“I’m takin’ it. I’m takin’ it, and that’s the last I wanna hear about it.” Sean O’Brian drew himself up to his full height of five feet nine and turned the blazing power of his sea green eyes on Valenti.
“It’s not safe, O’Brian.” Valenti raked a hand through his thick black hair and frowned at the man who was so much more than his partner.
For over two years, since the dangerous undercover mission at the RamJack, a resort that represented both the most glamorous and the most sordid aspects of gay life, Valenti and O’Brian had been lovers as well as best friends and partners. Circumstances had forced them to admit their true feelings for each other—feelings that had come as a complete surprise since neither man had ever had a same-sex attraction before in their lives. But the relationship they shared was about more than the ravenous lust that sparked between them when they touched. It was rooted in a loyalty and trust so deep, it transcended the boundaries of ordinary love and friendship.
It was this trust that Valenti felt his partner was violating now by agreeing to take the mission Captain Harris had offered him without even taking Valenti’s professional concerns into consideration. Fearing for his partner, Valenti had dug deeper into the details than anyone, and he knew the assignment was fraught with danger. Going undercover at the mansion of James Talbert—the man who was single-handedly responsible for more illegal porn than anyone else in the country—was going to be risky business indeed. Valenti wouldn’t have let the danger stop him if both he and O’Brian were going together. But there was only one spot open at Talbert’s mansion, and Captain Harris had decided O’Brian was perfect for the job, which left Valenti out in the cold and unable to watch his partner’s back.
“It’s not safe,” he said again. “I wouldn’t mind if we could go together, but you’re going to be on your own in there. For God’s sake, O’Brian, Talbert makes gay snuff films.”
“Which is exactly why I’m takin’ this case.” O’Brian leaned closer, so that his reddish blond locks brushed against Valenti’s dark hair. They were arguing in the men’s room of the downtown PD, commonly called the Metro, and voices tended to carry in the tiled space. “I’m takin’ it because even though we can’t admit…what we are, there’s no way other guys—guys just like us—should be gettin’ killed for what they are. Which is what we are. Sort of, anyway. See?” That was as close as O’Brian ever came to admitting he was gay, because gay wasn’t how he thought of himself. As he had told Valenti before, he was just a straight guy who was in love with his partner, who just happened to be another guy.
Gay or straight, hetero or homo, Valenti knew their relationship was more complicated than any label a homophobic society might try to paste on it. The love between him and O’Brian went deeper than blood or bone. They weren’t just partners or lovers; they were soul mates. Which was exactly why it was so hard for him to let his partner take this dangerous case on his own.
“There are no other guys like us,” Valenti told his partner, frowning. “I see what you’re getting at, but I’d bet even money we’re the only two closeted cops in LA who are partners in more than one sense of the word, O’Brian. And if you go trying to take down the guy who’s killing twinks and making movies of their final moments, there’re going to be two fewer closeted cops, because I swear to God, he’ll have to kill both of us if things go south.”
“If things start to go south, I’ll call you in. Hell, I’ll call the whole damn LAPD,” O’Brian promised. “But you can’t come with me on this, Valenti. I’m sorry, but there’s no way anybody could mistake you for a twink. You’re way too tall and butch. Besides, I have experience playing the part… Got plenty of that at the RamJack, remember?”
Valenti sighed. He did remember the RamJack, all too well. At the time his partner had been angry that he had to play the more submissive role of the “boy” to Valenti’s “daddy.” But there was no getting around the fact that with his diminutive height and compact physique, Sean O’Brian looked the part. He could easily pass as one of the twinks Talbert had invited into his mansion, even though he was much less effeminate than most. Valenti’s tall frame and serious brown eyes, along with his more uptight attitude and assertive nature, ruled him out of the submissive role. He’d been happy at the time that he wouldn’t have to play the more flamboyantly gay man at the RamJack, but he’d never dreamed that Sean’s experience playing a twink would come back to haunt them.
“Sean, please,” he said, trying one last time. There was no one else in the men’s room, so he dared to cup his partner’s cheek. “Please,” he murmured. “Don’t do this. I love you. Don’t…don’t know what I’d do if something happened to you. Please don’t go where I can’t follow. Don’t take this case.”
“I love you too, Nicky. God, you have no idea how much.” O’Brian leaned into the touch. “But I havta do this. I’m sorry if you don’t understand why, but I just havta. Besides”—he gave Valenti a crooked smile—“I’m just gonna play Talbert’s pool boy. I’ll scoop the pool and look around for evidence on my off hours. You know that unless we find something, no judge in LA will issue a warrant to search the place. Rumors aren’t good enough, and every witness we had has done a disappearing act.”
“I know. That’s what I’m afraid of.” Valenti searched his partner’s eyes, his heart pounding. “That you’ll disappear, just like them. What if you run into trouble, and nobody will back me to get you out of there? What if by the time I get something on paper, it’s too…too late for you?” He swallowed a lump in his throat, almost unable to get the words out. He couldn’t believe his partner was really going to do this, was really going to take this case, no matter how Valenti felt about it.
“That’s not gonna happen, babe. I’m gonna be just fine.” O’Brian leaned up and gave him a lingering kiss on the mouth. “I swear I’ll check in with you every afternoon at five, when my so-called shift ends, so you’ll know I’m A-OK. All right?”
Valenti was finally forced to admit defeat. “All right,” he acknowledged angrily. “But I want you to know I don’t agree with this. You’re putting your life on the line and mine too. Because damn it, Sean, there’s no way I could make it without you.”
“Hey, don’t say that. I’ll be out before you know it,” O’Brian promised. “And then we’ll celebrate all night long. Valentine’s Day is comin’ up, ya know. I already got a special surprise planned just for you, Nick, and I plan ta be here to give it to you in person.”
“I’ll hold you to that.” Valenti pulled his partner into a bear hug, relishing the feel of O’Brian’s lithe, compact frame against his taller one. He reflected bitterly that anyone walking into the men’s room at that moment wouldn’t have mistaken what was going on for simple comradely affection. O’Brian was plastered against the length of his body, their arms entwined, their pelvises grinding together in a way that would never happen in a hug between two straight men.
But at the moment he didn’t give a damn if anyone saw their display of more-than-friendly affection. All he cared about was that his partner was going someplace dangerous—someplace where Valenti couldn’t watch his back—and it was killing him to let Sean go. But as angry and upset and betrayed as he felt, he had to trust that his partner knew what he was doing and that he’d come back, just like he promised.
But before he let him go, there was one more thing he had to do.
“Come on.” He grabbed O’Brian’s hand and pulled him toward the far end of the men’s room, where a small janitorial closet filled with supplies was located.
“Whatcha doing?” O’Brian complained, resisting the tug on his hand. “Captain Harris said if I want this gig, I have to be in costume and out to Talbert’s place pronto.”
“I know Captain Harris said you have to leave immediately, but I can’t let you go like this,” Valenti insisted. He dragged his protesting partner into the dark closet, which smelled strongly of bleach and ammonia. “You don’t understand, Sean,” he said, shutting the door securely behind them. “If you’re really determined to do this, really determined to put yourself in danger despite my begging you not to, then there’s only one thing I can do.”
“What’s that?” O’Brian looked puzzled in the faint light filtering in from under the door.
“Give you something to remember me by.” Dropping to his knees onto the cold tile floor, Valenti had his partner’s skintight jeans unzipped in a heartbeat. He heard O’Brian try to muffle a moan as he palmed the heavy cock that was suddenly erect at his touch and pulled it free.
“God, babe! Ya don’t…don’t have to do this,” O’Brian gasped, but the strong fingers working their way through Valenti’s hair told a different story.
“Want to.” Valenti leaned forward, eager as always for the taste of his partner’s cock. He remembered the first time he’d sucked O’Brian at the RamJack, remembered the way O’Brian had trembled and gasped and begged. It was an incredibly powerful feeling, bringing a strong man like Sean to his knees this way, even though it was Valenti who was doing the kneeling. He took the thick shaft in one hand and placed a soft, hot kiss on the broad, mushroom-shaped head. O’Brian’s familiar musk filled his senses, and he felt his own cock grow achingly hard in response. There was a time when his partner’s scent hadn’t affected him this way, a time when a casual touch between them was just a touch. But since their time at the RamJack, everything had changed—for the better, in Valenti’s opinion.
“God! Please, babe, I’m goin’ crazy here!” O’Brian’s voice was hoarse with need, but Valenti made him wait awhile longer as he lapped the pearl of precum that was beading at the slit of O’Brian’s cock. Suddenly he wanted to draw this out, wanted to torture his partner with pleasure the same way O’Brian had tortured him the Christmas before last, when he’d abducted Valenti from a charity event, handcuffed him to the bed, and fucked him until he couldn’t see straight. Of course, he’d already gotten his partner back for that little number—on the Fourth of July, no less—but it was still good to let O’Brian know how he felt.
In fact, that was what he needed, Valenti told himself. He needed to get O’Brian alone and fuck some sense into him, needed to show him that he wasn’t just putting his own life on the line by taking this dangerous mission, but that he was risking everything that was important to both of them. But since there was no bed or handcuffs handy, this would have to do. He sucked the head of his partner’s cock between his lips, relishing the salty, bitter taste that was entirely Sean, rolling the flavor on his tongue as he took his partner deeper into his mouth.
“Nicky, please…please, you’re killin’ me,” O’Brian groaned, and Valenti felt his partner’s fingers tighten in his hair as the blunt head rubbed over his tongue. He ovaled his lips and took more, deep throating his partner with sudden, surprising ease that left O’Brian gasping. This wasn’t something he’d ever expected to be doing with another man, not even a man he cared for like O’Brian. But there was no denying the passion between them. The way his cock was standing up hard against his pants, begging for relief just from sucking O’Brian’s, was a testament to their mutual feelings.
Valenti drew back and surged forward again, feeling the rough scratch of O’Brian’s blond fur against his face. He drew the heavy cock down his throat. Not gonna let you go without showing you how I feel. You want to go put yourself in danger? Fine. But not until I taste you one last time, let you know what you’re going to be missing while you’re gone.