Jamie Craig - Writing on the Edge of Erotic Romance

The Bad and the Beautiful

It’s 1955, Las Vegas is swinging, and David Lonergan has the chance of a lifetime when he accompanies his cousin to be the headlining act at the Thunderbird Casino. A pianist who cut his teeth in the jazz clubs of Chicago, David is a “dazzled by the lights, the music, and the anything goes” attitude of Las Vegas. But he’s not knocked off his feet until he meets Vincent “Shorty” Accardo.

Vincent is a full-time bodyguard and sometimes hitman for the mob-controlled casino. He doesn’t indulge his interest in men very often, but there’s something different about David from the moment they meet. He’s attracted to David’s talent, his surprising innocence, and his easy smile.

There are a million reasons to stay away from the young piano player, but Vincent can’t help himself. Even when there are lives at risk...

EXCERPT

...There weren’t too many places in Vegas that were off-limits to Vincent. His own reputation opened many doors, and his family ties took care of the rest. He used his bulk to push through the dense crowd, working his way to the side of the stage. As soon as he slipped through the door, the smell of cigarette smoke and booze faded slightly. The hallway was dark after the glare of the stage lights, and Vincent had to pause to give his eyes a chance to adjust. He strained his ears, trying to listen for the sound of David’s voice over the shouts of the rowdy crowd. It wasn’t his voice that caught Vincent’s attention, though. It was the sound of his laughter.

It came from a door halfway down, slightly ajar to let light and noise escape. As Vincent approached, a new smell joined the others, the distinct earthiness of reefer, but any question he might have had on whether or not David was smoking disappeared when he spotted him through the opening. A cigarette dangled from his fingers, the smoke curling upward. He’d shucked his jacket, and his sleeves were rolled up. Vincent stared for a minute at the angles of the man’s hands.

He straightened when a short, slim black man pulled the door open the rest of the way.

“Looking for someone?”

Vincent nodded toward David. “Yeah, and I found him.”

“Hey, Irish.” He stepped out of the way, jerking his head toward Vincent when David glanced up. “You got company.”

When David’s eyes widened, Vincent almost expected him to make a run for it, especially when he rose to his feet. He moved to block more of the doorway, but then David smiled and swept his arm toward the other men.

“Join the party! Guys, this is Shorty. Which is funny, because he’s not, you know, short in any way.” His gaze snapped back to Vincent. “I’d ask how you’d found me, but that would be a really dumb question, wouldn’t it?”

“Your cousin told me.” The last thing Vincent wanted to do was join the party. Especially since he didn’t find it particularly entertaining to watch people dope themselves up. “Can we talk? Privately.”

The smile faded, though only marginally. “Is Kate okay?”

“Kate’s fine. She’s probably enjoying her supper right now. I just want to talk to you.”

“You sure? I’m a lot better with my hands. Talking always gets me in trouble. But, hey, if that’s what you want, that’s what you get.” He took another deep drag on the cigarette, then passed it to the singer leaning against the wall next to him. “I’ll be back in a second, guys.”

It was all Vincent could do to stop himself from grabbing David’s arm. He jerked his head toward the door at the end of the corridor—the one that must have led to the alley—and sighed with relief as David followed him into the shadows. He could smell the familiar aftershave, though now it was buried by the bitter scent of marijuana and beer.

“I thought you were going to meet me after the show.”

David’s fine brows scrunched together as he peered up at Vincent. “Did I say yes to that? I don’t remember saying yes. I remember lots of other stuff, but not that.”

Vincent stepped toward him, crowding him against the wall. “You didn’t say no, either.”

David lifted his chin, boldly, defiantly. Far more determinedly than he’d ever displayed in front of Vincent before. “I didn’t have time to.”

Vincent gripped David’s chin, holding him in place as he lowered his head. Vincent didn’t quite touch the other man with his mouth, but he could tell from the tension in David’s body that he fully expected him to. “Say it now then.”

“Little late for that, isn’t it?” The tip of his tongue appeared, sweeping over his bottom lip. “You met me.”

“You know your way back to the Thunderbird. I could leave you here if you want.”

“What about what you want?”

“I think it’s pretty clear what I want,” Vincent murmured, stepping closer so his erection pressed against David’s hip.

David whimpered. That was the only word for it. One of his hands fluttered at Vincent’s waist before finally settling along the hip. The touch was fragile, like David wasn’t sure he wouldn’t get his wrist snapped for trying, and Vincent pushed harder, erasing once and for all any doubts David might have had about his interest.

“It’s kind of funny, actually.” David flexed the hand on Vincent’s hip until his thumb ran along the side of Vincent’s cock. “That’s what I want, too.”

There were more reasons to walk away from David than there were to take advantage of the situation. But the time to remember those reasons had long since passed. He felt like he was drugged. Like something heavy and strong was swimming through his veins. “Not here. I can get a room upstairs.”

“You don’t want to take it back to my suite?” Those strokes continued, faint but long and even, stopping beneath the head and traveling nearly all the way to his balls. “I’ll play for you. And then we don’t have to worry about stopping to go home.” He craned closer, his mouth only a breath away. “I don’t want to have to stop, Vince...”

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