He’s sent in to clean up and is left with one very hot mess.
Randall Quinn has been a cleaner for the mob for over ten years, but a particularly violent scene sets him to drinking alone and contemplating his options. At thirty-nine, it’s possible this is just a mid-life crisis so he tries buying himself a flashy car to satisfy the itch, and agrees to take another job to test his conviction. He’s expecting easy money when he arrives at a seedy motel to clean up after what the Boss told him was supposed to have been a simple execution. But what he discovers in that motel room is anything but simple, and from that moment on, every decision he makes for himself makes his life more and more complicated.
- 2 To Be Read lists
- 2 Read lists
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 36-45
Protagonist 2 Age: 36-45
Tropes: Criminals & Outlaws, Enemies to Lovers, Trapped Together
Word Count: 21813
Setting: Seedy motel/Farmhouse in the woods
Languages Available: English
Randall Quinn’s new ride was pretty sweet.
The BMW was fully loaded, including an in-dash navigation system, Bluetooth fucking everything, and a black leather and wood grain interior. She was comfortable and stylish, and her engine vibrated gently but powerfully, like a wild cat getting ready to pounce. Mrowr. Quinn tapped a button on the dashboard display and practically summoned up Zeppelin with the power of his fucking mind. Damn, the technology gods were good. He sped down the rural highway, Black Dog sinking straight into his psyche through the seven-speaker surround sound. Fuck yeah.READ MORE
His new baby was paid for in full, and in cash. He’d finally laid by enough in savings that he could afford to spend with more freedom. He’d never gone in for such an extravagance before, but he’d been salivating over this baby at the dealership for a month and he’d eventually broken down and done it. She was a hot-red color—well, the dealership called it something stupid like Orange Metallic, but it was basically red—which, admittedly, didn’t fly under the radar the way she probably ought to, but Quinn didn’t care anymore. After over ten years in the biz, he’d fucking earned the right to show off.
He’d pulled in that stack of cash on a high-end hotel assignment he’d had a week ago. Swanky, several-thousand-dollar-a-night hotel suites were always a challenge, but this one was even more so than usual and had definitely warranted the boost in pay. The boys had made a royal mess of the place, so much so that Quinn figured they must have had some seriously specific and scary fucking orders. There’d been blood and fingerprints everywhere and Quinn had had to deal with stains in the carpet, on the wallpaper, and splattered across furniture. Even with a crew, the cleanup had been a pain in the ass and had taken almost two full days. He’d even had to replace the carpet and a fucking couch.
It was damn lucrative as far as such things went, to be sure, but Quinn had sat in a bar for a couple of hours alone afterward, and he and his bourbon had decided it was about time to call it quits. Quinn was coming up on thirty-nine and he was getting a little old for this shit. He’d kind of fallen into this line of work back in his twenties when he’d made his daily bread working for the coroner’s office and cleaned up crime scenes legally. It hadn’t been long before a particularly influential lover had shown him where the real money was, and Quinn had found himself literally seduced into a darker world by the fine art of cleanup to cover up.
“Aaaaaand, here we are.” This job wasn’t going to be as big a payday, but smaller gigs like this were simpler, and made up more of his bread and butter. He pulled into the motel parking lot, waving a hand across the display to mute the radio. So. Fucking. Cool. Slowly, Quinn drove along the length of the building until he found room three-twenty-nine. The location was perfect, way down at one end and on the first floor. Easy in, easy out. Seemed those muscle boys were finally learning. He turned around and headed back to the main entrance.
Quinn touched a button on the display and the sound of a ringing phone filled the interior.
“Found it?” a familiar voice answered—a fucking party in the sack.
“Hey, sweet cheeks.”
“Seriously, Randy? What did I tell you about work, man?”
Quinn laughed. Mikey had a lickable ass, but the rest of him didn’t interest Quinn much. “I’m here.”
“Got it. You’re on the clock.”
“Do I have resources?”
“Boss says he already cut the manager in. The boys told him you wouldn’t need a crew.”
“Did they, now? And what the hell do they know about it?” Seriously, you give someone a few too many steroids and put a gun in their hands, and they suddenly think they know everything. Those muscle boys were big and dangerous, no question, but they were dumber than a sack of hammers. Their combined IQ wouldn’t buy you a cup of coffee. Quinn, on the other hand, was an artist. What the boys did took brawn. His job was far more delicate. It required a keen mind and fastidious attention to detail. What could he say? It was hard to be humble.
“Make sure you talk to Davis. The room’s paid up for two days.”
“Perfect.” Unless those boys chopped their target into little pieces or pulled another Jackson Pollock, two days was more than enough time to set this derelict flophouse to rights. “I’ll check in again in an hour or so.”
“Later.” Mikey hung up.
Surveying the premises from the parking lot didn’t improve Quinn’s assessment one bit. This place was the very definition of shithole. The roof was warped, the siding moldy, and the main office wasn’t really an office at all—it was just a glass window with a fucking pass-through. Chances were good he was looking at bulletproof glass, too. Classy. He took note of the surveillance camera over the window as well.
Erring on the side of caution, Quinn left the car running and the driver’s side door open. He knocked on the thick glass, summoning a small man with greasy hair, dirty fingernails and a cigarette hanging from his mouth.
He squinted at Quinn. “Yeah?”
“I’m here for three-twenty-nine.”
The guy nodded. “Heard you was comin’. I’m Davis.” He slipped a key into the pass-through.
Quinn shook his head. “I’m not touching that. You let me in.”
Davis sighed. “I don’t want nothin’ to do with nothin’.”
“You wanna keep that paycheck?” Quinn asked, pulling his Beretta off his hip and holding it flat against the glass. “Or see what’s behind door number two?”
Davis sighed. “Right.” He took the key and disappeared back into the office, appearing again in the breezeway.
Quinn nodded and got back in his car. He’d be damned if he was going to let his baby out of his sight. He drove her down the length of the building again and parked outside room number three-twenty-nine, then pulled his kit off the front seat and got out of the car. “Don’t go anywhere, beautiful,” he said, polishing a fingerprint off the driver’s side door. Yep. Pretty sweet ride.
While he waited for Davis to catch up, he dropped his kit on the concrete slab outside the motel room door and took out a pair of latex gloves. After pulling them on with practiced ease, he tugged his gun from his belt again.
“I’m coming, I’m coming!” Davis called nervously, picking up his pace. He’d gotten the wrong idea, but Quinn was fine with that if it lit a fire under his ass. Davis put the key in and hastily unlocked the motel room door.
“Thank you,” Quinn said, tapping the gun against his thigh for effect. “Now. The surveillance camera—”
“Hasn’t worked in years. It’s not even hooked up to anything. I just keep it there so people think—”
“Fine. You can go now.”
Davis turned and hurried back into the office.
Quinn chuckled. This really was a great location. If Davis stayed nervously respectful, his motel could see some repeat business. Davis could even make enough money to put some lipstick on this pig.
The metal door to number three-twenty-nine looked as though it had been kicked in more than once in its lifetime. The jamb was bent, the doorknob sat at a bit of an angle and rust had eaten through the olive paint in several places. Quinn gave the knob a turn and it protested weakly, but then the door swung away from him.
He held his gun up near his face, sighting down the barrel as he scanned the room. Satisfied, he put the piece back in his belt and went inside, closing and locking the door behind him. The motel room was a pit. The bed was hollow, the drapes hung unevenly and were a hideous shit brown, and the carpet was industrial, worn with the traffic of many feet, and looked like vomit. He noted the older model TV, a tall lamp in one corner and a ragged-looking lounge chair underneath that. He squinted at what he supposed was meant to be art hanging on the wall over the bed. He sure saw a lot of fucking shit in this room.
What he did not see was a body.
With a shake of his head, he moved to the closet and pulled it open. Nada. He figured that the target must be in the bathroom, which was certainly considerate of the boys, as it was much easier to wash away the evidence in there. He stepped through the bathroom door and turned on the light.
Quinn’s eyes flew open wide. “What the fuck?”COLLAPSE