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From Blood to Roses

Less Than Three Press LLC

Heat Rating: SENSUAL
Word Count: 33,000
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Rob's latest job is a simple one—kill the target, make sure it doesn't look like murder, break into the safe and take the goods back to his client. A second hitman who gets the drop on him definitely puts a dent in his plans.

When they cross paths again, Rob doesn't know if he wants to kill the man or screw him. Unfortunately, someone else wants both him and Kelan dead, and if they're going to survive two men used to working alone are going to have to learn fast how to work together. Safely ensconced temporarily at a safe house in the middle of nowhere, Rob and Kelan team up to defeat their common enemy... and perhaps win each other's hearts along the way.

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A sleek black Infiniti G37 quickly passed the entrance to Kiss & Fly, pulling around the corner and slipping into a metered parking spot. Rob killed the engine and exited the car, discretely checking all angles of the street in his peripheral vision. He went to the meter and slid in that evening’s credit card, paying up front for the full three hours allowed. Tugging on the gray blazer he wore over a deep blue, open-necked shirt, he made his way to the club’s entrance. The music was so loud Rob could hear it well before he reached the front door. He handed a twenty dollar bill to the bouncer, waving his hand when the man reached to make change. Raising an eyebrow, the bouncer stamped the back of Rob’s hand and Rob breezed past him into the club.

It was your typical high-end gay dance club. There was a time when a place like this would have never made it in Austin, but with the gentrification of the city’s warehouse district came businesses that would have previously been impossible. Despite it being located in one of the most conservative states, Rob couldn’t see much difference between this club and those in New York or L.A. The pulsing dance beat, flashing lights, and fog machines were the same. As were the sweaty, writhing bodies on the dance floor and elevated cages with smooth, pretty boys in the tightest of shiny hot pants. Rob made his way to the bar and ordered a Chivas Regal on the rocks. He leaned back against the bar, his body language relaxed and belying his sharp eyes as he searched the dim and foggy club for his target.

It didn’t take long. The club was large, but Rob’s view from the bar was the perfect area to spot the target: the dance floor where go-go boys were in easy abundance. He caught the glint of a shiny, balding head, and a quick look immediately identified a match with the dossier he’d been provided. Louis Ryan was sweating profusely and bopping awkwardly to the music while talking to a go-go boy clad only in turquoise lamé shorts. The boy smiled encouragingly and reached out to stroke down the arm of Ryan’s cheap suit, and Rob could practically see Ryan shudder from where he was.

It was really no wonder. Although Rob had certainly seen his share of twinky dancers and rent boys, this one was a particularly nice specimen. His face was animated, his eyes wide and lively. His body was hairless and lean, but there was just a touch more muscle definition than Rob was used to seeing for his type. His grin was positively sinful, and Rob could definitely see why Ryan was intrigued. While Rob didn’t often indulge himself, when he did it was usually with men just like that. And always for pay.

Rob sipped his drink and watched as Ryan fished out his wallet and removed a few bills. The boy pouted, shaking his head. Ryan pulled out another three bills, and the boy’s countenance changed instantly. He smiled, bringing his arm to Ryan’s waist and pulling their crotches together. He whispered something in Ryan’s ear, bringing a thrust of his hips. He walked away, leaving Ryan wiping his forehead and almost visibly drooling. A few minutes later, the boy came back. He was still wearing the same obscenely tight shorts, but had added a white crop top and sneakers. He linked hands with Ryan, who lead them toward the exit.

Rob set his drink down and hastened to the door, beating Ryan and his little fuck-toy easily. Rob was a large man, but he could move as lithe and silent as one much smaller. He walked briskly to his car, slipping inside and making a u-turn as soon as he pulled away from the curb. Heading back to the club’s entrance, he paused at the corner until he saw exactly what he expected: Ryan and the boy taking Ryan’s vehicle from the valet attendant. Rob guided his car behind them into traffic, always staying a discrete two car lengths back. It was always possible that Ryan would be on the lookout for a tail, but it was fairly safe to assume that all Ryan really had on his mind was getting his rocks off.

It took them less than ten minutes to get to their destination, which turned out to be the Four Seasons Hotel directly adjacent to Lady Bird Lake. As soon as he saw Ryan and the boy enter the hotel, Rob drove into the hotel’s parking garage. He took out his iPhone, tapping the extremely specialized app he’d built himself. Within moments, Rob was able to bring up Ryan’s hotel account. He hadn’t checked in under his own name, but Rob’s research showed he used a number of pseudonyms, and it took little time to find the one he’d registered under in Austin. From there, Rob inserted a small plastic square into the headset jack of the phone. Taking a blank key card from his wallet, he slid the card through the top of the grooved square, which provided him instantly with a duplicate copy of Ryan’s hotel room key. He stowed his phone and reached over to the glove box, taking out a Beretta 87 .22 caliber, his preferred gun for up close dispatching. He’d threaded the barrel himself to adapt it for his own custom silencer, and it had seen him through many a job like this. Tucking the gun into the back of his pants and palming the newly created keycard, Rob locked the Infiniti and grabbed a black messenger bag from the floorboard of the passenger seat. He headed towards the hotel elevators, which with a hotel keycard didn’t require a stop in the lobby before traveling to the upper floors.

Rob rode the elevator up to the eleventh floor and exited, turning right immediately. Hiding behind the wall that led to the hallway, he quickly checked to see that the hallway was deserted and spotted a small CCTV camera mounted in the ceiling about halfway from the end. He glided silently up to room 1121, withdrawing a laser pointer and directing its beam into the camera lens as he passed by. He sank to his knees when he arrived at the door, opened his bag and pulled out a small object with an attached earpiece and placed it against the door. The now-amplified noises he could hear were exactly what he had been hoping for: faint moans and whimpers that suggested Ryan and the boy would be too distracted to hear the click of the lock releasing and the door opening. Rob tucked the listening device away and slipped his keycard in the door, moving into the room quickly.