Gorgeous got bored of waiting for him to show up. The job would give him the high he needed for at least a night, maybe two, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t still banking on getting laid.

As Tito pulled open the driver’s side door, Vito exited out of the app and locked his phone. “Good to go?” Vito asked.

His brother nodded. “Everything’s in place for you. I’ll walk you through the layour once you’re inside. After you get the dogs and get out—”


Tito rolled his eyes, but he nodded. “Yeah. Boom.”


“Good. Let’s go wreak some havoc on Hernandez’s operation.”

“Fuck yeah.” Vito climbed out of the car and headed for the nightclub. He shoved his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket. Well… Tito’s leather jacket. He’d made sure to snatch it from his brother’s closet while he was in the shower before they’d left. “So, what am I expecting once I’m inside?”

“The nightclub portion of the operation is the top level. That part’s all above ground. Keeps things nice and loud to cover up any noise from what they’re doing downstairs.”

“Fuckers,” Vito muttered. He pulled a pair of gloves from his pocket and put them on. “One of the dudes I play poker with, Franco, he says it costs a couple ground to get past the guard at the door. Do I really have to give that to the bastard?”

“If you want to make it down to the basement, giving him the money is our best bet. I did it.”

“Ugh. I don’t want us funding a fucking dog fight, Ti.”

“Hey, it’s not like he’s going to be keeping it. Take our money back when you kill him, after the dogs are safe. Just consider the grand a downpayment for his death or something. I’m sure you can make that work in that fucked up head of yours.”

“Oo, I do like the sounda that. You’re a genius, Ti.”

Tito laughed, though it was cut a little short with a cough. “Thanks.”

Vito cleared his throat. “How am I getting back out afterward? I can’t bring them back through the nightclub with me, so coming out the way you did is out of the picture.”

“According to the blueprints, there should be a small passage in the basement that leads to a house behind the main lot. The house should be empty and not much more than a temporary hideout, so you and the dogs should be able to sneak out through there. After you confirm the passage’s location, you know… you can have some fun.”

“Well, I do need me some fun.” Vito stopped at the door to the nightclub. “Heading in now.”

“Let me know when you’re through to the basement.”

“Will do.” Vito opened the door and walked inside. He was used to most nightclubs having a bouncer or two posted at the front doors, but there were none. He figured there wasn’t really a need for exclusivity here. They needed as many people inside as they could possibly cram in there. Loud music, dancing, shouting. Every bit of noise only served to benefit them and their ‘business’. A bouncer or two restricting who could enter only made their basement work riskier.

Vito waded through the crowd of dancers, hardly able to appreciate the men and women rubbing up against him as he squeezed past. Not only were they in the way of his actual mission, his secondary mission of the night still involved a beautiful challenge he hoped he’d be able to catch at O’Riley’s. Anyone else interested in him would have to wait until both missions were completed, or until his second mission told him in very firm terms to fuck right off.

At the door in the back of the club, Vito kept his head down and held up five grand. The guard counted through it and opened the door. Vito closed his eyes for a moment before stepping through. Once the door closed, he rolled his shoulders back and tilted his head to the side until his neck popped. “I’m in.”

“Are you at the top of a staircase?”


“Good. Head down the stairs, walk past the first hallway, and  take a right as you come to the second hallway.”

Vito headed down the stairs and walked past the first hallway. “Take a right?”

“Mmmhmm. Your non-dominant hand.”

Vito nodded and took a right down the hall. His short-term memory was as horrible with directions as it was with names, and the other part of his memory always struggled with differentiating between left and right. Tito was the only person who knew about that difficulty, and he always helped with directions without being an asshole about it.

Unfortunately, Vito wasn’t sure he’d be the same way if the shoe was on the other foot. Unlike his brother, Vito specialized in the art of being an asshole.

“How’s the hallway looking?” Tito asked.


“Good. I think it was shift change or bathroom break time when I was in there. Bo says the rings they’ve busted in Los Angeles have had two men in the rooms where the dogs are caged. They guard them, prepare the steroids… Whatever the hell else the bastards do. So you’ll need to take care of them before you can get the dogs out of there.”

“Speaking of, what kind of trouble am I gonna be in when I unlock these cages? Am I gonna get mauled by a dozen roided out dogs?”

“I… wish I had a good answer for that. Bo says the true danger of it depends on each dog. He says they usually seem to react positively to being rescued, like they know you’re not like the other people they know. Tail wagging and everything. He said that’s a pretty common account given by the people who do this, like, all the time.”

“God, that’s fucked. Everything these monsters do to them, and they still think humans deserve any sorta chance with them?”

“Dogs are usually loving by nature, I think. It’s the people that try to fuck them up, and with a lot of these dogs, they aren’t in the ring long enough to completely abandon that part of themselves. Thankfully.”

“Thankfully,” Vito echoed. “Where’m I goin’ next, Ti?”

“There’s a door at the end of the hall, and then you’ll hit a staircase behind it.”

“Does the staircase open right into the room with the dogs? How careful do I need to be when I reach the stairs?”

“It opens into a short hallway. After that, you’ll be in the room where they keep the dogs. I don’t know where the guards will be stationed on the way to the room, so you’ll have to play it by ear.”

“Ah, that’s what I’m best at.”

Tito snorted. “Only because you suck at following directions.”

“Doesn’t make me any less awesome at playing it by ear though.”

“Thank God. I on’t think you’d have a job if it did.” A pause. “How’re we doing?”

“Openin’ the door to the stairs now.” Vito pulled open the door and peered down a dimly lit staircase. “I don’t see anyone from the top here, but I’m gonna stay quiet for a few, just in case they’re close by.”

“Sounds good. Talk when you can.”

“ ‘Course.” Vito stepped through the doorway, pulling the door closed behind him. He made his way down the stairs, one gloved hand sliding along the wall, the other wrapped around the knife holstered at his hip. At the end of the short hall, he pressed himself against the corner near the doorway. Leaning to the side, he peeked into the room.

Cage after cage lined the room in four rows. Two men stood in the room, one smoking a cigarette while the other toyed with one of the dogs through the cage. Vito’s lips curled, but he kept his thoughts to himself. Verbalizing them would only get him seen, and being seen would alert the ring leader to his presence. He wanted to free the dogs and kill every last one of the bastards responsible for the abuse they had suffered. Anyone knowing he was there prevented both aspects.

Vito leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes. He listened to the sounds in the room, waiting for the footsteps to draw closer. Practically able to visualize the man’s boots   hitting the floor, he waited for them to pass the door. He leaned around the wall, hooked an arm around the smoking guard’s neck, and yanked him out into the hall. With a slight lift of his arm, he slit the guard’s throat from carotid to carotid.

Eyes on the second guard, he lowered the dying man to the floor. He wiped his knife on the man’s pants before adjusting his grip on it. He grabbed the man’s cigarette with his free hand and put it to his lips. No need to let a good soke go to waste.

He crept across the room, hoping not to set off one of the dogs enough to gain the second bastard’s attention. Thankfully, the only dog barking was the one that guy had been fucking with.

Vito came up behind him and covered his mouth with one hand, quickly slitting his throat with the knife in the other. “Both of our guards are dead,” Vito said, wiping his knife on the second man’s jeans before letting him hit the floor.

“That was nice and quiet. Good job.”

“What can I say? I’ve had a lot of practice.” Vito shoved his knife back into its sheath. He pulled the cigarette from his lips and blew out a puff of smoke. He took one last drag before flicking it to the floor and grinding it beneath his boot. “What’s the plan from here again?”

“Get you and the dogs out before the explosives go off.”

“How long do we got?”

“Twenty minutes. So let’s work on getting you out of there. Which way are you facing?”

“Hold on. I’m stealing their wallets.”


“Pfft, chill. I’ve got good intentions.” Vito pocketed the second guard’s wallet before heading back to the first. Using the toe of his boot, he rolled the guy onto his side. Still propped up, Vito leaned down and pulled his wallet from his back pocket. He tucked both into his pocket. “Okie dokie. I’m facing the staircase I came down.”

“Great. Turn toward your non-dominant hand. On the wall directly in front of you, there should be a crawl space. It’ll probably have a small door over it.”

“I’m lookin’ at a row of lockers, here. Think it’s behind them?”

“Definitely could be. The blueprints show it’s pretty low to the ground, so the lockers would likely make for a good way to cover it up.”

Vito rocked back on his heels. “Think I’ll make the news for bein’ a hero or some shit?”

“At any rate, that’s the hope. We need more good press under our name. Make things easier on Bo.”

“Then let’s do him proud.” Vito pressed his shoulder to the edge of the lockers and slowly pushed them along the wall. He stepped back, dusting his hands on each other. “Door has been lockated.”

“Perfect. Is it locked?”

Vito grabbed the little handle on the square door and pulled it open. “Nope, we’re all good. How long’s this passage thing supposed to be?”

“I’m not totally sure. More than a few yards and less than a mile. Probably about a block or so, if I had to guess,” Tito said. “According to the blueprints, it’s short and narrow for a few feet, but you’ll be able to stand up after you get past this.”

“Good.” Vito turned away from the small passageway. “Now… how do I go about gettin’ our deposit back?”

“That sounds like a you department sort of thing.”

“Fair.” Vito looked around the room. “Think one of the guys had a walkie talkie on him. What’re the chances its channel only goes to the guard posted outside the door upstairs?”

“It’s not worth the risk. If we set off suspicion now, none of Hernandez’s guys get blown up, you know?” Tito asked.

“Yeah. And I’m really lookin’ forward to the blowin’ up part.” Vito let out a harsh breath. “Think I could just go back up there and yank him on through the doorway?”

“Were people paying attention to the back of the club?”

“Not really. Super dark by the door too.”

“Then… I’d say go for it. The explosion will destroy their security footage anyway.”

“Aha, score one for Minetti.” Vito hurried back up the stairs, through the hall, and back to the door. He yanked it open, wrapped a hand around the back of the guard’s shirt, and tugged him backward. He closed the door, pushed the guard against it, and rammed his knife into his throat.

The guard gasped, breath struggling to squeak out past the blade. The guard’s eyes were wide and wild, frantic. Vito didn’t much are. There was something about that level of fear in a monster’s eyes that usually brought him some sense of… joy, but it wasn’t the same that evening. This death was far too easy for the fucker, far too quick. But Vito didn’t have the time for anything the man deserved.

He twisted the knife in the guard’s throat and ripped it to the side, severing the man’s carotid avery. He let this body drop to the floor and searched him until he found the guy’s wallet. He tucked it into his pocket alongside the other two, shoved his knife into its sheath, and made his way back to the dogs. He closed both open doors in the room, leaving the door to the crawlspace as the only option. “All right. What do you think the best way to go about letting these dogs out is?”

“I guess… start opening cages?” Tito suggested.

Vito let out a breath. “Good a start as any.”

Enjoying the story? Consider dropping a comment or a like down below!!

If you’d like to be updated every Saturday of announcements and the updates that occurred throughout the week, sign up below!

Truths & Chains – Chapter Nine


Vito parked his truck outside the airport, leaving it running as he waited for Tito. Usually, Vito paid for parking and waited for his brother inside the airport, for Tito had asked Bo to send someone willing to simply pull up next to the doors. It seemed like a mildly out of character ask for Tito, but Vito had no intention of asking or pushing about it. Maybe his brother had finally loosened up a little and had a fun, sore weekend.

Vito snorted to himself, shaking his head. As if Tito even knew how to have a normal fun weekend, let alone one that was so fun it made him sore.

Tito pulling open the passenger side door pulled Vito away from thinking about the fun he almost had with… Gorgeous while Tito was twiddling his thumbs in New York.

“You look like shit.”

Tito blew out a short burst of air, rolling his eyes. “Thanks. Slept like it too.”

“Mm?” Vito shifted the truck into gear and pulled away from the airport. “Lillian keep up the white fence bullshit the whole time you were there?”

“No. Just dizzy and nauseous most of the time.”

“Mm.” Vito drummed his fingers against the steering wheel for a moment. “So you probably don’t feel like savin’ some dogs from a fighting ring?”

“God, I’d love that. Is that what we’re doing?”

“It’s what I’ve been talking to Bo about. I need a job. Soon.” Vito cleared his throat. “But he wanted to wait until you were back. It’s at least a two-person job, and neither of us wanted me workin’ with someone else.”

“Probably for the best.” Tito leaned his elbow against the window and pressed his forehead to his fingers. “At least two people? Did Bo tell you anything about the details of the job?”

“Yeah. We’re taking out one of Herandez’s rings. Someone—probably you—needs to memorize the layout of the place and lay down explosives in the building so once we save the dogs, we can blow the place to ash. And then, y’know, me, I’m gonna take out every single fuckin’ bastard in my way, make sure they can’t hurt one of those dogs ever again.”

“For once, I’m on board with that,” Tito mumbled. He closed his eyes, index finger gently dragging back and forth across his forehead. “So Bo sends me the layout, I memorize it, place the explosives, and then… you do your thing?”

“I think so. Bo wouldn’t give me all the details until you were back in Kansas.” Vito couldn’t help but chuckle. “I think he was worried I’d go in and take care of it myself if I had all the info he had.”

“That was probably a good idea.” Tito blew out a slow breath before clearing his throat. “Do you know why we’re hitting Hernandez? I mean, I hate the dog fights as much as anyone, but I thought Bo was against starting wars.”

“Dunno, didn’t ask. I’m just happy to have the job. I don’t care about the ins and outs of it.”

“For what it’s worth, when it involves starting a war, you should care about the ‘ins and outs’. Wars put you, me, and everyone we care about at risk. If you’re gunning to start one, you need to, you know… think about all the possible dangers and outcomes of that.”

“It’s Bo’s war.”

“Bo’s war that you and me will help kick off. That puts me and you just about as high on the hit list as Bo,” Tito said. “I just wanna know what we’re fighting for. That’s all.”

“A’ight. I can respect that. We’ll talk it out with Bo. But for me, the reason doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, I’m doin’ it. Okay?”

“I know you are,” Tito said. He grabbed his sunglasses from where they’d been hooked on the collar of his shirt and lifted his head from his hand only long enough to slide them onto his face.

Vito watched his brother for a moment before his eyes drifted back to the road. “You sure you’re good for a job? Seem kinda… out of it.”

“Just dizzy.” Tito chuckled, but it was softer than usual. Quieter. “I’ve laid explosives under worse conditions, and I’ve walked you through a blueprint under even worse. I’ll be fine.”

Well, Vito had definitely already done his due diligence at being ‘better’ to Tito. Continuing to push and shove seemed pointless. “Let’s go see Bo, then.”


For the first time in a hell of a lot of years, Bo was smoking when Tito and Vito met up with him at the Kansas Pitman Estate. He held up a finger before Vito could throw out any smart-ass comments and ground the cigarette in the ashtray on the desk. “Pardon the bluntness, Tito, but you don’t look well.”

“Tired,” Tito said plainly. “I’ve run missions on a hell of a lot less sleep than what I’m running on now.”

“Why haven’t you been sleeping?”

“He’s dizzy,” Vito said as he dropped into one of the chairs in front of Bo’s desk.

Tito let out a breath, but he nodded as he lowered himself into the other chair. “But I took a Dramine on the way over. I’m good to go, Boss. Vi needs a job, and I’m here to work it with him.”

“If you’re certain.”

“He’s certain,” Vito said. He waved a hand between them. “I already grilled him in the car. He wants to work. Just wants to know why we’re startin’ a war and shit.”

Bo pulled off his beanie long enough to scratch his scalp and rough up his hair. “I was hoping you wouldn’t ask. I’m not entirely certain you’d both be… in the right headspace for a job if you knew the ‘why’ of it all.”

“I want anyone who hurts an animal to suffer just as badly as the next guy does, but I gotta know the reason I’m putting the lives of the people I care about on the line if we’re starting a war. I always gotta know,” Tito said.

Bo glanced over at Vito before clearing his throat. “We’ve picked up… chatter about Hernendez’s beliefs about the mob, gangs, cartels, and how they ‘should’ be run. For starters, he believes that each family should be restricted to one ethnicity like the ‘good old days’.”

“Like when the made men had to be totally Italian, no matter what?” Vito asked.

Bo nodded. “And while that’s concerning, he isn’t as deadset on that ideal as he is about his second point. No queers in the mob. Mister Dawson and I are certainly the most prominent members of the LGBTQ community amongst the Families, but it doesn’t mean we’re the only ones, and it doesn’t mean that Hernandez would stop at prosecuting only queer members of the mob. It’ll be anyone they suspect to be queer. Anyone who wears too tight of jeans or a shirt that’s too low cut. Anyone with a piercing in the ‘wrong’ ear, the wrong type of rings on their fingers, the wrong haircut. They’ll target anyone that doesn’t sit right with them, and by the way his poker table talks have been going, we’re quickly approaching the tipping point. So… if he wants a war with a queer, he’s got one.”

Vito knew it wasn’t about him, that no one in the mob would ever assume he was part of the ‘community’ in any sense of the word, but that didn’t stop him from stiffening.

“Jesus,” Tito whispered. “Well, you have our support, Chief. Hernandez wants a war? We’ll give him one he’ll never forget.”

“In the short time he has left on their Earth,” Bo said. “The dog fights are Hernandez’s largest source of income. Not counting the one you’ll be hitting tonight, we know there are at least two rings here in Kansas, and we suspect there are a handful or more scattered throughout the country. Hernandez has the occasional drug deal or firearms swap, but they’re nothing compared to the millions he’s raking in at the expense of those poor dogs. We’re taking out as many of the dog fights as we possibly can. Once Hernandez has watched the majority of his operation crumble to the ground, we’ll take him out, and bu then, we’ll make sure every single member of any gang, mob, or cartel knows what will happen to them if they threaten the safety and security of our members.”

“Taking out the dog fights works for me,” Vito said. “You got the blueprints?”

Bo tossed a folder across the table to him. “Those are the blueprints I was able to get my hands on. They’re from several years ago, so I can’t guarantee they’re entirely accurate. Unfortunately, there’s always the chance that they’ve added onto the building or changed the location of certain important places inside of it. The X’s on the blueprints indicate the needed placement of the explosives, which Mekhi is finishing preparing for you in the garage, and you’ll pick them up when you leave. If you run into any issues with the blueprint not matching the building when you arrive, leave, get away from the building, and then call me. Once you’re both safe, we’ll regroup and set about getting access to the current layout of the building. Are we clear?”

“We’re clear, Boss,” Tito assured.

Bo nodded before his blue eyes shifted to Vito’s face. “Are we clear? You get out of the building if it doesn’t match the blueprints.”

“I ain’t in any risk until we start the war.”

Bo’s eyes narrowed, but Vito knew he wouldn’t bring his sexuality into it, not with Tito sitting next to him. Bo knew he was the only person Vito had come out to, and Bo wasn’t exactly a believer in outing people to their family members. “You’re both Pitman’s boys, and everyone knows that. With me taking over, everyone that knew that knows you’re now my boys, my responsibility, my family. If you get caught in a building that we do how to escape from because the layout isn’t as expected, they will torture or kill you to get to me. You evacuate the building if it differs from the blueprint. Are we clear?”

Vito cleared his throat. “We’re clear, sir.”

“Good. Go over the plans, look over the layout, and if you have any questions or concerns about the explosive placement, let me know. Otherwise, let’s get this show on the road.” Bo let out a breath, shaking his head. “Let’s start ourselves a war.”

Enjoying the story? Consider dropping a comment or a like down below!!

Love what I do and want to help support me? You can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-fi! Every little bit helps me keep this site running.

Surgeon – Chapter Nine

A/N: I entered one of my megaE pups (Ripley) in a contest for cutest pup! If we can place high enough, we can earn a small monetary prize that’ll go right back into the sanctuary and helping megaesophagus dogs! Vote for Ripley here

If you don’t know, I have five now and am hoping to finally add a small one to the family this year (I’ve got my heart set on one as we speak 💜).

This is a totally free way to support our megaesophagus dogs, as voting is free once every ten minutes, up to ten times a day! Thank you to anyone who votes. Even if we don’t place high enough for anything, you support is still deeply appreciated!


Chapter Nine


Jacob knocked on the open door of the lab before poking his head into the room. “We have a scene. Ready to head out?”

Bo glanced up at the detective before clearing his throat. “Me?”

Jacob smiled. “Yeah, you. Who else would I be talking to? One of your bajillion notebooks?” he asked.

Bo chuckled, but it was forced. Each of his notebooks had a purpose, a set purpose that made it important. ‘Bajillion’ made each one seem inferior, unimportant, pointless. Deep down, he knew Jacob hadn’t meant it that way, but it was the way his brain translated it, the way his anxiety perpetuated it. Knowing it was his anxiety twisting the words like a knife didn’t make the blade any less sharp.

He tucked his pen between the pages of his notebook, closed the cover, and stood up. “Just me?”

“Just you. No Gwen. Don’t worry about it. She’s, uh, in a sitdown with the chief for today.”

“It’s okay, really. I’ve met much worse coworkers.”

“That doesn’t give her the right to be an asshole. We’re just on edge. Your department isn’t the only one who had a killer running through it,” Jacob said as he started out of the lab.

Bo grabbed his satchel and camera bag before hurrying after Jacob. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Our old chief was crooked as shit. I don’t know if he ever killed anyone, but he was peddling drugs and framing the innocent and making sure the criminals walked free. Throw in a homicidal defense attorney, and you have a wonderful recipe for a bunch of cops and lab techs who can’t handle welcoming a new guy into the department just because of where he worked last.”

“I… didn’t know that.” Bo couldn’t help but shake his head. He should’ve done more research on Clinstone. It wasn’t the tiniest town in the world, but it wasn’t the biggest, either. He hadn’t figured he’d need to check of the police department had previously been run by a drug peddler, but you learned new lessons all the time. Clearly.

“Should’ve done your homework, huh?”

Bo laughed. “I was, uh, I was actually thinking the same thing.”

Jacob’s smile was soft, almost comforting. “Just give everyone some time. They’ll see you aren’t a bad guy. You’re just a… big nerd in a big world, looking for a job where you can get your nerd on. Who you worked with or what station you came from doesn’t change that. Your just a big science geek in a little body.”

Admittedly, that was probably the most efficient and accurate way anyone had ever described him.

Bo bit back the urge to tell Jacob he wasn’t exactly looking to make any friends while he was in Clinstone, that he didn’t plan on staying after this case was solved, but it wasn’t worth the energy. Jacob was friendly and persistent. Despite the constant rejections when he offered to take Bo with him and Carter to lunch or breakfast, Jacob continued trying. Bo assumed he’d do the same if told Bo wasn’t in the market for new friends. Or any friends, for that matter.

Instead, he settled for a simple, “Thank you,” in response.

“You betcha.”


“Our killer sure likes dumpsters, huh?” Carter asked as Bo stepped up onto the bottom lip of the dumpster. “Two kills in, and it’s already a little repetive. Gonna get pretty old pretty quick.”

Bo shook his head as he leaned forward and snapped a picture of the victim. They weren’t only two kills in; Bo was relatively certain of that. The confidence in the slash across Tess Brown’s throat had been relatively good proof of that. The man in the dumpster, whoever he may be, likely wasn’t their first victim, either, even though he’d definitely been there a while.

“That’s a little fucked up, don’t you think?” Jacob asked. “These vics aren’t, like, a plotline in a bad TV show. They aren’t repetative. They’re dead.”

They aren’t repetative. He is.”

Bo glanced up at the sky, choosing to keep it to himself that they had no proof the killer was a man. The more he kept to himself, the smoother things would go for the remainer of the case. Holding his camera in one hand, he climbed onto the top lip of the dumpster, using his knees to balance himself at the corner as he leaned down for a closer picture of the victim.

“Whoa, careful, Austen.”

Bo turned his head just long enough to get a look at the worried look on Jacob’s face. At his current angle, he had little to no chance of falling backward and risking any serious injury. Falling forward onto the victim and destroying evidence was technically possible, but his knees had created a solid based on the dumpster, and it was unlikely he’d fall forward without being pushed. Again, he kept that to himself. Instead, he offered a simple, “I’ll be fine.”

He brought his full attention back to the victim. His head and neck, the only parts of his body visible outside of his clothes, were a black-green color. Bacteria had caused an extreme accumulation of gas inside, pushing the victim’s eyes and tongue forward. The skin was blistered and marbled with the intricate patterns of visible blood vessels. Purge fluid leaked from the man’s mouth and nose, and Bo could see what appeared to be a tear rather than an intention laceration along the victim’s neck. The tear indicated the body tissue there had broken open to allow a much-needed release of the gas and fluid that had built up after his death, similar to the way a fruit would split when left out in the sun for far too long.

After being assigned to Dallas and Kathy’s ‘case’ for so long, Bo’s field work had been minimal, and it seemed like it’d been an eternity since he’d seen a victim’s corpse so far gone. He snapped another picture. “Vic’s a male, maybe in his mid-forties. He’s been dead for a while. Five, six days.”

“So around the same time Tess died?” Jacob asked.

“Somewhere in there.”

Beneath the skin, it was clear the muscles had deteriorated at an incredible rate, a rate that was far quicker than that of a normal decaying corpse. Likely, he’d been poisoned with something that caused a deterioration og the muscles. From what Bo could see of the victim’s hands and wrists, it didn’t appear like he’d been tied up, so the poison had to have been something a person could slip the victim without him tasting it, without him knowing something was wrong until it was too late.

Conium maculatum, possibly? It would’ve caused a gradual weakening of the muscles and intense pain as they started dying off. Symptoms would’ve kicked in around thirty minutes after the digestion of the poision, and death came several hours later, essentially serving as a sweet relief by that point. All parts of the plant were poisonous, and it wouldn’t have been hard to throw some leaves into a salad.

“Vic was likely poisoned,” Bo said quietly, setting his camera on the lid of the dumpster.

“With what?” Jack asked. Bo offered a shrug as he pulled his phone from his back pocket. “You don’t have a guess?”

“Not one worth sharing.” Bo wouldn’t be able to get a fingerprint out here, not with how decomposed the victim’s flesh was. He’d need to cut off the stiff fingers and use the glove method of fingerprinting. It had certainly been a long while since he’d had to do that. There was sa time where he would’ve hated the idea of it, dreaded it from the moment he realized it was necessary. Today though, he simply felt glad to be useful, even if only for a day.

He turned on the flashlight on his phone and leaned into the dumpster. He heard Jacob let out a heavy breath—presumably further concern. Using two gloved fingers, Bo pulled down on the victim’s bottom jaw. The smell of death and decay was beyond terrible, even from behind Bo’s mask, garbage, and the smell of the cold, winter air.

There was nothing obviously obstructing the mouth or stuck in the back of his throat, though Bo wouldn’t know for certain if the poison had made it all the way to his stomach until they got the man to the lab. Bo stuck his gloved hand into the victim’s front pocket, quickly followed by the other. Keys. That was a good start. He pulled them out and slipped his finger through the keyring before reaching beneath the victim to get at his back pocket.

Nothing. He tried the other back pocket, unable to stop himself from smiling as his fingers slipped around what felt like a wallet. He leaned back out of the dumpster, turned off his flashlight, and shoved his phone back into his pocket. “Evidence bag?” Bo asked, turning to the detectives.

Jacob pulled a small bag from the inner pocket of his suit jacket and stepped close enough to the dumpster to hold it out to Bo. Bo dropped the keys into it. While Jacob sealed the bag and grabbed another, Bo flipped open the wallet. No ID. It was possible the killer had taken it, or maybe the man simply didn’t have one. Whatever the reason, Bo would have no choice but to try and fingerprint him.

He dropped the wallet into the next bag Jacob held out. He grabbed his camera from the lid of the dumpster and held it against his shoulder as he used his free hand for leverage to clilmb down from the dumpster.

“You wanna take these to the car?” Jacob asked. “I’ll help Austen finish up here.”

“Sure, man.” Carter grabbed the bags and headed for the parking lot.

After watching him for a moment, Jacob’s blue eyes settled on Bo’s face. “You’re quiet.”

“Maybe I don’t have much to say.”

“From what I’ve read about you, you’ve got so much intel swirling around in your head that I don’t know how the hell you ever shut up.”

Bo almost snorted at that one. It was a fair assessment, if nothing else. “I suppose that’s fair,” Bo said softly. “I’m still… figuring out my place here in Clinstone. I’m used to working in L.A.. I’m used to working under Jamal Pitman. I’m used to… an entirely different group of people, entirely different crime scenes, entirely different functions and operations. I’m just trying to find my place, and right now, ‘quiet’ is where I fit in.”

“You’re sure that’s all?”

It didn’t matter how many times Jacob Mason correctly identified something about him. Bo still wasn’t looking to make friends here. He was simply trying to survive the new environment until the case was over and he could go home. Maybe running away had been the wrong call. Nowhere in The United States would ever be Los Angeles.

So Bo offered a nod. “That’s all.” He cleared his throat. “I’ll wait here until transport to the morgue arrives.”

“You sure?”

Again, Bo nodded. He didn’t exactly mind the silence of waiting near a corpse. “I’m sure. I’ll see you back at the station.”

After a moment, Jacob nodded, accepting he’d lost the battle again. “Sure. See you there, Austen.”

Enjoying the story? Consider dropping a comment or a like down below!! I love hearing from you!

Love what I do and want to help support me? You can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-fi!

Surgeon – Chapter Eight

A/N: Happy birthday, Bo! If Bo were a real person, he’d be 34 years old today.


Chapter Eight

Monday: January 6, 2020


Bo had not slept well over the course of the weekend. There was so little he could do in Clinstone. He hadn’t worked strictly forensics in… years. Since he was interning in Los Angeles. He had spent so many years going with a detective to interviews and interrogations that he had truly almost forgotten what it was like to simply be locked up in the lab, looking at photographs and filing them away, labeling bags of evidence and filing them away, writing up a crime scene report and… filing it away.

He had spent the weekend working out dozens of different angles for their killer, for the motive. Now he just had to work up the courage to show it to one of the detectives. Or maybe the chief. She knew his old boss, and although he didn’t think they were exactly friends, she was likely the most prepared for how much of an investigation he was used to being involved in, for how much extra work he was willing to do for the same amount of pay.

The clearing of a throat pulled Bo’s attention to the short brunette standing in the doorway. He tucked his unclicked pen into the pages of his notebook and folded it shut. The way she stared at him made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, but he tried not to make it obvious that it bothered him any. Instead, like the quiet mouse he was trying to conform back to, he rose to his feet and held out his hand. “Bo Austen.”

She closed the distance between them to shake his hand, but that look was still there in her brown eyes. “Gwen Tanner, medical examiner.” She dropped his hand and wiped her own on her jeans. Bo’s brow furrowed. Again, he tried to cover it up as quickly as he could. “Did Misty come by and clean?” she asked.

Bo bit back a snort. He had assumed they must’ve both liked the tornado war zone aesthetic of the lab’s shelves and drawers, that there was no way one would ever assume the other had tidied up the place. “No, that was me.”

“Oh.” She said it slowly, as though she didn’t know what else she could possible say to him.

Bo’s teeth sunk into the inside of his bottom lip, catching on the oh so familiar scar given to him by five-year-old Bo falling off his bike. Hard.

“Why?” Gwen asked.

Bo blinked, eyes shifting back to the woman’s face. “Why… did I clean?”


“I… I work better in an organized environment.”


He didn’t understand the one-worded answers or what he must’ve done to upset her. He’d only known the woman for two minutes. What the hell could he have possibly done? Still, he wanted to blend in, to fade back into the background of the police department. He just wanted to finish this case and get out, go somewhere further from California next time. “I’m sorry?” Bo offered.

Her gaze snapped to his face. “For what?”


Her eyes narrowed briefly. “Don’t patronize me.”

“I wasn’t—”

“You wanna show me the shit you moved around, dude? Or am I expected to find everything in my workplace that you fucked with on my own?”

“N-no, I-I can show you.” Bo barely managed to rake a nervous hand through his hair before he caught sight of Jacob Mason standing in the doorway.

“Hey… Gwen?” Jacob asked.

Rather than turning around, her gaze shifted to the ceiling. “Yeah?”

“How about you go upstairs and take a break, huh? Chill out for a few?”

“I’m fine, Jake,” Gwen said through her teeth, eyes still on the ceiling.

“He’s not an idiot. Or some kind of intern. Or some sort of burden here in the department. He cleaned the room. That’s it. You don’t gotta be a dick about it,” Jacob said as he walked further into the room.

I don’t need your help! Bo wanted to scream. He had learned at far too young of an age that asking the big guy for help was never the solution. It only ever made things even worse once the big guy turned his back again.

Gwen turned to face Jacob, jabbing a finger into his chest. “Get the fuck out of my lab.”

Jacob pushed her hand away. “I’m not intimated by this, Gwen. I’m just asking you to chill out. We’ve known each other long enough that you can trust me on this, right?” His voice came out much quieter than before as he added, “He’s just a lab geek, Gwen. Just a lab geek.”

Gwen glared at him in silence for what felt like an eternity before she shoved past him, pushing his shoulder with her own. The lab door slammed shut behind her.

After a moment, Jacob cleared his throat. “Sorry about that.”

“You didn’t do anything.”

Jacob lifted his shoulders. “Still.” A pause. “You okay?”

“I’m fine.” Bo forced a laugh. “I can handle a bit of push and shove from a colleague. It’s nothing I haven’t dealt with before.”

“I’m sure it’s not. But that doesn’t mean every place you go from here on out should be hostile.” Jacob nodded toward the door. “It’s not you, you know? Gwen’s just… working through some stuff. She picks a fight with just about everyone right now. Today it was you, tomorrow it’ll be me. I wouldn’t take it to heart.” He lifted a hand and pushed it into his hair. Bo took a small step back, a nervous little tic he usually had complete control over. “I already know the answer, but… you wanna grab breakfast with me and Lemon?”

Breakfast would be a good time to go over the profile he had worked on over the weekend, but he knew he wasn’t ready for that. Convincing himself to talk to one detective about it was bad enough. Showing his work to two of the detectives was even worse. So he shook his head. “I’m all right. I appreciate the offer, Detective.”

“Okay. Well, uh, if you change your mind?” Jacob jerked a thumb over his shoulder. “We’ll be upstairs for another five minutes or so. You know where my desk is, yeah?”

“I do. But I’m okay. Thank you.”

“Okay.” Jacob looked as though he wanted to say more, but instead, he turned and walked out of the room, closing the door with a soft click behind him.

Bo tilted his head back and closed his eyes, drawing in a long, deep breath. Jupiter, what he wouldn’t give to be back in California, back before Dallas ever met Kathy, back before the detective changed departments to be with her, back before… all of it. What he wouldn’t give to go back to life before he knew his best friend was one of the most prolific serial killers in the United States. What he wouldn’t give to go back to life before he knew he had lived under the same roof as that serial killer, that he’d ridden to crime scenes with that serial killer, that he had shared breakfasts and coffees and beers with that serial killer.

Jesus, what he wouldn’t give.

Enjoying the story? Consider dropping a comment or a like down below!!

Love what I do and want to help support me? You can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-fi!

Truths & Chains – Chapter Eight


Elias shot up, heart pounding. As his eyes scanned the room, it registered that he was safe and sound in his own bed. The violent and bloody ending to a very hot, very naughty dream about one beautiful Italian thug had been nothing but his subconscious butting its way through the Great Wall of Horny and ruining what had otherwise been a pretty good time.

He tugged on his shirt collar a couple times, offering some much-needed air movement to his very warm skin. Elias couldn’t remember the last time his dreams had taken a turn for sex, though a ‘feeling up Vitelli’ dream was a far more accurate description of what his mind had come up with. They hadn’t exactly gotten to the sex part of his imagination before some faceless gangster burst into the room and gunned them both down. Elias figured that had more to do with his worry and anxiety about digging into his dad’s case than it did about him hanging around with Vitelli for one night.

Elias scrubbed his hands over his face before dropping them back to his lap. Clearly, he needed to meet up with Vitelli again. In reality, he hadn’t planned on going to O’Riley’s tonight to see him. Yes, he was pretty. Yes, his accent was wonderful to listen to. Yes, the tone he used when he whispered in Elias’s ears flipped and twisted his stomach in all kinds of delicious ways.

But Elias wasn’t a one-night-stand kind of guy, and he wasn’t someone who could sleep with a person he didn’t know, a person he didn’t trust. In the past, maybe, but that Elias had been gone for years, and he didn’t think that part of him would be coming back anytime soon. Yet, despite how much he had been certain of his lack of desire to see Vitelli again, his subconscious had cooked him up a lovely little fantasy with the man.

And who was he to deny his subconscious?

He still didn’t exactly plan on throwing himself at Vitelli or jumping his bones the moment he saw him, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t think about, right? Vitelli was wonderful to think about. It had been a hell of a long time before any part of Elias’s thoughts were occupied by an attractive man for good reasons. After his relationship with Nicholas had taken a sharp and drastic nosedive, he had done his best to close himself off from the charms of other men, but Vitelli had squeezed through one of the cracks in the wall, charm coming out full force every single time he opened his damn mouth.

Of course, the wall Elias had built up hadn’t been prepared for pretty Italian men covered in tattoos, intrigue, and—most importantly—rebellion from Elias’s ‘perfect’ little life, and earlier that morning, rebellion had seeped through every vein and artery in Elias’s body the moment his lips had touched Vitelli’s.

Sweet, sweet rebellion.

Elias blew out a slow breath and rubbed a hand down his throat before his palm settled on his still fluttering heart. He needed a cold shower, his meds, and breakfast. Then he needed to get out and about to question the witness who had apparently seen their motorcyclist with a gun. Assuming the witness was alive, anyway. He’d check with JJ after the shower, meds, and food or he’d forget about the importance of all three. Then he could think about his dad’s case and the witnesses and the questions he wanted to ask, and if he was lucky, later on, he could even think about Vitelli.


After breakfast, a quick chat with JJ had confirmed that their witness, Jack Harris, was still alive and well. Now, Elias sat in the passenger seat of JJ’s car outside Jack’s house, fiddling with the charms hanging from his neck. Jack was outside in the front yard, shoveling snow off the path from the sidewalk to his door.

Elias had told JJ she didn’t need to tag along, even though she had offered and claimed it was no issue at all. He’d spun some long-winded yarn about questioning witnesses being boring and she didn’t need to be subjected to it. Still, she had ended up convincing him to at least let her drive him to Jack’s place, but she had agreed to go grab coffee down the block while he did the questioning. In reality, it had nothing to do with the entertainment value of questioning and everything to do with the fact that Elias hadn’t done this in over three years, and he hadn’t wanted JJ to be there to see him screw it all up. JJ was one of the few people in his life that didn’t have to watch him stumble and fumble over himself and his words, and he didn’t want that to change right now. Maybe he’d have the confidence to risk changing JJ’s perspective and opinion of him in the future, but not now.

Elias squeezed his necklace charms one more time before climbing out of the car. He turned on his microrecorder and tucked it into the pocket of his jacket. He let Gordo out of the backseat, closed both doors, and grabbed his handle. With one last exhale, Elias forced himself to step up onto the sidewalk. “Umm, hey there. I don’t mean to scare you or anything, but, uh, my name’s Elias Payne. I’m investigating a cold case—”

“You some kinda cop? PI?” Jack raised an eyebrow at him, sticking his shovel in the snow bank to his right.

“No, sir. Just… a nosey former-reporter who can’t let go of his last job.”

“Mm.” Jack crossed his arms over his chest. “What do you want?”

“I’m looking into several cold cases involving some car accidents several years back, and I was hoping to talk to you a bit about the one you witnessed at the time.”


Elias licked his lips and squeezed Gordo’s handle. He had expected to strike out, but not immediately. Maybe another push would change his tune. “I’m sorry, it, uh, it would’ve been March of 2017.”

“No, I know when it was. It’s the only one I’ve ever seen with my own damn eyes. I don’t wanna talk about it. I talked to the cops when it happened, to the reporters after that, and I’m not gonna stand here and dredge it all up again.” He grabbed his shovel and went back to pushing snow off the path. When Elias couldn’t force himself to move, Jack lifted his head to meet his gaze again. “You want my advice, Mister… Payne, was it?”

Elias had a feeling he did not, in fact, want the man’s advice. Still, he nodded. “Yeah, Payne. Umm… what’ve you got?”

“You should keep your nose out of it. The crashes, I mean. The accidents. Digging up all that shit is nothing but bad news for everyone involved. Imagine how the families are going to feel when they find out you’re digging around in their tragedies for some… gotcha moment over your old employer.”

“It’s not a gotcha. And it’s not about my old job. I actually am one of the families.” Elias moved Gordo’s handle back and forth. “Gordo here is a service dog I need thanks to being in the ‘accident’ you witnessed.”

Something shifted in Jack’s expression. “You’re the kid,” he whispered.

Elias offered a smile. “I’m the kid.”


“Look, umm…” Jack cleared his throat. “I stand by at least part of what I said. You shouldn’t be digging around in this.”

“I’ve heard that before,” Elias said with a laugh. The fact that Jack was aware of the dangers of it too wasn’t exactly good news. The witnesses were alive, but they’d either been threatened or paid off. Questioning them wasn’t going to get him any more information than the redacted reports had. “Thank you for your time anyway, Mister Harris. And for the advice.”

“Sure, kid,” Jack said quietly. “Keep yourself safe out there.”


When JJ came back to the car with coffee, Elias set about scraping the caramel drizzle off the sides of the cup and stirring it into the rest of the drink, buying himself some time to come up with the best way to relay his thoughts to JJ. Regardless of her speech about her being a big girl and making her own decisions, he didn’t want to drag her any further into the investigation. Finding out the truth about what happened to his dad was his burden, and all the danger that came along with it was his cross to bear. Putting JJ in danger at every possible turn just because he couldn’t let it go wasn’t something he could live with, even if no one ever hurt her. Just the thought of it being a possibility twisted his stomach into tight, nasty little knots.

“So?” JJ asked.

Elias cleared his throat. “So?”

So, how did the Q and A with Harris go?”

“The witnesses know they shouldn’t talk bout it. They know they weren’t accidents, that… someone initially caused the crashes to kill the drivers. They know. They’ve either been silenced with money or silenced with fear.”

“Well, that’s not ideal,” JJ said.

Elias couldn’t help but laugh. “Yeah. Not ideal,” he echoed. He took a sip of his coffee, bought himself some more time. JJ would never let him continue the investigation into his dad’s death on his own. Their previous talks over the acceptance of life and death danger had been more than enough to determine that. But he couldn’t let her dig herself any deeper into the danger, not for the death of someone she’d never even met. Unlike Elias, JJ had a life outside of the case. She had a respectable career, friends, family. She went to parties and events, had fun. She lived her life. Elias didn’t. Risking taking JJ away from every other person in her life, taking JJ away from the life she’d built for herself, would never be worth it.

So for now, he’d lie, and when he finally figured out who took down his dad, he’d tell her, and she’d understand why he’d had no choice but to be dishonest.

Elias set his coffee in the center console’s cup holder, clearing his throat. “For… right now, I think it’s a good idea for us to back away from all of this. The redacted reports don’t help us, and the unredacted reports gave us the witnesses, sure, but there’s nothing else worthwhile in there, and the witnesses aren’t any good to us if they’re unable to talk. Right now, there’s nowhere for us to go with it, nothing else for us to do,” he said. “So I think we should… stop. We should stop looking into this before someone kills us for getting nowhere fast.”

JJ turned to look at him, one doubtful eyebrow raised. “You, of all people, want to stop digging into your dad’s case?”

“Temporarily. Just for right now. This here? This is us hitting the biggest dead end and brick wall I’ve ever come to in my time looking into the reports. I’ve hit hurdles before, I’ve hit forks in the road, but a complete dead end like this? I don’t even know where to start, JJ. And right now, I’m just… so damn tired,” he whispered. “And I can’t keep doing it, not now.”

JJ grabbed his hand and gave it a tight squeeze. “Maybe after the anniversary.”

“Exactly. Maybe after the anniversary.”

“And you’ll let me know when you’re ready to get back into looking? Because I’ll be right there with you, E.”

“I know you will. And… and yeah, I’ll let you know when I’m ready.”

“Good.” JJ squeezed his hand again before starting the car. Elias let out a breath, sinking back into his seat. There was a part of Elias that was still good at lying, at conjuring up a little story and spinning a yarn for his audience. Hopefully she’d buy the lie long enough to keep her far, far out of danger’s reach.

Enjoying the story? Consider dropping a comment or a like down below!!

Love what I do and want to help support me? You can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-fi! This allows me to continue providing content for free on this website!

Truths & Chains – Chapter Seven


    Going through the case files, the redacted ones and the non-redacted ones, had been an all-day endeavor, and the clock had ticked over from Saturday to Sunday without notice from either wannabe sleuth.

    “Hey, I think I got somethin’.” JJ got off the couch and knelt down beside Elias, holding out a thin stack of paper. She touched a finger to a line somewhere near the middle of the page. “This part is redacted in the files we got from the department’s database. There were several witnesses to the crash, but this one specifically, they saw a motorcycle speed away after the vehicle veered off and flipped.”

    Elias took a moment to force himself past the imagery ‘veered off and flipped’ conjured up in his brain. He didn’t remember much about the accident—little more than the motorcycle and waking up upside down had stuck with him over the years—but going over the details as many times as he had in the last God only knew how many hours hadn’t exactly been good for his mind.

    With a clear of his throat, he grabbed the papers and read over the part JJ had pointed out, the part that was so important that the police department had needed to redact it when they’d put it in their system. “They thought they saw a gun in the motorcyclist’s hand,” Elias said quietly. “So… the motorcyclist shot out Dad’s tire.”

    “Maybe,” JJ said, her voice soft, gentle. “When you talked to Hank, what did he say? I mean, aside from giving you all of this. Did he say anything about the MC?”

    “Not really. I mean, he said it was a legal club, just a group of guys who liked bikes and fixing them up. But I don’t know if I believe that.” Elias gave the pages a half-hearted shake. “Especially now.”

    JJ wrapped an arm around him and guided his head to her shoulder. Elias closed his eyes, drawing in as deep of a relaxing breath as he could manage. “You’ve never told me about a gun. That’s not something you saw, right?”

    Elias shook his head. “No. I remember… hearing a noise before the car veered off. I never really had an answer for that, but I know kid me thought the motorcycle hit us or something. Tried to push us off the road. Adult me assumed that was pretty unlikely.” He blew out a breath, tossing the paperclipped stack to the floor. “Well, I guess I got what I wanted,” he whispered. “Someone murdered my dad.”

    “And the department knows who did it,” JJ said. “That cop friend of yours—”

    “He isn’t a friend. He wants to sleep with me.”

    “You’ve… slept with people for information before.”

    “Yeah, but that was a long time ago. Before Nick. Before…” Elias lifted his head from her shoulder and pulled his knees to his chest, wrapping his arms around them instead. “That was basically an entirely different me. The part of me that was confident enough to do something like that doesn’t even exist anymore.”

    JJ stayed silent for a moment before tucking her hair back behind her ear. “Does he like women?”

    “Jesus, JJ. I can’t start pimping you out for details. I’ve already dragged you into all of this. Having you sleep with a cop on the force of cops who went out of their way to bury a homicide? Jesus.”

    “One, you didn’t drag me into anything. I’m a big girl, and I made my own choice with this. Two, it’s not pimping me out if I offered to sleep with him. And three, it’s not like he’s one of the ones who buried the crash. He’s too young.”

    “Too young to cover up my dad’s homicide. It doesn’t mean he hasn’t joined the dark side with the ones who did. Cassata and Lucchese both have massive control in Kansas. I doubt there’s a single damn cop in the state that isn’t on their payroll in some form or another. Even if they didn’t cover up Dad’s murder, they’re all dark side. Every single of ‘em.”

    “Fair,” JJ said, her voice quiet. She stretched her legs out and crossed them at the ankles. “So what’s the plan?”

    “See if any of the witnesses are alive, I guess. And if they are, a certain nosey former-reporter has some questions to ask about what they saw and what they told the cops about it.”

    “Sounds good to me.” JJ leaned up just enough to look at her phone on the coffee table. “But for now, we should get you home so you can get some sleep.”

    Elias didn’t think there was any chance in hell sleep was possible tonight, but there was no harm in trying. His meds were all at home too, and he’d already missed his evening doses by several hours. “Yeah, I guess sleep wouldn’t hurt,” he said quietly.

    JJ nodded. “Good.” She gave his shoulder a squeeze and pushed herself to her feet. “Just gonna go to the bathroom, and then we can head out. Okay?”

    “I’ll be here.”


    Vito spent two hours charming his planned fling for the night before her boyfriend came to the bar and, after risking a glare in Vito’s direction, pulled her away. Clearly, he needed to start asking his endeavors if they had a boyfriend before he wasted his time on them. With a roll of his eyes, he leaned down, lined up his shot, and launched the cue ball across the table.

    A hand came down in front of the corner pocket, stopping the ball before it could fall in.

    Vito dragged his eyes up to the face the hand belonged to. A slow smile spread across his face. “Hello, gorgeous.”

    “Mm.” The black man raised an eyebrow. “Does that mean you remember me, or do you call every man you see gorgeous?”

    “Oh, I remember you. Great with remembering faces when they look like yours.” Vito straightened himself out and dropped the bottom of the cue to the floor before crossing his arms over the top. “Thank you for the help back there at the apartments. It’s appreciated, really.”

    “Well, umm… no problem.” The man cleared his throat. “So, uh, would you happen to need a pool buddy?”

    Vito leaned to the side and let his eyes drag up Gorgeous’s body. His dark blue jeans, the Australian Shepherd seated at his feet, his yellow button-up, the sleeves folded and rolled neatly to his elbows, the necklace charms resting near his collarbone, his deep brown eyes behind his black-rimmed glasses. “Would love one.”

    Gorgeous smiled a nervous little smile. “Great.” Vito saw his fingers tighten around the handle attached to the dog’s harness, and the dog stood up and walked with him over to the cue rack in the corner of the bar.

    “Tell me, gorgeous. What’s a guy like you doing in a place like this?”

    Gorgeous’s hand stilled for a moment before he grabbed one of the cues and turned to face Vito. “What do you mean?”

    Vito smiled. “Baby, come on. Drake’s Place? Like you don’t know this place’s reputation?”

    “Mm. So you’re a thug?” Gorgeous asked.

    “Something like that. Everyone here is either a thug or looking to lay a thug.” Vito looked him up and down again. “Lookin’ like that, I’m guessin’ you ain’t on the thug end of things.”

    “I’m not on either end of things. I just… I couldn’t sleep.” He came back to the pool table and let go of the dog’s handle. “Wanted to be around people.”

    “Wanted to be around thugs?” Vito asked.

    A tiny smile tugged at one corner of Gorgeous’s mouth. He flipped the pool cue in his hand and used the tip to push one side of Vito’s leather jacket back, showcasing his gun. Vito glanced down before dragging his eyes back up to his face. “Wanted to be around a bunch of MC guys who would protect those around them.”

    “MC guys,” Vito echoed. He adjusted his jacket, covered his gun again. “Whatcha need a bar full of MC guys to protect you from, gorgeous?”

    “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

    Vito snorted. “All right. Well, long as we’re here, you’ve got my protection, babe.” He stuck out a hand. “Vitelli.”

    Gorgeous grabbed his hand but didn’t give him a name. “I thought Italian’s couldn’t have surnames as first names.”

    Vito couldn’t help the laugh that burst from his lips. No one had ever caught that before. “I was born there, not raised. You know how these new age parents are. Can’t just pick a normal name,” he said. “You got a name, gorgeous?”

    He raised a brow. “You gonna remember it?”


    “It’s Elias. But, y’know. I won’t hold your things hostage if you forget.” He flipped Vito’s hand over and dragged his thumb down the middle of it. “Your tats are beautiful.”

    “Thanks. My brother’s a fuckin’ artist.”

    “They’re all done by your brother?”

    “Mmhmm. Wouldn’t let anyone else touch this canvas.”

    Gorgeous—Elias—smiled, brown eyes lifting to meet his. “You’re lucky you’re a cute thug because your cockiness is like, up to here,” he said, holding a hand up by his head.

    Vito snorted. “I’m worth it. Got the shit to back it up too.”

    “Oh, I’m… I’m sure you do.” Elias took a step back and grabbed his pool cue. “So… how about you keep me safe until closing time, and I figure out how to play pool?”

    A smile pulled at one corner of Vito’s mouth. Protecting a gorgeous man for a couple hours sounded like a reasonably easy job. And if Elias decided somewhere between now and then that he actually was at Drake’s Place to sleep with a thug, so be it. “Deal. Do you know how to rack ‘em?”

    Elias shook his head. “No, but I can learn if you can teach.”

    “Oh, baby, I can teach.”

    Elias smiled. “Then I guess we’re all set.” He gestured downward with his right hand, palm parell to the floor, and the dog sat down near the corner of the pool table. “Where do we start?”

    “The plastic triangle,” Vito said, tapping the bottom of the cue to the slot beneath the table. Elias bent down to grab the triangle ball rack. “Aussie there have a name?”

    “Gordo.” Elias set the rack on the table, eyes lifting back to Vito’s face. “Do you like dogs?”

    “They’re cool. Less bitchy than humans.”

    Elias snorted. “That’s fair.”

    “Guide dog?”

    “Uh, sorta, but not necessarily. Service dog is his official title.”

    “Mm.” Vito watched Elias as he rounded the table to roll the striped and solid colored balls back toward the rack. “Never seen those handle harness things on a regular service pup, I don’t think.”

    “Well, he’s supposed to drag me away from bad decisions.”

    Vito laughed. “I dunno how to tell you this, but I think his radar’s a little off, babe.”

    Elias smiled. “Yeah, seems like it.” He walked back over to Vito, cue in hand. He touched two fingers to Vito’s right forearm. “You’re, like… covered in gods.”

    “Recognize ‘em?” Vito asked.

    Elias shook his head. “Yes and no. I’ve seen some of them, but I don’t know their names.” His brown eyes lifted to meet Vito’s. “Why so many?”

“Relate to each one in my own little ways.”

    “How do you relate to this guy?” Elias asked, fingers sliding down to the back of his hand.

    Vito glanced down at the bird-headed God seated atop a pile of skulls on the back of his hand. “He’s Montu. Egyptian God of War.”


    “And I’m war and chaos, baby.”

    One corner of Elias’s mouth lifted. “You’re ridiculous.”

    “That’s one of the more polite things I’ve ever been called.”

    “Yeah, I can imagine. What with you being a thug and all.” Elias fingers slid up to a different god. “What about this one?”

    “After I rack up the billairds, if you can break ‘em, you can ask about any of the tats. Yeah?”


    Vito leaned his cue against the wall and pulled the billards together with his forearms, clicking them into a little triangle against the edge of the table. He slipped the rack over top of them and went about arranging them in numerical order. He could feel Elias’s eyes on him, watching his every movement. A part of him took the intense watching as threat, but the much larger part of him had wanted Elias pushed up against a wall, Vito buried inside of him, since the moment he’d seen him in the apartment building’s hall. That part of him kept the Horror Twin half from acting out, from pushing Elias against a wall for an entirely different reason.

    “Are all of them really done by your brother?” Elias asked.

    Vito cleared his throat, pushing the tip of the rack to the faint gray circle a few inches up from the edge of the table. He lifted the plastic triangle and slid it back under the table. “Every last one. Consider me a walking portfolio for my big bro.”

    “He does beautiful work.”

    Vito turned back to Elias, a grin on his face. “That’s just ‘cause it’s on me, babe.”

    “I’m sure it is,” Elias said with a soft laugh.

    Oddly, the comment didn’t sound sarcastic or like a flirty little jab. Just… polite agreement. Vito wasn’t sure he’d ever gotten that kind of response before, and his ego wasn’t sure if it should be insulted or not.

    “All set. Should we get to teachin’ now?”

    Elias nodded. “Sure. You get to teachin’. I’ll get to learnin’.”

    Vito smiled and stepped away from the table. Realistically, there was a damn good chance Elias knew everything there was to know about pool. It was a tactic Vito knew all too well, one he’d even used himself a time or two. People enjoyed teaching others the things they were good at. He tended to use that to his advantage, and if Elias was willing to let him do it, he sure as hell wasn’t going to complain.

    “Come over here, step a little closer to the table.” Elias did as told, and Vito stepped behind him, grabbing his hand. He pulled it back a few inches on the pool cue. “Not too far away from the end, but not too close to it. Yeah?”


    Vito stepped in a little closer and dragged his fingers up Elias’s forearm before settling his hand over top of his. He felt the sharp inhale of Elias’s breath, the slight relaxation of his shoulders. His back was so fucking warm against Vito’s front, the man a damn near perfect fit  between his arms. Vito nuzzled his neck with the tip of his nose. “You smell good,” he murmured.

    “Umm, it’s, uh… it’s Old Spice. I think it has, uh, shea butter in it? So y-you’re probably, umm, you’re probably smelling the vanilla.”

    “Mm.” Vito smiled against Elias’s neck. “I like it. Like it even more that you had an answer.” He laid his free hand on the table, officially trapping Elias in. “Couple of good ways to use your other hand as your brace, but you gotta actually, you know, brace it. I usually like to use the groove between my thumb and forefinger ‘cause I think it’s the easiest, but you can wrap your index finger around it like a circle if you need to. Whole bunch of fancy, weird ass hand positions you can try too.”

    Elias chuckled. “I think I’ll start with simple.” His hand hovered above Vito’s for several seconds before he slid it down Vito’s tatted-up skin, stopping as his fingers slipped into the gaps between Vito’s far more gnarled knuckles. “So… if I successfully break this, I can ask about any of the tats I want?”

    “Any you can see with my clothes on, anyway.” Vito buried his nose in Elias’s dark, curly hair just long enough to breathe him in. “I’ve got a lot more hidden under said clothes, if you’re interested in the full selection.”

    Elias’s laugh was a bit more nervous that time. “Let’s just start with pool.”

    “Sure, babe. I can manage that,” Vito promised. Elias laid his hand down beside Vito’s on the table, their fingers just barely touching. “You’re driving me crazy, gorgeous,” Vito whispered,  lips brushing the shell of Elias’s ear.

    He shivered. “Is that, umm… a good crazy or a bad crazy?”

    “A very good crazy.”

    That nervous little laugh was back. “Good, I think,” Elias whispered. He hit the cue ball, scattering the racked balls around the table. He slipped out between Vito and the table, tapping the end of the pool cue to the Vito’s right wrist. “This one.”


    “Also Egyptian?”

    “Mmhmm. She, uh, she’s the goddess of a couple things, but I have her here because she was said to protect the home from evil spirits and shit. Protection, good health, whatever. Shit I need I need in my line of work.”

    “Well, it seems she’s been doing a good job, then.”

    “You know, I think you’re right. I have gotten stabbed less since I added her to the sleeve.”

    Elias snorted, rolling his eyes. “So… I guess tattoos aren’t the only thi ng you’re covered in then, huh?”

    “What do you mean? Oh, like scars?” Vito asked. Elias only nodded. “Yeah, I’ve got a nice collection of those too.”

    “Your MC should take better care of you, you know. Stop adding new scars to the canvas.”

    Vito chuckled. “You tellin’ me you don’t like a man with a couple good scars?”

    “Depends on the man, I suppose,” Elias said, his voice soft. He nodded toward the table. “I believe it’s your turn.”

    Vito grabbed his pool cue. “So if you get to ask about tattoos, what do I get?”

    Elias drummed his fingers against his pool cue, gaze focused on his dog as his free hand came up to fiddle with the charms on his necklace. “I dunno. What interests you?”

    “You got any tats?”


    “Okay, well, obviously, if I win, you need to get one.”

    Elias laughed, and the smile stayed on his face a little longer than the other times. “No can do, I’m afraid. I promised my best friend she’s get to be there when I finally got my first one done.”

    “Drat.” There were very few things he was interested in, especially when it came to his flings. He wanted Elias naked and beneath him in a bed somewhere, and there weren’t many things he wanted between now and then. “If I win, you tell me why you need a bar full of MC guys to make you feel safe.”

    “You’re basically guaranteed to win.”

    “Pfft. I’m a couple beers deep. You got just as much chance at winnin’ as I do, babe.”


    “Guilty. But I’ll go easy on ya.” Vito lined up his shot, aiming for the side of the pool table rather than any of the billairds. “See?” he asked as he straightened himself back out. “Totally got a chance of winnin’, babe.”

    Elias rolled his eyes, “Yeah, we’ll see about that.”


    Like a true gentleman, Vito let Gorgeous, whose name had unfortunately escaped him sometime during their last game, win all but one round of pool. At last call, he dropped his hands to the green felt on either side of the shorter man, pinning him between himself and the table. Gorgeous laid his hands on Vito’s chest, eyes rapidly scanning his face. “I-I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I can’t.”

    “Engaged? Married?” Vito asked. “Just my luck.”

    Gorgeous shook his head. “No, I just… I don’t really do the one-night-stand thing, you know?”

    “Mm.” Vito raised a brow. “Ever?”

    “No, just not in a while.”

    “What I’m hearin’ is that I’ve got a chance.”

    Gorgeous laughed. “Yeah, I guess so,” he said softly. His gaze dropped to where his hands still rested on Vito’s chest. “You won the last round.”

    “Right. Whatcha need a bar full of gangsters for, babe?”

    “I’m digging into a closed case I probably shouldn’t. It’s starting to stink of a conspiracy that, at the very least, involves the cops. Maybe the mob. Maybe some important government official. I dunno. Either way, every inch I dig into it puts me and my friend at more risk. She has security at her apartment, and she somehow managed to sleep with that thought in her brain, but… I couldn’t.” Gorgeous swallowed, gaze lifting back to Vito’s face. He offered a little smile and drummed his fingers against Vito’s chest. “So thanks for keeping me safe.”

    “My pleasure.” Gorgeous had said a lot of words, but Vito’s brain had gotten stuck on ‘closed case’. “You a cop?”

    “No. Ex-reporter. Now I just write true crime podcast scripts for a YouTuber.” Gorgeous shook his head. “But no, not a cop. You’ve got nothing to worry about, Vitelli.”

    “Sweet.” Vito cocked his head to the side. “How do you feel about kissing thugs instead of sleeping with ‘em?”

    “It has nothing to do with thugs, for what it’s worth. And… I dunno.” Gorgeous tugged on either side of Vito’s jacket. “You a good kisser?”

    Vito snorted. “Amazin’.”

    Without a smartass retort, Gorgeous leaned up and kissed him.

    Vito groaned, lifting his hands to Gorgeous’s face, tongue pressing against his lips. God must’ve been pulling favors that morning, because Gorgeous parted his lips and allowed Vito to deepen the kiss. Vito tilted his head back for a better angle. Gorgeous whimpered into his mouth, a hand sliding up to his face, fingers threading their way through his hair. Vito pushed his knee between Gorgeous’s thighs.


    Vito groaned as he broke the kiss, eyes dragging over to Drake. “What?”

    “We’ve talked about this.” Drake waved a hand in his direction. “Kissing is fine until it looks like you’re gonna take your clothes off. No sex on my damn pool table.”

    “Yeah, yeah.” Vito looked back at Gorgeous, who had lifted one hand to cover his mouth and nose. “Sorry, babe. Didn’t mean to embarass you. Drake’s a shit.”

    “It’s okay. You, umm… you are indeed a good kisser.”

    “Told ya.”

    Gorgeous cleared his throat and gave Vito’s jacket a tug. “How about you give me your number, huh? Maybe… we can play some more pool and check out some more tattoos?”

    “Sorry, babe. It’s tempting, but I don’t do that. Phone numbers are a no-go. But if you’re not busy tonight, I’ll be punching the evening clock at O’Riley’s place around six. Maybe I’ll see you there?”

    “O’Riley’s,” Gorgeous echoed. “Yeah, maybe I’ll see you there.”

Enjoying the story? Consider dropping a comment or a like down below!!

Love what I do and want to help support me? You can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-fi!

J. Pitman’s Legend – Prologue

A/N: It’s Jamal’s birthday today! So here’s the prologue of book one of his series 💜


The black teenager lifted his head as a car pulled into the driveway. The boy sat on the balcony just outside his bedroom window–though it was in less than ideal condition for something made to support the weight of a human being–dark eyes scanning the landscape below him. Inside, his younger brother lay asleep on the bed. The boys, aged fifteen and twelve, had been alone in the house for the last week and a half while their father had been on one of his ‘business trips’. As per usual, the boys had been left to fend for themselves until his return. It was only when their father was gone for longer than twelve days that he called in their uncle to babysit.

The older boy didn’t mind watching his younger brother, and he certainly didn’t mind being all alone at the house. It was something he had gotten used to over the years, and for quite some time, he had longed for it. Hell, after the last babysitting… adventure with their uncle, he had practically prayed for it.

The boy stood up as the driver’s side door of the car opened. He vaulted himself over the railing that lined the edges of the balcony, grabbing the wooden platform before he could go too far. He hung there for a moment before dropping down to the ground below, bending his knees just enough to protect his ankles from the shock of the fall.

He jogged toward the parked car, more than aware that his father didn’t want to wait long for him. He tucked his hands behind his back, the way he had been taught to stand since the day he turned four.

“Everything from the first,” the boy’s father commanded as he climbed out of the car.

“You don’t want to know anything from the end of December, sir?” the boy asked. He was more than used to relaying the events in the news to his father, telling him of everything that had transpired worldwide while he was gone. The boy had been responsible for it since he was able to read.

“Did I ask for December?”

“No, sir.”

“Then do you think I want December?” The man stared down at his son for a moment before shutting the car door and heading toward the house. The young boy followed. “January. Lay it out.”

“Of course, sir. My apologies. January first, sir. The transit workers went on strike. The subway was shut down for… some time.”

“You’re pausing. Don’t pause. Memorize your material,” the man said as he walked inside.

“My apologies,” the boy repeated. He stepped into the house, closing the door behind him. “UCLA beat Michigan State fourteen to twelve in the Rose Bowl. Missouri beat Florida twenty to eighteen in the Sugar Bowl. Alabama beat Nebraska thirty-nine to twenty-eight in the Orange Bowl.” The boy followed his father into the kitchen. “January second, sir. Green Bay Packers beat Cleveland Browns twenty-three to twelve in the NFL Championship.”

“Damn,” the man muttered.

“January third, sir, Floyd McKissick was named national director of CORE,” a pause, “sir.”


“And, uh, today, the Beatles’ Rubber Soul album, as well as their single We Can Work It Out, hit number one. And Georges Pompidou was re-appointed as Prime Minister of France, sir,” the boy said.

“Don’t stutter, Jamal.”

“I didn’t stutter, sir.”

“It’s been a long week, Jamal. Don’t test me. You know what I mean. No pauses. No umms and uhs.”

The boy, Jamal, nodded. “My apologies, sir.”

His father grunted. “Where’s the other one?”

“Sleeping, sir.”

“Wake him up for me.”

“He needs to sleep, sir,” Jamal said. “He’s was up most of the night.”

“That’s not my damn fault, is it?” his father asked.

“No, sir.”

“Then wake him up.”

“I won’t, Dad,” Jamal said.

Jamal flinched as his father whirled around toward him. “Don’t fucking call me that. It’s ‘sir’ or ‘Mister Pitman’. Don’t want no one thinkin’ you have any sort of favoritism, you hear?”

“Apologies, sir,” Jamal said. He knew better than to call his father anything other than ‘sir,’ but anytime he called him ‘Dad’ or ‘Father,’ it drew his father’s attention away from his little brother. That was all Jamal wanted. Anything to keep his brother out of wrath’s way. “Are you home for long, sir?”

“No, I’m leaving again tomorrow.”

“When will you return?”

“Next Saturday,” the man said.

“We’ll need more food before you leave, sir,” Jamal said.

The man shook his head. For a moment, something human crossed his face. “I can’t, Jamal. I don’t have…” He cleared his throat. “I’ll have your uncle swing by, bring some food.”

“Please don’t.”

Slowly, he cocked his head to the side. “Why?”

Jamal swallowed before clearing his throat. “Apologies, sir. It’s nothing. I just… don’t want to bother him.”

“All right. Well, you’re resourceful. You’ll figure it out on your own.”

“Yes, sir.”

His father waved a hand. “Go.”

“Yes, sir.” Jamal offered a respectful bow, hands still tucked behind his back. He walked out of the kitchen and headed up the stairs and to his bedroom. He shut the door quietly, twisting the lock to keep his father from bursting in without any warning. He grabbed a book from the small desk against the wall and sat down on his bed beside his sleeping brother. He leaned back against the headboard and opened the book.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Nearly a year ago, the human rights activist had been assassinated less than eight miles away from the house Jamal and his family lived in.

It was one of the only books Jamal owned, and he had read it a total of seventeen times since his father’s boss had bought it for him. Jamal let out a quiet sigh as he started reading the page before him. He’d finish the book again that night, see his father off the next morning, do his best to steal food for himself and his brother without getting caught tomorrow afternoon, and then live the week in peace until his father’s return the following Saturday, the fifteenth.

It was a ritual, one he was entirely used to. In two months, he would start working with his father and his father’s associates, and that would be quite the change in the ritual. A welcome change at that.

But he knew that didn’t mean it would be easy. It would never be easy. The Pitmans weren’t ‘easy’ people. They lived life as hard as they could until the day they died. Jamal planned to do the same, build his own life, a legend even greater than his father’s.

When Jamal was done, the Pitman name wouldn’t make people think of his father. No. When Jamal Pitman was done, the Pitman name would strike fear in the heart of anyone that knew the legends and rumors surrounding the name, the legends of Jamal Pitman.

Enjoying the story? Consider dropping a comment or a like down below!!

back to book details

Chapter One

Love what I do and want to help support me? You can ‘buy me a coffee’ on Ko-fi!