Russ, a homeless young man, is in the wrong place at the wrong time and sees two men leave the scene of a murder at a homeless encampment. He runs and they give chase but fail to catch him when he escapes into the club owned by Jules Travert.
Jules and his friends, especially Marcus, take Russ under their wings, offering him a safe haven at the club. Meanwhile they try to find out who the killers are and do something to prove it.
While Russ isn't certain he trusts them, he accepts what they're offering, even knowing his being at the club could bring trouble down on their heads. When a sniper attempts to kill him, things heat up and Marcus vows to keep him safe, no matter what. Will their budding interest in each other survive what's to come, or will things end in disaster for Russ and his newfound friends?
While Russ was in the club's kitchen, Marcus worked behind the bar, as always. What was different this time was the fact he kept an eye on the windows, looking for the two men who'd gone after Russ. He figured Cal had a handle on things at the door, but the man only had two eyes and half the time he was using them to check IDs. It meant he wouldn't be able to watch the street as well as was necessary. Marcus noticed Gale kept glancing at the windows, too, and Jules made it a point to walk past them frequently while visiting with the customers.
As he said to Gale at one point, "The bastards would have to be crazy to try to come in here to look for Russ."
Gale agreed. "Then again, if they did kill someone at the encampment, I think crazy pretty well describes them."
Closing time finally arrived and the club was empty except for the people who worked there. Before starting his nightly chores, Marcus went looking for Russ. He found him hovering in the kitchen doorway. He looked wary, of course, as he scanned the empty dance floor, and tired, but also happy, Marcus thought. Like being able to help Wally had given him a reason to be at the club beyond staying safe.
"It's okay to come out front," Marcus said. "We're locked up and the security's on."
"Did anyone see them around, outside?" Russ asked as they walked toward the bar.
"I didn't. Neither did Gale 'cause he'd have told me if he had. Same with Jules, I'm sure. I haven't talked to Cal, yet. He might have and told Jules, but not us, since he couldn't leave the door. Or wouldn't, I suppose, in case they took advantage of his being gone."
"That makes me feel better." Russ took a seat at the bar, watching as Gale and Marcus did the cleanup behind it and Jules closed out the register. At the same time, the waiters did their own closing chores so they could leave, which they did some twenty minutes later.
"You hanging in there?" Cal asked, taking the stool next to Russ.
"Yeah, I am. It helped that I got to work with Wally."
"I'm sure." Cal slapped the bar to get his friends' attention, then beckoned them over. "I have some news," he said when they gathered around. "Jules already knows. I saw our punks a couple of times, watching the place from a car parked across the street. Didn't get to see the license, but it's recent, a two-year-old Chevy Malibu, dark blue, bent front fender."
"You're sure it was them?" Gale asked.
"Yep. They turned on the overhead light, once, and one of them's a smoker so I saw his face when he lit up. The dark-haired guy." He turned to Marcus. "Have you found out who they are?"
"One, I haven't had a chance to check and see, and two, they might not be in the system, although that's doubtful, especially since at least one of them has a car, meaning a driver's license."
"Which could be a fake," Jules pointed out.
"True. As soon as I'm finished here, I'll go up and see if there were any hits."
"I'm coming with you," Russ said.
"Big surprise." Marcus playfully smacked him on the shoulder.
* * * *
For a second, Russ flashed back to his father hitting his shoulder and froze. It was often the opening volley meant to throw him off his stride in what would turn into another beating. He swallowed hard and tried to smile. "I know. Not."
"Give me five and I'll be ready."
"Okay." Russ stood, moving to stand to one side of the front window where he could see the street without being seen. At this late hour, or early one as it was now Saturday morning, no one was in sight and no cars drove past. But from what Cal had told them, it wasn't moving cars that were the problem. Russ looked for a parked one that matched Cal's description, relieved he didn't see it. Not that it meant the men had given up, and he knew it. Hopefully, they'd decided after spending the evening watching the club that he was long gone.
"Anything?" Marcus asked from behind him.
"Nope. With luck they've given up."
"Don't count on it. Killers, if that's what happened, don't like witnesses."
Russ nodded. "Are you ready?"
"Nope. I thought I'd stand here admiring the view." Marcus grinned, his gaze dropping to Russ's ass for a second. "I am, so let's see what my program came up with, if anything."
Russ was certain Marcus had been kidding with his admiring the view comment, so he laughed even as he wondered what he'd do if he hadn't been.