Shirley was dead, and he was starting to stink. He must have been there several hours when she found him. Shirlow Ty Baker was a six foot five, two hundred and sixty pound linebacker, or at least he had been. He had also been wanted in no less than four states for murder, armed robbery, drug charges and various petty offenses just to fill out the long resume of a criminal’s career. Today, a sweltering hot Louisiana Sunday when most people were in church, ‘Shirley’ was face down on a patch of azaleas that had been neatly cultivated in Mrs. Francine Hupper’s Shreveport lawn. Across the street, at the oakx shaded park on Loony Street (fitting name, she decided) white canvas tents were being set up for a wedding, or maybe a funeral, since the cemetery was right next to it. Once guests began arriving over there, someone would likely find ole Shirley, or worse yet, notice her poking around in the area. She was after all, hard not to notice.
Bijou St. Claire called herself Bee because in her circles the name Bijou St. Claire would have gotten the crap beat out of you on a playground, and as a 27 year old adult, the result was not much more friendly. She was Creole, quadroon if you fancied the 19th century vernacular, with skin pale enough to “pass” and hair curly enough to never. Her eyes were the piercing green of her father, and her lips the full, sensual cupid’s bow of her mother. She was short. All the women in her family were what her mother called runts, but no one had ever complained. She was five foot and a squeaking one inch tall, and though her frame matched her name, she was no waif. Creole cooking and a spice for life had made it’s way deliciously to her breasts and hips, and it was only by the grace of sit ups and lucky genetics that her waist remained small and trim, giving her the classic hourglass figure. She might have looked more in place wearing a cocktail dress at some debs ball with white gloves, but instead she was here, in the leafy lawns of Shreveport, in jeans, boots and a leather lace up top that made her feel like a werewolf hunter from a trashy novel. She did not own a cocktail dress.
Bee had been tracking Shirley for two months, which was twice as long as it usually took to track someone down. The trick to this one was that the client did not really want Shirley found. Shirley had run off with some boss’s daughter and taken with him a load of cash from daddy’s safe. A typical enough story. It only got complicated because Daddy had employed Shirley as a do-bad man long before the daughter was involved. Shirley had done hits for Daddy at $20,000 a pop, which was twice what Bee made on the rare occasions when she took on a job like that. She did not fancy herself any kind of hit-man… woman, but she had played the role of assassin exactly twice before, both sticky situations where there was not much choice involved. But that was another story. The fact was, Bossman had hired Bee to track down Shirley and ‘keep an eye on him.’ The daughter had split two weeks ago, gone back to her cushy life as Bossman’s Daughter with all thoughts of a Bonnie & Clyde lifestyle abandoned. With Daughter out of harm’s way, the private eye job had been upgraded to a hit. Bee took no pleasure in such tasks, but she was in more than a little bit of a bind. Her father, to put it mildly, had a gambling problem. He had run up a $60,000 IOU on the steamboat gambling halls which were owned by Gino Fatelli, or “Fats” as many called him, never to his face. Fats may have had a name that sounded like an Italian mobster, but in fact, he was a 300 pound blues man that played at the Pink Oyster Bar on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. He owned that joint too. Bee had always wanted to ask him why the hell he named his blues joint a name that sounded like a lesbian bar, but she had enough problems without letting loose her big mouth.
Fats wanted payment. He wanted payment fast. He had made it clear that if the cash did not arrive soon, her father would pay the bill with blood. Fats was no fool. He knew Reggie St. Claire was not good for it. He also knew Bee’s skills. He knew her skills were worth more than a gambling debt. He had come to her and made a deal; if she did a few jobs for him, he would scratch Reggie’s debt off his little black book. Meanwhile, Reggie better not even consider leaving New Orleans. Fats had eyes everywhere. So, Bee had taken jobs she would never consider otherwise. Gambling habit aside, her father was a good man, a simple man, and he had strived to be a good father to her, even in the worst of times. When her mother had split when Bee was ten, Reggie had raised her and her little brother Lucas all on his own. No easy task for a man who only made it through the fourth grade. Now, creeping around this shotgun cottage at sunrise, she had been too late. Someone had beat her to Shirley. She didn’t know who, and really, didn’t care. She could make a guess that one of the many people Shirley had screwed over had found him and shot him in the head, but she wasn’t sticking around to make a case for it. Shirley was dead. She would go back to New Orleans and tell Fats she had done the job. This would be the last one. Her father would be off the hook, at least for now. She sighed a breath of relief, switching the safety back on her .38 special and checking her steps in the flower bed. Down the street, she had parked her motorcycle inconspicuously near the cemetery’s back gate. Pulling her black helmet down over her mass of dark curls, she revved the engine and made her way toward New Orleans.
It was raining hell-bent when she rode into the city. The designated meeting place was a top floor room of the Pontchartrain Hotel. Fats may have been a greedy assed gangster, but the man had style. He had been wanting to get up Bee’s proverbial skirt since day one, and had flattered her with champagne, expensive gifts and what he called his “priority personal attention” though none of these things would ever work on Bee. The man was holding her father hostage. She parked her bike and checked into the hotel under the alias “Dorothy Nine.” Fats had told her she reminded him of the starlet Dorothy Dandridge, and had said that Bee was a ‘nine’ because if she were a ten she would be out of his league. Fats had reserved the room himself. She dropped her backpack on the four poster bed and checked her face in the antique mirror. The rain had washed what little make up she wore and now her trace of black eyeliner was smeared down her freckle speckled cheek like one of those goth kids she had seen in the downtown clubs. Her hair was damp. She fluffed it up with her fingertips and slicked on some lipstick. She would have cleaned off the smeared eyeliner, but she heard the lock open on the door. That would be Fats. She was surprised when it wasn’t.
With one long legged stride, Alex Deveroux was standing entirely too close for comfort in the room… her room. Deveroux was a right hand man of Gino’s, a rather unlikely one. For one, he was white. And white collar to boot. Even more unlikely, he was English. Tall, ashen hair, with startling blue eyes and a sexy crooked grin, Alex had picked up a charmer accent from a childhood and college years in Britain. The fact that he was pure bred Cajun had been long buried, but Bee knew it because Fats liked to brag to her about the unusual henchman he had acquired. Fats had tried his best to ‘acquire’ Bee as well, wanting her on the regular payroll, particularly to partner with Deveroux, who Fats called “Dee” as a joke. Dee and Bee. They would be the dream team, Fats had said. Deveroux and Bee went way back. She had met him when she was nineteen, and he had seduced her with his charm, a kind of wickedly sexy sleaze that should not have been sexy, but made her panties wet every time she thought about him. He was older than her, by fourteen years, and he called her ‘SugarBee’ in that odd British-New Orleans accent he had. No one else on Earth had that same accent. Later, when he had gone to work as Gino’s right hand, she had stayed away, but he had left his mark on her.
“What are you doing here?” She asked, startled instantly by almost supernaturally blue eyes.
“You know why I’m here, Bee.” He grinned, slouching against the door frame with his hands in his pockets.
“Oh, I see. You my babysitter now?”
“You look a mess, SugarBee. Rough night out?”
“Try not to be a dick hole, if ya please.”
“Fine then. Down to business. Yes, I am your babysitter, if that’s what you want to call it. Did you finish the job?”
“Shirley’s dead. It’s all done.” She was not exactly lying, she told herself.
“Fats will be pleased. So will the client.”
The Client was the rich man who had gone to Fats to employ the hit. He was probably sipping brandy in some gentleman’s cigar room. His daughter was probably telling her friends how she lived a few weeks of the wild life with a wanted man. It would make her popular. Shirley was probably still rotting in the azaleas, and by now the wedding party had probably discovered him there and called the police. She told Deveroux as much.
“Good. The deal is done then, but of course, you’ll need to stick with me until there’s proof.”
“With you? I was expecting Fats.”
“Fats is a busy man. He sent me instead. But you don’t mind, do you? I mean, you and me, this beautiful room… I’ll order in some wine.”
“Shut it down, Alex. I’m not that easy. I know the game, fine. The hit will be on the news soon enough.”
“Switch on the telly then.” He said.
She liked the way he said television. ‘Telly.’ It would be cute if he didn’t look like he might actually devour her in the next couple of minutes. He had that way of looking at her, like he was mentally pouring barbecue sauce on her and licking his lips. She wanted to be able to honestly say she found this repulsive, but the truth was, it was making her nipples hard and she was pleased that she had worn the leather top which concealed this fact. She tried to stop staring at his long, elegant body standing there, locking the door behind him. She switched on the television and found the local news station. There was a chance the news would mention the murder today on the eleven o’clock, but there was also a chance they would pick it up tomorrow, which meant that she would have to spend the night, in this room, with Deveroux. The thought unnerved her, and much to her shame, sent a flush of heat between her thighs.
She flopped down in one of the oversize reproduction wingback chairs, and crossed her legs, trying to look cool and at ease. He smiled at this, as if he knew she was full of shit, and he probably did. She pulled the little table closer to her chair and fumbled through her backpack to find the deck of cards she always carried with her. Laying the cards out on the table she started up a quiet game of solitaire, pretending (or trying to) that he was not in the room. This seemed to amuse the cocky bastard greatly, and he chuckled, pulling up a chair himself.
“C’mon, luv, don’t be that way. How ’bout we play a hand of gin. It’ll keep you amused.”
Annoyed, she reluctantly agreed. Engaging him might be better than trying to hide her interest.
He shuffled the cards expertly, showing off a little and feeling her heart flutter at the wicked glimmer in his eye. She dealt the cards face down and before he picked them up, he glared at her with that grin,
“How ’bout we make it interesting, luv. Whoever loses a hand, takes their kit off.”
What a piece of work. The man was suggesting the loser get naked.
“The whole thing? That’s too rich for me.” She replied, suddenly realizing she was not really objecting.
“Alright then. One piece per hand lost. By point count.”
For reasons she could not explain if she tried, she nodded and made a flourish of picking up her cards and glancing at them, then smiling.
“Strip gin. That’s a new one.” She smiled.
As it turned out, she won the first hand, by a long shot. He flashed that devilish grin again and stood up to shrug out of his button up shirt, tossing it onto the floor. She pretended not to care, but when he was not looking, she stole a glance at the body she remembered from years ago. The years had not taken away any of his beauty. He was lean and fit, sinewy muscle and raw sexuality right at the surface. She saw the scar he had even back then, some cut from a bar brawl he had mixed up in right across one rib. She mentally scowled at the sudden urge to lick him right there and taste it. The second hand, he won. She bit her lip and unlaced her boots, shucking them off and kicking them aside.
“What a shame.” He said, eyes roaming over her body. “I was hoping to see you naked, with just those boots on, SugarBee.”
“Play your damn cards and hush up.” She said, hoping he could not see the evidence of the reaction her body was having to him. Her pussy was wet, and if she didn’t cross her legs, he could probably see it on her jeans.
Much to her dismay, he won the next hand as well. She stood up and unlaced her top, trying to be casual about it, and laid it over the back of the chair. She wanted it close by. He watched her do this, not making any effort to not stare. He was drinking her in. She felt goosebumps raise on her skin and her nipples were as hard as pebbles now. Didn’t know why she was playing along with this game. She felt as if someone had taken over her body and she was just floating there. Another hand, and dammit if that bastard didn’t win again. She stood up and glared at him, trying to ignore the wicked grin. He actually licked his lips as he watched her unbutton her jeans and peel them down, leaving her in just her panties. Two hands left. She won the next one, making it so far, a tie. She smiled, feeling a little triumphant.
“Go on now,” she said. “Kit off.” She imitated his accent and he gave her a grin.
He stood up and kicked his shoes off. She tried to hide her disappointment. She had forgotten about his shoes. She was hoping to have his pants off. She went still then, suddenly realizing,
“What about the winner in the end? What does the overall winner get?” She asked, regretting it the instant the words escaped her mouth.
“The loser gets to climb between those pretty legs of yours and lick you till you come.”
“Oh, you think I will win then? That bodes well for me.”
“I’ll let you win.”
“Then what does the winner get?”
Her face flushed pink and she felt her legs tremble. She was past the point of caring if he noticed. Of course he noticed.
“Last hand.” She announced.
It seemed to draw on forever, building the hand and laying down the cards.
“Gin.” She said, barely above a whisper.
She had won. He did not give her time to think. He stood up swiftly and in one smooth sweep, he pulled her up into a kiss. It was rough and delicious, the way she remembered. His mouth tasted of whiskey and honey. The three days of stubble that never seemed to go away scratched against her cheek, exciting her more. She forgot everything suddenly. He had always had that effect on her. He pushed her back onto the bed and she sat up, looking at him, wanting him more than she cared to admit. He stood up to his full height, more than a foot taller than her, and he gave her a wink, unfastening his pants and sliding them down his long legs. He wore simple pale blue boxers underneath and she could see that he was hard. He discarded them quickly, letting his cock bounce free. It took every bit of restraint she possessed not to take it into her mouth instantly. She remembered that long, heavy cock, it’s curve and the way it felt sliding over her lips. He stood still, letting her consider it, and when she leaned in to touch the tip of it with her tongue, he pushed her back, legs up, and roughly slid her panties off her legs.
“That’s my girl. I love how wet you get. It’s beautiful, luv, it really is.”
She might have died a little inside of embarrassment, not of her arousal or the evidence of it, but at her obvious want of this man, this raw and predatory man whom she always fell for, always submitted to, even though she knew she shouldn’t. He scooped up her breasts in his hands and sucked at them. He knew what she liked. There was no soft caress or the hesitant touch of a new lover. No, he knew exactly how she liked it, as if he had mapped out her body from years ago and memorized the plans to draw every gasp and moan from her lips. He pulled and tugged at her nipples, snapping them back and sucking them hard enough to leave little delicious bruises. His fingernails scratched down her sides to her hips, moving to her thighs and then inside, parting her pussy open and finding the hard nub of her clitoris quickly. She jolted and gasped at the sudden shock of pleasure his fingertips created. He laughed then, smug that he could do this to her so easily. She hated him for it.
“You won, luv, but you’re still gonna beg me for it.” He said then, dipping his head to
flicker his tongue against her, making her jolt again.
“Fuck you.” She gasped.
He laughed again.
“Oh, I will, but now be a good girl and beg for it.”
“No, you arrogant ass…”
“You’re beautiful when you’re angry, luv.”
He dropped again, this time sucking her into his mouth. He worked her there, expertly with his
mouth and fingers. She rocked her hips up against his mouth, not caring if it annoyed him as it might another lover. Alex was an animal. He fucked like an animal. She was close. She would come in just a second, in just a…
He stopped, pulling away and giving her a swat on the thigh. She wanted to slap him, to take
him my the hair of the head and push him back down, making him lick her again, force him to finish. But he was torturing her. He sat back and laughed, even his evil asshole laugh was sexy and she hated that he turned her on so much. Well, to hell with him, she would finish herself. She slipped her fingers down between her legs and tried to bring herself off that way, with him shamelessly watching. It didn’t work and he knew it. She wanted him. It was past wanting. She needed him. Her fingers stilled and he bent down to look into her eyes,
“All you have to do is beg, luv. No one will know but me. Beg me to do it.”
“I hate you! You arrogant bastard…!”
“Of course you do, SugarBee, but all you have to do is beg. Beg me and I’ll lick you till you come.”
She bit her lip, gritted her teeth and submitted.
“No, no, luv. You know how this works. Beg.”
“Please do it. Please let me come. Please, I’ll do anything…”
“That’s more like it. That’s enough, luv. I don’t want to completely break you. We’ll leave that for later.”
He licked his lips and vanished between her legs. He sucked at her again, pushing his fingers into her and making her soar like only he could. She came with a keening moan and he did not stop. He kept drawing the orgasm out of her until she lay breathless on the bed, exhausted. Only then did he raise up with that demon grin, his lips wet with her juices. He pulled her up again, standing up and wrapping her legs around him so that he leaned back a little, supporting her on top of him. He bounced her there, impaling her and drawing another breathless moan. She clung to him, arms wrapped around his neck as he thrust into her. He backed her against the wall, then put her down, turning her roughly to bend her over and take her from behind. He made her come again this way, laughing as she moaned and thrashed like a whorehouse nymph, then he finished himself. It was dignified and quiet, which made her hate him more. Alex always had to keep the control. When it was done, she went into the bathroom and locked him out, quickly showering and admonishing herself in the mirror for letting herself screw around with Alex Deveroux. Especially now, when everything hung in the balance. She had no right playing around with him when all hell could break loose any minute. She wrapped a towel around herself and emerged from the bathroom to see that Alex had already gotten dressed and was now indulging in a glass of whiskey from the crystal decanter near the bar.