Authors: Katie Allen
An Ellora’s Cave Romantica
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Private Dicks Copyright © 2009 Katie Allen
Edited by Kelli Collins
Cover art by Syneca
Electronic book Publication April 2009
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons,
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characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark
owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:
Broncos: PDB Sports, Ltd.
Dumpster: Dempster Brothers, Inc.
Glock: Glock, Inc.
Hannah Montana: Disney Enterprises, Inc.
IHOP: IHOP IC, LLC
MagLite: Mag Instrument, Inc.
Pink Panther: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc.
Raiders: The Oakland Raiders AD, Football, Inc.
Smith and Wesson Sigma: Smith and Wesson Corp.
Waffle House: WH Capital, LLC
Maybe it was time to find another partner. Even as Isaac
Rhodes thought it, he knew he would never do it—not unless Nate Washington
“C’mon, Rhodie,” Wash hissed from the darkened doorway. With
a resigned sigh, Rhodes followed him, staying close behind as they climbed the
narrow stairway that smelled like pot and urine.
On the third floor, they flanked the door of apartment 304
and Rhodes drew his gun. Wash did his usual incomprehensible hand signals and
Rhodes rolled his eyes. He didn’t know why his partner did that—it wasn’t as if
this was their first time. Pivoting to face the door, Rhodes opened it with a
single kick and then they were inside, moving fast.
When they burst into the bedroom, Terry Glade had barely
made it out of bed. His girlfriend started screaming, a piercing, air-raid siren
of a shriek, and clutched the sheet to her drooping breasts.
Wash tackled Terry, easily flipping the smaller man over
onto his stomach and digging a knee into his back. Rhodes stayed back to cover
the room. They didn’t need someone popping out of the bathroom with a
“Where’re you going, Ter?” Wash asked, sounding almost
jovial. “Could you tell your girlfriend to shut it?”
“Tanya, knock it off,” Terry yelled at the woman, who shut
her mouth in mid-scream, immediately swapping fear for anger.
“Who are you to tell
to shut up, asshole?” she
demanded indignantly. “Out of jail for not even a day and guys with guns are
breaking down my door. What’d you do now?”
“Nothing!” Terry insisted. “I swear!”
“Uh-huh,” Tanya said skeptically, managing to cross her arms
over her chest while keeping the sheet in place.
“Can I talk to Terry now, sweetie?” Wash asked with a
Tanya shrugged, although Rhodes could see the spark of
interest light in her eyes and she reached up with one hand to smooth her hair.
“Whatever,” she told him, giving another shrug that allowed the sheet to slip a
little farther down her breasts to reveal a faded rose tattoo.
“Thank you,” Wash said with a wink, turning back to the man
he had pinned and grabbing a handful of his lank hair. “So how’s life on the
outside treating you, Ter?”
good,” Terry complained into the stained
“That’s nice,” Wash said sweetly. “Got any plans?”
After a short pause, the naked man muttered, “No.”
“Now, I just don’t believe you, Terry,” Wash told him and
yanked the other man’s head up by his hair. “See my partner over there?”
Rhodes knew his part well. He gave his best menacing scowl
and raised his gun a notch.
“He hasn’t killed anyone yet today and it’s making him a
little testy,” Wash explained, his voice patient. “Why don’t we try this again?
Planning to go anywhere later? Maybe to see your ex-wife?”
Terry swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing in his thin
throat. “Bitch owes me money,” he muttered.
With a long-suffering sigh, Wash slammed Terry’s head
against the floor. “I have a much better idea, Ter. How about you skip the
visit to your ex and leave town instead? That way, you’re much less likely to
run into my partner and his Glock, which makes it much more likely that you’ll
stay alive.” He pulled Terry’s head from the floor and, on cue, Rhodes narrowed
his eyes and bared his teeth.
Terry whimpered as blood trickled from his nose, running
over his receding chin and dripping onto the floor, adding bright red dots to
the motley stains already covering the carpet.
“Look,” Wash told him, pulling out an envelope and waving it
in front of Terry’s terrified face. “We even got you a bus ticket to sunny
California. Just think—tan women, no more winters, maybe you’ll even land a
movie role. Isn’t that better than being dead, Ter?”
The other man nodded and Wash released his hair, although he
paused to dig his knee into Terry’s back. “You even look in the direction of
your ex’s house, Ter, and that’ll be it for you. Understand?”
“Yeah,” he wheezed.
“Good. We’ll just be outside, watching, just to make sure
you don’t get lost on your way to the bus station. Better hurry—your ride
leaves in an hour.” Wash stood up and sent Tanya a final smile and wink. “Bye,
She gave him a wave that turned into a nonchalant hair flip
halfway through. The two men left the way they came in, carefully checking each
room as they retreated. Once outside in the alley, Rhodes holstered his gun.
“You’ve really got that whole murderous psycho look down,
Rhodie,” Wash told him, clapping him on the shoulder. “Nice job.”
“Thanks,” Rhodes said dryly. “Most of it’s genetics. I just
add the frown.”
“Well it’s pure genius—works every time.” He opened the
passenger side door of Rhodes’ car. “Want to grab a drink after we escort this
piece of shit to the bus station?”
Rhodes gave an affirmative shrug, his stomach lurching with
excitement even as he cursed himself. By now, he should have learned that he
was setting himself up for disappointment. He just couldn’t help it.
With a sigh, Rhodes dropped into the driver’s seat and
pulled the door closed. Glancing over at Wash, he was struck by the way the
streetlight outlined the sharp angles of his cheekbones, contrasting so
dramatically with the full, amused curve of his lips.
, Rhodes thought, dragging his gaze off the
gorgeous man next to him and shifting in his seat to hide his burgeoning
He really needed to find a new partner.
Wash lifted his beer. “Here’s to Terry’s relocation to
With a tip of his own bottle, Rhodes amended the toast.
“Here’s to getting paid.”
“Amen to that,” Wash agreed fervently, taking a drink. “I
like this kind of job—the client never has to see her loser ex-husband again,
no one is shot and we get our money. Everyone is happy.”
“Yeah,” Rhodes echoed. “Everyone’s happy.”
Wash looked at him curiously. “What’s up?”
Shrugging, Wash took another drink. “You didn’t sound very
enthusiastic about that whole ‘happy’ thing. Lately, you’ve just seemed a
“Off?” Rhodes scowled. “You make me sound like spoiled milk
Waving a dismissive hand, Wash said, “You know what I mean.
So what’s the matter, man? You need to get laid or something?”
A corner of Rhodes’ mouth kicked up at that. It was just
close enough to the truth to be darkly amusing. “I’m fine.” He tried to change
the subject. “So, we going to take that shooting case or do you think it’s a
bad idea to get involved with Gonzales’ shit?”
Wash shook his head. “Don’t try to put me off by talking
about Gonzo. I’m on a mission to find you a piece of ass.”
Wash ignored him, glancing around the bar. It was their
favorite spot, a shabby almost-dive patronized mostly by cops. “How ’bout her?”
he asked, pointing.
“You didn’t even look.”
Gritting his teeth, Rhodes traced circles on the table with
his beer bottle, leaving wet trails of condensation. “Leave it.”
“Come on, buddy—she’s kind of cute. After another beer,
she’ll go up to pretty cute.” Wash grinned at him, showing the dents in his
cheeks that were too masculine to be called dimples. “You just need some hot,
sweaty sex to make everything all right.”
Rhodes sucked in a breath. Despite the context, those words
coming from Wash’s mouth made his cock swell. “Seriously, man—drop it,” he
“Just trying to help you out here, Rhodie,” Wash protested,
his hands spread innocently. “C’mon, this place is packed. There has to be one
you’d take home.”
“Fine.” Rhodes was tired, sick of all the bullshit, all the
half-truths and evasions over the past year that had been building up since
he’d started working with Wash—started wanting Wash. He ran an eye around the
crowded room and gave a jerk of his head toward the bar. “There.”
“Which one?” Wash asked eagerly, craning his neck to see
where his partner had indicated. “The blond in the silver, shiny thing?”
“Good, ’cause I’m pretty sure she’s a pro. Thought you were
losing those cop observation skills for a second.” He frowned. “What’s a hooker
doing here? Think she doesn’t know she’s surrounded by cops?” After pondering
that for a moment, Wash shook his head and glanced back into the crowd.
“Whatever. Back to the mission at hand. Did you mean that little brown-haired
one then?” Looking back at Rhodes, he added doubtfully, “She looks kind
of…mature, don’t you think?”
“Not her. The bartender.”
Wash’s head whipped around to stare at the burly man behind
the counter. “But…” He turned back to face Rhodes, his expression baffled, as
if he didn’t know whether to laugh or not. “I don’t know if you noticed, buddy,
but that’s a guy.”
Forcing himself to hold Wash’s gaze, he answered, “I
Wash glanced at the bar again, as if to make sure that a
woman didn’t pop out from behind the male bartender. “Is this your way of
telling me to back off?” he asked, turning back to Rhodes. “You can just tell
me to go fuck myself, you know.” An up-curve at the corners of Wash’s mouth
seemed ready for the punch line, for Rhodes to yell, “Got you!” and hit him on
the shoulder, at which point they could both have a good laugh.
He didn’t do that. Instead, Rhodes shook his head, holding
the other man’s eyes even as he took a drink of his beer.
The trace of a smile fell away. “Quit messing with me,
Then there was silence, the awful silence that made Rhodes’
Rhodes couldn’t force out the words, so he just stared at
“Whoa, you mean it.” Wash leaned back in his chair, crossing
his arms across his chest—as if to ward off any gayness missiles tossed his
way. Even though he felt like he was going to puke, Rhodes still wanted to
“You’re gay,” Wash stated.
Rhodes nodded, a short jerk of his head, dropping his gaze
to his beer.
“As in, you-like-men gay.”
Still eyeing his beer, Rhodes gave an affirmative shrug.
“As in, you-like-to-fuck-men gay.”
“Yes!” Rhodes bit out, jerking his head up in irritation at
Wash’s incredulous tone. Rhodes didn’t want to have to see this, didn’t want to
watch his friend’s friendly, humorous expression turn to disgust. Why had he
done it? He didn’t have to come out to Wash—obviously, his partner had been
oblivious to Rhodes’ preferences.
Working for Wash was his livelihood, the way he’d
survived—mentally and financially—after leaving the force. What could he do
now, private security? Rhodes winced. This had been a great job for over a
year—why did he have to go and fuck it up like that? Now he’d lose
everything—his job, Wash, any reason for living…
“And you’re only telling me this
?” It was Wash’s
turn to sound pissed off.
Rhodes blinked. That wasn’t exactly the response he’d been
expecting. “Well, it’s not usually what I lead off with when shaking someone’s
Leaning in, his eyes snapping bright green with anger, Wash
retorted, “We didn’t just meet. We’ve been working together for a fucking year,
spending just about every waking second together, and you just come out with
this now? I told you about Rosewood, you fucker!”
“Yeah, well, having spent a couple years in juvie isn’t
going to get you beat up in the men’s room, is it? It’s not going to get ‘fag’
spray-painted on your locker. It’s not going to make your partner ask to be
reassigned ’cause he’s worried about being in a patrol car with a queer!”
Wash didn’t look any less angry. “Is that what you think?
That I’m going to dump you as my partner now that I know?”
God, he really
going to throw up. Forcing himself
to hold Wash’s eyes, he quietly asked, “Are you?”
Kicking back his chair, Wash stood, glaring down at Rhodes.
“Is that what you think of me?” he demanded. Without waiting for an answer, he
turned to leave, turning back just long enough to spit, “Go fuck yourself,
Sleeping wasn’t an option.
Sleep was elusive even on good nights, nights when he hadn’t
just outed himself to his partner and probably lost his job, so it certainly
wasn’t happening tonight. His apartment felt airless, closed-in. Rhodes
Throwing on some running shoes, he jogged down the steps of
his building to the street. Although it was the wee hours of the morning, when
everyone should have been tucked away in their homes, the city was still awake.
Occasional cars drifted by, a couple argued as they walked unsteadily, probably
leaving a party or one of the after-hours joints, and a rail-thin man dug for
aluminum cans in the Dumpster protruding from the alley.
Rhodes tried to tune it out as he ran, forcing himself to
ignore the bickering couple. Even though it had been more than a year, habit
urged him to assess the situation, intervene if necessary, defuse the tension
building between the two people before it escalated to violence. Despite his
best attempt at not paying attention to them, Rhodes knew in his gut that the
woman was about ten seconds away from hauling off and smacking her companion.
Clenching his jaw, he ran faster, rounding the corner and
sprinting down the next block until the arguing couple’s voices faded into the
noise of the city. He ran toward downtown, struggling to find calmness in the
rhythm of his breathing, in the slap of his shoes against the pavement, but it
wasn’t happening. His brain wouldn’t quiet down, wouldn’t blank with the usual
He stopped when he reached the river, walking small circles
as he debated whether to turn onto the river road or head back home. Brushing a
sleeve against the sweat trickling down his temple, Rhodes stared across the
river. What he really wanted to do was keep running but experience reminded him
that when he ran himself out, when his legs were marshmallow-weak and the world
spun dizzily around him, he’d still have to figure out a way to get home. Over
the past year, Wash had picked him up a few times after one of his unplanned
extended runs but Rhodes doubted that his partner would relish coming out to
get him after the previous evening’s conversation. At the very least, it would
be an awkward ride home.