I love thrillers and Selling It is a very exciting police procedural. When A cop and a dancer come together, there are bound to be sparks that fly and Blaine and Andy are no exception.
Blaine couldn’t have imagined a worse ending. Blood covered the floor of the shit motel room and sprayed up the walls, almost to the ceiling. He glanced down at the broken body and cringed. The neck wound had probably caused most of this mess. His heart squeezed and his eyes burned. Blaine pinched the bridge of his nose to stop any tears from falling. Hell, he was a seasoned detective and shouldn’t show weakness, plus if the others found out it would come back to haunt him. There’d be jokes around the station about him crying like a baby. He shivered. No emotion, and no weakness.
He’d seen this kind of injury before. He knew the boy had felt the pain, suffering in death just as he’d suffered in life. Unconsciously, Blaine’s right hand sought out his own scars. First the fingers of his right hand grazed his left collarbone, then his left ribs, finally coming to rest on his right hip. Then, realizing what he was doing, he covered his movements by cocking his hip to the side and resting his hand there, as if he were casually observing the scene. Casual was far from how he felt. His blood boiled and his head spun.
The boy must have been scared shitless. He’d seen the knife coming at him—had to have.
“Hey Wilson, how come you always stand like that at murder scenes? Never mind, I’m sure ice water runs through your veins.” His partner, Lucy Abbot, sauntered into the room. She was short, sassy and quick to laugh. Eventually, after he’d worked with her for long enough, she would expect answers that he didn't want to give. Why didn’t he date, what was his hang up about girls? Ugh, maybe he should...but no, not yet.
“This is a mess,” Blaine said.
“People round here don’t know how to murder clean. Always is a mess.” Lucy pulled on a pair of gloves and flexed her fingers.
“He’s probably around fifteen, maybe sixteen.” Blaine knew the kid had to have been desperate. It was the only reason anyone would pick this life filled with skanky hook-ups, all for a little cash.
“Think he had family?” Lucy bent down to examine the body.
“Abbot, everyone has family. The question is why they didn’t give a rip shit about him.”
Her gaze connected with his. She looked hurt. “They might have cared and just didn't know what to do.”
“No mother or father would ever want their little boy out here selling himself like this.”
“We don’t know he was a prostitute.”
Blaine looked away from the body, no longer able to stomach the scene. “The kid was a pro. Look at how skinny he was. His fingernails are black, his knees worn. Just look at the red marks. He spent his free time on his knees, either blowing or being screwed.”
“Poor kid.” Lucy’s voice was full of pity.
Blaine didn’t want to think about the life the kid had lived. Didn’t want to think about the desperation of not knowing where your next meal would come from. The self-loathing and hate that accompanied turning tricks, or the false bravado the kid would’ve had to have to keep up the life.
Flashes of desperate nights and lonely days played through his head. He blocked them out, focusing on the meticulous tasks of gathering evidence. The crime scene techs were doing their job, but he couldn’t sit still. He slid on gloves and began sorting through the boy’s clothes.
The kid's shoes were dirty and eaten through at the sole. Somehow the shoes had escaped the bloody mess. They must have been taken off before he was attacked.
Blaine carefully bagged each shoe. Next, he folded the shirt where it lay and slid the material into an evidence bag. He bunched the underwear and pants together so he didn't drop any stray hairs or fibres, then placed them in a separate bag.
After labelling each bag he called the photographer over and had them take shots of the bagged clothes and the flooring underneath where the clothing had been flung.
Lucy finished her conversation with one of the crime scene techs and made her way towards him. For a moment he wondered what she would say if she knew the truth about him. No one in DC had any idea. Hell, no one in his life knew of his past.
“Did it look like the clothes had been removed before death?” Lucy asked.
“Probably so. The techies will need to have the final say on that. What about you? Any thoughts?”
“Whoever did this is a bastard.”
“Yeah, that was assumed.” Blaine felt bile rise in the back of his throat.
“The guy was clean. No gum wrappers. No cigarettes. The maid cleaned the place this morning but didn’t put on new sheets. The girl said the room was spotless when she left—in other words, we had no body in this room before noon.” Lucy tapped her pen against her pad of paper.
“Really, they cleaned the room?”
“Yeah, it’s that type of place. Queen's Corner isn't a family type of establishment. Rooms by the hour, and no one gives a shit about what goes on. Hell, with a name like Queen's Corner, probably no one wants to admit they were here.”
Blaine scratched his chin and shook his head. “Sad thing is, this boy probably thought he was pulling a good trick. Most men would have wanted him to drop on the ground and do a quick one. This john brought him here for an easy kill, but the boy didn’t know he hadn’t scored himself an Edward Lewis.”
Lucy raised an eyebrow. “Edward Lewis?”
“Pretty Woman. They guy who rescues Vivian.”
“Dang, Wilson, what is it with you and movies?”
“What? So I watch movies.” Blaine didn’t want to get into it with Lucy. He liked his uncomplicated life. So what if he got lonely and used movies to compensate for his lack of a significant relationship?
Lucy double tapped him on the arm with her fist. “I know a girl. She’s real cute. You two would get along great.”
He shook his head, trying to not show any annoyance at being set up. “No, thanks.”
“Come on, you need a social life.”
Blaine stripped off his gloves and threw them in a baggie, labelling it with his name, and handed them off to James, a techie who he only vaguely knew. "James, this area needs to be vacuumed."
"I'll get on it."
The techies would handle the scene. They always did a great job of getting every last piece of evidence. “Let’s get out of here. I want to talk to the manager again. See if he comes up with anything different.”
Lucy grabbed his arm once they’d cleared the room. “Blaine, seriously, why don’t you want to go out on a date with one of my friends? I promise you I’m not setting you up with ugly girls. They are all smoking hot.”
For a moment, Blaine contemplated telling Lucy the real reason he didn't want to date her friends. Sure, he’d seen Lucy’s friends and they were hot. He couldn’t deny her that, but he thought Lucy’s brother was way hotter than any of her girlfriends and he wasn’t ready to spill the beans here in DC. At least not yet.
“I’m just not into dating right now.”
She huffed out a breath and pushed past him. “Don’t wait too long. They aren’t going to stay single forever."
Blaine couldn’t hold back the smile as he followed Lucy. Maybe she would understand his preference for men—then again, maybe not. He'd run into enough people who’d constantly questioned his lifestyle. He was tired of defending who he loved, and sometimes it was easier to pretend he liked being alone than to explain his preference.
It was funny to watch her attempts to set him up. If only she knew what type of guy he was. Eventually he would tire of the anonymous rendezvous at Clinks, but for now those scandalous hours he spent banging unknown men were enough to satisfy his animal side.
* * * *
Nate knew something bad had happened the moment he stepped around the corner. Cop cars covered the parking lot of the motel where he showered every few days. Damn, he hoped the owner hadn’t got wise to his scheme. Changing his routine would suck monkey nuts.
For two hours, he sat across the street from Queen's Corner and watched the spectacle. Cops walked in, and cops walked out of room sixteen. Not that there were sixteen rooms at the old, run-down place, but for some reason the owner had skipped all the numbers lower than eleven and had actually used the number thirteen. What a dipwad. No one who knew anything about hotels used thirteen for a room number.
He’d read about a murder that had happened back in the fifties, in room thirteen on floor thirteen of some swanky spot in LA—or was it New York? He wasn't sure. The article could have been faked, but he didn’t think the author had lied on purpose. Thirteen was bad luck, and even he knew that.
This stupid little motel was his home away from home. Not that he’d ever slept in one of the beds, but room fifteen’s window lock over the toilet didn’t work, and luckily he was skinny enough to slink through the opening. As far as he knew, no one ever had ever seen him in the alley, sliding open the window. No one ever came into the room while he was showering. The maid probably didn’t know he was using the place. You would think she‘d eventually figure it out since the toilet paper kept getting used, but he was real careful and never used too much.
He’d stashed his shampoo and soap two blocks away, and his money down the block and around the corner in another alley. The clothes he wore were usually pilfered from one of the various laundromats. Today he’d found an old purple T-shirt with a picture of Miley Cyrus on the front and Hanna Montana on the back. Wasn’t great, but the dang thing fit just right, and a perfect fit was hard to find when you stole your clothes instead of buying them.
He really wanted to take a shower and clean up today. People paid more when he was clean, and that new pair of jeans down at the mall had been calling his name. For some reason, none of the pants he found at the laundromat fit properly. He guessed tall, skinny guys were in short supply. Plus, the store clerks treated him nicer when he was clean. No one wanted to face the reality of homeless teens in the nation's capital.
Another police car pulled up as two detectives left room sixteen. He knew they were detectives because they dressed like detectives on TV shows. All black suits and white shirts. The man looked hot, the woman like she was trying too hard. Nate knew, without a doubt, the man would never pay for his services.
The detectives left in a dark blue Crown Victoria. They were way too easy to spot. But then again, he guessed they weren’t trying to hide. Not at all like the vice jerks who came around every few months when the prostitutes got a little too uppity.
Nate abandoned his quest for clean hair and body. He’d sneak back over tomorrow—during the night it would be too risky since the room might be occupied. Damn, now he would have to settle for a ten-dollar blow instead of a twenty or fifty.
The Italian place around the corner smelled delicious. Scamming a meal would be great, but if the manager caught him he might call the cops, and since the cops were around the corner it would be harder to get away. No, he’d stick with his tried and true Dumpster four blocks down and three blocks to the right. The food was okay, and plentiful.
The detectives from the motel pulled up in front of the Italian joint. The man got out of the car, and his eyes levelled with Nate’s. Ice cold fear shot through Nate’s body. For a second he wondered if the detective was going to call him over. The female detective spoke to him. After an agonising moment the male detective’s gaze shifted.
Nate ran. The wind felt good on his face as he raced down one alley to the next, only stopping when he was four blocks away. A water spigot stuck out from the side of a building. He glanced down the alley, checking he was alone.
The spigot turned on easily. Water rushed out between his feet. He bent at the waist, slurping in the cool liquid just like he'd done a hundred times at home in the summer. For a moment he missed his home and his mom. Tears burned his eyes. He swiped them away and spun the water off. A door banged open behind him.
“Hey, you little pissant! What the fuck do you think you are doing?”
Nate looked over his shoulder and spied a large woman with a wooden spoon in her hand. He sprang away from the water spigot and raced down the street. This time he stopped only a block away. The fat lady wouldn’t chase after him. He could almost guarantee it.
Maybe he would take the day off and just go scamming down on the Mall in front of the Capitol Building. The nice weather would bring out the tourists. Time to play the lost boy, though that could get him in trouble if he ran into a particularly overzealous mother who thought the cops should get involved.
It was amazing how many people would leave their food alone down near the Capitol. Nate never stole any expensive items from the tourists. If he stole anything of worth it was totally anonymous, like at the laundromat. People who washed at the ‘mat didn't care or didn't notice. Tourists were always keeping their eyes open for a thief.
* * * *
Andy Stewart slid across the stage on his knees, landing with his arm arched overhead. His lungs heaved and his body screamed at him. Nothing mattered except for the pose, so he stayed still, waiting for his director to either clap or curse.
Finally, after more than fifteen seconds, the director slapped his hands together slowly. Andy slumped to the ground and uncurled his legs.
“That was passable. Not excellent—good enough for rehearsal, but not the show,” Paul Stevens said.
Good enough, my ass. Andy wanted to tell Paul to fuck off, but he didn’t. Instead, he slowly crawled to his feet and smiled. “Thank you for your praise. Tomorrow I’ll come in early. Probably two hours before practice, to improve my moves.”
“Better make it two hours tonight in addition to tomorrow. You need the work.”
Andy smiled, even though the thoughts in his head were less than kind. Of course he still had the moves. The bastard had no right to treat him like crap. Then again, Paul was one of the best, just down here from New York as a favour to a friend. The chance to work with such a wonderful director had made Andy quake with delight when he’d found out Stevens had agreed to direct. He’d known it would mean hard work. Now Andy’s body ached and his head swam with all the minute details Paul had wanted him to fix.
Andy shook off the pain and stretched out his quads. He hadn’t gone soft, that was for sure. All of his friends had been shocked when he’d left Broadway and headed to DC. They hadn’t understood he couldn’t dance forever. No one wanted to see an old geezer on stage. Sure, there were supporting roles, but he’d always been the main star, the lead, the actor who got the best parts, not minor roles.
The future would come whether he wanted it to or not. Eventually his knees would go, then his hips or his ankles. Better to exit gracefully than to limp offstage in humiliation.
The side door opened, sending light spilling across a section of seats. Andy made out Stevens profile in the dim light. The director left the performance hall, and now the room was empty. There were moments when Andy wondered how creepy it would be to spend the night on stage. He’d never been brave enough to sleep in one of the performance halls he’d acted in, but he’d wanted to forever. First, he needed someone special to share the stage with him, and right now he had nada.
Not that he hadn’t had his share of relationships. He’d probably gone through more men than most, but he’d loved so easily. It wasn’t his fault those love affairs hadn’t lasted. Well, some of the times it had been, but not with all of his relationships.
Andy pushed thoughts of love from his mind and turned the music on again. His form had to be perfect by tomorrow. He ran through the dance number again and again, exhausting himself in the process. He spun around and meant to land steadily on both feet, but something happened, knocking his balance off. His foot slipped and he tumbled to the ground.
“Andy!” He heard his name called out, but didn’t look to see who was watching.
“Damn it. That hurt.”
A figure raced up the dark centre aisle. Andy massaged his ankle, hoping the pain would subside. The man ran up onto the stage to crouch beside him, hanging his long, curly hair over his leg. David to the rescue, again.
“You need to be careful,” David said.
“I’m not surprised to see you here. How long have you been spying on me?”
“Sweetie, the director let me in before he left. And I wasn’t spying, I was watching.” David gave him a quick hug.
“Watching, spying…same thing. So, you’ve been out there this entire time?”
“Yeah. So, you think you can walk?”
Andy rubbed at his ankle again and found the pain had subsided. “It doesn’t hurt too much anymore.” He started to stand, and David placed his hand on Andy’s shoulder and helped him up.
“Take small steps.”
“Yes, Nurse David.”
Twelve years ago, Andy had thought he was in love with David, back when he’d first hit the New York scene. Andy had followed the man like a lost puppy dog. David had never succumbed to Andy’s charms, much to Andy’s chagrin at the time. When Andy had gone through ten different guys, swearing each time that he was in love, David had popped back into the picture and lain down the law.
They would be friends, but nothing more. David was in a relationship with another man, who he adored. Nothing would force David to split from his lover. After two hours of pleading, Andy had given in and agreed to accept the friendship without any benefits.
Andy was glad he had never got between the sheets with David. It would have ruined New York for him, because David knew how to live and how to have fun in the city. He loved David, just not in that way. Now David and Chris were his best friends, and their friendship meant the world to Andy.
“I don’t think you hurt it too bad.”
Andy agreed. His ankle felt fine. “No, I’m okay. I’m calling it quits for the night, though.”
“You up to heading out to eat with us?” David looked hopeful. He probably wanted to take Andy to a new place to eat, maybe somewhere swanky or silly. They never took him to a regular restaurant.
“I’m not really feeling up to it. I probably should ice my ankle. I’m going home.”
“Okay, at least let me call you a cab.” David pulled out his phone and started to dial.
“Fine, but I’m paying for my own ride home.”
“No way. Let me do this for you. It helps me keep my image up as the office sap. It makes the other reporters ignore my talents until I rush in and steal all the best stories from them."
“You are so mean to the people you work with.” David was a reporter, one of the best in DC. Three years ago, a paper from DC had offered David a promotion he couldn’t refuse. The primo gig had been enough to draw David and Chris away from New York, and Andy had followed soon after.
“Yep, serves them right. They call me names behind my back.” David placed the call, then pocketed his phone.
Andy’s heart warmed. Friends like David and Chris made his life so much better. He could survive without a relationship, at least for a while, as long as he had these two friends in his life. “You should turn them in for harassment.”
“Hell, no—it’s more fun to kill those guys on the news floor than to get them reprimanded.”
Andy didn't like that his friend was catching hell from the jerks at work. Being gay took energy that straight people couldn't fathom. Bashers were idiots, but he knew David would be the last person in the world to turn someone in for harassment. “Sure David, whatever you think.”
Andy gathered his equipment and stuffed it into his bag. He was blessed to have such good friends. The gay community in DC was awesome. Many of the artists and actors stuck together, helping each other out. Some of the gay powerbrokers in the city were assholes, but a few were cool.
“You are going to come out with us next week, right?”
Andy knew David well enough to know he wouldn’t give in. “Sure, where are you taking me this time?”
“No, I’m not telling you. It’s a surprise. You’ll love it, though.”
They walked out of the theatre as Andy’s cab pulled up, then hugged after David thrust a twenty at the driver. The cab fare would probably be closer to ten, since Andy lived just a few blocks away, but it wasn’t worth pointing it out to David. The man loved to throw money around.
“See ya this weekend at opening night.” David turned to leave.
“Thanks for everything,” Andy called out after him. David didn’t turn around—he just waved and headed off down the street.
After settling into the cab, Andy admitted to himself that he could have gone out with his friends. Sure, he needed the rest, but he'd be able to sleep late since rehearsal wasn't until three in the afternoon.
This performance would be crazy hard. He had to be on his top game. Paul would kill him if he got injured, really injured. He’d have to tape his ankle in the morning and pray he was right about not being hurt.
* * * *
Blaine couldn’t believe they’d worked so late into the night. It was ten before he’d even made it to his car. As he drove up Fourteenth Street, he thought about going home. Exhaustion and hunger gnawed at him, echoing his desire to seek out the comfort of his own kitchen and bed, but he made the right on M Street. Clinks beckoned him.
The parking lot at the front was full, which forced him to park on the street and feed the meter a few quarters. The place was packed and for just a moment he thought about leaving, but no other bar would satisfy him like he wanted to be satisfied tonight. He didn’t want to examine too closely why he was here. What drove him to do this when he could just as easily take care of this at home, while he browsed the internet for sexy pictures of naked men?
Blaine didn’t waste any time. He headed upstairs and into the women’s bathroom. The men’s bathroom was for business, and the women’s was for relief. If any women actually came in here, they were told to use the bathroom at the bar next door.
The dim lights hid shadowy figures that grunted in the corners. It only took two minutes for someone to come over. He was small and looked kind of Asian, which turned Blaine on. Of course, Blaine didn’t care what the dude looked like tonight, getting off was the only thing that mattered, but it helped that the guy was beautiful.
The man sank to his knees and unbuckled Blaine’s belt, then snapped open the button at Blaine’s waistband. The slide of his zipper brought a rush of blood to Blaine's dick. Before the man on his knees could push Blaine’s underwear lower, his cock was rock hard.
The stress and pressure of working a new case fled as the stranger slid his lips over Blaine’s knob. Blaine felt the hottie’s tongue flick the tip, and he let go even further. The warm mouth worked miracles. His tongue slid around the ridge, then he sucked down on Blaine, taking in his whole rod.
All Blaine could think about was the hot mouth sucking his dick and the stranger's hands grabbing onto his ass cheeks. He didn’t care that the man servicing him was a total stranger. Didn’t want to think about what the person’s name was, whether he was a criminal or a good guy, or if Blaine knew him in real life. All he wanted was to concentrate on the slide of lips and tongue on his cock and the welcoming warmth. For a short while, Blaine could fool himself into believing that this dude actually cared about him.
The man grazed his teeth against the ridge of Blaine’s dick. Blood pumped harder through Blaine’s veins. His balls tightened and his dick grew bigger. For a moment Blaine’s vision went blank as his whole body went cold and tight.
The stranger sped up his pace, tipping the scale of Blaine’s desire. The build-up of cum popped and he shot his load straight down the stranger's throat. Usually Blaine pulled out and came into a rag, but he hadn’t brought one with him tonight. He was clean, but the penismuncher on his knees didn't know that.
The stranger stood up and left, not even looking back at Blaine. He hated places like this, but the escape was balm to his soul. Coming to Clinks was an addiction, and he knew it. Relationships were too hard. That road only held painful questions and hard decisions. He liked this arrangement better.
Blaine zipped up his pants and buckled his belt. Another stranger approached, but Blain waved him off. He was done here. He needed to hit the sack before midnight and he still hadn’t eaten dinner.
Clinks served fairly awesome hot wings, but he didn’t want to deal with the mess or the trouble of being hit on by the dudes below in the bar. The crowd here at Clinks wasn’t bad. He enjoyed shooting the bull with the bartenders, but he didn’t want to fend off the desperate hopefuls who’d realised the night was wasting away and they were lonely. Hell, everyone was lonely, but hooking up wouldn’t solve his problems.
Blaine left Clinks and retrieved the gun from his trunk. After checking the street, he opened his door and slung his holster onto the seat beside him, locking up tight before he put the keys in the ignition. What the hell was he doing here? How had he come to this type of relationship-building? He didn’t want to be that type of guy, but here he was sacrificing love for sex. At least he hadn’t stooped to paying for young boys.
He blew out a hard breath and started the car. Best to pick up something quick for dinner, then head off to bed. The sun would be up sooner than he wanted, and he would be back to the grind of working this shitty case.
* * * *
At some point last night the cops had cleared out of Queen's Corner. The pigs were annoying. Nate hadn’t worked yesterday and now he needed money. The fifteen dollars in his pocket would only last him a few days, and that was only if he stole most of his meals. He did have ten dollars hidden behind a loose brick, but that was for emergencies, not desires.
Not only did he want to go buy some jeans, he wanted to sit down at a real restaurant and eat. A nice restaurant would be a stretch. Burger King he could swing but he wanted something else, something like a good piece of steak. Now that would make him feel better.
Who the hell was he trying to fool? He would never get a chance to eat steak while living on the streets. Maybe if he got real lucky some rich guy would take him out to eat a burger. He’d heard of some of the jerks doing that. Pretending like they were taking out their sons and treating them to a nice meal before they fucked their brains out.
Nate cringed as the creep factor slid through his body. Calling any of his tricks ‘Daddy’ as they fucked him from behind made his skin crawl. He couldn’t help but think he had it better than those jerks’ kids had it.
The shower felt good. He looked in the mirror, impressed with how innocent and young he looked. Tonight he’d make serious money. Men liked his blond locks; they fell into his blue eyes. After a quick check of his shirt, he decided it was passable. Thank God he’d stolen some deodorant last week.
Nate was about to crawl out of the window when he heard a car in the alley. He eased back, lurking in the shadows so the driver couldn’t see him. It was the cops. What the hell were they doing around this place again?
The cop car stopped and two doors slammed. His heart hammered, and he wondered what he should do. He moved to the bedroom, hoping that his movement didn’t draw the cops' attention.
“Hey, Hurley, you think the owner knows this window is open?”
“Doubt it. Not going to tell him either.”
“Maybe this is how the killer got in.”
“It was the other room, you dork.”
“Yeah, but what if the owner keeps most of the windows unlocked? The killer knows about this indiscretion and he uses it to his advantage. The way I see it, we keep coming back here every afternoon and maybe we’ll catch the killer. Think of the promotion we could swing. Before long, we'll be rolling in the dough.”
“Hurley, you are one smart cookie. We keep it on the QT. No one will know about these windows. The killer won’t know we’re on to him and—bada-bing-bada-boom—we’ve got a promotion.”
Nate held his breath as the officers banged around in the alley. Murder? What the hell were they talking about? Was that why the cops had been here yesterday and today? Shit, what the hell had he got himself into? He needed to find a different place to shower and clean up. The cops would be here every afternoon. Maybe he should start coming at night.
Why the fuck did he have to change his schedule for these bastard cops? He didn’t want to have to change anything. It was hard enough living on the streets and turning tricks with ugly, old, fat bastards. Now he would have to change his routine.
Two car doors banged closed in the alley. The car started, its engine noise growing fainter. The cops were gone and he wanted to cry, but he wouldn’t. Tonight was a money-making night. It would only take a few hundred dollars to have the cash to buy a pair of jeans and get some decent food. After that, he would think about where to shower from now on.