tagRomanceDark Handsome - Conclusion

Dark Handsome - Conclusion

byqhml1©

I thought for a minute, and called Benny first.

"What's going on?"

"A major shitstorm, that's what. I've had the cops up my ass, your boss up my ass, and people I've never heard of calling and threatening me. These guys sound serious, brother."

"What did you tell them?"

I could hear the smirk in his voice. "Not a damn thing. What was I gonna tell them? Yeah, I broke in and left six hundred G's laying there? The only reason they were talking to me is because it had my M.O. all over it, that, and my connection to you. That would have led to a whole new round of questions, questions I didn't have answers to. I did tell them that for a small fee I'd consult, try to figure out the guy's MO. That made the cops hang up, but not your boss. He said he'd pay. I told him to kiss my ass, he wasn't dragging me into the shit he was obviously up to his balls in. Have you talked to him yet?"

"No. I just got back from a four day backpacking vacation with my girlfriend. This is the first I've heard of all or this."

Sharon was holding my hand, and squeezed it when I said 'girlfriend'.

"Well, if it's the girl you were doing this for, tell her to be really, really careful. And be really, really, unavailable to answer questions. All right?"

"I hear you. Gotta go, there are more calls to answer."

Sharon had called Jasmine, and told her we had been together for the last four days. When she screamed Sharon put it on speaker phone. "Hi, guys! I owe you. A lot. I took what ya'll said to heart and called my honey back, begging him to give me a second chance. I've never had better makeup sex in my life. He's ready to put a rock on my finger, but I told him to wait until we'd lived together for at least six months. Then, if I haven't disappointed him, I'd say yes to any question he wanted to ask.

"Oh, and I've retired. I'm completely out of the adult entertainment business in any capacity as of last Saturday. I work for Tom now. He has a job for you, too, honey. It's not as much money, but no one will be grabbing your ass, except Dark Handsome, of course. Is he as pretty naked is he is in clothes?"

"Even prettier. I'll send you a picture."

"What!?"

She laughed at my expression. "I'm kidding, honey, but I expect to have some in the near future. Tell Tom I'll take the job. I'll go back to the club and tell them, I owe them that. They were pretty good to me, and I'll miss the people, but not the job. I'll be over this afternoon, and you can fill me in."

She sat back, worry in her eyes. "You gonna be okay?"

"I think so. I may not see you for a few days, to let this cool down. Thanks to me and Benny, there is no paper or electronic trail that leads to you. We're going Nixon on their ass, honey. We've destroyed the evidence, and now we deny everything. I will anyway. I will do my absolute best to shield you from any harm. Now, let me call the cops."

I called Benson first. "What the hell is going on, brother? I just got back from a mini-vacation, out of the loop for four days, and when I come back everybody wants me. What is up with that?"

"You haven't heard? Somebody sent us a laptop. A laptop that held a lot of surprises. The cops on the case re-searched Joe's office, and found two safes. One was empty, and one had 500 grand in it. There was also a filing cabinet full of records about his business. Something doesn't add up, Dirk. He was spending way more money than he was making, and he had all that cash stuffed into a safe."

"Well, it's all news to me. Why do they want to talk to me?"

"No clue, brother, but have your ducks in a row and watch your ass."

I relayed everything Benson had told me to Sharon. She listened closely, then asked the 100,000 dollar question. "Where did the rest of the money go?"

I shrugged. "No clue. Someone may have gotten into the safe, but if they did, why take so little? Why not grab it all? I'm leaning towards crooked cops, myself. I don't know the team assigned to the case. Jack was the one who coordinated with them. This stinks, honey. It stinks bad."

"What are you going to do? What can you do?"

"Right now, nothing. They have no proof I was the one who broke into the building or sent the cops that laptop. They'll fish around, but they'll come up empty."

*****

After a few weeks, that's exactly what happened. They came up with nothing. McMurry and Johns, the detectives assigned to the case, interviewed me aggressively. I answered their message, and they demanded I come in immediately.

"Not gonna happen. I just got back from vacation; I haven't even been home yet. I need to unpack and get squared away. I can come in tomorrow or the day after, at any time you choose. Just let me know."

I found out later it was Johns I was talking to. "I'm afraid that's not acceptable. We need you to come in now."

"Am I a suspect in anything? Do you have a warrant out for me?"

I heard him sigh. "Not at this time."

"So, you're thinking about charging me with a crime? What am I accused of?"

"Nothing, yet. Look, I'm running out of patience. Get your ass down here now, or you won't like what happens."

By now I was pissed. "Know what? Fuck you. You want to talk to me? Contact my lawyer and we'll set something up. Hold on, and I'll give you the contact information."

I didn't actually have a lawyer, but intended to use the one the company kept on retainer. I called as soon as we hung up. "Bill, I need your services. Are you or one of your associates available? It's personal, so I'll be paying."

Bill was a good guy, and we sent him a lot of business. I could hear the grin in his voice. "What did you do? I warned you about married women, didn't I?"

"I's not like that Bill. This is something totally different."

"Well, if you're innocent, it won't take much to make it go away. Come in about two and give us the details. I'm kind of tied up, but ask for Ms. Parker. She's young, but she's smart and an absolute bulldog when it comes to protecting her clients."

I thanked him and hung up, grinning. He'd said the magic words, "I can make it go away."

Sharon gave me a tremendous kiss when we got to her apartment, then she went quiet. "Where are we going, Dirk?

I kissed her lightly. "Good places, hon, very good places. At least that's what I hope. I just want you to know it had been a while since I've been intimate with anyone. Sex just for sex is just meaningless to me, and if it's meaningless, why bother? All I can ask for is a chance to see where this goes."

She smiled a little. "So I wasn't meaningless sex?"

"Absolutely not. It held a great deal of meaning, for me anyway. Knowing what you've gone through, the demons you had to fight, and yet still chose to be with me, well that make it very meaningful. To me, at any rate. I hope you feel the same way, even if it's just a little bit."

Tears shining in her eyes, she kissed me again. "It meant something to me, too. I'm open to see how far this goes, and what it develops into."

I grinned. "Well, I knew that morning when you were doing your yoga on that rock that you were very special. I could even see little stars circling your head."

"Really? What did you see when we made love the next morning?"

"The stars were still there, but there was a bigger ring of hearts above them. There may have been a few bluebirds singing, but I can't say that for sure."

Her smile was huge. "Well, I did feel a bit like Sleeping Beauty just waking up, in the arms of the Handsome Prince. I need you to leave now, before I drag you into my apartment. You have things to do, and I have to quit my job and see Jasmine and Tom, to learn about my new one. You need to promise you won't do anything foolish."

"Rest assured, my Sleeping Beauty. My mother raised no foolish children, and I'm not about to break tradition. I'll call you in a few hours, all right?"

"I may call you first. Will I see you tonight?"

"I really, really want to, but no. I'm not sure how deep the shit I'm floating around in is, and the last thing I want to do is drag you in with me. It might be a few days, but we will be together again. Trust me?"

"You're the only man in the universe I do trust. Please, please Dirk, be careful. I'm really anxious to see where this goes."

Her raw emotion surprised me. I gave her a deep kiss, trying to pour some of my soul into hers, and left.

*****

Jack was furious. "Where the hell have you been?"

"Vacation, remember? You signed off on it. I just got back a few hours ago. What's going on?"

"There's been a development in the Joe Morgan case. Seems there was a couple of safes no one knew about, and someone sent the cops a laptop from the office."

"Anything in the safes?"

"A shitload of money, some records of his films and business dealings. They seem to think there were some things missing besides the laptop. Any reason you can think of why?"

"No clue," I said, glad I was an actor. I wondered how he knew there had been a laptop in the safe. "How much money?"

"Half a mil."

"Jesus! Where did the money come from?"

"No idea. Every one was surprised."

He may have been an actor, but he was a long way from the soundstage. I knew from his expression he was lying his ass off.

"Well, somebody's got to be pissed about that money. There is no way a sleaze like Joe could have that much money and get it legally. If the cops follow the money, they'll get their killer."

"Maybe. There's no clue where the money came from yet. We're back on the case. Well, I am. You're not. Seems the client thinks that with your background and close ties to the cops, you're a risk. You'll work the other cases."

"Damn it, Jack! This stinks, it stinks to high heaven. You better be real careful, all right? I have a bad feeling about this."

He wavered, and I thought he was going to tell me something, before his voice. "I got everything under control. Don't you worry; I'm too old a wolf to be caught in any trap."

I had a private thought about old wolves being the first ones the pack turned on in desperate times, but held my tongue. Jack would be all right. Maybe.

I got the feeling over the next three weeks I was being frozen out of the company. My assignments were short term, easy stuff, good for training a newbie. I asked Jack about it, but he shrugged his shoulders and told me business was bad. A lack of cheaters and lowlifes in Hollywood? Really?

Alice and my little tech nerd were concerned. Alice followed me out to lunch one day, coming into the pub from a different direction. She plopped down, and with no preamble asked what the hell was going on. I told her I had no idea. She shrugged.

"Neither do I. Gerry is getting really nervous over the chatter on the Dark Web. Something about the Games Master being in danger. It's freaking her out because she thinks it's tied to the death of Joe Morgan, the 'King' being a renewed source of discussion. Your name's been mentioned a few times, Dark Handsome, anyway. Jack is walking around like he's tap dancing in a minefield, and bites your head off if you ask him if he's all right. Barry has asked me what's going on, that's how bad it's getting."

Barry was her husband, a year away from retirement from the State Police. If rumors were reaching that high, someone was in serious trouble. Alice was also noticing the drop in business; it seems no one in tinseltown wanted anything to do with us. She was thinking about leaving, and Gerry was looking, also.

I thought about that, and the next night, while we were at a gathering at Tom and Jasmine's, I asked if he was hiring. Not just for me, but for a couple of friends of mine. He nodded slowly, saying quietly we would talk later, when we were alone. The party was a success, and everyone loved Jasmine and Sharon.

You would have never guessed, but Jasmine was taking accounting courses at the local community college. "If I'm going to be part of Tom's life, I want to contribute more than a pretty face and a great set of legs." Tom grinned and said he could think of a couple of major contributions, one boy and one girl, with an open invitation for more. She blushed and agreed to that, too. I was pretty sure she was going to be wearing that rock Tom had bought her pretty soon.

The party over, we were in his private office. A conversation in there was safer than the gold at Fort Knox. He got serious after the banter, looking me in the eye.

"You need to get away from Jack, Dirk. Something bad is about to happen. I've had a couple of people, big names from behind the camera, try to hire me, and your agency got mentioned as a possible source of embarrassment. That's all they would tell me, but I heard what they weren't saying. There are people out there that would stop at nothing if they thought you were a threat. You know you picked up a tail, right?"

"Yeah, I spotted them last week. They were good, and they use five different cars, but I caught on. Sometimes I'll just drive, to see how long they'll stay with me. They followed me all the way back home, and cruised by once an hour, all night. How did you know?"

"They asked me to do surveillance on you, but I turned them down. Told them we didn't do that type of work anymore. If they asked me and I said no, how long do you think it took them to find someone to say yes? You carry?"

"A Smith .40. Not top of the line, but very reliable. I've got a few others, but that's my go to."

"Ever shot anybody?"

"No."

"When you have to, if you have to, don't hesitate. Not at all. If you need to pull that weapon be prepared to pull the trigger. Wave it around and someone will take it away from you. Then they'll probably kill you with it. Come by tomorrow, and we'll hit the range."

Jasmine and Sharon had stayed out by the pool, engaged in serious girl talk, "engaged," being the key word. Their discussion over, they joined us. Tom didn't keep much from Jasmine without going in to details, and Jas was smart enough not to push.

She plopped down in his lap. "Honey, you know that little apartment over the garage? I've been thinking about a renter, an employee, who really needs to change addresses."

"He hasn't done anything stupid, has he?" The frown was pretty obvious.

"It's a she, baby, and yes, she did something stupid. She fell in love with a boy scout. A boy scout who may have let his sense of justice get him in trouble, trouble that may spill over on to her. I'm talking about Sharon and Dirk."

I didn't know about the apartment, but I was all for it. Tom had some acreage out in the hills away from Tinseltown, his house was literally a fortress and his grounds were wired for everything from motion detectors set off by anything bigger than a rabbit, infrared, for heat signals, and voice activated cameras, so sensitive they could pick out the sound of a cough or even a sneeze, and identify it. He used the land as a training ground, and had a target range set up, backed by an eight foot berm and a hill behind that. If she was going to be safe anywhere, this would be it.

"She can move in tomorrow. I'll get a couple of guys to help her move her stuff." I knew the guys would be there for more than a strong back, and my gratitude overwhelmed me.

"Thanks, Tom. I owe you one."

"Before this is over, you'll probably owe me more than one. Now, I happen to need a few people, so send your guys over tomorrow, and put in your notice. You start next Monday."

We never discussed money, but I was sure he would pay better than what I was doing, and I was looking for a change.

*****

Jack actually seemed relieved when I gave notice. "I'll miss you," he said, with false sincerity, "you're a good guy and a pretty good detective, but I understand. It's a better opportunity, and I won't stand in your way."

He offered his hand, and I was thinking if it was nine months ago he would have tried to talk me out of it, and given me a hug instead of a handshake.

"You gonna be all right, Jack? You've seemed a little off lately. Something on your mind?"

He waved his hand dismissively. "I'm all right. Business is a little slow right now, and I got some personal stuff on my mind. I'm just a bit distracted, but it'll all be better soon."

I don't think even he believed that statement. Still, I wished him the best and told him to call if he needed anything. I still had the tails, and was seriously setting something up so I could have a conversation with these guys. Then I rethought it. If I confronted them, they would just be more careful and harder to spot. If they could watch me, I could watch them.

Tom helped me out, having a couple of guys follow them for a change, back to their base of operations. He frowned when he found out who they were. "Soloman and Associates aren't really private investigators. They're thugs, capable of anything, and prone to violence. Doesn't make them stupid, though. Be really careful."

I was more than pleased that Sharon was basically living in a fortress. Even the Solomon boys would think twice before trying a snatch and grab in there. We were lying in her bed after another exhausting round of lovemaking, which paradoxically I didn't think I would ever get tired of, when she offered a suggestion. "Dirk, honey, I want you to consider something. I see good things in my future every time I look at you. Why don't we live together, see if we can tolerate that much intimacy? I can, no doubt. Will you think about it?"

I couldn't help but laugh. My feeling grew stronger for her every day, and I was trying to come up with a way to bring up this very conversation. I gave a fake frown. "I don't know, honey. The thought of waking up next to that beautiful body and glowing smile is something I may not be able to handle. Let me think about it." She frowned up and what suspiciously looked like tears gathered in her eyes. Then it hit her what I had said, and she started to smile.

"All right, I've thought about it. Think Tom will charge us more rent if both of us live here?"

The tears started, but I got the feeling they weren't tears of sadness. "If he does, you'll pay it. Understand? Seriously honey, I need you to know this. I don't expect living together to last forever. Not now, but fairly soon I'm going to want to hear the sounds of little feet, and see something that sparkles in the sun on my finger. If you don't think you'll be able to handle it, now's the time to tell me."

I grinned so big I thought my teeth were going to hurt. "Sharon Williams, are you proposing to me?"

She sputtered a little while before I silenced her with a kiss. When she came up for air, I shocked the heck out of her. "I think maybe my answer will be yes. You gonna buy me a ring and make it official?"

Her answer was to scream and jump up, running for the door. I watched her cute ass bounce towards the door, stopping her with a shout. "Sharon! Clothes!"

She looked down, giggled, threw on a tee and some gym shorts and was out the door like a shot, screaming at the top of her lungs for Jasmine. I dressed slowly. When I went out the door and down the stairs, there were seven women and three guys standing there, the whole office staff and whatever investigators happened to be hanging around, all grinning.

Sharon and Jasmine were hugging each other, smiling through their tears. Most of the rest of the women and even one guy seemed a little misty eyed. Jasmine let go of Sharon and practically climbed all over me, hugging me hard. I had forgotten how strong she was, and even though she didn't work anymore, she made sure her body was toned and perfect, for Tom. They even had a pole installed in their private gym, and Jasmine was giving all the women who wanted them, dancing lessons. Soon it had spread past the employees to their wives and girlfriends. I thought maybe Jasmine had missed her calling, because she was an excellent teacher. Sharon loved it, promising me a private show when she got better at it.

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