Beaten and left for dead, Smoke is rescued by a woman in disguise.
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The Men of 3X CONStruction
Book three in Men of 3X CONStruction Series
Smoke was missing. The men at Three X Construction are searching everywhere for a clue to his whereabouts. The body count is rising each day he’s absent. Red and Ross try to keep the men from taking the law into their hands. It’s a hard battle considering Red and Ross want blood for the offense.
Days have passed and Smoke hasn’t returned. They pray for the best and hope for a miracle.
The case Vianca Marino worked seemed simple enough. Tail the female and report her whereabouts to the client. Boring. She could have done this one blind folded. Except for the night the female left with a friend. That wasn’t the norm.
Later, when Vianca searched for the female, she found a corpse, and a battered, and bruised live body. She never expected the outcome from helping the man escape, what it’d cost her professionally and personally.
She never expected to get burned, thought she had the fire of her attraction under control. But, Where there’s Smoke…
“Hey!” Smoke yelled while being lifted in the air. A foul smelling bag was crammed over his head. The next moment, with the ferocity of an out of control Mack truck, his back slammed into a wooden barrier.
“Shit,” he moaned into the darkness. Nerve endings tingled as they raced to his brain, transmitting a litany of body damage. His breath surged from his mouth, as pressure of a well-placed fist to his stomach created a vacuum. The ringing he heard — not from bells, but his ears, as his abdominals took punch after punch.
His swollen eyelids attempted to open and close, to brush away the thick, sticky fluid streaking his beat-up face.
Someone dragged and pinned him to the floor. His mind registered the harsh breaths of his attackers, but little else. The orchestrated sounds of a brutal whipping were indelibly printed on his mind.
“Ahhhh,” he yelled, as shards of pain shot up his arm, stabbing his mind. A hand shoved a cloth into his mouth, blanketing the sound.
One thought ricocheted through his mind, prison ass whupings had been less brutal.
“Uh,” Smoke groaned, doubling over in the dark. Excruciating pain radiated through his abdominals to his back. His arms were stretched wide and attached to the wall. Red-hot fire slammed through his face as it whipped to the side. He tried to spit and couldn’t. That’s right, they’d gagged him.
“Stop,” a voice said. “No more hitting his visible areas.”
“Oomph,” A sickening sound permeated the air. This time darkness swallowed him, he didn’t feel the next kick, the next, or the next.
Vianca Marino sat in the dimly lit bar off the hotel lobby, watching the two women work the room. It was slim pickings for a Sunday afternoon. The woman closest to the corner wore a gold slinky dress, with a plunging neckline that gave hints of her silicone treasures.
More than one man gave a lingering glance. With the efficiency of a stockbroker, she summed up each potential client with a slow sweep of her eyes. Offering an encouraging smile to some and turning her face away from those who didn't make the cut. She could easily be in her twenties, although she looked much older.
This line of work guaranteed added years to one's age. Heavy make-up and a plastic smile covered her pale complexion, providing splotches of color on an otherwise bleak landscape.
No question, the two were neat, polite, and polished, but working girls all the same.
Fascinated, Vianca watched the management skills of these women in their personal game of high stakes. Few CEO's could best them. The older one must’ve been training the younger. She’d eye a man from the tips of his polished black wingtips to the cut of his suit or shirt. The smile she granted the potential customer depicted her estimation of his worth. The poor schmuck she’d just dismissed ambled away to the back of the bar, tail between his legs. Obviously, he didn’t make her mark.
The older woman wasn’t who Vianca was interested in. No, it was the younger one. The one sitting quietly nursing her single drink. The one refusing to talk to every man who approached her. The one who currently went by the name Angelique.
Her real name, Barbara McDonald, wasn’t as exotic. She stood around five-three, a small, stacked brunette with piercing baby blue eyes, dimples and remnants of innocence on her face. Her short black dress draped conservatively across her front and dipped low on her back, ending just above her hips. Mrs. McDonald had left home four months ago, or so her husband claimed, and hit the streets.
Her father-in-law asked their company to investigate, make sure his son’s accounting was true. Judging the blank face of the woman, it didn’t look like she was here for kicks and giggles. More like she had to be here. After reading the dossier on the son, she wouldn’t be surprised if the woman hadn’t been a part of a debt-paying bargain for her gambling addicted husband.
Vianca sighed, adjusting her stuffed shirt. The heat from her disguise made sitting for extended periods uncomfortable. Anyone walking by her table would see a dusky-complexioned, overweight man with nondescript brown hair, plain round face, brown eyes and thin lips. Completely unremarkable and forgettable. Emphasis on the forgettable part.
She’d been trailing Mrs. McDonald for a week, had stayed in the same hotel, checking in and out each day under different aliases. The hotel staff put the prostitutes on the same floor every night, in one of three rooms. None of those rooms was detectable by the hotel's hall cameras. Smart. Vianca had placed her small cameras near the door of each room, making sure they blended with the scenery. From her room she monitored the activity entering and exiting Mrs. McDonald’s room nightly. To date, the young prostitute had one client, the same older man each night, whereas the older woman ran through five to eight different men each night.
A tall, dark haired, Brad Pitt clone approached the older woman at the bar. He leaned forward and engaged her in conversation. Straightening at the oddity, a chilling alert went through Vianca. Men didn’t indulge in long conversations with hookers. They negotiated briefly. This man spent at least fifteen minutes talking; the older woman laughed unabashedly at whatever he said. The younger woman took note at both the man and her partner. Finally, the man whispered into the older woman’s ear, she nodded, still smiling.
He put money on the counter, and walked off. As he walked past her, the smile dropped and a calculating gleam entered his light brown eyes.
The older hooker walked over to McDonald and spoke to her ear. McDonald shook her head, obviously wanting no part.
The smile dropped from the older woman’s face as she whispered fiercely into the younger woman’s ear. Red faced, McDonald slid from the stool, turned puppy-like and followed the woman. As they passed Vianca’s table, a fog of misery wafted from McDonald, she’d lost weight since the beginning of the investigation. The drawn look on Barbara McDonald’s face screamed her shame, and a semblance of acceptance of her fate.
Vianca hated that her client insisted she not make contact with his errant daughter-in-law. She was simply to report everything she saw. If ever anyone needed help, it was Mrs. McDonald.