M/M Erotic Romance/Mystery
Like Coffee and Doughnuts
Florida P.I., Dino Martini, is as old school as he can be in the modern age. He may do much of his work on a computer these days, but he carries a gun, he drives a convertible, and he lives on the beach. Well, close to the beach. He's got his best friend and mechanic, Seth Donnelly, to back him up in a fight, and there's not a lot more he could ask from life.
That is, until his world is turned upside down. In the space of a few days, Dino moves into a new apartment, gets tangled up in a dangerous case, and finds himself with a new boyfriend. The snag is, he's never had a boyfriend before, and the one in question is Seth. Dino's got to figure out if he can handle this new twist of fate. Just as he's thinking maybe he can, the shit hits the fan and he stands to lose Seth in more ways than one.
When I went into Ed's Garage looking to get backup from my friend Seth, I knew immediately my job was going to be harder than I'd thought. Seth and his latest "date," a blonde with short spiky hair and pretty legs, were tangled up on top of a red Ford Torino necking like the world was coming to an end. Neither one of them had a shirt on, but she wore a black and pink polka dot bra. She also wore a pale green skirt under which Seth's hand had disappeared. My timing wasn't good, but I was glad I hadn't come any later.
She saw me first and gave me a pretty smile, apparently not too disturbed by a stranger walking in on her fun. Seth was doing something to her neck that might have been kissing, but reminded me of the way he ate.
She prodded him and said, "Hey, we've got company."
When Seth raised his head, he looked surprised, but that quickly changed to irritation when he saw who it was. He didn't need to say a word for me to know exactly what he was thinking.
I smiled. "I thought you had to have the hood up to do a tune up."
"Not when we start with me first," he said. "Don't you have someplace better to be?"
"I'm sorry, I had no choice. Believe me, I did not want to do this, but duty calls."
"Tell duty to call back in about an hour, Dino." He went back to what he'd been doing.
"You're Dino?" the girl asked, lighting up. "I've heard about you."
"Dino Martini, at your service," I said. "Nice...bra."
"Thanks." She grabbed a fistful of Seth's hair and pulled him up to look at her. 'Don't be rude to your friend. He's obviously here for something important."
"He's here because whatever job he's got going this evening involves a high likelihood of him getting his ass kicked." He turned to look at me. "Am I wrong?"
I shrugged. "Hard to say with a case like this, but I don't like to take chances."
"What now?" Seth looked defeated already, which was good, because it meant this wouldn't be nearly as difficult as I'd thought.
"Cheating wife," I said. "You know how those can be."
"Yeah, yeah, all right."
Seth Donnelly is about five foot seven, has an unruly mop of carrot colored hair, and although he's thirty-three, he often acts like he's twelve. He's my mechanic, but he's also been a good friend for a lot of years, and there's no one I'd rather have next to me in a fight.
He slid off the hood of the car and told the girl, "I guess I'm gonna have to catch you some other time."
"That's okay," she said, climbing down and pulling her shirt on. "I have to get to work anyway. Can you look at my car tomorrow?"
"Sure, bring it by after three."
She gave him a quick kiss, got in the Ford and drove out, turning left, toward the beach. I was willing to bet she worked in one of the tourist bars down in John's Pass.
"Sorry about that," I said, turning to Seth.
"No sweat. Buy me dinner and we're square. She's cute enough, but her brother's the one I'd really like to nail."
I shook my head. "You bring a whole new meaning to the word 'sleaze', you know that?"
"Oh, come on, it's not like that. She knows. She's just in it for the fun and the free service on that wreck she drives. Did she look especially brokenhearted to you?"
"No," I admitted. "I can't say that she did."
"So tell me about the case," he said, grabbing his shirt off the workbench.
"Not that much to tell. This guy's had me following his wife for a while, and I finally caught her cheating on him with a long haul trucker. Turns out she's been meeting up with all kinds of them off a website called The Hot Trucker's Hookup."
"No shit, are you serious?"
"Sweet deal for the truckers, man. They can line up something everywhere they stop."
"That's pretty much the idea," I said. "They've got quite the little community on there."
I had followed Amy Ware all the way out to Florida's Interstate 75 and wound up spending an afternoon playing "Peeping Tom" through the ground floor window of a cheap hotel. On my fifth pass, I nearly swallowed my cigarette. She had her guy trussed up in a horse's harness and reins with the thing in the mouth and the whole nine yards, and she was ridin' him for all he was worth. I took easily fifty shots of that.
I'm kind of a mix between the old school P.I. and the modern "private investigator," which means I do my fair share of computer searches and background checks on top of the more traditional tailing of cheaters and mystery solving. But I drive a Mustang convertible, I carry a gun, and I live on the beach.
Well, close to the beach.
You are what you drive, they say, and I am a 1966 model of stylish sophistication with a sporty rakishness and a lot of muscle. Instead of Vintage Burgundy, though, I'm your average Italian color, and I have maybe a moderate amount of muscle. When I was a little younger, I had the classic Italian greaser look going on. Now I don't have quite enough hair on top to pull it off, but I'm told I still look pretty damn good.
I named the car Matilda because of her white ragtop, which makes her look like an old lady. She is, without a doubt, my most prized possession. I bought her eight years ago, after an especially lucrative case, and while she was in pretty good condition to begin with, Seth and I restored her to the level of perfection she exists in most of the time these days.
Outside, Seth dropped into the front seat next to me. He looked in the side view mirror and scrubbed his fingers through his hair. That's what passes for styling for him. He plucked his sunglasses out of the collar of his shirt and slid them on. It never fails to impress me how he can make slovenly look good.
"You goin' in carrying on this one?" he asked.
"I don't think so," I told him. "This guy is money. If he gives me trouble, it's going to be of the fist swinging variety, which is why I wanted you along."
"Are we gonna run it the usual way, then?"
"If you expect to be fed."
Certain people do not take bad news well, and if they can't lash out at the object of their anger, they'll often take it out on the closest thing available. I generally happen to be sitting across from them at that point, and I've learned to take precautions.