Charles Winstead was a practical man.
He visited the whorehouses in Texas to sample their wares, but they were mostly for show. His preferences drove him to little hole-in-the-wall bars and very specialized whorehouses because his taste for his own sex required utmost discretion.
He relaxed as the wheels of the great locomotive churned up the tracks from Austin to Chicago. He was good at keeping himself deeply undercover in his personal life, though he wasn’t foolish enough to believe that no one else knew. His two closest friends and colleagues, Clarence Hurt and Jerry Campbell, had never spoken to him about his tastes, but they knew. They had his back, and while they had no interest in joining Charles in his ‘peccadilloes’, covered for him when necessary.
Chicago was going to be a great opportunity. The big city was the perfect place to find those who didn’t stick to the straight-and-narrow, and it had been a long time since he had indulged in male flesh.
& & & & & &
Clarence yawned, resting his head against the back of his seat. Jerry sat next to him reading The Chicago Sun-Times, purchased from a porter who was selling copies of The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The St. Paul-Minneapolis Star.
The Chicago paper was full of news of John Dillinger and other gangsters. They were certainly going to step into a hornets’ nest.
Jerry glanced over at Charles, then looked at Clarence.
Clarence nodded slightly. He’d seen the look in their leader’s eyes, too. Charles was hungry for a good roll in the hay with a man, preferably a pretty one.
That meant that he and Jerry were going to have to run interference.
Ah, well. Not that much of a price to pay when you considered just how damned good Charles was as a Texas Ranger and Special Agent. He looked out for his men, and his men looked out for him.
Clarence closed his eyes for a nap. He doubted he’d be getting much shuteye once they got to Chicago.
& & & & & &
“Did he say what he looked like?” asked Charles over the hissing sound of steam from the train engine.
“Didn’t say,” Clarence grunted.
The three ex-Rangers walked into the grand train station, Italianate marble and stained glass skylights letting them know they weren’t in Texas anymore.
Not really ex-Rangers, Charles thought. Once a Ranger, always a Ranger.
As they scanned the crowd, he regretted not seeing a picture of Melvin Purvis beforehand. The story about him bringing down Pretty Boy Floyd in The Dallas Morning News hadn’t carried a photograph, and he’d been too busy chasing Bonnie and Clyde to take in any movies and newsreels.
Well, let Purvis find them.
Clarence took his suitcase as they crossed the polished marble floor and Charles stepped up onto the shoeshine stand.
“How ya doin’?” asked the shoeshine man.
“I’m doin’ fine.”
Charles settled into a chair as the man got to work buffing his shoes. He watched the people hurrying through the station, stylish and crisp and wearing fancy clothes. Charles felt his hunter’s instincts sharpening: a wolf among the sheep.
Never really an ex-Ranger.
The Texas Rangers were more famous than the Bureau of Investigation. There was even a new national radio program, The Lone Ranger, keeping the image alive. The last survivor of an ambush by the Cavendish Gang, John Reid had been nursed back to health by Tonto, an Indian who joined him as companion as the Lone Ranger fought for justice in the Old West.
Chicago sounded like the Old West with its crime spree of bank robberies and kidnappings and gangs running wild.
Charles smirked as the cloth of the shoeshine man swept back-and-forth over his shoes. Thinking of potential entertainment, blonds were mighty fine, but the dark ones…he’d like someone dark and exotic to warm his bedroll. Clarence and Jerry were men he trusted with his life, but neither one would win the male version of the Miss America crown.
No, neither one had high cheekbones or pretty eyes or a lush mouth…
Charles looked up.
He felt pole-axed.
Dear God in Heaven.
Standing before him in a dark-blue suit and greatcoat was the most beautiful man he had ever seen: dark hair, high cheekbones, soul-deep dark eyes, and a mouth made for…
“That’s me,” he managed to say, grasping the firm hand of the beauty.
“Special Agent Melvin Purvis. Welcome to Chicago. We have a lot of work to do on Mr. Dillinger.”
The Southern accent flowed over Charles like warm honey.
Clarence leaned over and whispered, “For that one, I just might jump the fence and play for the other team.”
Jerry snorted but his lips quirked into a grin.
Melvin Purvis approached them, earnest and exotic.
Charles liked ‘em earnest, and he sure as hell liked ‘em exotic.
Let’s hope Agent Purvis has plenty of stamina, thought Jerry. He’s gonna need it.
Charles smiled a predatory smile.
No need to go looking for exotic ass in Chicago now. He had it right here in his own backyard.
Before the hunt for John Dillinger was over, he’d have Dark ‘n’ Beautiful in his bed, begging to be ridden like the fine thoroughbred he was.
He’d just have to sharpen his spurs.
He’d found his Tonto.