It all began when Brock hired Pat McKenzie to become the newest employee of Moran Investigations. Neither of them expected it would be more than that until someone slipped a note under Pat's apartment door warning him to stay away from Brock. In an attempt to draw the man out, they decide to pretend they are in the beginnings of a relationship that is more than merely boss/employee. This accomplishes two things. One, the man steps up his harassment, and two, what was pretend might become the real thing the more time they spend together outside of work.
If they're going to stop the man, they have to find out who he is, and that may be more difficult than they anticipated. Can their budding relationship survive when the harassment escalates as the man attempts to force Pat out of Brock's life, even if he has to destroy him in the process?
The remainder of the week went about as Pat figured it would. He spent his mornings doing background checks and then worked alone, or with Tom or Daniel on their cases. He and Brock got in the habit of eating lunch together at one or another of the nearby restaurants, taking Tom with them on one occasion.
He spent Saturday doing chores and then going for a long walk, ending at a local bar for supper. Sunday, he decided to add to his collection of books. He went to the book mall he'd seen the previous Saturday night, leaving a couple of hours later with a bag of books and one of the co-owner's cheerful "Come back when you need a dozen more," ringing in his ears.
Monday morning was bright, sunny, and warm, presaging the advent of summer even though it was still a month away. Pat got dressed and was heading to the kitchen to make breakfast when he saw an envelope sticking out from under the front door of the apartment. A note from the building manager? he wondered as he picked it up. He couldn't think of anyone else who leave him a message.
* * * *
An hour later, Pat stalked into Brock's office, tossing the note and the envelope it came in on his boss's desk. "Is there something you forgot to mention during my interview, after I let you know I'm gay? Something like the fact you're gay, too?"
Brock frowned as he read it aloud, noting that it was created by pasting letters together from various sources. "Keep away from Brock Moran or else. Short and not so sweet. When did you get this?"
"It was under my door this morning and you didn't answer my question."
"Not that I keep it a secret, but telling you I'm gay wasn't relevant at that point, at least as far as I was concerned."
Pat blew out a frustrated breath but agreed he was probably right. Taking a seat across from Brock, he tapped the note. "What I can't figure is, why would someone think my knowing you was a threat to him on a personal level, if that's what he's implying? Other than working for you, we haven't done anything together except going out to lunch and that was strictly business. We weren't holding hands or making goo-goo eyes at each other."
Brock snorted out a laugh. "True. Of course whoever wrote this might not mean what we're thinking, although I do admit telling you to keep away from me comes across like he's jealous of you."
"Not to put too fine point on it, but are any of the other guys here interested in you?"
"Not that I know of. Hell, as far as I know they're all straight, but then I've never asked and it hasn't come up in any conversations with them. As I said, the fact that I'm gay isn't a secret but I don't flaunt it, either."
"Any exes who might be pissed if they saw us at lunch?"
"Short and sweet."
"I've dated a few men." Brock smiled wryly. "That's it, though, and the relationships ended amiably on both sides. Or I should say, if any of them didn't like the idea of our breaking up, they didn't make an issue of it. What about you?"
"Damn, I've only lived here a few weeks. I haven't had a chance to get to know anyone that way. Okay, I'll take that back. I went to a couple of gay bars last weekend but I left alone. That's beside the point, though. Whoever left this," Pat tapped the note again, "wants me to leave you alone, by name."
"Good point. I'll give this to Len, to see if he can find any prints. Honestly, I doubt he will. Whoever put this together, meaning the cut-and-paste letters, undoubtedly knows we're private investigators and would have made certain not to touch it with bare fingers."
"It's still worth a try. All it takes is one slip, or one bit of hair as far as that goes. The envelope wasn't sealed, but even if it had been, he'd probably have done it with water, not licking it."
"I agree. Len will need your prints, and mine, for comparison."
They took the envelope and note down to Len, and Brock explained where it had come from and how.
Len read it then looked at them. "Is there any basis for what it says?"
"Not in the least," Brock told him.
"Well, someone obviously disagrees." He took Pat's fingerprints, reminded Brock he had his on file, and promised he'd let him know if he found anything that might potentially identify who sent the note to Pat.
"Guess that's it, for now," Pat said when they returned to Brock's office. "I could say it was a one-off, but somehow I doubt it. He, and I suspect it is a he, must have followed me home from here at some point, since it was left at my place."