My first project for the new year. I’d started it a few months ago but was sidetracked by having to finish a White Tigers book.
This one is a prequel to my Ellora’s Cave release, Barely Undercover. I wanted to explore the beginnings of Kaz and Damien’s relationship. It’s mention in Barely Undercover that they met when Kaz rescued Damien from a guy who was trying to molest him in the alley behind the strip club where Damien worked. So I’m beginning with that night, when Kaz sees Damien on the stage, stripping and is completely, utterly taken with him. However, seeing as Kaz is a cop, this book simply MUST become a suspense of some sort and since I’ve been ready so many wonderful murder mysteries, Barely Covered will be just that. As in, what happens when the guy who’d been attacking Damien turns up dead the next morning not far from the alleyway where Kaz yanked him off Damien and beat the crap out of him?
Boston, Massachusetts, thirteen years ago
Where was that jerk? Kaz looked at his watch. Forty minutes was long enough to wait in a smoke-filled, noisy corner of this gay strip club Steve had talked him into as a meeting place. Pretty ballsy, especially knowing Kaz was leery of being here. It wouldn’t look good for one of Boston’s finest to be ogling nearly-naked men writhing their hips and asses on a stage, even on his own time.
The more Kaz thought about it, the more he sensed the message in Steve’s no-show—the casual thing they had wasn’t working and he was trying his fortune with someone new, someone who wanted the real thing. The guy was passive aggressive that way, Kaz had learned in recent months.
Well, maybe he couldn’t completely blame Steve. Steve wanted to be more important to Kaz than his career—at least, as important. But lately, with the bad press the Boston Police Department had been getting lately over its “failure” to bring in murderers, being a detective in the BPD homicide unit took more hours than he had to give.
Kaz looked in the direction of the doorway one more time. No Steve, making his way through the crowd toward their appointed meeting spot. So be it. He was outta here.
Lifting away from the wall he’d been holding up, he took a step. The place was so mobbed, it would take an hour just to get to the damn door.
“And now, gentlemen,” the announcer said over the cheering crowd gathered in front of the dance platform, “Pure hard-on material is coming onto the stage in two seconds. Get ready to drool, guys and give a warm welcome to…Damien!”
The crowd went wild, arms raised, practically rushing the stage. The sinewy, erotically-driven beat of Berlin’s Sex started playing and colored lights blinked rapidly from one side of the platform to the other, making a light show in the center of the stage.
The press of the crowd forced Kaz back toward the wall. Oh well. He decided not to jostle his way out and instead, leaned against the sidewall, avoiding the crush of horny guys waving bills. This Damien guy seemed pretty popular, having roused the biggest cheers of the night so far. With an eye to the stage, Kaz took a sip of his Perrier, his cop instincts having told him to remain sober from the second he’d walked into the place. Club Moritz might be Boston’s premier gay strip club, brawny bouncers and all, but there was a feeling here Kaz didn’t like. Something smarmy that had nothing to do with…
The spotlight panned to the far side of the stage where one arm appeared from the dark shadows. The mere sight roused another round of cheers, whoops and hollers. Kaz sipped his mineral water again. Theatrics had never impressed him.
“Come on! Get the hell out here!” someone nearby shouted.
Kaz’s gaze jerked to the owner of the voice, a big blond steroid monster in jeans and a T-shirt, drunk off his ass. Probably high too. Kaz had seen his type not make it into the police academy. Too much pumping iron mixed with steroid injections had drained all the blood from his brain. Kaz was big too, but be being brawny didn’t mean you had to be a shithead. Had Kaz not been off-duty, he would have gone over there and questioned him in suspicion of being under the influence.
More cheers drew Kaz’s attention back to the stage. This Damien guy was in full view now.
Whoa. Kaz’s heart lurched. He lifted away from the wall and stared at the man, gaze glued to a strip of sinewy chest and abs just visible between the flaps of a billowy white shirt. Sweat gleamed on Damien’s skin and on the soft hairs glinting on his pecs. Kaz swallowed hard and he gaped openly at the treasure trail funneling down the center of Damien’s abs.
Damien moved then, flipping his head back. That drew Kaz’s look back up. Shaggy hair, the color hard to discern under the multi-colored lights, framed Damien’s chiseled face. Damien wore a big sexy smile and his large eyes flashed with promise. Wow, those were some eyes, heavy-lidded yet full of life.
That wasn’t all, Kaz noticed, scanning the guy’s face as Damien drew closer to his side of the stage. Damien’s face was movie-star perfection—softly sculpted lips, straight nose with one small bump, gleaming white teeth, right down to a tantalizing cleft in his perfect chin. As he danced across the stage and turned his back, his body-hugging black pants, shiny and smooth, set off his hard round ass so perfectly, it almost appeared they were painted on. When he slunk back around to face the audience, those shiny pants did the same for that perfectly outlined package in front.
Hot damn. Kaz’s mouth began to water. If Damien was supposed to make a guy drool and want to fit that cock in his mouth, he was succeeding.
The beat of the song thumped through the air, made the ground vibrate, a backdrop to the jeers and catcalls of the nearly all male audience. Damien danced back toward the middle where he halted in center stage, took hold of either side of his shirt and yanked it open.
That tiny move earned another round of testosterone-filled yells. Kaz could only stare, frozen as Damien slipped one arm of the shirt partway down, exposing a muscled shoulder. In time to the music, he wound his hips and then his upper body, making the shirt fall open just enough to reveal a coin-sized nipple.
Hot blood pumped suddenly through Kaz’s chest and gut, right down into his cock. He’d been watching hot guys strip up there for the last half hour or so, but this Damien guy…
“Get those fucking pants off!” ‘Roid monster’s drunken jeer sounded over the rest of the crowd.
What a frigging douche bag. For some strange reason, Kaz found himself hoping Damien hadn’t heard the lewd remark.
If Damien heard the guy, he gave no indication. He was busy teasing the crowd, whipping them into a froth. Slowly, sensuously, he lowered the other arm of his shirt, exposing both shoulders, his chest, and part of his chiseled abs. All the while, those slim hips never stopped winding.
Kaz blinked. When he opened his eyes, Damien’s shirt was off his torso and flying into the crowd, into a sea of reaching hands where it disappeared. Kaz salivated some more, wishing he’d caught the shirt. The urge to press it to his face and breathe in Damien’s scent seized him.
Shit! What the hell was going on with him? Since when did he want to smell a guy he’d never met?
There wasn’t time to wonder about it. Damien’s whole upper body showed now. The spotlight overtook the multi-hued lights, giving Kaz a glimpse of Damien’s real coloring. Hair, a rich chestnut. Skin tanned, nipples the color of warm cinnamon. And eyes…Damien turned and wound his way downstage again, in Kaz’s direction, making Kaz especially grateful then for his hawk-like eyesight…eyes a rich shade of green.
The guy was magnificent.
Kaz’s heartbeat sped up and heat simmered between his t-shirt and skin. Even the blond ‘roid monster’s lewd yelling close by faded into the background as Damien continued to dance.
Hands locked behind his head, Damien ground his hips in sensual circles, turning front and back, driving his audience to a pitch. Dollar bills cascaded through the air at him, showering the stage like paper rain.
Damien’s face broke into a wide, dazzling grin. He halted, hands on the side of his waist.
The crowd roared.
Kaz gulped. Damien was working open his pants from the side. The black material had hidden a zipper that…inch by inch, Kaz could see ran the length of Damien’s leg.
Slowly, torturously, in time to the sinuous beat of the music, Damien lowered the zipper.
Kaz shook himself. When had he started panting? Good thing the guys around him were at least as worked up as he was, caring only about watching the sex god on the stage as he revealed one sloping hard thigh. Bit by bit the material fell away. Damien pivoted quickly, concealing his front from the crowd. They cheered and hooted. Damien rewarded them with a round of his hips and staccato flexing of his perfect, round ass cheeks, separated only by a g-string up the crevice.
Hot damn. No wonder the crowd had gone wild when the announcer had told them who was dancing next. Kaz’s mouth went dry now. Never in his adult life had he wanted to tongue a guy’s ass as badly as he wanted to right this second. And yet, when Damien turned back to the front, Kaz found his gaze roving upward, wanting to look into Damien’s eyes again. There was something to him, a sparkle.
Kaz turned. The blond asshole again. The guy was practically slobbering all over himself, a glazed look in his eyes while he stared at Damien. So—that was the source of smarminess Kaz had gotten when he walked in. This guy, right here, a few feet away from him. Kaz watched him, sizing him up, the way his police training had taught him. A big part of his instruction had been learning to trust his instincts. This character was trouble.
Then Kaz thought of something else. Had he, himself, been staring at Damien this way? He hoped not. And why did he suddenly feel so protective of Damien? The guy was hot as hell, obviously in control of his body and of the bodies around him. He could take care of himself.
Feeling chastened, Kaz tried to turn and couldn’t. He dared to let himself look up at the stage again. And felt a jolt right through his middle. The heat travelled right to the head of his cock.
Damien was just drawing down the zipper on his other leg to the pant cuff. He glanced up at his audience, his face a mask of teasing mischief.
Cat calls and wolf whistles practically drowned out the music.
Damien ripped the pants away.
The crowd went wild. “Over here! Over here!” various voices called out.
Damien flashed them a grin. He swung the pants in several lasso-like circles over his head and flung them into the audience. The onlookers grabbed wildly as if a million dollars had been tossed at them. Like the shirt, the pants disappeared somewhere and Damien stood, naked, except for a tiny black pouch holding his package.
Kaz swallowed. A lump had formed in his throat. His brain felt mad with a strange fever and his heart pumped as if he’d been running. The now-golden lights travelled over Damien’s sinewy, undulating body, glinting off his tanned skin, sweat beading like dew in his soft chest hairs and on the strip of hair that plunged down his sleek abs. All Kaz could do now was stare at the guy, transfixed on his incredible body, shaggy hair and movie-star face. He’d have paid a thousand dollars right then just to lick the sweat off Damien’s chest.