The man slips around the corner, racing as fast as his stubby legs will carry him. Honestly, for a short man, I’m shocked at how fast he can run, but I don’t want to catch him too quickly. That’ll just ruin the fun of the chase.
I don’t get to chase people too often, so I like to enjoy it when I do.
Since Jackson is nowhere to be seen, I decide to call him on my cell phone in case he wants to join in on the action.
“Oh, Leland,” Jackson says. I bet it’s because he’s upset that he’s too slow to keep up.
“What’s taking you so long?” I ask.
“Well… seeing as I wasn’t aware we were running after the guy, I didn’t get the memo before you were already gone. You also left a bit of a mess.”
“Eh, leave the mess for someone else,” I urge as I turn the corner and see the man racing straight down the street. Only idiots run straight down a street. “He’s fast.”
“His wife did say he was a runner. How are you so fast? I literally stopped to tie my shoe and you had time to break a door in, chase a man, and get halfway across town before I stood up!”
“You should always double knot your shoes when preparing to chase someone,” I say.
“Well, the funny thing is, I wasn’t preparing to chase him. At all.”
“Where are you at?” he asks.
I look around as I keep up a steady jog after the man fleeing from me. He anxiously looks back at me every few feet. “State Street, by that little ice cream shop we went to on our thirteenth date.”
“You keep track?” he asks in what sounds like surprise.
“Oh my god. You don’t?” I ask, like I’m actually offended. I honestly have no idea what number date it was, I just wanted to make him feel bad for not keeping track.
He snorts, finally seeing through me. “You don’t know either! And… did you seriously run that far, and you’re not out of breath?”
“Not in the slightest. You should see this guy, though. I think he’s dying.”
“Don’t kill the guy.”
“I know. I only made that mistake one time.”
“Leland… wait… what?”
“I’m joking. He was fine. I only thought I killed him.”
“Oh. Are you talking about the one at the warehouse or the one at that party?”
“Ooh… I might have forgotten about that other one. Alright, I take back everything.”
The runner, filled to the brim with exhaustion, trips over his own feet and falls onto the sidewalk.
“Oh, dude just fell, I gotta let you go.”
“I’ll be there in a minute. Don’t do anything until I get there. Don’t even go near him. Just find a bench, take a seat, and relax a little.”
“Take your shirt off as you run up. Flip your hair back and forth as well. Show me those titties.”
“That’s sickening and embarrassing.”
“That’s me in a nutshell.”
“Aw, no. There’s so much more to you than just that!”
He chuckles. “I’m going to hang up and you’re going to patiently wait for me.”
As soon as I hang up, I promptly forget everything Jackson just said.
I reach the man, who has given up on life and is just lying face down, panting so loudly he’s disrupting the customers trying to enjoy their meal right inside the building he’s lying in front of.
I poke him with my foot. “Are you alive?”
He curls up into a ball, suddenly making me look guilty. I glance through the big glass window of the café where multiple eyes are on me. I shrug and try to mime to them that “It’s no big deal, I’m not the bad guy, this guy is a dickwad.”
Their eyes get wider.
I’m not sure I’ve portrayed it right. I run my finger across my neck and point down at the guy, trying to convey that “He’s so goofy, he ran off before I even had a chance to talk to him because his brain doesn’t work.”
They clearly get it and back away from the window.
I turn my attention to the man and roll him onto his back with my foot.
“Please don’t kill me! Please!”
“I’m not going to kill you, but I’m going to make you wish you were dead if you don’t tell the truth. Now take your phone out,” I order.
He obeys with shaking hands. He would never be a good bad guy.
“Call her and simply tell her the truth.”
He nods and quickly dials the number.
“Put her on speaker,” I say eagerly because I’m nosy, not because I actually need it on speaker, but he willingly does.
It’s funny what a two-mile run does to a person.
“I cheated on you with Sally and Betty and Pam and I’m really sorry and even one time we did it all at once and there was just too much going on, and I don’t know why I did it but I don’t want to die!”
“I hope your dick rots off,” she growls.
And promptly hangs up.
“Phew! I’m glad that all worked out well,” I say as I smile down at him while standing up. “You may go about your day, my good sir.”
At that very moment, my sexy beast pulls up in his sports car that I bought him and then regretted. He loves it so much, I feel like it’s taking away some of his love for me.
And there he is. The man of my dreams who cannot listen for the life of him. Leland’s standing over a cowering man with a crowd of onlookers plastered to a café window trying to figure out what’s happening.
Yet I know that I will love him no matter what he does. When he turns to me with a smile on his face, I’ll let him chase down anyone he wants, even if it’s just some poor man who doesn’t know how to keep his dick in his pants.
Leland leaves the victim on the ground and saunters over to me, which looks ridiculous with the black ski mask he’s wearing and makes it hard for me to look serious.
I roll down the window and he leans in with a wicked grin. It’s the only thing I can see besides his blue eyes.
“Hey, sexy,” he purrs.
“I see that you finished the job.”
“Job well done, if you ask me,” he says.
“I’m worried that we owe the client this time after you broke their door down.”
“I asked her, ‘How far would you go to know?’ And she said, ‘Do anything you have to do.’ I wrote it down. It’s in the contract.”
“The thing is that I know you won’t get in trouble because you always find a way to charm everyone.”
“You’re right. All it took was for me to tie Henry up and he fell in love with me.”
“Please don’t tie anyone else up.”
“What about you?”
“Deal. I still don’t know why he ran, though. All he had to do was answer my questions.”
I pick up the fake ax in the passenger seat. “Maybe because you were holding this when he answered the door.”
Leland starts laughing ridiculously hard as he takes the rubber ax from me. “It looks real, doesn’t it?”
“Why?” I ask while trying not to grin. I don’t know if I’m amused, curious, or just sick in the head.
He points over at the man who is just sitting on the sidewalk, phone in hand. “Because that’s what it took for him to give up the juicy details. If I’d walked in looking like everyone’s loveable pal Leland, he wouldn’t have given me a second thought. But this time, he gave me a lot of thoughts as he was running in terror!”
Leland seems to really be enjoying working at the detective agency that I run with a friend from the army. While saying that my friend and I run it together would be quite a stretch, since Mason does nothing, Leland does way more than he needs to.
That’s when a police car turns onto the street, lights flashing, and Leland looks excited.
“Oh god,” I groan.
“Hey! It’s Jeremy!” Leland says as he waves at him, rubber ax in the hand he’s waving.
“You’re going to get shot!” I yell, but Jeremy must know that there’s only one man in this city crazy enough to run around with a ski mask and a rubber ax, because he shuts the lights and sirens off before getting out.
Jeremy has never been fond of me which means he’s also not fond of my partner. This is apparent by the scowl on his face as he slowly walks up to us.
“I should’ve known it was you,” Jeremy says as I get out of the car.
“Hey, Jerebear! We were just finishing up a case, but thanks for the backup,” Leland says.
“I was here to arrest you because of a disturbance call from someone in the café. They said that a ‘deranged man was going to kill someone.’”
“Need help catching them?” Leland asks with a grin.
“I want to arrest you so badly,” Jeremy growls at Leland before turning to me like he hadn’t noticed me yet. “I used to think there wasn’t anyone who could annoy me more than you. I’ve been proven wrong.”
“Well, I’m glad to know that,” I say with a smile. It just makes his scowl deepen. “Alright, well, Leland and I will be on our way.”
I grab Leland’s ski mask and pull, but I must have a chunk of hair involved because it won’t come off and he starts batting me away. “Ow! Stop! You know I only like it to hurt in our sex dungeon!”
Jeremy makes a show of gagging. “Gross.” Then he turns around and heads back for his cruiser.
“Do you want to know why I know that you secretly like us, Jeremy?” Leland calls.
“Because you didn’t even bother to ask what we were doing or why that man’s on the ground or any of that. You trust us. Because of that, I would like to ask you to be my best man at my wedding. Henry’s walking me down the aisle.”
Jeremy’s pace quickens as he makes his way back to the car.
“Look how fast he’s going. He’s so excited, he clearly already has a wedding gift in mind and wants to get it before it sells out!” Leland says as he turns to me.
I snort. “Let’s go.”
He starts laughing as he follows me over to the car and gets into the passenger seat. I quickly get in and drive away before anyone can call a cop who doesn’t know us.
“We’re going to get thrown in prison one day and it’ll be your fault,” I say.
“We already have the butt sex thing down, so we’ll do alright.”
“That’s not… no…” I shake my head as he pulls his ski mask off. His brown hair sticks straight up in the air because of the mask. It’s long enough on top that he’s currently sporting the world’s worst, and shortest, mohawk. His blue eyes catch mine since he knows I’m looking at him, and he gives me one of his smirks that suckered me in when I didn’t fully understand what I was getting into. I can’t help but smile back at him.
“How turned on are you at this moment?” Leland asks like he’s honestly curious.
“I just… don’t even have words to express it.”
He starts laughing as he stuffs his ski mask on me. The moment it hits my face, I freeze. “Oh my god, is this wet?” I ask as I yank it off.
“Maybe from my heavy breathing. There are no nose holes.”
I stare at him in disbelief. “Why do you do this to me?”
That seems to make him laugh harder, and I shake my head. “I think… you misunderstood how we deal with cheaters. You’re supposed to take pictures, get proof, and take that proof to the wife.”
“Oh, I skipped all that nonsense. Did you see how much quicker it went?” he asks.
I did. “Nope.”
“Of course you did.”
I did. And it was strangely hot.
Life after Hardek has been amazingly good. It’s been two months since then, so the weather is starting to grow colder. Jackson and I have been like a perfectly normal couple who occasionally hunt down bad guys and fuck on stakeouts.
I still keep in touch with Tucker, my handler from my hitman days, because when he has a relatively safe job that adds some spice to our life, Jackson willingly agrees to it. I’m positive if Jackson weren’t afraid of me getting hurt, he’d take on every job the man came across because he’s a closet action addict. It’s not my fault I came out of the closet many years ago with my addiction to adventure.
I’ll draw it out of Jackson eventually.
Just like I did with his overwhelming lust for me.
As soon as I step through the front door of our house, our dog Cayenne rushes up to greet me. She’s all tail and wiry red fluff. She dances at my feet, paws padding up and down as I ruffle her ears.
“Hey, baby girl!” I coo.
“You’re in the way,” Jackson says, stepping over me with one leg. Not realizing this, I sit up at the same time and smash the back of my head into his balls.
“Whoops,” I say as he falls forward, grabbing his groin while I cackle at the scene.
“Why are you evil?”
“It’s the way I was born. And I can’t help the way I was born. That’d be like someone telling me I decided to be gay.”
Jackson doesn’t seem swayed. “No, this is completely different. I’m convinced you decided to be evil.”
“Now, would an evil person make supper?” I ask as I follow him into the house.
He looks back at me with a hopeful expression on his face. “You’re doing supper?”
“God no, I was just showing you how I was born evil. Did you see how I got your hopes up and then just crushed them?”
His expression falls. “You’re in charge of supper now,” he decides.
I look at him in horror. “No! You… you wouldn’t do that to me. Being evil is my character trait! If we’re both evil, it won’t be as funny!”
He sighs. “Aren’t you a millionaire? Go buy a chef.”
“I am, but you’re not, and I want to use up all your money before dipping into mine.”
Jackson just stares at me with his judging brown eyes.
“What?” I ask.
“I’m just wondering how I didn’t see it before,” he says, looking almost concerned as he walks up to me.
“What?” I ask as he reaches out and cups my face.
“How mean you are,” he says before turning around and heading for the bathroom.
I grin at his back as he walks away from me. “You love it and you know it.”
“Maybe,” he says before disappearing down the hallway.
I decide that he’s right and I could dig into my hoard of money and buy delivery, so I settle on some Chinese before rushing off to bug Jackson some more, since it’s my favorite pastime.
The back of the house is quiet as I walk. I thought he was going to take a shower, but when I peek into the bathroom, the light is off, and the shower isn’t on. I walk to our bedroom and look inside, but besides Cayenne, who hasn’t left my side, Jackson isn’t anywhere to be seen.
“Jackson?” I call. “Cayenne, find Jackson.”
She takes off running and I quickly follow after her in amazement. I didn’t know she knew Jackson’s name, but I suppose I yell for him enough that she’s probably learned it. She skids around the corner and pounces on a ball before eagerly bringing it over to me.
“That’s not Jackson. You have failed me and shamed your family.”
She wags her tail, waiting for me to toss the ball.
“But you’re so cute, I’ll allow it,” I say before throwing the ball. “Jackson?”
Did I walk by him? Is he down in the sex dungeon? But he would have walked by me to escape into the sex dungeon, so I head back into the bathroom.
“Boo!” Jackson yells as he jumps out from behind the door. Or at least tries to because, instead of jumping, I smash him against the wall with the door by using my lightning-fast moves.
“I do not jump,” I growl.
“You jumped,” he says, still smashed between the wall and the door as I hold him there. He has a huge grin on his face.
I narrow my eyes at him. “Oh lord, like a tiny bit. A nut hair’s length.”
“Like… half a foot in the air,” Jackson says, clearly proud of himself.
I grudgingly let him free. “God, no. I would never do anything that embarrassing,” I say as I brush my pants off like the situation made my bright green pants dirty in some way. “And anyway, what the hell! I thought someone took you or something.”
His grin falters. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you worry.”
“You’d better be! I was so excited that I was going to get to save you, and here you are hiding behind a door.”
His eyes narrow. “You are ridiculous.”
I smile sweetly before kissing his cheek. “Thanks, babe. Now go get abducted for real because I love seeing you tied up.”
I sigh and leave him to shower while I wait for delivery. About the same time that he’s finishing, the delivery arrives, and I take it before setting out plates and silverware. I pour some water and then impatiently wait for Jackson to get done admiring himself in the mirror so he can eat with me.
“I’m going to eat without you!” I call to him.
“I’m coming!” he says as he walks in without a shirt on.
“Ooh,” I purr as my eyes run down his toned chest. “Maybe I’ll push the Chinese off the table and become the meal instead so you can eat me up.”
“Chinese sounds better… ooh! I love their egg rolls,” he says as he sits down across from me.
My highly suggestive grin falters. “You don’t love my egg roll?”
“I love your egg roll and your dumplings.”
“Aw, thank you. I love your spring roll as well!”
He chuckles as he spoons some chow mein onto his plate.
“I was hoping to get to talk to you,” I say in a serious tone as I stab at my rice with my chopsticks that I can’t use to save my life.
“No more sex dungeon toys.”
I grin at him. “Not about that, but that’s next on the list.”
“Alright. I wanted to talk to you as well.”
“So… I was talking to Tucker and he had a job—”
He shakes his head. “No.”
I scowl at him. “Fine. Your turn.”
“Okay, so my mom called—”
“No,” I say, and he starts laughing. “That sounds ten times worse than whatever Tucker wants.”
He takes a sip of his water before looking me in the eyes. “It does, doesn’t it? But she’s trying.”
“She asked me yesterday if I own a dress. I told her that I’m not a fan of dresses, I’m much more a skirt kind of guy. I’m positive that is what she’s going to get me at some point in my life.”
“My sister did mention that Mom was watching drag queens the other day on YouTube to get a better understanding of our relationship. She wants us to come over this weekend,” he says, completely ruining my entire meal.
“Or we could go do what Tucker wants done this weekend?” I suggest.
He nods. “Alright, I’m all ears. What’s Tucker want done?”
I grin at him. “Let me set the scene.”
“Just tell me in plain ol’ English.”
“Modern English?” I ask.
“Just… you know, English.”
“Fine. So there’s this guy who likes to take women out into the woods and he hunts them down.”
“Does he kill them?”
“No, he lets them go, but he acts like he’s going to kill them. Probably gets off on the terror but not to the point where he has the desire to kill. One of the women thinks she knows who it is, and she wants us to do to him what he’s been doing to them. I love karma jobs. So much fun.”
“How positive are you that this is the guy?” he asks as I ditch my chopsticks for a fork. It’s not that I don’t know how to use chopsticks—I once used them to stab a man in the throat—but shoveling is so much easier.
“Eighty percent. I’ve narrowed down his work location and the lo—”
Jackson cocks his head. “Oh? Tucker just called, huh?”
“Maybe? Maybe I wanted some facts first before I presented it to you. I even made a PowerPoint!”
He sighs. “So this woman just wants to scare him? Do to him what he’s doing to them, right? How is she confident he’ll stop after we do this? He might get worse or just keep going.”
“Because I’ll tell him that if he doesn’t, I’ll cut off his nuts, and men really seem to like their nuts for some reason. I do own this tool called an emasculator that I like to carry around in situations like this. It’s what vets use to crush the cord.”
Jackson doesn’t seem fazed. “What if we get him to confess to the police?” Jackson suggests.
“Ew, that sounds disgusting. Can I still chase him?”
He shrugs. “If you have to.”
“Alright, I’m down if you’re down. Or if you want to go down, I’m down with that too. If one egg roll isn’t enough, I think I have another hiding in my panties,” I purr.
“That was not sexy at all.”
I start laughing and spit out a piece of rice which is even less sexy, but Jackson loves me and he has to deal with the consequences of that love. Spittle rice and all.
“What else do you want to talk about?” I ask.
“We could talk about what happened at work today?” he suggests.
“Ooh! Yes, please! Tell me how sexy I was. Hold on!” I pull out my phone, aim it at his face, and start recording. “I want to be able to listen to it later,” I explain.
“When dealing with cheating cases, you can’t purposely make them more exciting just because you think they’re boring.”
“Oh… I really thought this was going to go a different way… like you praising me and telling me you wanna lick my balls.”
“That’s not what I had in mind.”
“No?” I ask in disappointment. “Not even a little?”
“A little. Wait! I’m being serious,” he says. “I don’t want you to get arrested or hurt or something, okay? Please be careful. Running around in a mask with an ax isn’t careful.”
I sigh and put the phone away. “Okay, I’m sorry. I ran the idea by the client, and she liked it, so I went with it. I’ll be all sneaky sneaky from now on and take pictures, and notes, and all that gross stuff.”
“Thank you,” he says. “Though… it was kind of sexy.”
“Dammit! I just put the phone away! Say it again!”
He grins at me. “Nope.”
I smile back at him. “Alright, I’ll be good. I promise. Ooh! I was thinking that if we were stalking this guy that Tucker found us, we could camp out! You have that tent Mason brought back covered in love juices.”
Jackson cringes. “Please, no.”
“You know they had sex in it.”
“Yeah, probably, but just don’t use those words.”
“Fine. Vagina fluid.”
I think I broke Jackson with that one because he just stares at me, unblinking, while I grin at him and continue eating.
“I love you,” I say sweetly.
“And even after you said that, somehow I still love you too.”