Deuce Pettigrew has worked for the mysterious Dr. Pandora Gautier since he left the Marines twelve years before. He did whatever needed to be done and never asked questions.
Now a previous mission is coming back to bite Deuce in the ass, and not in a good way. As a result, he needs to distance himself not only from the job that consumed him for so many years, but from the man who, unaware, owns his heart.
Deuce decides to go home, but can he go home again? And will he ever find a man who means as much as the one he has to leave behind?
Deuce always figured he was a lucky guy. Unless it came to love. Or family.
But lucky, yeah.
He threaded his fingers through his hair.
Since Dr. Gautier had gone up to NY for more plastic surgery, as usual, she’d taken Finchley, her right-hand man, personal assistant, and virtual guard dog, with her. That left the DC offices of BIMOS -- the Biederman Institute of Meteorological and Oceanographic Studies -- untended; she always gave the staff time off when she went to have work done.
This turned out to be one of those lucky things for Deuce -- it gave him the perfect opportunity to do a little snooping.
Her private offices were buttoned up tight, but that didn’t matter. He chuckled to himself as he took a kit from his jacket pocket, selected a lock pick, and let himself into the outer room, which was Finchley’s office.
What he needed wouldn’t be in there. He let himself into Dr. Gautier’s inner sanctum.
It was a little after eleven, but instead of turning on the lights, he fished a flashlight from his other pocket, turned it on, and gripped it between his teeth.
Of course the file cabinet that interested him was locked. He manipulated that lock, pulled out the drawer, and began looking through the files. It didn’t take him long to find the one he wanted.
He opened the folder and began to thumb through it.
* * * *
He took the flashlight from between his teeth and swallowed, his mouth abruptly desert-dry.
Well. Wasn’t this fucking special?
He put the folder away, locked the file cabinet, then backtracked out of the building, locking doors behind him.
He needed a drink.
There was a small bar, the Six Nine, a few blocks away. It would still be open, and it shouldn’t be too crowded on a Thursday. He shrugged to settle his denim jacket more comfortably on his shoulders, then began striding down Mass. Avenue.
* * * *
The sound of a pool cue striking a ball greeted him as he entered the Six Nine, and he looked around. A few men sat at the bar, while a man and a woman were in one of the booths, holding hands across the table.
Two men studied the lay of the balls on the pool table at the rear of the bar.
On the TV above the bar, a muted black and white movie played -- something he recognized from the 1930s -- while music on the jukebox blared, and the song wasn’t something familiar.
The bartender grinned at him and gave him a nod as he approached the bar. “What’ll it be?”
“Let me have a Jack, straight up.”
“You got it.” The bartender reached for the bottle of Jack Daniels and poured a shot. “Do you want to run a tab?”
“Thanks, but no.” As much as he needed this, he didn’t want to go overboard. It was always a good idea to stay on his toes. That was one of the reasons why he was still alive. “What do I owe you?”
He took a five from his wallet and handed it to him, then placed two singles on the bar. A decent tip, not too much or too little, either of which would cause the bartender to remember him.
“Thanks.” The bartender rang up the sale, and when the cash register slid open, he tucked away the bill. The singles he put in the tip jar beside the register.
“Welcome.” Deuce put away his wallet, picked up the glass, and found a booth in a secluded corner. He needed to do a lot of thinking, and he needed to do it in peace.
He slid into the booth, tuned out the background noise, and stared into the amber depths of the whisky before taking a sip. God, he was in deep shit.