Chapter 1



THE large metal door opened into the alleyway. A young man with blond hair that brushed the tips of his ears and touched his eyebrows stepped outside, feeling the summer evening heat of Las Vegas quickly surround him. Crisp blue eyes scanned the alleyway while adjusting to the darkness. A single light bulb illuminated the entire alleyway, but it flickered every few moments in warning that the only illumination would soon be what bled from the street.

Ty let the door close behind him and approached a dusty blond boy smoking by the nearest dumpster. “Do you have candy tonight?” Ty asked, leaning against the metal wall of the warehouse.

“Cherry,” Jackson replied, fishing out a sucker from his pocket. He held it out for Ty without needing to look at him. “It’s on the house tonight, man.”

“What’s in this one?” Ty asked, taking the homemade candy. In the alleyway’s poor lighting, he had to angle the candy to catch light from the street.

“Special mixture; my personal concoction guaranteed to keep you alert and energetic until at least three am.” Jackson flicked his cigarette to knock the ashes away before placing it back between his lips. He looked old enough to be smoking, but far too young to be allowed to loiter outside in the part of the city that came alive only after ten at night. Nightclubs, bars, and alleyways were the only things this area had to offer.

Ty nodded, removed the wrapper, and placed the candy on his tongue. “Cherry.” His statement came out muffled as his lips closed around the stick.

“But not cough syrup,” Jackson added with a smile that showed the pride he had in his creation.

“Great job.” Ty pulled the sucker out to look at it. Clear. No color added in order to keep the tongue, teeth, and lips from becoming unsightly stained. Jackson was a genius. “When are you going back in?” Ty slid the sucker back into his mouth.

“Soon,” Jackson answered. “I need to break two hundred tonight.”

“You break that easily every night.”

Jackson chuckled with a scoff at the end. “Tonight is Thursday; it is a slow night because of Demetrius.”

“It is a rather strange effect he has on business,” Ty commented with a faint smile. “You’d think it would be opposite since his presence brings a crowd to the club.”

“That crowd isn’t interested in buying young men to spend the night with.” Jackson rolled his eyes. “You’ve been after Demetrius for months; when are you going to give up?”

“I’m not going to.” Ty shrugged a shoulder. He didn’t care if his colleague agreed with his pursuit to have Demetrius as a client.

“Is that why you’ve joined me outside?” Jackson dropped the butt of his cigarette and stepped on it. “Demetrius usually arrives after ten, right?”

“Ten after ten,” Ty nodded. “He is punctual, so,” he looked to the street and smiled at the limousine pulling up to the curb, “that is Demetrius.”

“I’ll stay and watch with you,” Jackson’s voice lowered to a whisper despite knowing neither Demetrius nor anyone else in the limousine could possibly hear him.

The front passenger door opened first and a man stepped out. His auburn hair was cut short and neat and his suit was pressed and fitted. The ever-constant daggers in his green eyes ensured no one but the stupid messed with this bodyguard named Lee. He was exactly six feet tall and carried himself like a trained fighter. Lee was frightening, but Ty ignored the fear the bodyguard conjured up within him. Ty wanted the one Lee protected and wasn’t about to let a single man stop him from his goal.

Lee walked down the black limousine and opened the back door, moving his free hand to rest on the gun holster hidden by his jacket. His suit was black and lined with red. Whether he dressed himself or wore what Demetrius told him to mattered not; Lee always looked better than any hired muscle man Ty had seen before.

Ty nudged Jackson in the ribs. “Try not to drool, boy.”

“I am already,” Jackson whispered.

Stepping out of the back in a single, graceful movement was the reason the club doubled in volume on Thursdays. Honey brown hair fell in perfect form, touching softly on forehead and nape. The locks bounced and moved with every movement as if light as cotton. The ever-present smile gracing the two perfect lips pulled up slightly at one side when the Greek god thanked Lee. Demetrius’s jaw was a perfect line that curved in at precisely the right point on his face. An artist couldn’t have molded a better man.

Six-foot-four in an Armani suit, the second most powerful man in Las Vegas with as many admirers as any celebrity: Demetrius Pardo. Ty watched closely as Demetrius walked just a step ahead of Lee toward the warehouse’s door. Ty waited, keeping his gaze directly on Demetrius’s face for a glimpse of the eyes that were as unique as they were wonderful. Dark caramel brown around the pupil faded to a crisp line of honey. Demetrius looked up to catch Ty staring. He smiled just before disappearing into the warehouse.

“Lee looked like he was trying to kill you with his glare.” Jackson let out a deep breath he had been holding.

“Lee saw me?” Ty asked with his eyes still on the door.

“You seriously didn’t see him?” Jackson shook his head with a laugh. “Maybe one day Demetrius will take you, but I wouldn’t place a bet on it.”

“Each Thursday he takes one blond home,” Ty defended. “Eventually he’ll run out of other blonds to play with.”

“He sometimes leaves alone,” Jackson argued. “If he sees none that excites him, he leaves with Lee at midnight.”

“I know,” Ty nodded. He knew a lot about Demetrius. Three months of following his every move had given Ty plenty of knowledge about his target.

“Good luck tonight.” Jackson waved over his shoulder and opened the door to the warehouse.

“You too,” Ty nodded. He looked toward the street when another limousine pulled up. He wasn’t interested in the next big shot at the club and took it as his cue to go back to work.

The first door led to a staircase that went up to two meatheads with muscles who looked as if they were smuggling melons in their arms. Ty flashed his ID, fake but amazingly realistic, and entered the heavy door that separated the outside silence from the loud music. Ty squinted in the dark club lighting paired with strobe lights. It always took his eyes a moment to get used to such torture.

Warehouse Seven was a hole-in-the-wall club that offered satisfaction for all types. The warehouse was a single large room. A metal catwalk stretched from the entrance around the entire building and offered the best view of the dance floor. Below, two separate bars sat on opposite ends. The stage and dance floor took up the space between the bars. On the other side: the VIP section, secluded from the rest by red velvet ropes and more men smuggling melons in their arms. Ty stepped down the stairs and stopped beside Jackson. The boy had his back against the handrail, leaning so his hips jutted toward a potential client. He noticed Ty.

“Section four, man,” he chuckled without removing his eyes from the man in front of him.

Ty thanked Jackson and continued down the last step and across the room to the dance floor. Section four, where Demetrius’s table would be, just happened to be the closest to the dance floor and offered the best view from the VIP section. Ty cracked the sucker in his mouth to dispose of it quickly and tossed the stick on the floor just before he reached the fringe of dancing bodies.

On his way to the opposite end, to be closer to section four, Ty blindly selected a dance partner who seemed to be having too much fun to be sober. The guy was nothing near breathtaking, but Ty only needed a prop.

Positioning himself to give his target the best view, Ty put his arm up to rest his wrist on his dance partner’s shoulder to claim him and ensure no one would steal his prop from him during his performance. The music thumped through the cement floor, entered his body through the soles of his feet and caressed him from the bone out. Nothing felt better than when the music entered and flowed freely through him.

Ty kept his dance partner’s leg between his, working his body to the beat despite his partner’s obvious eagerness for something more. Ty used the hands-on request to his advantage, allowing his partner to unbutton Ty’s shirt and show Demetrius what he had underneath.

Ty stood at six feet and gave the appearance of being slender, almost skinny, but beneath his clothes he was muscular. Unlike most of the other men in the club there to sell their services, Ty was not mere skin and bones; he worked to be attractive and his effort brought in the high-paying customers—except Demetrius. The one client Ty desired the most was the one that had seemed the least interested so far.

Pushing away a hand that attempted to venture south, Ty wondered if his intoxicated dance partner was worth the trouble. Glancing to the table where Demetrius watched him, Ty smiled at his target. Demetrius’s left eyebrow raised, and he leaned over to whisper in Lee’s ear. A moment later they stood up and left the table. Ty waited until he knew for certain that Demetrius had moved further into the VIP section and out of view before shoving his dance partner back. The guy was far too wasted to notice or care about the rejection and turned to find someone new.

Ty left the floor and buttoned his shirt on his way to the bar. Sitting down, he nodded to the bartender. The blasting music made conversation a fleeting effort at best, but the bartender leaned over to speak. “Demetrius requested his usual booth tonight.”

The fact that just about every worker in the club knew Ty wanted Demetrius didn’t sit well with Ty, but gathering information like what the bartender had just shared had been made easier by it. “So he’s staying until midnight,” Ty shouted back over the music, and the bartender nodded.

“Too bad you can’t get into the VIP,” he shrugged and left to help a thirsty patron.

Ty watched the bodies on the dance floor and fingered a button on his shirt. If Demetrius chose another blond worker, Ty would have another week to wait. It would be another week before Demetrius came into his sight again. Ty shook his head and tried not to think about the time that would be wasted if Demetrius took home a body that wasn’t Ty’s.

“Follow me.”

Ty felt the breath next to his ear and slowly looked to his left. Lee. Inside Ty celebrated but outside he smiled calmly. “Lead the way.”

If Lee had left Demetrius’s side, he had been sent on an important errand for his boss. Why Lee served Demetrius and guarded him remained a mystery to Ty. What he had been able to discover about the bodyguard had been a history of wealth and absolutely no reason to be a grunt with a gun. It was pure speculation that Lee’s position beside Demetrius as his guard was a cover for their love affair, but Ty had never believed that Lee was anything close to a lover for Demetrius. The way someone interacts with the one who holds their heart was not how Demetrius acted with Lee. Friendship was obvious, but love was not.

Ty followed Lee obediently and stopped beside him once they had reached the corner booth where Demetrius waited. The corner was secluded and the other two guards Demetrius had often been seen with had done a good job scaring the club patrons away from their boss. Demetrius had his attention on his phone. Lee waited silently and Ty followed his lead.

Soon, Demetrius lowered his phone and placed it facedown on the table. “What’s your name?” The music did not fully reach the VIP corner, which made conversation much easier. Whispers or soft voices would be lost to the music, but anyone speaking a little louder than normal would be heard perfectly.

“Ty.” Ty had never spoken to Demetrius before; his nerves bundled together in his stomach.

“I expected a name that would remind me of food.” Demetrius tilted his head. “Isn’t that the point: to make your client hunger at your name?”

“You must be thinking about strippers,” Ty grinned. “I know no one that goes by food names.”

“Who collects your price?” Demetrius moved on to the next question.

“Q9,” Ty answered. The questions were routine from any veteran at buying sex. The men that bought services frequently and cared about what their money bought knew what to ask.

“They have a good reputation,” Demetrius noted, finally giving Ty a smile.

Q9 was not a typical business. They sold skin but had strict rules and regulations they followed. Q9 was, for the lack of a better term, a syndicated pimp. They collected the money and kept their share. Ty was a product sold at market value but received only half for his own. The exchange was fair: Ty’s health was monitored closely by Q9 and he had a bed to sleep in if he chose it. No clients were allowed at the Q9 boarding house, but the rooms were often four or five to a bed, so Ty usually opted out of the boarding house experience.

“What reputation is that?” Ty lifted an eyebrow.

“Clean.” Demetrius looked at Ty. “Healthy, experienced, and willing to please.”

“You couldn’t be more correct,” Ty smirked, and Demetrius chuckled.

“How long have you been working in Vegas?” Ty had never been asked that question before.

“Three months.”

Demetrius looked down Ty’s body and squinted, “How old are you?”

Another question that Ty had never been asked. Clients never cared about the age as long as the product was legal. The fact that Ty worked for Q9 ensured any client that he was at least eighteen. “What age do you want me to be?” Ty smirked. “I am legal, but if you prefer younger, I can certainly please that urge.”

“No,” Demetrius shook his head. “I do want to know your age. It isn’t a kink but curiosity.”

“Oh.” Ty knew no reason why Demetrius would care about age, so he accepted the excuse. “Nineteen.”

Demetrius chuckled, giving Lee a glance, and Ty heard the bodyguard chuckle as well. “I wonder; why pretend to be young enough for a fake ID when you truly don’t need one? Do clients prefer to have their product under twenty-one?”

“I don’t understand.” Ty looked back at Demetrius. “I told you my age.”

Demetrius cleared the amusement from his face and nodded. Ty took a breath to erase any insecurity the laughter had caused. No client had acted this way about his age before, and he knew he could pass for younger.

“I apologize for my laughter, Ty. You do look nineteen.” Demetrius cleared his throat and looked at his fingers resting on the table.

“You prefer a younger face,” Ty stated, and Demetrius’s brown eyes looked into his.

“No.” Demetrius smiled with hidden amusement again.

“My price is negotiated through Q9. I’m sure you’re aware of the starting price.” Ty moved the conversation back on track. “A discount is available for a man like you,” Ty added with flash of a grin.

Demetrius raised an eyebrow, “What sort of man am I?”

“Your reputation helps to obtain a discount, but honestly, any reduction in price for you is based on your product’s suggestion.”

“Why do you suggest I receive a discount for your services?”

Ty smirked. “Even the veterans prefer a sexy client.”

“Sexy?” Demetrius laughed with high amusement and leaned back into his booth. “I had my doubts about you, but I’m glad you’re proving to be entertaining.”

Ty smiled at what he considered to be a good sign of Demetrius taking him home. “I aim to please.” Ty lifted an eyebrow and Demetrius’s laughter ended.

“I’ll speak to Q9, Ty.” Demetrius’s serious tone brought a smile to Ty’s lips. After three months, Ty had finally landed the one client he wanted. “Lee will take you to my limousine where you’ll wait.”

“Okay,” Ty nodded and glanced at Lee. He quickly looked away to avoid the scary bodyguard’s expression.

“If my negotiation with Q9 goes well, I will see you soon.” Demetrius flipped his phone over and cleared the screen.

“Let’s go,” Lee took Ty by the arm to turn him toward the exit.

If the negotiation went badly, Ty would lose his chance for an evening with Demetrius for good. He resisted Lee’s command and spoke to Demetrius. “What about a sample?”

Lee’s grip tightened and swung Ty around to pin his arm against his back. “Disobedience is not allowed.”

Ty looked into Demetrius’s calm face. He had stepped across a line and probably ruined his chance. Demetrius pursed his lips in thought and then nodded. “It’s okay, Lee. This one seems to have some bite, doesn’t he?”

“Bite isn’t usually a good trait, Dem.” Lee released Ty but remained close.

“I would normally agree with you, Lee, but I’m intrigued by his suggestion.” Demetrius spoke to Lee with a gentle smile as if attempting to prevent a raging beast from lashing out. Lee cleared his throat and took a step away from Ty; he had backed down with little protest. Clearly Demetrius held his strings.

“I meant no offense,” Ty offered, keeping his eyes lowered.

“I’ll let it slide, but the next time you won’t be able to apologize.” Demetrius’s tone had grown cold and for once Ty felt frightened by him. Demetrius’s reputation was one that had most cowering from him, but Ty could see through it and to the smile the Greek god wore across his features. That smile was the only anchor Ty had to keep his eyes even with Demetrius’s.

“I swear that it won’t.” Ty looked up at Demetrius and sighed with relief at his warm smile. “I’m only here to ensure my client is satisfied, and I know I can wear you out if you so desire it.”

“I admire your obvious love for your job, but defying my bodyguard is not a smart idea, Ty. He is trained to kill any threat, and you were a threat just then. I don’t want to have to drive all the way out to the desert just to dump evidence.” Demetrius’s smile grew larger, and he leaned his elbow on the table, propping up his jaw with the back of his hand. “There are lines you do not cross. Do you understand, Ty?”

Ty understood clearly. “Yes, sir,” he nodded.

“You’re a strange one,” Demetrius mused, looking Ty’s body over and leaning back. “Most show fear, but you do not.”

“I guess that’s why my clients are all satisfied and returning customers.” Ty smirked and lifted a teasing eyebrow.

“I have a sneaking suspicion that you’ll be extremely entertaining.” Demetrius smiled and sent a suggestive look to Lee. The bodyguard nodded and moved further away from Ty, giving him access to the booth. “What is this sample you’re offering, and does Q9 allow such an act?”

“They do on occasion and only if it does not end in release,” Ty explained, stepping to the booth’s entrance. “You are not afraid of public displays, are you?”

“If you’re asking that, you must not know enough about me from all the time you’ve spent watching me over the past three months.” Demetrius followed his statement with a grin and Ty sighed out a chuckle.

“I haven’t watched you for three months.” It was a lie, but a man like Demetrius would not hire a stalker to spend the night with.

Demetrius shrugged to disregard the comment. “I’m a busy man, Ty; be quick and let’s get this business deal closed.”

Ty nodded and slid into the booth. Ty turned his body and, swinging his leg over with a single graceful move, straddled Demetrius. From the corner of his eye he saw Lee’s reaction and intent to pull Ty out of the booth with as much violent force as he could muster. Luckily, Demetrius’s hand raised and his pit bull stepped away without any sound of dispute.

“Whatever you have planned has Lee worried, Ty,” Demetrius smiled, leaning back and resting his arms on the top of the booth. “Should I be worried?”

“You wanted it to be quick, didn’t you?” Ty grinned and arched an eyebrow. “I won’t waste any more time than I need to.”

Demetrius chuckled while letting his eyes follow the fabric of Ty’s shirt downwards. “What exactly is this sample?”

Ty leaned forward to whisper next to Demetrius’s ear, “Feel free to touch the merchandise,” while his fingers deftly unlatched Demetrius’s belt. His thumb pushed free the top button while he lowered the zipper on the fly. Demetrius’s low chuckle crossed with a gasp brought a smile to Ty’s lips. Ty knew he was talented in his new area of expertise, but always appreciated being noticed.

Leaning back away from Demetrius, Ty felt his body come in contact with the table and kept the new position. A little exploration and Ty found the soft flesh he searched for. Demetrius’s lips pulled up to the side in a mischievous grin. “You really don’t waste time, Ty, do you?”

“You really like using my name.” Ty lightly stroked Demetrius’s flaccid cock and twisted an eyebrow upwards when Demetrius shifted his hips and groaned. He had Demetrius’s full attention. “I have a sneaking suspicion that you’re enjoying the sample so far.” Ty freed Demetrius’s now hardening flesh and wrapped his fingers around it.

Demetrius smirked in response, placing his hands on Ty’s hips. “Perhaps I am enjoying the lengths you’d go to ensure a night with me,” he said, while one hand moved inward and up Ty’s chest beneath his shirt, bunching the fabric up to show the skin. His other hand ventured to Ty’s back and down to the curve of his ass.

“There isn’t a length I wouldn’t go down.” Ty pumped his fist and rubbed the head with his thumb.

“Sir,” Lee cleared his throat.

Demetrius nodded without looking toward his bodyguard. “That’s enough, Ty.” He removed his hands from Ty and Ty listened obediently, placing Demetrius back inside the confines of his slacks.

“Did I cross another line?” Ty asked but didn’t move from his seat on top of Demetrius’s lap.

“No,” Demetrius tilted his head and focused his eyes on Ty’s figure. “We just have an audience, so it is time to move to somewhere more private.”

Ty looked to the side and the table nearest to Demetrius’s booth. Four women and two men sat around it and each stole the occasional glance at the booth. Demetrius always gained attention wherever he went because of his known display of sexual affections with male or female prostitutes. The fact that he did what most considered taboo had been part of his rise to popularity.

“Should I apologize?” Ty slid off of Demetrius and across the booth to stand up beside Lee.

“Not at all.” Demetrius rested his elbow on the table and held his jaw up with his palm. “He’ll do fine, Lee. Be sure he is prepared and in my condo.”

“Yes, sir.” Lee nodded and waved two fingers to another guard.

Ty looked to Demetrius with a smile. “I’ll be seeing you soon.”

“I’ll talk figures with Q9, Ty. I appreciate your time so far.” Demetrius picked up his cell phone and leaned back. “My driver will see to it that you’re taken to my place and Lee will remain with you until I arrive.”

Ty nodded and looked at Lee, addressing the bodyguard, “Pleasure to meet you.”

Lee’s eyes narrowed and he took Ty by the arm. “In thirty, Dem,” he stated before assisting Ty away from Demetrius’s booth.

Ty allowed Lee’s hand to remain and managed to smile at Jackson just before he walked out of view. Jackson’s loud laughter sounded behind him before the door shut and cut off all sound from the club. Lee released Ty and walked ahead down the stairs.

“You’ll need to be cleaned and dressed before Demetrius arrives, so do not waste time.”

Ty knew the procedure from talking to the ones Demetrius had taken home before. “That won’t be a problem.” He followed Lee out into the alleyway and to a waiting vehicle. He sat back in the seat beside Lee and watched the Las Vegas lights pass by outside. Ty felt confident that Demetrius would take him even if Q9 somehow managed to ruin the negotiation. After months of attempts, he finally had the client he wanted.