The Guardians: Winning at Any Cost (MM)


Heat Rating: Steamy
Word Count: 72,739
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Companion story to A Shattered Life

Two men, bitter enemies.

One is Roger Nielson. He works security for Phoenix Rising under the auspices of Greg Merrick. He also has a second job, working for a covert organization run by the Old Man. Its mandate is to help those who in need of its services. Roger is gay and often uses the fact effectively to get close to those who have to be eliminated.

The second man is Rico Ferranti. Straight as an arrow, he earned Roger's hatred when they worked a job together while he was undercover for the DEA, although Roger didn't know he was. In the process, Rico's showboating almost caused Roger's death.

They are brought together again when a gangster Greg helped put in prison is released and comes after him. With the help of Giuli Salvaggi, who also works for Greg, they are able to deal with the man -- permanently. In the aftermath, Roger suggests he wouldn't mind screwing Rico for tension release and Rico explodes. In the back of his mind, however, he wonders what it would be like.

Then, Robin Seawood, who works for the Old Man, recruits both Giuli and Rico into the operation, much to Roger's consternation.

From there, things explode when the trio is given the job of stopping the head of a Mafia family deep into drug dealing. When Roger is almost beaten to death in the process, Rico must come to terms with his feelings for the man while helping him recover.

Can two opposites become friends ... and more? Only time will tell.

NOTE: This was previously published but has been re-written and re-edited.

The Guardians: Winning at Any Cost (MM)
0 Ratings (0.0)

The Guardians: Winning at Any Cost (MM)


Heat Rating: Steamy
Word Count: 72,739
0 Ratings (0.0)
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Roger sprang to his feet when he saw who was following Robin into the office. "He stays, I go," he told his control succinctly.

"Same here," Rico growled. "I told you I won't work with him."

"Both of you sit down and shut up," Robin barked. "Other than now, you won't be seeing each other until the job is over." He leaned back against his desk until everyone was settled, smiling tightly when the two men glared at each other and took chairs as far apart as possible in the small space while Giuliana took the remaining one between them. Then Robin opened a folder on his desk, taking out a few photos, which he passed to the others.

Rico looked at his set and turned his angry gaze on Robin. "Where did these come from?"

"Each of those kids died of massive overdoses before they reached their connections. The pictures are, obviously, autopsy photos. They were mules, body packers."

"This one looks like he's only six or seven," Giuliana said quietly, showing the others the one she meant.

"He was. He was traveling with a female who claimed to be his aunt. She told the emergency personnel who tried to save the kid that they were coming there to make a new life for themselves. She said she had no idea what was wrong with her nephew, just that he had gotten very sick as they got off the plane. Airport security called for the EMTs and while they were working on him she vanished."

"You say claimed to be? There's a question if she was?" Roger asked.

"Considering the fact she didn't wait around to see if the kid would be okay, yeah I'd say there was. He died before they even got him into the ambulance. The packets are supposed to be rupture-proof but apparently one was defective."

"Packets?" Giuliana looked at him questioningly. "I thought they used balloons or condoms."

"That's way old school," Rico informed her. "Now it's machine-pressed pellets made of latex filled with eight to twelve grams of narcotics and then coated with hard wax. They're about an inch and a half long and three-quarters of an inch in diameter, although that varies depending on the cartel responsible and who they're targeting to use as mules. I'd say kids like those in these pictures probably swallowed ones that were slightly smaller."

"And you know all this how?" Roger asked. Although he knew the answer, he wanted to be certain the others did as well.

"As Greg told you, Rog, I'm former DEA."

"And former Mafia, or at least," he sneered, "we hope former. It's still up for debate in my book."

Robin slammed a hand down on his desk. "Enough. His connections are going to come in very handy in this particular case, Roger. The cartel we're dealing with knows and trusts him because he's family."

"Damn it! Don't tell me Nazo's broken his vow to his father. The slimy little bastard." Rico glared angrily at anyone who was looking.

"Nazo? That's a name?" Giuliana chuckled.

Rico gave a short nod. "The name might be amusing, Giuli, but the man -- Vanni Nazario -- is far from. He took over the family when his father died, after swearing to him he'd never get into the drug trade."

"And like any good Mafioso he broke it without a second thought so he could make a profit," Roger commented.

Rico shrugged. He wasn't going to let Roger get to him again with his pointed gibes. "Profit, control, terror, that's what it's all about with them. The Sicilian Mafia made over eight billion through drug trafficking last year alone. It's no wonder Nazo jumped in the second he got control of the family."

"So we're heading to Sicily?" Giuliana asked.

"No," Robin said. "Nazo's set up his operation elsewhere. Apparently there are those in the family who still hold to his father's way of thinking. After three attempts to kill him, one almost successful, he decided discretion was the better part of valor and relocated."

"So where do we fit into all of this?" Roger looked at the others before returning his gaze to Robin.

"Rico and his fiancée are going to go offer fealty to the new capo. You're going to deal with Nazo's main distribution center."

"How many does he have? I'd think hundreds," Roger said.

"Not that many, but too many. However, the one I want you handling is primarily where they train the kids, and their mothers or aunts or whatever they call them, how to swallow and what to do at the airports." Robin smiled tightly. "You take that one out while Rico and Giuli deal with Nazo."

"Gee, he doesn't want much, does he," Giuliana said.

"I want what I know the three of you can do and do well," Robin replied.

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