Adam gave his goodbyes to his family with hugs and kisses. Anton embraced his youngest son a little longer until Troy eased him off Adam and into the car.
“We’ll call you when we get home,” Troy said, patting his son’s cheek.
“Okay, drive safely,” said Adam, standing on the curb watching them load into the four-door pickup truck.
Kyle grinned and held Justin’s number up to Adam as the truck pulled away.
Adam glanced at Justin with a warning eye.
“You gave my brother your number?”
“Justin, Kyle can be--”
“I’m familiar with men like Kyle. I understand them, and I can handle them.”
“--a nineteen-year-old Don Juan.”
“What can I say? I wanted to grow up fast!”
“Come on, I’ll drive you home.”
Patrick sprinted through the graveyard, crushing dead leaves and branches, following the path Gavin led him through. He eyed the cast iron gate held by an old linked chain with a padlock. Gavin had widened the gate enough for a gap, so he and Patrick could duck under and slip past the gate’s bars.
When Patrick reached it, terror overtook him when he saw that someone had reinforced the gate with another chain, trapping him inside the graveyard. He looked around desperate to make out if the masked man was following him but saw no sight of him. He needed out; the other way was through the front gate back towards Gavin’s body.
“Patrick!” A voice yelled from behind him, causing him to jump. He didn’t see the masked killer as he tried to climb the gate. Unaware the fence had protruding iron spikes and jagged points along the bars, which had dug into one of his hands, cutting him along the palm. Patrick flexed his injured hand, ignoring the throb as he searched for a different way out.
A tree he’d spied reminded him of a tree in his family garden that resembled the bent spine of a weather-beaten person. Its trunk grew close to the gate, allowing its upper limbs to hang over the dangerous iron spikes. Patrick rushed towards the old tree, scaling it like he did when he was a boy in his family’s garden. He reached the branch in no time and thought he was safe until he reached the other side of the fence.
“Patrick.” The rough voice of the killer sent an icy chill up his spine as a hand reached out for him. Patrick turned, astonished that the masked killer was on him so fast.
“No, let go of me!” The killer’s hands held his right arm and leg pulling him back. Patrick needed to escape and despite the risk of falling, he delivered two hard kicks to his assailant’s side with his free leg. He hit his mark, causing the masked man to drop his grip on him.
Patrick shuffled backward on the limb to move out of reach but misjudged the strength of the tree’s appendage. As the branch cracked, his view changed from the masked killer to the star-filled sky, then the ground.
Justin didn’t want to go home. Instead, he asked Adam to drop him off at a party in the college district.
Earlier in the day two frat guys had flirted with him from the passenger side of his friend’s car and invited Justin to their party happening the following night.
After Justin said he might, the two felt confident that Justin had given them a definite yes, handing him their address written on a napkin, then sped away. That’s when he encountered his next conquest.
The day before, good fortune smiled down at Justin, who was in between jobs. He stopped at his favorite café house to search for any job openings on his laptop. When he overheard someone bragging about his detective agency coming to the neighborhood. Justin, who sat in the corner, had a mirror in front of him and got an eyeful of the striking detective. Adam Potter bought coffee and left his business card with the clerk to display on their cork board by the waiting area.
Justin found out from the clerk that Adam was moving into the three-story building above the piano store that had stood vacant for the last three years. Justin thought it would be hospitable of him to stop by the next day and welcome Adam to the community. Only that evening, Justin was running behind schedule due to a male cab driver he met. The cabbie was new to the community and Justin helped him find some of the shortcuts to avoid heavy traffic and gain bigger tips.
Justin awoke the next morning in the cabbie’s bed, whose name escaped him, with a note thanking him for the V.I.P. tour and treatment. He raced over to Adam’s building and came across the move in progress. That is until he noticed the raven hair of one of the movers and his impressive ass.
Kyle Potter stood inside a moving van stacking boxes onto a pushcart and backed it down a silver ramp onto the street when he caught sight of Justin. A wicked grin danced on his cheeks as Justin flashed him one back. Justin was going to keep on walking when Kyle released his cart and stepped into Justin’s path.
“Hello,” said Kyle.
“Hi,” replied Justin, who waited for a response from the handsome male only to receive silence. He wasn’t in any rush and Kyle was easy on the eyes; maybe he could score a free dinner. “Moving in, are you?” he asked.
“No,” said Kyle. Justin seemed disappointed as he placed his weight on his right foot, tilting his head to the side.
“So you’re the mover?” Kyle looked at him, confused at first, then remembered the cart behind him.
“Well—I’m helping my younger brother into his new place.”
‘Younger brother,’ thought Justin. Adam’s big brother was as equally handsome. Justin noticed the resemblance between them in build and eyes, but it stopped there. Kyle sported a thin line of hair along his jawline connecting with his sideburns, his full raven hair was neat. He reminded Justin of a biker he once hitched a ride with. He had the same mask of secrets hidden behind a smiling face.
“Is this his first apartment?” asked Justin.
“Actually, he owns the building. He’ll be living and working here.”
“Really?” asked Justin, looking over the building. “And you say he’s working here?”
“Yep, his own business—detective business.”
“Detective business, wow. Has he already staffed it yet?”
“No, he’s not doing any of that until next week.”
“Well, you know I’m good at office work if he doesn’t mind a male secretary.”
“Oh, he wouldn’t mind. But it would have to be his decision.”
“You’re not working for him?”
“No, but if you give me your resume, I can pass it along.”
“Yeah.” Justin reached into his back pocket and retrieved the paper and handed it to Kyle, who took it cheerfully.
“Lucky paper,” whispered Kyle. He scanned Justin’s resume, reading only his full name, then refolded it and handed it back to Justin.
“You’re not giving it to him?”
“Well, Justin Shi, it would be best if you hand it to him yourself. He’s just upstairs. His name is Adam Potter.”
“Nice to meet you, Kyle,” said Justin holding out his hand. Kyle accepted his palm and lingered before allowing Justin’s fingers to slip from his.
“This is the important business you had to take care of, brother?” Kyle and Justin turned as another male approached, who Justin couldn’t believe, was just as stunning as Kyle.
“Hey, Paul, you need something?” asked Kyle.
“Our mother wants the elevator up and running before the days’ end,” he said, stepping toward Justin, who debated whether to appear professional or flirtatious. “Hello,” he said to Justin.
“Please don’t be mad at him. He was doing me a favor.”
“Kyle loves doing favors for a pretty face.”
“Don’t mind Paul; ever since our older brother moved overseas, he believes we should all listen to him.”
Paul gave his brother, who was only two years younger, a sharp look and approached him when a sharp call came from up above.
“I hear no work being done,” shrieked a male’s voice. “So my guess is I need to come down there and supervise!” Both males looked up and saw their mother glaring at them. The brothers looked up and with a plastered smile, waved at him. Justin glanced skyward and saw yet another male whose raven hair matched Kyle’s. They received an unwavering look from their mother before disappearing and shut the double-paneled window.
“We’ll continue this later,” said Paul. “Let’s get started on the elevator.” Paul walked away, not giving Justin a second glance. Kyle smiled at him and waved a hand at his brother.
“Don’t mind him; he’s a grouch. If you want to win Adam over, give us a hand with this moving, and I promise, our mother will make your interview happen.”
“I don’t want to intrude.”
“Working is not intruding, it’s buttering up.”
Adam watched the madness of the overzealous testosterone-filled party-goers as they vocalize their thoughts of nonsense and drank their fill of beer. They loitered about the stone face house with the Latin letters of this fraternity all in caps.
“Are you sure this is where you want to be?”
“It’s just a party; you’ve been to them haven’t you?”
” Yeah, one too many,” he murmured.
“Top or bottom?” Justin asked with a smile.
“What?” Adam asked, unable to hide his grin.
“Don’t play virgin with me. You know what I meant.”
“I will not get into this with you.”
“Top, definitely,” stated Justin as he climbed out of the jeep slamming the door, so a few of the males standing nearby heard and turned their attention towards Justin. He looked back at Adam and gave him an over the shoulder wave.
“Justin, wait up,” said Adam, climbing out of his jeep and approaching him. He noticed the challenging stares he was getting from the younger guys. He reached into his pocket and removed two keys, handing them to Justin. “Here’s the front door key and office key, they’re yours. See you in the morning?” asked Adam.
“Eight a.m. No problem boss.” Adam gave the advancing college boys a warning look before climbing back into his jeep. Justin gave a final wave as one of the frat boys with a sweet Milano flare walked up and spoke to him.
“He your boyfriend?” he asked with a Creole accent. Justin waited until Adam had pulled away before answering.
“He might be. Want to make me forget him?” The Creole frat boy slipped an arm around Justin’s shoulders, veering him towards the house.