Shane McNaughton is an Irishman who survived the Third World War and works as a cop. Head of Missing Persons, he’s good at finding people, but after the plague of the Third mutated his DNA, he has a hard time letting anyone see the monster inside. He’s been paying for Aki’s services for two years, both the psi and the sexual kind, but he wants more from the companion.
Shane needs Aki’s ability to see into another person’s past to track down a serial killer murdering the children of rich and powerful men, but the more they work together, the clearer it becomes that they are linked through a darker past than either of them realizes.
Aki swept up a bottle of McNaughton’s favorite scotch and headed toward the broad Irishman. The man’s shoulders were arched forward, back tense, hair a sexy mess, and face covered with a couple days’ growth. Obviously the cop was on a difficult case. The detective hadn’t yet asked for him, just for his usual meal—almost bloody steak with a baked potato.
“You look like you could use a drink,” Aki told him as he slid into the chair beside him. He turned an empty glass over and poured three fingers of the golden liquid.
McNaughton sighed, his dark eyes roaming over Aki’s small body, platinum blond hair pulled up and styled with sparkling pins, see-thru knit top, and super-short skirt, then over his bare legs down to the gleaming heels. The shoes were a silver mesh of crystals that slid up just past his ankles. A gift from McNaughton. The cop sucked in a deep breath and slid his hand over the covered part of Aki’s thigh. He knew better than to touch bare flesh to bare flesh. Aki was a cognitive psi, could see entire lives of horrors with a single touch, and he was sure McNaughton’s past was filled with a lot of nasty memories.
“Wish you had time for me tonight. But I’ve got a feeling you’re booked up tight.” He glanced back at the room bustling with companions and potential customers. Aki was the only psi in the room, his pale-pupiled blue eyes telling the world that he was different.
“I’m sure Bart can fit you in.” Aki’s eyes scanned the room until he found his boss, who was engaged with negotiations with another client. “Looks like you need some trouble eased tonight.” He leaned in close enough his breath ran across McNaughton’s cheek.
McNaughton turned his head, lips nearly close enough to touch. “Would love a bit of time with your shine.”
“Words like honey, McNaughton.”
The cop flashed him one of his rare, heart-stopping smiles then nodded as Bart appeared beside them. “Table seven is ready, Aki. Number one.” Bart told him.
Aki grabbed Bart’s wrist with a gloved hand. “The cop needs some time tonight. You can make that happen, right?”
“Of course.” Bart nodded to them and took Aki’s vacated seat and Aki made his way to his next client of the evening. There were only two services Aki performed. A hand job and a blow job, one and two. This client wanted number one—which meant he was cheap since rarely did anyone ask for a hand job from him. But his prices were astronomical anyway.
“Hello,” Aki smiled at the man as he slid into the chair opposite him. The client was dressed nice, button down shirt, pressed pants, but he was bald and a little heavier around the waist. A politician probably. “If you’re ready we can head upstairs.”
The man barely spoke, but he leered, eyes tracing over Aki’s form more like he was cattle than a night of entertainment. Even in his worst moments McNaughton had never done that. It wasn’t appreciation, but something darker. Aki sighed internally and hoped this would be fast. He knew a thousand ways to get a man off in minutes. Something about him just set off Aki’s creep radar.
“I hear some wait months for the pleasure of your time,” the man said with slightly accented speech.
Not usually. The only ones who waited weeks were because their schedule and Aki’s conflicted or because they’d done something to upset him or Bart. Most clients got in within a few days if not the same day of requesting Aki’s time. And regulars were always given precedence over someone not yet vetted like this client. “If I don’t please you I can see if Preston or Royce is available.”
“I was hoping for Candy originally.”
Was always good to be told he was second choice. Aki gritted his teeth. “Candy only serves a special kind of client. And he does have a wait list.” Mostly because he took clients who wanted a little more kink than any of the other male companions preferred. Aki was going to recommend this client be removed from the premises after the service was over.
“I guess you’ll have to do then. Won’t you?” He gave Aki a chilling smile.
Bastard. Aki got up from his seat and offered his gloved hand to the man who followed closely. They’d reached the stairs when the man grabbed him, yanked Aki against him and shoved his hand up Aki’s skirt, groping him and sending him into a spiral of nightmares.
A dark room. The metallic stink of blood. Screams. The sound of knives being sharpened. Metal bars clanking. Crying. Pain. The music of an ice cream truck. How odd. It was all ripped away a moment later, but Aki’s stomach was already heaving. The small plate of fruit and yogurt he’d had for dinner was not going to stay down.
Someone carried him unceremoniously to the private companion bathroom near the kitchen and set him in front of the toilet just as the mash of fruits and dairy came up. Aki heaved a couple of minutes, his brain swirling with the images that thankfully began to fade just as quickly as they’d come. With any luck he’d be able to brush his teeth, wash his face and go about his work day.
He glanced up to find Manny, the head of security standing at the door. McNaughton knelt beside Aki. Had held his hair back and even used his jacket to cover Aki’s bottom. The skirts really were too short.
“Bart is already having the guy removed. He should never have touched you like that. Sorry I didn’t get to you quicker,” Manny told Aki. “Grateful to you, Detective, for responding so quickly.”
McNaughton stroked Aki’s back, using the soft material of the sweater to run circles over his spine. “Want to talk about it?”
Aki sighed. “Same crap. Just weird. Darkness, crying, smelled blood. Heard knives.” He shook his head. “The guy could work at a butcher for all I know. The memories get so jumbled.” Often with his own horrific past. “Thought I heard a kid. And bars rattling like in a jail. And the music from an ice cream truck.”
McNaughton nodded like it made perfect sense to him and helped Aki get up and make his way to the sink where there were spare toothbrushes and endless varieties of paste. The cop leaned over and kissed Aki’s hair. “Gotta go. I’ll have Bart reschedule me sometime this week though. Love that you wore my shoes.” He was gone a moment later.
Aki cleaned up and made his way back to work. At least the night was almost over. He was sad that McNaughton hadn’t stayed. Would have liked to see that smile another time or two. At least the rest of the night flew by without incident, even if the detective didn’t return.
“Sleeping with me tonight?” Candy asked as he stripped out of their work clothes, leaving just a pair of bright pink underwear and crawled into bed. His purple hair was already brushed and eyes heavy with sleep.
“Please,” Aki whispered. He stripped off everything but his underwear too. After putting his shoes and pins away, he washed his face.
“Heard that guy touched you. What a jerk.”
“He wanted you to begin with.” Aki curled up beside his best friend.
Candy flicked off the light. “I would have brought him down a few pegs.”
Aki smiled, but he didn’t want to think of the horrible man at all. Those memories just needed to go away. He had enough of his own to battle with each day. He fell asleep hoping to wake up with less nasty memories each day.
The next afternoon Aki was up early and at Artie’s for breakfast—best 24/7 diner in the area—when McNaughton arrived. The man sat down at his table without asking and pushed a pair of slim, jeweled, yellow flat sandals into Aki’s hands. “What’s this for?” Aki asked.
He just shook his head. He threw a stack of cash on the table and motioned to the waitress. “Anything he wants is on me.” He then got up from the table and headed for the door.
“Well that was weird,” Aki said to LuAnn, the waitress.
She pointed at the Vid screen. “He had a rough night. Caught the guy who was killing kids.” The Vidscreen was turned to the news. Something about a man named the “Ice Cream Killer” had been captured. Apparently he used an ice cream truck to lure kids in, kidnapped them, raped them and killed them. Real monster.
A picture popped up of the guy. It was the client from the Gem. Maybe that’s why McNaughton was at the Gem. No matter what he hoped the detective visited him tonight. The new yellow shoes would need a new skirt to match…
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