The Continuing Adventures of Mark Vincent and Quinton Mann
Quinton Mann and Mark Vincent are settling into a relationship that shouldn’t be possible. After all, Quinn is CIA, while Mark belongs to the WBIS, an agency labeled by others in the intelligence community as being staffed by sociopaths. Somehow, in spite of that, they seem to be making it work.
Surprisingly, it isn’t work that separates them but family matters and a friend’s plea for help when his partner is kidnapped. Quinn is off to London, while Mark heads for Los Angeles to solve the kidnapping. Then Mark gets called to Paris by Femme of the Division, where things are not as they seem. Quinn, thinking to meet Mark in Paris, ends up coming to Mark's rescue. Back in the States, Mark fights taking time to recover from being shot while events are happening at the CIA that could endanger both Quinn and his best friend, DB.
Between family, friends, and Mark, how will Quinn make the opportunity to talk to Mark about moving in together and even starting a family?
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The spring of 2003 marked my tenth year of officially working for the CIA. Of course, unofficially, I’d done various jobs for them for from the time I’d graduated from Harvard in ’87 until I returned to the States for my master’s degree in Political Science in 1990.
Duty to country had been bred into my bones, and I’d enjoyed my work, but lately I was becoming frustrated with the way things were going with the Company. I still had a sour taste in my mouth from the events of the past two years. Between getting shot by a rogue CIA officer, being kidnapped by the madman who ran Prinzip and left by the CIA to twist in the breeze, and finally having Edward Holmes send me on countless useless missions, I was afraid I was on the point of burning out.READ MORE
The thought of resigning crossed my mind, but I dismissed it. How could I walk away when my father hadn’t? Nothing had hindered the performance of his job, not the era of McCarthyism, the disaster that was the Vietnam War, or the Watergate scandal.
I wasn’t my father, but I soldiered on. However, Father did have Mother to support him, and I? I had brief affairs, restrained and decorous, that lasted for a few weeks or a few months, and while they were pleasurable, when they ended, we parted with no regrets or recriminations.
But now I had the weekends and Mark Vincent, my lover, to look forward to, and I smiled, recalling the past weekend, which we’d spent together after he returned from an assignment out of town. I’d made him dinner on Friday evening, we’d spent Saturday morning in bed, and in the afternoon he’d said, “Get dressed. We’re going to the movies.”
Usually we’d take in a show after dinner, but if he wanted to go to the movies now….
“What are we going to see?” I asked as he drove his Dodge to the same theater that had shown The Scorpion King last year.
“The Quiet Man. It’s kind of appropriate, since Monday is St. Patrick’s Day.” Although he was watching the road, I could still see his grin.
“I was in Ireland some years ago.”
“Inishfree Island, wasn’t it?”
“No, that visit was a short time after I’d joined the Company.” I’d become used to Mark knowing so much about me. It was… flattering. “I’m talking about Tullamore.”
He gave me a blank look.
“Didn’t you know?”
“Sure I... uh... no. How the hell didn’t I know?” he muttered softly, his gaze on the road again. I still heard him.
“Never mind. Was there a reason you brought up the day?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah. I know this Irish pub that makes the best corned beef. I thought we could go there for dinner.”
“I’d like that.” I thought of the pubs I’d visited when I’d been in Ireland. They’d been charming. This was going to be an enjoyable evening.
“I hoped you would.” He found a parking space and we got out and walked to the theater.
I bought the tickets, and Mark bought the snacks, a huge tub of popcorn covered in an artificial butter topping—one day I’d have to make him popcorn with real butter—and two large sodas.
The lights had dimmed and the previews were just finishing.
“Let’s sit in the back,” he said. “After you, but watch your step.” And we climbed the steps to the rear of the theater.
I took a seat and made myself comfortable, setting my soda into the cup holder to my right.
“Hold this, all right, babe?” Mark handed me the popcorn. I set it on my lap, took a handful of popcorn, and then reached for one of the napkins Mark had brought from the concession stand.
Before I could wipe the butter from my palm, he caught my hand.
His eyes gleamed in the darkness, and he brought my palm to his mouth and licked it clean.
“Mark,” I said again.
“Shh. The movie’s starting.”
We sat back and began to watch.
After the movie finished, after Sean Thornton and his Mary Kate settled into married life and “Red” Will Danaher began courting the Widow Tillane, Mark took me to the pub he’d mentioned—the Dungarvan, on H Street.
The Dungarvan was filled with a mixed crowd, young and old. It was a Saturday evening, and they were there to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, albeit a couple of days early.
“I usually come here every St. Patrick’s Day,” Mark murmured as he led me to a table off to the side, about a dozen paces from the front door. I wasn’t surprised. He wouldn’t be Mark Vincent if he wasn’t aware of the nearest exit.
“If you’re in town?”
“Yeah.” The corner of his mouth curled in a grin. I liked when I could get him to smile, and I wished I could have kissed it. He shrugged out of his jacket and hung it across the back of his chair. “What do you think of it?”
“It’s nice.” It reminded me of the pubs I’d visited in Ireland. I took off my own jacket and draped it on the back of my chair. I wore the jeans Mark had insisted I buy, loose enough in the cuff to conceal the clutch piece strapped around my ankle, but the fisherman knit sweater was one made especially for me by the daughter of a woman I’d met years ago, on that trip to Innishfree.
A barmaid approached us. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-one, all of five feet tall, and with long dark hair that hung down her back in a thick braid. She wore a green blouse—an appropriate color for the day—with the sleeves pushed up to her elbows, and a pair of snug black jeans. A bar towel was wrapped around a waist that would have left Scarlett O’Hara green with envy.
“Céad míle fáilte, gentlemen.” She had an infectious smile. “I’m afraid welcoming you is the sum total of my Irish. Let me be the first here at Dungarvan to wish you a very happy St. Paddy’s Day. I’m Mary Kate, and I’ll be your server tonight.” People must have questioned her about her name, because she continued, “My mom and dad love The Quiet Man and named me after Maureen O’Hara’s character. They named my brothers Flynn and Michaleen.” She bit back a giggle. “Mick hates it.”
“He should look on the bright side,” I said as I pulled out the wooden chair for Mark.
Mark paused in the act of sitting. “There’s a bright side?”
“There always is.” I kept my expression bland. “Her parents could have named him Oge.”
Mary Kate burst into laughter, and Mark grinned a little himself. “You’re a pistol, babe.” He sat down and crossed his left ankle over his right thigh, and the leg of his jeans rode up. However, the little Mini-Max I’d given him for Christmas was at his right ankle. He’d never do anything so unprofessional as reveal to civilians he was carrying a weapon. “We’ve just seen it.”
“Mom and Dad make us watch it every year. It’s almost a religious experience.”
“Some movies are like that.” I thought of the John Wayne movie, Hondo. Although it hadn’t been available to the public in DVD format at the time, with Uncle Bryan’s assistance, Mother had obtained a copy of it and had given it to Mark as a thank-you gift for rescuing me when I’d been kidnapped by Prinzip. He loved that movie, could quote entire scenes, and I was... enchanted every time I watched it with him.
“Now then,” Mary Kate said, “what can I get for you?”
“We’ll have corned beef on rye, plenty of mustard,” I said. Mark had mentioned how good it was, and I was looking forward to trying it.
She nodded. “And to wash it down?”
Mark glanced at me, and I couldn’t help grinning. “What else but beer?”
“Our Irish Red Ale is very good,” Mary Kate told us.
“Then give us two of those as well.”
“We have it on tap or in bottles.”
Mark answered before I could. “Bottles, and bring us a church key as well. We’ll open them at the table.”
“I’ll get right on this. And in the meanwhile, we’ve got the Colonial Boys playing tonight, so enjoy the music.”
After she’d hurried off, Mark traced patterns on the tabletop. “Bottles are safer.”
I reached across the table and rested my hand on his. “And if we open them ourselves, they’re safer still. You don’t have to explain, Mark.” He met my gaze, and I smiled at him. “I know, smart for a spook.”
“Yeah, you are. Blew me away when I realized that.” He cleared his throat. “So what plans for tomorrow?”
“You mean beyond riding with Mother?”
He groaned, and I chuckled and brought him up to speed on Kathy Thorn, the mare he usually rode.
We wound up having a couple of sandwiches each, which resulted in more beer to ease our thirst. Well, my thirst. Since Mark would be driving, he’d switched to Coke.
How sad that he couldn’t really enjoy a drink due to the worry he’d become like his mother. If I’d known him when he was a boy, I’d have gotten him out of that situation.
Then I smiled ruefully. Being three years younger than Mark, I wouldn’t have been able to do very much. Although I would have tried.
“What’s that smile for, Quinn?”
“Just musing about things we can’t change no matter how much we’d like to.”
For a second he looked… perturbed? No, it must have been the dimness of the pub that caused me to misread his expression.
“I’m gonna hit the can,” he said easily. “Want to join me?”
“Always, but right now I’m good.”
Mark paused for a moment before giving me a crooked grin and heading for the men’s room.
Just as Mary Kate placed another beer on the table and I opened it, the music stopped and the lead guitarist of the Colonial Boys leaned into the microphone and spoke. “We’ve been doing all the work, friends, and now it’s your turn.” This was greeted by groans from the patrons. “Now, now, it’s nothing like that. We’ll keep playing, but we’d like you to come up here to the dance floor and show us some fancy footwork. Mary Kate, Colleen, Trisha, if you’ll come demonstrate how it’s done?”
Mary Kate winked at me and hurried to join the other two young women on the postage-stamp-sized dance floor. The Colonial Boys played a few bars of “The Old Orange Flute,” and then the women began to step dance.
They skipped and twirled and wove in and out, and as they finished with a flourish, the lead guitarist called out, “All right, your turn!”
Quite a few of the patrons, no doubt well-lubricated by numerous drops of the craither, erupted onto the space in front of the bandstand.
“Come on, handsome! You can’t sit here like a lump!” A woman in her early twenties giggled and batted her absurdly long eyelashes at me. Poor girl didn’t realize she hadn’t a chance.
“I’m here with someone,” I murmured.
“Well, I’m sure she won’t mind if we have a dance.”
“He,” I corrected, but she didn’t seem to hear me.
“Come on, come on!” She giggled again, grabbed my arm, and tugged.
Usually I’d excuse myself with a few polite words, but the music was very infectious, and I was relaxed by the ale. I rose to my feet and swayed a bit. How much had I had to drink?
The dance floor was as crowded as it could be, but we managed to find a fairly empty space in front of the band. I tapped my toe to get the rhythm, but my partner took off, her arms raised at the elbow, doing something that looked more like the Highland fling than an Irish step dance.
Everyone around me was energetically bouncing around the floor.
“Come on, boyo!” the left-handed bassist called. “It’s simple. You can do it!”
I grinned at him, shrugged, and began with the basic steps the barmaids had demonstrated: skips, point hop backs, side sevens.
Over the music, I heard Mark’s voice. “Show ’em how it’s done, boyo.”
I gazed across the room and spotted him, leaning against a pillar. I knew if we’d been somewhere less public, he’d have called me “babe.” I swallowed. He looked so good I was tempted to leave the dance floor, grab him and our jackets, and head for the parking lot. We were too old to make out in a car though.
The music changed to “Finnegan’s Wake,” and as my muscles remembered the lessons I’d learned as a boy on that visit to Tullamore, I included a few of the more advanced steps. The other dancers drew back and gave me more room.
A shrill, encouraging whistle rose over the noise of the crowded pub. I could feel my face flush, and drops of sweat beaded down the curve of my cheekbones.
The band and I both ended with a flourish. There were cheers, applause, and approving whistles, but only one meant anything to me. I smiled and waved and made my way back to the table where Mark was waiting.
“I’m impressed, babe,” he said as he offered me a bottle of ale.
“Thanks. God, I’m thirsty!” I took the bottle, then paused. “This is full.” But not for long. I tipped the bottle to my lips and guzzled down about three quarters of it. I really was thirsty. “What happened to the other bottle?” I was sure I hadn’t finished it.
“I sent it back. You think I’d let you drink anything that had been left unattended?”
“You take good care of me.” I thought of his coming to my rescue when I'd been kidnapped, of him taking me shopping for a new cell phone when it turned out mine had been sabotaged, of him dealing with the man who'd been behind the accident that left my mother in a coma and then in a hospital bed.
“Damn straight. Portia would have my—she’d come after me if I let anything happen to you.”
“Of course.” My mother might look as if she was too delicate and refined to use anything more than words to indicate her displeasure, but she carried a Smith & Wesson Centennial wherever she went. In addition, she had been accomplished in savate—French kickboxing—and was gradually getting back into the swing of if after breaking her hip in that “accident” last fall. Mark was wise to be cautious around her. I raised the bottle to my lips and tipped it back, humming in pleasure as the cool ale flowed down my throat.
Mary Kate stopped by our table and placed another bottle, this one labeled Dungarvan Special, in front of me. “From the Boys.”
“That’s very kind.” I was curious enough—and thirsty enough—to try the unfamiliar beer. I picked up the bottle opener and removed the cap.
Mary Kate gave me a charming smile and bounced off to see to her other customers
I raised the bottle again, this time toward the band members, and they grinned and waved at me. What nice men. And what a good-tasting ale. I swallowed it down appreciatively.
I had to interrupt a final swallow to take the bottle from my mouth and burp as quietly as I could into my palm.
“Oh, my. Pardon me.”
“Okay, Quinn, that’s enough for you.” Mark took the bottle from my hand, glanced at the label, and frowned. “You’ve been drinking Irish Red. Is this the bottle the boys in the band bought you?”
“Yes, it is.”
I blinked at him. “Excuse me?”
“Never mind. Time to call it a night.”
I opened my mouth to protest, but thought better of it when I realized that meant we’d be going home—to my place this weekend. I’d disarm my security system and let us in, then lock the door while Mark re-armed the alarm. We’d climb the stairs to my master bedroom on the second floor, and then I’d usher him in and start stripping off his clothes while he stripped off mine. We’d fall on the bed and make passionate love....
“I’m gonna settle our tab. I’ll be right back. Don’t fall off your chair.”
Why would he think I’d do something like that? I shook my head, took a couple of bills from my wallet, and then half rose and waved Mary Kate over.
“Another Red Ale and a Coke, or would you prefer another Dungarvan Special?”
“No, it’s time we headed on home.” I tucked the bills into her hand. “Thanks very much, and I hope you have a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day.”
I hiccupped and felt myself blushing. “Pardon me.”
“No problem. And if you ever decide you want a job as part of the entertainment, Liam and the boys would love to have you. They were really impressed with your dancing.”
“That’s very kind of you. I’ll keep it in mind.”
Mark who’d returned in time to hear the offer of a job, almost choked on his laughter. “Come on, Baryshnikov.”
“Good night, gentlemen. I hope you’ll come back and visit us soon.” Mary Kate smiled and went on to other patrons
I wrestled into my jacket with a little help from Mark, and then we headed for the door. Once out into the night, I began to hum “The Seven Drunken Nights.”
The remainder of the night was a chilly blur, although to my embarrassment, I clearly remembered falling asleep while attempting to give my lover a blow job in his car.
However, that was all I remembered.
When I woke in the morning, I discovered I was in Mark’s bed. I had my arms wrapped around him, holding him tight against me, while my cock nestled in the crack of his ass. I nuzzled his ear and let my hand wander over his chest, down past his waist, and through the tight curls that surrounded his cock.
“Mmm.” He turned his head and did a little nuzzling of his own. His exhalations teased the hairs under my arm, and I couldn’t prevent a gasp as my cock hardened and I shivered.
I had no hangover—I never did, but I was mortified when he told me a cop had arrived while my face was buried in his lap.
He insisted it was okay, but the fact that the cop knew him made it even worse. “Your reputation—”
“Quinn, everyone thinks I’m a sociopath. What do I care if they think I’m a sociopath who likes guys?”
“But….” I hated when he referred to himself in such a cavalier manner. And I blamed it on that smug, supercilious idiot, Jonathan Drum II.
Mark was still angled away from me, but he curled his arm around and petted my hip. “I tell you what, Sleeping Beauty. If you want to make it up to me, I’d have no objection.”
I paused in mentally castigating myself. “Excuse me?”
He turned in my arms and indicated his very erect cock.
“Ah. I see what you mean.” More than anyone I had ever... been involved with... Mark could raise my spirits. I began edging down between his legs.
He caught my shoulders, stopping me. “Why don’t you swing that sweet ass of yours around so I can give you some attention too?”
My previous lovers were gracious in their reciprocity, but none had ever been as enthusiastic as Mark.
“I’d like that,” I murmured as I changed my position.
“Then hop to it. Time’s a-wasting, and we still have to have breakfast.”
“Mark, I….” I shivered as he ran his tongue over my cock. Mark had never declared outright that he loved me. Oh, he’d said “forever,” and I was willing to accept that from him, but while he’d been away I’d come to the realization not only that I loved him, but that he was, to put it bluntly, my one. I’d always thought Armand had broken my heart, but if Mark ever walked away from me, I wasn’t sure how I could survive it.
“I love the way you taste,” he growled, distracting me.
“Do you really?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“In that case…” I set about making up for the previous night’s fiasco.
“There—there really is no justice, y’know?” Mark muttered as we both struggled to bring our breathing under control.
“Oh?” I dragged myself around and up over his body, and collapsed across his torso.
“No problem.” He ran his palm over my ass, then stroked a fingertip over my hole, and in spite of having just come, my cock twitched with interest.
“You have got to be kidding!” It was my turn to mutter.
“Huh?” Mark started to take his hand away, but I grabbed it and replaced it.
“Never mind. Why is there no justice?”
“No one would ever guess you were smashed last night.” He appeared so disgruntled by the fact that I didn’t have a hangover, in spite of the amount of ale I’d drunk the night before, I was tempted to act as if my head were pounding and my stomach roiling.
I imagined he’d just have to get used to it. Most people thought I got my ability to handle alcohol from my father, but it was actually from my mother. Her brothers often spoke—not in her presence, of course—of how in her younger years she’d discreetly drunk some beau or diplomat under the table.
Would Mark fuss over me, if I were… unwell? It was a gratifying thought, because other than Mother and Gregor, no one had looked after me when I was less than 100 percent. Well, there hadn’t been much need. Grandmother had told me I took after the Sebring men and was disgustingly healthy.
Of course there were times when it wasn’t a matter of being ill, but rather of being injured in the line of duty: when I’d been shot by Buonfiglio a couple of years ago, while I was attempting to meet with Dr. Bruchner and obtain the formula for his renewable energy source, and then last May, when I’d been kidnapped by a rogue antiterrorist organization. One of the men who was supposed to guard me took pleasure in using me for a punching bag. With my hands restrained, I hadn’t been able to put up much of a fight, although I had managed to get in a kick to Gaston’s balls.
The beating that resulted from that left me fearing my lungs had been punctured, but fortunately, it had only bruised my ribs.
Mark had come after me, and I recalled the expression on his face after I’d been shoved into the interrogation room. I was no longer pretty, but rather battered and gaunt, my clothes a disgrace, and I had no doubt I smelled rank, although I’d grown so used to my own odor, I was unable to tell how bad. I wasn’t certain how he would react to that.
I should have known it was unimportant. After I’d dispatched the madman who ran Prinzip with a scalpel to the throat and Mark and I had both dealt with my guards, he’d seen that I had medical care. Finally, with a prescription for painkillers in hand, he’d taken me to a nearby hotel and looked after me until I was well enough to travel home.
And that was one of the reasons he’d been so… cross… with me when I’d slipped out to take care of Drum while Mark dozed.
“Fuck it.” Mark’s expletive pulled me out of my thoughts.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Let’s take a shower. We don’t want to be late meeting your mother.”
“All right, Mark.” But I made no effort to move off him.
“Okay.” His palm was back on my ass. “I’ll give you half an hour to move your gorgeous butt.”
You sweet-talker, you. “And then?”
“Then I’m going to screw you to within an inch of your life.”
“Well, that will guarantee I don’t move.” I grinned into his collarbone.
And half an hour later, he made good on his promise.
I smiled to myself. Yes, there were the weekends, but on occasion I didn’t wait for them.
It was a dreary, wet Thursday. I stared out the window of my office at Langley, watching as raindrops chased one another down the windowpane, and I decided this would be a perfect day to spend with my lover.
I retrieved my overcoat from the coat closet and went into the outer office. “I’m taking the rest of the day off, Janet,” I told my personal assistant.
She smiled at me. “Have a good afternoon.”
“Thanks.” I definitely intended to. “Why don’t you finish off the last of that paperwork and take the afternoon off yourself?”I knew she was seeing someone from the Treasury Department, and I wondered if the scent of orange blossoms would be in the air soon.
“I think I will!”
I drove to Mark’s condo and let myself in.
A couple of weeks before, he’d given me a swipe card for the building’s door and a key ring with six keys on it. “This is this week’s sequence.” He told me, showed me, then locked the door and made me try it.
Robert Sperling hadn’t realized there was more to those locks than a manic need to prevent anyone from getting past them, and when he’d tried to enter Mark’s apartment in Forest Heights, all he’d succeeded in doing was setting off an explosion that did more damage to him than to the apartment. As a result, Mark had been asked to leave Forest Heights, but that led to him moving in with me for a couple of months.
Once he was satisfied I wouldn’t blow myself up, he urged me to enter his condo with a hand at the small of my back. I liked how cared for that gesture made me feel.
Now I strolled into the master bedroom and turned on the gas fireplace. Then I stripped off my clothes and called Mark.
He sounded a little stressed, so when he got home, I let him know I was taking control. I was the one who prepared his body, working lube-coated fingers into his ass. I was the one who put on the condom, although he slicked it up, and then I slid into him. The heat of his channel, the ripple of his internal muscles as they clenched and caressed my cock, driving me closer and closer to the edge until we both finally tumbled over—this was a fantastic pleasure I could live with the rest of my life.
What would it be like without the latex barrier between us?
I knew Mark never had sex without a condom, but it was a fantasy I’d treasure during those nights we were apart.
We spent the afternoon, evening, and early hours of the following morning making love, and before I left for Langley the next morning, I ravaged his mouth, swallowing his moans of pleasure....COLLAPSE
Mann of My Dreams is a continuation of the Spy vs. Spook Series. The name changed because Mark and Quinn are no longer in an adversarial relationship, and also because I began to self-publish the new books.