Balls and Chain [Handcuffs and Lace]
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by Mia Watts
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Gay Fiction
Description: Sam Bahlson doesn't know what the hell is going on. The FBI storms his workplace, takes him into custody, and then tells him he's the target of a notorious hitman. Since he's pretty low maintenance and doesn't take a lot of risks, he finds it hard to believe. Yet when Agent Jude Cheney whisks him off to protective custody, it's a bullet-grazing chase to the finish line. When Sam discovers that Jude's hot for him, he's determined to make protective custody as enjoyable as possible. The bad guys keep coming, and so does Jude. Will they nab the man behind the hit in time, or is Sam's life going to end at gun point?
eBook Publisher: Resplendence Publishing, LLC, 2011 August
eBookwise Release Date: February 2012
15 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [109 KB]
Reading time: 64-90 min.
"Mr. Bahlson, are you refusing to help the United States Government?" The stony-faced agent wrinkled his forehead with concern, only on Agent Gifford, the forehead extended over the entire bald cranium and glinted in the light from the window behind him.
"No," Sam Bahlson corrected. "I didn't say that. Your crew charged into my office, pulled me out of there and hauled me--where the hell am I anyway?"
"It's inconsequential for you, maybe. For me? You just fucked up my Monday." Sam put his hands on his hips. There was so much he wanted to rant about, but he sensed that ranting against the Federal Bureau of Investigation wouldn't be the wisest choice.
Sam sighed. Agent Gifford sat back in his squeaky chair like a disappointed father figure trying to reason with a petulant five year old.
"Why am I in custody? What did I do that warrants the FBI sweeping into my office and dragging me to--seriously, where the hell are we?" Sam tried to get to the window to see if he could identify the downtown area.
A burly guy standing next to Agent Gifford's desk, moved directly into Sam's path. Sam threw his arms up in defeat and walked back to where he'd been standing.
"It's on a need to know basis," Gifford said.
"Can I at least call my boss and tell him I'm going to be late?"
Gifford exchanged looks with the beefcake who'd blocked Sam. "I'll share information once you're secured. For now, you're going to be taking a little vacation."
"What about my family? My job? My mortgage payments? What about my cat?"
"Your Uncle Sam will see to everything." Gifford offered cryptically. "And you don't have a cat, or nearby family."
Shock jolted Sam. "How do you know that?"
"We're the FBI. We know everything."
"What did I do? Is it something I did?" Sam asked desperately.
"No, sir. I told you. You have information, and we simply need your help."
Sam stared at him long and hard. He was a relative nobody, definitely not a threat to national security. "Why be secretive? Why not just ask? What do you think I know?"
All questions he'd asked and received no answer for already, but somehow asking them again felt clever. It was met with the same flat, tired look Sam had been given last time.
"Can you put me under house arrest or something? I have a life, and I'd like to keep it intact," Sam told him. "You can't just take me away from it. This is a free country," he finished lamely.
Gifford's answer was to push a button on his phone panel. A voice came on in response. Gifford leaned over the speaker. "Send in Agent Cheney."
"Yes, sir," the voice said.
"Mr. Bahlson, the United States Government has your best interests in mind. Trust us on that."
"Agent Gifford," Sam replied. "If the United States Government did have my best interests in mind, you'd quit taxing the shit out of me and leave me enough to live off of without taking a second job."
There was another exchanged look.
"What? What is that?" Sam said motioning between Gifford and Beefcake.
"Nothing you need to concern yourself with. We're actually trying to protect you while securing your help. We can't talk about it here. We need to get you somewhere safe."
"Am I in danger?"
Sam swallowed hard. His knees felt quaky. Searching his memory, he tried to think of anything that might smack of danger but came up dry. He lived a fairly quiet life, worked two jobs, hung out with friends once a week or so. He called his parents on Sunday evenings, and he lived alone.
"You must have the wrong guy," Sam protested. "I'm nobody. I'm just a guy living a completely non-scandalous life with no shady friends. Maybe you meant to pick up a different Samuel James Bahlson?"
Gifford smiled benignly. "We have the right man, Mr. Bahlson."
The door opened. Sam turned to see what new menace they had waiting for him. The Menace, evidently Agent Cheney, sauntered in. He didn't look like an agent. He looked like a professional bull rider.
Did bull riders have that many muscles? Maybe a wrestler except when he pushed his impenetrable sunglasses to his forehead, he didn't have that glazed-over, stupid look. The Menace actually seemed a little too keen for Sam's peace of mind. He couldn't be certain, but Sam doubted he could get much information out of this guy.
And since when did FBI agents wear snug black wife-beaters and torn blue jeans? The buzzed haircut beneath his backward-brim black cap and impressively squared jaw reemphasized the wall-ness. There was no breaching to be had here.
Sam paled. "Oh, shit. You're going to interrogate me, aren't you? Can you try asking me a question first? You haven't just asked me anything. Do we really have to go straight into the torture? Should I have an attorney present?"
Agent Cheney pulled off his baseball cap and sunglasses off his forehead--why the fuck had he been wearing them indoors? For intimidation? Damn full-of-himself agent with his muscles and buzzed hair. The point was already made. Agent Buzzcut had to know that. But Cheney shot him an annoyed look, then flicked his gaze toward Gifford.
Sam nearly heard the whip-crack sound effect. Gorgeous and surly. Awesome.
"Sir?" Cheney rumbled.
"Sam Bahlson, meet Agent Jude Cheney. Agent Cheney, I've given you the specifics. I'll be contacting you with more, later." Gifford pushed a cell phone across the table. "Secure line. Keep the phone on you at all times. Second pair of eyes near the safe house."
"Is that like backup?" Sam asked.
Gifford and Cheney ignored him completely.
"Yes, sir." Cheney picked up the phone and tucked it into his front pocket.
Cheney slapped the hat down over Sam's head, and pushed the sunglasses up the bridge of Sam's nose almost brutally.
"What the hell?" Sam said as the whole room went into shadows.
Cheney grabbed his arm. "All set. Let's go."
Cheney dragged him out of the office. As they went down the hall, Cheney snagged two coats, one leather and one Member's Only. He shoved the Member's Only at Sam. "Put it on."
"If this is a disguise, it sucks. You give me the suckiest jacket to wear and expect no one to notice? Clever. You're so clever," Sam muttered.
"Shut up and stay close."
"Since you asked so nicely..."
Cheney shot him a look. Sam ignored it. They took the stairs down eight flights to an enclosed parking garage. Was the FBI elevator too risky? Cheney opened the passenger side door and helped him in, then jogged around to the driver's side.
"Sink down," Cheney barked.
"Because a guy slumped down in the front seat, wearing a cap and glasses isn't at all suspicious."
"I don't care if they see you. They just can't recognize you."
"If someone is watching me closely enough to see me enter the office with agents, don't you think that a dude hiding could possibly spark their curiosity enough to--I dunno--suppose that it might be me?"
"Great. They saddled me with a smart ass." Cheney shook his head as he checked traffic and pulled out.
"Great. They saddled me with a muscle head."
Cheney shot him a dark look.
"That's right. Get it all out. That much evil stored up in one space can't be healthy for you."
Cheney snorted, turned his face away as he checked the approaching side streets.
Cheney--who in his right mind gave a man named Cheney a gun--pointed the car southwesterly. It was well into the ass-numbing ride and a gas tank later, that they turned off one of many country roads to an almost undetectable gravel path. Bushes scraped the sides of the car like eerily sharpened fingernails leaping out of the dark.
The gnarled branches above clawed boney fingers at the moon, which was their only light since Cheney had turned off his headlamps. It was like some scene from a horror movie, and Sam half expected a raging lunatic with an axe to crash through the windshield at any moment.
Sam gripped the armrest, squinting as though it would help to block out things he couldn't see coming at them anyway.
"How can you drive in this?" Sam snapped.
"Eyes. Situated at the front of my head for optimal forward viewing."
"Now who's the smart ass."
He thought Cheney smirked, but he couldn't be sure. Finally the car stopped. Cheney told him to get out.
"Here? There's nothing," Sam argued.
"There isn't supposed to be. C'mon. We hoof it."
"Hoof it? In the middle of the night? I still don't know why you're holding me, or what you want."
Cheney popped the trunk and lifted out a duffle.
"Where'd that come from? Do you have any other secrets I should know?" Sam asked.
"I'm a fucking Boy Scout," Cheney deadpanned. He hooked Sam's arm. "Walk."
With Cheney behind him and darkness ahead, Sam had no idea where Cheney thought he should walk. Scrub and trees formed a barrier before him.
Cheney sighed. Before Sam had time to acknowledge the cool metal or the clicking sound, Cheney had cuffed their wrists together. Then dodging around Sam, Cheney walked straight into the natural wall. Sam stumbled behind him, arm outstretched.
"Right," he snarked at Cheney's wide back. "Because I was going to run home from here. In the dark. With a big-ass agent chasing me and God knows who else."
The walk seemed endless. Sam originally thought they'd tromp a few hundred yards and arrive at wherever the destination was. Cheney had different ideas. He zigzagged through the dark like a guided missile. Either he had night vision, or they were spectacularly lost.
"Are we there yet?" Sam quipped tiredly.
"Oh, fount of knowledge, pray tell me when we might be delivered of this vegetative prison?"
"When we're done getting there," Cheney answered.
"Wow. That's profound."
That was it. Enough. Sam dug in his heels. It barely slowed Cheney, but it served its purpose, and Cheney finally looked back. Dawn touched the forest with gray. It had been hours. Fucking hours of walking. It had been more than a day since they'd left the FBI office, and Sam was ready to fall with exhaustion.
"You're lost, aren't you." Sam stated rather than asked.
Sam hung his head for a minute, gathering his tired thoughts. When he looked up again, he squared his body toward Cheney. "Can I just have a straight answer? Please?"