Companion to Greater Love Hath No Man
J. Tanner was a valued member of National Security 3, an obscure branch of MI5, an expert in undercover work, excellent at many languages, and in love with his superior, James Trevalyan and his voice of crushed velvet. For years he hid his love, certain James could not, would not return it.
And yet, once his latest dangerous mission as a dense associate to Callisto Malossini, one of the chief principals of the London underworld, was done and he was back in the safety of NS3, he found himself helping James unravel the mystery of his sister Pamela's disappearance and even going after James when he vanished to the States and spending a wild night of passion with him.
Then James vanished again. Would he return? If so, would Tanner let himself believe that James really cared after so many years of certainty that no man would care for him?
I was on my way back to the hostel when, “Senhor.”
My hand went to my waistband, where I carried a small revolver. This wasn’t a bad part of Rio, but it paid to always be careful. I looked around. “I don’t speak Portuguese,” I told the stunning redhead.
He smiled at me. “Is no problem, senhor. I speak five other languages besides English.” His lashes lowered flirtatiously, and he tipped his head to one side. He had to be in his early twenties, with skin the colour of warm café au lait. “If the senhor is at ... mmm ... loose ends?”
My cock hardened and brushed against the zip of my jeans, the teeth tantalising my naked flesh. How long, Six? I asked myself, and myself answered, Too bloody long. Not since the sad-eyed bloke. I had no chance with James, and I’d played the game for more years than I liked to contemplate. Why the hell shouldn’t I have this man for one afternoon?
He named a price, which I automatically converted from reals to pounds. Expensive, but not exorbitantly so, considering what it included. What the hell? I had nothing better to do, and there were still a few hours before my wandering flight mates returned.
“I can’t bring you back to my room,” I told him regretfully.
“Do you have a jealous lover?”
“Why would you think that?”
He reached out and rested his fingers on my jaw, his touch surprisingly gentle, but the spot was still tender.
Of course, where Ricky had punched me.
“No, no lover,” I assured him. “I walked into a door.”
“Ah. So I needn’t fear an attack.”
His smile was stunningly white. He gestured toward a small building that I hadn’t realized was a hotel. “This place is quite safe, senhor. They will not permit me to leave until they have spoken to you and been assured that you are unharmed and satisfied with your service.”
I wasn’t worried about my safety; I knew twelve different ways to kill a man without even reaching for my gun -- as long as spiders weren’t around to throw me off my game. I scowled at my idiocy.
“Senhor?” He seemed concerned, and I could tell that while he wanted to back away, he wouldn’t, lest he lose me. I shook my head.
At least it was nice to know that while prostitution was legal in Rio, they did not have a free and easy attitude toward taking advantage of the clients.
I ran my gaze over him once more. He was approximately the right height, about five foot nine or ten, although his eyes were very dark. I imagined once I had him stripped, he would prove not to be a natural redhead, but if I took him from behind ... I could pretend.
“What’s your name?” I asked as I fell into step beside him.
“You may call me whatever you wish, senhor. I will be whoever you want me to be.”
No, you could never be who I really wanted. I shook my head, and he smiled agreeably.
“Paulo, senhor. I am Paulo.” He smiled at me. “Does senhor have a name he wishes to be called?”
That was a good question. I supposed the name I was using for this operation was as good as any. “I’m Gino.”
“Excellent. Come this way.”
We entered the small building, and Paulo nodded toward the young man behind the front desk. “Olá, João.”
“Olá, Paulo. Olá, senhor.” João greeted me.
“He doesn’t speak the language,” Paulo told him in Portuguese.
“But surely greetings are common everywhere?” João smiled broadly. “Good afternoon, senhor. I hope you enjoy your stay at our hotel, however long or short it might be.”
“Thank you, I’m sure I will.”
His gaze zeroed in on my jaw, and he frowned and reverted to Portuguese. “Does this man like to fight? Will he strike you?”
I wanted to knock Ricky on his arse for causing this.
“No, he told me he walked into a door.”
“I know, I don’t understand it either. Englishmen.”
João shook his head and handed Paulo a room key. “Call me if there’s a problem.”
“I will, but I think I’m safe with this man.”
“I hope you’re right. Remember the last time you thought you were safe.”
“That was forever ago. You’re never going to let me forget that, are you?”
“No. Now, will I see you tonight, darling?”
“Of course.” Paulo turned to me. “Forgive us, Gino. We were just catching up on gossip,” he said in his flawless English. He took my hand and led me to an ornate staircase. “Come. I think you will like the room João has given us.”