“Okay, the train is going to take you to Chicago. From there, you get on another train and take it to Denver. There’s a car waiting for you in the parking lot of the Denver airport. You can drive that all of the way to the West Coast.”
“Why not just fly to Denver?” Nicholas Rylander asked.
“Because we don’t know if anyone is trying to follow you. I’ve booked you under several different aliases. Any one of them could be compromised. If you use different modes of transportation, you might be able to lose a tail.”
Where was James Bond when he needed him? Nicky felt like he should have paid more attention when watching spy movies. Too bad he didn’t like them.
“Do you understand that you can’t have contact with anyone?”
Nicky nodded because speaking wasn’t exactly something he could do at the moment. He had a lump the size of Nebraska clogging his throat. Fear had become second nature for him as of late but this crazy idea of Detective Vincent De Luca’s took it to a whole new level.
“Even if you trust them explicitly, phones can be tapped.” Detective De Luca’s voice was absolutely emotionless and it chilled Nick. “We already suspect that Morales has someone on the force feeding him information. There’s nothing to say he couldn’t tap someone’s phone. So, as much as you may want to, don’t call anyone, not even your mother.”
“Except you, right?” Nick asked, needing that one last lifeline to his former life. “I can call you, right?”
“Only if there is an emergency.” Detective De Luca handed Nick a small canvas bag. “There are ten disposable phones in here. Every time you use one, get rid of it. Never use one more than once. If you need more, I’ll send you some money and you can get more.”
“What if you need to call me?”
Detective De Luca dug into the canvas bag and pulled one of the cell phones out. It had pink sparkly rhinestones on the back of the case in a peace sign pattern. “Keep this phone on you at all times. You can use it as your regular phone but only to make local calls. Never call me on it. Use the burn phones for that.”
“Rhinestones?” That was a disturbing thought. “Pink?”
“Yeah, about that.” Nick had only known the detective for a few weeks. He had never seen him look so uncomfortable before. De Luca wouldn’t even look him in the eyes.
“What?” Nick asked.
“Pink kind of matches your new identity.”
Nick’s nerves tensed immediately. “My what?”
Detective De Luca pulled out a manila envelope from his inside jacket pocket. He undid the top and dumped the contents out onto the table. Nick’s jaw dropped as he picked up a picture of himself, but not. It was a woman with his face.
“This is why you had me dress up?” There had actually been several outfits, makeup changes, and photo sessions. Apparently, this was the one that the detective had picked because Nick could see his made up face on several IDs and different pictures with different backgrounds.
It was really amazing what technology could do. He had never been to the Grand Canyon and yet there was a picture of him made up as a woman standing in front of the national landmark. He had even been Photoshopped into some pictures with total strangers and yet he looked like part of the family.
His entire life sat right before him in living color, and yet it wasn’t him, Nicholas Rylander. It was some woman with long, curly, sandy blonde hair and boobs.
Nick picked up the driver’s license. He didn’t even want to know how the detective got ahold of it. There were just some things he was better off not knowing. He wished he could reverse time and go back to a time he didn’t know his life was in danger. He had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and now he was on the run.
And apparently that meant becoming someone else and moving all the way across the country. “Good-bye, Nicholas Rylander.” Nick couldn’t control the trembling within him as he stared at the photo on the ID card. “Hello, Nicky Ryland.”
Nicky’s smile was bright, vibrant, and seared Daniel down to his very soul.
“Thank you for all of your help, Daniel.” The sound of his name in Nicky’s soft, lyrical voice was Daniel’s undoing. He swallowed past the lump forming in his throat and wished away the hard-on he knew could be seen in his jeans.
Nicky was breathtaking.
“Anytime,” Daniel replied. He took another step toward the door. He raked Nicky’s body with his eyes, confused at the sudden racing of his heart. He turned and nearly sprinted down the hallway to his apartment.
His hands shook as pushed his key into the lock. He fumbled with it for several moments before he actually got the door open and rushed inside, slamming the door loudly behind him. Daniel leaned back against the door and took a deep breath.
It didn’t help.
He unbuckled his jeans, unzipped them, and pushed them down his thighs until his hard cock bounced free. He ached so much he couldn’t keep a moan of need from breaking free of his mouth when he wrapped his hand around his throbbing erection and started pumping.
He was out of his mind. He had to be. The faster he stroked, the more vivid the picture of Nicky’s tight little ass became until he could see the woman bent over in front of him, the nicely curved globes of her ass cheeks too tempting to ignore.
With a loud roar, Daniel came. Ropes of pearly white seed spurted out of his cock, covering his hand and the floor around him. In his mind, he shot all over Nicky’s ass. He slumped back against the door and slowly slid down until he sat on the floor.
Daniel cradled his head in his hand. What in the hell was happening to him? He’d just jerked off to a fantasy of a woman. He was gay. He’d always been gay, ever since he knew what gay or straight was. He’d never been attracted to a woman.
Why this one?
Daniel scooted back up the door. He grimaced as he remembered his hand was covered in cum as was the floor. He grabbed a washcloth from the kitchen and cleaned up the floor then headed to the shower.
He needed to do something to get his mind off the tempting ass of the woman down the hallway. He needed to reaffirm to himself that he was a gay man, and he knew just the man to help him with that.
The moment Daniel stepped out of the shower he wrapped a towel around his waist and made his way to the phone. He knew the number by heart, dialed it, and waited for Ricky to pick up on the other end.
“This is me,” Ricky said. “Is this you?”
“Ricky, you’re such a smart-ass.” Daniel chuckled, feeling more at ease by the moment. “Do you always answer your phone that way?”
“Only for you, love.”
Daniel rolled his eyes. Ricky was a fruit and not because he was gay. He was just downright nuttier than a bed bug. But, he was also a good friend and former lover. It was just too bad they couldn’t get along in a relationship. The sex was phenomenal.
But more than twenty-four hours spent in Ricky’s company and Daniel was itching to strangle the man. For a few hours in the evening, however, Ricky could show him a good time.
“You hooked up at the moment, Ricky?”
“You know I’m saving myself for you, love.”
Ricky chuckled. “Naw, I’m free, man.”
“What happened to that banker you were seeing?” Daniel asked.
“Married, the asshole.”
“Married never stopped you before, Ricky.” Daniel snickered. It didn’t. Rick wasn’t too choosey about his bed partners.
“Yeah, but he was married to another guy,” Ricky said in an outraged voice as if the banker had done something horrific. “I don’t much care if married people want to fool around a bit. Even they need to get laid, but fooling around on another guy? That’s just wrong.”
“Ah hell, Ricky, I didn’t know you had scruples.”
“Fuck you, man, even I have standards.”
Daniel chuckled. “Yeah, okay, I get you. Do you still want to go out tonight?”
“Fringe?” Ricky asked, naming one of the gay clubs they liked visiting.
“That’s the plan.”
“Ooh, I’ll get my dancing shoes.”
“I’ll meet you there at nine, okay?”
“I’ll be waiting.”
Daniel shook his head as he hung up the phone and headed for his dresser. Ricky really was a great guy. Daniel liked him a lot. It was just too bad they couldn’t spend more than a few hours in each other’s company.
They’d tried, twice. Both times they fought so much it nearly came to blows. They ended up deciding that they made better friends and occasional hookups than anything serious. It was too rough on their friendship.
Daniel pulled a simple T-shirt and a pair of tight jeans out of his dresser. He tossed them on the bed and went into the bathroom to get ready. Brush his teeth, a comb through his hair, a little cologne, and he was just about ready to go.
He got dressed, picked up his cell phone and wallet, shoving them in his pocket. Grabbing his keys, Daniel went out the door, locking it behind him. As he passed Nicky’s door, he slowed, hearing soft music coming from inside.
Daniel almost knocked on the door but curled his hand into a fist and made himself walk on by. He really had no business being interested in Nicky. He needed to get down to the bar and meet up with Ricky, get his head screwed back on straight.
And maybe just plain get screwed.