The Continuing Adventures of Mark Vincent and Quinton Mann
Can things possibly run smoothly when a CIA spook moves in with a WBIS spy? If they’re Quinton Mann and Mark Vincent, they damned well better had.
Quinn, having resigned from the CIA after the debacle of a covert agent being outed, is now living with Mark. Over the next year and a half, they learn to navigate the seas of their relationship together, dealing with a death in the family and Quinn’s new career as a writer, while friends from Mark’s previous life reach out for help and the CIA tries to get Quinn back.
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Heat Level: 4
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 36-45
Protagonist 2 Age: 36-45
Tropes: Badass Hero
Word Count: 74,823
Setting: Washington, DC, Hollywood, Fall River, MA., Manhattan
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
THIS HAD STARTED out as a really good day. It was the middle of July, so we weren’t into the dog days of summer yet. Portia and Novotny were coming home from the river cruise that had been Quinn’s gift to her for Mother’s Day. Quinn planned to pick them up at the airport, and once Portia and Novotny got themselves squared away, Quinn and I were going to take them out to dinner.
But then, in the early afternoon, just before I went down to the cafeteria for some lunch, things began to go downhill.
It started with the coded email I received from Pierre de Becque. Ostensibly it was to let me know how things were going at the antiterrorist organization formerly known as the Division—he had set up headquarters for this new edition of the Division in the suburbs of Paris, where no one was likely to come looking.
I worried my lower lip. Usually we’d use a webcam, but for some reason, he’d chosen not to this time.READ MORE
I knew he was still recovering from the loss of Reuben, but I thought it was unusual that he didn’t mention the man who had been his lover for as long as I’d known him, if only to say how he was doing finding a replacement for the munitions specialist.
Instead, he wrote I feel you should know that Femme is now sharing living quarters with Homme.
I had to admit the thought of the Division’s premiere intelligence extraction operative and her second-in-command living in blissful domesticity surprised me a bit, but as long as she was happy…
I didn’t bother giving any thought to flying over and having a talk with Homme. Femme—Zhenshchina—could take care of herself.
I did consider sending them one of those coffeemakers that did just about everything but write home to Mother as a moving-in-together present. Femme would find it amusing; the Division was notorious for its vile coffee, which even I avoided when I visited—it could erode solid steel. Homme, though, would probably get that blank look on his face. I had a feeling that was something the Division taught its recruits.
The thought of Homme asking what was wrong with the coffee had me grinning, and I went back to the email.
Babineaux went to the Netherlands to infiltrate a computer company—
That was hinky to say the least, but he had autonomy over his department.
—and of course Giuliani accompanied him.
Huh? I frowned at the screen. Why of course? Giuliani was his bodyguard. That they were lovers was incidental.
When they returned they were wearing matching bands on the ring fingers of their left hands.
Now that made me grin. It was about time Babineaux made an honest man of Giuliani. Most people took one look at the computer geek and thought he’d fold at a harsh word, but actually he was one tough little son of a bitch who had no problem keeping Giuliani in line.
Maybe I’d send them a set of Calphalon pots. Babineaux was a lethal cook, but Giuliani at least could boil water without burning it.
I focused on the email again.
I wasn’t certain how you would feel about this, since they’re both men.
What the hell? Pete knew better than anyone I’d have no problem with it, considering we’d been fuck buddies up until last year. Once Quinn and I were together, I hadn’t touched another man. Or woman.
We’re still looking for Kiska.
I blinked. That came out of left field, even though it did make sense. The bitch had pretty much caused the collapse of the original Division.
If you have some free time, would you consider flying to Paris? As little as I like to admit it, I could use a hand, especially from someone as skilled as you.
That was odd. Under Robert Lynx, the previous head of the organization, no outside help would ever be requested.
What was odder was this email, full of gossip. And yet it was encoded.
My intercom buzzed. “Yeah?”
“Mr. Wallace would like you in his office,” Ms. Parker, my very pregnant secretary, announced. Thank God she’d gotten past the weepy stage. It was disconcerting to see my unflappable secretary crying at the drop of a hat. Frankly, I was relieved she only had two or so months to go.
“Thanks. Let him know I’ll be right up.” Lunch would have to wait. I forwarded the email to Matheson with a message telling him to look into the ISP address, then printed out a copy.
Either Pete was no longer playing with a full deck, or something was going on that shouldn’t be.
I’d mention it to The Boss and see what he thought. He’d probably want to bring Stanley into it. As Director of Foreign Affairs, that was more his responsibility than mine.
Unless I could persuade The Boss to let me return to the field long enough to check it out.
I put on my suit jacket, took the copy of the email, and headed for the tenth floor.
MS. DIBLASI DIDN’T even bother giving me one of her looks. She just pointed toward The Boss’s door and returned to thumbing through the newspaper on her desk.
“What is it, Trevor?” I asked as I made myself comfortable in the chair across from his desk. He looked stressed. I’d bring up the thing with de Becque later. Or maybe I’d bring it up after I dealt with it myself.
“We’ve got a bunch of old men running my departments,” he growled.
I kept my mouth shut. He was actually the oldest man on the WBIS’s roster, something I found comforting. I’d be working for the WBIS for the next forty or fifty years.
“I’d like your input on what I plan to do.”
We were in the middle of what could turn out to be a bloodbath—God, I was so looking forward to that—when Portia called and asked me to read a certain column in that day’s Washington Post.
The Boss didn’t have a copy, but his secretary did. She brought it to him, and there it was, big as life and twice as despicable: a couple of senior officials in the administration had outed a covert CIA operative as payback for something her husband had said—a reason why it didn’t pay to get married. As a result, all her assets had been outed as well, and nothing was going to be done to get them out of harm’s way.
This wasn’t Quinn’s department, these weren’t his people, but knowing Quinn, this was going to hit him hard.
I slapped the paper down on The Boss’s desk. “I hope you’re not planning on going anywhere this afternoon, Trevor.”
He glanced down at the paper, then met my gaze, his own cold and stony. “Go do whatever it is you have to. We’ll manage.”
I arrived at Langley in time to find Quinn had resigned. DB Cooper and Janet Watson, his personal assistant, helped me pack up his things and bring them down to the Dodge.
I’d always thought the CIA didn’t deserve Quinn, but his family had worked for the Company since it had been founded. And fuck it, he’d liked working there—until recently. He’d become restless and dissatisfied to the point he’d told me he was considering walking away.
For them to do this, though…
Quinn was in no shape to get behind the wheel, so Cooper volunteered to drive Quinn’s Jag back to his town house. We’d go pick it up once Quinn had a chance to decompress.
Meanwhile, Portia was worried and wanted him home. It never failed to astound me what an amazing woman she was. My own old lady—I hadn’t had much contact with her from the time Bob Greenley got me out of Fall River and into the La Salle Military Academy on Long Island. She’d had no idea what I did and wouldn’t have cared even if she had, preferring to spend her days and nights enveloped in a haze of alcohol.
Fuck it, she was gone, and I had other things I needed to take care of, the most important of those being Quinn.
As I drove toward VA-267 on the way to Portia’s home in Great Falls, I gave him a quick glance. I’d made him laugh with the story of how I’d go through the CIA gathering intel without anyone being the wiser, but now he looked exhausted. I was pretty sure it was more emotional than physical. Either way, I’d be damned if I let the CIA get to him. I flipped up the blinker, got off the toll road, and reversed direction.
“I’m taking you home for a little while. You can take a shower and change into something more comfortable.”
“You’re taking care of me again.”
“How many times is that now?”
“You want to keep count?”
“No, I don’t—”
“There’s a pad and pen in the console. Take ’em out and make a list. But do me a favor and include all the times you saved me.”
“You’re a pain in the ass.”
“Just remember I’m your pain in the ass.”
He scowled at me. “I didn’t—”
“Sure you did. Make sure you include saving my life in Paris. That’s a biggie.”
“Yes, it is.”
I glanced at him to see how he took that. He didn’t open the console, and he was smiling. It was small, and it looked tired, but it was a goddamned smile.
It took longer than I’d hoped to get back to Aspen Reach—no matter what the time of day, traffic never let up—but finally we were driving through the security gates of my complex. I parked the Dodge in the guest spot I’d been allotted. It would be easier than garaging it and then taking it out again later.
I opened the trunk, stacked a couple of boxes, and waited while Quinn took the last one and shut the trunk.
We entered the building. Usually it took an act of God or The Boss for me to take the elevator, but I didn’t have to look into Quinn’s face to see this wasn’t a time to stand on principles. I walked to the elevator, angled the boxes so my hand was free, and jabbed a finger on the button.
It was a good idea. Quinn didn’t even question me over it.
The elevator rose smoothly to the third floor. No one called for it, so I didn’t have to drop the boxes and go for my gun.
The doors slid open, and we exited and walked down the corridor to my condo.
Once we arrived in front of my door, I set down the boxes, took out my keys, and unlocked the door. Quinn knew the sequence, but again he didn’t challenge me for not letting him do it.
“Where do you want me to put these?” he asked once we were in the entryway and I had the door locked behind us.
“The study. You can go through them later and decide what you want to do with the contents.”
He nodded and trudged down the hall, and I gritted my teeth so hard a molar twinged. Damned C-fucking-I-fucking-A.
With the boxes stacked in the study, I hustled him on to the master bedroom. “Okay, strip and take a shower. And don’t drown in there.”
He heaved a sigh. He fucking heaved a sigh.
“All right, Mark.”
“And just leave your clothes where they land. We’ll deal with them later.”
“All right.” One by one, each article of clothing came off to be dropped to the floor. He went through the master closet to the bathroom, and I took out my cell phone, listening for the sound of running water.
There wasn’t any sound of the shower being turned on just yet. I flipped open my phone and hit seven on speed dial. It rang twice, and then, “Mann residence.”
“What’s wrong? Is Quinn okay?”
“He’s in one piece, if that’s what you’re asking about, but he’s kind of emotionally battered.”
“What happened?” He didn’t accuse me of being at fault, which I appreciated, although I had to admit it surprised me.
“The CIA isn’t going to do a fucking thing about those people out in the field, and Quinn’s taking it really hard.” When Quinn realized the CIA planned to let those assets twist in the wind, he came to the conclusion he’d had enough.
“I’m not surprised.” And for once Novotny didn’t snipe back at me.
Yeah, my thoughts precisely. “I thought it would be a good idea for him to shower and change, maybe catch a nap. So I’ll bring him to Great Falls in a couple of hours.”
“That sounds like a plan.”
I frowned at my phone. He was being too nice to me. “Look, you’ve been away from home for more than three weeks, and I know the pantry must be pretty bare.”
“Are you wondering if I’ll be able to feed you?”
And it looked like I’d spoken too soon. “No. Do you have what you need to make Quinn’s favorite comfort meal?”
“Crab tomato bisque, Russian black bread, and caviar? No.”
Trust Quinn to have a taste for caviar.
“Okay, I’m gonna get Theo to call you. You know who he is, so you don’t have to worry about someone fucking with you when you answer the door. Give him a list of the ingredients, and he’ll pick up whatever you need and bring it to you.”
“You’re awfully confident he’ll be available.”
“Why wouldn’t he be?”
“Some people do have lives.”
“Yeah, but he’ll do it for me.”
Yep, that was the Novotny I knew and disliked. “Do me a favor and let Portia know Quinn will be there, but not as soon as she might expect.”
“All right. We’ll see you later.”
“Yeah. And Novotny?”
“Oh God, don’t make me start liking you.”
In spite of everything, I laughed as I hung up on him.
Okay, now to call Theo.
I hit six on speed dial, and he picked up after a couple of rings. He must have had my number on caller ID, because he didn’t give me a chance to tell him it was me.
“Hi, Vince. It’s early in the afternoon for you to call, but I’m really glad you did. I got back from my architect’s office a little while ago—”
I was pleased his first thought hadn’t been that his fiancé had been hurt or was in some kind of mortal danger. He usually did that whenever Matheson was out of town.
“—and he gave me a set of floorplans for Mann Manor. I’ll be interested in seeing what you and Mr. Mann think of them.”
“Thanks, Theo.” It had taken the architect a while to finish the plans, but I’d told him I wanted them done right, not fast.
“So, what’s cooking?”
“I need you to do me a favor.”COLLAPSE
The church and cemetery mentioned are fictitious, as is the restaurant 1964 Brown. Its name was taken from my uncle’s address. The Bonheur Hotel is also fictitious. It first appeared in the fanfic Passing in the Night, and was also mentioned in Home Before Sundown. At the time of this story, both the Four Seasons restaurant and FAO Schwarz were both in operation. The bagpiper is a nod to my son Bobby, who pipes for the LBEW Local #25 and the Wantagh American Legion Pipe Band.
The song that inspired the title of this book can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbUfYWJT_Y8
This is the song that JR and Marti harmonized while Pat played guitar:
The essay Mark read at Theo’s second wedding, The Art of Marriage, can be found here: