Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Willing and Able (Binary Stars Vol. 3) by Jenna Byrnes and Jude Mason

Colt Willing drove his Harley into the parking lot of a busy Stop and Save Grocery. He walked the big machine into a space backwards, so he could keep an eye on people coming and going. A fast getaway was another advantage, but that hadn’t been an issue, yet. Bustling food stores at the dinner hour seemed to be the perfect cover. Harried working stiffs scurrying in and out rarely paid him much notice.


He turned off the key, killing the grumbling motor noise. After glancing around the parking lot, he settled back on the smooth seat and waited.

This is the worst part. If something was going to happen, it would happen now. Nervous energy zipped down his spine and fluttered around in his gut. He forced himself to ignore it.

A nice looking blond guy wearing jeans and a button-down shirt approached him. He smiled at Colt pleasantly, but his eyes remained strangely blank. “Have you seen Roberto Montoya?”

Colt squinted and studied the man for a moment. For security’s sake, someone different showed up every time. He was continually surprised how clean-cut the people appeared. Go figure. He rattled off the expected response, “Not since yesterday. He mowed my lawn.”

The man pulled an envelope from his back pocket and held it out.

Colt grabbed it and looked inside. He didn’t bother to count the large wad of cash, he never did. No one had shorted him, yet. Heads would roll if anyone tried. He dug inside his worn leather jacket and drew a pack of cigarettes out, which he offered to the stranger. “Smoke?”

The tall blond rolled his eyes and accepted the pack. He scanned the lot from side to side quickly and without another word, strolled away. His ass, accentuated by tight jeans, faded from view. In a matter of seconds, he’d rounded the corner of the brick building and was out of sight.

Colt shook off the image. Nice ass or not, he’s not my type. Colt didn’t care for blonds. His ideal catch had dark hair on his head and his chest, with another patch curled around the base of a long, thick cock. The mental image caused his dick to spring to life, hampered by the confines of his own tight jeans.

Two quick stops and he’d head back to the dive he called home, and the handsome hunk waiting there. A tingle ran down his spine and he squirmed, wondering if Jonathan might be in the mood to scratch his itch. The big, strapping guy definitely knew all the right places to scratch.

Colt tucked the envelope deep into the lining of his jacket. He fired up his bike and revved the engine. A look in either direction and he pulled out of the parking space and continued right out of the lot.

He needed to drop the money off to his supplier and let him know the latest shipment of drugs, tucked neatly into the pack of smokes, had been delivered. Then he had a call to make. He’d find a pay phone for that. Cell phones could be monitored too easily.

A few blocks away, he pulled into the parking lot of the Royal Towers apartments. The rundown, old, single-story building looked neither ‘royal’ nor much like a tower. He smiled. Every time he was there, the same thing crossed his mind.

Some rough-looking teenage boys played football in the middle of the drive. Colt scowled and maneuvered his bike around them. Not one of them had budged an inch for him. Tough neighborhood.

He parked next to the cherry-red, Mustang convertible, which belonged to the man he was there to see. No one messed with Ramon De La Hoya’s car, and Colt figured his bike would be safe by association. He’d never forget the day Ramon told one of the neighborhood kids, “Anyone touching my car will find his balls hanging over the mirror like a set of fuzzy dice.” The boys had never put Ramon’s threat to the test.

The Hispanic thug liked to tell anyone who’d listen about how he was related to the boxer who shared his last name. Colt knew he was full of shit. Oscar De La Hoya might not be a saint, but the guy had class. A former world champ, he’d started a charitable foundation to help underprivileged kids get an education. Ramon was a low-life scum, who dealt with underprivileged kids by threatening to cut off their balls.

Cole knew Ramon would never succeed at anything that took effort or ethics. He was a common shyster who associated with others of the same breed, and one day, he’d be taken down by someone exactly like himself. Despite the ‘family loyalty’ bullshit mobsters wanted people to believe, Colt knew there was no honor among thieves. Everyone in this business understood. The knowledge was something you either lived with, or died with.

He tapped on the door to apartment number six. There was scuffling on the other side and a muffled, “Who is it?”

Colt replied in a cheesy Mexican accent. “Roberto Montoya.”

The door flew open and Ramon motioned him in. “Get in here, you stupid son-of-a-bitch.”

“Is that any way to talk to someone bearing gifts?” Colt entered and Ramon closed and locked the door behind him.

The darker-skinned man peered out the window and looked both ways until he was apparently satisfied. He mopped his brow with a checkered handkerchief and turned to Colt. “You got it?”

Colt smiled and pulled the envelope from inside his jacket. He passed it over and watched Ramon remove the money and count the stash. “It’s all there.”

“I know, I know. You always say that. But I say, you’re too goddamned trusting. For some fucking reason, you don’t believe everyone is out to screw you.”

Colt shook his head. “Just funny that way, I guess. It’s all there, right?”

“Yes, it’s all there.” Ramon’s voice oozed disgust, but the tone was nothing new. Typically nervous and ill-tempered, the wannabe goodfella seemed to be waiting for someone to double-cross him. That would give him a reason to blow the person’s head off with the Glock he kept tucked away in his belt.

Unfazed by Ramon’s sneer, Colt watched him peel off three hundred dollar bills and hand them over. He tucked the rest of the money and the envelope into the lining of his suit coat.

Colt pocketed the cash and adjusted the waistband of his jeans. Rather than continue giving Ramon shit, despite how much fun it was, he needed to get serious. “I’m free tomorrow if you want me to go with you to Nigel’s place. If you’d like a hand picking up more stuff, that is.”

Ramon scowled. “I can handle it. Meet me at Tubby’s tomorrow night, at nine, to pick up the next order. Oh, and I might have a special delivery address for you. I’ll let you know.”

The change in protocol raised a red flag. “What do you mean, a special delivery address? I like doing things the way we have been.”

“Yeah, well, sometimes you have to suck it up and do what you’re told. Mix it up some. We don’t want people to start noticing you.”

“I’ve used different grocery stores every day this week. Nobody’s paid me no mind. The cops in this berg are fucking stupid.”

“Just do it. Humor me, for fuck sakes. Cops may be stupid, but even a blind pig finds an acorn every once in a while.”

Colt chuckled. “Blind pig. Good one. Okay, I’ll humor you. And if you change your mind about Nigel—”

Ramon waved a hand. “Yeah, I got it. You’ll go with me if I need some help. I’ll let you know. Now beat it.”

“See you tomorrow.” Colt waved two fingers by his temple in a mock-salute, and left the apartment. Out of habit, he scanned the sidewalk in both directions. No one was around. Even the kids playing ball had disappeared.

He tossed a leg over his bike seat, kicked off the stand and fired up the engine. Now, to find a pay phone. Nothing close by. He headed home the long way, zigzagging up and down streets, until he spotted a phone-from-car stand in front of a convenience store and pulled in. Colt inserted two coins and dialed the number from memory. While he listened to the other end ring, he rolled his shoulders to work out the kinks. To say it’d been a long day would be an overstatement. It’d been a long couple of hours. Sometimes the stress tied his muscles into knots.

“Gibson’s Dry Cleaning,” a man’s voice answered.

“I need to talk to Mr. Gibson. I want to file a complaint.”

“Gibson here. File the complaint in your ass.”

Colt laughed. It wasn’t exactly the standard response, but after all these years, he knew his former partner, D.J. Able’s voice as well as he knew his own. “What the fuck? No one’s paying me any respect today. I just gave a nice chunk of cash to the last guy I saw, but did he appreciate it? Hell no.”

“Everything go smoothly with that?”

“Yeah, piece a cake. I tried to get him to let me go with him tomorrow, but he wasn’t crazy about the idea.”

“He still trust you? Because if he gets suspicious, you know what the fucker will do.”

“Yeah. Shoot first and ask questions later. Nah, we’re okay. He still trusts me. I just can’t come across too eager.”

“Think he’ll take Jonathan with him to pick up the stuff?”

The hair on the back of Colt’s neck bristled. Ramon had taken Jonathan to Nigel Caprice’s estate several times. Caprice was richer than God and thought just as highly of himself. So far, no one had been able to pin the drugs flooding the streets to the, seemingly, legitimate self-made millionaire. Jonathan had seen some of the deals, but he wasn’t spilling much information. It was like the mob held something over Jonathan’s head. They controlled him in a way Colt didn’t understand. No matter how hard he tried, using all the detective skills he could muster, Colt hadn’t been able to get diddly squat out of the handsome, hunk of a man.